The Return of Gary – Casual Black Devotion Deck Tech by Mario Ludwinski
Today I have a riddle for you.
In a world full of [card]Siege Rhino[/card]s, [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card]s, and [card]Whisperwood Elemental[/card]s…
… how many Garys do you need to win a game of Magic? It’s kind of a tricky question, so watch yourself!
Here is a clue.
It’s a children’s numbers song. One Gary, two life lost. Two Garys, six life lost. Three Garys, twelve life lost. Four Garys… spells G-A-M-E-O-V-E-R.
The obvious mathematical answer is: four Garys.
However, it’s kind a hard thing to draw all four Garys in every game, if I intend to win.
But this is Magic we are talking now.
So, the correct answer is: one Gary is enough to win a game.
The first one. The original one. The one who makes all copies available.
Let me introduce to you another fun UB deck for FNMs (the first was UB Mill with [card]Phenax, God of Deception[/card], the second was UB Tempo with [card]Master of the Feast[/card] as a kill switch): Black Devotion with Gary!
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
3 Clever Impersonator
2 Mercurial Pretender
2 Endless Obedience
3 Crux of Fate
3 Whisk Away
3 Voyage’s End
4 Hero’s Downfall
4 Dig Through Time
2 Murderous Cut
3 Stubborn Denial
4 Dismal Backwater
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Polluted Delta
Sideboard is an open issue. A bit more removal may be good, like [card]Drown in Sorrow[/card]. Two more reanimation spells – [card]Endless Obedience[/card] may be great in certain matchups. I’ve also grow to like [card]Reality Shift[/card] to deal with nasty fliers and [card]Bloodsoaked Champion[/card]s.
The strategy of the deck is really fun, if you’re into Control decks. In the beginning you basically play UB Control. Discard annoying early threats. Surprise opponent with [card]Stubborn Denial[/card] hard-denying his [card]Mantis Rider[/card], because he can’t pay 1 mana more. Steal turns by bouncing back or destroy three or four drops. When you accumulate five-six lands (the sixth one acts as a threat of Stubborn Denial) and have two-three Garys and Impersonators/Pretenders, launch a chain. Both Impersonators and Pretenders come into play as full copies of Gary. They trigger his draining ability and count as additional two points of black devotion each. In case of Pretender, you can bounce him at the end of opponent’s turn, then replay in your next turn.
It’s really fun to see Abzan or Burn players trying to deal you the final damage, and you just slip up into safety of high teens or twenties. It’s even better when they realize not only you gain life, but also they lose life – and somehow now they hang on a verge of being killed.
I tried a version that relied heavily on straight reanimation. I used cards as:
Rescue from the Underworld
Whip of Erebos[/draft]
Erebos, God of the Dead
Jace, the Living Guildpact[/draft]
This version (in various configurations) performed okay. When it won, it was a total blitz, but I was losing too many games to enjoy playing it. In a textbook Shaheen Soorani’s move (at least until Dragons of Tarkir he went from Esper Control to UB Control), I streamlined the deck by moving away from reanimation strategy in favour of devotion shenanigans.
Now I’m playing games I thoroughly enjoy.
Some cool combos the deck is capable of:
Return a problematic creature to owner’s hand, then Despise it with a smile on your face. Do it on Siege Rhino for style points.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/draft]
Return Gary or Impersonator (Pretender has his own bouncing engine, don’t waste the spell for him), then replay him to deal extra life loss.
Endless Obedience[/draft][draft]Stubborn Denial
Hit something big on the very first turn in the opponent’s hand, then take it for yourself a few turns later.
Or counter-Denial something essential on turn 3 or 4, then revive it for yourself.
[draft]Crux of Fate
Destroy everything, then choose the best creature in all graveyards and take it for yourself.
Copy the opponent’s creature ([card]Siege Rhino[/card] is sweet, [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] is ultra sweet, because haste), then copy it once more. And once more… And once more…
For a few turns return the same creature to the opponent’s hand (or top of library), effectively stopping her from doing anything meaningful. Finally, you will find Despise and combo it out to graveyard. And then – to your battlefield thanks to [card]Endless Obedience[/card].
The deck is fun to play, especially when you learn all combos. The opponent also experiences a fun time, since she needs to play around all counters, removal, discard, knowing that everything she plays can be used against her later on. But not playing anything is also not a good option, since you will finally find the first Gary off of [card]Dig Through Time[/card]. Then it may be too late to swing the game back from you.
Community Question: What combos have you spotted so far using the new Dragons of Tarkir cards?