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Much Abrew: Devoted to Dread (Pioneer)

Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Much Abrew About Nothing! This week, we're heading to Pioneer / Explorer for a new take on one of my favorite archetypes: Mono-Black Devotion! During spoiler season, Rush of Dread got a lot of hype for its one-shot-kill combo potential with Bloodletter of Aclazotz. So far, we haven't really seen the combo take off in Standard, but I think this might be because people are focused on the wrong format. What if the best home for Rush of Dread is Pioneer? It turns out that Mono-Black Devotion already wants to play Bloodletter of Aclazotz because it has a ton of black mana symbols and because it curves really well into Gray Merchant of Asphodel, which makes it super easy to slot in the game-ending Rush of Dread combo. Plus, we even have a backup combo support piece in Warlock Class, which basically does the same thing as Bloodletter of Aclazotz if we can level it up fully! Is Mono-Black Devotion a combo deck now? How good is Rush of Dread in Pioneer? Let's get to the video and find out!

Much Abrew: Devoted to Dread

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  • Record-wise, Mono-Black Dread-votion was great. We went 13-5 with the deck for a sterling 72% win rate, which is a great record over a pretty large sample size!
  • A big part of the deck's power is that we can win like a normal Mono-Black Devotion deck by grinding out card advantage, ripping apart our opponent's hand with Thoughtseize, killing their stuff, and eventually overwhelming our opponent with mana from Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Basically, the solid midrange plan still exists, but now, we also can just accidentally win the game on Turn 5 with Rush of Dread!
  • If you haven't seen the Rush of Dread combo, the main idea is that we can stick a Bloodletter of Aclazotz to double up the life our opponent loses during our turn and then cast Rush of Dread for five mana to make our opponent lose half their life, which kills our opponent on the spot. But it gets even better. We also have Warlock Class, which basically works like Bloodletter of Aclazotz if we fully level up, causing our opponent to lose life equal to the life lost during the turn on our end step. This means if we fully level up Warlock Class, Rush of Dread is once again lethal for five mana. But what if we don't draw Rush of Dread? Well, Gray Merchant of Asphodel is sort of a backup. While it isn't guaranteed to win the game like Rush of Dread is, it typically drains our opponent for at least five, and it's very possible it can be 10 or more, which would mean a single Gary often wins the game with a Bloodletter of Aclazotz or a leveled-up Warlock Class on the battlefield. Basically, we have a ton of redundancy with our combo kill, and outside of new addition Rush of Dread, all the combo pieces are cards we'd want to play in Mono-Black Devotion anyway, which means we don't have to overload on under-powered combo pieces to win the game!
  • As for Rush of Dread, the combo kills are obviously awesome, but what surprised me the most was how effective the card was when played fairly without the combo. Against creature decks, making our opponent sacrifice half of their creatures is great. Against control, making our opponent discard half their cards is really good. Even the "lose half your life" mode is relevant without the game-ending combo, often being a five-mana, 10-damage burn spell that lets us close out the game with janky beats. Plus, thanks to all of the mana that Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx can generate, it's pretty realistic that we can choose multiple modes of Rush of Dread, making it even more devastating. 
  • The rest of the deck is pretty typically Mono-Black Devotion stuff: discard, removal, and a focus on adding black mana symbols to the battlefield. If you've played any of our past versions of Mono-Black Devotion, you probably already have most of the cards you need to build this version, minus the Rush of Dreads, which aren't especially expensive!
  • So, should you play Mono-Black Dread-votion in Pioneer / Explorer? I think the answer is clear yes. The deck has a great record, played well, and felt really powerful. Rush of Dread really changes the equation, adding a free-win aspect to the deck that didn't really exist before. Add it all together, and Mono-Black Dread-votion might actually be a real threat in Pioneer!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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