Magic, But Cheaper: Mono-Green Devotion

From its conception, Magic has had a few core concepts in terms of gameplay that have stuck around to this day. Red Burn, Black discard, and our topic for today, Big ol’ Green things on a budget.

And Green Was Good.

In the Beginning, Garfield created the cards. The cards were formless and dark, so Garfield said “Let there be White”, and there was White. Garfield saw that White was good. He saw the waters, shifting and churning, untamed. Being the master of the realm, Garfield said “Let there be Blue” and there was Blue, and Garfield saw that Blue was good (turns out a little too good, it would need a couple bans later). Then Garfield saw that the cards needed life, so Garfield said “Let there be Green!” and there was Green. And Green was good. From its conception, Magic has had a few core concepts in terms of gameplay that have stuck around to this day. Red Burn, Black discard, and our topic for today, Big ol’ Green things. 

The Deck

Mono Green Devotion is a ramp-based midrange deck that looks to overwhelm its opponent with its sheer mass and bulk and eventually crush them underfoot. Green be thicc, as the children say. It looks to spend the first handful of turns establishing board presence and accelerating its mana by way of its mana elves (or “dorks”). It then attempts to abuse that jump in mana by casting huge threats much earlier than they were meant to be cast and using them to turn the corner and get the opponent dead. The draw of the strategy is the idea that the deck can grossly outpace whatever the opponent has going on and go over the top of them.

The Ramp

If this deck has one goal, it is to have more mana than anyone else in the room. Aside from the mana dorks, the deck also packs a larger ramp package that can turn out literally dozens of mana over a couple of turns. Karametra’s Acolyte is here as our replacement for the much more powerful and much more expensive Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, rewarding us for keeping a large board. Kiora works double duty here, as – on top of giving us some much-needed card advantage – she lets us untap some combination of Forests and / or the Acolyte for an extra dose of that sweet mana goodness. Capping it off is the ramp queen herself, Nissa Who Shakes the World. Doubling up all of our Forests basically ensures that we’ll never be want for mana again ever in our lives ever. 

The Payoffs

We’ve established that the deck can produce arbitrarily large amounts of mana, but what is the plan for all of it? Voracious Hydra allows us a limitless sink of any mana we’re capable of getting out there, either becoming a tremendously large threat or being a medium sized threat that also takes care of an opposing threat or blocker. Similarly, the flipside of Jugan Defends the Temple allows any of our setup creatures to turn into large beatsticks as well. The real appeal, however, is the toolbox granted to us by Vivien Arkbow Ranger. Using her -5 ability, we can find any of the large utility threats out of the sideboard to help bolster our board against what the opponent has going on. Froghemoth helps the likes of Scavenging Ooze keep graveyards in check while gaining some incremental life, while Kogla and Sylvan Primordial can clear the way of pesky permanents that want to put a damper on our day. Distended Mindbender rounds it out as a means of disrupting a control or slower combo strategy. 

The Synergy

Keen-eyed readers may have noticed some underlying synergies present in the deck, mainly the extensive use of +1/+1 counters. The main payoffs for all of the counters that are going to be flying around while playing this deck are Jugan and Rishkar. Rishkar’s ability to turn any creature on the board into a mana dork really helps offset our lack of Nykthos (which is in the non-budget version of the deck), which in turn helps Jugan both become massive as well as fuel other creatures to also become massive. One of the downsides of playing a deck like this is drawing the setup cards later in the game when you want to be casting your payoffs, and we’ve built in a way that tries to minimize that factor as much as possible. Between Ranger Class and Kiora, we should have enough draw power to churn through the deck to find all the cards we need to successfully overwhelm the opposition.

How does it play?

At the moment, Green Devotion isn’t sitting too highly in the overall competitive metagame (at the time of writing we have it listed as C Tier) However, throughout Pioneer’s history, some variation of this deck has existed, and I firmly believe that it will remain a pillar of the format for quite a while. Players have been jamming out big threats with the help of Llanowar Elves since day one, and that plan is flexible enough to adapt to any meta and make it through to the other side of any hostility. All of that said, the deck feels extremely powerful. Between this and the full non-budget list, we’re really only missing the likes of Nykthos and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger – and potentially a Karn, the Great Creator package. That leaves us at about 85% of a functioning build, which is tremendous in the budget world. The synergies feel extremely strong and cohesive, and the threats are frequently difficult to deal with. The Planeswalker package is something that not a lot of decks are readily suited to deal with either, as most decks try to attack planeswalkers in order to kill them, and that’s just not really a possibility when playing against Green Devotion. 

The Wrap-Up

I didn’t have a lot of time to run it through my typical gauntlet, but in the five matches I played I did end up going 4-1, which gives me the confidence to say that this is an excellent deck for your FNMs. The strategy is excellent for people who live without fear of opposing interaction and don’t have time to mess around with grindy planeswalkers. It perfectly embodies Green’s notion of “attack first, ask questions later, and then also step on them when you don’t like the answers to their questions”. I think that this archetype is going to be a player in the format for a long time, and is a worthwhile pickup for anyone who likes to tap Forests for mana. The deck is fast-paced and just intricate enough to keep games interesting while also being straightforward enough that anyone should be able to pilot it with confidence after a little bit of practice. If you’re looking for a tried and true strategy that easily upgrades into a very strong build with a solid foundation, this is definitely a deck to try.

Anyway, that’s all we’ve got for this one. As always, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment either here on this page, on Reddit, or even shoot me a Discord message with your thoughts on the deck! I also love to hear what you all are working on for budget brews, as well as your suggestions for future installations in this series! I hope you enjoyed, and as always, stay safe, play smart, and thanks for reading.

  • Publisher

    ServoToken has been playing competitive magic since 2011, spending a majority of that time living in the shoes of a player on a strict budget. After investing a lot of time learning how to make the best of a bad situation, his goals today are to spread those lessons to the often-ignored population of Magic players who can’t afford to drop a car payment on a new deck every couple of months. His mantra is that “You don’t need to play mono-red to do well on a budget”. These days, you can typically find him deep in the archives of Scryfall searching for new cards to brew around or making tweaks to the Pioneer Budget deck spreadsheet on his unending mission to bring his favorite format to the people on the cheap.

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