It’s time for another Deck Spotlight, and this one really interests me. This deck recently went undefeated in an MTGO Competitive Modern Constructed League:
Mono-Green Devotion by Guiseppe2490
4 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Sword of Light and Shadow
1 Summoning Trap
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Nylea’s Disciple
1 Nature’s Claim
1 Ghost Quarter
2 Creeping Corrosion
1 Courser of Kruphix
2 Ancient Grudge
This deck isn’t quite “new”. It’s been brewing around Modern since the release of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in Theros block. The deck’s basic idea is get a ton of green mana symbols on the board, and create a ton of mana, then leverage its high cost cards. Primal Command can search for any of your big guns and also deal with problematic permanents as early as turn 3. Burning-Tree Emissary and Wistful Selkie make Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx significantly more powerful if it gets online. Additionally, Eternal Witness provides the deck with an engine that protects the deck against discard by getting back any of the permanents lost during the game. Birds of Paradise and Burning-Tree Emissary are really the glue that hold this deck together. Unlike a lot of decks in Modern, this deck doesn’t seem to have very much room for innovation. Rather, its streamlined nature tells us that these cards are the optimal ones to be playing in this strategy.
The deck is explosive, not in an aggressive way like Death’s Shadow Zoo, Infect, or Burn, but rather in a resilient, powerful way. Having access to powerful spells early is excellent in Modern, because a lot of aggressive decks are moving to hedge against popular counter-archetypes, and therefore are getting slower. Another thing of note is Primal Command’s ability to gain 7 life, which is something that this deck really needs access too.
Garruk Wildspeaker, in combination with Utopia Sprawl, is ready to make moves and can lead to extra activations of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, which turns the deck from normal ramp to “hyper ramp”. This deck preys on certain midrange decks like Bant Eldrazi, Grixis Control, and Boros Nahiri. Another strength of this deck is in the sideboard. I’m a big fan of more “toolbox” style side sideboards in the current metagame. Really common hate is getting counter-hated out now, and most common sideboard enchantments and artifacts that fight linearly against linear strategies aren’t going to cut it. I really like the copy of Oath of Nissa in the list, although it’s important to remember that you don’t want to be playing it on turn one over a Utopia Sprawl or a mana dork. Rather, think of it as a Natural Selection that draws a card at sorcery speed, but also adds one devotion on Nykthos activations.
Additionally, Primeval Titan kills in this deck at hyper speed. By grabbing Nykthos and Kessig Wolf Run, it is almost assuredly going to kill the turn after it is cast. Card draw is something that the deck struggles with due to its lack of meaningful cards in that area, so Wistful Selkie is an excellent roll player for that, as well as its three devotion for Nykthos.
This deck does not mulligan well. Other decks that mulligan badly usually aren’t nearly as synergy based, and can still get lucky and win. Sadly, awkward hands with this deck are hard to recover from. Additionally, a lot of red decks are moving into playing some amount of main deck Anger of the Gods which, despite this deck being very dedicated to ramp, can be extremely good against some draws. Primal Command is a really excellent card, but five mana is a lot and, with a curve so high, it alongside Primeval Titan and Genesis Wave further cause huge issues with mulliganing and discard. The deck is also weak to a lot of removal because usually the deck is capitalizing on a single-payoff card.
One last thing. I hate Polukranos, World Eater. I would literally rather play a land in this list. But, assuming you don’t want to change the amount of lands, I would play a second Genesis Wave in its place. Why? At the point where we are casting Polukranos and activating it in a meaningful way, a Genesis Wave wins the game in that spot outright. Polukranos is realistically a 5/5 for 4 and I don’t think it deserves a place in this deck.
I’m Outta Here. GL; HF
Looking for a more aggressive linear deck in Modern? Infect is arguably top dog in the format, and Peter Rawlings is giving his specific matchup advice for the most common matchups in Modern. You can read the article here.
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