Red Devotion will play similarly to the way it did in Return to Ravnica–Theros Standard.
Build up an army of red permanents and use Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to generate a lot of mana. Play several threats in one turn or cast Fanatic of Mogis for large numbers to allow us to deal damage in huge chunks. One important tool that Red Devotion has available now that it didn’t before is a tremendous mana sink in Crater’s Claws.
New Additions from Fate Reforged
Flamewake Phoenix jumped out at me as one of the most powerful cards in Fate Reforged. It reminds me a bit of Chandra’s Phoenix, however, it’s actually a little more efficient to get into play, given we are able to meet the ferocious requirement. One thing that Flamewake Phoenix has going for it that not a lot of cards in Khans of Tarkir had was that it has two of the same colored mana in its casting cost. I think this is a good sign and a good start to bring back a red devotion deck.
Mardu Scout isn’t particularly exciting, but again, it is a 2-drop that has two red mana symbols in its cost. One particularly strong feature of Mardu Scout is that it matches up well against Sylvan Caryatid. Of course, on the flip side, it doesn’t match up well at all against Courser of Kruphix or Raise the Alarm, but the two red mana symbols make it worth those downsides.
Fate Reforged Mono-Red Devotion
One strength this deck has compared to the old Mono-Red Devotion deck is that it is much stronger in reacting to sweepers. For old versions of the deck, Supreme Verdict was a real problem. But now, we have Ashcloud Phoenix and Flamewake Phoenix. Both are extremely resilient to sweepers and removal of any kind, really, which is something previous Red Devotion decks have also been weak against. The deck also has a lot of evasion, which can help the deck to fly over cards like Polukranos, World Eater or Siege Rhino, which in combination with Crater’s Claws can allow some very explosive wins.
Unfortunately, while we can fly over them and burn them, we don’t have very good answers to cards like Siege Rhino and Polukranos if we fall behind. We can try to race them, but many of these decks come with Whip of Erebos, which is a double whammy for a red deck as life gain tends to be a problem. Lastly, Hornet Queen will be one of the biggest problems we face, which is a popular card in the metagame, so we’re going to want to do everything we can to get as much damage in as possible before the Queen and her minions get into play, and do our best to finish our opponents off with giant Crater’s Claws and Fanatic of Mogises. After sideboard we have Anger of the Gods and Anger of the Gods to completely shut down aggro, but Whip and Queen are the biggest problems. For now, we can use Purphoros, God of the Forge for additional damage, but this is the area that needs the most work.
When to Play Red Devotion
I do think that this deck, and these types of strategies in general, will do well in metagames where decks don’t interact as much and devote a lot of time to developing their own boards. The red deck can really spiral out of control and I see it being able to do huge amounts of damage, even 20 or more, over the course of a turn or two once it really gets going.
One thing that could potentially improve the deck would be the addition of another color, most likely white for Chained to the Rocks. It would solve the problem of giant green creatures, and add some useful scry lands. This is an especially easy change because of the lack of any one-mana cards in the deck. If purely Mono-Red Devotion is a little too weak, that would be the first thing I’d try to fix it.