Wb Devotion Takes Down FNM

Since winning Theros Game Day I’ve had a bit of a rough streak, though I did make top 8 in a couple drafts and did also last week, other than that I haven’t had much luck, though I have been having a good time, as Theros standard so far has a good variety of decks. I saw this nearly mono White devotion deck on line and decided I just had to give it a try. I made a couple small changes to the list and ended up playing this:

[deck title=”Wb Devotion”]
4 Soldier of the Pantheon
4 Precinct Captain
4 Banisher Priest
4 Boros Reckoner
2 Heliod, God of the Sun
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
2 Angel of Serenity
4 Brave the Elements
2 Ajani, Caller of the Pride
3 Spear of Heliod
2 Gideon, Champion of Justice
2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
4 Godless Shrine
1 Mutavault
3 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
13 Plains
4 Temple of Silence
4 Thoughtseize
2 Celestial Flare
2 Glare of Heresy
2 Orzhov Charm
2 Fiendslayer Paladin
1 Rootborn Defenses
2 Blood Baron of Vizkopa

As usual, I threw it together Friday evening and went into the tournament having not played it at all, other than two quick practice games against my 9 year old son piloting RDW. Regardless, though, I was excited to play it because it looks like such fun. As usual, though, I hadn’t really thought hard about sideboarding; in particular, I never know what to take out. But I winged it, and it turned out OK in the end.

Round 1: Mac, playing Monoblue Devotion
Mac has become a regular at my LGS and we’ve played several times lately. He kept a slightly sketchy hand in Game 1 and I had exactly the right kind of hand to punish it: Solider into Captain into Spear (off Mutavault) and I just ran him over. Game 2 he got an early Thassa and a Weird, then something else to activate Thassa, but on my turn 7 I had the mana to tap out to cast an Angel of Serenity, wiping his board. Unfortunately, he topdecked Jace, activated his -2, and found a Rapid Hybridization. He got his Devotion back up and while we were at a stalemate for a while, his overloaded Cyclonic Rift sealed it. Game 3 my opening hand had two Angels, a Captain, a Brave the Elements, and three land (including a Nykthos) in it. I got devotion going early, wiped him out with an Angel, and had the Brave ready to go when he tried to Rift the Angel.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games

Round 2: Karl, playing Naya
Karl’s deck is mostly RG devotion, but with White for Boros Charm. Game 1 I had a double-Soldier plus Spear and then Captain opening, and pretty much just ran him over. Game 2 I mulliganed down to 5 and he got some early ramp and a Purphoros, and he ramped into a pair of hydras, and I just could not keep pace with the trample on the Kalonian. Game 3 we had an epic board stall where we just played out everything on both sides, though I had three Soldiers and so gained much life. I finally drew a Brave when he was at 14 and I had 22 power on the board and everything but 1 of his creatures was green.
2-0 matches, 4-2 games

Round 3: Michael playing Jund
Michael is a regular who I’ve played many times, but not recently. Game 1 I had a turn 1 Soldier and got a Spear and a couple Banisher Priests to take out his blockers, and ran him over. Game 2 didn’t go much better with early double Captains and a Spear, then Nykthos to cast both a Banisher and a Reckoner on the same turn. It was too much.
3-0 matches, 6-2 games

Round 4: ID
We were both undefeated and could draw in, so we did. I spent the off time playing games against Monoblack, which is a really interesting matchup. I knew what I wanted in: +4 Thoughtseize, +2 Flare, +2 Charm, +2 Blood Baron, but I wasn’t sure what to take out. The Soldiers and the Gideons definitely come out, but after that it’s kind of iffy. Banisher Priest and Angel don’t seem good against all the black removal, but they do force the issue some of the time. We split the games we played, but I won fewer of them. Tricky matchup.
3-0-1 matches, 6-2 games

Quarterfinals: Jason, playing Monoblue
Jason has been a regular there longer than I have, but hasn’t been around much lately. Game 1 we both got very full boards, him with a Master and multiple Tidebinders and Thassa and such, me with a a couple Captains and many solider tokens and a Blood Baron and Elspeth. It was mostly a stalemate until I drew a Brave and swung in for what I thought was lethal, but I blew it because I forgot about his Mutavaults, and he responded to my Brave by Hybridizing my Blood Baron so I didn’t get the life gain, either. His swing back was almost lethal, but he also didn’t take my Mutavault into account, and it didn’t quite get there, so the game went to me. Game 2 I got an Angel on line after he had Weird and Thassa and then Master, and I had the Brave in hand for the Hybridization.
4-0-1 matches, 8-2 games

Semifinals: Nathan playing RDW
This was a really odd game. My opening seven was six lands and a Brave, so I shipped it back and kept a double-Gideon opening hand because I just did not want to go down to 5. I actually ended up casting Gideon and ticking him up to 7 right off the bat, and he threw a lot at him to make sure he died. I followed up with a Blood Baron, and he got me down to 1, but the Baron gained me the requisite life on a swing, and I took out his Burning-Tree with a Banisher Priest. He played a Fanatic to bring me back to 4, but having taken out the Emissary saved me, and the Baron got me back up to 5 again, and swinging with the second Gideon (then at 7) brought him down to 9 and he couldn’t swing productively into my pair of Captains and so Gideon carried it. Game 2 I got an early Fiendslayer, had a Spear, and got an extra counter on the Paladin with Ajani, and the life gain from multiple swings with him kept me alive. Nathan actually got to six land in the game and would have blown me out with an overloaded Mortars, but I had the Brave in hand to keep myself in the game, and Captains again did great work.
5-0-1 matches, 10-2 games

It was past 11:00 at night at this point and I had my 9 year old with me, so I was more than happy to take a split in the finals for $37 in store credit. Got the last couple cards I needed for the Kibler Golgari deck, which is probably what I’ll play next time out.

The Deck
It’s much better than I thought. I mean, I liked how it looked, but it actually plays even better than it looks. Spear in particular is fantastic. The really fast openers—Soldier, Captain, Spear—can be pretty devastating, but the deck has the raw power to take the long game as well, and does not require the fast opener to win.

Gideon just seems really mediocre, and I sided him out every time. You want a general-purpose four-drop with double white for devotion purposes, and he gives you that, but he’s just not really good enough vs. enough of the field to be happy with him. I’d probably keep him in vs. any kind of UWx control deck but in every other matchup a sideboard card seems better than Gideon. If the next set gives us a decent 2WW creature, or even better a good 1WWW one, I would probably play that over Gideon. Actually, I’d even consider Ajani’s Chosen here, except that not once did I actually make a token with Heliod, though I had him out several times. What the deck really needs is a flyer in that slot. Actually, Angel of Jubilation would actually be pretty good here—too bad it just rotated out. Same for Sublime Archangel, which would be insane in this deck. Linvala would be pretty good, too, or, wow, a reprint of Commander Eesha, Dawn Elemental, or Guardian Seraph. Maybe the next set will have something like that.

The monoblue matchup seems really good. Banisher Priest and Angel of Serenity are simply amazing against them since they have so little removal. I went +4 Thoughtseize, +2 Flare, +2 Charm, -4 Soldier, -2 Blood Baron, -2 Gideon against that and that seemed really good.

The RDW matchup is OK. I would seriously consider going up to 3 Fiendslayers in the sideboard to bring in against this, and they’re good against monoblack, too. For this one, +2 Fiendslayer, +2 Blood Baron, +2 Flare, +2 Charm, -4 Soldier, -2 Angel, -2 Gideon. Blood Baron isn’t great against them because it’s a little slow, but lifelink is so good, and it’s not like there are better choices around.

I was really glad I cut the fourth Nykthos and ran one Mutavault. That seemed exactly right, as a couple times I had both the Mutavault and one Nykthos, and having two Nykthos is awful.

The other important property the deck has is the property all rogue decks have: nobody had any idea what to sideboard against it.

It is, again, a fun deck, and like the other devotion decks in the format, has a lot of raw power. I think it’s better than the BUG deck I played last time out. Give it a whirl if you want to be a little off the beaten path, but still solid.

BUG Midrange into FNM Top 8

This report is not because I did really great or anything, but because the deck is kind of interesting. After winning Game Day, I’ve actually been on a pretty bad run, missing cuts on breakers or just having horrible nights. One of the days I missed on breakers I played the Bg Devotion deck, which I liked a lot and went 2-0 vs. Monoblack Devotion. Abrupt Decay and Putrefy are really good in that matchup.

Fall is pretty busy for me so I have almost no time to think about MTG until right up to the tournament and this Friday was no different. I decided I wanted to play something different and saw Chapin’s BUG Midrange deck listing and thought it looked like fun and I had all the cards, so I decided to give it a shot. I probably should have played it first, though.

I made a couple small changes from Chapin’s list and played this:

[deck title=BUG Midrange]
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Sylvan Caryatid
3 Desecration Demon
3 Reaper of the Wilds
2 Prophet of Kruphix
2 Prime Speaker Zegana
3 Thoughtseize
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Golgari Charm
2 Dissolve
2 Far // Away
3 Hero’s Downfall
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
4 Breeding Pool
3 Forest
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Swamp
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Temple of Mystery
4 Watery Grave
1 Duress
2 Mistcutter Hydra
1 Thoughtseize
2 Golgari Charm
2 Pharika’s Cure
1 Ratchet Bomb
2 Gaze of Granite
1 Whip of Erebos
2 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Primeval Bounty

In the main deck I just changed some numbers: I went down to 3 Reapers to run a third Desecration Demon. I cut a Far // Away for a second Abrupt Decay. In the sideboard I changed a few cards: 2 Mistcutter Hydras in place of the the 2 Ætherlings, and 1 Ratchet Bomb in place of the fourth Scavenging Ooze. Those all made sense to me at the time.

Round 1: Festus, playing RDW
Festus is a regular who I’ve played a lot lately, and I’ve been on a bit of winning streak against him, four or five in a row, I think. I had no idea what he was playing, but he won the roll and lead off with a Rakdos Cackler. I had a Golgari Charm in my opener so I though this might go OK, and turn 2 he nicely laid down a pair of Firedrinkers, so I was able to 2-for-1 him with the Charm. I got a Caryatid out to block, put down an Ooze, then got down Jace and a Demon, and he scooped. Game 2 was just a game of he would play something and hit me, then I’d kill it afterwards. The key play was on turn 5 he had a Fanatic out and cast a second one, and I responded with Away and he went to put the first Fanatic in the graveyard, then stopped and tapped his Mountain to activate his tapped Mutavault and sac that instead of the first Fanatic. Dang, I was hoping he’d miss that. He swung with the one Fanatic and dropped me to 4. They both died on the next turn to double Golgari Charm, but without more life gain in the deck, this was a losing race for me, as we both had empty boards. I knew I was in trouble, and he drew out of it first and burned me out. Game 3 I had two Caryatids in my opener, but only two land and no source of green. I kept, which was a huge mistake—I didn’t draw the third land until like turn 5, and it was a shock, so I just died quickly. Should have mulliganed.
0-1-1, 1-2 games

Round 2: Ryan, playing UW Control
Ryan is another regular who I’ve played many times, though not so much recently. Game 1 I just punted, as I had turn 2 Caryatid and could have cast turn 3 Reaper, but I held back to leave Dissolve open, and for the life of me I can’t remember why. The whole game played out badly after that, and everything useful I generated died to Verdicts, me never with a Charm in hand. There were some funny plays in the match, at least. He had both Jace and Elspeth at one point and I had a Demon, which he tapped by sacrificing a Soldier token. He had tapped out to cast Elspeth, so I got to cast an enormous Prime Speaker, but of course they both died to Elspeth’s -3. Unfortunately most of the cards I drew were just lands. Sideboarding was a bit of a challenge, as I wasn’t completely sure what to bring in and what to take out. Game 2 Ryan had a bit of a punt to even things up. He had a Jace, Memory Adept of mine under a Sphere, and after getting out a pair of Prophets, generate a Jace, Architect, and cashed him in to find a Golgari Charm. Ryan then put a Sphere on the two Prophets, then tapped out to activate both his Mutavaults, and swung. I Charmed the Sphere on the two Prophets, blocked both the lands, and set him back to four lands. Seemed good. He did draw into a Verdict, though, and this went back and forth many times. I finally drew my second Memory Adept, though, and milled him out. We had very little time to finish G3 (both of us again made sideboard adjustments) and did not, which was a shame, as I had a Turn 1 Duress followed by multiple early Thoughseizes. I also had a turn 5 Memory Adept and we ended on turns with him on 6 cards in his library. Dang.
0-1-1 matches, 2-3-1 games

Round 3: Elliot, playing WBR Slivers
These games were just horrible beatings. His deck is capable of really fast draws, but he never got them here and I just had way too much time to set things up. I had Prophet going in one game and was flashing in Demons and Reapers, and in the other game I got the Prime Speaker with a Demon on the board hand refill again. He actually did get me down to 7 in the second game, but i was never really in serious danger.
1-1-1 matches, 4-3-1 games

Round 4: Rusty, playing Monowhite Devotion
This is not the Wb Devotion deck that’s been on TCG lately, but a mono-white deck with little guys and Heroic, but still with Heliod and the Spear and Nykthos. Game 1 I got a couple 2-for-1s with removal on enchanted creatures, and once again got Prime Speaker with a Demon on board. Game 2 he got turn 3 Spear and kind of ran me over. I had a Gaze in hand but never hit the sixth land to wipe his board. Game 3 I kept him off me enough early to make Gaze for 3 be a one-sided Wrath, got Demon and Prime Speaker and put it away.
2-1-1 matches, 5-4-1 games

I made the top 8 on breakers, just barely.

Quarterfinals: Jeremy, playing Monoblack Devotion
I had played Jeremy on Game Day and the week after and was 2-0 against him, so he owed me. Game 1 was a very close back and forth affair he won off a desperate pay 2 life from Erebos to draw a card and pull Ultimate Price when I had a Demon on board with him at 6. He then drew a Gray Merchant to follow up, activating Erebos as well and hitting me down to 2. Grr. I hadn’t thought very hard about what to sideboard for this matchup and I’m not sure I did it right. However, Game 2 was pretty much smooth sailing, including an active Prophet for a couple turns (ate a Doom Blade) and a Far // Away that bounced a live Erebos and killed a 7/7 Demon. Game 3 didn’t go my way, though, as his turn 3 Specter hit a Thoughtseize on his first swing and I was just kid of behind the whole game, including him again top decking a removal spell when I had tapped out for Prime Speaker with a Reaper on the table. Ah, well.
2-2-1 matches, 6-6-1 games

I think that’s pretty much the textbook definition of a mediocre night. My son Simon made it to the finals (again, he’s been on a amazing roll lately), and while I was waiting for him, I played a bunch of games against an aggro Rw Devotion deck to get a better feel for how the deck plays in other matchups, a majority of which I lost. But the outcome is not really why I wrote this. Fundamentally, the deck is not completely straightforward to play; there are a lot of decisions, especially sideboarding, that I hadn’t thought about enough beforehand. This is what you get for building a rogue deck just before you leave for the event. I think with more practice with the deck and a tweaked sideboard, this could actually be a pretty decent deck.

So, let’s talk about it.

Comments on the Deck
First, it’s really interesting. It attacks from multiple different angles and is difficult to sideboard against, not just because it is rouge, but because of the diversity of threats. Main deck Golgari Charm seems like a great metagame call right now.

Basically, against heavily aggro decks, you have to draw early Caryatids or you just lose. The 0/3 hexproof mana wall is really great in those matchups. Early removal is really important, too. The sideboard seems OK against aggro, but is short a removal spell or two. Another Cure would be good, except Cure is so bad against everything else.

On the other hand, against mono-black, you also want another removal spell, and Cure would not be it. I wanted a Putrefy there. This was the only matchup that I brought in Whip and it didn’t seem that good, particularly with Erebos around. I’d have been much better off with a removal spell than with the Whip.

Ratchet Bomb in the sideboard felt like a mistake. I did bring it in a couple times and it never really seemed good. Primeval Bounty is also interesting, and while I brought it in against UW Control and against mono-black, I never got to cast it. Not sure how good that really is.

If I were to play this again, I’d definitely cut the Whip and the Ratchet Bomb, probably for a third Cure and a Putrefy, or maybe even for two Putrefys. I’d also consider cutting the Primeval Bounty for more hand kill, e.g. another Duress, or maybe even Vraska.

So, if you want to play something really interesting that’s off the beaten path, give this a whirl. I think with a few sideboard changes and better pre-tourney thought about what to sideboard when, and a little actual playtesting beforehand, this is decent, and a heck of a lot of fun to play.