Hey Commander fans! I thought I’d take a little time and point out some cards that maximize your pips! I’m talking about devotion!
By pips, I mean mana symbols in CMCs. Exactly the kind of thing we want to make devotion happen.
Now not every God wants devotion, per se. It will turn them into creatures, but that can make them vulnerable to exile, theft, enforced sacrifice, etc. Some gods would rather just be a sticky enchantment with superpowers.
But the new demigods are very different. Some of them want devotion like crazy.
You can get devotion from a few artifacts, and a lot of creatures, but those types can be really fragile. Besides, Theros is an enchantment kinda place.
So that’s our focus, enchantments that fuel devotion. While Gaea’s Touch might be a great place to start with Renata, Called to the Hunt, I want to go bigger. I want to triple my everything! Shoutout to the mana tripler! Exactly 3 pips worth of related devotion. Here’s the list!
This fun flood mitigator will turn those extra lands into useful bears. Does Ayula’s Influence offer much synergy to devotion decks? The bears don’t contribute, and the effect doesn’t really have a slam-dunk home in any god/demigod’s 99. More of a fun option, and somewhat decent if you’re enabling tokens already.
Recent modern-banned card Bridge From Below is either a vicious combo piece or a do-nothing. If you’re looking for devotion, that’s all it’s gonna do. It’s debatable whether this is playable in Commander at all.
I almost excluded auras like Charisma, but it actually fits pretty well with Callaphe, Beloved of the Sea. It’s great on her, and if she’s killed, it’s hardly a 2 for 1, as she goes back to the command zone. Creature theft is a great place to start with that build. This also works really well with new Thassa’s blink ability, because the card returns under your control permanently.
Dark Prophecy is a solid draw engine if you can keep it from killing you. Having a handful of creatures and playing this is probably going to work out well for you. How many cards would make this worthwhile? 3-4? That’s probably not hard. But the draw is not optional and the lifeloss is real. If your devotion deck goes wide, this can either be a huge refill when your creatures are wiped, or a lethal blow to self. Since the draw relies on a death trigger, Commanders going to the command zone instead will not trigger it. Will fit some mono-black strategies, and could be a pretty good devotion enabler overall.
Since devotion wants pips to stick around, Erosion is a bit of a non-starter. Weird, conditional land destruction was all over the early sets in Magic’s history. If you’ve got a sure-fire way to recur auras in the blue devotion deck, you can still probably do better.
While Farmstead sticks around, this slow, mana-intensive lifegain engine is pretty inconsequential. Is this worth a slot in devotion decks? Are any this desperate for lifegain triggers? Good for barnyard theme fun.
I’ve tried Gravestorm before, and unfortunately, I’ve had almost no opportunities to even cast it. I tried it in a mill shell, because I was trying to nuke graveyards at the same time. If you can keep one opponent without a graveyard every turn, this becomes a less painful Phyrexian Arena. Considering that, this might work well for Tymaret, Chosen from Death.
Infernal Tribute draws cards… which seems to be a common theme with these black cards with triple pips. There are a lot of sacrifice outlets in Magic, and a lot of ways to draw cards. I think this looks a lot like a lot of those. If devotion pushes this over the edge for you, great, but I feel like it suffers from being just a little too… unspecific. Like it could fit a lot of strategies, but less well than a lot of other cards. If a blue deck is routinely stealing your Erebos, this might help a bit.
Infinite Authority has pretty small text. Does it say anything worthwhile? All creatures with 3 toughness or less in combat with the enchanted creature are killed at the end of combat. And put a +1/+1 counter on the enchanted creature each time this happens. Not great, really. Doing a Heliod voltron deck might make this interesting, but it’s pretty slow and conditional. Pass.
Jihad is a very expensive blast from the past. Expensive as in to buy. While this gives you an extra point of power beyond your average anthem effect like Crusade, it might be gone before you know it. It’s tough to say if this is more anthem or temporary buff, and since devotion wants stuff in play, this is probably not worth a slot.
Kuon, Ogre Ascendant flips into The Abyss (aka Kuon’s Essence). Great? A single sacrifice each turn hardly bothers a lot of decks these days, and actually really enables some others. You can definitely build around this and break the symmetry, however, and make sure your opponents get the worst of this no matter what. As a player in devotion decks, it seems unlikely. The native indestructibility of Erebos doesn’t make him immune to sacrifice. Tymaret does want creatures in the graveyard, so this may do okay there. Flip cards DO count for devotion, flipped or not. Transformed cards (like werewolves) DO NOT count towards devotion on their flipside.
I love the artwork on Lurking Evil. The best thing this card does in practice, however, is reduce your life total. Some decks want that, but I don’t think they’re black devotion decks. Maybe I’m wrong. You do get a 4/4 flyer, which is only a 10 turn clock or so.
Murderous Betrayal is pretty niche. This requires you to pay BBBBB and half your life to kill one nonblack creature. Sure you get to do it again for BB, but you’re still overpaying like crazy. It’s tough to imagine this as a combo piece, or even a useful way to reduce your life. I don’t think devotion decks want this, but maybe some deck in the future will, where paying life will be so strong, that coming attached to removal will be amazing.
Oh here we go. Necropotence is one of the more well-known cards from Magic’s history. It’s an enormously powerful draw engine, and would probably be considered a staple for black (and black and…) devotion decks. While it doesn’t see too much play in other constructed formats, no copy of this card is cheap any more. The Commander community has caught on to this, and the demand is real. I played against this once as a mill deck. I milled the player to no cards in deck, but this card cancels their draw. So they couldn’t draw, but I couldn’t make them, either. Oops. Incredibly strong card.
It’s tough to say if Necro-Impotence is good or not. The newest silver-bordered ‘set’ Unsanctioned has now been spoiled, and it’s very possible that an annual window of silver-bordered cards being legal in Commander could happen. While paying a life to untap a permanent is possibly painful, it can give you two uses of an untapped permanent at the start of upkeep. Paying half the price of Necropotence’s draw is pretty sweet. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is completely busted.
Opal Guardian seems like a sideboard card. Not a great one. Or for a meta between siblings/roommates. Say to combat a pesky Goblin strategy. Let this card have that.
Four mana to draw a single card, more than a turn after I play this, plus incentive for my opponent to blow it up? And it’s going to eat my mana like crazy if I ever want to draw more with it? Phyrexian Etchings, you make Ambition’s Cost look really really good. I think devotion says no. Even potent proliferate engines might struggle with this card.
I imagine that at some point, Puppet Master seemed like a really balanced, cool card on paper. It’s sort of like totem-armor, in a way. But holy mana-intensive. Blue decks that make gobs of mana could use this to protect their creatures, but those decks could just win games instead with better cards. Almost definitely not for devotion. Especially in Commander, where your best creature seldom goes to the graveyard. Since this costs 6 mana to play and cycle, it is a better deal than paying the Commander tax a fourth time, so there’s that.
Season of the Witch is old and probably fairly scarce, but less expensive than I would have thought. It’s pretty powerful. 2 life per turn is a lot over a longer period of time, but being able to not pay and let this card die is cool. The effect it produces is something of a build around. It rewards heavy aggro, recursion, and indestructible, while punishing the opposite. Combine this with some walls or rattlesnake effects, and let your opponents fight amongst themselves. While this doesn’t have an obvious spot in the black devotion decks, you could totally make it work in any of them. The Erebos’s are indestructible, right out of the gate, and can hang back on defence without concern. This is a great piece of artwork also, by Magic’s original art director, and designer of this set, The Dark. I don’t know if this card was appreciated at the time. I don’t think so. But I feel like a reintroduction of devotion, and the juggernaut of Commander, will stoke some appreciation and playtime for this classic.
Hey Seismic Assault, do you like Shocklands? Haha. All terrible jokes aside, this is actually pretty great for red devotion. Increasing damage in red is easy, and having ways to get in extra damage and use extra lands are often welcome. Cards like Outpost Siege, that exile a card from your deck and let you play it this turn, can sometimes let you play lands. Sometimes that means extra lands in hand, which can be discarded for Shocks and giggles. The ‘any target’ aspect is just great. If you run cards that say ‘discard your hand’ on them, like Wheel of Fortune, etc., you can discard some lands to this first. This goes with a lot of strong red cards you might be playing anyway in any red deck. I think I should try this out for sure.
Underworld Dreams is one of the strongest black devotion cards. The best part of this is that it gets better if the opponents prosper. It’s even a serious hedge against a lot of combo decks that rely on drawing a pile of cards and winning with Laboratory Maniac or something like it. Those decks will target this and you for playing it once they realize it will kill them before they can get their combo off, so watch out. Even with the hate it draws, this would be in immediate contention for any black devotion deck I might build, regardless of Commander. And I have played this in several other decks, too. It’s great, and very easy to get, being an uncommon in a few recent sets.
Reality Twist, you just had to throw a monkey wrench into the triple pips list, didn’t you? This card is secretly silver-bordered. I would love to see the reason someone played this. And clearly this is disqualified from being devotion, because as of yet, there are no 5 colour devotion creatures. All those pips in the text box don’t count for devotion, but they do count for colour identity, and no creature that cares about devotion and can be your Commander is compatible with this. You could do 5 colour devotion, and maybe somebody should. All the pips.
Progenitus, with all those pips, seems like a pretty good choice as a Commander for a 5 colour devotion deck. I’ve seen a Theros gods deck, a few years ago, which didn’t end up doing much of anything. Maybe that’s an archetype worth revisiting. No matter what, a deck with Gary in it can steal a game.
This ends my triple pips review, but that’s not all for devotion! Would you believe that some cards have 4 or more pips on them, making them even juicer devotion enablers? You can bet that some of them are terrible garbage fires, too! I’ll be reviewing those cards in a day or so, so watch out for that! And as always, thanks for reading!