The Return Of Thassa

Thassa and Master of Waves made a convincing case for a comeback at the Open last weekend, but does it matter going forward? Todd Anderson analyzes the new old kid on the block in Standard!

This past weekend, there were three major Standard tournaments with surprisingly different results. Of those three, the most remarkable deck to come out of
this weekend was the return of Master of Waves and Blue Devotion. It isn’t quite like what I remember, but the monster we’ve tried to forget might be
rearing its ugly head for a return trip through Standard.

So what’s so good about this Blue Devotion deck? Let’s take a look.

Blue Devotion decks tend to rely on synergy more than most decks in Standard. The individual power level of each card is lower than Abzan Aggro or Esper
Dragons, but when the cards start working together, you have a monster. Without the hybrid creatures from Return to Ravnica block, it is much more
difficult to turn on devotion. Even with the addition of Shorecrasher Elemental from Dragons of Tarkir, turning on Thassa isn’t all that easy. We
no longer have good two-drop creatures that give us two points of devotion, and instead must rely on a powerful instant to help fill that gap.

Collected Company is a great card in its own right, vaulting Craig Wescoe into the Top 8 of Grand Prix Toronto on the same weekend, but there is a lot more
going on here with Blue Devotion than a normal green deck. While Collected Company works as a way to gain card advantage and board advantage
simultaneously, it is also a way to turbo-charge your devotion count. On top of that, you have tricky exploit creatures that you want to cast at instant
speed, so Collected Company can act like a pseudo-Ojutai’s Command (counter a creature; draw a card) if you hit Silumgar Sorcerer. The difference is that
your drawn card is a creature, and that creature enters the battlefield.

Kiora’s Follower seems like an odd one for this deck, but it actually makes a ton of sense. You don’t mind a mana accelerator that also lets your Thassa,
God of the Sea have vigilance, but you also want to cast Collected Company as soon as possible. Casting Collected Company on turn 3 will allow you to turn
on Thassa quickly, but it can also just push you incredibly far ahead when the boards are even, or catch you back up with your opponent has a fast start.
Kiora’s Follower is much better than something like Sylvan Caryatid, as it does double duty of attacking and counting for devotion. Casting Collected
Company sooner rather than later is definitely preferred, and you don’t even mind all that much if one of the creatures is another Kiora’s Follower.

Aside from Kiora’s Follower, the rest of the deck is pretty similar to what I played in a VS Video a few months back, but something
there was missing. Kiora’s Follower is definitely that something, as it helps to bridge the gap between earlygame and midgame. This style of deck doesn’t
have a lot of powerful two-drop creatures, and it would rather get to the midgame much faster, so that its synergy and devotion cards start to overwhelm
the opponent. It feels pretty awkward to just hard-cast Stratus Dancer, as its effect is so powerful when you can megamorph it. But there are games where
you have nothing else to do on turn 2, and you have to put pressure on the opponent.

Breaking The Flash

Using flash creatures and instants based on finding more creatures could be used much more to your advantage in a deck like this. The trick is finding
which cards supplement the rest of the deck without making Collected Company worse, but there is some merit to being able to hold up mana almost every
turn, so that you can counter their spell or play a strong one of your own. In some ways, you could build this deck to feel like a Faeries deck, but we are
desperately lacking on a card that feels like Bitterblossom.

What we do have is a card that feels a lot like Spellstutter Sprite in Silumgar Sorcerer.

When I first saw this card in the spoiler, I was impressed. For three mana, you get to counter a creature spell or have a 2/1 flier. That’s already a
reasonable card, but the truth is that it is actually better than that, because you can sacrifice a worse creature to get the same effect. When Collected
Company gets an additional mode of “counter target creature spell,” you are moving in the right direction.

Silumgar’s Sorcerer is good for multiple reasons, but it is also great in this deck because it adds two points of devotion to a deck that is sorely lacking
on enablers. The thing is, you don’t actually have to sacrifice anything, as a 2/1 flier isn’t a bad rate for three mana in the grand scheme of things, and
especially so if you’re casting it before making a ton of tokens from Master of Waves.

I would like to see more actual counterspells in this deck. If you’re going to play Collected Company in a blue deck, it just feels right to play Dissolve
or something similar, so that you put your opponent in a tight spot. Either they run one of their best threats into your counterspell, or you get to cast
Collected Company while they cast nothing. Unfortunately, that means lowering your creature count a bit, which makes Collected Company a little worse, but
having that alternate angle of attack is pretty sweet.

Something like this might work better in a deck that doesn’t rely on Master of Waves and other devotion creatures, but instead has more creatures that
naturally have flash. Boon Satyr comes to mind in this scenario, but your overall power level would likely be even lower than that of the U/G Devotion
deck. But power is often sacrificed for the sake of synergy, so that’s nothing new. The real question is whether or not cards like Boon Satyr and Silumgar
Sorcerer are strong enough to warrant building an entire deck around. I’m guessing not, but I could be wrong.

Counterspells are great at the moment if you can find ways to buy yourself enough time. If an opponent is able to land a few threats under your
counterspells, you need to have a few cards that can catch you back up in a hurry. The Five-Color Blue Dragons deck does this reasonably well. The
Dragonlords are phenomenal threats that can dominate the board if left unchecked, and they can catch you back up easily.

The Problem with Thassa

One major flaw with this deck is how vulnerable it is to Dromoka’s Command. If that card continues to see heavy play in the format, this deck just can’t
survive. Losing your Thassa and another creature is devastating. The fact that you can also “put a +1/+1 counter” on Frost Walker to just kill it is
bonkers. In all honesty, I don’t think this deck could ever beat Bant Heroic.

But Thassa is a phenomenal card in other matchups, and it is one of the few creatures you almost always want to hit on your Collected Company, so playing
four copies makes sense. If you’re going to lose one on the regular, you want to draw another copy. Thassa gives you a way to break through ground stalls,
helps keep you from getting flooded, and is a gigantic body when your devotion count is high enough. It blocks any creature without dying, and it kills
almost every creature in the format that blocks it (assuming you don’t make it unblockable).

Hypnotic Siren is interesting in the deck because it can actually protect your Thassa from Dromoka’s Command since it is also an enchantment, but it also
plinks away at their life total in the early turns. It is also a phenomenal topdeck in the lategame where most one-drop creatures would be terrible. It
might be difficult to bestow without Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, but I’m an advocate for cutting Nykthos in a deck that will have trouble turning it on. You
would much rather cast Shorecrasher Elemental on turn 3 than have an extra mana on turn 6.

The trouble will be turning Thassa on without a Collected Company. This is a format dominated by removal. Ultimate Price, Bile Blight, Hero’s Downfall, and
even all the burn spells from Jeskai and red decks are great against you. You will have to power through all this removal to win a game. Without drawing a
Collected Company, your deck doesn’t stand up well to the one-for-one game. They will likely have a big trump card, and your trump card in Master of Waves
dies to almost every removal spell in the business.

Your only free wins will come against aggressive red decks when you draw Master of Waves. Without Master of Waves, they will be able to overwhelm you
pretty easily, as you have a lot of one-toughness creatures, while they have a lot of token generators. But the games where you do draw Master of Waves
will be very difficult to lose.

Illusions of Grandeur

I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you. I’m not going to sell you the illusion that this deck is fantastic. In all honesty, this deck has a lot of trouble
with certain cards/decks. You will have matchups that feel unwinnable, and those matchups are pretty common in Standard. All forms of Abzan will be
problematic when you’re playing a deck revolving around Master of Waves.

Older versions of Blue Devotion could beat Black Devotion, even with all their removal spells, by going under their removal. Cards like Judge’s Familiar
and Cloudfin Raptor could get the job done without Master of Waves and Thassa. You even had Mutavault to help in attrition battles. But Dromoka’s Command,
Ultimate Price, and Hero’s Downfall will likely be too hard to overcome if you don’t draw a lot of copies of Collected Company, and then you need those to
not get hit by Thoughtseize.

Your plan against green-based decks no longer has Tidebinder Mage to slow them down or lock down their big threat on turn 4. You don’t have a lot of easy
ways to turn on Thassa, and you will probably draw extra copies of Thassa that end up being useless. There isn’t a lot you can do about it. But that is the
danger of playing a deck that has a lower overall power level but a high upside if your creatures are able to survive.

I’m not saying you’re going to lose to every Abzan deck. At the moment, many Abzan decks are relying much more on Abzan Charm than Hero’s Downfall, which
is great for keeping Master of Waves alive. Your early threats could pressure them enough so that a lategame Thassa helps push through the last few points
of damage. Shorecrasher Elemental is also solid against decks with heavy removal. Your fliers could threaten to end the game quickly, and Stratus Dancer
could protect your Master of Waves for a turn, and that could be good enough.

But Abzan Aggro is a different story. Your creatures line up poorly, you don’t have any removal, and your clock is significantly worse than theirs thanks
to Siege Rhino. They are your nightmare matchup, and the deck is relatively popular, which means you need to be right when you pick this deck up.

But the real question: Is this deck a good choice for your next tournament? Possibly. Like most decks in Standard, they all have a place and time. If the
field is full of red decks, then Master of Waves is phenomenal. Nick Peternell made it all the way to the Top 4 of the Portland Standard Open last weekend,
so clearly he is doing a lot of things right with the deck. You have decent matchups against a few of the other popular decks in the format, including
Esper Dragons and Red Aggro. You might even have a reasonable matchup against Abzan Control/Midrange. After all, Silumgar Sorcerer is pretty good against
Siege Rhino and Den Protector. Fliers and Thassa are great against Elspeth, and Collected Company is awesome against any deck that tries to kill all of
your creatures.

The best advice I can give you about this deck is try it for yourself. You might love it or you might hate it, but it could be the style of deck for you.
It does some cool, tricky things and has a lot of powerful interactions. If that’s what you’re in the business for, then by all means go for it. I don’t
want to undersell this deck, but I also want to be honest. I don’t know if I would ever play this deck in a tournament because it doesn’t really do the
kind of things I want to do. I didn’t play much with Blue Devotion when it was one of the best decks in the format, which makes it much harder for me to
pick it up when it isn’t anywhere near the same power level.

But it looks sleek. It looks solid. And honestly, it looks like a lot of fun. I had a blast playing it in the VS Video a while back, which might be reason enough
for many of you. It isn’t the same list obviously, but a lot of the cards/interactions are the same. This deck might be the perfect choice for Magic
Online, which is traditionally full of Red Aggro decks.

Older but Not Necessarily Wiser

Today is my birthday. I’m 29 years old, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m doing with my life. I suppose that’s the trouble with doing what you
love for a living. You always have the fear of losing what you’ve worked hard to build.

But this weekend, I’m not going to think about any of that stuff. I’m taking the weekend off from Grand Prix Atlantic City to go on a wonderful surprise
birthday adventure with my wife and friends. I have no idea what we’re doing or where we’re going, and that’s exactly how I like it. My wife, Kali, has
planned everything, and everyone involved has done a great job at keeping it under wraps. I’ll let you know how it goes. Hopefully I get to 2-0 a few
beers, eat some steak, and hang out with people that I love.

Next week I’ll hopefully come back recharged and ready to travel another thousand miles or so for a Magic tournament. See ya soon!