Playtime With Xenagos

CVM talks about he how did at #SCGCOL last weekend and then starts brewing with Xenagos, God of Revels and other Born of the Gods cards in Standard.

Last weekend I played the bad guy, and it was nice.

At the end of my article last week where I went over the different flavors of Delver in Legacy and which version I was likely to play, I alluded to playing G/R Monsters again in Standard, and I had all of the intention in the world of it.

That was until Brad Nelson convinced me to just play the best deck in the format.

Mono-Black Devotion has been consistently putting up numbers for some time, and with just a few SCG Open Series left before Born of Gods shakes everything up (and I believe it definitely will), I should just be playing the best deck to try to get as many points as I can.

My goal is to qualify for the SCG Players’ Championship, and as much as I love playing Domri Rade, I felt like I had a better chance of making Top 8 of Columbus with Mono-Black Devotion.

As per usual lately, I was in great position in the tournament pretty deep into it and picked up my second loss very late. Ultimately I was able to fend off Riley Curran in round 9 with Junk ala Brian Braun-Duin and Jacob Van Lunen from Pro Tour Theros only with more Rats-a-packin’ and a nice gent in round 10 with W/R Aggro.

I had played Mono-Black Devotion exactly one time prior, and that was in an Invitational where I did extremely poorly and BBD made it to the Top 4 with the exact same list. I feel like I must have run quite bad since all of the stories from that tournament just made Brian laugh and exclaim that he had never experienced such hardships and all ye need to do is casteth the Packeth Rateth, which is exactly what I did this past weekend.

Snow may have been falling from the sky outside in Columbus, but it sure was raining Rats and more Rats inside the convention center.

Here is the list I took to a thirteenth-place finish:

Pack Rat is still a fair and balanced Magic card, and since everyone gives it the respect it deserves, all of my opponents were ready to defend against it.

Okay, okay, I suppose I’m not a very good liar.

It’s not going away, ladies and gentlemen. Pack Rat is a force to be reckoned with, and sadly Minotaur Wizards are too slow.

With a Top 16 finish in Standard, I had high hopes for Legacy, especially since I was armed with a sweet U/W/R Delver deck. I was undefeated going late into the tournament again and took my first loss to Bernie Wen on camera against his Esper Deathblade deck. His one-of Abrupt Decay backed with Snapcaster Mage was the perfect foil for my double Delver of Secrets with Daze and Spell Pierce hand that decided to give me all lands afterwards.

I then picked up my second loss shortly thereafter to a nice dude playing Belcher. When I told Cedric what happened, he cackled and screamed, "GET BELCHED!" before scurrying back to his coverage fortress. [Editor’s Note: It’s safer over there.] After playing Delver on turn 1 and passing with Spell Pierce, Brainstorm, Swords to Plowshares, and Lightning Bolt in my hand, I felt pretty invincible as long as he wasn’t playing an all-in combo deck.

Seven spells later he had fourteen Cedrics in play, and I was bested.

My sideboard cards showed up and quickly took game 2, and in the deciding game I mulliganed to four looking for a Force of Will or an acceptable hand to keep and lost to sixteen Goblins on turn 1.

I ended up losing the last two rounds to finish 5-4 and out of cash. After starting out 4-0 that’s a pretty sour finish, especially with the hunt for points I’m involved in.

You aren’t here for the weekend recap though, are you? I’ve been talking all week about how awesome I think the new G/R God, Xenagos, God of Revels, is, and that’s why you’re here. You want to talk about some monsters, and boy does Xenagos, God of Revels loves himself some monsters.

He’s the only God currently that you can get value out of the first turn that it hits play regardless of devotion status. At five mana, he curves nicely after a Polukranos, World Eater or Ghor-Clan Rampager to pump and let you attack for a whole bunch out of nowhere. Even if you have something like a Boon Satyr in play, Xenagos, God of Revels makes it an 8/6 that turn that you get to attack with.

The new Gods have devotion to multiple colors. As such, the devotion requirement has been upped from five to seven in order for them to become active. In reality this is a lot easier to achieve than it looks. With the old Gods needing five but already counting one toward themselves, you really only needed four more devotion to have them active. While the new Gods require seven devotion to turn on, they are now counting two toward themselves, which only leaves you needing five more. It’s only four versus five as opposed to five versus seven, which is a lot more palatable.

With the new devotion count in mind, Xenagos, God of Revels has two awesome things going for him. He’s a creature that you can draw off of Domri Rade, so we aren’t hurting our creature count by playing him in a Domri deck. He also gains two devotion from each Domri Rade and the planeswalker version of himself.

Flavor faux pas aside, having a Xenagos, the Reveler and a Xenagos, God of Revels in play together is pretty sweet since they work well together.

I’m really excited that the new incarnation of Xenagos fits right into the G/R Monsters shell since we don’t need to worry about saturating our deck with cards like Voyaging Satyr to try to take advantage of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. That being said, I also think that Xenagos fits right into the G/R Devotion deck too, so we have a lot of options.

Like most Gods on baller status, Xenagos, God of Revels has his own Fanatic. Mogis isn’t the only God repping a dope crew, as Fanatic of Xenagos is the real deal too. I feel like the tribute mechanic is pretty well suited for Commander play since letting your opponent choose what happens is seldom good, but Fanatic of Xenagos is so aggressively costed, with perma-trample tacked on is a very powerful Magic card, and works amazingly well with the God it is so fanatical about.

Let’s look at one direction we could take G/R with Xenagos, God of Revels.

This build is a bit of an experiment to see how Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is going to play with the slew of multicolored cards if we lean on the potential power of Burning-Tree Emissary. With the ability to power early Nykthos activations, Burning-Tree Emissary has proven that it’s powerful, but I’m also intrigued with its interaction with Springleaf Drum.

If we open on Springleaf Drum into a Burning-Tree Emissary, we can then tap the Drum and the Emissary and play a three-drop like Fanatic of Xenagos or Domri Rade on turn 2. It basically gives us another Elvish Mystic and provides another method of ramping on turn 3 or 4 into an early Xenagos, God of Revels.

I’m not 100% sure it’s worth it, but that’s what testing is for! I’m very excited for the interaction between Xenagos, God of Revels and Domri Rade. Since Xenagos’ ability also pumps the toughness of the creature, it makes it a perfect candidate for post-combat fighting, plus if Xenagos is a creature, then being indestructible isn’t too shabby either.

I still love Mistcutter Hydra out of the sideboard, and it becomes even more powerful with Xenagos, God of Revels. Once we’re able to stick the God, our Hydras will make quick work of our opponents when they get pumped by Xenagos. Unravel the Aether is just a functional reprint of Deglamer, and although we don’t have Wurmcoil Engine to worry about, being able to handle Thassa, God of the Sea, any of the new multicolored Gods, and playable enchantments like Bident of Thassa, Whip of Erebos, Underworld Connections, Spear of Heliod, and Detention Sphere makes me like it a little more than Destructive Revelry.

The next build is something that’s a little more akin to straight-up Monsters yo!

Something like this is a lot more focused on playing as many efficient and hard-hitting threats as possible. We still have the powerful planeswalker duo of Domri Rade and Xenagos, the Reveler, but we get to swap Boon Satyr and some Scavenging Oozes along with Flesh // Blood for Xenagos, God of Revels and Fanatic of Xenagos. At first glance we might want to do a 2/3 split on Scavenging Ooze and Fanatic of Xenagos, but I’m going to stick with the full four for now so that we can get a feel for how the card is going to perform. It’s important to note that Xenagos, God of Revels also plays very well with Flesh // Blood, so we may just want that back in the deck too.

I really want to play a Mutavault, activate it, and then make it a 4/4 with haste with Xenagos’ ability. It’s real cute, believe me.

Another option could be to put Xenagos, God of Revels in a red-based devotion deck along with Domri Rade as a green splash. I know there are already some R/G Devotion decks; adding Xenagos, God of Revels wouldn’t be that hard, and he might even end up being better than Purphoros, God of the Forge.

We still have a lot of cards left to be spoiled from Born of the Gods, but for now I’m definitely excited for Xenagos, God of Revels. Hopefully we get another mana dork along the lines of Avacyn’s Pilgrim; maybe Xenagos’ Reveler?

There’s one other card I’m excited about that’s been spoiled, and that’s Searing Blood.

When I was raving about the R/W Burn deck that I played at the Invitational in Las Vegas, I mentioned multiple times that the deck was one awesome burn spell away from being very good. Searing Blood might be that burn spell.

The deck was set up well against the midrange and control decks but had issues with the aggressive decks; since we didn’t have any card advantage, we had to just throw all our burn at them and only use a few burn spells as removal on important creatures. Searing Blood changes all of that. Being able to kill a Precinct Captain and do three damage is huge.

The only problem is that Brimaz, King of Oreskos is the real deal and is going to be in the decks that we already had an issue with before. Some number of maindeck Mizzium Mortars might be where we want to be, or maybe we can just ignore him completely. Here is where I would start if you’re the type who just wants to watch the world burn.

This is basically just the R/W Burn deck swapping Toil // Trouble for Searing Blood. It’s also important to note that now we have access to the R/B Temple, so if we really wanted to we could play some number of black spells in the sideboard.

I had a blast playing this deck before, and if U/W/x Control continues to be a thing after Born of the Gods comes out (spoiler alert: it probably will), then this might be a strategy worth revisiting.

Xenagos, God of Revels is sweet. It’s my favorite card in Born of the Gods so far, and I can’t wait to start battling with him.

Oh, and Young Pyromancer won the Standard Open this past weekend. Make sure you have your CVM tokens to go along with the goggled Elemental summoner!