(Hey guys. The Magic Online Community Cup is upon us again and they're currently accepting nominations. If you believe I would be worthy of representing you guys, direct your browsers here and do me the favor of nominating me for your representative at the Community Cup.

In the subject field, simply type "Frank Lepore." In the question field, type anything your heart desires and let them know that you want to nominate me for the Community Cup and why. That's all it takes. I would be honored to represent the community that has become such a large part of my life and I appreciate any help you guys could provide to get me there. Thank you so much for your consideration. -Frank)

Monored Devotion has been a thing for as long as Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx has been around, which has been about nine months or so for those counting. Pregnant women have had their babies in the amount of time that this deck has been around. One of the most common pairings for the deck has always been white, giving us the ability to splash things like Chained to the Rocks and Wear // Tear, but other colors have also found a home in the red-centric shell. Black for example just recently found some notoriety with the addition of things like Dreadbore and Rakdos's Return.

Today, however, we're taking a look at blue.


Yes, instead of any of the aforementioned cards, we're trying to take advantage of not only the underplayed Ral Zarek, but also the newly printed Keranos, God of Storms. The deck also has some other tools, such as Turn // Burn and Cyclonic Rift, which go great with the excess mana the deck is able to produce.

Let's take a look at how the deck performs, then we'll discuss the some of the choices that were made.

UR Devotion vs. Jund Midrange

UR Devotion vs. Boros Burn

UR Devotion vs. Monoblue Devotion

UR Devotion vs. Esper Control

As far as the deck's losses, we managed to lose to Monoblue twice and Azorius once. Monoblue is typically a bad matchup for the monored deck though as you might be able to imagine. We don't have enough removal to deal with all of their tiny threats and cards like Tidebinder Mage are just perfect against us. Once they land a Thassa, God of the Sea or a Master of Waves, the game is pretty much over. Other than Cyclonic Rift, which is a poor answer, we don't really have any ways to deal with those guys. The "Turn" half of Turn // Burn is helpful against Master of Waves, and both halves are helpful against Thassa but that also requires us to have one of the two copies in hand, whereas they typically have all eight copies of their threats.

With the addition of blue we gain about four different maindeck spells: Turn // Burn, Cyclonic Rift, Ral Zarek, and Keranos, God of Storms. What we lose is mostly Chained to the Rocks as it was usually the only white spell that was played. Chained to the Rocks is an awesomely efficient removal spell, especially when the majority of your mana base is mountains, but one thing the deck would have a hard time dealing with was cards like Stormbreath Dragon, Obzedat, Ghost Council, or Blood Baron of Vizkopa. These are all easily dealt with by the maindeck copies of Turn // Burn. We also have additional means to deal with some of these menaces via the additional copies in the sideboard and the Mizzium Mortars.

Keranos, God of Storms is kind of like a planeswalker in the deck. You're going to activate his ability each turn and it's going to draw you an extra card or it's going to Lightning Bolt something, both of which are awesome in a deck that doesn't have a ton of removal and wants all the mana it can get. The best part about Keranos in the deck is that he can actually become a creature pretty easily, what with all the heavy red costs in our creatures, and he's very difficult to remove. (And no, for those not paying attention when the gods were first spoiled, Frostburn Weird does not provide four points of devotion.)

As far as the actual planeswalker, Ral Zarek, I'm not sure if he isn't still too cute. He feels like he has a ton of potential, but still doesn't do very much. Our ideal scenario was being able to untap a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx with him, but it never really happened, and often we would find ourselves using his +1 ability just to use it, with no real purpose. This was a weird feeling for a planeswalker, but honestly, you don't really feel like you're getting that much of an advantage with it. It can ramp you one mana, but after coming down on turn four, that really isn't that impressive. I want to love Ral Zarek more than anyone, but his abilities just aren't there it seems.

One thing I was regretful of was that the deck doesn't have access to a way to Remove Enchantments such as opposing Gods or Banishing Light or Detention Sphere. Whereas the white version has access to not only Wear // Tear, but Deicide as well. Blue doesn't have access to any such tools, leaving us at something of a disadvantage, but we do get Counterspells like Dispel and Negate. It's not necessarily a drawback, per se, but rather we're trading one tool for another.

The deck was fun, but the red-based devotion lists in general have some shortcomings. Basically, if you don't draw the right amount of creatures, in the right order, you can fall behind real fast. Similarly, if you draw the right amount of creatures, but without any way to take advantage of their devotion counts, that's also bad times. The deck needs a very specific mixture of creatures and ways to take advantage of them that you sometimes just don't get. That isn't to say the deck is bad, but it is a weakness to be aware of.

That's about all I have for this week. If you guys could nominate me for the Community Cup it would mean a ton and I posted the link to do so at the top! Thanks for reading and I'll catch you on Monday.

Frank Lepore
@FrankLepore on Twitter
FrankLepore on TwitchTV