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:

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.