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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Nov 20 2018 12:00pm
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 Hello, folks! As you may know, Ultimate Masters, the final, surprise release of this crucial year, celebrating Magic's 25th anniversary, is releasing on December 7 (which also happens to be my birthday!) (I'm older than 25, unfortunately). It'll be the last Masters set for a while, or even for good, so they wanted to send the concept off with style. Now, most of the mythic rare reprints have already been spoiled during the announcement, because they're Box Toppers (meaning they will have a special semi-borderless frame version that will show up randomly as an extra treat on each box). Still, Wizards of the Coast gave PureMTGO a preview card from the set!  While it might not set the secondary market aflame, but it's still one worth discussing, because it's a pretty cool card that itself saluted the 10th anniversary since its first printing this very year. Without further ado, here it is, in all the magnificence of its brand new artwork by Scotland-based artist Kimonas Theodossiou.

 So, Devoted Druid bought herself a new outfit! Well, not really, but she's more in the foreground now than she was in her Shadowmoor version. And she should be. Her mechanic has always set her apart from your regular mana dork, giving any self-respected Johnny pause. First of all, even by playing her straight, which is what I imagine will happen in the Ultimate Masters Limited environment, she's got an edge over two-drop mana creatures like, say, her fellow tribesmember Druid of the Cowl. Sure she doesn't block as well, but on turn three, her untapping trick will put you at five mana.

 

 Of course this is not enough to make her a better ramp implement than classic one-drops like Birds of Paradise or Llanowar Elves (not to mention Noble Hierarch). But that's where her unique mechanic comes into play. That -1/-1 counter deal suggests shenanigans! Players have been obsessively trying to break Devoted Druid since she first came into existence. Just look at this MTG Salvation thread from 2008, where, among other things, a convoluted combo involving set partners Umbral Mantle and Flourishing Defenses is proposed.

 

 Anything that could manipulate -1/-1 counters has been looked into in relation to the Druid, starting from a now obscure card like Eventide's Quillspike, which our untapping heroine is able to turn infinitely large.

 And if Melira, Sylvok Outcast unfortunately didn't help, as she would just turn off Devoted Druid's ability entirely, a more recent enabler was bound to become the ultimate Druid companion, rewarding her with the greatest attention of her decade-long career, and with the most accomplished job a designated combo piece could ever hope for. But before getting to that, I wanted to show off an earlier Devoted Druid interaction, one that doesn't even actually require for her to stay alive. In fact, her ability to get to the graveyard at will becomes here another positive quality, because that's exactly where Necrotic Ooze wants to find her. Here's the combo illustrated within an Ooze Tribal build.

 

 And here's how it works: once the Druid is in the graveyard along with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Necrotic Ooze will get all the abilities of both; which means it can tap to create a copy of itself that will tap to create another copy of itself, and so on, and then all those Oozes can be untapped via Devoted Druid's ability and, if you have a way to give them haste (and a single Anger in the graveyard just does the trick), you'll be able to attack with an arbitrarily large number of 3/2s. The real beauty in all of this is one aspect that all Devoted Druid combos share: you can't really stop the process with a single spot removal, because the Druid (or, in this case, the creature mimicking her) will just untap and start a fresh new chain in response.

  

I guess neither Quillspike nor Necrotic Ooze are the cards that first come to mind when thinking of Devoted Druid this past couple of years. Since the release of Amonkhet in April 2017, our faithful Druid has found a new partner: the powerful uncommon Vizier of Remedies, doing what Melira failed to do, which is negating the presence of the -1/-1 counter without negating its activation. Under the white Vizier's watch, you are still able to place -1/-1 counters on creatures; you just place one less of them. This means the Druid's dream finally came true: she now generates infinite mana by infinitely untapping and infinitely retapping herself, just like that.

 One Modern archetype in particular, Creatures Toolbox aka Collected Company, adopted this engine, exploiting all that green mana to search for a Walking Ballista via Duskwatch Recruiter, then cast the Ballista as an infinitely lethal pinger. Here's a recent version of the deck as piloted by French player Antoine Dambron.

 

 Ten years later, it looks like our little common Druid has many reasons to stay Devoted. Make good use of her while drafting Ultimate Masters!