Exploring Mono-Green, Mono-Red, And Gruul Devotion In Theros Beyond Death Standard

After covering Mono-Black Devotion last week, Patrick Chapin examines Mono-Green, Mono-Red, and Gruul Devotion in Theros Beyond Death Standard!

Klothys, God of Destiny, illustrated by Magali Villeneuve

With seven Gods demanding devotion, and some of them having more than one way to even begin to go about that, there’s a lot of possible ways to experiment with Theros Beyond Death devotion decks.

While the white, blue, and black Gods all look really attractive, it’s Klothys, God of Destiny that looks like the most appealing option for red and green to me. If we start by just looking at it through the lens of an enchantment, without even waking it up, the card is already worthy of attention.

Klothys, God of Destiny

Compared to Deathrite Shaman, the mix of abilities here is balanced quite differently. Deathrite Shaman’s mana ability costs a mana less than either the lifegain or life loss ability (not even counting the mana it produces, but just to activate it). By contrast, Klothys’s non-mana ability doesn’t cost any more to use. On top of that, the non-mana ability is actually both “deal two” and “gain two” at the same time. As a result, Klothys’s non-mana ability is the more important of them, as opposed to Deathrite Shaman, which wants to tap for mana.

If we could just play with an enchantment that costs 1RG and drains somebody for two a turn, that would already be really attractive. Yeah, there’s ostensibly a graveyard requirement, but that’s as easy as they come, and besides, it’s actually upside because of the graveyard-hate element it adds for free. And it’s not like the mana ability is a bad option, even if it’s weaker. When it’s good, it could be really good. It’s just another option, you know?

But what about when Klothys wakes up?

Look, it’s not just that a 4/5 indestructible creature for three would be unbelievable. It keeps its other abilities, so it’s functionally kind of a 6/5 indestructible gaining two life per turn (and having a little bit of evasion).

Okay, so let’s take a look at a few different ways we might be able to put Klothys to work. One of the primary constraints for any sort of a red and green deck is going to be the mana. Every two-color combination has access to a shockland and a Temple, but the enters the battlefield requirement is potentially really problematic for aggressive decks. One possibility is to just not worry too much about it, and maybe avoid cards that require all red or all green. For instance:

It’s tearing up my heart, the idea of playing a deck like this with just a single one-drop, but what other options pop with no strings attached? I’m thinking of you, Llanowar Elves. I want you back. However, with them gone, I’m just picturing Gilded Goose saying “It’s gonna be me.” I believe in you, but it makes me ill to imagine the topdecks. That said, the mana acceleration is kind of compelling here. We go to the three- and four-spots and it’s pretty crazy what we can buy: buy by the body (Lovestruck Beast, Questing Beast) or buy by bi-modal flexibility (Gruul Spellbreaker, Bonecrusher Giant). There’s got to be a mix more in-sync with our primary gameplan, this I promise you. [Copy Editor’s Note: Clearly Klothys the God must have spent a little more time on your mind…]

The First Iroan Games

The First Iroan Games looks pretty good. Just walk through the whole process. First we get a 1/1. Okay, no big deal. Next turn, we get to put three +1/+1 counters on something. This can obviously generally be used on the 1/1 to make it a 4/4 (which is already pretty enticing), but we can also put it on something else with better keywords or better on this battlefield (or even just that survived the turn sequence). Besides, sometimes, just having access to a 1/1 is a big deal, thanks to Lovestruck Beast.

Lovestruck Beast

The following turn, if things are going okay, we’ll draw two extra cards, and now we’re way ahead. Finally, the icing on the cake is the Gold token, which can be cashed in for a mana at our leisure; mostly flavorful gravy, but it will be important sometimes.

Barkhide Troll Syr Faren, the Hengehammer

The +1/+1 counters take on extra purpose when placed on cards that can use them for other purposes (such as Barkhide Troll), or cards with an ability that gives us a multiplier in some way (such as Syr Faren, the Hengehammer). Interestingly, both of these GG two-drops take on new meaning in light of Theros Beyond Death anyway because of devotion.

There are so many sick three-drops, where does one even begin? I mean, even shaving Gruul Spellbreakers and The First Iroan Games, we’re still talking about fifteen three-drops (though with Lovestruck Beast and Bonecrusher Giant, it’s actually not as bad). This list isn’t even playing Domri, Anarch of Bolas or Rhythm of the Wild, either. If we went a little bigger, they could both be fine options.

Furious Rise

It’s more of a sideboard option, but Furious Rise isn’t necessarily out of the question as an option for grinding. It costs less than this effect usually does, but the times we need it most are when it will be the least reliable.

Once you’re playing this many three-drops, you’ve got to start to ask yourself if you wouldn’t just be better off playing more four-drops. Casting a three-drop on Turn 4 isn’t necessarily a problem, but you might as well play a four-drop if you can.

Domri, Chaos Bringer

Domri, Chaos Bringer is at least interesting, but I think we’d want to be going even bigger to get our money’s worth here. With so many unreal threats available for four or less, it becomes harder to justify many threats costing five or more mana. Obviously, Skarrgan Hellkite is a fine option, but that one is also going to depend on how big we can afford to go, compared to just reliably putting material on the table.

Wicked Wolf

It might just be right to play Wicked Wolf, particularly if the format ends up with a lot of people playing cheap creatures to power their own devotion strategies. Even if we don’t maindeck them, we’re going to want access to this one after sideboarding.

Vivien, Arkbow Ranger

The four-drop I’m most excited about is Vivien Arkbow Ranger (besides Questing Beast, which just seems really strong all the way around). I love the interaction between Vivien and Syr Faren, the Hengehammer. Vivien not only gives us a lot of options, but also a lot of devotion. That said, it’s still kind of an outstanding issue how much we even care. The deck above only features two copies of Klothys out of the gate, and nothing else that even matters. It might be crazy, not playing more, but we’re not exactly playing a lot of cards going to the graveyard.

Nylea, Keen-Eyed

There are so many green mana symbols available, the obvious question becomes, why not play Nylea, Keen-Eyed? The thing is, we definitely don’t need as many four-drops as we have access to, and I’m not even sure Nylea is very good in a deck like this. A 5/6 indestructible creature for four is a lot less attractive than a 6/5 for three. The card draw ability on Nylea is kind of medium, drawing us a little more than half a card per three mana (albeit with selection). The cost reduction ability is fun and synergizes with the card draw ability, but it’s still acceleration starting on Turn 5. Maybe it’s right to play Nylea, but if it is, we’re probably only talking one or two (and maybe sideboard instead, for grindy matchups).

Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig

If we do want to really do the Mono-Green Devotion thing, there are options available. Yorvo looks great, even if he’s just another three-drop. Here’s a possible Mono-Green Devotion deck utilizing the superpower of Forest always giving you perfect mana and entering the battlefield untapped:

If we just decide we’re doing it, there are more than enough giant monsters to play this sort of deck. We’re also not going to have any trouble waking Nylea up. We’re also going to be able to go pretty deep on activating her, thanks to the ease at which we can play four Castle Garenbrigs.

Castle Garenbrig

I skipped The First Iroan Games, as it doesn’t work with Yorvo or Nylea’s abilities, but maybe that’s wrong. That card might just turn out awesome. I also didn’t put Mantle of the Wolf in here, even though it’s a card I’d like to find a good spot to try it in.

Mantle of the Wolf

Like The First Iroan Games, Mantle of Wolf doesn’t count as a creature, but it sure would be nice to put this on Syr Faren, the Hengehammer or Barkhide Troll.

If we’re going to put a noncreature spell in here, we might consider Warbriar Blessing, as it’s not the worst fight card, despite not needing any red mana.

Warbriar Blessing

It’s nothing revolutionary, but it if the +0/+2 ends up being a convenient boost for working around popular removal spells and winning certain types of combat, this one is better than average.

Klothys's Design

Maybe this one is just functionally an infinite amount of damage enough to be worthy of consideration, but that’s probably in a deck with a bunch of mana creatures and Nissa. I worry that it might be the wrong way to fight the upcoming format, where sweepers will be at a premium. Maybe I’m just underrated the green devotion cards, though.

Setessan Petitioner Renata, Called to the Hunt Nylea's Huntmaster

I just have no desire to play these cards in Constructed. Maybe we could get mileage out of Renata in some +1/+1 counters deck that cares about enchantments, but they’re all kind of inefficiently distributed power points for Constructed.

Dryad of the Ilysian Grove

Once we’re getting into the enchantment creatures, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove is an interesting option, particularly if we’re playing three or more colors (capitalizing on the fixing) and are ramping up to something big. Without Courser of Kruphix’s “play lands from the top” ability, we’re just not going to be able to justify this in a random deck that isn’t using it for synergies.

Chainweb Aracnir

I could easily see using Chainweb Aracnir (and definitely a sideboard option), but I opted for a couple of Wildwood Trackers to start with in order to have more ways to ensure Lovestruck Beast keeps attacking.

Arasta of the Endless Web

Arasta of the Endless Web, however, just doesn’t seem built for Constructed. People that are likely to play a lot of instants and sorceries are going to be able to kill it a lot. We do end up a 1/2 the better for it, so maybe that’s enough. It’s not a zero, but I’m not high on it.

Omen of the Hunt Wolfwillow Haven

Both Omen of the Hunt and Wolfwillow Haven are ramp cards, through and through. We’d want to have enchantment synergies, most likely, but they’re definitely not for a brawling deck like above.

Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded

Purphoros seems the worst of the monocolored devotion Gods to me (at least in Standard). It’s slow and not even particularly deadly. Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think we’d even use it in a red devotion deck.

The only kind of attractive option is Anax, Hardened in the Forge, but even Anax is pretty vulnerable. Is it even better than the three-drops we have access to with green?

Anax, Hardened in the Forge

With so little reason to care about red devotion, I wasn’t even inclined to play Omen of the Forge over Shock. If we had more enchantment synergies, though, it might be okay.

Omen of the Forge

If we did end up playing Omen of the Forge, it is a nice one to sacrifice to Final Flare.

Final Flare

Final Flare looks a little pricey to me for a normal red aggro deck, but if we really moved in on it, it could form a really enticing core with Slaughter-Priest of Mogis, Blood Aspirant, and Treacherous Blessing.

Slaughter-Priest of Mogis Blood Aspirant Treacherous Blessing

That’s a lot of respectable ways to sacrifice the Treacherous Blessing for upside and really get more than the some of the parts. I definitely think some kind of Rakdos deck will emerge that does this. Very likely, Judith, the Scourge Diva will play an important role.

Underworld Rage-Hound

I’m kind of into experimenting with small numbers of escape cards in spots where they’re on-theme. Underworld Rage-Hound isn’t a crazy rate or anything, but it might be worth using a little bit of it for extra staying power, considering the first copy or two is low opportunity cost (we’re not using our graveyard for anything else).

Phoenix of Ash

Likewise, we could be interested in Phoenix of Ash, even just a couple of copies, for an extra angle of attack and more resilience. It’s harder to figure out the right home for, but Escape Velocity actually looks really sweet to me. It’s gonna take a very different kind of deck from what we usually see, but this card looks strong.

Escape Velocity

Perhaps the most exciting of these options, at least for a fast red deck, is Ox of Agonas, which could be a really great way to keep the fuel coming against opponents relying on too many reactive cards.

Ox of Agonas

Once we’re okay with playing green, the balance of mana is a little tricky. Red aggro decks really don’t want the tapped land, so are we supposed to play something like the following?

Klothys could be nice for staying power, but I still think the card is going to be better-suited to a little bit bigger of a strategy, one stretching the game a little bit more.

Purphoros's Intervention

Any red deck should be considering Purphoros’s Intervention. I think it’s a very respectable removal card that functions passably as a face-damage card if you can find the right spot.

Tectonic Giant

Tectonic Giant is actually a really sweet new option that makes me feel less dependant on Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. Could it be the missing line for Elementals? I’m already excited about how well Living Twister turns on Klothys, both from a devotion standpoint and from discarding cards.

Living Twister

For instance, here’s an attempt at Gruul Elementals:

Alternatively, we might try experimenting with Satyr tribal. They don’t have as much support as Elementals, but we might be able to get enough mileage out of enchantment and self-mill synergies to make it worth it, considering the one lord they do have is extremely strong.

Gallia of the Endless Dance

Gallia of the Endless Dance is so strong, I think there’s no problem playing it in decks with zero other Satyrs. If you do have any, all the better.

Satyr's Cunning Careless Celebrant Nessian Wanderer

Irreverent Revelers Skola Grovedancer Destiny Spinner

Satyr’s Cunning in particular works really well with Gallia, but from being a wide source of tokens, and from capitalizing on all the cards you’re discarding to Gaalia. It’s probably going to turn out to be a really weird deck, if we lean into the Satyr thing any more than just Gaalia and Cunning, but I could imagine it being something really different, with a really unusual mix of aggression, enchantment synergies, self-mill, and token enabling.

We’re in a pretty wild time in Theros Beyond Death Standard, and I’m loving seeing how its unfolding!