One of the things I most love about Modern – and the reason I think many people like the format so much – is that the decks are just so very different. Yes, Legacy is very similar in this way, but I think no format can match Modern in the sheer uniqueness of its many archetypes. Or, perhaps, the truth is we simply see these kinds of wild decks pop up on the competitive radar a little more often in Modern.
Whatever the reason, I love it when a deck like Mono-Green Devotion does well.
Anthony Skrzypczak took this deck to a Top 32 finish at a recent SCG Open, and it's been on my list of decks to get to ever since. This isn't exactly a "new" archetype in Modern – some version of it has been around basically forever at this point – but this looks to be a build that has at least the trappings of recent success, no mean feat in this combo-heavy metagame.
The list I played has Thragtusk instead of Craterhoof based on the prevalence of aggro decks, but after playing it through I think the 'Hoof is needed to close out games.
And this deck reaches that point in a hurry. The dream is turn-one Arbor Elf, then on turn two play land and Utopia Sprawl, tapping the enchanted land for two mana. Then you untap it with Elf and tap it again, going up to four mana. With that you cast Garruk Wildspeaker, which then untaps those two lands and gives you four more mana to spend on something. It doesn't happen all the time, but realistically the combo of Elf+Sprawl is always going to be nuts. And while that's the best draw, the reality is the entire deck is built to produce as much devotion and mana as possible, which includes Burning-Tree Emissary for alternative lines at crazy openers.
From there, the deck has a toolbox of win conditions, all searchable with Summoner's Pact and able to be nipped off the top with Oath of Nissa, which also hits all the relevant ramp pieces and planeswalkers as well.
We get our pick of win conditions. Ruric Thar, the Unbowed destroys combo or control decks, while Acidic Slime is great value, Chameleon Colossus can one-shot opponents while also protecting against Fatal Push and Death's Shadow, and Hornet Queen and Primeval Titan are serious threats that threaten to win the game or dominate the board in their own way (Kessig Wolf Run is quite the "combo" in our deck). Of course, the planeswalkers themselves work very well as win conditions, and it's not uncommon to have two or three out at once generating too much value for opponents to keep up with.
The most surprising thing about the deck is how unfair it felt at times. In a world full of combo Mono-Green Devotion is definitely one of the good guys, but slamming down a turn-three Ruric Thar, the Unbowed that you just tutored for feels a little mean against someone trying to play fair with White-Blue Control, for instance.
But they, that's Modern. I wouldn't trade it for anything else.
Thanks for reading,