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Beating GW Devotion


Just in case you missed it, here is the deck that broke out at GP Miami this past weekend.

This deck produced both finalists for the GP as well as putting a 3rd copy in the top 16 by way of Brad Nelson. It also had some crazy games in the mirror match on camera including a few 0-0-1 draws. The deck isn't much different than the other flavors of Green Devotion: it starts off by using mana dorks like Elvish Mystic and Voyaging Saytr to get lots of mana, and then makes giant monsters like Polukranos, World Eater and Genesis Hydra. Normally this deck would be extremely vulnerable to sweeper effects such as End Hostilities and Crux of Fate; however, it solves that problem pretty easily:

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These two cards change how the deck plays immensely. Being able to recover your board through a wrath effect with a pile of colorless 2/2's gives control players fits. In any other matchup, it is a constant source of 2/2s that gain you life when flipped up. This deck can create an impenetrable wall on the ground. If for some reason they are able to punch through, the lifegain ability on Mastery of the Unseen allows you to mitigate any pressure you are receiving from flyers or fast blitz-style decks. The deck was over 100 life multiple times on camera this weekend.

Mastery of the Unseen also mitigates the issue the deck has of sometimes drawing the wrong half of the deck and allows the deck to see many more cards. It seems this version of the deck took all of Green Devotion's weaknesses and patched them up. We could be looking at a new Tier 1 deck for the next few weeks until Dragon's of Tarkir comes out. If you are going into any kind of tournament in the next few weeks, be sure to have a game plan against this deck. Let's look at what the different strategies can do against this new menace.

Aggressive Decks

One option is to go under the deck before it can set up with Mastery of the Unseen and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Decks like Mono-Red Aggro and RW Aggro will be looking to take this approach. GW is going to have massive problems dealing with early pressure and cards like Searing Blood and Stormbreath Dragon. Keeping the deck off its big two cards is very important. Abzan Advantage seems like a good card allowing you to pump an attacker while also blowing up their key enchantment; consider putting this in your main deck. It will never truly be dead as you can always just pump your weakest creature at minimum. In games where they don't draw Mastery of the Unseen, you need to be prepared for Whisperwood Elemental. Keep up spells like Valorous Stance and Stoke the Flames on the turns where they have access to 5-mana. Killing the Whisperwood Elemental before it can manifest will be critical. I wouldn't be surprised to see a rise in Jeskai Aggro decks as an answer to GW Devotion. Jeskai has access to Mantis Rider which gives the green decks major issues, as well as Anger of the Gods. Anger of the Gods allows you to wipe the board of any mana dorks and manifest tokens without worrying about the sacrifice ability from Whisperwood Elemental. If GW swarms the metagame, this is where I would start.

Midrange Decks

Abzan is king of the midrange decks, and it's looking like it'll remain that way for the forseeable future. Reanimator decks are the other major decks in this area with Mardu and Temur making appearances on occasion. The biggest problem with these decks is that Green Devotion can just go over the top. End Hostilities and Crux of Fate will continue to be tools used to control the board, but with GW able to quickly refill the board that isn't a great Plan A. Going bigger is always an option, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a few copies of In Garruk's Wake being played. Games will go long enough that a one-sided Wrath of God could be enough of a swing to make a difference. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon doesn't cut it as Manifest tokens will clean him up once he decimates everything else.

If I was in this camp I would consider looking into a deck that hasn't seen much play as of late. GB Constellation was the main Green devotion deck in Khans Standard and it's probably time to revisit it. Access to pinpoint removal like Hero's Downfall and Reclamation Sage allows you to keep Whisperwood Elemental and Mastery of the Unseen under control. Games will go long enough where Doomwake Giant will be able to clear out any leftover Manifest tokens. If this is the route I was going, I would start out with something like this.

 

Control Decks

As I stated earlier, being able to have a near endless supply of 2/2's is a nightmare for control. With Crux of Fate becoming the mass removal of choice in Fate Reforged Standard, Sultai Control has become the preferred control deck since it has the ability to deal with non-creature permanents better as well as access to its own suite of Planeswalkers. Sultai Charm is going to turn into a 4-of in this deck if it wasn't already thanks to its ability to take out Mastery of the Unseen. Add in some spot removal and the deck should perform well in the hands of a good player. If you're looking for an additional edge, it might be time to sleeve up some Back to Natures in your sideboard.

UW and UB Control have somewhat fallen out of favor, but they are still viable decks. UW has access to any of the aforementioned white cards that deal with Mastery of the Unseen, but Whisperwood Elemental is just as much of an issue. Although the amount of enchantment hate is going to increase, it still may be worth it to pack a few Banishing Lights and Suspension Fields to take card of the annoying 4/4. If UB is more your style, it's time to dust off those Perilous Vaults as they will deal with everything. GW Devotion isn't a very fast deck so you should have more than enough time to cast and crack it.   

Perilous Vault [M15]

Hopefully this guide gives you some help as we wrap up this Standard season. Dragons of Tarkir is right around the corner and there have been a bunch of new sweet goodies that I can't wait to try out! (I'm looking at you Narset Trascendant and Sarkhan Unbroken). Next week I'll be brewing up some decks with the new cards looking to hit the next round of PPTQs running. If there is anything you would like to see, feel free to post it in the comments below and I'll see what I can come up with. Until then, may you be prepared for the new GW menace.


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