Devoted Knightfall in Modern (Videos)

Feature Article from Steve Rubin
Steve Rubin
6/6/2017 11:00:00 AM
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The printing of Vizier of Remedies in conjunction with Devoted Druid has abruptly overhauled the texture of Modern. This new infinite mana combo has received a lot of hype and article attention over the past few months, but this is more than just a fad. Don't dismiss Devoted Druid decks, because they are legitimately powerful and possibly the best combo in Modern. In case you missed it, Seth broke down what he thinks are the best Devoted Druid decks in Modern right now. At Grand Prix Kobe, two players made Top 32 with the exact same 75 of Devoted Knightfall. As always, this double 12-3 performance piqued my interest, especially as a Bant Knightfall player. Let's get right to it.

While this a pretty typical shell for Devoted Druid, the Knightfall aspect slots in to add an additional angle, which is mostly just compiling the power level and ability to go off with the deck. Let me describe why this works so well, but first it's important to understand why Devoted Druid decks are so powerful.

Devoted Druid must be killed on sight. Once a Vizier is put on the stack, you are forced to kill the Devoted Druid or else allow your opponent infinite mana. The Devoted Druid is a reasonable card on its own as it provides you with mana to play out your hand, but crucially play a Company of Chord of Calling on turn three. Many people don't realize that all it takes is Devoted Druid to Chord for Vizier to make infinite mana on turn three – you have five mana with the Druid's ability, and the Vizier lets you untap Devoted Druid freely even with a -1/-1 counter already on it. With Collected Company and Chord of Calling, you also need the ability to kill the Druid efficiently at instant speed as it may happen at the end of your turn.

The second reason is tied in with the first, and it is the sheer power of having a combo where you just automatically and somewhat accidentally get free wins. In a vacuum with mulligans included, you are going to have a Devoted Druid on turn two 40-50% of the time, give or take. Of those games, you will be able to make infinite mana on turn three a majority of the time thanks to Company and Chord, and while infinite mana won't always win you the game, the combo isn't that costly. You aren't just straight-up losing when you have the infinite mana but lack anything to do with it – you get to continue to play Magic. Many of the other combo decks lack interaction in game one and just fold to your faster and more consistent deck, but this deck can just continue to play normally.

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The combo feels very reminiscent to the Saheeli Rai and Felidar Guardian infinite combination from Standard, and that ended in an emergency ban! It is uncanny how much it is like the Felidar Guardian combo. Obviously, you need a third component to win off the infinite mana, but the cheapness of the pieces more than makes up for that tidbit. The Druid is good on its own and must be dealt with, and you also need to hold up mana to interact with a combo in case of an end of turn Druid, which lines up exactly like what we saw in Felidar Guardian. Not to mention that these Company decks have adapted to play four Eternal Witness to allow you to “re-jam” your combo throughout the game.

With this in mind, Bant Devoted Knightfall is an excellent version to battle with in the current Modern. The key is the addition of Knight of the Reliquary. Knight has always been kind of like a planeswalker: once you get to untap with it you take over the game. With the Devoted Druid combo, you force your opponents to use their removal on the Druid. This taxes their removal greatly, as following up with a Knight can end the game if they don't have a recourse. Against decks with little removal, notably other combo or the rampant number of mirror matches you will play, you have an additional way to execute a kill with Knight plus Retreat. Knight also provides you with the ability to tutor for Kessig Wolf Run, which is an additional avenue to winning once you achieve infinite mana.

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Once you have blue to support Knight/Retreat, Reflector Mage and sideboard Unified Will provide additional utility. Mage is excellent against Death's Shadow decks and is reasonable in the mirror to prevent opposing Devoted Druids from sticking in play, which are the most pivotal matchups at the moment. With no better way of putting it, you play Magic a bit better than some of the other Vizier decks. You have the Retreats, but you are playing Knights and Mages over cards like Viscera Seer, Kitchen Finks, or Dwynen's Elite. Unified Will gives you the ability to interact on another axis against non-creature combo decks and against sweepers.

The only changes I made for the video were in the sideboard, where I cut the two Meddling Mages and one Izzet Staticaster for two Eidolon of Rhetoric and one Bojuka Bog. After playing a bit, I think Staticaster may be a wasted slot compared to something else like a Ghost Quarter or hate creature, as it's not very reliable in the mirror and less people than ever are playing Affinity and Infect.

- Steve Rubin




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