The fight against the Eldrazi menace may end with a banning, but that does not mean we should stop looking for potential solutions in the meantime. The Eldrazi decks are relatively poor at interacting with their opponent, often relying on speed or a timely Thought-Knot Seer to get the job done against opposing combo decks which makes them an easy avenue to explore.
Green Devotion strategies have been fringe in Modern for a while now, although this list eschews Burning-Tree Emissary and Wistful Selkie in order to focus on the powerful interaction between Arbor Elf or Garruk Wildspeaker and Utopia Sprawl, even taking it further by including Overgrowth to further supercharge its lands for the untap effects. This engine is undoubtedly more consistent than Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, but certainly less explosive. Fortunately, we see that the top-end card, typically Genesis Wave, has been replaced by Tooth and Nail, which needs a scant nine mana to win the game.
Typically, you will find the combination of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Xenagos, God of Revels, at which point the Xenagos can give Emrakul haste and +15/+15 for a quick kill. However, the inclusion of Primal Command allows for the existence of a toolbox that gives Tooth and Nail more versatility as well with graveyard hate from Scavenging Ooze, answers to problematic permanents from Acidic Slime, and the ability to rebuy your cards with Eternal Witness.
That being said, I am skeptical that the inclusion of the toolbox is the best way to build the deck. By cutting Primal Command, Harmonize, Nissa Worldwaker, Scavenging Ooze, Primeval Titan, Hornet Queen, and Acidic Slime, you open the deck to being fully hybridized between Devotion and traditional Ramp. With those ten slots, you could include four copies of Burning-Tree Emissary, four Birds of Paradise, the fourth Garruk Wildspeaker, and another land or a single Wistful Selkie, while making room for three more copies of Nykthos.
In the Eldrazi metagame, being as fast as possible is very valuable, and this allows you to have the fastest draws possible. The downside is that it makes the deck much more reliant on drawing a copy of Tooth and Nail, which can be problematic when facing down Thought-Knot Seer or a fast clock from Reality Smasher. Primal Command serves as a pseudo-win condition in this deck by finding Emrakul, while the seven life will typically buy you the turn needed to untap and cast it. That could be invaluable in making the deck reach a necessary level of consistency to compete across the metagame.
Even so, the toolbox is likely excessive, as finding a Scavenging Ooze and casting it will be far too slow to disrupt the graveyard decks in Modern, while Hornet Queen is only necessary against Affinity. Perhaps the best balance is to trim the toolbox while cutting Harmonize entirely, since the format is currently not at all based on attrition, to add a bit more explosive capability to the deck, whether with Burning-Tree Emissary and more copies of Nykthos or simply more mana creatures.
I would like to see the sideboard focus less on expanding the toolbox and more on playing the most powerful cards possible with more copies of Blood Moon, Creeping Corrosion, and Boseiju, Who Shelters All. This deck cannot afford to tinker much with its maindeck lest it lose its identity, so playing the highest-impact cards is a necessity.
I played a lot with the Arbor Elf–Utopia Sprawl engine for the last Pro Tour and was generally impressed with what it could do, and Tooth and Nail seems like the most powerful endgame card yet for the shell. With consistent kills by turn 4, this deck could easily compete with Eldrazi, and if Modern receives a significant shake-up when Shadows over Innistrad comes in, I could see this deck emerging as a new contender in the format.
- 3 Eternal Witness
- 1 Acidic Slime
- 4 Arbor Elf
- 1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
- 1 Primeval Titan
- 1 Hornet Queen
- 1 Scavenging Ooze
- 4 Voyaging Satyr
- 1 Xenagos, God of Revels