Deck Tech: Nicholas Damian's Mono-Blue Ensoul Devotion

Posted in Event Coverage on May 2, 2015

By Frank Karsten

One of the decks of the tournament for me as a coverage writer is Nicholas Damian's Mono-Blue brew. His artifact / devotion hybrid has been raising eyebrows over the weekend, and he has already gone 7-1 without byes, securing his Day 2 berth. For reference, here's his list.

Nicholas Damian's Mono Blue Ensoul Devotion – Grand Prix São Paulo 2015

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Damian is a 34-year old medical doctor from Uberlandia, Minas Gerais. He started playing Magic about 10 years ago, finishing second at the 2007 Brazilian Nationals, but more recently he has been lacking the time for competitive Magic. "Two years ago, I stopped playing Magic except for Commander. I only attended the Grand Prix this weekend because I was already in Sao Paulo for a radiology conference, but I'm happy I did!"

Nicholas Damian

So where did the deck come from? "I don't know the Standard metagame very well," Damian explained. "I looked up all the tier 1 decks, but I didn't feel prepared and I felt I needed something different. I found this blue deck on a discussion forum online, although without any sideboard cards, and I liked it at lot."

Between Ensoul Artifact (supported by 14 artifacts) and Military Intelligence, the deck can come out off the gates quickly with impactful enchantments. "I did it all day long," Damian said. "Land, Ornithopter on turn one. The opponent plays a tap-land. Then I go land, Scissors, attack for five, and the opponent shakes his head in disbelief that this is happening to them. Or I could start with land, Ornithopter, one-mana creature on turn one, followed by Military Intelligence on turn 2, drawing a card right away. It's very strong!"

Although the deck generally takes the aggro role with creatures that can't be blocked, it also features a strong late game. "The deck can draw a lot of cards, and if I can't win early, then I can come back with Hypnotic Siren. It stole me several Dragonlords today. I was losing one game to Dragonlord Ojutai, for instance, but Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx into Hypnotic Siren allowed me to turn the tables and teach my opponent how it feels like to get hit by Ojutai!"

The deck also features a heavy devotion theme. Shorecrasher Elemental, a new card from Dragons of Tarkir, helps support Thassa, God of the Sea and Master of Waves in particular. "I mainly expected Mono-Red, Abzan, and Dragonlord Ojutai decks at this event. I think that Mono-Red is not a problem because I have Master of Waves and many little guys that can gain time before Master of Waves arrives. They cannot beat protection from red."

With the rise in Mono-Red to prey on Esper Dragons, this Mono-Blue deck may be positioned well right now. The other matchups are not as easy, but the sideboard helps a lot. "Abzan is a problem because their creatures are more powerful and because they have Dromoka's Command to deal with all of my key enchantments. So I put Stratus Dancer in the sideboard to counter Dromoka's Command, as well as cards that gain me tempo, like Silumgar Sorcerer and Encase in Ice. Encase in Ice is great because it can wake up Thassa unexpectedly. Against Esper Dragons, the sideboard helps a lot too as I gain Stratus Dancer and Negate to counter Crux of Fate."

So could this deck play a major role in Standard going forward? "I think it is a good deck, but it is only tier 2 right now. I'm not sure what I can do to improve the deck, and I actually think the greatest strength of the deck lies in the surprise value. Many players told me after the match that they didn't expect this deck, didn't know how to play against it, and didn't have anything in their sideboard against me."

"Opponents forgot that Shorecrasher Elemental can blink or gets pumped by Master of Waves. They have wasted burn spells on a morphed Gudul Lurker, thinking it would be a Shorecrasher Elemental. And my sideboard cards have ambushed unsuspecting opponents." All of these things may not have happened if the deck would've been a known quantity.

And to reiterate, Damian didn't enter the event with big hopes. "For me, Magic is now just a hobby. I don't have time to play competitive, only some Commander for fun. I certainly didn't expect to start the tournament 7-1, but the deck has been running very well so far. And it's been great to see my opponent's faces after playing a card they didn't expect!"

If, like Damian, you've been looking for a fun and powerful deck that does something different, be sure to give his deck a spin!

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