Quick Hits: I Hate Mono-Black Devotion

Mark tells you all the reasons why he hates Mono-Black Devotion and reveals what he’s thinking about playing at SCG Standard Open: Orlando this weekend.

Greetings, kids!

Are you ready for another fun-filled edition of Quick Hits?

I know I am.

This week is brought to you by the letter "H."

What does that particular letter stand for, you ask?


Hate, kids.

As in I profoundly find myself in hate with Mono-Black Devotion right now.

I have chronicled the relationship in order to give you my perspective:

When I sold a bunch of Pack Rats after the Pro Tour—and I mean a bunch—I loved Mono-Black Devotion.

When I saw a deck was crushing people with the aforementioned Pack Rat, a card regulated to Limited formats, I loved Mono-Black Devotion.

When my favorite card from Theros, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, found a home in a deck, I loved Mono-Black Devotion.

When it kept winning every Standard event over the course of a few months in the hands of Owen Turtenwald, I started to get a little sick of Mono-Black Devotion.

When I lost games to Thoughtseize after Thoughtseize after Thoughtseize after bacon strips after bacon strips, I started to get really sick of Mono-Black Devotion.

When the SCG Standard Open: Indianapolis Top 8 went up and I saw that three of the eight spots had been taken up by Mono-Black Devotion, I realized I hate Mono-Black Devotion.

When it won the entire 700+ person Open this past weekend, well, you get the idea.

Recently I’ve been channeling my inner Silky Johnson, and every single tournament I watch or attend feels more and more like the Player Haters Ball with me as the guest of honor.

Let’s do some exercises to get our hate out, shall we?

Quick Hit #1: Talkin’ Trash

They say if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it at all.

When it comes to most things, I’m inclined to agree—but not Mono Black Devotion. I’m going to get out a little of the angst that I’ve been feeling lately.

I hate you.

I hate your guts.

I hate everything about you, and if I could, I’d hire John Goodman from Arachnophobia to eradicate you from the face of the Earth.

You think because you made me all that money that we’re friends? Absolutely not. I wish nothing more than for them to always have the Detention Sphere, Supreme Verdict, Anger of the Gods, or Hero’s Downfall on the play or for you to be playing that guy who doesn’t shower and maindecks four copies of Dark Betrayal just out of spite.

I wish I still had all those copies of you so I could light them on fire in an effigy of how many tickets on Magic Online you incinerated that I once owned.

My sweet lord above, you are one of the ugliest things ever created.

I’d say you have a face only a mother could love, but I’m almost certain she abandoned you and that’s why you turned to a life of crime.

You’re a zombie, which makes sense because people mindlessly jam you on the field and kill me over and over again.

I am 100% certain that you, while being a Corrupt on a stick, have the same text Avarax does considering that whenever my opponent casts one of you they get to search their deck for the other three because I’ve never seen a card get runner-runner-runnered as many times in my life as you.

When you were first printed, I was overjoyed, but now I wish you’d never been born.

Without a doubt you were a mistake.

Printing you in Modern Masters? That would make sense. Screw that though.

They apparently wanted to jam you down my throat for two more years so I could remember how much fun I had in Lorwyn—except instead of Bitterblossom being the follow up I get to die via Rat.

You have stolen my dignity.

Don’t think I haven’t tried to play with you either. I have.

But you hate me, so whenever I take their best card the universe makes sure a duplicate is right on top of their library to mock me to the fullest.

Therefore I hate you.

Plus they gave you crappy new artwork.

You look awful.

You and I used to be bros, Underworld Connections.

You’re like that kid that I was best friends with in middle school. We used to play Jund together, win lots of games, and piss off control players. Everything was good. You were like a one- or two-of, and that was just fine.

Then some of the cool kids started hanging around you and you totally ditched me, you toolbag.

What’s it like to pretty much be worse than Yawgmoth’s Bargain, Necropotence, Phyrexian Arena, and a multitude of other spells?

If this were the Olympics, you wouldn’t even get a bronze medal.

Congratulations, Underworld Connections—you’re the Angola of black draw spells.

Whenever you rotate, it’s totally going to be like that same friend I was just talking about. When all the kids move on without you, you’ll want to be bros with me again and act like nothing happened, but I’ll egg your house just the same.

I hope your girlfriend dumps you too, Underworld Connections.

Quick Hit #2: Beatdowns

It felt really good to get all of that out.

Feel free to throw down any of your best insults on these stupid cards in the comment section.

Anyhow, since we’ve established that I have no respect for this deck whatsoever, I think the next best thing to do is figure out how to beat it.

Easier said than done, right? Seriously. I’ve lost ten matches of Magic in the last month, and six of them were to this deck. I want to beat it.

No . . .

I want to humiliate it.

I’ve pretty much been setting myself up to get beat down since I just can’t seem to quit playing U/W Control. What can I say? I love drawing cards, and that can be a problem. Usually game 1s are ok, about 50/50, but afterward when they start jamming eight disruption spells, things go downhill pretty fast unless you can keep up with their creatures and Underworld Connections, which is easier said than done.

I think I’ve learned my lesson.

I think I’m supposed to play something else.

First on my list is the CVM Special: G/R Monsters.

This passage from his article last week is what caught my attention, mostly because screw Thoughtseize:

"He aptly sighed, rolled his eyes, and after writing my hand down chose the Elvish Mystic on the off chance that I could get mana screwed.

All tournament this happened. My opponent would cast Thoughtseize, see these threat-heavy hands, and end up losing to all the cards that they knew I had in my hand."

Chris, baby, you’re speaking to my soul right now.

I want to play a deck that laughs in the face of the one-mana sorcery, and G/R Monsters is a deck that can do that.

This past weekend saw the deck in the hands of two of the best pilots in the room, and it didn’t disappoint. Brian Braun-Duin made Top 4 with it. Chris VanMeter started out strong with a 6-1 beginning before some bad draws and mulligans knocked him out of contention, but it was impressive watching him battle through mulls to five and still make very close games out of it.

Would you look at this sexy thing?

Use your eyeballs and let them dance over the delicate curves and contours. This deck is a machine. No flash, no wild and crazy devotion nonsense—it just beats the hell out of people, and that’s something I can get behind.

My favorite aspect of it is that it can switch gears so well regarding the matchup. Overloading on planeswalkers is great against control, and U/W decks seem to be cutting Ratchet Bomb and Quicken, making Mistcutter Hydra even more powerful.

This deck can make things hard for your opponent, and like Reuben Bresler said, "Much like Dre, people have forgotten about Ghor-Clan Rampager."

Have you read that guy? He has muscles in places I don’t even have places. Sometimes blowing through Elspeth tokens is just what the doctor ordered. Rampager is the truth.

You know what other deck punched Mono-Black Devotion in the face?

Big spells. Big creatures. Big mana.

We like ’em big here.

A friend asked me "if R/W Devotion is so good, why doesn’t it win more?"

Good question, but the answer is simple:

Years ago there was a YouTube series called World of Roguecraft. Basically it made satirical videos about things WoW related, and one of the most popular segments was about PvP Balance. For the sake of this article, I’m going to change things around.

Mono-Blue Devotion is scissors.
Mono-Black Devotion is paper.
Everything else is rock.

R/W Devotion is a mushroom.

Scissors sometimes can beat paper, and paper kicks the crap out of rock. Occasionally paper is made out of space-age material and scissors can’t cut through it, so scissors breaks and paper is victorious. Rock can sometimes rest on top of paper and win, but eventually paper will evolve arms to throw rock across the room.

That’s called balance.

You see, the mushroom is a deck people like to avoid. It’s not super consistent like G/W Aggro, and it doesn’t draw all the cards the U/W/x Control decks do. But I have a theory.

If more people started playing mushroom, more mushroom decks would win and eventually start to push harder against paper. If you watched Super Mario Bros. circa 1993, you know that if you trust in the fungus it will eventually pay out great dividends and give you power.

That entire thing just went full circle.

You’re welcome.

But at the core of my belief is that R/W Devotion is a powerful deck that more people need to believe in. It put three players in the Top 16 of the latest Open in Indianapolis, meaning those that knew the fungus held power were rewarded with precious Open Points.

This deck has a few things going for it, among them extremely fast and strong draws that can burn out Mono-Black opponents before they get much going. Fanatic of Mogis can take out massive chunks of life and act as a direct foil to Gray Merchant of Asphodel while punishing them for drawing too many cards with Underworld Connections.

Another card that can give Mono-Black Devotion fits is Assemble the Legion, which if they can’t take out of the R/W player’s hand will end the game in short order. Black has almost no answer for it outside of plucking it from your grip.

Now we’re playing with power.

Quick Hit #3: What Am I Playing In Orlando?

More than likely I’ll be sleeving up Mono-Black Devotion this weekend.

Yeah . . . take that in.

Taaaaaaaste ittttt.

I can’t justify not playing this deck right now, and it makes me sick to my stomach to admit it.

Look at it!

Look at this damn thing!

You remember playing Jund last year? I do. It’s practically all I did. I’d stream for days and nights over and over again, slinging Thragtusks, Farseeks, Huntmaster of the Fells, and all of those other cards everyone hated but I loved.

This deck is so much like Jund it hurts.

Powerful creatures that gain life? Yuuuup.
Disruption? Yuuuuuup.
Card-drawing engines? Yuuuuup.

Everything about this deck is so freaking efficient, and I’m going to feel stupid if I don’t play it.


Yes, this whole article is about how much I hate this deck right now yet I want to battle with it, but lord knows exactly what will happen. I’ll draw the wrong half of my deck in every game 1 I play and then get smoked games 2 and 3, implying game 3 actually happens instead of me standing outside so I can slam my head on the wall in peace.

If I decide to stay away from the dark side, I’ll probably play trusty ol’ U/W Control because I learn nothing from my mistakes.

It’s tough to turn away from what you know, and I feel like I can confidentially beat every single deck in the format that’s name doesn’t rhyme with Brono-Flack Brubotion. My win percentage has been pretty excellent with it, so I might opt to play something similar to this:

His board looks fantastic and literally gives me butterflies in my tummy.

I’d work a little more on his maindeck, almost certainly playing something similar to Huey’s list from Dallas because I still think it’s in a great place and can adequately draw enough cards to make Thoughtseize less of a factor while giving you powerful draws, but Levi’s sideboard is, as Beck would say, "where it’s at." It pretty much has the prerequisite turntables and microphone necessary to shore up every bad matchup.

All in all, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Along with your insults, tell me what deck to play. Even though you failed me with Shardless BUG, I still trust you, readers.

In the end, you’re my guidance, and I’m sure you will lead me to victory or at least an on-camera feature when I don’t lose.

. . .

. . .

. . .

Maaaaan that felt good to get out of my system. Really. Sometimes you have to purge the toxic. Out with the bad vibes and in with the good.

This weekend starts three weeks that include this Open Series followed by two Standard PTQs in a row, so I’m going to be taking the next few tournaments very seriously. A promise I made to myself was that along with increasing my travel load to events I would start putting up better results without excuses. This is my year to finally make a mark, and I will do so to the best of my abilities.

I’m like 50 Cent.

I’ma get rich or die tryin’.

See you in Orlando.

Catch ya on the flip-

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