Welcome back to Dreck Tech! I hope everyone has enjoyed this article series so far. I know that the decks I’ve been talking about aren’t for everybody, but there are enough articles on Mono Black Devotion. Typically, the decks I discuss are, at best, FNM outliers capable of outclassing the rest of the FNM brews, but likely to fall to the real decks in the format. This week, as I prepare myself for SCG Dallas, I want to take a break from my 3 part article series on brews for M15 to discuss a deck that will hopefully prove to be the exception to that rule.
As I’ve been saying in that article and the one before it, Mono Green Devotion is primed to be a serious contender in the post-M15 world, so it’s understandable that Charley Murdock’s 9th place finish with Mono Green Devotion at SCG Baltimore made me absolutely giddy.
Mono-Green Devotion A Standard Magic deck, by Charley Murdock 9th place at a tournament in Baltimore, Maryland, United States on 2014-07-19 As reported at www.starcitygames.com
The best thing about being a writer or podcaster is that everyone remembers when you were right, but no one remembers when you were wrong. Genesis Hydra is absurdly good, and Charley’s deck runs the full 4 copies. This card does everything I want to do in Standard right now: clog the board with an absurdly large creature, and at least leave an uncounterable permanent behind if the Hydra itself gets countered. It gives the removal-heavy decks 2 threats to deal with, which is important when playing a “fair” color like Green. I like the idea of running Nissa to allow the deck to continue to ramp even post-Verdict (as well as the cute 1-of Darksteel Citadel for an Indestructible 4/4!), but I prefer a Black splash in this deck so I have access to stronger sideboard options. Every person I’ve encountered talking about this deck has suggested running multiple Golgari Charms in the maindeck, so that’s what I tried (in addition to a main deck Vraska) at the Super IQ in Plano last Sunday:
I wound up going 3-4, losing to Mono Black, Mono Black, UW Control, and (you guessed it!) Mono Black. My result didn’t surprise or upset me, as I was using this event as a test run for this weekend’s SCG Open in Fort Worth. It is obvious after this event that I am a total dog to Mono Black Devotion. Considering that this deck is going to make up roughly half the field at SCG, I need a plan.
One of my greatest strengths is my willingness to consider nearly any card as a silver bullet for my decks. Consequently, this is also my greatest flaw, as I often find myself going so far down the rabbit hole that the pile of cards I’m mulling over makes all the mulling in the world unable to make my deck less of a pile. Regardless, I take pride in my open-mindedness, and I’m never content to just play the same 75 as everyone else.
Here are some of the crazier cards I’ve considered over the past couple weeks, as well as some lame attempts to defend my considerations: (graded on a Y/P/N scale which is sure to make the singer of Heavyweights happy)
Garruk’s Horde – This card isn’t nearly as hard to cast in this deck as it would be in most others. The interaction between this card and Courser of Kruphix is actually amazing, but will more often than not just give my opponent information before meeting an untimely end thanks to the endless stream of mana-efficient removal in Standard. Grade: N
Garruk, Apex Predator – This is the first card that really made me want to make the switch to 2 colors, since being able to play an uncounterable 7 mana Planeswalker and a 7/7 for 9 total mana should be the most broken thing you can do. Unfortunately for Garruk, Vraska does everything I want to do with Garruk but for 2 mana cheaper. I considered running 3 Vraska at one point, but ultimately feel like 2 is enough. Grades: Vraska – Snap Y, Garruk – RKNO, although it would be good in a Mono Green Devotion mirror, so I’ll grade it a P.
Desecration Plague – Depending on how popular Devotion strategies reliant on Nykthos become before rotation, this is actually a great tool for Mono Green to force those decks to play fair. As someone who is currently playing one such deck, I can safely say that the hands with a Nykthos are about 5x better than those without, which is why I’m so resistant to the idea of going with the 22 land, 12 mana dorks, and 4 Burning-Tree Emissary plan. 1 board wipe and I’m stuck playing an FNM deck with bad mana, so 23 lands is the bare minimum I can allow myself to play. In the mirror match this card would be devastating, but I don’t see that becoming such a problem that this would be better than Setessan Tactics taking up a sideboard slot. Maybe if some of the other Devotion decks start relying more heavily on Nykthos, but until then… Grade: P
Desecration Demon – Sideboard vs. Burn. No idea why I ever thought about doing this. Grade: N
Hornet Nest – Sunday at the IQ, while I was facing down a horde of Pack Rats, I was chatting with my opponent about what I wanted right at that moment. I had a Chord of Calling and the potential for X to equal 3. I realized that Chording up a Hornet Nest would allow me to block a rat. and then have enough Hornet Tokens left behind to significantly shrink his army the following turn. Another interaction I just love is the potential to have this and Polukranos in play, cast Setessan Tactics on both, fight Polukranos with the Nest, Make 6 (or more if Monstrous) Hornets, and then still have Polukranos active to fight an opponent’s creature. After rotation that’s a VERY potent interaction, but the ability of Mono Black to just Doom Blade or Downfall the Nest just makes it “too cute” for now. Grade: P to Y depending on the meta.
Reaper of the Wilds – Nothing wrong with this card at all. Thought about it for this deck specifically because it can block a Lifebane Zombie, but Lifebane Zombie can also exile this on the play, so not so good. In a Devotion dependent deck, this just doesn’t make the cut, especially with more people sleeving up Polukranos than ever. Grade: P
Back to Nature – Considered this as a sideboard card for a long time vs. Naya Hexproof, and as a catch-all for the U/W/x Control lists running Detention Sphere and Banishing Light. For both of those reasons I love this card, but I think Abrupt Decay is a more efficient use of a sideboard slot. Grade: Y if playing Mono Green, P otherwise, dependent on meta.
Worldspine Wurm – If I want to go big, I might as well go the biggest ever? Honestly? In a mirror match this would be perfect, but I don’t expect to see too much of the mirror. Mono Black would have a tough time dealing with this, but they have an easy time of dealing with the mana dorks that would ramp into this, or they just exile it with Lifebane Zombie. Grade: Sadly, N
Erebos, God of the Dead – Chording into this in response to a Sphinx’s Revelation vs. Control would at least stop the life gain, and would give me an opportunity to catch up on cards. Eidolon of Blossoms, Garruk, and Genesis Hydra all do the same thing in my current list. Grade: N
In fact, I’m not very impressed with Chord. Most of the times that I had a Chord in my hand Sunday I already had enough of my dorks killed that I couldn’t Chord for enough to make it matter. I more often than not just Chorded up another dork. This deck needs as much redundancy as possible to be able to compete with the proven, consistent decks in the format. I decided to cut a Chord and try out a couple new cards in the main, like Scavenging Ooze and Sylvan Primordial. I also shaved a land, added 2 Sylvan Caryatid, and a fourth Courser of Kruphix. Despite not trading with Pack Rat, I forgot just how great of a roadblock this card was for the first couple rat swings, or just another must-kill creature in a deck full of them. I cut the Golgari Charms from the main because they didn’t seem as useful as everyone was telling me they were. I always wanted more Vraska, though, so I added a second.
Here’s what I went with for playtesting Tuesday night:
I straight up stole the Stain the Mind tech from Kent Ketter’s Deck Tech from last weekend. Seems like a much better way to combat Supreme Verdict than Golgari Charm. The one time I played against UW they resolved FOUR sweepers vs me in each win. I can reliably cast this on Turn 3 against them. I had to argue with Stephen a good deal about my inclusion of Skylasher instead of all Mistcutter Hydra. Chord can grab it, as can Genesis Hydra. He doesn’t seem to like Genesis Hydra as much as I do, which is why I will DEFINITELY be playing the full set this weekend. Sometimes casting it for 1 is fine just to pile on Devotion if I can go off the following turn. (and sometimes I just flip the Elvish Mystic over. OK, just once, but it was super sweet.)
The one card I dismissed this whole time was Eidolon of Blossoms. Finally, after acquiring my playset Tuesday night, I came home and goldfished a couple of games with the Eidolon package, and cut the Chords entirely, as well as the Chord targets, for a more redundant list. HOLY CRAP WHAT A DIFFERENCE! 37 permanents is totally the way to go with this deck. Hornet Queen gets to remain as a 1 of, mostly because I have a habit of drawing my 1 ofs all the time. Sometimes it really is better to be lucky than good! Here’s the list I will be playing at SCG this Saturday:
Cut the Chord, A Creature Thus Be Born
Doomwake Giant is one of those cards I was considering for a long time as a Chord target, but with the Eidolon package the value is off the charts. No Chord also means I can go with Mistcutter exclusively. Sure, I can’t hit it off of Genesis Hydra, but I imagine if I’m casting Genesis Hydra I’ll probably be grabbing something more swingy than Skylasher so there’s no real risk there. I feel like I’ve come full circle with this deck, since this looks very similar to the list I saw Glenn Jones playing that first got me excited about the possibilities of Green Devotion in Standard. Pharika does what I wanted a second Hornet Queen for vs. Mono Black, and I can actually cast it! I feel like I’m pretty well stacked game 1 vs. them, and maybe my sideboard plan is weaker as a result. Against a deck that runs Thoughtseize though, the best plan is to have as many threats that replace themselves, and as much redundancy as possible.
So here we go. Best of luck to the other members of Team CGG this weekend at the Open. Just don’t sit across from me. We’ll be back next week on Yo! MTG Taps! discussing this event as well as the Pro Tour results, which should hopefully yield some gems, but nothing “spicy.” We don’t say “spicy” around these parts unless we’re talking about some habaneros.
Yo! MTG Taps!
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