Last week was going to be my final article on Devoted Devastation; I thought I said all there was to say. I was wrong. There's so much more to discuss. Modern isn't moving that quickly, but I have received a lot of great feedback on Devoted Devastation. It was really awesome to see so many readers at the Grand Prix piloting the deck.
Grand Prix Columbus was one of the primary motivators to work hard on the Devoted Devastation archetype. I had a very busy week at work leading up to the Grand Prix and I considered not attending. I was drained before getting in the car to Ohio. Despite the exhaustion I was happy to go and earn a top 16 finish. There were three 12-3s to make the top eight so I had a nice sweat down to the end.
Here's the list I played:
I made some changes since my last article. The scariest matchups feature piles of removal so my changes helped improve the Death's Shadow and Jund matchups.
Eighteen lands worked well for me in a local Modern event, but I wanted to be safe and added a second Horizon Canopy over the second Oath of Nissa. In Columbus I lost a couple games due to not drawing any lands so I was happy to have nineteen.
I wasn't sure if five fast lands (Razorverge Thicket and Botanical Sanctum) was too many, but I have been happy. Cutting down to two basics and six fetches has been very helpful for getting appropriate colors without taking too much damage.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy was finally cut for a second Duskwatch Recruiter. I have found the Duskwatch activated ability to be passable against removal decks. My initial thought was that Jace is noticeably better against removal decks, but that might not be true. Since I can play Duskwatch for five mana it's likely to replace himself. The recruiter is much better in fast games because it's also a combo piece. I'm sure most of you have already cut the Jace and I will join in.
The sideboard is where I got the extra edge against removal decks. Oko, Thief of Crowns is the first card to be hit with Thoughtseize so I added a fourth copy. It's a standalone threat against Death's Shadow that gives me a chance to win. Four copies of Oko is a lot so I mostly want it against removal decks.
The biggest drawback to Oko is he can be lackluster when you're already behind on board. For this reason, I added a fourth Path to Exile to keep Death's Shadow and Tarmogoyf at bay. It also helps against Humans, Infect, Eldrazi, and the mirror. The fourth Path overperformed. I can steal back the initiative after losing Game 1. This is the secret sauce to winning a lot in Modern. You're going to lose die rolls so it's important to have a good plan.
I cut the third [ard]Veil of Summer[/card] to make room for the extra Path to Exile. This is likely a controversial swap, but I am confident in the choice. Since Devoted Devastation has a higher curve against removal decks post board I had less opportunity to leave up the Green mana. Savvy opponents won't run their Thoughtseize into an open Green mana in the early turns. It's very fishy to not do anything on the first turn. Veil is more of a mid-game answer so I need less copies. It gets better with the fourth Path to slow down the game, but I would prefer the Oko in the board.
The second Burrenton-Forge Tender was cut for a second Gaddock Teeg. The Teeg overperformed against Eldrazi Tron as I was able to strand Karn, All is Dust, and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship in hand playing for day two. It's also a way to not die to turn three Karn on the draw against Tron. No time to search for it.
One of my three losses in the event was to Mono-Red Prowess. If their draw is good I can have a hard time. The second Forge-Tender was missed. When I already had the single Tender in play the Eternal Witness and Ranger-Captain of Eos was weaker. Their value in the matchup comes from putting Forge-Tender in my hand. I underestimated this when cutting the second Tender.
Another one of my losses was to Eldrazi. This deck wasn't on my radar, but Eldrazi Obligator can steal and kill Devoted Druid. Nothing like a Shriekmaw with haste. To top it off they have four Lightning Bolt to interact. Yikes.
Teferi, Time Raveler was decent as always, but most of my board plans involve swapping 3-drops. To make room for the extra Tender in the board I'm going to cut Teferi for one of the sideboard Okos.
Here's the list I propose moving forward:
Devoted Devastation | Modern | Kyle Boggemes
- Creatures (24)
- 1 Birds of Paradise
- 1 Deputy of Detention
- 1 Ranger-Captain of Eos
- 1 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
- 1 Walking Ballista
- 2 Duskwatch Recruiter
- 2 Eternal Witness
- 3 Vizier of Remedies
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 4 Giver of Runes
- 4 Devoted Druid
- Sorceries (4)
- 4 Finale of Devastation
- Enchantments (1)
- 1 Oath to Nissa
- Lands (19)
- 1 Snow-Covered Plains
- 1 Snow-Covered Forest
- 1 Botanical Sanctum
- 1 Breeding Pool
- 1 Flooded Strand
- 1 Hallowed Fountain
- 1 Misty Rainforest
- 2 Horizon Canopy
- 2 Temple Garden
- 4 Razorverge thicket
- 4 Windswept Heath
There aren't many changes I would make to the list I played.
Here's an updated sideboard guide:
The key to me winning this match was bluffing a Path to Exile by shocking a Temple Garden on the first turn on Game 2. Rather than going all in with Devoted Druid the first turn he instead deployed Giver of Runes. This allowed me to win on turn three. I never found a Path that game. I was happy that I thought of that line because it was the first round of day two and I was exhausted. A similar bluff can work with Veil of Summer against control decks.
Most matchups feature me boarding out some of the combo, but there isn't enough removal to justify it. The Path to Exiles help me reclaim the initiative in the post board games. Many matchups have pre-board games determined by winning the die roll so I need to win two in a row.
The first game is decided by the die roll. A turn three Karn Liberated on the play is difficult to beat without Giver of Runes. You can still win if their payoff is a creature. Overall this is a good matchup.
The hate bears allow you to break serve post board. Unified Will and Gaddock Teeg prevent Karns on the third turn. This is more important than comboing on turn three because Tron has too many ways to break it up with 7 mana. Teeg also stops Ugin which is becoming more popular again.
Collector Ouphe is better on the play because it can strand Expedition Map and chromatic artifacts. The most important component is stopping Oblivion Stone because Gaddock Teeg takes care of the other threats.
This is a good matchup because their combo of acceleration into Scapeshift and Primeval Titan takes longer than untapping with Devoted Druid. Be aware of Lightning Bolt and Anger of the Gods in the maindeck; Giver of Runes can help.
Shalai can stop the quick Valakut kill because she is the only target if many triggers go on the stack from Scapeshift. A Giver of Runes can give Shalai protection from colorless. This forces TitanShift to win with Field of the Dead. Since this is a combo matchup that grindy plan won't be fast enough.
After sideboard you're still trying to combo quickly. Forge-Tender cleans up Anger of the Gods and Unified Will can also counter removal if you're on the offensive. The planeswalkers aren't great because this matchup is rarely about value. It's possible they have Engineered Explosives in the board, too.
I rarely board out all four Giver of Runes because the ability to search for it in the post board games with Ranger-Captain of Eos is relevant. The removal to play around is Dismember. Don't forget your Finale of Devastations are vulnerable to Spell Pierce.
This matchup is all about being fast. The die roll matters to win Game 1, but Path to Exile can steal the initiative like in the mirror.
Ranger-Captain is good in this matchup combined with Path to Exile. You can sacrifice the captain and the opponent will have less opportunities to play around the Path. Once the silence effect resolves, only they cannot cast noncreature spells this turn.
The Finales come out because they don't play well with Gaddock Teeg and I'm not trying to combo as hard. Teeg prevents Cryptic Command, Engineered Explosives, and Karn, the Great Creator from being cast. Everflowing Chalice can still be cast because it has multikicker.
Veil of Summer is good because I expect them to board in Thoughtseize, Drown in the Loch, Assassin's Trophy, and Fatal Push. It also stops Metallic Rebuke, but they still draw a card off Cryptic Command if you are preventing a spell from being countered. For some reason counters don't get fizzled if they target an uncounterable spell.
Some of these games can be primarily about Oko which means we must be ready with exalted triggers from Noble Hierarch. Attack down Oko at all costs and use your own playset to fight him, too.
The second Vizier of Remedies in the deck is to play around Thought-Knot Seer exiling the first copy. I also have less ways to tutor for the combo due to Teeg not playing well with Finales. I also would be ready to play against Grafdigger's Cage. When Finales come out the cage doesn't do anything. I like to Hollywood this in Game 2 so they overvalue it in Game 3.
Removal to watch out for is Dismember, Spatial Contortion, and Warping Wail. Endbringer cannot ping twice which is relevant for interacting with Devoted Druid. This is because it untaps during the opponent's untap step where no player has priority.
Grixis Death's Shadow
Plague Engineer naming humans kills Vizier immediately. This was a bigger issue before, but a playset of Oko and Path helps. I like to elk my Eternal Witness because she is a human, too. You can't be a human if you're an elk.
It's too difficult to combo quickly against Shadow so play a value game in which they forget about Devoted Druid on the battlefield. If they are at a low life total facing down a bunch of angry elks an 0/2 will be the least of their concern. That's when you strike.
I don't like to attack them early because a small Death's Shadow can be stolen by Oko. It will likely die after the exchange, but giving them a food is basically free.
The first game is a race. Your average draw is faster than theirs. Things get interesting with an Amulet of Vigor in play because the Primeval Titan is able to get haste from Boros Garrison and Slayer's Stronghold. The hasty attack can then find Simic Growth Chamber and Tolaria West which is then transmuted for Pact of Negation. You win the game if you can draw out the pact and follow it up with Vizier of Remedies to make trillions of mana with Devoted Druid.
Oko is nice because it can shut down Amulet or make a small titan. I can also swap a food for Azuza, Lost but Seeking.
All of the Givers come out in this matchup because you only have to worry about a couple Dismembers. Their creatures are too big to worry about blocking with protection, too. Engineered Explosives can prevent a quick kill so my plan is to win with the second druid after board.
Path to Exile changes the dynamic of the matchup. Primeval Titan is more likely to search for Summoner's Pact to stock up on more giants. The Field of the Dead is bad in Game 1, but becomes relevant with both players having interaction post board.
Ranger-Captain of Eos is great in this matchup. You can shut off counterspells for a turn while you untap with Devoted Druid or basically trade with the flash back spell from Snapcaster Mage. It can be sacrificed with Snapcaster's ability on the stack so the spell cannot be cast.
The best way to win this matchup is run everything into a counter until something sticks. Oko on the battlefield will end things quickly.
I had high hopes coming into Grand Prix Columbus, but 12-3 cannot be expected. Devoted Devastation continues to overperform. I expect to play it in January at SCG Columbus where I'll be teaming with Raja Sulaiman and Stephen Dykman.
Thanks for reading and thanks for saying hello at the Grand Prix. It's why I keep writing after almost a decade.
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