StarCityGames Open Chicago provided an interesting week one to look at.
R/G Devotion and Abzan Control were the most common decks on day two of the tournament, clocking in at 13.2% and 34.3% of the day-two metagame respectively.
This isn’t really a surprising phenomenon considering a few factors:
- R/G Devotion is a much easier deck to rebuild with Magic Origins.
- Abzan Control had a lot of extremely easy cards to slot in (Nissa, Vastwood Seer and Languish).
R/G Devotion ending up dominating the Top 8, so take that into consideration for your playtesting (for SCG Open Richmond and perhaps the SCG Regionals for the upcoming weekend).
The cleanest list I’d start with is Ross Merriam’s from Chicago:
R/G Devotion ? Magic Origins Standard | Ross Merriam
- Creatures (33)
- 1 Hornet Queen
- 3 Genesis Hydra
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Rattleclaw Mystic
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 4 Whisperwood Elemental
- 2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- 3 Dragonlord Atarka
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
- Planeswalkers (3)
- 3 Xenagos, the Reveler
- Lands (24)
- 1 Mountain
- 10 Forest
- 1 Rugged Highlands
- 4 Temple of Abandon
- 4 Wooded Foothills
- 4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Ross is a Devotion (and Elves) aficionado, so it’s not surprising to see him take up this deck again. In addition, I believe he is on team TCGplayer for this upcoming Pro Tour, and that team includes Brad Nelson, who is a huge proponent of R/G devotion.
How to play this deck: This deck is fairly easy to play, and its best draws demolish most people. I think the biggest point is that you should not keep a slow hand because the deck is designed to operate on an earlier schedule than other decks.
How to beat this deck: Go under it or kill all of its creatures. An unchecked Goblin Rabblemaster with a flurry of removal spells can end the game, although this may be difficult to do on the draw. Going over it isn’t really an option because it’s capable of “going bigger” than virtually everyone else given its explosive mana ramping and Polukranos, World Eater.
Given the results of Chicago, I’d want an Abzan Control deck skewed a bit further to beating Devotion (especially in post-’board games).
Abzan Control ? Magic Origins Standard | Jarvis Yu
- Creatures (16)
- 4 Courser of Kruphix
- 4 Den Protector
- 4 Siege Rhino
- 1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
- 3 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
- Lands (25)
- 2 Plains
- 4 Forest
- 1 Caves of Koilos
- 4 Sandsteppe Citadel
- 4 Temple of Malady
- 4 Temple of Silence
- 4 Windswept Heath
- 2 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
I think simply having Languish isn’t enough to beat Devotion, although it’s a good hedge to have in Game 1. Given this current configuration, here’s how I’d sideboard against Green Devotion strategies:
Siege Rhino, 4 Thoughtseize
My plan is to stifle all of the opponent’s board development and not try to fight a top-deck war by drawing useless Thoughtseizes in the inevitable grindfest. Siege Rhino quickly becomes outclassed and also does not play well with End Hostilities. I leave in Tasigur, the Golden Fang as a potential way of pulling ahead on removal spells (via his activation).
How to play this deck: It’s pretty simple if you’ve ever played a Rock variant in your life. Grind the opponent down with your superior card quality.
How to beat this deck: Do something faster or bigger (as Devotion tends to do) or out-slow the opponent (see Esper or U/B Control here).
Jeskai Tokens also cracked the Top 8 and holds a dear place in my heart since I still think Jeskai Ascendancy is among the most busted cards in Standard.
Jeskai Tokens ? Magic Origins Standard | Jarvis Yu
- Spells (28)
- 1 Secure the Wastes
- 2 Lightning Strike
- 2 Ojutai's Command
- 3 Raise the Alarm
- 3 Wild Slash
- 4 Stoke the Flames
- 1 Dragon Fodder
- 4 Hordeling Outburst
- 4 Treasure Cruise
- 4 Jeskai Ascendancy
- Lands (24)
- 1 Plains
- 2 Island
- 2 Mountain
- 2 Temple of Epiphany
- 3 Battlefield Forge
- 3 Flooded Strand
- 3 Shivan Reef
- 4 Mystic Monastery
- 4 Temple of Triumph
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is clearly a huge boon for this deck, and it is pretty easy to transform given Ascendancy triggers and untapping Jace. Its Planeswalker side also plays extremely well in this deck since its -3 of giving something flashback in a deck with a lot of powerful, proactive spells is fantastic.
Soulfire Grand Master for a few reasons. In this version of the deck, you see a lot of cards between Treasure Cruise, looting with Jace, and looting with Jeskai Ascendancy. Therefore, diversifying your options is a Good Thing™ (such as splitting one Seeker of the Way into one Soulfire Grand Master and, similarly, for one Lightning Strike into one Valorous Stance). The late-game recursion aspect of Soulfire Grand Master is extremely powerful against decks like Devotion, which tend to have not very much removal. I would also like to see one Evolving Wilds over the third Battlefield Forge as another effective fetch land for Treasure Cruise.
Sphinx's Tutelage is a pretty interesting option as an alternative win condition. For those of you who remember Grindstone or Millstone being effective win conditions, Sphinx's Tutelage fulfills a very similar role . . . and also kills way more quickly with an active Ascendancy or Jace.
I would imagine the card comes in against control decks and Devotion alike—milling a Devotion deck out seems pretty easy, especially alongside the plethora of removal spells and Anger of the Gods.
How to play this deck: This deck, more than a lot of other decks in Standard, requires extremely precise trigger stacking and sequencing. Get your repetitions in because there’s a lot going on here between Jace loots, Ascendancy loots, and Ascendancy untap triggers. Misordering an Ascendancy against a Jace loot can make a huge difference in when Jace transforms and whether you want another Jace loot or the like.
How to beat this deck: If you shut off Ascendancy and Jace, the cards are mostly underpowered. Dromoka's Command is the biggest beating against those cards (and is a major reason this deck fell out of favor) since it kills Ascendancy and Seeker of the Way or Jace, Vryn's Prodigy alongside it.
I think other decks that are good against R/G Devotion include the following:
- Super-controlling decks like U/B and Esper Control with a lot of sweepers and countermagic
- Atarka Red or Atarka Goblins (very low-to-the-ground aggressive decks that have Goblin Rabblemaster to clean up)
- W/U or Bant Heroic. It’s extremely difficult for Devotion to interact with Heroic enough to make the opponent lose his or her creature, and Aqueous Form and Stratus Walk are easy ways to avoid most of R/G’s creatures.
These decks didn’t do especially well (with the exception of Logan Mize making the finals with W/U Heroic), but if you expect a lot more R/G Devotion locally, I would definitely consider choosing one of those three decks.
I think Standard has quite a way to go in its evolution, and I’m interested to see what happens this weekend in SCG Open Richmond—and in the Pro Tour the week after.
I’d appreciate any comments or concerns here or on Twitter.
Thanks for reading,