Purphoros, God of the Sea?
Since its first major showcase at Pro Tour Theros, Mono-blue devotion has been a solid tier 1 strategy for the current standard meta. The deck focuses on building up a substantial hoard of blue mana symbols and then creating a tsunami of tidal horses, courtesy of Master of Waves, to drown the opponent.
The deck has been piloted to great heights by some even greater players but I feel the biggest weakness of the deck is the decks own success.
The meta game concept dictates that a powerful and dominant deck will eventually fall out of the top spot due to it having the largest target painted on its forehead. I think its fair to say that the target on mono-blue devotion is rather sizeable at this point.
Master of Waves is one of the top kill conditions for the deck and can be silenced very effectively by the humble Doom Blade and other members of the spot removal mafia. At this point you are left with some lonely birds or strange Izzet science projects, which are not too effective at closing the game out, by their self. Wrath effects, such as Supreme Verdict, are also great weapons to fight off the mono-blue creatures.
So if sweepers and spot removal are so good against mono-blue devotion then the question is what is good against those? The answer comes from previous Standard formats.
In recent years, past standard has been dominated by “enter the battlefield” abilities, culprits being Thragtusk, Huntmaster of the Fells, Primeval Titan and his buddies, Restoration Angel and the list goes on.
They combatted removal spells by having already provided you with potentially game changing value. Despite Master of Waves having an “enter the battlefield” ability, all the value of the ability is lost the moment merfolk is read his last rights.
My solution breaks every flavour rule imaginable but evolves the deck to a level where it is less susceptible to removal spells. De-sleeve your Thassas and look to her fiery brethren, Purphoros. The mighty god of the forge grants a “value providing enter the battlefield” ability to every top decked courthouse birdie and most importantly Mr Target, Master of Waves.
A Master of Waves with a devotion of 4 (which is on the conservative side) hits for an immediate 10 damage (2 for the Master and 8 from the 4 horses) with Purphoros in play. This line of play is very strong against any type of removal spell because value (and a lot of value at that) has already been reaped.
It’s STILL a mono-blue devotion deck, so can still curve out and kill you with elementals on turn 5 but against the well-prepared decks can shift gears into a “deal 14 to you” combo deck.
Cards that can combat Purphoros such as mass life gain spells or Detention Sphere would also be effective weapons against the Thassa lead mono-blue lists, my point being that Purphoros doesn’t open you up to a whole new weakness.
Having to diversify into a two-colour deck means the inconvenience of dual-lands. Currently the only options in UR either hurt you or are a bit lazy and refuse to work on the turn you play them.
The gates and Ravnica shocks are not enough sources of red to splash 4 Purphoros and a basic mountain is out of the question with such a high blue mana symbol density. The addition of the UR temple land will help fill this void with the release of Born of the Gods.
Purphoros does set your kill clock back by a turn due to him having a CMC of 4 rather than Thassa’s 3.
The glowing light emanating from the current form of mono-blue devotion will start to fade and need to be reignited. Switching allegiance to the god of the forge provides enough fire-power to, once again, set the fire at the heart of the mono-blue devotion decks.
I’d love to hear your comments on this, thanks for reading,