Sideboard Guide: Naya Titanshift (Part 1)

Many of you may remember our Brewed Up entry focused on Naya Titanshift. The white splash had been experimented with in the past but it was not common to go all in on it. Xavier Elisseeff sought to change that by introducing us to the one-two punch of Nahiri and BBE complimented by premium sideboard cards. Now he has gone all out with a  massive sideboard guide that has specific notes and explanations for every matchup. Today we will cover the first fifteen.

Decklist
Lands (27)
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
4 Wooded Foothills
3 Windswept Heath
4 Stomping Ground
2 Sacred Foundry
2 Cinder Glade
5 Mountain
2 Forest
1 Plains
Creatures (12)
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Primeval Titan
4 Bloodbraid Elf
Spells (21)
3 Nahiri, the Harbinger
4 Farseek
4 Search for Tomorrow
4 Scapeshift
2 Lightning Bolt
2 Lightning Helix
2 Slagstorm
Sideboard (15)
2 Tireless Tracker
3 Knight of Autumn
2 Fulminator Mage
2 Damping Sphere
2 Stony Silence
2 Rest in Peace
2 Anger of the Gods
75 Cards Total

Matchups

Ad Nauseam

-2 Lightning Bolt

-2 Lightning Helix

-2 Slagstorm

-2 Farseek

-1 Valakut, The Molten Pinnacle

+2 Stony Silence

+2 Damping Sphere

+3 Knight of Autumn

+2 Fulminator Mage

This is a very difficult matchup for any Valakut deck. For those unfamiliar to the deck, the first few turns are for sculpting their hand and playing artifact mana accelerants. Usually Turn 4 onwards, they cast Ad Nauseam to draw their entire deck, using Angel’s Grace or Phyrexian Unlife to keep them alive for the turn. The primary way to win is by then casting Lightning Storm and discarding a bunch of lands to increase to lethal damage. They will usually have more lands than you. An alternative way to victory is by casting Laboratory Maniac and using Spoils of the Vault for a card that they do not play. Knight and Nahiri are to exile troublesome permanents such as Unlife or Leyline. Stony prevents them from using their mana rocks. And while it only takes a few spells for them to win, they are very constrained on mana so Sphere and Fulminator Mage can delay a turn or two.

Affinity

-3 Nahiri, the Harbinger

-1 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

-3 Farseek

+3 Knight of Autumn

+2 Stony Silence

+2 Anger of the Gods

Affinity is one of the few blisteringly fast decks of the format so anything clunky should be sided out. Despite most of the deck consisting of artifacts, Nahiri is a tad too slow. Your primary targets are cards like Arcbound Ravager, Steel Overseer, and Cranial Plating; none of which are usually tapped when you want them to be. The cards to side in either hit multiple creatures or are clean answers to artifacts. Also, be wary of Blood Moon.

Amulet Titan

-2 Slagstorm

-1 Farseek

-3 Nahiri, the Harbinger

+2 Damping Sphere

+2 Fulminator Mage

+2 Knight of Autumn

Prioritize your removal on Amulet of Vigor. Nahiri is kind of awkward here because she cannot exile an Amulet and by the time one of the creatures is tapped its purpose has been met. Still, Nahiri can pick off a creature in their slower starts. Be mindful of your life total. With an Amulet out and enough mana, one Titan can deal 16 damage in a single turn.

Blue Moon

-2 Lightning Bolt

-2 Slagstorm

-2 Lightning Helix

+3 Knight of Autumn

+2 Tireless Tracker

+1 Rest in Peace

This matchup is can be challenging for Valakut decks because of maindeck Blood Moon, but Nahiri helps increase our odds. As usual with control matchups, you revert to the midrange plan, increasing the density of your creature threats. Rest in Peace is good to have as a 1-of to prevent our opponents from utilizing their graveyard resources.
Note: They may have the
Madcap Experiment + Platinum Emperion combo post-board.

Burn

-1 Farseek

-2 Slagstorm

-2 Primeval Titan

+3 Knight of Autumn

+2 Anger of the Gods

Hope that they do not have the nut draws and you can stabilize. Prime Times are a bit too slow–you are offering an additional turn for the Burn player to finish you off. Note that Nahiri can exile an untapped Eidolon, and can attract a lot of damage, else they want to face a hasty Prime Time.

Creature Toolbox (Devoted or Vannifar)

-1 Nahiri, the Harbinger

-1 Farseek

+2 Anger of the Gods

Most decks in this category use mana dorks to accelerate, and tutor, into value creatures to either out-grind or combo kill their opponents. The best thing to do is to keep the battlefield clear of creatures. Bolt the Bird. Currently, there are two popular creature toolbox decks: GW Devoted Company and Vannifar Pod.

GW Devoted Company
The main combo involves Devoted Druid and Vizier of Remedies generating infinite mana, then putting Duskwatch Recruiter into play, and using the mana to eventually find Walking Ballista for the kill. Some versions of the deck are more devoted to the combo by including extra cards to retrieve the combo pieces, or fall back to powerful value creatures. This is the one matchup where it is better off reserving your targeted removal for either Druid or Vizier instead of the mana dork, but use your better judgment and known information to inform your decision.

Vannifar Pod
A recent creation from Ravnican Allegiance, the deck revolves primarily around
Prime Speaker Vannifar, a homage to Birthing Pod. While more vulnerable and slightly slower compared to Pod, the deck performs in similar function: use Vannifar to chain a series of value creatures to enter the battlefield. This results in either a Kiki-Jiki win, or simply finding one-of creatures for any given situation. Unfortunately, your Lightning spells don’t kill Vannifar.

Dredge

-2 Lightning Bolt

-2 Lightning Helix

-3 Nahiri, the Harbinger

+2 Rest in Peace

+2 Anger of the Gods

+3 Knight of Autumn

IThe deck operates on a different axis, working primarily from the graveyard, resulting in cheating out free creatures and damage spells. Although NayaShift lacks the spare room for the typical artifact cards that affect the graveyard, White offers a powerful enchantment in Rest in Peace. We forego targeted removal for cards that can affect multiple cards. Just keep an eye out for Conflagrate and Creeping Chill.

Eldrazi (Colorless)

-2 Lightning Bolt

-2 Lightning Helix

-2 Slagstorm

+3 Knight of Autumn

+2 Fulminator Mage

+1 Damping Sphere

The three-damage spells are unable to kill their primary threats and the creatures that they kill net value when targeted or destroyed. Knight’s abilities are all relevant: a fine blocker against most of their creatures, destroying an occasional problematic Chalice, and even gaining you life. Fulminator Mage acts as a chump blocker while destroying their Temples.

Elves

-2 Nahiri, the Harbinger +2 Anger of the Gods

The quintessential tribal deck in many formats, the Elves deck is trying to amass a string of cheap elves and elf lords to crush you with overwhelming power. Keep the board clear to survive and win with your payoffs. Be mindful of cards like Stain the Mind and Assassin’s Trophy.

Foretold Balance

-1 Lightning Bolt

-2 Slagstorm

-2 Lightning Helix

+2 Tireless Tracker

+3 Knight of Autumn

If there is one thing that Magic players love to do, it is breaking symmetry on cards with with symmetrical effects. Upheaval usually comes to mind as the quintessential example, but in Modern, there is Restore Balance. Instead of waiting six turns to cast it off suspend, instead the deck uses As Foretold and Electrodominance to cheat it out. They attempt to empty their hand, then suspend a Greater Gargadon, sacrifice all their lands to the Gargadon, and cheat out a Restore Balance. With both players empty-handed and no permanents on the battlefield, you can only stare in the distance as the Gargadon prepares to eventually kill you. Knight and Nahiri can remove their As Foretold, and Nahiri will not be sacrificed from Balance. But, without counterspells or a Chalice, there is not much you can do about this. Just hope that they somehow stumble and you can win on Turn 4.

GBx Midrange

-2 Slagstorm

-2 Lightning Helix

+2 Tireless Tracker

+2 Rest in Peace

Highly disruptive deck with a bunch of discard spells and land destruction. Games are going to end up becoming grindy. Keep in Lightning Bolts to pick off the occasional Dark Confidant and Liliana of the Veil. While Helix does a similar job to Bolt, being a two-mana spell means it can conflict with your ramp spells, and by then the opponent might have gained value from their Bobs. In post-sideboard games, they bring in extra land destruction spells and Surgicals. Rest in Peace will stop their Surgicals and Tarmogoyfs, but keep in mind how you sequence your land drops. Maintain a good amount of basics in your deck, and do not expose your Valakuts to land destruction that is followed up with a Surgical. The Jund version splashes red for greater aggression so be weary of your life total and instant-speed discarding.

Grishoalbrand

-2 Lightning Bolt

-2 Slagstorm

-2 Lightning Helix

-1 Farseek

+2 Damping Sphere

+2 Rest in Peace

+3 Knight of Autumn

If you thought this deck was actually casting Griselbrand by paying its mana cost, you would be wrong. Has it ever been casted for 4BBBB since it got printed? I like to think it does not have a mana cost. The deck delivers a one-two punch by utilizing the graveyard to cheat out Griselbrand, drawing a bunch of cards, then cheat out Borborygmos Enraged and “literally” throw lands at you. But for all of its explosiveness, the deck can stumble as it vigorously goes through the deck; it lacks tutors. Sideboard out the interactive spells as they are simply too small for their creatures. Rest in Peace shuts off their primary way to cheat out the payoffs. Damping Sphere can severely hinder their game plan because they usually operate on few lands. Knight of Autumn and Nahiri are necessary because of Blood Moon and Leyline of Sanctity.

Grixis Control

-2 Lightning Bolt

-2 Slagstorm

-2 Lightning Helix

-1 Farseek

+3 Knight of Autumn

+2 Tireless Tracker

+2 Rest in Peace

Disruption and counterspells? Hope you top deck well. Having Black allows for some cleaner removal to your Titans. From your sideboard, Knights can destroy their Search for Azcanta, and Rest in Peace does more work here to shut off their graveyard-related spells. Nahiri can permanently exile their few, but large creatures.

Grixis Shadow

-2 Lightning Bolt

-2 Lightning Helix

-2 Slagstorm

+2 Tireless Tracker

+2 Rest in Peace

+2 Fulminator Mage/Knight of Autumn

The deck presents a fast clock along with lots of disruption, which is not what Valakut decks want to face. Use your creatures to buffer your life total, and hope to out-draw your opponent and kill them with a big finisher. Rest in Peace is great to delay their Gurmag Anglers, and shut off their graveyard shenanigans. Watch out for Surgical ExtractionBe mindful of using Valakut to deal damage to them in increments rather than in one go via Scapeshift because it grows their Shadows unless you are confident in winning within the next few turns. For this matchup, I am currently trying out Fulminator Mage over Knight. Most of our creatures are primarily chump blocking and their deck plays a horrendously greedy mana base. I believe removing a land can be worth as much, if not more than, four life.

Wrap-Up
We hope that this first part has inspired you to take a walk on the white side. Xavier has been hard at work tuning the list and sideboard strategies for some time now. If you have any questions about the deck, we would love to talk it over in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow to cover an additional fifteen matchups. Until then my friends.

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