Last week, I was planning on playing either B/G Devotion or G/B Devotion. No matter what, I had four Overgrown Tombs and four Temple of Maladys sleeved up
and ready to go.
Monsters was previously the deck to beat and I was up to the challenge. I told nearly anyone who asked me what was good in the metagame that Mono-Blue
Devotion was probably very good. U/W was on the decline, Monsters was a great matchup, and Mono-Black Devotion was not prepared for how much the matchup
had changed with Hall of Triumph.
Still, Mono-Blue Devotion wasn’t a deck I wanted to play. I had experience with nearly every other deck in Standard and knew I could find the answer
without trying to learn a new deck.
Then SCG Providence happened.
Seriously, look at that Top 4.
There was even another Mono-Black Aggro in Top 8! I’m not quite sure what this means for the Invitational. One new deck or maybe even two I could prepare
for, but this… Maybe no one cares. Maybe they were already locked in on their deck choices and I’m blowing this out of proportion, but I don’t think so.
I could see either of the Top 4 decks having a nice showing at the Invitational this weekend. Players could latch onto Mono-Blue Devotion, U/W Control,
Mono-Black Aggro, and maybe Mono-Red Aggro, but I can’t figure out how to beat the decks I was beating before plus all of them. While I was previously
leaning toward B/G Devotion, it might be time to cast Elvish Mystic.
- 4 Burning-Tree Emissary
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- 2 Nylea, God of the Hunt
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Voyaging Satyr
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Eidolon of Blossoms
- 2 Pharika, God of Affliction
Not much has changed from the core of the deck, but I’ve developed some new plans.
The goal of the deck is to accelerate your mana and do one of two things. The first is playing Polukranos, World Eater or Nylea, God of the Hunt and
attacking your opponent to death. The second, and far more fun way, is to draw some cards with Garruk, Caller of Beasts and/or Eidolon of Blossoms and
eventually set up some big Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx turns.
Green devotion decks can be high variance, as you need to draw a good mix of mana sources and impactful spells against certain opponents, but I haven’t
been frustrated by its draws moreso than something like B/G Devotion. If you draw the right part of your deck, you’re a favorite to win. If not, you’re
behind. It’s pretty simple, and it’s not like this deck is the only deck in the format where that’s the case.
I like this deck because it does powerful things, draws a bunch of cards, and is generally resilient to Thoughtseize and removal. I’ve won several games
against black decks despite getting Thoughtseized and Lifebane Zombied. The matchup feels good, and it was one of the decks I was losing to with black
devotion, so I took a deeper look at it.
In creature-based or midrange matchups, green devotion goes over the top, drawing a bunch of cards with Garruk and making a bunch of mana with Nykthos and
Voyaging Satyr. With Nylea, you can break through even the craziest board stalls. Polukranos allows you to do the same thing but requires a lot more mana
to do so. You don’t need Nykthos to win, but it certainly speeds up the process.
Most of the people I’ve talked to about this deck have questioned the inclusion of Eidolon of Blossoms due to the deck not being jam packed with
enchantments. In most games, Eidolon cantrips off itself and then maybe off a Courser of Kruphix. That’s enough value for one card. You do not need a
robust engine, just a way to see some extra cards. If you’ve got Garruk going or assemble two Eidolons, you will likely do some busted things, but that’s
not a necessity.
Jacob Baugh made Top 8 of SCGIndy with a similar list. Many people had told me to try the black splash, and seeing Jacob do well was enough for me to pull
the trigger. I was not disappointed.
The main issue with the deck is the U/W Control matchup. If you get Eidolon of Blossoms or Garruk, Caller of Beasts going, you are in a good position.
Getting to that point is very difficult though. This deck has a low land count out of necessity (and Jacob even ran one less land than I am), so getting
your mana creatures Supreme Verdicted is a huge setback. It’s not uncommon for them to Supreme Verdict your board, leaving you with three mana, unable to
cast Garruk for the remainder of the game.
With the older versions, I devised a sideboard plan involving a pair of Peregrination and a pair of Consign to Dusts, with some other planeswalkers
depending on what my splash was. You really want another threat besides Garruk, so without a splash, you’re looking at something like Nessian Game Warden,
which is fine but certainly not good. Any planeswalker that pressures them would be better.
That plan allows you to make real land drops, cast your planeswalkers, and blow up their Detention Spheres. It works very well, but not in the black
splash. Vraska the Unseen is more of what you’d already have, instead of more of what you need. You want a Verdict-proof threat, and Vraska isn’t
threatening many people, despite her ultimate saying “win the game.”
Instead, we have the game plan of “hope to draw Golgari Charm to regenerate from Supreme Verdict and hope it’s enough.” That’s not the best game plan of
all time, but it’s a reasonable one. Again, I might also be overstating the need for a great game plan against control. Maybe people pick up on Jim’s deck,
It’s possible to craft a sideboard that includes four Mutavaults. That way, you are not as susceptible to losing your mana sources to Supreme Verdict, and
they give you a good way to attack Jace, Architect of Thought. I don’t like that idea, but it is certainly a plan.
Against black devotion decks, Pharika, God of Affliction is excellent, so much so that I even tried it in B/G decks for the mirror. That didn’t exactly pan
out, but she has earned her place in this deck in addition to providing some more enchantment synergy with Eidolon of Blossoms. You are kind of short on
black mana, so don’t expect to be making more than 1-2 tokens per turn.
Another thing that has made the black matchup better is actually Setessan Tactics. At first, I played Tactics as a means of fighting other creature decks,
but once I started playing black decks, people would actually side in Tactics against me! At first I thought they were crazy, but it was actually really
good. If I wasn’t able to pressure them with Lifebane Zombie or Pack Rat, eventually they’d get their engine going. Together with Arbor Colossus, it’s
actually difficult for black decks to mount an offense.
Decks like Mono-Red Aggro, Mono-Black Aggro, R/W Burn, Mono-Blue Devotion, and Red devotion have all been close, but favorable matchups. I’ve been losing
to Mono-Black Aggro more than I’ve been winning, but I have a ton of really good cards against them, so it seems like it should be favorable.
Black devotion decks are good matchups too, but it’s not unlikely for them to disrupt you, stick a threat, and kill you. Like I said earlier, U/W Control
is the most difficult matchup.
With this deck, sideboarding is pretty simple. Once you learn what each card’s purpose is, you’ll be able to recognize when you need them and when you
Against attrition-based matchups, you can cut the Burning-Tree Emissarys. They will likely have Bile Blight, Drown in Sorrow, or Supreme Verdict and will
continually try to keep your devotion count low. You aren’t very likely to “go off” with Nykthos, and the damage from Burning-Tree isn’t necessarily going
to matter. Instead, you want some higher impact cards.
Even against attrition-based matchups, I won’t cut any mana creatures. You still want to be casting a four-drop on turn 3 if possible. They are also part
of the mana base, and being stuck on two or three lands with no mana creatures is an easy way to lose. There is a Swamp in the sideboard to help against
decks that will kill your mana creatures, as well as when you need more black sources for your sideboard black cards.
Against faster decks, the Eidolon of Blossoms and Garruk, Caller of Beasts aren’t very necessary. However, it’s important to note that even a deck like R/W
Burn can be an attrition-based matchup. Once you gain some life with Nylea’s Disciple, they might turn their burn on your creatures. They may also side in
Anger of the Gods. At that point, having something like Garruk is of utmost importance. In that matchup, I like cutting Eidolons and shaving a Garruk until
I know what they’re up to, but Garruk is still pretty important in the matchup.
The Doomwake Giants are a concession to creature decks, including Mono-Blue Devotion. At one point, I even had two maindeck with another two in the
sideboard. They might not be there to stay, but they have been pretty good.
I’m very likely to play this at the Invitational this weekend, but B/G is not off the table. I hope I don’t make a horrible mistake either way.
As for Legacy, I’ve gone through a number of decks looking for something special. As always, Shardless BUG is my backup plan.
This is what I’ve considered playing:
Sneak and Show
One card that hasn’t been getting nearly enough respect is Eidolon of the Great Revel. Not only does it power up Burn in Legacy by providing you with a
constant damage source, but it gives you a maindeck hate option against Storm that isn’t vulnerable to Duress. It’s possible that Eidolon single-handedly
moves Burn into tier 1 status.
Of course, Searing Blood is pretty nice too, since it gives you additional Searing Blazes against Deathrite Shaman and Stoneforge Mystic decks. Against
creature decks that try to race you, Searing Blaze is one of the best cards you can draw, since it furthers your game plan while slowing them down.
I paged Patrick Sullivan for help, but he’s a busy man, so I had to do it on my own. This is what I came up with:
- 4 Lightning Bolt
- 4 Fireblast
- 4 Chain Lightning
- 4 Price of Progress
- 4 Lava Spike
- 1 Sulfuric Vortex
- 4 Rift Bolt
- 3 Searing Blaze
The biggest strike against playing this deck was Tarmogoyf and how difficult it seemed to race. I just added Relic of Progenitus to help against that, as
well as against graveyard decks that are otherwise difficult matchups.
Ensnaring Bridge is for Show and Tell, although I briefly considered bring it in against Tarmogoyf decks as well. Smash to Smithereens might seem like a
staple Burn card but with Sulfuric Vortex and Searing Blaze / Searing Blood fighting Stoneforge Mystic pretty well, I didn’t see the need. Pyroblast rounds
out the sideboard as an additional way to fight Show and Tell while also fighting Counterbalance. Pyroblast is slightly better because of a corner case:
you can cast it targeting any permanent if you need to get a card in the graveyard for Grim Lavamancer, which you can’t do with Red Elemental Blast.
Flame Rift is a notable omission, but Eidolon seems like an upgrade, and I’m not sure how many things we can play that deal ourselves damage. Pyrostatic
Pillar is another hate card for Storm and similar decks, but I was more worried about Tarmogoyf, Stoneforge Mystic, Deathrite Shaman, and Show and Tell.
I will likely not be playing Burn at the Season Two Invitational in Columbus, but I could see playing it further down the line. Additionally, it made me
question how good of a choice Shardless BUG would be since Burn is typically the hardest matchup. Of course, I could always go back to playing Chill, but
didn’t know if I should go that far since Burn hasn’t been receiving much press.
Wish me luck!