Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Devotion Work in Magic?
Normally, having more colored symbols in a Magic card's cost is undesirable because (unlike colorless slots), they specifically need their listed color and can't accept other types. This makes symbol-heavy spells hard to run in multi-color decks.
However, the devotion mechanic flips things around, rewarding you with various benefits based on the number of a specific color's symbols in the costs of permanents you control. So, which top-tier spells quickly devote to a faction? These are the thirty best devotion-filling cards in Magic: The Gathering!
30. Azami, Lady of Scrolls
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Looking at Azami's cost, we she she contains three blue symbols (and two colorless slots that accept anything), so having her fielded increases your blue devotion by three.
While Azami's stats are a pitiful 0/2, she lets you tap any untapped wizard you control (including herself) to draw a card. Not only does this quickly replenish your hand, it's a great way to speed your way towards the game-winning effect on "Laboratory Maniac".
29. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Kiki has a similar cost to Azami, but for red, offering an excellent red devoter who still has a little wiggle room for other mana types. His stats are a poor 2/2, but he has the useful goblin subtype, haste, and the ability to tap to create a token copy of a non-legendary creature you control.
You have to sacrifice this copy at your end step, but it has haste, letting you make good use of it in the meantime.
28. Vivien, Arkbow Ranger
Vivien's four-cost planeswalker form enters with four loyalty counters and has a useful +1, giving up to two creatures a +1/+1 counter (which is permanent) and trample (just for the turn). She also has a useful -3, letting one of your creatures deal damage equal to its power to a creature or planeswalker, granting a rare green removal.
Finally, -5 lets you add any card you own from outside the game to your hand, although in official events, you can only select one from your sideboard.
27. Oversoul of Dusk
Oversoul's unique hybrid symbols don't stack, meaning your devotion to "green and white" only increases by five (not ten). However, your individual devotion to each color also increases by five, letting her assist a variety of symbol-related effects.
She's also a powerful warrior, bearing sturdy 5/5 stats and protection from blue, black, and red, making her one of few cards shielded from three entire colors.
26. Godhead of Awe
Similar to Oversoul, Godhead increases both your white and your blue devotion by five. Her stats are a respectable 4/4, she has flying, and she makes all other creatures puny 1/1s.
This can potentially hinder your own troops, so use Godhead in creature-light decks to avoid the punishment while crippling opposing armies.
Only half of Helldozer's cost increases devotion, but it gives him more leeway in multi-color decks and he's too tempting to ignore. His stats are a fierce 6/5, he carries the abundant zombie subtype, and he can tap and spend three mana to destroy a land.
That's one of few reusable land removals in the game, and if your target was a non-basic land, you immediately untap Helldozer, potentially letting him use the effect multiple times each round!
24. Overbeing of Myth
Green/blue's take on the spirit avatar, Overbeing's power and toughness automatically become the number of cards in your hand. Fortunately, she grants you an extra draw during your draw step, helping her overwhelm foes in battle and ensuring your hand remains stocked.
Cloudthresher's elemental subtype has become more useful thanks to newer supports in the Core 2020 set, and he's perfect for strengthening green devotion while retaining enough colorless leeway for a "Sol Ring".
Better yet, Cloudthresher carries excellent 7/7 stats plus flash (letting you cast him at instant speed), reach (letting him block flyers), and the ability to deal two damage to each flying creature and each player when he arrives. You can even evoke him for four to get this effect at a discount, though you'll have to immediately sacrifice Cloudthresher when cast this way.
22. Grave Pact
Grave Pact offers a cheaper and more-devoted form of black's similar enchantment "Dictate of Erebos". Whenever a creature you control dies, Pact forces all opponents to sacrifice a creature.
That's a nice ongoing removal that bypasses defenses like indestructible and protection, and you can trigger the effect yourself using self-sacrificing creatures like "Shriekmaw".
21. Llanowar Tribe
Like many of green's elves, Llanowar Tribe taps for mana, in this case a whopping three green. But unlike most weak mana-tappers, Tribe is also proficient in combat, holding solid 3/3 stats. In one potent package, you've got mana ramp, elf synergy, battle prowess, and extra devotion.
An easy pick for my own mono-green themes, Tribe is also one of today's cheapest cards, costing well under two dollars!
20. Divinity of Pride
One of the best life-related spells in the game, Pride's a powerful 4/4 with flying, lifelink, and hybrid symbols for twin devotion. Stopping there, you'd already have a great card, but she gains +4/+4 while your life is at least 25—use commander format's increased starting amount (40) to easily gimmick this ability.
19. Fangren Firstborn
At first, Fangren doesn't look great, only possessing average 4/2 stats and the lackluster beast subtype. But when he attacks, Fangren gives all attacking creatures (including himself) a +1/+1 counter!
This means he'll initially swing as a 5/3, and the longer he survives, the tougher he'll get (boosting your other units along the way).
18. Wilt-Leaf Liege
Lieges work great for devotion since they posses hybrid symbols. Plus, Wilt-Leaf here has strong 4/4 stats, the elf subtype, and boosts your other green and white creatures by +1/+1 (+2/+2 if they have both colors)!
As icing on the cake, if an opposing spell or ability makes you discard her, Wilt-Leaf enters the field rather than graveyard, punishing foes for depleting your hand.
17. Dawn Elemental
Only accepting white mana, Dawn is hard to fit in multicolor decks but drastically buffs your white devotion. He provides a decent 3/3 elemental with flying, and his effect prevents any damage he would suffer (similar to indestructible).
If you manage to equip "Whispersilk Cloak" (which gives shroud and unblockable) to Dawn, he basically has protection from everything.
16. Worldgorger Dragon
Worldgorger empowers red devotion while providing wiggle room for a second or third color, and he's a daunting 7/7 with flying and trample. When he arrives, you have to exile all other permanents you control, but you get them back when Worldgorger leaves the field (whether killed, exiled, or bounced).
Clever players can even form infinite combos using this ability; for instance, you can repeatedly revive Worldgorger from your graveyard using a single "Animate Dead", letting you endlessly tap your lands and obtain infinite mana.
This crazy enchantment depletes your life to zero, but you won't lose the game for having zero or less life. Additionally, if you would gain life, you draw that many cards instead, and if you're dealt damage, you have to sacrifice that many non-token permanents or lose the game. You'll also lose if Lich enters the graveyard from the field.
Sure, Lich has its risks, but this can indefinitely stall foes and turn lifegain into card advantage (typically more useful, especially when lifeloss doesn't matter), strengthening your black devotion along the way.
14. Rushwood Elemental
Five green mana nets a 4/4 with trample, the elemental subtype, and the ability to gain a +1/+1 counter at each of your upkeeps, making Rushwood a bigger threat the longer he endures.
13. Balefire Liege
Balefire isn't the strongest Liege at just 2/4, but he strengthens your other red and white creatures by +1/+1 (double if they have both colors). Furthermore, he deals three damage to any player when you cast a red spell and gives you three life whenever you cast a white; use cards with Boros colors to activate both abilities at once.
12. Creakwood Liege
Even for a Liege, Creakwood is weak at 2/2, but he boosts your other black and green creatures by +1/+1. He also creates a 1/1 worm token during your upkeep, and since these tokens are both black and green, they'll essentially be 3/3s as long as Creakwood survives.
Not only does Primalcrux empower devotion and synergize with elementals, he bears a devotion-like effect, automatically gaining +1/+1 for each green symbol in your permanents' costs. Since this counts his own, at minimum he's a 6/6 with trample, but he'll quickly skyrocket to enormous stats in mono-green decks.
10. Ghastlord of Fugue
In addition to his hybrid symbols and decent 4/4 stats, Ghastlord has two powerful effects. First, he can't be blocked, and second, when he deals combat damage to a player, you reveal their hand and exile a card from it.
Not only does this let you peek at their upcoming plays, it completely banishes any type of card, and since Fugue is unblockable, triggering it should be a breeze.
9. Deity of Scars
Scars enters with two -1/-1 counters, but even so, he's still a fierce 5/5 with trample. Plus, you can spend a green or black mana and remove a -1/-1 counter to regenerate him, helping regain his original stats and potentially shielding against two deaths.
8. Invoke Prejudice
Despite controversial artwork and naming, Prejudice is one of few blue-heavy enchantments available. It counters all opposing creatures spells that don't share a color with a creature you control unless their owner pays X, where X is that unit's cost.
Basically, if you're running blue troops, this doubles the cost of all opposing non-blue creatures, and if you only control colorless units, you double the cost of all other creatures, even colorless ones (colorless doesn't count as a color).
7. Khalni Hydra
Yep, eight forest symbols makes Khalni the single most devoted card in the game (excluding semi-official cards like "B.F.M"), and thankfully, he justifies his cost. Not only is he an 8/8 with trample, he reduces his price by one green for each green creature you control, rewarding you for swarming green allies.
6. Phage the Untouchable
You can only cast Phage from your hand; if she enters the field otherwise, you lose the game. And while her stats are a meager 4/4, when she deals combat damage to a creature, Phage automatically destroys it. This is similar to deathtouch, but with the added benefit of preventing that unit from regenerating.
Better yet, when Phage scores combat damage against a player, they lose the game, making her one of the best targets for unblockable-giving auras like "Aether Tunnel".
5. Mind Over Matter
Mind Over Matter lets you discard a card to untap any land, artifact, or creature. And since you can do this multiple times per turn, you can jump-start infinite combos when paired with spells like "Temple Bell" and "Quicksilver Dagger".
4. Oona, Queen of the Fae
Oona has just about anything you could want. She's got hybrid symbols to strengthen both blue and black devotion, she's a respectable 5/5 with flying, and she has the useful faerie and wizard subtypes.
Additionally, by paying X mana (plus one blue or black), you choose a color, exile the top X cards of an opponent's library, and for each card of the chosen color, you create a 1/1 faerie token with flying. This offers a nice mill tactic that doesn't fill your opponent's graveyard and helps you swarm tokens.
3. Murkfiend Liege
Murkfiend buffs your other blue and green creatures by +1/+1, and unlike most Lieges, he's not bad in battle himself, carrying solid 4/4 stats. He also untaps your green and/or blue creatures (including himself) during each opponent's upkeep, ensuring you have blockers and letting you reuse tap effects.
2. Deathbringer Liege
Deathbringer bears the shared Liege bonus (+1/+1 boost for your white and black creatures), and his stats aren't too shabby at 3/4. Additionally, whenever you cast a white spell, he can tap a creature, and when you cast a black, you can destroy a tapped creature.
Simply cast a mixed black/white card to use both effects at once, letting you tap and destroy any creature, an excellent boost for Orzhov themes.
1. Phyrexian Obliterator
For just four mana, Obliterator provides an amazing 5/5 with trample, a rare but appreciated beatstick in black. He's also got a great effect; whenever he takes damage, that source's damage has to sacrifice that many permanents.
This means it's almost never worth it for opponents to block Obliterator, often letting him slip through unpunished, and if you can force other players to unintentionally damage him, they'll have to forfeit several cards.
Cards With Devotion in Magic
We've seen several great spells to empower devotion, but what cards actually utilize the mechanic? Try looking at the corresponding enchantment gods (there's one for each color and color pair), who become powerful creatures once their requirements are met, or use the land "Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx", which can add massive amounts of mana based on devotion.
These are just a few examples of what devotion can do, but for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of symbol-based spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill