Devotion is a mechanic that debuted in Theros in 2013. The mechanic represents a player’s commitment to one of the many Gods in Theros. The Gods are Legendary Enchantment Creatures that don’t become a creature until the Devotion requirement is met.
According to the official rules, Devotion is “a numerical value a player has, equal to the number of mana symbols of a certain color among the mana costs of permanents that player controls.”
This mechanic encouraged mono-colored strategies to get as many mana symbols of the same color on the battlefield at the same time. At Pro Tour Theros there were five mono-colored Devotion decks in the top eight.
Devotion returned in Theros: Beyond Death in 2020 with a new set of Gods and other strong Devotion cards that have seen play throughout Magic‘s various formats.
Here are the five best Devotion cards in Magic: The Gathering.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
This mono-Black Zombie, affectionately known as Gary, is one of the best Black finishers in all of Magic. Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a reasonably costed 2/4 creature that enters the battlefield with a vicious effect. When it enters the battlefield, Gray Merchant of Asphodel makes your opponent lose life equal to your Devotion to Black. You also gain life equal to that Devotion.
This effect is amplified because Gary comes with two Black mana symbols. This card can easily lead to a game-ending scenario by easily hitting your opponent for five to nine life.
Heliod, Sun-Crowned is a dominant card in Pioneer where it is one of the key pieces in Heliod Company. The strategy looks to combine Heliod with Spike Feeder for an infinite life combo. Even without the combo, Heliod can lead to +1/+1 counters flooding the board creating giant creatures that can swing in for lethal.
The God sees play in Modern and Standard too. In Standard, Heliod is a top-end piece in Mono-White Life Gain. It is played in Modern variations of the Heliod Company archetype. In most cases, Heliod isn’t usually a creature. Like many Theros: Beyond Death Gods, it can generate significant value as just an enchantment.
Klothys, God of Destiny
Theros: Beyond Death had a cycle of great Mythic Rare Gods. Klothys, God of Destiny is a strong piece of graveyard hate that is played in Standard, Historic, and Pioneer decks looking for an all-star sideboard option. Klothys can become a finisher if it’s allowed to stick around on the battlefield. Hitting your opponent for two damage every turn adds up quickly. Similar to Heliod, Klothys doesn’t need to become a creature to be one of the best cards in play.
There’s one reason to play Thassa’s Oracle, and that is as a game-winning combo piece. This card has shown up in several prominent combo decks in every Magic format since its printing in Theros: Beyond Death. Currently, Thassa’s Oracle is the finisher in Historic Tainted Pact Combo lists. If you’re able to successfully mill yourself, Thassa’s Oracle wins the game similar to Laboratory Maniac or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries.
The 1/3 creature is a little better than the other self-mill options because it doesn’t require you to completely empty your library. If your Devotion is greater than or equal to the number of cards in your library, you win the game.
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx fits into every deck that finds itself able to generate consistent Devotion. There’s nothing flashy about this Legendary land, but it’s able to create tons of mana in Devotion-based strategies. This is a glue card for Devotion decks that should be included most of the time.