Modern Deck Spotlight: Naya Allies

About 6 weeks ago David Houghton took Allies (yes, you read that right) to the Modern Open in Dallas. Here are my thoughts on this deck:

Let’s start with diving right into the list….

Naya Allies (David Houghton) (38)
Akoum Battlesinger
Expedition Envoy
Firemantle Mage
Hada Freeblade
Kabira Evangel
Kazandu Blademaster
Kor Bladewhirl
Lantern Scout
Oran-Rief Survivalist
Aether Vial
Collected Company
Return to the Ranks
Lands (22)
Forest
Plains
Ally Encampment
Arid Mesa
Cavern of Souls
Horizon Canopy
Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Windswept Heath

Sideboard (15)
Spellskite
Chameleon Colossus
Firemantle Mage
Ondu Cleric
Choke
Stony Silence
Path to Exile
Kataki, War’s Wage
Return to the Ranks

Let’s go over what I dislike about the deck first: the complete lack of interaction. In a naya deck to decide not to play Lightning Bolt, Path to Exile, or even something like Dromoka’s Command seems very odd to me. The deck’s plan is to just race whatever your opponent is doing, and hope that it’s good enough. The deck seems very soft to certain other decks that are hampered by the above spells, such as Infect or Twin, but in theory you can utilize your sideboard to win back percentage points in those matchups.

In a few other matches though you have great options in the main deck that are a huge problem for them. Lantern Scout can make for some very swingy turns assuming you can play around a Skullcrack effect. Kabira Evangel and Firemantle Mage make blocking very challenging for some decks, allowing you to get in for the last points of damage you need. While something like Naya Zoo relies on burn spells to finish off the opponent once the board becomes cluttered with creatures, you can just bypass them entirely.

One of the perks of the deck is that your early creatures are very powerful because of how they grow. Tarmogoyf is super good because it’s a two drop that ends up becoming much larger very quickly. Hada Freeblade starts life as a 1/2 for one mana, but then will likely become a 2/3 or 3/4 on turn 2, and will continue to grow until you win or your opponent kills it. Most of your creatures are like this, and the ones that aren’t give you some other powerful effect. Akoum Battlesinger is the biggest one here, enabling you to push through absurd amounts of damage very quickly so long as you can continue to drop creatures onto the board (which Aether Vial and Collected Company allow).

Another perk is that the mana base is very solid. With 8 lands that give you any color of mana for casting your creatures you shouldn’t have any issues getting them on the field, even if you decided to expand to a fourth color. Blood Moon however is very problematic, with the exception of having an Aether Vial in play.

I would like to add a special note on the inclusion of Expedition Envoy. While this is hands down your worst creature, the fact it’s a 1 mana Ally is what really matters. Sometimes you need that in order to get your effects, and at times it is correct to hold off on playing Envoy in order to get those effects later in the match. Sequencing can be rough with this deck due to figuring out what the correct play in any given match is (such as what two drop to play between Battlesinger of Blademaster).

If your goal is to jam creatures out and race your opponent, this deck looks like it would be super fun and feels very competitive in that regard. You also get plenty of room for customization, even though you need to keep a certain number of Allies in the deck for it to function.

Chris Wendelboe

Chris is a level 2 judge from Ashland, New Hampshire. He enjoys Scapeshift, modern, and putting on the best events possible.