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Valuable Lessons – The Dumptruck

Welcome back to Valuable Lessons. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the deck I’ve been playing in Standard. Last week, I wrote about Gruul Devotion and the Junk deck I played at Pro Tour Theros. Since then, I’ve continued tweaking the Gruul Devotion deck. I’ve made some changes that make the deck stronger against black and blue devotion strategies, and modified the sideboard in such a way that I have a much better matchup against the newer Esper lists.

Here’s the thing—I added blue to the deck. It may seem odd to add a third color to a dedicated devotion strategy, but adding blue to the deck gives us the ability to cast [card]Prime Speaker Zegana[/card], one of the most powerful cards in the archetype. Also, it gives us access to [card]Ral Zarek[/card], a blue/red card that finally found a home in a green devotion deck.

Why [card]Ral Zarek[/card]? Well, it solves some of the format’s biggest problems while synergizing beautifully with our deck. We can use [card]Ral Zarek[/card] to kill [card]Nightveil Specter[/card] or [card]Tidebinder Mage[/card] on the third turn thanks to all of our ramp cards. Then, if we’re given the opportunity to untap with [card]Ral Zarek[/card] the next turn, we can use it to untap a land and cast [card]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/card] on the third turn. Sometimes, in the late game, we can combo [card]Ral Zarek[/card] with [card]Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/card] and [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] as we do with [card]Voyaging Satyr[/card]. I’ve produced over 100 mana in a single turn and wiped an opponent’s board before attacking them with a 53/53 [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card].

[card]Master Biomancer[/card] was in the list at one point, but it wasn’t very strong in a lot of matchups and I feel like we can play more high impact sideboard cards for the matchups where it’s strongest. I could see this card making its way back into the deck if the format starts to move back toward green/white, green/red, and Naya Midrange strategies, but all of those decks are very easy for green devotion anyway, so it may be a fool’s errand.

[card]Xenagos, the Reveler[/card] was in the deck before I added [card]Ral Zarek[/card], but while I still had [card]Master Biomancer[/card]. [card]Xenagos, the Reveler[/card] was strong, but it wasn’t as good as [card]Ral Zarek[/card] and I often found myself sideboarding it out whenever I was playing against something that wasn’t Esper.

[card]Aetherling[/card] is an excellent sideboard option for this deck. It’s pretty easy to make absurd amounts of mana. Additionally, [card]Mana Bloom[/card] works very nicely at protecting the [card]Aetherling[/card] as a source of blue mana on our turn and theirs.

Playing a fat stack of scry lands is actually just insane with [card]Domri Rade[/card]. The more I played with the deck, the more I became impressed with the power of [card]Domri Rade[/card]. I think 4 is the right number in the main deck and I’m not about to waver in that regard.

Here’s the list I’m currently using:

Standard Dumptruck

by Jacob Van Lunen

[deck]Main Deck
4 Breeding Pool
4 Temple of Mystery
4 Stomping Ground
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Forest
4 Voyaging Satyr
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Polukranos, World Eater
3 Arbor Colossus
1 Kalonian Tusker
4 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
4 Domri Rade
2 Ral Zarek
1 Prime Speaker Zegana
1 Mana Bloom
Sideboard:
2 Aetherling
3 Wasteland Viper
4 Nylea’s Disciple
1 Domestication
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Mana Bloom
1 Island
1 Mistcutter Hydra[/deck]

Let’s talk about the major matchups.

Blue Devotion

The blue devotion decks aren’t the slam-dunk automatic victory I previously thought. As it turns out, when I wrote about Gruul Devotion last week, I was on a pretty sick heater with the deck. Since then, I haven’t just been nut drawing every unfortunate soul I’ve been paired against. The matchup is very good until they play [card]Master of Waves[/card] with healthy devotion. Then, if you have [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card], it’s still good. That being said, there are plenty of times where they have [card]Master of Waves[/card] and you don’t have Polukranos. Those can be some tough games. I used to play a fistful of [card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card]s for this matchup, but I found they don’t really matter. Sure, they’re awesome, but you still lose to [card]Master of Waves[/card] if you don’t have [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] and you still beat them otherwise.

Out

[draft]1 Prime Speaker Zegana[/draft]

In

[draft]1 Mistcutter Hydra[/draft]

Red/Green Midrange or Green/White Aggro

We get really big very quickly and they can’t really deal with our reasonable draws. After sideboarding, we get to bring in [card]Wasteland Viper[/card] and absolutely ruin their day. [card]Ral Zarek[/card] is ridiculous in this matchup for obvious reasons. You cast a [card]Ral Zarek[/card] on turn three, killing their [card]Kalonian Tusker[/card] or [card]Fleecemane Lion[/card], and then you untap and start doing things their deck could only dream of. This is a very good matchup for us.

Out

[draft]4 Domri Rade[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Wasteland Viper
1 Domestication[/draft]

White Weenie

It’s difficult to beat the White Weenie deck when they curve out and draw multiple copies of [card]Banisher Priest[/card]. That being said, it’s usually a pretty easy matchup and sideboarding in one or two copies of [card]Nylea’s Disciple[/card] really guarantees that we can hold onto the game if we stabilize after their early aggression. It’s important to cast [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] as your last creature, if possible. (If it’s your only 4-drop in hand, then you should obviously still play it on the third or fourth turn.) Casting Polukranos last lets us clean up [card]Banisher Priest[/card]s and take over the game. If they’re playing [card]Boros Reckoner[/card], then we probably want to bring in a copy of [card]Domestication[/card] over the [card]Nylea’s Disciple[/card].

Out

[draft]2 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
2 Ral Zarek[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Wasteland Viper
1 Nylea’s Disciple[/draft]

Red

Red decks have [card]Boros Reckoner[/card] and [card]Fanatic of Mogis[/card] as effective ways to pressure us once we’ve stabilized from their early aggression, which we usually do. We have big fatty boom booms that we start casting on turn four and they’re hoping to run us over, it usually doesn’t work out for them. Don’t be afraid to fight a [card]Wasteland Viper[/card] against [card]Boros Reckoner[/card] with [card]Domri Rade[/card]. The damage/devotion from [card]Boros Reckoner[/card] is their best game plan against us and turning that off is easily worth the two cards. [card]Nylea’s Disciple[/card] is absolutely insane in this matchup, and playing four copies is an easy way to increase your win percentage on Magic Online, where red strategies seem to be one of the most popular at all times.

Out

[draft]2 Ral Zarek
3 Garruk, Caller of Beasts
1 Domri Rade
2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx[/draft]

In

[draft]3 Wasteland Viper
4 Nylea’s Disciple
1 Domestication[/draft]

Esper

This matchup feels nightmarish whenever I play it, but I keep winning for some reason, and by “some reason,” I mean planeswalkers and [card]Aetherling[/card]. It can be difficult to play around [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] with this deck, we train ourselves to find the absolute best line to dumping our whole hand onto the table for most matchups and this matchup is all about prudence. [card]Aetherling[/card] is an absolute house after sideboarding. Try to get your opponent to use a [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] when you’ll have enough post-Verdict mana to cast [card]Aetherling[/card] with protection the following turn. I’m fully aware that this matchup isn’t great, but I find it to be very easy to beat control decks with basically anything—question/answer games always favor the individual that’s asking questions in my experience. (Aside: try playing a lot of games with the Esper deck if you’re having trouble beating it. The deck has a lot of holes and it often backs itself into corners when it takes certain lines, try to remember what lines you’re taking based on which cards you have and you’ll quickly find yourself inside your Esper opponent’s head.) Remember, you’re not fighting Wafo-Tapa, it’s possible to win the game by outplaying your opponent. (Unless you’re actually playing against Wafo-Tapa, in which case, you’re losing every game he’s starting with six or more cards.)

Out

[draft]1 Kalonian Tusker
2 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Arbor Colossus[/draft]

In

[draft]1 Mana Bloom
2 Aetherling
1 Mistcutter Hydra
1 Island[/draft]

Black Devotion

We really want a good seven-carder against them. These games can be really hard to win when we mulligan and they have multiple removal spells and [card]Thoughtseize[/card], which they usually do. Be a little bit loose with your starting hand selection and take some shots. You’ll get rewarded when you draw well and you probably lose anyway if you’re starting with less than seven cards on the play or six on the draw. Once we activate [card]Garruk, Caller of Beasts[/card] more than once, we usually win the game. Just play your whole hand as fast as you can and hopefully you get to your end game before they have you out of cards/guys while they’re activating [card]Underworld Connections[/card]. I made it sound horrendous, but the matchup is actually fine as long as we draw reasonably well in two of the three games.

Out

[draft]1 Kalonian Tusker
1 Prime Speaker Zegana[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Aetherling[/draft]

Orzhov Midrange

This matchup feels like it should be hard for all the reasons that Black Devotion is, but their deck is watered down by cards like [card]Soldier of the Pantheon[/card], [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card], and [card]Precinct Captain[/card] that are miserably bad here. We can just dump our hand and it’s usually pretty easy to win. That being said, this can be bad when we mulligan for the same reasons as Black Devotion. Try to keep a slightly wider range here.

Out

[draft]1 Prime Speaker Zegana
1 Mana Bloom[/draft]

In

[draft]2 Aetherling[/draft]

The Dumptruck is an effective way to completely destroy people. The deck has the best nut draws of any deck in the current Standard, but its inconsistency can be an issue. I’ve 2-2’d two Daily Events, 3-1’d two, and 4-0’d one. I’ve also had a lot of success with the deck in 8-man queues. I would recommend the deck to any lucky master. It’s difficult to play, but the rewards are worth it.

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