Inspired by the success of Mono-White Devotion in Pioneer, I tried to recreate a similar deck in Standard. Naturally, we don’t have access to the infinite Walking Ballista combo. But Daxos, Blessed by the Sun and Heliod, Sun-Crowned are available, and we can build around the power of Ajani’s Pridemate. Here is my latest list.
Mono-White Devotion (Standard)
With this deck, I went 12-8 in Diamond MTG Arena. That’s not a particularly impressive record—for me, it’s average at best—but it’s also not a terrible one. To me, it indicates that Mono-White Devotion is competitively viable, at least at the FNM level. More importantly, it’s fun to play, unexpected, and filled with sweet interactions.
Without Thraben Inspector or Knight of the White Orchid, we have to find other early drops. I decided to build around Ajani’s Pridemate, which quickly grow out of hand in this deck. If you start with a turn-1 lifelinker, then a turn-2 Pridemate grows into a 3/3 right away, and it’ll only get bigger as the game progresses.
Daxos and Linden also grow Ajani’s Pridemate, sometimes very rapidly. For example, I’ve had games where I passed on turn 3 with a 6/6 Ajani’s Pridemate in play. This involved a lifelinker on turn 1 and Linden on turn 3, which certainly won’t happen all the time, but it’s also far from impossible. All in all, Daxos and Linden are centerpieces of the deck not only because they gain life but also because they provide devotion to white.
Heliod is the key card of the deck. I only have three copies of all of my legends to mitigate the risk of drawing multiples, but if I would add a fourth copy of any legend, then it would be Heliod. The God survives Shatter the Sky, bashes for 5, dishes out +1/+1 counters, and is the glue that holds the deck together. As it only costs 3 mana, it’s the best God in Theros Beyond Death.
To beat Jeskai Fires and Azorius Control, we need sticky threats that dodge their Deafening Clarion and Shatter the Sky. Mono-Red does that with Anax; Temur Adventures does that with Lucky Clover; and we do it with planeswalkers and afterlife creatures. Moreover, Heliod dodges the sweepers as well, and a large Ajani’s Pridemate or a creature protected by Alseid of Life’s Bounty will also survive damage-based sweepers. On the whole, Mono-White is quite resilient to the commonly played sweepers.
Pioneer lists generally run Arcanist’s Owl, but I don’t think it’s a good fit for Standard, for several reasons. First, we don’t need to find Walking Ballista. Second, a 4-drop that gets swept by Deafening Clarion is a liability. Third, the Owl doesn’t properly stabilize against Mono-Red. The solution was to add Archon of Sun’s Grace instead.
We’ve seen the power of Archon of Sun’s Grace in Azorius Control, and it fits Mono-White Devotion perfectly. Lifelink sets up all kinds of triggers; there are 14 enchantments to trigger constellation; and it races Mono-Red players even if they have Unchained Berserker after sideboard. I was very happy with Archon of Sun’s Grace in my games so far—it was one of the cards that exceeded my expectations.
The entire removal suite provides devotion for Heliod and Daxos, which is nice. I wanted two Giant Killers to smooth out the lower end of the mana curve and four all-purpose answers for the mid-to-late game. The 2-2 split for Conclave Tribunal and Banishing Light may not be optimal, but I had just as many games where Conclave Tribunal was better as games where Banishing Light was better, and I usually preferred drawing one copy of each over two copies of one.
Tips and Tricks
- Gideon Blackblade might die if your opponent removes its damage prevention ability with Stomp. Keep that in mind.
- Giant Killer is one of the best answers to Dream Trawler because one way or another, it’s going to get tapped. When sequencing your threats against Azorius Control, try not to have it swept by Shatter the Sky unnecessarily, as you might really need the tapper in the late game.
- Alseid of Life’s Bounty also gives protection to enchantments. Don’t forget that you can save your Banishing Light from an opposing removal spell, for example.
- I would generally mulligan any hand without a turn-1 or turn-2 play. One-landers are auto-mulligans, and many five-landers are mulligans as well.
- On turn 2, if I hold both Ajani’s Pridemate and Daxos, Blessed by the Sun, then I would generally play the Pridemate if I can curve it into Linden or Gideon Blackblade, but otherwise I would lead with Daxos so that it can put a +1/+1 counter on Ajani’s Pridemate on the next turn. An exception is against Jeskai Fires, where curving Daxos into Gideon is the best way to play around Deafening Clarion.
- Don’t sacrifice Alseid of Life’s Bounty in an attempt to prevent Questing Beast‘s deathtouch damage. It’s hidden somewhere in all the lines of text, but it won’t work. I learned this the hard way.
- If the Adventure side of Bonecrusher Giant or Brazen Borrower targets Alseid of Life’s Bounty, you can sacrifice it to counter their spell so they won’t be able to cast the creature later.
- Mobilized District is colorless, so it blocks Unchained Berserker.
Mono-White Devotion Sideboard Guide
The sideboard is filled with various removal spells against creature decks and various sticky threats against control decks. I sometimes change a card or two based on play or draw (for example, boarding out a land on the draw, or keeping an extra threat on the play) but the guide below can quickly get you started.
Versus Mono-Red Aggro
Versus Azorius Control
Versus Jeskai Fires
Versus Temur Reclamation
Versus Bant Ramp
Versus Jund Food
Versus Temur Adventures
In: 3 Glass Casket
Mono-White Devotion is probably not a top-tier deck, but it is fun to play, has the surprise factor going for it, and has the tools to compete with the popular decks in Standard right now. If you’ve been trying to find a good home for Heliod in Standard, then give my build a try!