May 19, 2015

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Standard Mastery: Going Big with G/W Devotion.

So it's FNM and I'm sitting at a rough 1-3. I'm playing a deck that I believe to be well positioned. After all this archetype brought me 1 win away from cashing SCG Syracuse and top 4-ing a Sunday Super Series - only falling short due to loose play on my part. Big dummy. These finishes, recurring consistency and issues with lands in a few recent tournaments had me losing heart fast. There's a standard pretq in the morning and I need to figure out what the hell I'm playing. I speak to a few of the guys about what I should play. The advice I went with came from my good friend Adam Benn in the form of a simple "play tighter and up the count to 25 lands"

I finish off 1-3-1

The next morning I jam in the 10th forest and Q for the RPTQ while dropping 3 games in total (one from a deck sheet error) Big dummy x2.

Here's what I ran.

For starters this deck's power level and resilience are impressive to say the least. Furthermore, playing a midrange style deck with the ability to hit the board quickly and still go far over the top and dominate midrange mirrors is an excellent choice for current standard. In recent weeks we've seen cards such as Deathmist Raptor, Den Protector, Siege Rhino and Fleecemane Lion showing in large numbers and placing at the top of Grand Prix, Pro Tours and the SCG circuit. So why not play a deck that bodies the most popular decks of the format?

That was the exact thought fellow Ottawa local Ben Moir and I had while putting a deck together for the recent GP Toronto. Now, while Ben played a different deck at that tournament due to card availability and my finish in the main event was nothing spectacular we agree we built the right deck. So what's changed in standard since GP Toronto? Not much.

The list above is basically the same as what Ben and I put together. We left Courser of Kruphix at home choosing instead to maindeck Nissa, Worldwaker as a hedge against Dromoka's Command and the Esper Dragons deck. Aside from that, the maindeck should be fairly self explanatory and I'll touch on the specifics as we go.

I'd like to take a short diversion from the deck itself here and put the spotlight on something I see often going overlooked. The sleeper best card in the format. Elvish Mystic.

I've never seen a format where mana dorks were this good. THEY NEVER GET KILLED. EVER. Short of Wild Slash no removal spell kills the elf at parody. Remember standard with Lightning Bolt? Gut Shot? Disfigure? Have you seen those around lately? NOPE. This is a big deal folks. While on the draw the ability to break serve and get out from under your opponent's tempo is crucial in this format and untapping with the elf on two lets you do exactly this. On the play this 'lil guffer sets up his decks' most explosive openings and puts the opponent further behind in tempo. Curving out a turn or 2 early is enough to put a lot of games away on its own these days. If you're in green and not playing this card take a big step back and rethink your life.

Aside from the little Elf that could (will and does) G/w devotion has a lot going for it. The decks strength comes from being larger than basically any other deck in the format thanks to redundant copies of Mastery of the Unseen and mana sources. This allows the deck to overpower standards many other green based decks going into the mid to late game. Also the deck gets to run two copies of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon which serves as the ultimate trump to essentially any situation put forth by the opponent. The deck can also power out ol' Eugene as soon as turn four or five if it puts some stank on it (I've found it to just be good sportsmanship to quietly extend the hand at those times)

The deck also brings an absurd level of resilience to the table through the full complement of Deathmist Raptor, Den Protector, Whisperwood Elemental and Mastery, giving it the tools needed to grind through the many wraths and removal spells brought forth from the control decks.

Now that I've gone over the reasons to play the deck I'd like to list a couple tournament results I've had to back it all up.

1) 2-0 UW Control
2) 1-2 Pusheen Junk
3) 2-0 Atarka Red
4) 2-0 Mardu Midrange
5) I.D and played Frisbee (highly recommend)
Top 8
2-0 Mardu Dragons
2-1 Atarka Red
2-1 Pusheen Junk

I'd like to point out my round two loss was on the back of a game loss due to a deck reg error. (Do not recommend) Also if you don't know what Pusheen junk is by now then best get an education here, son.
Yes Brad, I can put a link to Adam's article.

In that event I dodged a lot of the popular matchups you'd be likely to face in any given tournament so as a bonus...

Super Sunday Series GP Toronto
2-1 Esper Dragons
1-2 UB Control
2-0 Esper Dragons
2-0 Esper Dragons
2-0 Abzan Aggro
2-1 Abzan Control
2-1 GR Dragons
2-0 Abzan Aggro
0-2 GW Devotion

It's worth noting here that by far the most difficult matchups will be against Esper/ UB Control and GR Devotion. With the first two the key is to put them on the back foot as quickly as possible and use mastery/ raptor/ whisperwood to slog through their removal and wraths. Game two the non-onedrop dorks and commands get the cut in favour of threats. Bow of Nylea and Skyreaping were clever contributions from Ben Moir. Bow allows any creature to attack into a dragon while providing a useful mana sink that can pump your threats or rebuy them in games that may come to decking while skyreaping kills untapped ojutai. It looks cute I know but I like to bring two in against Esper. I've killed a respectable number of Ojutais with it and trust Ben with just about anything aside from waking up on time. Game one against big G/R is rough. Outside of mastery and ugin you can't do anything against stormbreath dragon and atarka can be devastating as well. Much like esper Dragons the skyreapings and bow come in taking the place of Nissa and the commands. Neither deck has much in the way of removal so your devotion will be high enough for skyreaping to always be live. Bow is fine for its life gain but the real reason for it is the death touch clause. Attacking with Polukranos, World Eater while bow's in play means you can monsterous inside of combat to assign 1 point of lethal damage to as many creatures as you have the mana for, clearing the board of dragons.

While I believe the list above was correct for the GP, the declining number of blue control decks I've been facing leads to me wanting to change up the numbers slightly.

Nissa is a house against control but that's about it. She's not the sort of card you really want to have against the creature decks which make up the majority of the format. Hidden Dragonslayer however is quite the opposite. Killing Anafenza and rhino is good and all but being able to flip and kill an attacking Ojutai? That's the world I want to live in. Moving the third Dromoka's Command to the main and cutting a Disciple seems fine for getting the Nissas into the board. With the addition of lifelink on the slayer you're not harming your red matchup by much either. The last change is swapping the Blossoming Sands for a second Confluence for no other reason than I want a g/w land that comes in untapped. Also of note: I've left Temur Sabertooth and Setessan Tactics out of this article for the sole reason that the only place I can see maybe wanting them would be the actual mirror and

1) Does that even exist? 2) Eugene don't give a damn!

Well there you have it, G/W devotion for standard. Borrow some Raptors, gather up your manifest tokens and for the love of God get outside and enjoy your day! It's like..... Summer out there why are you still here!? This articles over!

See you across the table.