It almost feels like a broken record at this point but once again a Black-based Devotion deck has won again. Thankfully we are closing in on rotation for Standard which is going to finally shake this bogeyman that has been haunting the format for almost a year. By now it should be clear to anyone who has given even a modicum of interest into Standard how this deck works, but let’s give it the rundown.
Lands (25)13 x Swamp (339)4 x Mutavault4 x Temple of Deceit3 x Watery Grave1 x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Creatures (18)4 x Desecration Demon4 x Gray Merchant of Asphodel2 x Lifebane Zombie4 x Nightveil Specter4 x Pack Rat
One of the most fearsome opening plays is turn one Thoughtseize into turn two Pack Rat which quickly swarms to take over the game. Now while this is the ideal opening strategy it is not the only line of play. You alternately build up the curve from Nightveil Specter into Desecration Demon into Gray Merchant of Asphodel to create a powerful attack in the air with a potentially huge life swing from the Merchant devotion. There is also a duo of Lifebane Zombie in this build as extra damage to sneak through non-Black decks and incidentally grabs a creature but more importantly information. The trio of Underworld Connections serves not only as the card ‘draw’ advantage for the deck, you could say making useful Rats out of useless cards is also advantage, but also increases the devotion count for the Merchant as well. As is standard in these Black decks the removal suite is robust with this one comprised of a trio of Hero’s Downfall, a set of Devour Flesh and a pair of Bile Blight capable of answering a wide variety of threats. To round up the spells we have a singleton Duress to compliment the Thoughtseize arsenal and ensure access to perfect information. To increase the amount of attacking creatures we have a full compliment of Mutavault primarily for their favorable interaction with Pack Rat as it is also a Rat but also dodges sorcery speed removal from Control decks. The sole addition from M15 is a one-of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth which negates the colorless downside of Mutavault allowing it to produce Black mana. As for the Blue in the title it is merely a splash added to enable sideboard choices to come in and shore up some weaknesses.
As this Standard season is rapidly coming to a close it is apparent that this is not a deck to invest yourself into post-rotation. The majority of its moving parts will be cycling out and it is unlikely that we will find comparable replacement to maintain its viability. If you need a deck to battle at your WMCQ then obviously jump on this proven winner, but if not then wait for previews to start rolling out and get ready to brew anew.Eric J Seltzer @ejseltzer on Twitter Email: email@example.com