Insider: My Final Devotion

Mike-Lanigan QS Magic the Gathering MTG

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All things must come to an end. Theros Block is winding down its path towards rotation oblivion. Prices from the three sets of the enchantment-themed block are diminishing swiftly but after this recent decline, most seem stable for now. They have yet to go cliff diving towards their post-rotation price trajectories.

For most players, they have been devoted to green. In the past, I would have been amongst the masses of the green monster as well. In week one of our new Origins format, the G/r Devotion beast reared its unstoppable head and not only won the event but placed many players highly. Going into week two, it was the clear deck to beat and players brought out their tree chopping axes and left no devoted tree mages standing.

There was one green mage who managed to survive the fires brewing to burn down the forest and it was Adam Bialkowski. He is more devoted to dragons, but that’s okay too. This unique take on G/R Dragons lit up the hearts of mages around the globe. Here’s the inspirational list:

Not only does this deck have a solid, proven game plan of playing dragons and attacking with them, it also has a combo element. In place of Stormbreath Dragon, whose price was truly demolished recently, we see the fun switch to Atarka, World Render. This adjustment in deck design is made possible by those Eldrazi-loving designers who planted See the Unwritten to open our minds to Magical Christmasland on Zendikar this year (or possibly crush our hopes and dreams).

Ideally, you will hit two creatures from your ferocious See the Unwritten. Any two fat flying monsters you find are likely to get the job done, but Atarka, World Render plus Xenagos, God of Revels is a lethal combination from your opponent’s full twenty.

This deck may look like kitchen table fun time, but I think it was not only a brilliant deck design, but also the best positioned deck for the event. When I metagame against the current, this type of next-leveling is what I dream of. He even has amazing sideboard cards like Twin Bolt and Scouring Sands to fight against some beatdown.

As the format adjusts and the pieces move around, I’m not sure how great this deck will be, but for now, get started burninating the countryside.

My Devotion

You know you’re in love when you work through your problems and keep coming back to each other. Sometimes you start as friends and work your way up to a relationship, while other times it’s love at first sight.

The moment I first laid eyes on her, I was struck by the love bug. She was everything I could have ever wanted and our crazy ride started in one whirlwind of a night. First there was rustling about the spare bedroom, throwing caution to the wind. Then there were the sleeves coming on and off like water cascading down the waterfall. That all climaxed into one crazy night that left me exhausted and passed out on my bed dreaming of tomorrow when I could live it all over again.

Endlessly I dreamed of my lady in blue and the adrenaline that goes along with thoughts of her. Now, she’s back in my life and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. Take a look at that sexy lady now.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how I thought this deck was due for a comeback. With all the new tools Origins brought to the workshop, certainly there was a list lurking about the shadows waiting to be discovered. After tinkering around with some of the knick-knacks, I think we’ve moved out of the beta version and we’re ready for our first test run this weekend.

All of the things I surmised have proven true so far in testing. In my opinion, this is the best Collected Company deck in Standard by a large margin. Hitting any of the new cards, like Harbinger of the Tides, Bounding Krasis, or Shorecrasher Elemental, turns on Thassa, God of the Sea mid-combat. Often Collected Company acts like Restoration Angel, giving you not only value but also ambushing the attackers.

Even Faerie Miscreant has been overperforming. Starting your game out with early aggression and devotion is important. When you get to cantrip the second one, you’ll never look back from this faerie’s inclusion and the first time you hit two of them from your Collected Company to draw two cards, you feel like you hit the lottery.

Another note on our triple-blue best friend. Shorecrasher Elemental is definitely one of the most important cards in the deck and it’s worth protecting most of the time by not running it out there on turn three. Whether you’re blinking it or pumping it, this is one heck of a devotion roadblock for your opponent to bust through. Often you won’t even spend the time to flip it face up again because you have so much other action going on.

The hidden hero of the deck though has to be Kiora's Follower. With how potent your four-drops are, it’s no surprise that getting to them a turn early is like winning at the high roller table. The depth this card provides is astounding. Allowing you to both hold up mana as well as untap to block is interaction that is so rarely seen and gives you a huge edge against any opponent.

Cloudfin Raptor, Frostburn Weird, Tidebinder Mage, Nightveil Specter and even Judge's Familiar will always be missed, but I’m starting to think that with the card pool available now, this new blue is even better than it was before. The main proponent of my viewpoint is Clash of Wills. Silumgar's Sorcerer has not been missed since I booted him from my initial version for this strict upgrade.

The truth is that sometimes Clash of Wills just sits in your hand as you amass your blue army, but it provides an essential service in combination with many of your threats. Being able to choose whether to increase the pressure on the board or counter whatever your opponent is doing to slow you down is versatility that we’re not used to in this archetype. You may not think having a random counter changes much, but the context is key in this instance.

Supreme Verdict has brainwashed us all. Before and after this card, sweepers can be countered! Sometimes I have that random thought and it makes me smile. The uncounterable wrath put a huge noose on the format that many didn’t even realize was choking them.

Now, when they reach their critical turn to cast one of their many sweeper options, all you have to do is hold up mana. Your mana can be representing a Counterspell or more threats and it will be extremely hard for them to navigate a path to victory. Either their sweeper resolves and you cast more threats or you counter their spell and keep your board intact. Both lines of play will help you be victorious.

Post-board, you still have the common sideboard strategy of bringing in a metric ton of other Counterspell options. Previously I didn’t like this plan because it still didn’t get you through their Supreme Verdict, but now you get to play an actual fish deck where you are mainly playing all your cards on their turn and truly dictating the flow of the game. Against most blue based control decks, I’ve been theorizing this sideboard strategy:

-4 Faerie Miscreant
-2 Kiora's Follower
-1 Triton Tactics

+4 Dissolve
+2 Stratus Dancer
+1 Bident of Thassa

Always think through the matchup you’re in to determine how to sideboard. Blindly following someone else’s strategy doesn’t usually lead to success. This is a great guideline though. One main hiccup is that if you find yourself up against Thopter Spy Network, you will need to cut some more cards for Reclamation Sages so that enchantment doesn’t get out of hand. If they have black removal spells though like Bile Blight and Languish, then Triton Tactics is an all-star. So, you have to alter your plans based on the individual deck you are playing against.

The other main sideboard strategy that I’m giddy about employing will catch every opponent with their pants down. I’m telling all of you faithful readers and letting you in on my hidden secret. Go ahead and read Profaner of the Dead. Unless you noticed this hidden gem in the sideboard above, I’m sure you likely don’t know what the card does. The short version is you get to overload Cyclonic Rift on turn three or four! Let’s say your opponent is playing Goblins, Elves, or even Jeskai Tokens. Once you cast this spell, and usually exploit it to itself, you will be left with an empty board to attack into. I’m very excited to execute this maneuver.

This weekend I’ll be at Gen Con, living it up at the biggest gaming convention on the planet. If you’re there, stop over and say hi. You will see me playing all the formats but most definitely some of these aggressive blue creatures in Standard. Next week, I’m sure there will be lots of stories to share.

Until then,
Unleash the Devotion Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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