Two brews for the price of one… what could be better? This week we look at a unique take on the very popular Green Devotion deck, along with a brand new archetype based around Sorin, Solemn Visitor.
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Genesis Hydra
- 2 Hornet Queen
- 4 Rattleclaw Mystic
- 3 Sagu Mauler
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- 1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
Green Devotion was one of the few decks to make it out of the rotation unscathed, and not only that, but it also lost one of its most dangerous predators in Supreme Verdict. It's not surprising to see it do so well in the first week of the new format, and I brought a version of it to New Jersey as well with a slight twist.
It has become pretty clear in the early goings of the format that turn 1 Elvish Mystic is one of the best things you can be doing. There is no maindeckable removal spell that costs only one mana, and most removal spells weigh in at a hefty three mana. Because of this if you are able to start deploying threats at a quick rate your opponent is going to have trouble keeping up with only their glut of three mana removal spells. Elvish Mystic is one of the best ways to do this, and enables some of the best starts in the format.
Sylvan Caryatid is nothing new, but one of the biggest changes to the deck is the addition of Rattleclaw Mystic. I've waxed poetic about the card numerous times over the last few weeks, and we see it here once again providing us with all three colors of mana we need, attacking for two, casting turn 3 Sagu Maulers and Nissas, and masquerading as said Sagu Maulers on demand. Rattleclaw Mystic is going to be a staple in Standard for the next few years, and I highly recommend picking yours up now.
In perhaps the most difficult deckbuilding decision the deck poses, the card that gets sent to the bench is Voyaging Satyr. Voyaging Satyr does a lot of good things in the deck, providing you a turn 2 accelerant that can block Goblin Rabblemaster tokens as well as provide you huge mana boosts on your biggest Nykthos turns, but it was ultimately cut because it doesn't make the colors of mana we need. Untapping Nykthos also felt like overkill sometimes, as twelve mana is usually enough. It is possible that some Voyaging Satyrs should be in the deck over the Sylvan Caryatids, but it does cut down on our colored sources. This is one I'm not completely sure about yet.
The standard green devotion creature base is present and doesn't really need much tinkering with. It is already very clear how good Courser of Kruphix is, especially with fetchlands, and Polukranos is so good it outclasses many of the new multicolored four drops.
Genesis Hydra is the whole reason the deck exists, and any decklist that is not playing four is wrong.
When I built the deck initially I toyed around with just being G/U, but Xenagos, the Reveler is just far too good to ignore. Half of the time Xenagos is your Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx when you don't have one yet, making a ton of mana and powering out your spells, and half the time Xenagos is making an army of hasted attackers against removal heavy decks and wearing them down. Mantis Rider is a concern, and it is possible the format could move to a place where Xenagos is a bit too vulnerable to rely on, but as it stands currently, he is just too good not to play.
Nissa, Worldwaker is a fantastic threat we can cast as early as turn 3, and almost any game where Nissa is played turn 3 on the play is very hard to lose. She's definitely not great when you are behind and loses some versatility with less Forests in the list, but she's still pretty awesome.
Again we come to Rattleclaw Mystic's BFF, Sagu Mauler. Half of the reason for the blue splash, Sagu Mauler is at his absolute best against the decks that are trying to overload your devotion engine with removal. Sagu Mauler is huge, slams hard, comes down as early as turn 3 or 4, and is awfully difficult to deal with. The morph subgame is also not to be underestimated, and your opponent is going to need to respect any morph you play in the midgame. You also occasionally will morph a Sagu Mauler with no blue sources in play other than a Sylvan Caryatid or Rattleclaw Mystic, and your opponent is in for quite a surprise when they block your "Rattleclaw Morph."
Hornet Queen is a card that was sometimes seen as a one of in the Green Devotion decks of the last format, but it is an absolute monster in the new format. Acting like a mono-green Cruel Ultimatum, there are many decks that actually just can't win if you ever resolve a Hornet Queen, and that sort of power is undeniable.
The sideboard is where we see perhaps the true benefit of the blue splash in our cheap counterspells. It's almost strange to think, but Wrath of God effects aren't always uncounterable! Two of the biggest problems that this deck can face are End Hostilities, and most importantly, Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Both are fairly difficult to beat, as they can really punish most of our most powerful threats. Negate and Disdainful Stroke are very cheap and efficient answers to the deck's biggest problems, with Disdainful Stroke also providing a little help in the mirror.
The rest of the sideboard is designed to give you game against the faster Rabblemaster decks that seek to go under you, with a bit for the mirror and troublesome enchantments.
Overall, Temur Devotion is a powerful take on an already powerful shell, with some added resilience to some of the usual problems a green devotion deck might face.
Our next brew is a bit more straightforward.
- 4 Bloodsoaked Champion
- 4 Chief of the Edge
- 3 Mardu Skullhunter
- 4 Soldier of the Pantheon
- 4 Tormented Hero
- 4 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Sorin's hanging out with the boys and they've got one thing on their mind: beatdown. There have been a few Mono-Black Aggro decks floating around, and I'm not sure why one would ever play that when you could play a deck like this which has a much higher power level and almost all the same upsides.
Soldier of the Pantheon and Bloodsoaked Champion are far and away the best non-Elvish Mystic one drops in the format, with the former having protection from most of the best cards in Khans of Tarkir and the latter being one of the most resilient one drops we've ever seen. Both maintain their value later in the game, and form the backbone of the deck.
Tormented Hero is not quite as good as his buddies, but he is a solid roleplayer that is also a warrior for tribal purposes. Also every once and a while your opponent will be at one life with nine Elspeth tokens in play and you will be able to Murderous Cut your own Tormented Hero to get that last point of damage in.
Both of our two drops are borrowed from the Mardu clan, and are all set to go to war. Chief of the Edge does a reasonable Fleecemane Lion impression as he beats in for three, but he also gives a nice power boost to most of the creatures in the deck (with the two lone standouts being the already powerful Soldier of the Pantheon and Brimaz). It is not uncommon to be attacking for three on turn 2 with this deck, and you can have some nasty triple one drop hands that get in for nine on turn 3 as well.
Chief of the Scale was in the first draft of the deck, but it was really only effective against very aggressive red decks; the toughness boost didn't really do enough to warrant inclusion.
Now we get to the real meat of the deck. Brimaz, King of Oreskos has always been a very powerful three drop, but he's had a really difficult time surviving in a world populated with Supreme Verdicts, Lifebane Zombies, and endless spot removal. Now he gets not only a chance to shine, but he is probably one of the best companions that you could ask for in Sorin, Solemn Visitor.
As the week one results have shown us, Sorin, Solemn Visitor is no slouch, and being able to go turn 3 Brimaz, turn 4Sorin, +1, attack for six lifelink and have at least a 4/4 and a 2/1 back on defense is probably one of the best turn 3/4 sequences in the format.
The fact that each card is so good on its own makes this a match made in heaven. Or hell. I don't really know. B/W decks are confusing.
Thoughtseize certainly hasn't gone anywhere, and a deck like this one does a great job of leveraging the disruption it provides. With such a fast clock, stripping a critical card from our opponent's hand will often give us the time we need to finish the job. I don't really need to waste any words explaining why Thoughtseize is good, so I won't.
Unfortunately, our removal options are much slimmer in this format, and while I would prefer to pay less than three mana for my removal spells, Hero's Downfall is just gonna have to be where it's at. There tons of planeswalkers floating around, and any deck light on creatures is bound to have planeswalkers in it making sure Hero's Downfall will always find it's mark.
Speaking of removal that costs less than three, we come to one of the best cards in Khans of Tarkir: Murderous Cut. With our six fetchland manabase, our early creatures dying in combat, and a Thoughtseize or two, our Murderous Cuts are hopefully going to cost between one and two mana which is absolutely fantastic. Putting Murderous Cut into the deck definitely adds some restrictions as far as our manabase and the spells we can play, but the upside is very inexpensive, unconditional removal which is exactly what Sorin ordered.
Again, our sideboard gives us a nice variety of tools, with the most important being Pharika's Cure to provide us a two mana removal spell and some lifegain against more aggressive decks. Raiders' Spoils is also a very interesting card against control decks as a nice power boost and Bident of Thassa-esque card draw engine.
A deck like this is usually a good choice early in the format as it is quick, proactive, and has many powerful cards in it.