How To Beat Black Devotion, Magic's New Top Standard Deck

How To Beat Black Devotion, Magic's New Top Standard Deck

Black devotion took the top spot at GP Melbourne - here's how to beat it. Or win with it. Whichever you like.

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Luckily I've been on UWx Controll all season. Game 1 against Mono-Black is pretty easy with all their dead removal, and I just need to fight through all the discard in Games 2 and 3.

The easiest way to beat an indifferent MBD pilot is to race them. Go mono red aggro or Boros and aggro them to hell, banisher priests or chanied to the rocks for the demons, skullcrack in response to Gary and Madcap Skills your way past the rats or sweep with Anger of the Gods.

Yay! Glad Hexproof is back! :D

Good read. I've definitely encountered problems when playing against Mono-Black at my local store, and I think it was because I wasn't running a good sideboard.

On another note, do you have any suggestions to build a more or less good Golgari deck? I've been trying to build one, mostly using Lotleth Troll, Reaper of the Wilds, Scavenging Ooze and a lot of removal, but I can't make it work. I've tested with different spells and creatures, Courser of Kruphix, Thoutseize, more removal, etc... But I lose more often than not.

For early creatures is better Elvish Mystic or Experiment One for example? Garruk to synergise with the Troll or Vraska (or none)? What are good 3-drop for that kind of deck? Maybe some kind of "disrupt" deck with a lot of discard (although we don't have Innistrad's Liliana in Standard anymore...)?

I don't want a tournament winning deck, but something that is usable at a FNM.

Oh Gary, how you make my day. As a mono black player: do not let them accumulate devotion. If you're aggro: kill stuff, swing. Do not let them keep Pack Rats, because strategy number one is: if rat, make more rat. I wouldn't worry so much about Erebos--he's good against control, but not as much against aggro (Stormbreath flies over him, Polukranos can stomp past him with a Ghor-Clan backing him up, etc) and is usually never sided in/sided out in that matchup. If you are playing control: DO NOT LET UNDERWORLD CONNECTIONS RESOLVE. They will win, and you will be sadsauce. Underworld usually comes out against aggro matchups and Erebos comes in against control. Mono-black is just an extremely flexible deck in general, so just keep that in mind when going against them.

if_then_else:
On another note, do you have any suggestions to build a more or less good Golgari deck? I've been trying to build one, mostly using Lotleth Troll, Reaper of the Wilds, Scavenging Ooze and a lot of removal, but I can't make it work. I've tested with different spells and creatures, Courser of Kruphix, Thoutseize, more removal, etc... But I lose more often than not.

For early creatures is better Elvish Mystic or Experiment One for example? Garruk to synergise with the Troll or Vraska (or none)? What are good 3-drop for that kind of deck? Maybe some kind of "disrupt" deck with a lot of discard (although we don't have Innistrad's Liliana in Standard anymore...)?

I don't want a tournament winning deck, but something that is usable at a FNM.

It kinda depends on where you'd like to go (small, fast dudes or big, stompy dudes). Experiment One is awesome if you're trying to kill them as fast as possible. If that's what sounds good, I'd go with something like:
4 Experiment One
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Tormented Hero/Dryad Militant (this slot is probably optional, 12 is a lot of one drops)
4 Lotleth Troll
4 Pain Seer
2-4 Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Maybe Pack Rats? Possibly hard with trolls to feed
Removal/Discard (here's a pretty good spot for Deathrite Shaman + Drown in Filth)
Some number of Read the Bones/Underworld Connections
Nighthowler if you're me and you're running a ton of removal...
Land goes here

I wouldn't run Reaper or Garruk, unless you know you can take the hits from Pain Seer or aren't going to run him. Using Troll/Varolz as a place for all of your late-game 1-drops is really nice, though. But, you could always go with Angry, Stompy Golgari...:
4 Elvish Mystic
3-4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Dreg Mangler
4 Lifebane Zombie (if everything is GR/Esper, this guy is a house of pain and suffering)
4 Reaper of the Wilds
4 Polukranos
4 Desecration Demon
Hand disruption/removal
Land goes here (I'd run a lot of Temples if you don't see yourself drowning in 1-drops)
You could easily splash red in this deck for Domri Rade and change Lifebane Zombie to Courser of Kruphix for a ton of value. Unless you can get some solid green devotion going, I'd avoid Lotleth here, since it's just going to eat your hand and not be cool enough to get away with it. Reaper is awesome against people who don't counter it, but I'd make sure you've got enough mana to hexproof it if there's a good chance of it getting murdered.

Other 3-drops to consider: Herald of Torment, Boon Satyr (good if you're about to eat a Blood Baron)
Other good splash colors: White for his Blood Baronyness, Obzedat, Ghost Council, Selesnya Charm or Red for Stormbreath Dragon, Domri Rade, Xenagos, God of Revels.

Sorry for the wall of text xD.

Catrixa:
Oh Gary, how you make my day. As a mono black player: do not let them accumulate devotion. If you're aggro: kill stuff, swing. Do not let them keep Pack Rats, because strategy number one is: if rat, make more rat. I wouldn't worry so much about Erebos--he's good against control, but not as much against aggro (Stormbreath flies over him, Polukranos can stomp past him with a Ghor-Clan backing him up, etc) and is usually never sided in/sided out in that matchup. If you are playing control: DO NOT LET UNDERWORLD CONNECTIONS RESOLVE. They will win, and you will be sadsauce. Underworld usually comes out against aggro matchups and Erebos comes in against control. Mono-black is just an extremely flexible deck in general, so just keep that in mind when going against them.

if_then_else:
On another note, do you have any suggestions to build a more or less good Golgari deck? I've been trying to build one, mostly using Lotleth Troll, Reaper of the Wilds, Scavenging Ooze and a lot of removal, but I can't make it work. I've tested with different spells and creatures, Courser of Kruphix, Thoutseize, more removal, etc... But I lose more often than not.

For early creatures is better Elvish Mystic or Experiment One for example? Garruk to synergise with the Troll or Vraska (or none)? What are good 3-drop for that kind of deck? Maybe some kind of "disrupt" deck with a lot of discard (although we don't have Innistrad's Liliana in Standard anymore...)?

I don't want a tournament winning deck, but something that is usable at a FNM.

It kinda depends on where you'd like to go (small, fast dudes or big, stompy dudes). Experiment One is awesome if you're trying to kill them as fast as possible. If that's what sounds good, I'd go with something like:
4 Experiment One
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Tormented Hero/Dryad Militant (this slot is probably optional, 12 is a lot of one drops)
4 Lotleth Troll
4 Pain Seer
2-4 Varolz, the Scar-Stripped
Maybe Pack Rats? Possibly hard with trolls to feed
Removal/Discard (here's a pretty good spot for Deathrite Shaman + Drown in Filth)
Some number of Read the Bones/Underworld Connections
Nighthowler if you're me and you're running a ton of removal...
Land goes here

I wouldn't run Reaper or Garruk, unless you know you can take the hits from Pain Seer or aren't going to run him. Using Troll/Varolz as a place for all of your late-game 1-drops is really nice, though. But, you could always go with Angry, Stompy Golgari...:
4 Elvish Mystic
3-4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Dreg Mangler
4 Lifebane Zombie (if everything is GR/Esper, this guy is a house of pain and suffering)
4 Reaper of the Wilds
4 Polukranos
4 Desecration Demon
Hand disruption/removal
Land goes here (I'd run a lot of Temples if you don't see yourself drowning in 1-drops)
You could easily splash red in this deck for Domri Rade and change Lifebane Zombie to Courser of Kuphrix for a ton of value. Unless you can get some solid green devotion going, I'd avoid Lotleth here, since it's just going to eat your hand and not be cool enough to get away with it. Reaper is awesome against people who don't counter it, but I'd make sure you've got enough mana to hexproof it if there's a good chance of it getting murdered.

Other 3-drops to consider: Herald of Torment, Boon Satyr (good if you're about to eat a Blood Baron)
Other good splash colors: White for his Blood Baronyness, Obzedat, Selesnya Charm or Red for Stormbreath, Domri, Xenagos (the god).

Sorry for the wall of text xD.

Thanks for fielding that one! I haven't actually tried Golgari since Born of the Gods hit, so I haven't got to much to offer except to always play mana dorks. That's a personal bias I've held since my formative Magic years. Birds of Paradise is still one of my favorite cards ever.

Also, as a public service announcement, I'd like to let you all know that you, too, can link cards in your posts! Just wrap the phrase "mtg_card=CARD NAME" in square brackets. [ mtg_card=Birds of Paradise ] (remove the spaces for mouse-over images!)

Encaen:

Thanks for fielding that one! I haven't actually tried Golgari since Born of the Gods hit, so I haven't got to much to offer except to always play mana dorks. That's a personal bias I've held since my formative Magic years. Birds of Paradise is still one of my favorite cards ever.

Also, as a public service announcement, I'd like to let you all know that you, too, can link cards in your posts! Just wrap the phrase "mtg_card=CARD NAME" in square brackets. [ mtg_card=Birds of Paradise ] (remove the spaces for mouse-over images!)

Holy peas, that's a feature! Fixed my post to contain relevant mtg formatting xD.

I haven't personally delved too much into the realm of pure Golgari, but I've played around with GR monsters, Jund, and mono-black. It seriously looks like all of the pieces are there for good Golgari, but I haven't seen it played anywhere. With all of the GR/Jund decks floating around, it should be pretty strong with all of the good black removal + angry, stompy monsters (a deck with Polukranos and Desecration Demon seems darned scary...). Mana dorks are hilariously awesome right now--nothing says "Game 2?" quite like a turn 3 Polukranos into turn 4 Stormbreath Dragon or something equally horrible. Plus, Sylvan Caryatid is like that one little mana dork Ash Zealots hate...

Thanks for your answers! :D

I really like the first one, and I have almost all cards it needs. I'm just missing the Cacklers, 2 Pains Seers and 3 Bile Blights. The other variations seem fun too, speacialy since they use Reaper of the Wilds, that I love. I really wanted to use that card, but I was afraid the other cards that I needed to make it work would be too expensive. Also, maybe when we get Pharika and the Golgari Scryland on Journey into Nix Golgari will be more viable.

This is the one I'm building, I've been testing it on Magic Worksation and it seems to be working far better than the ones I built:

4x Experiment One
4x Lotleth Troll
4x Pain Seer
4x Rakdos Cackler
3x Scavenging Ooze
3x Varolz, the Scar-Striped
4x Abrupt Decay
4x Bile Blight
4x Putrefy
4x Read the Bones

7x Forest
7x Swamp
4x Golgari Guildgate
4x Overgrown Tomb

Sideboard (Not finished)
4x Golgari Charm
2x Pithing Needle
3x Mistcutter Hydra
4x Duress

I'd love to make it more "Jund-y", but I'm missing a lot expensive cards that I can't afford right now.

ForumSafari:
The easiest way to beat an indifferent MBD pilot is to race them. Go mono red aggro or Boros and aggro them to hell, banisher priests or chanied to the rocks for the demons, skullcrack in response to Gary and Madcap Skills your way past the rats or sweep with Anger of the Gods.

Exactly. You get so many free wins when they keep terrible hands (ex: Connections, Thoughtseize, Devour Flesh, Gary, three lands) game 1. Just go under them. And burn the Rat.

Hexproof is back!
Why'd it go away? We were just getting into the swing of Ravnica when it did, and while Theros is good, it's nowhere near Ravnica good.
Granted they were both leagues better than Innistrad which was covered at length by Hexproof.

Man, Mono-black devotion decks has pretty much destroyed my faith in Standard recently. Not only is it a retardedly effective deck - it has some of the best removal, creatures and wincons in Standard, after all - but the deck is played by roughly fifty bajillion people and they are ALL. EXACTLY. THE SAME. Seriously; literally 90% of people I've seen running this playstyle run no less than four of the following cards: Thoughtsieze, Paco, Deso-demon, Nom Flesh, Hero's Downfall, Underworld Connections, Nightveil Spectre, and the dreaded Gary. Oh, and two Bile Blights for flavor.

As a Timmy who prides himself on creating his own decks to his own specifications, I've pretty much stopped going to my local FNM, due the fact that the regulars there are quite literally 50% MBD players with the exact same goddamn deck list. My current deck, a homebrew Izzet Overload thingy, tends to do quite well against the average deck - it's even capable of beating Mono-Blue Devotion on a semi-regular basis - but whenever I go to FNM these days, I always, always seem to go up against mono-black players. And yes, I almost always lose to them. I end up having a bad time, I don't get my $10 back in the prize pool, so I've just stopped going altogether.

Now if anybody needs me, I'll be at that big, round table over there with my Karrthus EDH deck, flipping the bird to that guy who played Phyrexian Metamorph at the worst possible time.

RedEyesBlackGamer:
Just go under them. And burn the Rat.

Yeah, I don't know if it's just my local meta but I'm not having issues with MBD at all. To be honest MBD is a significantly less annoying deck than UR Delver, Bant Hexproof or Caw Blade. It may be placing high but it's not by any means the only viable tier 1 deck.

Mono-black devotion is hardly a new presence in the Metagame; ever since the 1st pro tour the deck has been in the Top three of competitive decks and has had an overwhelming presence in terms of numbers. The majority of decks you are going to face at a competitive event in standard have been mono-black for months.

I was very lucky in that i managed to get a lot of the tools for monoblack devotion fairly cheaply and was very lucky that i felt like building around mono-black pretty much out on a whim. I have a fun build (with Crypt Ghast, Abhorrent overlord and some extra extort) and a more refined competitive build (pretty much just the deck that has existed since Pro tour Theros)

I already owned multiples of Pack Rat, Desecration Demon and singles of the other relevant cards from RtR block boosters. Most of the rest of the deck is pretty cheap barring Thoughtseize and mutavault. You can make a functioning facsimile of the deck using budget cards alone. Careful sideborarding makes this very possible.

ForumSafari:
The easiest way to beat an indifferent MBD pilot is to race them. Go mono red aggro or Boros and aggro them to hell, banisher priests or chanied to the rocks for the demons, skullcrack in response to Gary and Madcap Skills your way past the rats or sweep with Anger of the Gods.

Ugh, yes. I ended up dissasembling my mono-B devotion deck a couple of months back because, while it was a surefire winner if you let it get to turn 7 or so, any aggro deck will destroy it during those first few turns. With only the pack rat providing low-cost bodies, you're extremely vulnerable. If they play a lot of removal, then Gary is going to be useless later on anyway because they've blown up all your devotion generators.

I tried shifting in Rakdos Cackler/Shred-Freak to replace Pack Rat and give myself an early board presence, but it just didn't work. It makes me skittish to block with them knowing that I need to keep them for my devotion cards to be worthwhile...

 

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