Three Shades of Devoid

Posted in Limited Information on October 21, 2015

By Marshall Sutcliffe

Marshall came back to Magic after discovering Limited and never looked back. He hosts the Limited Resources podcast and does Grand Prix and Pro Tour video commentary.

In the wake of Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, we have learned a ton about the newest Limited format. Not only do the professional players get together and play a ton of Limited in preparation for the event, they also get to finally talk about it on social media and in event coverage.

This is Devoid/Colorless Week on DailyMTG, so we'll be focusing in on a few of the archetypes in Battle for Zendikar Limited. Using our experience, judgment, and skill, we'll come away that much more prepared for our next Limited event.


Devoid is kind of an odd ability, as it doesn't really do anything. This may lead some people to overlook it, but that would be a mistake. The Eldrazi and all they have affected are weird, so it makes sense that Eldrazi-like spells and creatures would be weird, too. It's just how they roll.

For us, it means the devoid cards get added to the list of already-colorless things like artifacts and even lands.

Devoid is very much a real deck in Battle for Zendikar Limited, but it comes in a few different flavors.

Blue-Red Devoid

Blue-red may be the best possible color combination for a devoid deck. It's not that it's particularly good at any one thing, but it has few weaknesses and a high average card quality. It tends to play out like a "normal" Limited deck, presenting a good mix of creatures and removal, with the occasional super-powerful play. The key, though, is that, unlike your average Limited deck, each piece contributes to the whole.

While the elements of the whole ingest/process thing do exist here, don't get it twisted: This isn't the same as that archetype. This one cares more about how many colorless spells you have in total rather than specific pieces that work well together. There are certain payoff cards that you'll want to prioritize, however.

I feel like I haven't stopped gushing about this card since week one of the format. It's just that good. It's often a 4/5 with trample and ingest for a mere three mana. Three mana! The crazy part is that it goes even higher than that sometimes. This is the perfect first pick for this archetype.

Another payoff for this archetype is Nettle Drone. The damage really adds up quickly when you have 20 or more colorless spells in your deck. The times when you get to attack for 3 are just gravy.

It's tempting to go into all the great payoffs for this type of deck, but I'll limit myself so we can cover the other two devoid decks in this format. One more, though, before we move on.

Again, when virtually every creature in your deck is colorless, Ruination Guide is amazing. It plays out like a three-mana 3/2 that just pumps the power on every creature you have in play.

This deck requires that you prioritize colorless cards over almost anything else. Two-drops are a big gap to fill, so cards like Kozilek's Sentinel go up in value. You'll want a good creature curve like you usually would, and you'll want to skip playing any big Elrazi at seven or more mana in most cases. If you end up with some Eldrazi Skyspawners and Incubator Drones, a Ruin Processor will do fine in a pinch. Tide Drifter is a nice addition to the deck if you can get one, but it's not a key card in most decks.

Black-Red Devoid

The black-red devoid deck has a good amount of crossover with the red-blue devoid deck. The good red cards are good in both decks—including Vile Aggregate and Nettle Drone. This version tends to play more aggressively than the other, in part because of this guy:

Forerunner of Slaughter is one of the most aggressive two-drops in the format, and is particularly nice in this deck as it can grant haste to almost any creature in the deck (including itself!). There isn't anything super flashy about this card, but it can enable some pretty brutal curve-outs if sequenced properly.

Another big advantage that this version of the devoid deck has over the blue-red version is access to great removal.

Take a deep breath. Some players at the Pro Tour were saying that Grip of Desolation may just be better than Rolling Thunder.

I know! Whether it is or it isn't doesn't particularly matter, but just the fact that it's even in the conversation means that this is one of the best cards in the whole set. This card often kills two creatures: one actual creature and one awakened land. Failing that, you can delay the arrival of a big Eldrazi by multiple turns or take your opponent off of an important splash color while taking out their best threat.

This card is great in any deck that can cast it, but its true home is here in black-red.

It's no secret that Complete Disregard is a premium removal spell in this format. It gets the early stuff out of the way so your beaters can keep getting in the red zone, plain and simple.

As I said before, this deck tends to play out more aggressively than the other two devoid decks. You can get quick starts with your Forerunner of Slaughters and Dominator Drones. Skitterskin is a nice aggressive creature when you can back it up, and Swarm Surge can fit into the deck in some cases as well.

You can even burn people out with Touch of the Void, Nettle Drone, or, if you're lucky, a Rolling Thunder. It's not the most aggressive deck I've ever played, but it can close out a game quickly with the right draw. That said, don't be afraid to transition into the mid and even late game when the board state calls for it.

Blue-Black Ingest/Process

The last of the three devoid decks is blue-black ingest.

Blue-Black Ingest/Process is the slowest and most controlling of these three devoid archetypes. It focuses on a much more narrow band of cards and surrounds them with just plain old good cards to round out the deck. In this deck, it's far less important that you have a big mass of colorless cards in your list.

I've been asked a bunch of times if we should prioritize the Processor cards (the payoff cards) or the ingest cards (the enablers) for this archetype, and the answer is that you should be prioritizing the ingest cards. While there are a good amount of cards with the ingest ability in the set, there are precious few that you are happy to have in your deck.

The best of the bunch are Benthic Infiltrator and Mist Intruder. Benthic Infiltrator is the best Processor enabler, as it would be a playable creature even if it didn't have ingest. It's also the most reliable way to get some cards exiled. Mist Intruder wouldn't be good enough without ingest, but since it has it and since it's pretty reliable at getting some cards exiled, its stock goes up. Don't be afraid to take a card like Benthic Infiltrator first pick in Booster Draft.

I've also been impressed by Sludge Crawler as an ingester that transitions reasonably into the late game. Cards like Spell Shrivel and Complete Disregard help add to the exile zone as well.

Once you have some good ingesters in your pile, you can start picking up the various Processors in these colors.

Murk Strider, Ulamog's Reclaimer, Oracle of Dust, Ulamog's Nullifier, Ruin Processor

There are some nice rares that pay you off for this strategy too, of course.

Basically, you are trying to set up your sweet Processors and grind your opponent out with value cards and tempo plays. You can usually keep them off balance for quite a while, and the damage from your evasive ingest creatures can add up pretty quickly too.

Surround this ingest/process package with high-quality removal spells and control cards and you'll have yourself a nice deck capable of winning a Draft pod.

Wrap Up

Each of these three devoid strategies plays out in different and interesting ways. One key thing to think about is the cards that overlap into multiple archetypes. Complete Disregard and Grip of Desolation go into either black devoid deck. Mist Intruder goes into only one of the devoid decks. Look over the cards as you draft and play them, and try to identify which ones are the overlap cards and which ones go in just one deck. Prioritize the overlap cards when you can and let the more narrow cards come to you a bit later for the best possible deck.

Until next week!


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