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Valuable Lessons – Time for Reveling

Welcome back to another edition of Valuable Lessons. Born of the Gods release events are less than a week away. We’re all eager to see which cards from the new set make their way into the competitive world of Standard. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Green Devotion.

Let’s start by taking a look at my Green Devotion list prior to the release of Born of the Gods:

[ccDeck]4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Arbor Colossus
4 Polukranos, World Eater
4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
3 Domri Rade
2 Reverent Hunter
2 Krosan Tusker
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Abandon
11 Forest[/ccDeck]

Green Devotion strategies are capable of the most powerful draws in Standard. [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card], in conjunction with [card]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/card], allows the deck to explode in mana production very early. The deck can dump its mana into huge [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] activations, or cast [card]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/card] to take over the game when the opponent isn’t applying a ton of pressure.

Green Devotion decks waned in popularity in the face of control strategies with [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] and Black Devotion decks with a ton of removal. Born of the Gods gives the deck some new tools, though, and I’m excited to test our latest Green Devotion deck against the field in post-Born of the Gods Standard. Will cards like [ccProd]Xenagos, God of Revels[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Courser of Kruphix[/ccProd] be enough to swing the tides in our favor?

[draft]Courser of Kruphix[/draft] [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card] is exactly what the Green Devotion strategy was looking for. The card provides us with two devotion to green, gives us a 4-toughness body that holds the fort very well against cards like [card]Ash Zealot[/card] that previously encouraged us to play lackluster defensive cards in the main deck. Most importantly, it provides us with card advantage by allowing us to play lands directly from our library. Courser of Kruphix also has a symbiotic relationship with [card]Domri Rade[/card]. These two cards in combination allow us to surge through our deck like we’ve got [card]Future Sight[/card] in play.

[draft]Xenagos, God of Revels[/draft] [card]Xenagos, God of Revels[/card] is the card we want to stick against control strategies. Sure, they may be able to deal with every threat we stick on the battlefield, but it’s not going to be so easy for them to stay alive if we’re crashing in for huge amounts of hasty damage every turn. It will be difficult to justify playing more than one copy of this card in the main deck, but the first copy offers a lot.

[draft]Xenagos, the reveler[/draft]

Speaking of Xenagos, before he was a God, he was a planeswalker, and a particularly strong planeswalker against decks like Black Devotion and [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] control decks. We can’t be sure that we won’t be seeing a ton of [card]Searing Blood[/card] in the new Standard format, and that card matches up very well against Xenagos, the Reveler. That being said, the card is quite strong against the decks we’re most worried about.

[draft]Polukranos, World Eater[/draft] [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] makes a deck like this possible. It offers up a very respectable 5/5 body for four mana. Then, once our engine is in place, it has the ability to [card]Plague Wind[/card] our opponent and end the game in a single combat step. After sideboarding, we can combine Polukranos, World Eater with [card]Wasteland Viper[/card] to give it deathtouch and further ease the process by which the legendary dinosaur destroys everything on the opposing side of the table.

[draft]Elvish Mystic
Sylvan Caryatid
Voyaging Satyr[/draft]

Elvish Mystic, Sylvan Caryatid, and Voyaging Satyr are necessary pieces to the puzzle here. It’s very important that this deck have enough mana to start playing its most important cards, and these will power out some impressive starts. Voyaging Satyr is particularly impressive in this department because of its ability to untap [card]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/card] for truly explosive mana production. [card]Kiora’s Follower[/card] works similarly, but we’ll save Simic devotion strategies for another week.

[draft]Burning-Tree Emissary[/draft] [card]Burning-Tree Emissary[/card] lets us hit the board fast enough to survive against the most aggressive strategies while generating a lot of devotion to work in conjunction with our Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. It’s not likely, but early Burning-Tree Emissaries into Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx are capable of truly degenerate plays like turn two Garruk, Caller of Beasts or [card]Arbor Colossus[/card].

[draft]Arbor Colossus[/draft]

We play [card]Arbor Colossus[/card] for a number of reasons. First, cards like [card]Nightveil Specter[/card], [card]Desecration Demon[/card], and [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] all get demolished by the 6/6 or 9/9 reach body of the Arbor Colossus. Three green devotion is nothing to scoff at, our Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx will only be one devotion off of a positive net gain from a single Arbor Colossus.

[draft]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/draft] [card]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/card] gives the Green Devotion deck a kind of longevity that’s hard to contest as the game starts to go long. We can constantly use the +1 ability on our Garruk and outgas our opponent until they’re out of resources.

[card]Domri Rade[/card] gives the deck some much needed interaction with the opponent. [card]Domri Rade[/card] essentially allows us to passively gain card advantage by acting as a removal spell that presents the chance to take over the game by itself if left unchecked.

Let’s see what the deck looks like when we put it all together!

BNG Green Devotion

[deck]Main Deck
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Polukranos, World Eater
4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Arbor Colossus
2 Domri Rade
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Xenagos, God of Revels
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Stomping Ground
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
11 Forest
Sideboard
2 Nylea’s Disciple
1 Xenagos, God of Revels
2 Plummet
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Gruul Guildgate
4 Mistcutter Hydra
3 Wasteland Viper[/deck]

The deck seems like it will absolutely demolish aggressive creature strategies, and we can load up on planeswalkers in post-board games to better combat Black Devotion and control decks. Let’s talk about the major matchups we can expect to see in the first weeks of Born of the Gods Standard.

Blue Devotion

This matchup is extremely skill-intensive. In the first game, we need to be very frugal with our [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] activation, otherwise we may find ourselves getting blown out by [card]Master of Waves[/card]. In post-boarded games, we get to bring in a bunch of [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card]s. Still, we need to mulligan aggressively for a hand that establishes board presence quickly.

Out

[draft]2 Xenagos, The Reveler
1 Xenagos, God of Revels
4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/draft]

In

[draft]4 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Plummet
1 Wasteland Viper[/draft]

Black Devotion

Xenagos, The Reveler has always been the most important card in this matchup. The Black Devotion deck will likely be sideboarding in some number of [card]Drown in Filth[/card] now that they have access to it. This means we probably don’t want as many of our 2-toughness creatures, it’s just not worth it to give our opponent three cards and a scry all for one card and three mana. We really want to stick a Garruk, Caller of Beasts here.

Out

[draft]1 Xenagos, God of Revels
4 Burning-Tree Emissary[/draft]

In

[draft]1 Gruul Guildgate
2 Plummet
2 Xenagos, The Reveler[/draft]

Azorius Control

This matchup can be difficult because of [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], but the post-sideboard plan gives the deck a lot more play than it might have had previously. It’s entirely reasonable that we might be able to kill our opponent out of nowhere with Xenagos, God of Revels in conjunction with something like [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card] or [card]Arbor Colossus[/card] in post-sideboarded games.

Out

[draft]4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Arbor Colossus[/draft]

In

[draft]4 Mistcutter Hydra
2 Xenagos, The Reveler
1 Xenagos, God of Revels
1 Gruul Guildgate[/draft]

White Weenie Variants

We’re very strong against decks like this. Polukranos, World Eater gobbles up whole teams and Arbor Colossus presents a brick wall that can’t really be overcome. We simply go too big too fast for them. Additionally, we just picked up a 2/4 for three that gains us life and lets us play cards from our deck. Things just keep getting better.

Out

[draft]2 Xenagos, The Reveler
1 Xenagos, God of Revels
2 Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Wasteland Viper
2 Nylea’s Disciple[/draft]

Red/Green Midrange

This matchup can be scary, especially if they’re using [card]Flesh // Blood[/card] on something after bloodrushing a [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card]. Nevertheless, this matchup is strongly skewed in our favor and we should enjoy a good amount of success against this deck.

Out

[draft]2 Xenagos, The Reveler
1 Xenagos, God of Revels
1 Garruk, Call of Beasts[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Wasteland Viper
1 Nylea’s Disciple [/draft]

Will Green Devotion strategies have what it takes to make a name for themselves in a world of [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] and [card]Bile Blight[/card]? Or will Black Devotion and UWx continue to perform well in the face of adversity? Tune in next week as I continue to explore Standard with Born of the Gods.

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