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Prepping for MagicFest Columbus

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Hey everyone!

Today I want to talk about Devoted Devastation in the context of preparing for my upcoming tournament- Magic Fest Columbus.

This is my third article on Devoted Devastation because the deck is surprisingly still under the radar. I haven't seen many articles about Devoted Druid while it has been putting up insane numbers. You can find my two previous articles about the deck here and here.

Before I get into the changes for this week I want to do some shout-outs to players who have picked up the deck recently. Ross Merriam was considering the deck for the SCG Invitational and put up a 5-0 finish in a Magic Online League with the following list:


This is the exact 75 I suggested last week; complete with cutting the second Forest for a fourth Razorverge Thicket and swapping a Misty Rainforest for a Flooded Strand. I appreciated hearing about this result because Magic Online Leagues have many top tier decks in the field. A win in a League is worth more than a win at Monday Night Modern.

The other big winner last weekend was fellow R.I.W. teammate, Raja Sulaiman. He not only played Devoted Devastation at the SCG Invitational, but finished 8-0 in Modern! I don't care how good your deck is it will take some luck to get that far. Raja is a great player, but didn't even have many reps with the deck before the event. This should be an interesting factoid if you're considering picking up the deck with minimal practice.

Here's the list he played:


I wasn't immediately sold on Oath of Nissa. This is a brand new card in the archetype and not just in this specific version. Sometimes it takes a ban in Pioneer to show the power of a forgotten favorite. An Oath in play means with trillions of Green mana you're able to cast Teferi and Oko. This alleviates non-Green mana as a previous bottleneck. I can bounce the Oath with Teferi to find my mana sink to immediately win.

Oath increases the consistency of finding a turn two Devoted Druid. Between Once Upon a Time and Oath of Nissa this Green deck has plenty of library manipulation. WOTC decided Ponder and Preordain weren't all right in the format, but this is? Green, for lack of a better word, is good.

As you may recall last week many of my sideboard plans involved swapping 3-drops. The second Ranger-Captain of Eos was cut for an Oath. The move to Oath of Nissa keeps my foot on the gas without increasing the average mana cost of the deck. It's great value to cut a 3-drop for a combo-enabler that acts as another payoff. The second Ranger-Captain of Eos was likely the most sketchy card in the deck so I'm happy to see a suitable replacement. I'm giving Raja credit as this was his idea and a good one at that.

Raja cut Jace, Vryn's Prodigy for the second Oath of Nissa. Many players don't like the Jace, but he's still a friend of mine. The one change I would make to the maindeck Raja played is to cut the fourth Razorverge Thicket for a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. This is because Oath of Nissa can find mana if that's the bottleneck.

This is a tough call for me because I'm debating between a 19th land and a grindy creature that can filter draws for lands. One of my questions to answer this week is if I feel like eighteen lands is enough. So far it has felt like enough in my many solitaire games.

The sideboard has fourteen great cards and the last slot is flexible. This week I intend to find a final card that gives me confidence. I would currently advocate for a second Burrenton Forge-Tender, but would quickly abandon if a better option came along. Raja played Phyrexian Revoker in this slot. He said it was medium and that would be my opinion of it as well. It's a fine role player, but isn't a slam dunk. If you have a better idea I would love to hear it!

This is the deck I plan to register at Magic Fest Columbus this weekend. The hardest part of a big tournament is selecting your archetype and flex slots. I'm currently sold on 73 out of 75 cards. That's a pretty good place to be.

I want to pivot to my preparation throughout the week leading up to the event as the card choices are starting to solidify.

I'm not a fan of playing Magic Online, but local Modern events are fun for me. I don't like to practice more for an event than I want. This sounds obvious, but I don't want to burn out ahead of a tournament. The week leading up to the event I will play one tournament. I find that with dozens of games under my belt ahead of a big event I think less about each play.

Since there was a high stakes event in the SCG Invitational last weekend I have coverage to watch. This not only helps me see how the top Modern decks play out, but I also get to see the top players in action. I need to play tight this weekend and watching others play helps keep me sharp.

I like to fill out my decklist ahead of time. Once you're traveling to a tournament there are many things to do. I try to do as many of the tournament chores as I can ahead of time to save my mental energy.

A common worry among new tournament players is card sleeves. As long as your sleeves are not inconsistently worn out there won't be an issue. When I get new sleeves I get colors that obfuscate flip cards. Sometimes I forget until it's too late there are flip cards in my deck. This weekend I plan to play Jace and I don't like the checklist cards. I currently use Dragon Shield Matte Black.

Tokens are another thing I like to have figured out ahead of time. The only game items I need for this deck are elk markers and food tokens for Oko. Lucky for me Danny Peterson hooked me up with some sweet tokens:

Where the food fights back.

Not only is there an elk marker, but one specifically for when a food token is turned into an elk. This is because the name of the permanent doesn't change. It's nice to have a way to clearly designate an Elk McBurgerface.

I don't leave home without a set of six-sided dice and a Boogie Board. In addition, I bring a bottle to fill with warm sink water. The drinking fountain water is too cold in the convention center. The last thing I want to be doing in a match is shivering; it's distracting. I also bring Cliff Bars and protein bars since I don't know how easy it will be to eat in between rounds. Convention centers aren't always the easiest places to get food. Each round I drink water and eat food because intense concentration takes plenty of energy; more than on an average day.

The metagame is always changing in Modern. I spend less time playing games than I do wondering what matchups to expect.

The most popular deck is Simic Urza. It has been undergoing different iterations lately and Karn, the Great Creator is the newest addition:


This decklist was used by Stephen Dykman to make the Top 8 of the SCG Invitational. The deck represents the dominant trend of cutting the Thopter/Sword combo for Karn. The amount of instant-speed spells dropped as Whir of Invention has only unexciting finds remaining. Collector Ouphe is still good in the matchup to stop Engineered Explosives disruption or Emry's card advantage with Mishra's Bauble.

While I can't immediately win with Walking Ballista while Karn is on the battlefield, Deputy of Detention can remove Karn. Shalai can allow my creatures to deal millions of damage without using an activated ability from an artifact. I can also sink millions of mana into Finale of Devastation and search for Birds of Paradise to hide my win conditions.

Despite Karn reducing the amount of real sideboard cards to play the Black interaction is about the same. This means I'm still looking to lean heavily on Veil of Summer. Gaddock Teeg is still good in the matchup as Whir of Invention was swapped with Karn- another spell that cannot be cast while he is on the battlefield. I did see some lists with Path to Exile in the board; if you see Hallowed Fountain lean more on Giver of Runes.

If you recall Grixis Death's Shadow won the Open dominated by Simic Whurza. I've watched a few rounds of that matchup and I think Shadow is favored versus the artifacts. This can explain the two Grixis Shadow decks in the Top 8 as well as three more in the Top 16. My current list of Devoted Devastation is well equipped to also handle that matchup. The planeswalkers, Paths, and Veil of Summers all shine in the matchup.

Here's how I would sideboard against Grixis Shadow:

Going all-in on the combo is too risky as their interaction is so nimble. I prefer to grind them out with planeswalkers. Finale of Devastation is good against removal as you can force their hand to kill Devoted Druid with the spell on the stack. Once you select Vizier of Remedies they can't stop you from making millions of Green mana. The downside is its vulnerability to Stubborn Denial. I cut a mix of the combo-enablers for this reason.

Since Grixis Shadow is the hero we were hoping for to neutralize the Simic Urza menace it will give Burn some room to return to prominence. I like the Burn matchup using the Shalai lock with Giver of Runes. The uncertain fifteenth card in the sideboard is currently a Burrenton Forge-Tender and that will help the matchup even more.

The most important lesson I've learned about Simic Urza is it's hard to win the value game. Jund was kept down because Oko is the best midrange threat and Simic Urza is the best shell for him. Urza is the deck to beat and there are plenty of linear decks that line up well, such as Devoted Druid. Infect and Storm are two more decks that have made a comeback to fight artifacts. Jacob Segal finished in 11th place with Infect in the Invitational.

Many of the top players at the SCG Invitational chose to play Simic Urza. Despite this there was only one in Top 8 and one in Top 16. This leads me to believe the fringe linear decks were able to defeat them. Urza may be the best deck, but it's very beatable.

Jund is always going to be represented in paper Modern events. If the metagame is right for it to strike then it will be at the top tables. I'm able to beat Jund, but it can be a scary matchup. The players that have invested in a foil Jund deck don't care if it's the right metagame call; they didn't show up to not cast Tarmogoyf.

I sound like a broken record about Devoted Devastation, but a deck like this doesn't come around often in the information age of Magic. Typically when a deck begins to dominate the metagame adapts quickly. Druid has been a great metagame call for the last few weeks and I don't see that changing soon. Give it a try!

Thanks for reading.

-Kyle

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