Recently Green Devotion has been having a ton of success, and the deck can be built in a few different ways. The most obvious may be the straight monogreen version, but the versions that splash another color are now becoming increasingly popular. So the question becomes what is the best way to build Monogreen Devotion.
Here is a straight monogreen version of the deck played by Joey Manner to a top eight finish at SCG Open in Edison a couple of weeks ago:
So between the different versions of the deck there is a ton of overlap. At this point most people should already be familiar with the fact that all these decks should be playing four copies of the staples like Elvish Mystic, Sylvan Caryatid, Courser of Kruphix, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and so on. It is obvious that the ramp creatures are very important in this format, and a good argument can be made that Green Devotion is the best ramp deck.
One of the main reasons why the ramp creatures are so good here is the amount of lands that come into play untapped. Untapped lands make it much easier to get the big threats into play quickly, and of course you don't need to be worried about getting color screwed.
This particular list does have some innovative inclusions. While I haven't seen too many decks with Hooded Hydra, he is a great creature to have access to when fighting board sweepers like End Hostilities. Some removal though, like Utter End, Banishing Light, and Chained to the Rocks, are cards that match up very well against Hooded Hydra because they can Remove it from the game. However, it is easy to think when this deck plays a morph that the card is a Rattleclaw Mystic, and Hooded Hydra can be better because of the surprise factor. Here Rattleclaw Mystic has mostly taken the place of the more typical Voyaging Satyr's but losing the ability to untap Nythos, Shrine to Nyx with Voyaging Satyr is certainly relevant.
When Joey made top eight with this deck he was clearly anticipating a large aggro presence, hence the maindeck Nylea's Disciple. Currently the aggro decks are losing a little bit of popularity and this would be an argument for leaving Nylea's Disciple in the sideboard, where it is normally seen. In addition, most lists seem to have moved away from playing a full playset of Nissa, Worldwakers but since this deck isn't splashing another color it can afford to devote four slots to the powerful planeswalker.
While a straight Monogreen Devotion may not seem like the most powerful deck in Standard, there is a lot to be said for consistency. Monogreen Devotion is where I would start testing Green Devotion, in order to find the holes that can be filled in by adding another color. Personally I like splashing a color because it doesn't hurt the manabase too much, and other colors can provide additional late game threats.
Ross Merriam also had success at the SCG Open in Edison New Jersey, but he was playing a new five-drop which is not normally seen in the deck: Doomwake Giant. This of course means he was playing Green/Black Devotion, here is the list he took to the top four:
This deck has more of an enchantment theme to it to be able to fully utilize Doomwake Giant. Doomwake Giant is not only a large creature, there are many deck where he becomes a one sided Wrath of God. The smaller aggressive decks like Monoblack and Monored Aggro have a number of one toughness creatures, which makes the immediate trigger when Doomwake Giant comes into play very important, and of course tokens made from cards like Elspeth, Sun's Champion or Brimaz, King of Oreskos can be swept away quite easily. At the point when too Doomwake Giants are in play is when it starts to become absolutely unfair and most creatures will have a tough time surviving on the opponents side of the board.
There are of course more than just Doomwake Giants to enhance the enchantment presence. Previously Eidolon of Blossoms was present in devotion lists which didn't contain Doomwake Gaint, so it stands to reason that Eidolon of Blossoms is even better than usual in Ross's list. Eidolon of Blossoms is a great devotion enabler, as well as being able to provide card advantage. Of course it is important not to forget that Courser of Kruphix is also an enchantment, is it possible to have a better Courser of Kruphix deck than this one? Rounding out the enchantment theme are the gods, and while Ross just has one copy of Pharika, God of Affliction in the sideboard, some lists do play gods in the main.
Overall I am a big fan of Green/Black Devotion. Doomwake Giant fits in with what the deck wants to be doing, but in exchange it does mean cutting down on Nissa Worldwakers. The two copies of Hornet Queen make the midrange matchup very good, as that card can be almost unbeatable once it hits play. This is probably the newest take on the archetype, and it certainly can make a case for also being the strongest version of the deck in the current metagame.
Okay so let's talk about Red/Green Devotion. This deck has certainly been around Standard for a while, as adding Xenagos, the Reveler works quite nicely but now that is not the only red card being played in these decks. Here is a recent list played by Paul Morelli to a top four finish at the SCG Open in Indianapolis:
It seems that nowadays Goblin Rabblemaster can be found in just about every red deck. Here is actually a deck that can play Goblin Rabblemaster on turn two, which is often enough to single handedly win a game against many of the decks in the format, if not killed immediately. Wooded Foothills is also an on-color fetchland which makes the splash seem quite easy. Perhaps I shouldn't say splash though, as there are a fair amount of red cards here.
Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker is yet another five mana threat the deck has access to, but more importantly Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker provides removal. The deck has become less oriented on a high devotion count, and more focused on playing the most powerful cards individually. However, that doesn't mean the deck can't produce a load of mana and there are also plenty of creatures with power four or greater. This means that Crater's Claws can finish off an opponent who is at a relatively high life total with a simple Blaze effect.
This is perhaps the version of green devotion which has moved the furthest away from the original Monogreen Devotion build that relies more heavily on Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Now many of the threats are no longer green as not only is Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker a five mana spell that costs double red, but there are also a couple copies of Stormbreath Dragon. The deck is almost more like a Rabble Monsters deck than a green devotion deck.
Having burn adds another dimension which the deck didn't previously have access to. Arc Lightning out of the sideboard is yet another card that is great against any aggro deck. This is sort of a new hybrid version of the deck, and after getting in some games in with it I do like what the red cards have to offer.
So now the most popular versions of green devotion have been talked about, but are there other versions worth mentioning? The answer is yes. Here is my latest take on Blue/Green Devotion:
This version is basically a Yisan, the Wanderer Bard combo deck, but also has important elements of Green Devotion. Most decks in the format don't have a creature count this high, as there are actually a full 30 creatures. The creature toolbox isn't only great with Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, but it makes Chord of Calling more effective as well. Chord of Calling seems to be seeing less play in Green Devotion lately, but the card still is very powerful.
Personally I like a suite of creatures that can be accessed for a variety of different uses, so that you have the card needed for a specific matchup in the maindeck. The search engine makes the one-ofs more potent, and justifies playing cards like Reclamation Sage and Nylea's Disciple. Prophet of Kruphix and Kiora's Follower are good on their own, but also do extra work when combined with Yisan, the Wanderer Bard or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Having a way to untap your permanents provide additional mana sinks.
I'm not claiming that Green/Blue Devotion is the best version of Green Devotion, but the deck is enjoyable to play, and has a lot going on. The deck does require a bit more tuning but overall it is a competitive strategy which shouldn't be overlooked. The Counterspells in the sideboard are particularly good versus control.
There is one version of Green Devotion left to talk about, and while Green/White Devotion may not be particularly popular it is a concept worth exploring. Being able to ramp into Elspeth, Sun's Champion is one of the primary reasons to play the deck. To be honest I'm not really sure why Green/White Devotion isn't seeing more play. Here is my current list:
This deck is basically a green/white good stuff deck that can take advantage of the mana acceleration. The white cards are extremely powerful, as Wingmate Roc fits in quite well with the game plan, as well as providing access to lifegain. In fact Wingmate Roc is a card that is continuing to rise in popularity, and this deck is able to take full advantage of the card. Wingmate Roc is one of the most important cards in midrange battles and also provides access to a flying creature.
So I touched on the power of Elspeth, Sun's Champion, but in a format full of large creatures and midrange decks Elspeth, Sun's Champion really shines. She can serve as a removal spell if necessary, and is the perfect card to hit off a Genesis Hydra. Since the deck is so mana hungry there are a couple copies of Market Festival to ramp out the big threats as quickly as possible.
Is the white worth it? In my experience the answer is yes. Banishing Light provides a much needed all-purpose removal spell, and most decks don't have a way to Remove Banishing Light from play, except maybe with their own Banishing Lights. I wouldn't be surprised to see Green/White Devotion catch on, as this is a deck I would happily play with competitively.
So after looking through the different iterations of Green Devotion, which is the best? Of course this does depend somewhat on playstyle, but I like the Green/White Devotion deck quite a bit. Perhaps over the next few weeks it will become clear which direction Green Devotion will head in. I expect for Green Devotion to be one of the most popular, if not the most popular, archetype moving forward.
Thanks for reading,