January 27, 2015

Days of Past Futures

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Welcome to Time Travel Week!


As you may or may not know, Time Travel is my favorite genre. I will watch practically any movie or television show featuring time travel that I'm told is reasonably good, knowing practically nothing else about the premise. (Perhaps it wasn't a coincidence I was on the Fate Reforged design team?) Something about peering into different times and having the ability to reshape events has always appealed to me.


I've even written some pretty crazy time travel articles in the past, whether it's writing about Magic and Doctor Who out of order, visiting a (hopefully) alternative future, or even previewing a Magic card while moving backwards in time. (And, true to my nature, I slip a Doctor Who reference in every ReConstructed article I write.)


This week, I wanted to focus on the new Standard while it's fresh and exciting and do a bit of time traveling while we're at it. So, much like Fate Reforged, we're going to time travel back and revisit the past!


Two weeks ago, I presented eight different decks. Your mission: rework one of them, send it to me, and then we would go back and look at that.


Well, it's time to go back.


Two weeks ago, one of the decks I featured was Itou Kazunari's Mono-Green Midrange deck:




It was a good base to start with. The combination of mana Elves into big creatures puts our opponent in a tough spot. Leveraging some of the new cards like Whisperwood Elemental and Shamanic Revelation to peak potential, this deck has a surprising amount of card advantage and resilience for a mono-green deck!


However, things weren't entirely there yet. Some of the morph-focused cards seemed a little too cute. This game plan just needed to be streamlined a bit.


Enter: Jack Shapiro.


In Jack's mission to tweak one of the decks in that article, he ended up latching onto Itou's take on mono-green. He ended up with this:




Watching decks evolve is such an interesting process.


Now we're one step further than Itou's build. Jack has refined it a little more, removing the iffy morph synergies and pushing it further down the devotion path. Jack is really gearing up to ramp and set up for his big creatures.


So, where do we go from here?


Well, it's time to switch gears and time travel from the past into the future. Here we go!


The Battle Plan


At its core, this is a Mono-Green Devotion deck. It has all the trappings you would expect from that kind of strategy: mana acceleration; Nykthos; and, of course, plenty of green mana symbols.


But, at the same time, this is a little different than what we came to know when playing it in Theros block. Some newer cards give it a little different texture: Whisperwood Elemental means you don't mind overextending into sweepers quite as much, and Shamanic Revelation gives you plenty of ammo to reload with—or to continue your assault. Even some Magic 2015 cards like Nissa, Worldwaker and Genesis Hydra give this deck some major added play.



In essence, what you're going to do is lead with small green mana ramp creatures to quickly power out larger threats. (And if you have Nykthos, all the better for turboing forward!) Once those threats are in place, you can either push forward with more of its ilk—or, if you have one, use Shamanic Revelation to ensure you have both the life and cards to do whatever you need.


Worth noting is that both Hornet Queen and Whisperwood Elemental are essentially one-card armies. (And Genesis Hydra isn't far behind.) It's likely going to take your opponent multiple removal spells to deal with them, and if you are facing a control deck you can run them out one at a time in the face of sweepers. And then your opponent is faced with a horrendous choice: wipe the board early and have you cast a follow-up creature, or wait by passing the turn and risk a Shamanic Revelation that will push you even further ahead.



At this point in the deck's evolution, what mostly needs to be done is tightening up the edges . So let's get in there and tighten!


Deck Breakdown


What cards fit into this strategy and which ones aren't quite revelatory enough? Let's go through the deck card by card!


Elvish Mystic



Early acceleration is the backbone of a deck like this, and Elvish Mystic really deserves its own section for the benefits it adds. It helps increment your Nykthos while also propelling you forward on mana, letting you cast a second-turn Courser—or, with another piece of acceleration, a third-turn five-drop like Nissa or Whisperwood Elemental!


I wouldn't imagine playing fewer than four copies of Elvish Mystic. It's definitely worth having all of them in here, and if I could play more I would.


Sylvan Caryatid and Whisperer of the Wilds



As noted, acceleration is crucial in a deck like this one, as is striking the right balance between acceleration and threats.


With that said, creature-based mana acceleration is a little bit better in the Fate Reforged world thanks to Shamanic Revelation. You don't mind vomiting a bunch of tiny creatures onto the table when each one nets you another card on the back end once a Revelation comes to fruition.


I'd actually like to move up to seven total! The big question is just which are the right ones.


I think Whisperer is spot on here. If there was a mana Elf that cost two to cast and tapped for two mana it would be ubiquitously played, and in this deck that mode is going to turn on fairly quickly—and considering this deck is happy to have more mana because of cards like Polukranos, Genesis Hydra, and Shamanic Revelation, even going long into the game it's still going to be relevant. I want all four copies.


Sylvan Caryatid is the easy go-to creature in a case like this. After all, like Nicol Bolas or the Eldrazi, the pairing of Caryatid along with Courser of Kruphix is a well-known nuisance across the multiverse.


However, there's actually a different mana creature I'm interested in. While worse at blocking, Voyaging Satyr's ability to reuse Nykthos again makes it another potential double (or more!) mana Elf. The Satyr has shown up in green devotion decks in the past for good reason, and even though this deck isn't playing Crater's Claws (at least not in this iteration) I'm still happy to have it. Three copies it is!


Courser of Kruphix



Not only is it a staple of most green decks in Standard, but it also has two green mana symbols in the mana cost for devotion! A three-drop that finds you lands, helps you draw spells, powers up your Nykthos, has a totally reasonable 2/4 body on top of it—this is definitely a card to keep all four copies of in this deck.


Whisperwood Elemental



I've already talked this card up a good deal in this article, but it is truly an excellent addition for this devotion strategy. Essentially generating 6 power for five mana and then 2 more every turn lets this card dominate the game quickly, and while the manifested creatures don't have any green mana symbols, if they're creatures you can flip up they certainly will!


On top of all that, it's great board-sweeper protection. This is one of the premier cards I want to accelerate into quickly—I'm happy with all four copies here.


Hornet Queen



I'll get this out of the way now: no, it isn't that awesome to manifest a Hornet Queen with Whisperwood Elemental. But that aside—which will come up seldom and, keep in mind, is still better then manifesting a land—Hornet Queen is an excellent fit here. It has three green mana symbols, makes an army of creatures to stabilize or draw cards with when you cast a Revelation, and is an army in and of itself.


Instead of the full four Hornet Queens, I'd rather split my expensive cards a little bit. One copy of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is a card I want to fit in somewhere. While it's admittedly not awesome to sweep your own mana Elves, casting Ugin early can completely take over the game and also gives you outs to situations you might have a lot of trouble with otherwise. (For example, against Whip decks it may turn out that digging to Ugin is your primary out sometimes.) Also, notably, Ugin doesn't clear any manifests that Whisperwood Elemental has generated, so if you set it up right you can even be left with a legion of face-down creatures.



Having one Ugin is so many more than zero. If the board stalls (like, say, against a Whip deck) you can try and use gigantic Genesis Hydras to find your Ugin; otherwise, he gives you some added variety in game play.


I'd like to go with three Hornet Queens and a single Ugin.


Genesis Hydra



The question I always like to ask about Genesis Hydra is this: What is the lowest X value I'm happy to cast Genesis Hydra for?


This gives you an indication of where you'll likely be casting it. Let's look at it in this deck:



For 0—Definitely not recommended.


For 1—Basically never unless I really needed the devotion.


For 2—Pretty seldom. Maybe if I had nothing else to do when I had four mana and I already had Nykthos.


For 3—Will happen sometimes in a pinch, and better than casting it for two, but still not one I'm really happy with. This might actually happen less than casting it for two because of this deck having plenty of five-drops to cast.


For 4—At four, I'm finally a little satisfied—there's a good chance you're going to find something, and you could always hit a Polukranos or something to start attacking. For four, I'm willing to cast it a reasonable amount of the time.


For 5—Five is the sweet spot here, since it grabs both Nissa, Worldwaker and Whisperwood Elemental. I'll definitely cast it for five.



So, looking over those, really I need at least six mana before I'm happy to run it out there. While I definitely want to keep some—it's a great play once you have Nykthos or Nissa active—I would rather use a couple of these slots to ensure I have enough big hitters like Polukranos to power into. I'm going to move to two copies of Genesis Hydra. It's certainly good, but I don't want to draw a ton of them early.


Polukranos, World Eater



Speaking of Polukranos, here is the hydra!


Ah, good ol' Paul K. Ranos (as he's known in R&D). Polukranos brings the pressure early and quickly, especially when powered early off one of your many mana accelerators. It features two green mana symbols in its mana cost and gives you an excellent sink for your mana in the late game. Polukranos is good both early and late.


The only snag is that he's legendary, so you can't have two on the battlefield at once. If you have a Polukranos on the battlefield you're probably already in reasonable shape anyway, so I don't mind playing the full boat—4 Polukranos it is!


Arbor Colossus



The Colossus is certainly an appealing card as a 6/6 for five with triple green in its mana cost. While it's certainly a strong card, this deck already has a ton going on at five mana and it doesn't really need a ninth card to slam once you hit five mana. Today is just not Arbor Day.


Reclamation Sage



My guess on the one copy of Reclamation Sage is that it was something you could try and dig for with your Genesis Hydras in the long game to deal with sideways artifact and enchantment problems. Fortunately, Ugin deals with a lot of the major cards you might run into and I'd rather have the expensive, high-impact spell here than this cheaper one. While a totally fine sideboard card, I'm going to cut the singleton main-deck copy.


Nissa, Worldwaker



Nissa is a powerhouse from Magic 2015, and she is practically made for this kind of deck! Not only does she create threats turn after turn, not only does she give you resilient post-sweeper threats, not only does she massively accelerate you because of all your Forests, she even threatens an ultimate to boot! Whether powering out huge Genesis Hydras or simply powering lands toward your opponent's face, Nissa is a keeper.


Even though she's a Planeswalker, I'm still totally happy with four. Similar to Polukranos, as long as I have one on the battlefield I feel like I'm already doing pretty well anyway. Four it is!


Shamanic Revelation



Much bandied about earlier in this article, Shamanic Revelation is excellent.


First of all, it just ensures your hand is full and that you have action throughout the entire game. With all of the creatures you can make, it's a powerhouse. Second, against aggressive decks that are trying to beat you up early and then finish you off late by pushing through, the lifegain can be pretty massive. It's going to be difficult to Siege Rhino you out when suddenly you're at 12 higher life than a moment before!


I like three copies because I don't want to have a grip full of them early on when I need action, but I could definitely see playing four being correct in some expected metagames. This card is really powerful, and it's a card I'm very happy with in this deck.


With all of those changes in mind, that brings this decklist to:




Great Scott! There you have it. An evolved Mono-Green Devotion deck for the new Standard.


If your opponent doesn't answer your early mana Elves, he or she is going to quickly be pressed into a bad situation as you unload gigantic creature after gigantic creature on his or her head. I definitely recommend mulliganing this deck appropriately: if you don't have a play in the first two turns, there's a good chance your hand is going to end up too slow to compete.


Turbo out some large creatures, keep a fistful of cards, and have fun stomping away! These kinds of decks are a great time to play, so go out and have fun with it!


Back to the Future


There are many places you could end up with among space and time—and I'm glad you ended up here! Hopefully you can put this deck to good use in your future Standard play.


There's no deck-building mission for this week! Have fun out there exploring new Standard! I'm excited to see how the first couple weeks of tournament results turn out. Fate Reforged is poised to shake up the Standard format—and now it's time to see how exactly it moves.


In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or feedback, please send them my way! I always love hearing from all of you. The best way to contact me is by sending me a tweet or asking me question on Tumblr—I'll be sure to see whatever you send that way!


I hope that you all have fun out there, no matter where your TARDIS, DeLorean, hot tub, box in a storage unit, Flight 33, personal Kitty Pryde, fragments of Ugin, or otherwise may take you.


Have fun, and talk with you next week!


Gavin


@GavinVerhey


GavInsight






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