You're playing Monogreen Devotion and things are looking relatively good for you. You had a fast start and an early Arbor Colossus is pressuring your opponent. All looks good for you until that dreaded turn five comes where a windmill slammed End Hostilities comes down, draining you of just about every chance to win the game.
Monogreen devotion is one of the most explosive decks in Standard but it has some huge flaws, not the least of which is a relatively linear game plan each and every time. Get things into play, use things to make mana, cast bigger things, win the game. Unfortunately though, unconditional sweepers, and even conditional ones like Anger of the Gods, can dampen your plans to the point of ending them altogether.
If we look at Monogreen Devotion, some steps have been made to sort of stem the bleeding here. We see players incorporating red into their lists all the time. This gives them access to things like Crater's Claw and Stormbreath Dragon for reach, or possibly Xenagos, the Reveler as a means of surviving a sweeper with some amount of threat on the table still. While all of these things are nice, I wonder if we have not gotten lazy and just allow red to be the sole pair because we are unwilling to look elsewhere.
Specifically, I wonder what the Monogreen lists might look like if they were to work in a little blue into the mix. While blue is not going to offer us the same reach that red might, it has other ways of solving the sweeper problem. For example, perhaps it just doesn't let that sweeper ever resolve? Or maybe it finds a way to increase the threat density of its list to maximize future top decks?Harnessing Blue
I would argue that the biggest trait that blue brings to the table is its raw card advantage. Few other colors can draw as many cards as blue which is a pretty decent way around removal. If you are staying ahead of your opponent on cards, losing a bunch of threats to one-for-one trades isn't even a problem. And a single sweeper is likely manageable, although multiple still get a little scary.
Figuring out exactly where you want to go with your card draw is a big enough question on its own right now though. Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time are currently center stage and they would work alright here, but Monogreen is not the type of deck to fill up its graveyard all too quickly. We could turn to less conventional cards like Interpret the Signs, which would have some hefty targets like Hornet Queen to spike, but the card really only works when everything else does.
We could go for a less splashy draw engine and then pack a more raw card advantage package in the sideboard though. Unlike control decks, a Monogreen Devotion shell is not going to need to out card advantage everyone, just those decks keeping pace with it through removal. For example, facing off against a Jeskai Tokens deck is much less about the number of cards you draw and much more about the speed at which you deploy your threats.
A slightly more versatile card could do the trick though. You see, while just drawing cards might not be that great against UW Heroic, for example, other effects are. I actually am looking specifically at Kiora, the Crashing Wave. While she is not the biggest burst of card advantage, she can Recoup quite a few against decks that do not answer her immediately, and the ramp that comes as a side effect is quite welcome here.
Against a big Monogreen opponent or UW Heroic deck, you will gladly use the Fog effect which I think is actually pretty strong right now, meaning Kiora is hardly the draw two and die like it used to be. I think it provides just enough advantage with the likes of Courser and Genesis Hydra that it is worth trying out at the very least. Being a permanent for Hydra is actually a very big upside for this deck as it means our consistency enabler can find our card advantage, which is ideal.But Wait, There's More!
Blue is most known for its card advantage, but that is not all blue is known for. The color is commonly doing tricky or quirky things while it counters your stuff. Counterspells are not exactly the type of card you think of in a Monogreen deck, especially with most costing double blue. However, we could maybe squeeze in Negate, or Disdainful Stroke, if we needed to. Specifically though, I want to talk about Swan Song.
So Swan Song is a card that deals with all sorts of problems for Monogreen. Obviously it counters End Hostilities, which is public enemy number one, but it also answers cards like Jeskai Ascendancy and Aqueous Form, which are huge issues for the general archetype. It is also pretty nice to have outs to things like an early Courser of Kruphix or whatever in the mirror, although the card is certainly not intended for that purpose.
One of the exciting things about Swan Song is that we have so many ways to blank the 2/2 in our arsenal. Arbor Colossus gets to feed on something in every game and Polukranos can claim the same. Even Kiora can go to town targeting something against control decks and whatnot, so rarely is that 2/2 coming back to bite you.
But the last card I want to talk about is the most exciting to me and is a card I have been trying to make work in this sort of shell for awhile: Hour of Need.
Hour of Need offers the ramp heavy lists a way to turn their resources into something else. You see, while these decks have a pretty high creature density, a majority of those creatures tend to be Rampant Growths more than actual creatures. Even some of the actual creatures, like Courser of Kruphix, are not exactly the most spectacular at closing games and his ability is mostly useless in multiples late.
Hour of Need allows us to turn our overflowing mana that we eventually get, into threats. All of those top decked Elvish Mystics don't look so bad when you know a single card can get them all into fighting shape. Obviously Hour of Need is not good in every situation, but imagine it after a Planeswalker comes down across the table from you, or possibly in response to an Anger of the Gods!
There is even some bonus synergy in the list where you can actually Hour of Need an opponent's creature just so that Arbor Colossus can make food out of it. While not the most reliable removal in the world, it does come up.
Here is a list of cards that called out to me in one way or another while searching Gatherer for the deck. Some of these obviously made the cut, but plenty more are likely worth a try, so feel free to experiment as you see fit!
Hour of NeedArchetype of ImaginationBident of ThassaClever ImpersonatorDig Through TimeEmbodiment of SpringIllusory AngelInterpret the SignsKiora's FollowerKiora, the Crashing WaveProphet of KruphixSagu MaulerStormtide LeviathanSwan SongTreasure Cruise
The card I most want to incorporate into the list is Prophet of Kruphix. With so many creatures that can go monstrous as well as Hour of Need, tapping out on your turn only to untap and have something to spend all of that mana on is quite nice. I think that ultimately, Prophet is probably too cute to use in the following list, but that does not mean it doesn't have a home somewhere.
With all of the said, here is the list-
The first thing many people are going to do is swap out something for Kiora's Follower as it is just a strong card and would seem like one of the incentives for going blue. The issue there is that it can be quite difficult to cast on turn two when you need it. It doesn't matter how much better untapping anything is over just a land if the card can't make it into play to do that.
The sideboard is made to compete with just about everything, although the hyper aggressive decks can be an issue, even with four copies of Nylea's Disciple available. You are usually looking to get bigger faster than they can combo you off whether against red or UW.
Against control we actually get to turn back to those Treasure Cruises that we talked about earlier. Between additional planeswalkers, Counterspells, and some card advantage, you can actually grind against control pretty well. Managing some of your more unique tools like Hour of Need to be an actual threat or to take out an Elspeth is very important, so save your Swan Songs to protect key spells and deal with End Hostilities.
Against aggro, you will be bringing in the Disciples and Tactics and you generally are just trying to survive until you can go over the top. The good news is that you have many ways to do so. Polukranos can just eat everything in play. Hour of Need can end the game instantly or set up a swingy block for you. Hornet Queen and Genesis Hydra just provide a massive board advantage themselves.
Courser does his job of keeping your life total somewhat healthy, but we might need to take further steps to help this range of match ups. The fourth copy of Sylvan Caryatid could be nice, simply to deploy more early defense. We also could probably sneak a Disciple or two main and then load the board up with additional weapons. Maybe Whelming Wave is playable? Feed the Clan is a card I keep looking at as well, although it not being found by Hydra is kind of a bummer.Wrap Up
I think that there are probably better positioned decks in the metagame right now than anything with a Monogreen Devotion base, but that doesn't mean Monogreen does not have its place with plenty to prey on if you pick your spots. Getting the rough shell up to speed and in fighting shape for the current metagame is a big step toward surprising a field with the list though and I think adding blue might be the right step.
It is possible that the full on Temur midrange decks are the new version of this kind of deck, but they still lack the explosive and consistent mana that a Devotion list has, if for nothing else than Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Temur Ascendancy is a card that I looked at for quite awhile here, but ultimately it just seems like it clunks up the mana base too much.
For those monogreen players out there, do not give up hope! Just adapt and take another swing at it, because Nykthos continues to be one of the most degenerate Standard cards and it doesn't have too many homes. As always, thanks for reading!