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Budget Magic: $88 (50 tix) Mono-Green Devotion (Modern)


Dou bula, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! This week, we are heading to Modern to play another deck that I've tried to build for Budget Magic for a while but couldn't quite get to work under the budget restriction: Mono-Green Devotion! While a lot of the cards in the deck are fairly cheap, the deck needs a handful of expensive (and semi-expensive) cards to really work. The most important of these is Craterhoof Behemoth, which gives the deck the ability to close out the game with all of the mana it makes. Before Modern Masters 2017, the Beast was close to $25 a copy, and I couldn't find a way to make it fit under the budget. I tried playing the deck with other finishers, and it just wasn't the same. Then, Modern Masters 2017 came along, dropping the price of Craterhoof Behemoth from $25 to almost $10, and suddenly the deck could fit under the budget with room to spare! Let's get to the videos, and then we'll talk more about the deck.

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Mono-Green Devotion: Deck Tech

Mono-Green Devotion vs. Eldrazi & Taxes

Mono-Green Devotion vs. Death's Shadow Jund

Mono-Green Devotion vs. U-Turns

Mono-Green Devotion vs. Affinity

Mono-Green Devotion vs. Revolt Zoo

The Deck

At its heart, Mono-Green Devotion is a ramp deck. Ideally, we'll be playing five-mana spells and creatures on Turn 3 and then, with our best draws, close out the game around Turn 5 by trampling over with Craterhoof Behemoth. The deck can be broken down into three main parts: mana producers (although to be fair, anything that has green mana symbols helps us produce mana), card draw, and finishers. Let's break them down one by one. 

Mana Production

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Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is the most important card in our deck. It turns all of our random green creatures into mana producers and allows our deck to make an absurd amount of mana relatively early in the game. While we can win without it, our most explosive games almost always involve at least one copy of the legendary land. 

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Voyaging Satyr allows us to double up on our Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx activations. While it's fine when it's untapping any land and even better when it's untapping a land with a Utopia Sprawl, untapping a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx often makes five or even 10 extra mana, which allows us to play a bunch of expensive spells on the same turn and (hopefully) close out the game. 

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Arbor Elf and Utopia Sprawl work incredibly well together, allowing us to have four mana as early as Turn 2 (if we have both in our opening hand, make sure to lead with the Arbor Elf so that it can start untapping lands on Turn 2). Meanwhile, Elvish Mystic is basically a bad backup version of Arbor Elf, since it only ever makes one mana, while Arbor Elf can sometimes make a bunch more by untapping enchanted lands. From a more meta perspective, all of our one-drop mana producers are actually Sol Rings, since they each add two mana: one from their printed ability and another because they are a green mana symbol sitting out on the battlefield to power up our Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Card Draw

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The second important part of our deck is card draw, mostly card draw that also adds green mana symbols to the battlefield to generate mana with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. These cards help us cycle through our deck to find our Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and our finishers, while also providing roadblocks in the early game to make sure we stay alive long enough to start playing our more powerful mid- and late-game threats. Wistful Selkie is especially important because it has three green mana symbols, which means it not only draws us a card but is also plus three mana when it comes to tapping our Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

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Harmonize doesn't add any green mana symbols, but it does draw a lot of cards for a very cheap rate. One of the biggest problems with playing ramp decks is that there's a tendency to draw the wrong half of your deck. If you draw all mana producers but no finishers, you lose; if you draw a bunch of finishers but no mana producers, you lose. Having a card like Harmonize helps us overcome this problem by brute force: if we draw enough cards, then sooner or later we'll find what we need. 

Finishers

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When it comes time to close out the game, we have a couple of different plans, but they all revolve around Primal Command, which might be the most powerful card in our deck. Most of the time, we start off with the Primal Command / Eternal Witness lock, which pretty much makes it so our opponent can't play Magic while we continue to add to our board, which in turn generates even more mana and causes things to spiral further and further out of control (in a good way). 

The basic idea is that we start by using Primal Command to put a non-creature permanent (most often a land) on top of our opponent's deck and search out an Eternal Witness. This comes pretty close to Time Walking the opponent because they are down a land and a draw step. Then, we do the same thing again the next turn by casting the Eternal Witness to get back the Primal Command. We can technically do this somewhere between four and seven turns in a row, depending on our hand, which is sometimes enough to get the opponent to scoop all by itself (or to kill them by beating down with what we have on the battlefield). If this isn't enough, we have a way to make sure our opponent dies. 

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If our opponent doesn't scoop to the Eternal Witness / Primal Command lock, after playing Eternal Witnesses for a few turns, we can switch up our tutor target and get a Craterhoof Behemoth instead of Eternal Witness. At this point, we likely have enough mana to cast Craterhoof Behemoth right away thanks to Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and all of the Eternal Witnesses we've been casting, so we play the Beast, we make all of our random mana dorks huge and trampling and swing in for somewhere between 50 and 100 damage!

Other Stuff

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We have two other tutor targets for Primal Command that are helpful in certain matchups or situations. Scavenging Ooze (which is suddenly cheap enough for budget decks thanks to Modern Masters 2017) gives us a way to gain some life against aggro and burn decks while eating the graveyard against Dredge, Snapcaster Mage decks, and the like. Meanwhile, Hornet Queen helps us stay in the game in situations where Craterhoof Behemoth isn't enough to win the game on the spot (for example, our opponent is playing a removal-heavy deck and we don't have many creatures on the battlefield). In these cases, we can tutor up Hornet Queen; get five flying, deathtouch bodies (which is enough to stabilize against pretty much any creature deck); and then plan on getting Craterhoof Behemoth with our next Primal Command to actually close out the game. 

Ultra-Budget Mono-Green Devotion

Getting Mono-Green Devotion down into the ultra-budget price range is pretty challenging, mostly because Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is over $5 a copy and Eternal Witness (which doesn't really have a substitute) isn't cheaper either. All things told, just these two cards add $35 to the budget, which is fine when we are working with $100 but tough with only $50. That said, we did get the deck down to about $60 by making some painful cuts. Unfortunately, we lose Craterhoof Behemoth (replaced by Decimator of the Provinces, which is similar but less guaranteed to win the game when we cast it), but an even bigger loss is Utopia Sprawl. We make due with Fertile Ground, which still allows us to make tons of mana by tapping and untapping the enchanted land, but costing two mana instead of one does slow down the deck a bit. We also lose Scavenging Ooze, which is a nice hedge against aggressive decks or graveyard strategies but isn't that important in general. All things considered, this deck should work fine on the kitchen table, but I'd want to make some upgrades (especially Utopia Sprawl) before taking it to FNM. 

Non-Budget Tooth and Nail

One of the upside of Mono-Green Devotion is that it has a really clear upgrade path to GR Tooth and Nail. The deck has the same game plan, right down to locking the opponent with Eternal Witness and Primal Command, but it also has a devastating end game in Tooth and Nail. If we can cast a Tooth and Nail with entwine, we get to not only tutor two creatures out of our deck but also put them directly into play. When these two creatures are Xenagos, God of Revels and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn, we usually just win the game on the spot by attacking with a hasty 30/30 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn! Otherwise, the deck gets Garruk Wildspeaker as a hybrid Voyaging Satyr (untapping Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx), Craterhoof Behemoth (trampling up the team with the ultimate), and some Blood Moons to help slow down the opponent. While this deck is likely better than the one we played in the video (mostly because it has red mana, which adds some additional answers like Blood Moon and Bonfire of the Damned), I'm not sure it's significantly better, since it still tends to struggle against fast spell-based combo decks.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. We finished our video matches 3-2 and were 4-3 overall, beating a budget version of Affinity featuring Tempered Steel and losing to Humans. All in all, I really had fun with the deck. It seems to line up well with Death's Shadow Jund thanks to Primal Command, which is hilariously great in the matchup and has the power to go over the top of most "fair" decks in the format (maybe the best example of this was our first match against Eldrazi and Taxes, where I punted two turns in a row with Primal Command and we still won pretty easily). On the other hand, it does struggle against fast combo decks, especially ones where blocking doesn't matter, so just how good it is for you will depend on your local meta. If everyone is playing Eldrazi, Jund / Abzan, Zoo, and other similar decks, Mono-Green Devotion is a great choice, but if everyone is playing Storm and Sram'O's, you'll be in for a long night.

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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