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November 15, 2011

Conflux: Naya Domain Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

It’s a feral clash on offer today as I pit Naya Domain against Sam’s ferocious Jund Appetite for War. Will my five-colour strategy get there, or will I just be something else that Sam devours?

Game One

Sam’s on the play, leading off with a Terramorphic Expanse which she pops to go get a Mountain, then I pop one of my own for a Plains. Next turn she gets out some perfectly-named Dragon Fodder, a pair of 1/1 Goblin tokens. I deploy the Kaleidostone for wont of anything better to do after laying down a Mountain. After a 2-point attack from the Goblins, Sam brings out a real threat with the turn-3 Sprouting Thrinax. My answering Aven Trailblazer comes in as a 2/3, so I just need either a Swamp or an Island to render him an effective blocker for the Thrinax.

Sam, however, isn’t interested in giving me the chance, killing my Aven on turn 4 with a Branching Bolt to clear the lane for a 5-point swing. Down to 13, all I can do is basic landcycle a Sylvan Bounty to fetch a Swamp before passing. Sam swings for another 5 next turn, then adds an Ember Weaver. My answering Kranioceros looks to be too little, too late- especially as Sam Incinerates it out of the way on turn 6 to swing for the win.

Game Two

Suitably humbled, I start on the play with a Terramorphic Expanse to land a Plains, while Sam plays a Tukatongue Thallid. Next turn I play a Forest, then Rampant Growth for a Mountain. Back to Sam, she nibbles in with the Thallid for 1 then plays the Dragon Fodder.

Now turn 3, I play an Island- so far so good- and the resultant Spore Burst nets me four 1/1 Saprolings. With another purpose in mind for her weenies, Sam holds back on the attack, instead opting to deploy an Ember Weaver before ending her turn. Over to me, I hit full domain with a Swamp (obtained by basic landcycling my Sylvan Bounty), then bring out an Aven Trailbalzer. For her part, Sam’s turn 4 is a blank.

Matca Rioters

Now turn 5, I summon the mighty Vagrant Plowbeast and pass. Sam adds a Viashino Slaughtermaster as the buildup of forces continues. Next turn I swing for 6 with the Plowbeasts, and the game is afoot! Sam takes the hit, going down to 14. I then play a 5/5 Matca Rioters and pass. Sam plays a Gluttonous Slime, devouring her Thallid (which replaces itself with a token) and the two Goblins to give her a 5/5 Slime, then adds a Toxic Iguanar. Although she may have missed an opportunity by not taking advantage of its flash, it makes little difference as I Drag Down the Slime at the end of Sam’s turn, thus taking full advantage of the disadvantage inherent in devour- putting all your eggs in one basket.

I go in hard on turn 7 with my Rioters and Plowbeasts. Sam chump-blocks the Rioters with the Saproling token and the Plowbeasts with her deathtouching Iguanar, but then surprises me by Incinerating the Plowbeasts to prevent them from regenerating, a clever- if expensive- solution. I respond with a Path to Exile on the Iguanar, content to trade removal for removal to keep my Plowbeasts alive, even if it means Sam gets to go grab another land. Alas for Sam, her turn is a blank.

In turn 8 I keep the pressure on with a 17-point attack, going in with everything. Sam has a second Incinerate, and uses it plus the Slaughtermaster to kill off my Plowbeasts. The Rioters are chumped by the Ember Weaver, and Sam drops to 8 life. I play a Kranioceros and pass. Sam’s answering Charnelhoard Wurm comes far too late to the party to make an impact, and next turn I alpha strike for the win.

Game Three

Back on the play, Sam begins with a turn-2 Dragon Fodder as I Rampant Growth a Plains off of a Forest and Mountain. While Sam plays a second Fodder on turn 3, I trot out the instantly menacing Woolly Thoctar.

Sam again slowcasts the Gluttonous Slime on turn 4, devouring all of her Goblin tokens to make it a 6/6, then adds a Toxic Iguanar alongside it. I basic landcycle a Sylvan Bounty to fetch a Swamp, and I’m 4/5’s of the way to full domain. Next turn Sam goes on the offensive with a 7-point attack. I block the Slime with my Woolly Thoctar, then add a Might of Alara to the mix. Sam adds an Incinerate, and both of our creatures trundle off to the graveyard. Sam replaces her loss immediately with a Viashino Slaughtermaster, then ends her turn. I take the game up a gear when I drop not one, but two 5/5 Matca Rioters.

Suddenly very much on the back-foot, Sam’s turn 6 is an unfortunate blank. I then attack for 10 with the Rioters- which she takes- and add a Beacon Behemoth. Sam’s turn 7 is equally uneventful, so I follow up with a 15-point strike. Sam chump blocks with the Slaughtermaster and Iguanar, and that’s all she has left. Next turn she scoops.

Thoughts & Analysis

Some decks- like some cards- are what we refer to as “feast or famine” decks. These are ones that have very conditional power, and if that condition is met they’re hard to defeat. However, should it not be met they’re usually sitting ducks. In essence, such decks are asking you the following question: are you willing to take some lumps to absolutely blow your opponent away once in awhile? If the answer to that is yes, then Naya Domain is the type of deck for you. It is very much a feast or famine.

Drag Down

In the first game, I died in six turns never having landed a blow against my opponent, going on the defensive early and never quite recovering as Sam deployed threats and removal early and steadily. As you might expect, Naya Domain tends to favour a longer game (my wins came on turns 9 and 8, respectively), and is quite vulnerable to early blowouts by fast, aggressive decks. In that sense, the Conflux environment flatters it somewhat. When every deck is a three-colour deck and tends to be a bit slower to click on that account, there’s often time and space for Naya Domain’s five-colour strategy to take root and flourish. It’s far less kind to try and imagine it one block later, up against the mono-Black Vampires, mono-White Kor, or even The Adventurers of Zendikar.

But to some degree such a comparison is unfair- after all, this is a Conflux deck for a Conflux environment, and there it does quite well. The level of mana fixing is solid here- between the Terramorphic Expanses and basic landcycling of Sylvan Bounty, I never had much problem getting to at least four different lands, and in both wins managed to get all five basic land types into play. Once you get to that point, the deck can steal games out of virtually nowhere with undercosted beatsticks (the double-Rioters on turn 5 scenario) and/or with a string of monstrous behemoths. At times the chase for five lands seems like a mini-game, and certainly adds a dose of novelty and fun to the deck. Quite simply, Naya Domain works.

Hits: Solid support for five-colour theme allows the mechanic to go off often enough to be fun while still leaving a fair chance for your opponent; undercosted beaters can pivot a game on its axis once they optimise

Misses: Removal suite somewhat limited, and must be use judiciously; vulnerable to the early-game rush

Overall Score: 4.45/5.00

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