Video Daily Digest: Devoted To Devotion

You don’t have to convince Ross Merriam to pick up a Devotion deck. He loves the strategy! And now he’s found someone who gave it some new life going into SCG Philadelphia weekend!

I’ve been enamored with Green Devotion strategies in Modern for quite
awhile now, but heretofore they haven’t shown enough for me to commit to
playing one in a tournament. In my head, I had reasoned that the best way
to build the deck is in the rampiest way possible, because otherwise you’d
be too slow to race the aggro and combo decks of the format and the deck
didn’t have enough space for disruption to compete with them otherwise.
Eternal Witness and various planeswalkers gave the deck a surprising
resilience in removal-heavy matchups so tuning for speed didn’t worry me in
those matchups.

But what if Green Devotion was meant to be an aggro deck all along?
Bloodbraid Elf may only be worth one point of devotion by itself, but via
cascade it ends up being worth at least one more, and up to three more if
you hit Steel Leaf Champion.

Speaking of Steel Leaf Champion, this card seems well-positioned for
Modern. Surviving Lightning Bolt is big thing right now, and losing your
turn two play to a Path to Exile isn’t the end of the world, especially in
a ramp deck. I’ve seen the 5/4 added to Elves decks but that archetype is
heavily synergy based and has enough three-drops. Champion wants to be put
in a hard-hitting aggro deck like this one.

The other three-drop, Runic Armasaur, isn’t quite as aggressive, but its
ability is potent in a format defined by fetchlands and the card advantage
is welcome in a deck that wants to assemble a critical mass of green
devotion symbols. That’s the same reason there are four copies of Elvish
Visionary, though you don’t need an excuse to play the best green cards
ever printed, Patrick Chapin.

Oddly enough, what I noticed in the list is there aren’t a lot of payoffs
from the devotion mechanic. There are only two copies of Nykthos, Shrine to
Nyx, which makes sense given the low land count, but there are two payoffs
I’d like to explore in the archetype.

The first is Kessig Wolf Run, which is an easy singleton even if you’re
cutting a spell and the single best mana sink available to turn small
creatures into big threats late in the game. The second is Aspect of the
Hydra, which can easily be cast for five or more, ending games out of
nowhere. Cutting some of the high end for mana sinks and pump spells to
press the aggressive theme makes sense to me.

I’ve been looking for the key to unlocking Green Devotion, but I would’ve
never guessed getting aggressive was that key. But I have to say it would
be a pleasant surprise.