It’s no secret that Devotion themed decks are quite popular in the Pioneer format. This isn’t too surprising, considering that two sets in the format each have a number of powerful cards that make use of the mechanic. But with all the popularity of this particular mechanic there is one colour of Devotion deck that hasn’t really seen that much play, and that colour is Red.
This isn’t all too surprising when you really think about it. All the other colours have really good pay offs that reward players for sticking to a particular section of the colour pie. White and Blue have the new Heliod and Thassa, while Black and Green can easily one shot an opponent with a well timed Gray Merchant of Asphodel or Aspect of Hydra respectively. But when you look at Red, its not that clean cut.
The new Purphoros is great, but no-one has really settled on a effective list for him as of yet. The older version of him does see play, but you don’t really need to make use of Devotion to get the most out of him since its his triggered ability that often wins games. Fanatic of Mogis was some what of a promising card, but it always seemed to be overshadowed by the arguably better ‘Gary’.
That’s not to say that Mono Red isn’t a good deck in Pioneer, for from it. But these decks are more often aggro builds that just so happen to be Red, rather than a brew that makes use of a Devotion to Red in order to win games. But what if I told you there was a Mono Red Devotion deck for Pioneer that was not only a ton of fun to play, but was actually pretty powerful? Well wonder no longer my fellow Magic players, for today I bring you such a deck.
The idea of Mono Red Devotion is pretty simple. We are essentially a creature based aggro deck with a decent Devotion combo payoff. The deck also cares a lot about playing only Red spells, as evidenced by our first creature, Foundry Street Denizen. A main stay of Goblin decks, this little one drop gets more powerful the more Red creatures we play in a single turn. It is quite possible for this Goblin Warrior to easily get in for three to five damage before some players are able to muster a defence.
Next up we have a pair of two drops, in the form of Dragon Whisperer and Ash Zealot. Dragon Whisperer is a really great toolbox creature in our deck. Not only can she pumped up to become a serious aerial threat, but when we have eight or more power on the board she basically becomes an army in a can, spiting out 4/4 Dragon that can quickly overwhelm any opponent. Ash Zealot on the other hand is one of the best ‘bears’ I’ve ever seen. Not only does it have Haste and First Strike, but it is some mainboard graveyard hate that we really couldn’t do without.
Moving on to the three drops we have Goblin Chainwhirler and Anax, Hardened in the Forge. The Chainwhirler is probably one of my favourite creatures from recent sets, been a 3/3 first striking body that can also deals with multiple X/1’s and Planeswalkers when it enters the battlefield. Anax, Hardened in the Forge is one of our Devotion payoff’s, while also giving us some protection from removal with the 1/1 Satyrs he creates.
Finally, we have our two four drops, a play set of Fanatic of Mogis and three copes of Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. Fanatic of Mogis is our other Devotion payoff, as if we hit every beat on our curve we can hit our opponent for six to seven direct damage on turn four (as well as any combat damage we have done in the preceding turns). Torbran on the other hand, well he is just perfect for this deck. Not only does he increase our Devotion to Red by three all on his own, but he makes all of our damage sources even more deadly. With Torbran on the board a Chainwhirler ETB’s with a one sided Sweltering Sun’s for both our opponents Creatures, Planeswalkers and even their life total. Our first striking creatures are even more potent in both attack and defence, and our damage based removal is capable of taking down even bigger threats.
Speaking of removal, we run two direct damage spells in the mainboard, with playsets of both Wild Slash and Lightning Strike. The final non-land card in the main is some pseudo card draw in the form of Light up the Stage, which should do a adequate job of keeping our ‘hand’ full of gas.
When it comes to lands we are running twelve Mountains as well as four copies of Ramunap Ruins for some more direct damage, and a playset of Castle Embereth to act as a mass pump effect should we need it. the last two lands are a pair of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, which we can use to get more mana out of our lands thanks to Devotion. The main target will most of the time be one of our Dragon Whisperers, which if all goes well be quickly be able to vomit out multiple 4/4 dragons in a single turn.
4 Foundry Street Denizen
4 Dragon Whisperer
4 Ash Zealot
4 Goblin Chainwhirler
3 Anax, Hardened in the Forge
3 Torbran, Thane of Red Fell
4 Fanatic of Mogis
4 Light up the Stage
4 Wild Slash
4 Lightning Strike
4 Castle Embereth
4 Ramunap Ruins
2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Lava Coil
4 Eidolon of the Great Revel
3 Smash to Smithereens
2 Tormad's Crypt
When we get to the sideboard we run two copies of Embercleave as a way to get through combat damage when our opponent is chump blocking our threats. A playset of Lava Coil adds to our removal package, while Eidolon of the Great Revel can keep potential combo decks in check. Smash to Smithereens handle any pesky Artifacts, and finally Tormad’s Crypt gives us more hate against graveyard deck.
And that is Mono Red Devotion for Pioneer. I have had a lot of fun testing this particular brew out, and it can hold it’s own against most other decks in the format. I might have to give it a whirl on stream sometime in the near future to show you what it is capable of.
But what do you think of the deck? Is it the kind of brew you would want to play? What changes would you make to the deck if you were to run it? Why not let us know about it in the comments below. While you’re there you could like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.
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