THS: The devotion deck

Let’s use the evaluations from my last post to try to get a sense of how good the various cards with the devotion mechanic are. Let’s start by looking at the cards that depend on devotion in each color:

  • White (2 total): 1 uncommon (Evangel of Heliod/2 colored mana symbols), 1 mythic (Heliod God of the Sun/1)
  • Blue (2): 2 mythics (Master of Waves/1, Thassa God of the Sea/1)
  • Black (5): 2 commons (Disciple of Phenax/2, Gray Merchant of Asphodel/2), 1 uncommon (Mogis’s Marauder/1), 1 rare (Abhorrent Overlord/2), 1 mythic (Erebos God of the Dead/1)
  • Red (2): 1 uncommon (Fanatic of Mogis/1), 1 mythic (Purphoros God of the Forge/1)
  • Green (4): 1 common (Nylea’s Disciple/2), 1 uncommon (Karametra’s Acolyte/1, which I no longer think is unplayable since it can enable early monstrous creatures), 1 rare (Reverent Hunter/1), 1 mythic (Nylea God of the Hunt/1)

From this, it appears that black and green are the only colors with a potential devotion deck. However, green’s devotion cards are playable even if you don’t have a lot of green mana symbols in play, so black is really where we want to focus our efforts.

Next, let’s examine the number of colored mana symbols in permanents by color and rarity. White has slightly more colored mana symbols among its common permanents, but only by a very narrow margin (14 vs. 13 for blue/black/green and 12 for red). However, when you look at the average number of colored mana symbols among permanents in a draft, white comes out well ahead with 43.65 vs. 41.25 for green in second place.

Let’s also look at the number of permanents in each color that contribute more than one colored mana symbol.

  • White: 2 commons, 2 uncommons, 4 rares, and 1 mythic = 9 cards in an average 8-person draft have 2 or more colored mana symbols
  • Blue: 1 common, 1 uncommon, 3 rares = 4.75
  • Black: 2 commons, 2 uncommons, 4 rares, and 1 mythic = 9
  • Red: 3 commons, 1 uncommons, 3 rares, and 1 mythic = 9.75
  • Green: 2 commons, 2 uncommons, 4 rares (one of which has 3 colored mana symbols), and 1 mythic = 9

So it’d be more difficult to have a blue deck with a lot of colored mana symbols, but it doesn’t matter since blue has only 2 cards with the devotion mechanic, and they’re both mythic anyway.

Now let’s take a closer look at the quality of the cards with more than 1 colored mana symbol:

  • White: Among commons, Silent Artisan is unplayable but Wingsteed Rider is exceptional. Among uncommons, Phalanx Leader is exceptional and Evangel of Heliod is TBD. The 4 rares and the mythic are all bombs except Hundred-Handed One which is merely exceptional.
  • Blue: Prescient Chimera (common) and Sealock Monster (uncommon) are both playable. Among the rares, Shipbreaker Kraken is exceptional and the other 2 are bombs.
  • Black: Among commons, Gray Merchant of Asphodel is TBD and Disciple of Phenax is unplayable unless you have several Gray Merchants of Asphodel and need to increase your devotion to black. Among uncommons, Insatiable Harpy is playable and Keepsake Gorgon is exceptional. Among rares, Nighthowler is TBD, Whip of Erebos is exceptional, and the other 2 rares and the mythic are bombs.
  • Red: Among commons, Two-Headed Cerberus is conditional/filler and Borderland Minotaur and Wild Celebrants are playable but on the expensive side for a red deck which might want only a couple of cards at that point on its mana curve. Stoneshock Giant (uncommon) is also playable but also at the top end of many R/X deck’s curves. Among rares, Rageblood Shaman is TBD and the other 2 are exceptional. Stormbreath Dragon (mythic) is obviously a bomb.
  • Green: Both commons are playable. Among the uncommons, Centaur Battlemaster is playable and Nemesis of Mortals is exceptional. 2 of the rares (Arbor Colossus, which has 3 colored mana symbols, and Boon Satyr) are exceptional and the other 2 are bombs as is the lone mythic.

So each color has roughly 1 playable common and 2 playable uncommons with 2+ colored mana symbols. Green does have an additional playable common and also has 4 devotion cards, so it should be easier to trigger devotion effects in that color. Red has the most number of commons with 2+ colored mana symbols but probably can’t afford to run more than a couple of them, especially since it has only 2 devotion effects. Evangel of Heliod is probably quite good, especially in conjunction with Phalanx Leader, but also in any W/X Skies deck since the 1/1s can hold the ground against monstrous/bestowed creatures. A typical 8-person draft will have only 2.4 copies of Gray Merchant of Asphodel, so we can’t really plan to build a deck around it, but black has a reasonable number of permanents with BB in the casting cost so Gray Merchant of Asphodel should be quite good, especially if you’re willing to run Disciple of Phenax to power them up. Blue has few devotion effects (which makes sense from a flavor standpoint too), so there’s no need to try to load up on permanents with UU in their casting cost, even if you’ve already drafted either of the blue mythics that look at devotion.

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