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Valuable Lessons – Green’s Shot at Greatness

Welcome back to Valuable Lessons! Over the last few weeks, we’ve discussed various Green Devotion strategies. Now it looks like Green Devotion decks are very well positioned in the current format. Midrange black strategies also continue to put up strong results. It’s becoming clear that green and black are capable of the most powerful plays in the format. Today, I’d like to discuss the directions we can take with Green Devotion and green/black decks in the coming weeks as we prepare for World Magic Cup Qualifiers and Standard events.

The biggest selling point for Green Devotion is how well it abuses Courser of Kruphix, which, strictly on power level may be the best card in Standard. It provides card advantage, a relevant body, life gain, and library manipulation. Up until recently, Courser of Kruphix has only been extensively used by Green Devotion and Jund Planeswalkers. That’s starting to change, though. Black/green midrange decks are becoming a real force in the new Standard metagame. These decks take advantage of the strongest cards in green and black and the combination is exceptional.

This deck may not be Green Devotion, but a lot of Green Devotion players will get to keep playing with their Courser of Kruphix and Nissa, Worldwaker without having to sacrifice access to free wins from Thoughtseize and/or Pack Rat. Let’s take a look at a black/green deck that 4-0’d a recent Daily Event on Magic Online.

NOVAS01’s Black/Green Midrange

There’s a lot about this deck I love, and basically one thing I disagree with. The most striking thing we notice when we see this deck is the lack of a fourth Pack Rat. I’ve heard the arguments, I appreciate being reasoned when making a cut, but I don’t think I can stand by it. Fortunately, this list makes up for being a Pack Rat short by being pretty much the best build we’ve seen thus far.

I don’t know why we all hadn’t done it already, but four Drown in Sorrow seems like an excellent choice in a world of Goblin Rabblemaster. The world has changed, and Rabble Red strategies are everywhere and it’s hard to consistently beat their key turn without Drown in Sorrow. Drawing a single copy of Drown in Sorrow makes the game extremely difficult to lose, though, so I think it’s worth playing four in the board to maximize our chance of stealing the second and third games, especially if we had to be on the draw in the first game.

I would likely cut one Underworld Connections for a fourth Pack Rat in the main deck, but I also want to cut a Lifebane Zombie for an Underworld Connections in the sideboard. Besides that, I’d keep this deck as is because it’s damn near perfect.

Here’s the list I would play right now:

Black/Green Midrange 

Black/green is sweet, but I still really like the ability to combo out with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and Green Devotion allows me to make plays with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx that are unavailable to every other archetype. Green Devotion strategies are poised to make big waves in the coming months with cards like Sphinx’s Revelation and Pack Rat leaving the format, so learning the complicated lines available to the Green Devotion deck will likely be a valuable skill to have coming into Khans Standard.

I’ve been splashing a lot of colors in my Green Devotion decks, but its been some time since I’ve played with the pure Green Devotion version of the deck. I decided to give it a try once more—Nissa, Worldwaker and Garruk, Caller of Beasts are too powerful to ignore.

I’ve already spoken ad nauseam about this archetype and the cards therein over the last few weeks. I’ve added Garruk’s Companion back into the deck and made things more aggressive, but I’m confident that I haven’t hurt the deck’s most explosive draws. Here’s my latest list for Green Devotion in Standard:

Sylvan Caryatid was consistently the worst card in my deck. People like to cite its blocking capabilities in the Rabble Red matchup, but I’d much rather just be inundating the board with bigger, more impressive threats in those matchups. This is the one deck that can legitimately beat the format’s best cards in a straight-up fight. Not having access to Xenagos, the Reveler or Xenagos, God of Revels hurts the Blue/White Control matchup, but that deck doesn’t seem to be as popular now. This version of the deck is much better against the red decks that we’re seeing more of now, it’s also more likely to get the absolute best draws more often than other versions. I’ve cast Nissa, Worldwaker and Arbor Colossus on turn two already.

Black/green graveyard strategies have lingered in obscurity for awhile now. The deck had some success in the hands of players like Conley Woods and Ari Lax, but the mana base of the deck was always shaky and lands that come into play tapped take a lot of wind out of the deck’s sails. Now, with access to Llanowar Wastes, black/green graveyard decks are more consistent. Let’s take a look at one that recently 4-0’d a Magic Online Daily Event:

TIMEJACKCW’s Black/Green Graveyard 

This deck has a lot of power. It’s not unusual for the deck to play 5/5s on the third turn, or to bestow a massive Nighthowler in the same time frame. Nighthowler is easily the strongest card here. I’ve played this deck a bit over the last week and I’m confident that it’s quite strong against non-control, non-Pack Rat decks, but its shortcomings in those matchups might be too much for it to become a major player. I would want a fourth copy of Llanowar Wastes for sure, and I feel like drawing the second copy of Whip of Erebos, or even milling it, is always very disappointing. Here’s the list I would play if there wasn’t a lot of Blue/White or Black Midrange in my local metagame:

Black/Green Graveyard:

This weekend’s Standard events seem like the perfect place for Green/Black Midrange or Green Devotion to crush the competition. These are all decks that should be on your radar for the coming weekend that might not have been in past weeks. Next week, we’ll take a look at the new breed of aggressive strategies that are destroying the black midrange decks.

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