Video Daily Digest: A Motion To Devotion

Ross Merriam going so over the top, he can see space? It’s a Daily Digest tradition! Let’s see how devoted our powerful mage can be!

I like a good mana creature. One-mana plays are generally weak, so why not use them to make your better cards come down sooner? When it comes to mana creatures in Modern, Noble Hierarch leads the way, but we’ve seen Arbor Elf come around due to its interaction with Utopia Sprawl. If you have both in your opening hand, you can generate four mana on turn 2 by Sprawling your untapped Forest and untapping it with Arbor Elf, which leads to incredibly explosive turn 3 plays.

The most successful of the many decks that exploit this interaction has been G/R Land Destruction, but that deck is so underpowered that I can’t ever see it being a lasting contender. The more exciting lists play Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in a Green Devotion shell, typically ramping into either Tooth and Nail or Genesis Wave. These decks are much more powerful, but also much more fragile, and in a world of Thoughtseizes, Lightning Bolts, and now Fatal Pushes, being fragile is a death knell.

That’s why this newest list is so exciting to me. It looks to solve the fragility issue by trimming the fat without sacrificing much in the way of power. It does that by using the flexibility of Summoner’s Pact. The card can find your big-game cards, notably Primeval Titan and Craterhoof Behemoth, or it can be a mana card by finding a second copy of Burning-Tree Emissary so the deck can go from 0 to 60 in one turn. Having the Ritual mode is really what pushes this card over the top, because you effectively get a higher density of your most explosive card for free.

And if you’re not on a ramp plan due to a poor draw or heavy disruption from your opponent, you can find solid midrange cards like Thrun, the Last Troll; Scavenging Ooze; or Eternal Witness. Having these cards alongside Garruk Wildspeaker and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar to make your mana creatures and Emissaries into threats gives the deck a resilient, aggressive backup plan that’s much more seamless than in the other Devotion variants. And if your opponent spends too much time worrying about your aggression, you can slowly make your way to seven mana and slam something like Hornet Queen that Thoughtseize decks will have a very hard time beating.

With the format slowing down and fast combo taking a backseat, decks like this that go over the top of midrange decks without folding to disruption are going to start creeping their way back into the metagame. If this one led the pack, I’d be happy but not at all surprised.