Dominating a Star City Games Invitational Qualifier with Green/White Devotion

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Wait… you’re gaining how much life?

Have you ever enjoyed laying down a Siege Rhino, watching your opponent whimper as you turn the corner on a game against [insert aggro deck here] by turn 4? What if I told you you could instead regularly reach 50 life with the ability of ignoring Elspeth, Sun’s Champion ultimate as well as your opponent’s board? If you are able to make the grind and pilot this deck efficiently, it is the deck to play. Our inevitability is very powerful against what most lists are capable of.

I showed up at A Store of Fire and Dice​ for the first time today to pick up some modern cards for the PPTQ Sunday and say hello to a local fellow judge, Kush Singhal​. Kush asked me if I was going to join an event currently going on with a round 1 loss to which I replied, “I don’t know…” Well, I did join for $30 and made an incredible run out of what should have probably been a quick 0-2 drop.

Writer’s Note: I am a new writer in the Magic scene, and would appreciate your criticism of my writing. Please comment below.

The Deck: We are playing G/W Devotion Megamorph such as found here, a modified list from Jasper De Jong’s MOCS list: http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/gw-devotion-megamorph

Foot to Face style, how you like it?

Foot to Face style, how you like it?

Good & Bad Matchups: Probably one of the most challenging match ups is R/G devotion. As long as we get our Mastery of the Unseen engine online we will beat out any fair/value deck relatively easily. Control and burn match ups are very easy for us to beat. If you pilot this list well, sideboard well, and are able to play at a quick pace as well as keeping your opponents playing quickly, I would recommend this list for the rest of rotation.

Tips to piloting the list: These are general guidelines, and keep in mind they are my opinions.

– When considering a mulligan, ask yourself a few things: do I have one or more copies of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx? Do I have green and white sources? Are there at least spells in my hand I can cast by turn two? If not, consider a mulligan. As a rule, I wouldn’t keep any more than 4 lands unless I know I’m facing control post board.

– Keep your bluff strong with every manifest/morph you control. You haven’t lived until your opponent discards a removal spell for your morphed Deathmist Raptor. When dealing with a lot of manifest creatures, do your best to mentally note what creatures you may have and not waste precious time reading every one repeatedly. Do not keep info from your opponent: you are required to show which manifests came into play and in what order, so, I try to keep mine in order as they entered the battlefield.

– Absolutely do not assume “not attacking” is correct. If you have any semblance of board position and your life total can afford it, get your hits in. This is especially important in the mirror. You will not win games often by your opponent’s concession, and it is important to turn the corner once you have stabilized just as a control deck would. Our deck’s biggest opponent is actually the clock and to pilot this deck well we need to cherish our time. We are very weak to fliers, and Dragonlord Atarka can break apart the amount of life we are capable of gaining game one very well.

– If you need to in the aggressive matches, either morphing or just playing a 2/1 Den Protector at times is Just What You Need, and trading them away as face down 2/2s against burn for instance is absolutely fine. Appreciating whether or not you are the “control,” in the particular match up is important here. See an interesting read on comparing MTG to Smash Bros: http://www.meleeitonme.com/guest-article-whos-the-aggressor/

– TRIGGERS. If you are familiar with Soul Sisters in Modern, this deck is very similar. Do not forget your triggers. Mastery of the Unseen triggers, Deathmist triggers, end of turn Whisperwood Elemental triggers. And, when stacking Deathmist and Mastery triggers, stack it such that you gain the life from Deathmist before the Mastery trigger resolves. Every point counts.

How the day went:

R1: I take my loss for being late.

R2: I’m awarded the bye.

R3: Mardu dragons. 2-1

We start game one after an awkward situation where my opponent, after rolling a 3 on the table and a die that landed on the floor stated, “I’d like to keep whatever it is,” of which it happened to be a six. This all happens so quickly that, before I respond I look and see that it is a six. I ask him to reroll it and he asks for a judge, to which I reply, “it’s going to be between us to determine who goes first.” This sets a really weird precipice for my first match, ESPECIALLY after my opponent rolls a six again, I tie his roll, and he beats me out again: on top of it all I am incredibly anxious throughout the 3 game slugfest. This and the finals were my most stressful parts of the tournament.

Game one I lose to an uncontested turn 5 hard cast Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury followed by a Stormbreath Dragon into a very bad boardstate I had built. He attacks with both to which I write my life total as 1, but he states I am dead due to their triggers. I mentally face-palm and start to feel that my $30 entry would be forfeit in one silly round. For my first game of the tournament in round 3 I am feeling horrible and, unbeknownst to me this wasn’t the last mistake in my first round.

Sideboard:
-2 Courser of Kruphix

-1 Genesis Hydra

-2 Mastery of the Unseen

+1 Dromoka’s Command

+2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

+2 Arbor Colossus

Game two my opponent mulligans twice. I win through a very susceptible to Anger of the Gods boardstate on turn three where, with the option of either casting Courser of Kruphix or Deathmist Raptor and having 5 mana available of which one is a white source, I decide to keep Dromoka’s Command up for that 1RR spell I sniffed out.

Game three we triumph after some very tight play where, after taking 4 from my opponent’s Thunderbreak Regent, putting me to 10 with my opponent having two cards in hand, I decide to monstrous my Polukranos, World Eater for 3, thinking that my opponent was looking to trade his Stormbreath Dragon up to the world eater with a Kolaghan’s Command. *PUNT* I take 3 damage because of Thunderbreak Regent‘s trigger, dead to burn the following turn with a Dromoka’s Command I have in my hand I cannot cast. I am very fortunate, and come out victorious, still in contention. My opponent goes 0-2 drop, making my tiebreakers abysmal.

R4: U/B Dragon Control, Shota Yasouka’s modified PT list 2-1

I sit down across from the U/B pilot, then unknown, to him stating that he was fresh into the standard scene. Throughout the match he states after using Thoughtseize to take my Genesis Hydra, “Devotion is like a puzzle. Take away one piece and it really struggles.” I smirk, and later on tell him, “Control is also a puzzle. Reading your ability to delve Dig Through Time and force your hand on my weaker creatures gives me the edge.”

Game one I am slated to a pretty low win percentage, and lose to Icefall Regent, tapping down my Deathmist Raptor as well as a Dragonlord Silumgar stealing my Fleecemane Lion.

Sideboard:
-4 Courser of Kruphix

-1 Elvish Mystic

-2 Dromoka’s Command

-1 Polukranos, World Eater

-1 Sylvan Caryatid

+3 Valorous Stance

+2 Genesis Hydra

+2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

+2 Arbor Colossus

Game two is a very thrilling victory as unexciting as it was. A strong bluff of a morphed Deathmist Raptor eating removal puts a smile on my face, and another Deathmist Raptor eats 9 points of his life before finally eating an end of turn removal spell. Key sequencing of my spells and juggling not casting cards to turn his Dig Through Time online rides me out to a victory that feels wonderful albeit unexciting.

Unfortunately, there is not much to be said about game three that didn’t happen game two other than Valorous Stance is a good card.

R5: Abzan Midrange 1-1-1

3-1 and I am paired down to 2-1-1. I will have to really work to secure my spot in the top eight, and seeing my opponent’s Twenty Sided Store mat led me to understand a certain quality of player that Games Day Champions mats like mine seemed not to portray. The rest of the players above us play for seed, and I approach the match knowing I had to win in order to make top 8.

Game one we are granted a three minute time extension or so after turn five when I look at my opponent’s amount of cards in hand, lands and cards in graveyard and think, “is it possible my opponent drew an extra card on me?” Thankfully Judge Kush Singhal is working this event and able to decide things for me quickly, to which I am very grateful. It is worth noting that having good judges like Kush result in a high quality of tournaments that are truly incomparable to some other stores’. The game goes a fair 30 minutes long with Mastery of the Unseen outpacing my opponent’s Elspeth going ultimate into an alpha strike for about 39 damage. I am at 31, flip up two creatures to gain 20 life, fetch a land revealing a Mastery of the Unseen on the top of my deck and explain the likelihood it would take me to lose at that point. We go to the sideboard with my opponent asking me to play faster to which I agree.

Sideboard:
-3 Courser of Kruphix

-1 Elvish Mystic

-1 Genesis Hydra

-1 Dromoka’s Command

+1 Surge of Righteousness

+3 Valorous Stance

+2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Game two is relatively quick for our match up and I do not recall much more than a flurry of Siege Rhinos, tight play and untimely draw steps resulting in my opponent’s victory. Sequencing resulted in just the right cards being exiled in my opponent’s favor and I lost with a total of about 6 monstrous Lions on the battlefield. There is limited time on the clock remaining, about 12 minutes.

Game three is more of the same. I find it hard to recall Abzan matches because, well, I find it boring and repetitive this far into the standard set rotation. Thankfully my decks are often made to prey on the most prevalent decks, especially ones I dislike, so I’m thinking I have this game in the bag. At least I could attain a draw. As it turns out, I am the first one with an Elspeth on the field at parity, but on my fifth and final turn of extra turns I realize my Elspeth is only at 6 loyalty and I cannot win. I smile, my opponent asks me to concede the match and I return the same back to him. Of course I wouldn’t concede, and it’s good that I didn’t, I had barely made it in as the 7th seed.

R6 Quarterfinals Abzan Reanimator 2-0

This is the first of back to back Rob mirror matches, and I know my opponent because, often like me, he spent most of the round playing his matches nearly to time. The games are very frustrating with his incessant, “How many cards,” as many as four times in a turn. I lay my cards in hand one by one on my playmat and continue to nod or point at them, practicing extreme patience and zen.

Game one I win with a nutty draw including turn 1 Elvish Mystic, turn two Elvish Mystic & Fleecemane Lion, turn three monstrosity.

Sideboard:
-3 Courser of Kruphix

-1 Elvish Mystic

-1 Genesis Hydra

-1 Dromoka’s Command

+1 Surge of Righteousness

+3 Valorous Stance

+2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

I win game two through some unexciting three rhinos. My opponent makes a pretty heads up play, forcing me to flip up den protector on his turn and correctly predicting that I’d take valorous stance back to my hand with mana unable to cast it. He duresses it away, but is unable to win the game with my first lifegain off of Mastery being 5 life. Recurring Deathmist Raptors for both offense and defense had me regurgitating value like abzan dreams of.

R7 Semifinals Sultai Megamorph Dragons 2-0

This is the second and final Rob mirror match, of which only one was destined for the finals. I am pretty excited when my opponent opens with lands leading me to believe he was control, and by the time I learn that he is on megamorph I am already outpacing what his deck was probably capable of, stealing the first victory.

Sideboard:
-4 Courser of Kruphix

-1 Elvish Mystic

-2 Dromoka’s Command

+3 Valorous Stance

+2 Genesis Hydra

+2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

Game two is relatively uneventful, dodging any hand disruption early game. On turn three he had a morph in play, and I honestly have to say I was terrified of the prospect of “Seize you, take your Genesis Hydra. Flip up my Den Protector, Seize you again and take your Whisperwood Elemental. Go.” Thankfully this never happened and he only recurred Windswept Heath, but it is funny picturing your opponent’s most terrifying plays possible. My board state outclassed his, with the most powerful creature he played being what I assume to be Chris Van Meter’s pet card, Dragonlord Dromoka. The following turn was pretty cool, but I found the play was, attack with most everything except for Whisperwood, my smallest creature he was able to afford blocking being something like 3 or 4 power. Main phase two play Polukranos, tap nykthos for something like 8 and piece together 3 mana in order to monstrous for 5, killing the dragon. An interesting other option I pictured the previous turn was attacking with a manifested Valorous Stance, recurring it with Den Protector and destroying the dragon during my turn, but the Den Protector shied away during my draw step.

R8 Finals Abzan Aggro 1-2

To my complete and utter disappointment my opponent is unwilling to negotiate anything regarding prizes. Evidently he knows the matchup and his capability of winning. I become very chatty throughout the match and by game two I am breathing heavily, noticing myself perspiring, and am nothing short of incredibly stressed about $250 and the invitational being decided on one round of Magic.

Game one my opponent mulligans and I keep. He mulligans again, I am thrilled. I win rather uncontested, discovering that he is on Abzan aggro. Originally I had thought he was on some weird Abzan aggro deck featuring Avatar of the Resolute deck with Aspect of the Hydra, but I quickly discover it is an unoriginal, effective deck that has a strong win rate versus my current 75.

Sideboard:
-4 Courser of Kruphix

-1 Dromoka’s Command

-1 Genesis Hydra

-2 Mastery of the Unseen

+3 Valorous Stance

+2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

+1 Surge of Righteousness

+2 Arbor Colossus

Game two I am on the draw. I see a hand containing forest and Nykthos and nothing castable so I find it an easy mulligan. The next hand is equally uninteresting so I am on to a weak five, and succumb to Heir of The Wilds and Anafenza, Foremost beating me until the big dumb rhino decided to rear his ugly head. At least I had correctly blocked the Heir to survive the turn with my Courser, but how is a devotion deck supposed to do what it does best when forced to do so? The answer is drawing sideboarded removal spells and making effective chump blocks preferably with Deathmist Raptor. However, when you cast a strong creature spell and pass the turn, and your opponent uses an Abzan Charm in order to draw two cards you know things aren’t going your way, and this is where my stress really rises. I lose the game, and change out an Elvish Mystic for a Dromoka’s Command.

I try to gather myself. I really don’t want everything I have worked for to be decided in this one game, but this is what my opponent wants. He knew he was likely to win. I feel especially bad after telling him a story of how, when playing at the Washington Open for Fate Reforged I refused my opponent’s offer to draw in the last round and proceeded to get whomped.

I don’t know what to say about game three other than blaming bad draw steps or mulligans is incorrect. I could not make five mana on time, and my curve needed to happen on time if I wasn’t going to die to Rakshasa Deathdealer‘s greatest impression of Putrid Leech. Magic at it’s core is a game of chance and sooner or later, despite good/bad match ups, you will lose games not because you played incorrectly, but because it is inevitable. The best you can do is to give yourself the best opportunity to win, and I did just that today.

What card was MVP? Deathmist Raptor. Time and time again, morphing these guys to eat removal from an opponent and then recurring them gives you the card advantage that you probably don’t even need in order to secure any victory. Do not underestimate this guy in your opening hand, and almost always playing him before Courser is correct. The sooner he hits your graveyard the sooner you can start regurgitating value onto the board.

Changes to the deck? Moving forward I have no changes to the main 60. In the sideboard I could see cutting Dromoka’s Command and/or Ainok Survivalist. Great cards to replace these could be a fourth Valorous Stance or Windstorm. Our G/R devotion is what I’m most worried about moving forward, although it’s entirely possible that just 4 Valorous Stance are best in that match up removing Polukranos, Whisperwood and Atarka on sight.

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One Comment
  1. Hoursaid
    June 27, 2015 | Reply

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