Introduction to Mono White Devotion
Hi everyone, I have been playing Mono White Devotion since the Players Tour at Nagoya and our team managed to place 11th, 14th and 26th with it and I wish to share with you the most underrated deck in Pioneer which may not seem impressive at the first glance but I believe is one of the best deck in Pioneer right now.
Mono White Devotion is a midrange combo deck where you are trying to control the battlefield with enchantment removals like 《Baffling End》 and 《Stasis Snare》 which also turn on the Devotion for 《Heliod, Sun-Crowned》 while actively presenting a combo kill with 《Walking Ballista》. I remember I first came upon the deck at Pioneer Challenge which was piloted by Shouta Yasooka. I decided to give the deck a try and managed to go 27-3 in my first 6 leagues. I was very impressed with the deck as I feel that the deck have a higher power level compare to other archetypes and most of the matchup I played against was not even close. I have tried different version of White Devotion deck like the aggressive and 《Collected Company》 version but I believe the Mono White midrange version is far superior from the rest.
Recently there was a ban announcement and I believe the no ban announcement in Pioneer is correct as of now although I believe Dimir Inverter is very powerful. If they ban anything in Inverter deck, we do not have to dedicate slot in the maindeck like 《Gideon of the Trials》 just for the Inverter matchup which is not what I would play in the deck. If anything from Inverter is ban, I believe something from Mono White Devotion have to be ban as well in order to balance the format as I feel it just invalidate creatures strategy. Any creatures based matchup is very favorable for Mono White Devotion, the matchups that I felt even or bad is Inverter, Lotus Breach and Azorius Control. This is the deck list I have been playing and managed to go undefeated in 2 of my local preliminary events.
3 《Idyllic Grange》
2 《Castle Ardenvale》
3 《Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx》
-Land (26)- 4 《Walking Ballista》
4 《Thraben Inspector》
3 《Knight of the White Orchid》
2 《Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit》
2 《Daxos, Blessed by the Sun》
1 《Tomik, Distinguished Advokist》
4 《Heliod, Sun-Crowned》
4 《Arcanist’s Owl》
2 《Stasis Snare》
2 《Skysovereign, Consul Flagship》
3 《Gideon of the Trials》
1 《Gideon, Ally of Zendikar》
Why is Mono White Devotion Good?
Having a combo kill as early as turn four is what makes the deck powerful as it allows us to have game even against our worst matchup. 《Heliod, Sun-Crowned》 is already a very powerful card against any creature strategies as it makes racing hard for opponent. Every our removal while slowing down opponent also providing us Devotions to Heliod which puts a fast clock against them. Not many decks in Pioneer have a better end game compare to Mono White Devotion and the only deck that can punish Mono White Devotion is Dimir Inverter and Lotus Breach combo as their combo provide another angle that Mono White Devotion is not good at interacting with. 《Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx》 is also another mess up card which allows us to generate a ton of mana for 《Walking Ballista》 or puts us way far ahead with permanents.
I was playing a split of 《Baffling End》 and 《Stasis Snare》 as I want answer to 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 game 1 to keep it from recurring back as well as some cheap removal. 《Stasis Snare》 is usually a better removal against other decks as it give us 2 Devotion count and we can deploy it at instant spell to turn on Heliod.
I felt the matchup against Spirit game 1 is like a coin flip, whoever wins the dice roll is likely to win game 1 and I want something that is very good against them while also functional in other matchups. 《Elspeth Conquers Death》 has started to look less impressive in the metagame and the swap with it is fairly easy. Skysovereign also acts as a repeatable removal against any creature based decks especially with the rise of Mono Green Devotion in the metagame now and it is basically impossible to race if we give it lifelink with Heliod. 《Arcanist’s Owl》 also works well with it by Crewing or helping us to find one.
This is just our best card against Lotus Breach combo which is our worst matchup. It prevents your opponent from targeting their 《Lotus Field》 with 《Hidden Strings》, 《Vizier of Tumbling Sands》 and 《Thespian’s Stage》, which buys us some turns to try and assemble our combo. Tomik is also a decent size flyer which blocks most of the creatures in Mono Black and Spirit matchup.
2 《Castle Ardenvale》 and 3 《Idyllic Grange》
I played 3 《Castle Ardenvale》 and 2 《Idyllic Grange》 during the Players Tour, I found that having that extra 《Idyllic Grange》 allows us to have a higher chance for combo kill. There are also not a lot of decks currently that require us to grind with 《Castle Ardenvale》. Please do play 26 lands as the deck is very mana hungry especially with 3 《Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx》 and you can’t really afford to miss your land drop.
Matchup / Sideboard Guide
I tested this matchup quite a lot and I believe we are slightly unfavored game 1 and favored post sideboard games. We are weak to their combo draw and can only rely on beatdown plan which are usually not fast enough without Planeswalkers. We do not have any interaction for their combo except for 《Gideon of the Trials》.
After sideboard, we have 《Rest in Peace》 which forces them only to combo out on turn 6 with 《Inverter of Truth》 and 《Thassa’s Oracle》 while also stops 《Dig Through Time》. We also sideboard in more Gideons which force them to answer all of them in order to win if we have 《Gideon of the Trials》‘ emblem. You can adjust the amount of removals to keep depending on whether they have more creatures in the sideboard like 《Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet》 or 《Pack Rat》.
Mono White Devotion Mirror
Games 1 is just about who is able to set up the combo faster. After sideboard, the game become grindier as we have more ways to remove 《Heliod, Sun-Crowned》. Usually the one with better end game card will win.
Lotus Breach Combo
This is our worst matchup as we can’t really interact with them game 1 and they are just a better combo deck. We can only hope to combo them on turn 4. After sideboard, do not keep a hand without any of the hate card (《Rest in Peace》, 《Damping Sphere》 or Tomik) as it is the easiest way to lose the match.
Game 1 is close and usually depends on whether we are able to combo them before they are able to kill us. I usually cast 《Walking Ballista》 for 1 on turn 2 to play around 《Spell Queller》 if I have the combo in hand. 《Skysovereign, Consul Flagship》 is a very good card against them as they are unable to 《Spell Queller》 it and it is a repeatable removal against their Spirits.
After sideboard, we are heavily favored as we board in more removals as well as Tomik which does a good job in blocking their creatures. It is usually correct to save up two spells to cast in the same turn if you think they have 《Spell Queller》 as it usually puts them back on tempo. I usually board out 2 Heliod which I don’t see many guides doing so but I feel that drawing more than 1 Heliod in this matchup is usually game losing and the matchup is usually depending on whether we can control their board or not.
I have not played this matchup enough but it felt favor when I play against it. They are unable to remove Heliod once it is on the battlefield which makes all our creatures threatening and they cannot save their removal for our potential top deck Ballista and die to the combo eventually. 《Baffling End》 is very good against them as all their creatures cost 3 or less and is one of the best way to deal with 《Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy》, 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 and 《Tireless Tracker》 as it exiles the creature permanently and 《Abrupt Decay》 does not return them back unlike 《Stasis Snare》. After sideboard we have 《Rest in Peace》. Once it was resolved, it stops all their Delirium stuff as well as Jace and Uro.
Mono Black Aggro
We are mostly a control deck against creature based decks which is what we mostly want to face. We try to stabilize early with our creatures and removals and they can never beat 《Heliod, Sun-Crowned》 in the late game. Just be sure to save your removal for 《Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet》 as it is one of the way we can lose to if left unanswered.
Mono Red Aggro
We might get overrun game 1 if we never draw our removal but after sideboard, we have access to 8 removals which turn our Heliod into creature very easily and they can’t remove it unless they have 《Soul-Scar Mage》. 《Rampaging Ferocidon》 is pretty problematic for the deck so make sure to save your removal for it if able.
This is a very good matchup, we just need to use our removal carefully, usually on 《Ensoul Artifact》 or 《Skilled Animator》‘s target. 《Gideon of the Trials》 also does a good job in stopping their biggest creature from dealing damage to us. 《Daxos, Blessed by the Sun》 is a very good blocker game 1 as they have minimum removal and our Devotion count are usually very high. Just be careful not to fall below 5 life as they can just finish us off with 《Shrapnel Blast》.
Tips and Tricks
That marks the end of my article! I hope this helps you understand Mono White Devotion. I believe the deck is very versatile and can have game against any deck in Pioneer. If you have any questions regarding the deck, I will be happy to answer them via Twitter. Thanks!
Kelvin Chew (Twitter)