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Against the Odds: Mono-White Divine Control (Standard)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 160 of Against the Odds. Last week, we had our second all-Guilds of Ravnica Against the Odds poll, and while it was a tough battle, when all was said and done, it was Divine Visitation sneaking out a win! As such, we are heading to Standard this week to see if we can turn some small tokens into huge angelic tokens and fly over for some wins! The hardest part of building around Divine Visitation is that there are a ton of different possibilities. In fact, I built four different Divine Visitation decks before settling on the one we played in the videos! What spicy possibilities does Divine Visitation enable in Guilds of Ravnica Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Mono-White Divine Control (Standard)

The Deck

When Divine Visitation won the poll, I knew that we had two options. The most obvious plan was to play Divine Visitation in Selesnya Tokens, maybe replacing March of the Multitudes. While this would probably lead to a fairly good deck, since we already know that Selesnya Tokens is strong (considering we 5-0ed with it on Much Abrew a week ago), it's also the easy way out. Slotting a spicy card into a tier-one deck isn't really in the spirit of Against the Odds. While I did build both Selesnya and Naya Tokens featuring Divine Visitation, in the end, both decks felt too normal. Plus, they didn't really depend on Divine Visitation, winning games just by curving out with good token producers and pump spells. After giving up on the normal tokens builds, I tried a version of Divine Visitation that was looking to take advantage of Desecrated Tomb by looping creatures from the graveyard, but it was super clunky. Finally, I moved to the control build of Divine Visitation that we're playing today!

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Divine Visitation is pretty simple: if we make a creature token, instead of that creature token, we get a 4/4 Angel token with flying and vigilance, representing a huge upgrade in power. As such, the plan of our deck is to get a Divine Visitation on the battlefield, make some tokens, turn them into Serra Angels, and use them to win the game. One of the stranger aspects of Divine Visitation is that it doesn't really work well in multiples (no matter how many Divine Visitations you have on the battlefield, you only get one Angel for each token you make), so minimizing the drawback of drawing multiples is one of the goals of our deck. As I mentioned a moment ago, we aren't really a traditional token deck; instead, we're basically a control deck that's using Divine Visitation as our finisher. So, how do we turn a do-nothing enchantment into a game-ending threat?

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When it comes to making tokens, we have two primary plans: Memorial to Glory and Dawn of Hope. Both cards are fine on their own, making 1/1 chump-blocking tokens to help us stay alive until we get a Divine Visitation on the battlefield, but both become pretty insane once we find our namesake enchantment. Memorial to Glory makes two Serra Angels for four mana, and it doesn't even take up a slot in our deck, since it comes attached to a land! The only drawback is that it enters the battlefield tapped, but making eight power worth of fliers in the late game is more than worth the downside. Meanwhile, Dawn of Hope gives us an endless Angel-making machine, allowing us to pay our mana to make a Serra Angel at will once we have a Divine Visitation on the battlefield. In the late game, when we combine these two cards with Divine Visitation, we have an almost unbeatable flock of fliers—even if our opponent manages to kill some, more just keep coming, until we eventually win the game by beating our opponent down in the air.

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Our backup token producer is Karn, Scion of Urza. While the card is mostly in the deck as a source of card advantage, allowing us to dig through our deck to find our removal, token producers, and Divine Visitation, we can also just 2 twice to make two 4/4 Angels with Divine Visitation on the battlefield, which is a pretty fine deal. One of the challenges of being a mono-white control deck is making sure we have enough card draw, but with Karn, Scion of Urza, Dawn of Hope, and a couple of other two-drops, Mono-White Divine Control can usually keep up with traditional blue control decks in terms of card advantage.

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Azor's Gateway and Treasure Map round out our card-advantage package, coming down on Turn 2 and helping to filter our draws before eventually flipping over into extremely powerful lands. Both cards also work well with Karn, Scion of Urza if we don't have a Divine Visitation to make Angels, making the Construct tokens Karn normally makes into bigger threats and blockers.

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Fountain of Renewal and Orazca Relic are in the deck to help support Dawn of Hope in the early game by gaining us life, while Orazca Relic also helps us ramp into Divine Visitation a turn early. With a Fountain of Renewal and Dawn of Hope on the battlefield, we have the ability to gain a life on each upkeep (which is helpful against aggro) and then pay two to draw a card, sort of giving us our own personal Howling Mine to draw through our deck and find our token producers and Divine Visitation to close out the game. The other upside of our do-nothing (or perhaps do-little) artifacts is that if primary plan doesn't work out, we can always sacrifice them to draw another card, so the downside of running into matchups where Fountain of Renewal's lifegain isn't helpful or flooding out with Orazca Relic is minimized.

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Rounding out our deck is a bunch of removal. Seal Away helps to deal with our opponent's early-game threats, while Ixalan's Binding shuts down things like Rekindling Phoenix and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria in the midgame. The ability to deal with one threat forever is a pretty major upside at the moment, considering some control decks are leaning very heavily on a single card (like Teferi or Crackling Drake) to close out the game. Meanwhile, Settle the Wreckage gives us a sweeper against aggro, while Cleansing Nova cleans up just about anything for five mana, although we don't often want to choose artifacts and enchantments, since we are playing so many ourselves.

The Game Plan

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The game plan of Mono-White Divine Control is pretty simple. In the early game, we're looking to draw cards, gain life, and slow down our opponent with our removal. Ideally, in the midgame, we'll sweep the board and then stick a copy of Divine Visitation, which suddenly turns our copies of Dawn of Hope and Memorial to Glory into massive threats. Then, in the late game, we spend our turns making 4/4 Angels until we eventually overwhelm our opponent with vigilant fliers and close out the game!

The Matchups

It's hard to break down the matchups for Mono-White Divine Control. While we have some chance against just about any deck in the format, it's hard to tell just how good the deck is in any individual matchup, since it really depends on the specific draws. Against control, we have a lot of cheap card advantage in Azor's Gateway, Dawn of Hope, and Treasure Map, but we have a hard time closing out games if our opponent can keep Divine Visitation off the battlefield, especially if our card draw is offline. Meanwhile, we have a lot of random lifegain against aggro, but if we don't find a sweeper to back it up, we can get run over before we ever get a chance to start making Angels with Divine Visitation. All in all, Mono-White Divine Control felt like it has somewhat even matchups against most of the field but wasn't heavily favored (or disfavored) against anything.

The Odds

All in all, we played six matches and won three, giving us a 50% match win percentage, along with winning seven of 14 games, which also comes in at exactly 50%, making Mono-White Divine Control about average for an Against the Odds deck (even including an extra match against Red Aggro that we lost). While we occasionally got punished by drawing too many copies of Divine Visitation, we also saw the enchantment do some super-powerful things, including a game that we won where we completely flooded out and only played three non-lands the entire game but still won thanks to Divine Visitation and Memorial to Glory! While the enchantment could certainly slot into a weird build of Selesnya Tokens, we learned today that its potential goes way beyond cards like Saproling Migration and March of the Multitudes. Mono-White Divine Control was a lot of fun, and while it could probably use some more tuning, with enough work, it might even be pretty competitive!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

Guilds of Ravnica is still fresh, so let's play another card from Magic's newest set next week, except with a twist: which one of these sweet new Guilds of Ravnica cards should we play in Modern next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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