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Hopelessly Devoted: Mono-White Devotion

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Let’s start off with some decklists, shall we?

What do these decks have in common? Well, obviously, they’re all devotion decks, but they’ve all had their time in the spotlight in competitive play at some points of their lifetimes, with Mono-Black and Mono-Blue being seemingly stuck at the top for quite some time now.

Oh, it seems we’re missing one . . . Ah yes, Mono-White Devotion seems to be left out of the fun.

Mono-White Devotion has been the only devotion deck to not surface in competitive play. There have been a couple of odd times it’s been tried though. StarCityGames player Brian-Braun Duin tried a Mono-/Mostly-White brew in one of the Opens before, but it didn’t exactly go well for him. It’s a shame, really, because white is one of my go-to choices in Magic, as I’ve always been a fan of the underdog. Having been an underdog for a good chunk of my life, I know what it’s like not having a chance in the spotlight. Heliod, God of the Sun should be able to have a chance in that spotlight, and with the new Born of the Gods set coming out, I have high hopes for Heliod to finally be able to shine!

I’ve always loved White Weenie, and I decided to go with a similar feel: fast, aggressive, and possessing the ability to swarm a board with threats. However, I want the ability to reach into midgame a bit further than White Weenie, especially since board wipes are so prevalent right now. While Born of the Gods isn’t the most powerful set, it has given white a couple of cards that I believe can help push it toward the top.

Brimaz, King of Oreskos
The first tasty card from the new set is Brimaz, King of Oreskos—or “The Lion King” as some like to call him.

This Hero of Bladehold look-a-like is very strong and is a key component in our deck. It can swing for 4 while also progressing our board at the same time. In fact, token production is one of the goals of this deck. Tokens have never been favored in this Standard chockfull of board-wide removal. However, I feel Brimaz, King of Oreskos and his army of Cats can speed up white enough to make it much more of a threat, especially to decks that have no answer right away or to decks that don’t run Wrath effects. Being a 3/4 naturally, he can withstand most burn, Last Breath, and Pharika's Cure, but attacking and blocking, he moves up to a virtual 4/5 while progressing our board with his tokens.

That being said, Brimaz’s (and the rest of our) tokens would not be used to their fullest potentials if it weren’t for Spear of Heliod. Spear of Heliod and our creatures really complement each other. Back in the day, Ajani, Caller of the Pride sometimes took up Spear’s spot in certain White Weenie decks, but I chose Spear of Heliod over Ajani due to the number of tokens we’re going to be producing.

1/1, 2/1, and 2/2 tokens? Yawn.

2/2, 3/2, and 3/3 tokens? Yes please!

Spear of Heliod
Spear of Heliod not only makes our guys stronger, but also allows us to use our mana more efficiently. Since it buffs our guys, it makes them more threatening, and therefore, we sometimes don’t have to overextend our board since many of our permanents produce tokens. We can then cast other spells, leave up mana for Spear of Heliod or Boros Charm, or just play more creatures. If, by the end of our opponent’s turn, we haven’t expended our mana, we can dump it into Heliod, God of the Sun for another 3/2 token!

The other Born of the Gods treat this deck runs is Eidolon of Countless Battles. I feel this card is going to be overlooked. Yes, I know what you’re going to say:

“Michael, you’re going to get two-for-one’d all day playing those darned enchantments!”

While that may be true, I feel the risk is worth it for something like Eidolon of Countless Battles. Eidolon has a ton of synergy within our deck. We have enough creatures and Auras to make it worthwhile to bestow. At a lower bestow cost of 2ww, this also allows us to spread our board out to make spot removal much harder for our opponent. Being on the play it gives the minor insurance against a turn-four Supreme Verdict. Having it just fall off at least nets us the ability to keep swinging with something the turn after. Additionally, since Eidolon of Countless Battles works with both creatures and Auras, every time we make a token, either the Eidolon or the creature it’s bestowed to is going to grow.

Starting to see a trend here? This deck likes tokens.

Eidolon of Countless Battles
While we’re not playing many cards from the new set, I feel Eidolon of Countless Battles and Brimaz, King of Oreskos were just the tools needed to give Mono-White Devotion a chance. Both are threatening, both affect the board, and both have double-white in their mana costs. Speaking of which, one thing you might notice in my deck is the number of double-white-costing permanents. This deck is an aggressive deck, as are most of the devotion decks out there, and all these double-whites gives us the ability to quickly ramp into more threats or our top-end card Angel of Serenity. Any excess mana we have can also be used to pump into Heliod for more tokens. I originally had another card in this slot—Silent Sentinel. I figured it would help grab back Eidolon or other enchantments from our graveyard later in the game. However, seeing that Angel of Serenity costs the same, can hit harder, does more to the board, and has an extra white symbol, I felt it was a proper replacement. (Sorry, Silent Sentinel). It also still has the ability to grab back our Eidolon from the graveyard—as well as Brimaz.

The inclusion of enchantments is definitely the questionable side of this deck. However, many of our cards give us reasons to play them. It was tough finding a good balance, though, since enchantment removal is still quite prevalent, and I wasn’t looking to dilute my deck too much with cards that didn’t do anything or that would leave me too open to being two-for-one’d all game. Having a surplus of enchantments in your hand and no reason to cast them isn’t exactly ideal.

Ajani's Chosen might be the one elephant in the room, but hear me out. Ajani's Chosen is a bit on the slower side and not exactly good value, being a 3/3 (Spear makes him a 4/4, which is better) for 4, but it is a card that gives us extreme board presence when left unattended. It gives us the option to play something like a Spear of Heliod and still grow our board—or because Heliod, God of the Sun produces enchantment tokens, we are making two tokens (2/1 and a 2/2) for 2ww. Oh, sorry, Spear of Heliod says “hello.” Make that a 3/2 and 3/3 for 2ww.

Gift of Orzhova
Ethereal Armor also has a nice appearance in this deck. Growing quite large from Eidolon of Countless Battles, Heliod, God of the Sun, Spear of Heliod, and the rest of our enchantments, we can have a large creature on our hands. For w, it can be useful just played by itself to give something like Brimaz +1/+1 and first strike. As with Eidolon, it still has the potential to keep growing as the game goes on.

Last, Gift of Orzhova may be another puzzler, but this card can help us sustain later on in the game, it synergizes well with our other cards, and it gives us some much-needed evasion. I only wanted two copies because, as I mentioned before, I didn’t want to dilute my deck with Auras too much. That being said, it is still is a card that can help us get out of a jam. For 1wbwb, it’s not too expensive, and it also gives us 2 devotion, which can be helpful.

Overall, this deck looks to be quite fast, and I think it has a chance against the decks today. That being said, I won’t know for sure till I can playtest with it, but on paper, it seems pretty solid so far. Let’s quickly go over some possible matchups.

Mono-Black

Lifebane Zombie
Ugh.

While the matchup isn’t favorable, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. In Game 1, we have a fairly good chance of winning. We’ll have more threats than the opponent has removal, and we can quickly build our board state. Having the opponent use mana on his or her turn to take out our guys is fine since it takes an early Pack Rat off the menu. We should be able to race, and with our token production, we should be able to keep Desecration Demon tapped.

After sideboard, it’s going to be a lot tougher. More removal for Mono-Black comes in, as does Lifebane Zombie. However, we have no way to deal with hand disruption, so there’s no point in worrying too much about that. Our only hope is to outrace, but we do bring in some utility. We’ll generally bring in most of our sideboard, bringing in all copies of Celestial Flare, Fortify, Last Breath, Pithing Needle, and Revoke Existence.

Pithing Needle helps against Pack Rat, Underworld Connections, and Mutavault. Celestial Flare is mostly a way for us to deal with Lifebane Zombie since Mono-Black generally is attacking with one or two creatures—and more so after bringing in additional removal and making less room for creatures. It also can hit a single Desecration Demon if we can’t tap it down. Last Breath hits Gray Merchant of Asphodel, which is a bigger body we might not be able to break through. It also can hit Nightveil Specter, Mutavault, and a small Pack Rat.

Fortify is something I decided to use to combat Mono-Black’s new toy Drown in Sorrow—since Boros Charm can’t protect against minus effects. The ability to play it at instant speed for the +0/+2 counteracts the -2/-2 from Drown in Sorrow, and the +2/+0 ability can be useful if we find ourselves swinging out. Bile Blight is something to worry about since it can kill most of our tokens, but it’ll be a matter of how efficiently we can produce tokens and how we pace our threats on the board. Revoke Existence can hit Erebos, God of the Dead or Underworld Connections, which is always a key card in Mono-Black.

Mono-Blue

Domestication
Flyers are our main problem here, but we have enough speed on our side that I think we can race—by turn four or five, we should be able to force Mono-Blue into a defensive state. Domestication is surely a problem, having the ability to take Brimaz, but we can enchant it to bring it back the following turn. Bounce spells and counters are also problems here, but we just have to try to push damage through and progress our board before Master of Waves hits the board. We can hope that before then we squeezed in enough damage to fly over with Gift of Orzhova or burn with Boros Charm. However, we still have Banisher Priest to get rid of Master and Nightveil Specter.

After sideboard, we bring in all copies of Last Breath, Spirit of the Labyrinth, and Revoke Existence. Last Breath hits all of the opponent’s key creatures, Spirit of the Labyrinth prevents Bident of Thassa from drawing cards, and Revoke Existence can get rid of that pesky Thassa, God of the Sea.

Sphinx's Revelation Control Decks

Spirit of the Labyrinth
We have very few tools to combat control spells, but we at least have creatures that produce threats for us, and since the opponent won’t have any blockers, that allows Precinct Captain free reign to build a board state to force the opponent to Supreme Verdict or play Detention Sphere. This allows us to keep creatures in our hand to play post-Verdict, and a bestowed Eidolon can still fall off after a Verdict for us to keep applying pressure.

After sideboard, we bring in all copies of Spirit of the Labyrinth to prevent Divination and Revelation draws. Sadly, it doesn’t stop Jace, Architect of Thought, but we can hope to just kill him off the turn after. Wear // Tear comes in to deal with Elixir of Immortality since some lists usually only run one, and we can hit Detention Sphere if we need to. Pithing Needle comes in for Jace since we have no answer to that other than killing it, but if we need to, we can use it on Elspeth, Sun's Champion—if we happen to not draw into our Glare of Heresy, which we’re also boarding in.




Many of our games are going to come down to our ability to use our mana efficiently. The order in which we play our spells is also quite important for this deck. In conclusion, I am very excited about this brew and am looking forward to testing it out in the coming weeks.

Praise the sun!

- Michael Y.


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