The Sunday Sideboarding Guide

For reference, please see yesterday’s deck, Rhox Meditant Deck 2010 version 1.0:

1 Ajani Vengeant
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Captured Sunlight
4 Enlisted Wurm
4 Naya Charm
4 Steward of Valeron

4 Borderland Ranger

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Baneslayer Angel
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

4 Arid Mesa
5 Forest
4 Jungle Shrine
2 Mountain
3 Plains
4 Raging Ravine
4 Stirring Wildwood

2 Ajani Vengeant
4 Great Sable Stag
4 Goblin Assault
2 Celestial Purge
3 Day of Judgment

Before Sunday’s PTQ I wanted to do an update to the sideboard, which was haphazardly thrown together just based on cards I like. As good as Goblin Assault is, I think that it has to be cut. The sentiment from Twitter was that the metagame will be:

  • Jund
  • U/W
  • Boss Naya
  • Vampires
  • White Weenie
  • Red Decks
  • Allies

One way I like to develop sideboards is to figure out what I can afford to side out. Let’s look by archetype:

My entire deck is actually quite strong against Jund in Game One, which is one of the reasons this deck has a fair advantage. I had a game [one] tonight where I drew several Captured Sunlights (rather than Bloodbraid Elves) that kind of let my opponent into the game when he drew multiple Bloodbraid Elves. It might not be accurate to say I was behind (even though I was behind on cards and the battlefield, because I eventually drew an Enlisted Ultimatum which flipped up a Baneslayer Angel and I easily won from 22 (he had used a lot of removal spells on my Borderland Rangers early on).

This deck is just set up very well against Jund and is likely to win the first game. A lot of people decry the Borderland Ranger but it is a heck of a stop sign against their best creature.

You can get away without sideboarding but Captured Sunlight is one of the weaker cards over a strong mix. Also on the draw I would side out my Planeswalkers; they are hard to defend:

-1 Ajani Vengeant
-4 Captured Sunlight
-1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

On the draw (and most Game Twos will be on the draw), I would side in 4 Great Sable Stag and 2 Celestial Purge. Note that if I had more copies of Celestial Purge, I would likely side them in over Lightning Bolt (leaving, say, two Lightning Bolts)… But there is nothing wrong with Lightning Bolt on the draw, in particular for Putrid Leech defense.

I don’t particularly like Lightning Bolt on the play. You don’t really need Lightning Bolt to defend against Putrid Leech when you are on the attack. Also Planeswalkers are a lot better playing.

-4 Captured Sunlight
-4 Lightning Bolt

+2 Ajani Vengeant
+4 Great Sable Stag
+2 Celestial Purge

I am not sure who is favored in the matchup between Borderland Ranger and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The U/W matchup can go either way, but so far it seems to favor the Naya deck due to the card advantage and Planeswalkers.

It can definitely go either way in particular based on which version the opponent is running; for example the Knight of the White Orchid + Martial Coup deck is going to be much harder to beat because of its card advantage and potential 5/5 flying advantage (post-Wrath) than a deck that can only win with Planeswalkers against Bloodbraid Elf and Planeswalkers. Put another way, Knight of the White Orchid actually effectively blocks Bloodbraid Elf, Steward of Valeron, and Borderland Ranger… all of the non-5/5 creatures in the deck. And even Baneslayer Angel is only even with the opponent’s Baneslayer Angel.

The only card you really want to cut is Captured Sunlight. Baneslayer Angel is marginal but might be very effective against Sphinx of Jwar Isle, and will at least keep pace with the good 5/5.

The next worst card is Lightning Bolt, though I don’t know I would side all of them out all of the time. Lightning Bolt can be relevant against Planeswalkers, and can get White Orchid out of the way.

With the present sideboard, I could see going
-4 Captured Sunlight
-2 Lightning Bolt

+2 Ajani Vengeant
+4 Goblin Assault

Note that if I had the third Ajani Vengeant in my sideboard I would bring it in, and while I only have a clear four slots to remove, I can remove between 6-12 cards without being unhappy.

All that said the great danger of the U/W matchup is being completely blown out by their White cards. Martial Coup, uncontested Baneslayer Angel, good night.

Boss Naya:
All 60 of my cards are pretty good in this matchup.

However I want to be a combination of fast — but defensively fast — and powerful. I don’t need to be offensively fast, though I can seize a Steward of Valeron draw, particularly on the play.

However Boss Naya is weakest against a combination of Wrath of God and card advantage; note that I don’t want to remove Lightning Bolt and Naya Charm even if I go Wraths because I want to remain very limber defensively, so as to avoid a Kayo from his Bloodbraid Elf dream draw. One thing to think about is mitigating the damage Wrath will do to me… That means siding out Steward of Valeron, which can actually propose icky Who’s the Beatdown questions… I’d just as rather avoid them.

-1 Captured Sunlight
-4 Steward of Valeron

+2 Ajani Vengeant
+3 Day of Judgment

Note that I only have three copies of Day of Judgment to side in; I’d like the full four against Boss Naya, and would be willing to move a Captured Sunlight for that option (Ajani at the same mana cost can also gain life).

Surprisingly, I lost a match to Vampires tonight. In both Game One and Game Three, he drew multiple copies of Malakir Blood Witch. This deck doesn’t have a great direct answer to Malakir Blood Witch (but for Day of Judgment); I lost Game One to triple Malakir Blood Witch by exactly one point of life (which means I probably missed something somewhere). Game three I didn’t draw Day of Judgment.

Given that I don’t really want to invest in Burst Lightning the way Naya Lightsaber did for Malakir Blood Witch, the best option is probably to go with the fourth Day of Judgment, per the Boss Naya matchup. The “right now” sideboarding numbers are / were:

-1 Ajani Vengeant
-3 Naya Charm
-4 Steward of Valeron
-1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

+4 Great Sable Stag
+2 Celestial Purge
+3 Day of Judgment

The sideboarding seems a little bit weird, I know. Planeswalkers are a bit expensive given what you want to do on four mana and a potential liability against Vampire Hexmage. Speaking of four mana, the reason Steward of Valeron leaves because of Day of Judgment… Again, you just don’t want to have extra cards going away with your Wrath. Most of the rest of the creatures are two-for-ones. However unlike some other matchups, you want to keep Captured Sunlight for two reasons: 1) It is superb for racing where Malakir Blood Witch is an important threat on the other side, and 2) It Cascades into Great Sable Stag. Again, with a fourth Day of Judgment, I would be very comfortable siding the fourth Naya Charm. You can play either the beatdown or the control against Vampires, but you are more likely to play the control, with Day of Judgment and powerful two-for-one threats, including the almost unbeatable Great Sable Stag. Enlisted Wurm into Day of Judgment is just too filthy.

Small note: Great Sable Stag is only only almost unbeatable. Try not to leave him by himself, for fear of Gatekeeper of Malakir.

White Weenie:
I haven’t played versus the current White Weenie decks with this deck yet, but I have played a fair amount from the White Weenie side (Conrad Kolos “Kor” Landfall version), and I think White Weenie should be an easy battle. The White Weenie (that is, Kithkin) decks over the summer were stronger and faster, and the Borderland Ranger deck of that era had a commanding percentage… without Baneslayer Angel.

The matchup from the summer PTQ season was basically fast removal (Lightning Bolt and Naya Charm) suppressing the opponent’s ability to run the good guys over; Enlisted Wurm flipped the Wrath of God of the era (whatever the heck its name was) would ensure the late game. No reason why the same shouldn’t stay true.

-4 Bloodbraid Elf
-1 Steward of Valeron
+2 Ajani Vengeant
+3 Day of Judgment

Siding out Bloodbraid Elf seems unusual, I know, but it is the result of a lot of testing, again from the summer version of the decks. Basically Bloodbraid Elf has almost no value on the table due to the ability of the opponent to glut the board (especially if they have Kor Firewalker or the equivalent), whereas Captured Sunlight can help keep your spirits up as you live long enough to start playing trump cards.

With a fourth Day of Judgment, Steward of Valeron #2 would of course be the cut.

Red Decks:

+2 Ajani Vengeant
+2 Celestial Purge

-3 Enlisted Wurm
-1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant

You can cut a Naya Charm instead of the third Enlisted Wurm (fairly difficult to play) but all of the abilities on Naya Charm are highly relevant (instant speed creature removal, re-buy on a Baneslayer Angel or other powerful spell; you can also tap a Hell’s Thunder especially in a gang attack). But overall Enlisted Wurm — often the strongest card — is the weakest card just due to its expense.


Allies is a faster, more aggressive version of Naya than either Boss Naya or this deck. The main strategy should be to try to slow down the Allies attack and win with Day of Judgment. Despite Ajani Vengeant often being insane against aggressive decks featuring Red mana symbols, can quickly become irrelevant as Kazandu Blademaster and the lads get too big. I would err on the side of consistency in this case and cut the one and not bring in the others like we do in other beatdown matchups.

-1 Ajani Vengeant
-2 Enlisted Wurm
+3 Day of Judgment

Given this exercise, I think I would make some small adjustments to the sideboard:

3 Ajani Vengeant
4 Great Sable Stag
2 Goblin Assault
2 Celestial Purge
4 Day of Judgment

Goblin Assault is quite strong but can be replaced with Ajani Vengeant in the control matchup. Losing the fourth option for Day of Judgment isn’t that bad because you can just keep a Lightning Bolt against U/W, which is fine. The fourth Day of Judgment seems very worthwhile for the Boss Naya, White Weenie, Vampires, and Allies matchups all.

Good luck on Sunday… But only if you play this deck. Bad luck otherwise ;p


Currently Reading: The Umbrella Academy: Dallas

facebook comments:


#1 Diego on 04.15.10 at 8:12 pm

I think it’s time to make sketch decks with ROE!

Don’t you love this time of season every year?


#2 MTGBattlefield on 04.15.10 at 10:30 pm

The Sunday Sideboarding Guide…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#3 Dold on 04.16.10 at 9:47 am

Did you consider Knight of the Reliquary? He warps your mana, and probably makes it worse. I just want to know how you came to the conclusion of not playing him.

#4 admin on 04.16.10 at 10:13 am

I suppose you are right.

It’s like in Naya Lightsaber. He won’t be particularly big (I only have the 4 sac lands) and since [in this deck] he will usually be my first play, he’s like never going to live. Borderland Ranger gets me a card, fixes my mana, on the spot, and bedevils Bloodbraid Elf. Is Knight of the Reliquary a better card? Of course. But Borderland Ranger is the better card in this deck.

#5 TestRider on 04.17.10 at 6:44 am

Isn’t Captured Sunlight a bit underwhelming in this deck? I’d be pretty disappointed to pay 4 only to flip a Steward or a bolt with no creature on the table. Wouldn’t Wooly Thoctar make more sense?

#6 ProdigalT on 04.19.10 at 3:49 pm

Captured Sunlight is pretty incredible. Steward is a fine hit to set up your 5th turn Wurm. In that case it’s like a wee Loxodon Hierarch. Bolt can be a bad hit, as it can when you play Bloodbraid Elf. Thoctar wouldn’t be coming down on turn 3 very often, and this deck is rarely the beatdown. Captured Sunlight gets you to live long enough to where you can establish an overwhelming board position.

#7 bk on 04.20.10 at 8:27 am

I like what you’re doing here. It does make me a little sad that Thoctar isn’t running with this crew. I think this deck does what Boss Naya wants to do a lot of the time. You seem a bit weak against UW, especially ramp. I’m not sure I see Goblin Assault doing what you see it doing. I would just go with more Elspeths in that matchup. UW HATES an Elspeth. Did you consider Noble Hierarch instead of Steward? It seems like the better card. How often is the 2/2 fighting? So basically my impression is I like the deck, but why aren’t you playing the best cards in standard instead of these little cuties you adore.

#8 admin on 04.20.10 at 10:52 am


Bee Kay!

1) This deck is awesome. I was only marginally sad about the loss of Woolly Thoctar.
2) I don’t see this as Boss Naya-ish (or even Lightsaber-ish) at all. I see this as the inheritor of the mid-range Cascade legacy rather than the “Naya” side of the family tree.
3) I have been good v. U/W. It certainly seems weakest matchup of the main line ones (crushing Jund and Red will do that), but I have been doing well v. them
4) I like your idea v. U/W RE: Elspeth. I think maybe I just over-like Goblin Assault, but most of my anti-U/W brewing across archetypes involves playing lots of Planeswalkers 🙂 I guess Elspeth is the same, but Assault is so much faster and works in multiples… Have you tried it good sir?
5) Cutting Steward for Wall of Omens anyway. Point is going to be moo — you know, like a cow’s opinion.
6) Lightsaber was the best cards! The idea on Steward was just to keep better pace with Jund. Obviously the little guy rarely made it to turn three, but when he did — LOOK OUT.

Thanks for the comment BK.


#9 rockbard on 04.20.10 at 8:41 pm

I love the deck. Just a couple of questions:

1. So, the update for RoE will be Wall of Omens for Steward of Valeron?

2. How do you sideboard against Mythic/Bant? In my area they are still popular.

#10 hunghingdailo on 04.21.10 at 4:23 am

Loving this deck, mister Flores.
I’ve been playtesting this build since three days ago vs Jund, Vamp, u/W control, and
4x Stewards
4x Naya Charms
4x Borderland Rangers

are amazing! (aside from other staple as Bloodberry Elf, Bolts and the Baneslayers)

However, IMHO the
4x Captured Sunlights

are quite too many (i don’t doubt how valuable it is to gain 4 life and cascading into a blocker / b-land tutor is amazing vs fast / burn decks such as RDW) when facing an opponent (Jund, for example) who is already dominating the board rather than we do.

How about having it cut to 2, or 3-of?

I’m going to test on :
-2 Captured Sunlight
-1 Enlisted Wurm
+2 Vengevine (do you have any better creature suggestion other than this?)
+1 more Ajani Vengeant

and I’ll see how it performs.


You must log in to post a comment.