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By: kelvinmai, Kelvin Mai
Jan 15 2014 12:00pm
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Inception

A while back I had a preview article of Theros where I looked at some possibilities with the cards of Theros. In it I made a call on devotion being a strong mechanic while everyone else was still raving about heroic and bestow, I'm a bit proud of that. But one of the decks that I wrote a preview of was Jund Reanimator using Underworld Cerberus, Whip of Erebos and Deadbridge Chant. The idea being reanimation through the whip and the chant while the Cerberus protects your graveyard from being tampered with. It has become one of my pet projects and this is what came of it.

The deck plays well and can do some ridiculous things. This list acts as a ramp deck with the Sylvan Caryatid as well as a midrange deck with all the removal it has. The first couple of turns is mainly set up as you dig into your deck with the use of Commune with the Gods and Read the Bones. And of course as all graveyard decks you don't mind when your creatures die because they will either come back through Deadbridge Chant or become more useful in the yard such as scavenging, allowing your reaper to scry or even feeding your whip. And yes there's some back up with the Elixir of Immortality to make sure you don't deck out. But the creatures aren't the only thing great in your yard, the chant also recurs your kill spells, albeit at random. The only reason there is a splash of red is for the Cerberus to protect your graveyard from being exiled. The inception of this deck was during a time of paranoia of Deathrite Shaman and Scavenging Ooze so luckily we can forgo the red altogether and have a more focused green black build. And that's where this next deck comes into play.

Devotion to the Dead

While working on that Jund list another idea came to mind. Mono black is without a doubt a force to be reckoned with today in standard but it's an archetype that still has possibilities to be explored. Black Green is all about the graveyard and it's a shame a mono black list only splashes green for premium removal like Abrupt Decay and Putrefy. The whole shenanigans with Gary and the Whip has been done before but what if you throw in the Deadbridge Chant in as well? And Nykthos is a card that doesn't get much value in these decks but if you throw in a card like Rise of the Dark Realms it can be as scary as it is in a green devotion deck. And yes I know Rise is a bad card, but it's a pet card of mine and I'm determined to make it work. 

Rather than starting from scratch we can take a list as a skeleton for our new experiment. Mono black is obviously a well-known entity so after scouring the internet we can find a list that is already doing well and start taking out cards. And since we're in the field of budget we'll be taking out all the expensive cards. The list that I'm taking a look at is this one since it's pretty recent and still kicking butt. I'm going to take into consideration both paper and online prices so Nightveil Specter is out of the question even though he's just above a dollar on MTGO. And since Pack Rat is very important to my idea of this deck we'll have him as the constant, no full set of cards can be more than expensive than a play set of rats. Ok now that we've set the budget rules what do we lose? Desecration Demon, Hero's Downfall, Thoughtseize, Mutavault and the aforementioned Nightveil Specter seems to be all that has to go. And with that, let's see how I filled up the gaps.

Reapers came in instead of the demon, sure Desecration Demon is a big flying beater but he usually has a big target on him and can go down pretty easily whereas the reaper has hexproof if it needs to stay on the field. In addition to her place in combat she also has a huge scry effect that is easily activated by us because of our removal suite. Speaking of which, we have Devour Flesh, Putrefy and Abrupt Decay all in the mainboard to take care of creatures. Putrefy may not be a Hero's Downfall but it catches all creature types and even prevents an Experiment One from regenerating. Abrupt Decay is the main reason mono black players will splash for green and with good reason, it not only takes care of creatures but also Detention Spheres and even a couple of planeswalkers. We only have 2 because the cost of it is a bit high. Now that we're done with all the standard green splash for mono black let's look at the fun stuff. Sylvan Caryatid is some good early defense as well as ramp so that we can get to our big splashy win condition the reanimation spells! Deadbridge Chant may bring a lot of variance but it gives us the ability to recur both the Gray Merchant as well as our kill spells, and of course Rise of the Dark Realms should win us the game as it will almost always bring back a couple of merchants.

Now the sideboard offers more options to both aggro and control. In the aggro matchups we just bring in more removal, pretty self-explanatory there. But the control decks have something that we can't possibly deal with, and those things are planeswalkers. Pithing Needle and Duress will helps us in that department. But since we also have to play a longer game against them, I also included an extra copy of both Deadbridge Chant and Rise of the Dark Realms for consistency as those are the main ways of winning against them since they'll have an arsenal of removal. An alternative sideboard card would be Elixir of Immortality to prevent you from getting milled out, but I didn't include it because I enjoy the balls to the walls explosive finish that the chant and rise brings to the table.

Upgrades

Let's get this out of the way first; mono black staples are for sure a consideration when upgrading this deck. Erebos to stop lifegain from those pesky Sphinx's Revelation as well as more draw power. Hero's Downfall would help us in the planeswalker department since that's our biggest problem at the moment. And Thoughtseize is just an all around great card and should be played in everything with black. Now that all those have been addressed let's get into the more fun side of card upgrades. Deathrite Shaman would be amazing in this deck, it provides us with an early one drop, exile stuff from our grave that we don't want to recur through Deadbridge Chant while at the same time giving us a bonus. It isn't as reliable as a mana source as the Caryatid but that would be the one card that we would get rid of for it because of it's black mana cost. Nykthos is another card that has been used in all devotion decks, it never did enough in black because the top of the curve is usually 5 or 6 but it could do something for us because I feature two 9 mana spells ( Rise of the Dark Realms ) which can easily end the game if it brings back a couple Gray Merchants. And lastly we should bring in one of our own planeswalkers and Vraska fits the bill perfectly. All she does is kill things and I think I'm in love because of that. And plus it would be nice to have her in the same deck as her Reaper little sister.

And I guess this brings us to the end of the article, I hope you enjoy this fun little deck. And hopefully it fuels your creative juices to make something exciting in this otherwise boring standard meta, of course that's just my opinion maybe you enjoy this format. And as always you if you like what you saw or read here you can check out some of my previous decks here