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Devoted to Standard

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Last week, I took a bit of a break from Standard, as there just was not much going on, and I was away from Magic. I picked a great week to take off, it seems, as coming back, it seems I finally got my wish and found another deck I enjoy playing: G/w Devotion. I will briefly talk more about some of the changes I have made to the deck and where I see that archetype going. The focus this week is to take a look at what the past few short months have provided us in terms of Standard transition and what cards seem to be still underpriced going forward.

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Without the long, drawn-out season we usually face, it seems that not only was Standard left unsolved, it is still, as of this past weekend, blossoming new archetypes. I have watched this season evolve in a very similar fashion as Khans of Tarkir did, with Abzan remaining the tried-and-true deck to beat, while control gained more of a foothold than before, and a new combo deck emerged. In this time, Devotion stayed a steady contender until this past weekend, as it emerged as the current boogeyman to beat. Of course, as exciting as this all is, it will not matter in a few weeks unless we can gather some information to take away and use that to make informed decisions after Dragons of Tarkir releases next weekend.

The big key to remember with the new set coming out is that Khans of Tarkir is done being drafted and can now finally—I hope—see some of the supply dry up. The set is, of course, still widely popular and should continue to sell even after it is out of the Draft format, so I can see prices recovering fairly quickly. I have talked before about how the time would be approaching to be looking toward the cheap cards from Khans of Tarkir, and now, it seems, that time is probably here.

I am not going to talk about any cards in particular, as I feel none needs any additional help finding its way from bulk. It is good to go in understanding what your goals are when you are presented with such a wide array of cards, many of which will probably show some return over the course of their lives in Standard. If you are looking to play Standard for as cheap as possible, I would suggest looking at completing sets right now. It is unlikely a full set of Khans of Tarkir will become any cheaper than it is now—foil sets are also a fine target if you can make use of the fetches to make your money back in your area.

With cards like Siege Rhino already seeing Modern play, it is unlikely that this set will completely bust at rotation, and that means not only do we have a full year to play with all of these cards still, but some may even persevere past that. Many of the mythics, such as Surrak Dragonclaw, have hit their floors, and even just sitting on all of these will show positive returns on at least a few of them, and with there being almost no risk of prices dropping further, anything that goes up is just profit, and what is left is just a wash.

Siege Rhino
My cohost Marcel White on Brainstorm Brewery spoke this week about redeeming full sets on Magic Online, and even if you may not play Magic Online, you may have friends or stores that you know of that have access to these prepackaged sets. Working out the cheapest times to buy into a set can really allow you to play Standard for next to nothing, and with the new release schedule, I believe this process will become streamlined in the future.

When we had the old block structure, the set released further into the spring, meaning we had less time to focus on that set before people were already thinking about rotation. This time around, rotation is far enough off that people are still actively seek cards that will be leaving because of how much longer they can be played, and that means using this set each year to trade out all of your rotation chaff provides a much more reliable and safe transition of your collection. Giving yourself a larger window also means you do not need to fire-sale cards that you know are only great due to Standard, and that allows you to eke out even more rotation value. I am a huge fan of this new schedule the more I think about it, and other than feeling a little sad that I just found the deck I want to play this close to the prerelease, I am overall very happy with where the state of Standard is.

Though there were a few other decks that had some strong showings this week, I think everyone understands just how much better the G/w Devotion shell was than what everyone else brought, so let’s take a look at where the deck was as of this weekend.

If you have not had the pleasure of playing this deck yet, I highly suggest doing so at least once before the new set comes out—this is the closest thing I have found to the type of shenanigans I loved about Séance, and playing the shell I have tuned has proven just as enjoyable.

I am not here to give you a primer, as I am sure you can find any number of those around, but instead, I’ll break down what exactly I feel this deck could be doing and what changes I have made to great success thus far on Magic Online. I have put together two different variants: one that relies heavily on the devotion element as the original list did, and the other that uses the mana you will have even without Nykthos to grind incremental advantage.

I have spent the last five days tuning this list, and all that was spawned from the simple idea that this shell should be playing Soul of Theros to break the mirror—among many other matches—wide open. In addition, I realized the reason this deck wins is that you always have something to do with your mana, and any time you can find such great mana sinks late in the game, you are likely to come out the winner through sheer resource advantage.

With all of that in mind, I have spent the last week slowly morphing into the following list—yes, it looks scary at first, and there are some obvious holes from a normal devotion shell, but it is a well-oiled machine.

I know the deck looks like a Frankenstein’s monster of the Siege deck and devotion, but the one thing both of those decks have is the ability to create a ton of excess mana, and considering Frontier Siege also provides for devotion, it seemed to be strong place to start.

Frontier Siege
From my testing, I’ve learned that the mirror match is great for you Game 1, and though the opponent brings in tools to be able to beat you in the second and third games, you still have an overwhelming number of cards that are problematic for him or her, such as Warden of the First Tree and Wingmate Roc. Soul of Theros in the late game will usually solve the stalemate issue, as activating it two or three times a turn is not uncommon.

Not only does the deck have additional threats, creating an even stronger game against control, it also has a great deal of supplementary life-gain through not only Mastery of the Unseen and Soul of Theros, but also Warden of the First Tree and Wingmate Roc in the mid-to-late game. This has also been the first deck with which I have ever seen someone use Nykthos for more than one color in the same turn, and that has been a goal of mine for a while, so I am also stoked to have accomplished that.

Unfortunately, this deck will not be showing up in any Top 8s with the new set on the way, but if you want to have some fun at Friday Night Magic or just on Magic Online for the next few weeks, I highly suggest picking this up. I haven’t enjoyed a deck this much in years—gaining hundreds of life and swinging with more creatures than you can fit on the battlefield usually ensures a good time is to follow.

 


If you have any other builds you would like to share before we wrap the season up and begin talks of the new set next week, let’s hear them. I am excited for Dragons of Tarkir, and I had a tough time not starting this week, but I promise a ton of new brews and Standard theory will begin once we have the full spoiler. Until next week, keep your eye on the rumor mills, and pick up your Khans of Tarkir cards while you can!

Ryan Bushard

@CryppleCommand


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