Ah, Monoblue Devotion. A strategy as old as...well, Theros I suppose. I know it's Monday and we're supposed to be talking about Modern, but I couldn't really find any exciting Modern lists that performed well, but there were plenty of Standard lists that I still wanted to try out. Besides, I didn't have a Standard article last week sue to my Modern Masters 2015 spoiler.
While Monoblue Devotion hasn't been around in any competitive sense since the hybrid cards of Return to Ravnica block rotated out, Nick Peternell was convinced that cards like Master of Waves and Thassa, God of the Sea still had some game left in them. Based on his Top 4 showing at the SCG Open in Portland a week ago, he might be correct. This is the list he used to breach the semifinals:
Oh, did I forget to mention the deck also had green in it? My bad. Yeah, so we're basically a monoblue deck that's splashing green for Kiora's Follower and Collected Company. While I'm a huge fan of the latter card, the former seems like a necessary evil at best; it's a Sylvan Cayatid that can give us mid-combat blockers and a point of blue devotion. Unfortunately we don't have anything like Tidebinder Mage or Frostburn Weird to take its place at the moment, so the 2/2 for two that "ramps" us (among other things) might be our best option. Either way let's take a look at the deck and see what it was all about.
UG Devotion vs. Temur Midrange
UG Devotion vs. Abzan Midrange
UG Devotion vs. Jeskai Tokens
UG Devotion vs. GW Collected Company
So after that last round, I'm pretty convinced that Dromoka's Command is one of the most backbreaking cards against us. Either that, or the fact that most of the decks that are playing it also have a somewhat aggressive strategy that ends up being faster or larger than ours. Forcing us to sacrifice an enchantment is huge though, as we'll often lose our Thassa, God of the Sea if we don't happen to have a Hypnotic Siren in play. And if we do have a Hypnotic Siren in play, well, we ended up drawing a Hypnotic Siren and playing it as a 1/1, so there's that.
Despite that, I will go on record and say that this was one of the most fun decks I have played in quite some time (although my column does focus on looking for decks that fulfill that criteria). I actually felt like the deck was really well-positioned against the field right now, aside from decks with Dromoka's Command. To be fair, though, that might not even be an accurate assessment. Right now I'm basing it on a feeling and the results of my single match against GW, but it could have simply been a bad game.
One thing I do know is that Master of Waves and Thassa, God of the Sea are still just as good as they were a year ago. Another thing I know is how good Shorecrasher Elemental is at turning on a Thassa: very good.
Melissa actually played the deck a little bit before I recorded my videos and she said she also thought the deck was sweet (although she does have a bit of a soft spot for Monoblue Devotion, as those of you who followed her articles might know). She said the biggest problem was the mana - lands coming into play tapped and whatnot - and actually put together a monoblue version that might also be competitive. Obviously Collected Company is a big loss so she added Jace, the Living Guildpact. I know, he's one of the worst Jaces ever, but to be fair, she actually played Monoblue Devotion with a bit of Jace, the Living Guildpact back in the day and he ended up being very good at bouncing blockers and clearing a path. He's not the best card ever, but the two devotion along with the versatility of his abilities are definitely not nothing.
This was the list she brewed up:
Another thing to note is that we get access to Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and eight fetchlands which help fuel our... Dig Through Time! While it doesn't put the creatures into play, it's a decent card advantage engine in place of Collected Company. You can even nab a pair of Master of Waves or a Jace, the Living Guildpact to removal a blocker. Worth noting that Jace himself also helps fuel Dig Through Time.
Another sweet creature to take the place of Kiora's Follower is Vaporkin, which astute readers might notice is an elemental and thus receives a buff from Master of Waves. It's also a two mana beater that we don't mind casting on turn two, unlike Stratus Dancer.
Again, this was another time where I played a 13 card sideboard, because I trusted Magic Online to recognize "Aetherspouts" as a legitimate card in a decklist and was thusly let down. So yeah, AEtherspouts might have been awesome against the Collected Company deck we faced.
One thing I remember hearing was that Nick Peternell didn't really like the Wall of Frosts at all, but I'm not sure what I would replace them with. One thing the deck was definitely lacking was a way to deal with artifacts and enchantments, like Whip of Erebos, Jeskai Ascendancy, or even Courser of Kruphix. In a video I suggest Ainok Survivalist. He might be too slow, but I do like the option of being able to hit him off a Collected Company even if his ability won't trigger; you won't be able to cast a Naturalize if you hit it off a Collected Company either, but at least with the Survivalist you'll get a creature. Other than that, the only sideboard cards I wasn't too sure about were the Sidisi's Faithful and I would probably find something to replace them with, such as another Negate or two for opposing planeswalkers.
That's about all I have for today. If you're looking for something new to try out in Standard, this is definitely a great choice. And it's under $100 at the TCGplayer low price, which is an incredible value for a competitive Standard deck. Be sure to head back here on Thursday for another unique brew and catch me on my stream at www.twitch.tv/franklepore in the meantime. Thanks for reading and I'll see ya then!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV, streaming Monday - Thursday afternoons