Budget to Busted: Devoted Toolbox
Modern is a wild format right now. The recent ban of Arcum's Astrolabe has left us in a place that feels a lot like what many players would describe as “a good modern”, or a place where a myriad of decks are represented in the top tiers while basically anything you can cobble together will be at least playable in the format. While that all seems well and good, there's still one aspect of Modern that keeps a fair amount of players out of the format; the price of it all. Modern decks on average come with extremely high price tags, especially nowadays when people still don't fully know when we'll reliably get back to playing paper Magic and the prospect of dropping $400, $600, or even $1000 on a fully tuned paper Modern deck is a huge turn off to some folks. For those of us who might be feeling the squeeze of things right now but are still looking to buy or trade their way into the modern format, there's hope.
In this series, I'll be going over some avenues players can take to move into tiered decks in various formats without dropping all their cash or trade power all at once. This is for those who want to build into a deck slowly over time, who want to take the time to master an archetype and learn the ins and outs from the beginning, and those who would rather test the waters with a cheaper version of a deck before hopping in to the deep end. By easing your way into a tiered deck instead of nabbing the whole thing outright, you allow yourself the time to grow familiar with the deck. You're able to put in the practice, and learn why the deck runs the cards that it does as well as how to utilize them more effectively.
This time, we're going to be looking at an interesting deck that's seen a ton of changes and shifts throughout its life in Modern. Devoted Devastation is a Green White combo deck that looks to assemble two creatures that allow you to “go infinite” in one form or another. This deck style has been around basically since Modern's inception, from Birthing Pod to Counters Company to the current lists we'll talk about today. It's a fun and rewarding strategy that plays a little different from how a “normal” game of Magic is played. Current stock lists are taking advantage of two different combos, the first of which is the more classic standby of Devoted Druid + Vizier of Remedies + Mana Sink to make infinite mana by tapping and untapping the druid and spending all that green mana on a way to kill the opponent. The second combo is a relatively old one that received a facelift recently in Theros Beyond Death, being Spike Feeder + Heliod, Sun-Crowned - which when both are in play allow you to gain infinite life by removing Spike Feeder's +1 counter, then replacing the counter with Heliod's triggered ability. There are a huge number of different combos available in Green White that we could be taking advantage of, and we'll see a couple of those throughout our deck lists. Speaking of…
For our first list today (and for almost all first lists in this series), we're going to be working with a $100 budget. This is, I feel, the most reasonable ask of anyone who wants to get into an expensive luxury-good-based hobby such as Modern Magic without sacrificing deck integrity. As it turns out, most decks have a fair facsimile on a $100 budget as well which makes things easy and consistent. ANYWAY, to make a Devoted Devastation deck tick, we need to break it down into its major components. Devoted decks typically contain some mix of Tutors, Ramp, Combo Pieces, and Protection. The Tutors obviously help us consistently find our Combo Pieces, which themselves are pretty obvious; they're what we're building the deck around. Because Modern is an extremely fast format, we take advantage of some Ramp creatures to help us keep pace, because we're generally only relying on the combo and we don't pack a lot of interaction for our opponents board. We are, however, packing some interaction for our opponent's interaction in the form of Protection spells to help keep our Combo Pieces safe and secure.
In this first iteration, we've got the namesake combo of Druid + Vizier + Mana Sink, but that's about all we're working with for now. We're looking to take advantage of Duskwatch Recruiter to help find the finisher we need once we get everything assembled, so that helps pick up some of the slack in not running a second combo. Those finishers are going to be Temur Sabertooth, with which we can indefinitely pick up and put back down either Kitchen Finks to gain life, or Triskelion to deal damage. Shalai also acts as a piece of protection on top of being a finisher with its mass buff ability. We're running a lot more protection than you'd normally see in these lists, because sometimes when you're on a budget you need to play smarter, not harder. Blossoming Defense, Gods Willing, and Apostle's Blessing are our first line of defense against incoming removal spells. Our combos are made up of pretty fragile creatures, so getting them removed is generally something we'd rather not have happen. We're also taking advantage of Vivien, Champion of the Wilds here as a light form of protection - flashing things in gets around sorcery speed removal - as well as a bit of light digging through the deck. In terms of other things we use to churn through the deck, Chord of Calling, Eldritch Evolution, and Eladamri's Call all help grab exactly the piece we need to get the combo going. We tie the whole thing up with our ramp package, which at the moment is very lackluster, using just Gilded Goose and Avacyn's Pilgrim. While it's very sub-optimal, the important thing is to have access to 3 mana on turn 2 to keep up a protection spell on the creature we're casting.
This list is far from perfect, as is the case with most budget builds. However, it provides an excellent jumping off point for those interested in the Devoted archetype, and it helps teach the necessary play patterns needed to succeed with this style deck.
In this next iteration, we've started picking up some of the more expensive pieces, as well as slotted in the second combo to some degree. The new combo pieces we've got are Spike Feeder and Heliod, Sun-Crowned so we've got access to that combo now, as well as Walking Ballista which incidentally goes with either combo piece set (for those that haven't played Pioneer, Heliod + Ballista with lifelink from Heliod means infinite damage and life gain). In the ramp suite, we've upgraded to Birds of Paradise, which while it is in the full build is actually the weaker of the two final mana creatures we'll be taking advantage of. It suits our needs just fine here though, providing some real fixing and another flying threat should the game come to that point. Giver of Runes has replaced our rag-tag group of protection spells as the premier way to protect a creature in the modern format. She's able to keep watch turn after turn, and provides impossible to navigate board states for anyone who's trying to take advantage of single-target removal. Outside of those small changes, we're mostly just making some small upgrades to the mana base, pocket of utility creatures, and sideboard.
The order by which you upgrade your deck as you go through this process is by no means set in stone either, so don't feel like you need to replace things as I have here. You are after all the maestro of your combo. If you're able to secure a particular top end piece before one of the other ones listed here, go ahead and add it in! This is more of a planning guide instead of a step by step instruction manual.
Finally, the end goal build. As you should be discovering along the way (you are playing this deck as you upgrade it, right?) this deck is extremely flexible and generally more capable when it's tuned to your particular metagame. The plan of the deck is overall very strong if left uninterrupted, and much better in the hands of an adept pilot. As you upgrade your way through the deck, you learn the skills needed to truly become a master of the archetype. Having a deck is better than not having a deck, which is the real lesson here. We're all in different financial situations, and some of us have more time than money to put into the game. Either way, spend yours wisely. Magic is a high skill game with a pay to win element. Having all of either end of that isn't going to get you very far, the people who succeed have both. Don't let that discourage you though, we all need to start somewhere.
Stay safe, stay smart, and thanks for reading.
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