t the most recent Grand Prix, in Cincinnati, some of the Team ChannelFireball guys decided to play Black Devotion with a couple twists. First, they chose to splash red for some game breakers like Rakdos's Return, Slaughter Games, and Sire of Insanity. The second twist was by far the most interesting, as they chose to eschew Pack Rat completely.
With Mono-Black Devotion playing Bile Blight, Mono-Blue Devotion splashing Detention Sphere, and the WU Control decks having several answers to an army of rats themselves, it's not surprising to see Pack Rat drop off a little bit. However, it's always impressive when a player makes that leap and cuts the sacred cow, as he or she is either going to be considered a genius or a fool.
In this case, it seemed to work out for them. Eric Froehlich put up a solid Top 16 finish (which I'm sure he's less than happy about, but it's a solid finish nonetheless) while teammate David Ochoa finished 40th, presumably with the same decklist.
Consider this a lesson in deck building. A card that used to be the backbone of an archetype can be considered unplayable the next week. Don't be afraid to kill your darlings.
Eric Froehlich's BR Devotion
Gerry Thompson is a former professional Magic player and strategy writer, whose career highlights includes a Top 8 at Pro Tour Gatecrash and two Grand Prix wins in Denver and Nashville. He's currently a development intern for Wizards of the Coast.