Cook’s Kitchen – My Mono-Blue Pet Deck
About four or five months ago I wrote about a Mono-Blue Tempo deck. The deck had problems with very few good threats and a lack of defense against aggressive decks. The list below is what I suggested in the former article:
It’s pretty generic and it was tough because it was an initial list. But with M13 the deck gains Jace’s Phantasm!
Jace’s Phantasm is the beater that this deck desperately needed, although, it’s not a card that can simply be thrown into a deck. Phantasm needs to be built around, this means a full complement of Thought Scour and possibly a Sword of Body and Mind. Part of me wants to play Predict for cuteness factor over some card and over the fourth Thought Scour. Mainly due to being able to being able to mill the opponent or Predicts synergy with any of Delver of Secrets, Brainstorm, or Ponder. My new initial list for Mono-Blue Tempo is below:
When comparing this list to the previous list you’ll notice the creature based changed due to the addition of Jace’s Phantasm. The first creatures cut were the Phantasmal Images, one Phantasm for another! I decided that there wasn’t enough room in the main deck for Images, although there would certainly still be sideboard slots. With Reanimator and Sneak Show on the rise, they would act as great removal spells or potentially a slightly more expensive beater such as Insectile Aberration or Jace’s Phantasm. I guess copying a Snapcaster could be all right too.
A Snapcaster Mage was then traded for a Vendilion Clique. While Snapcaster has more “Value” technically than Vendilion Clique, the Faerie Wizard is a better beater. The Clique effect is also insanely good against Show and Tell, one of the more popular spells in the format at the moment.
Glancing down the list comparing one list to the other, there’s a lack of Stifle and Spell Snares. Cards that were ever so popular just months ago, well, the metagame has shifted. Spell Snare is just not that great right now with a lot of the most popular decks running very few two casting cost cards. Sneak Show, RUG Delver (Tarmogoyf) , Miracle Control (Counterbalance and Snapcaster), UR Delver (Price of Progress) , Dredge, and Reanimator (Animate Dead) don’t have cards that cost two that are the “Must Counters” the exceptions being cards in parentheses. Stifle is still a fine card at the moment, but has been seeing less and less play recently. I believe part of the reasoning being that playing a threat turn one like Delver of Secrets, Jace’s Phantasm, or Nimble Mongoose allows your opponent to fetch freely. If you wait, they’ll play around Stifle until an opportune time. Everyone expects Stifle, Stifle is best when it’s unexpected. Meaning, right now, it’s sitting on the shelf for a while. Luckily, this list is using those slots to add Thought Scour.
Thought Scour is needed to turn on Jace’s Phantasm, which is fairly obvious. But it also has great synergies with the rest of the deck! A trick I’ve been using in standard is to look for Delver of Secrets trigger and if it’s an unwanted land or spell, simply mill it with Thought Scour before the draw step to see two new cards. Other things to do with ‘Scour are to mill cards after Brainstorm or Ponder to remove unwanted cards without the activation of a fetchland. I do this often because there’s often potential of drawing those lands again, it’s statistically less likely that a land will be drawn if the lands are milled rather than shuffled away.
The removal package has changed. Originally the removal spells were four Dismember, I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. The life loss was too much and it was almost impossible to flashback with Snapcaster without being close to dead. But there are still two in the deck, because the deck does need some actual removal and being a two-of, it’s not likely to draw multiples. After that I tried a couple of Repeal which was fine for the time being, but not in the new metagame. Repeal doesn’t bounce Griselbrand or other large obnoxious creatures that may be put into play. I still haven’t bounced an Insectile Aberration with a Repeal, but I still have time. Instead, there are three Vapor Snag. A card I’ve been falling in love with while playing standard. I’m convinced it could be playable in Legacy too. The next time I play RUG Delver/Canadian Threshold I’ll probably try Vapor Snag over the Forked Bolt/Chain Lightning slots. Being able to bounce Griselbrand for a single mana is huge! (Think Billy Fuccillo). Not to mention it’s an answer to Knight of the Reliquary which is something that deck can’t do. While it’s not a removal spell, it’s enough of a change in tempo and it’s life loss! Good enough for me.
The manabase is fairly generic. It’s a bunch of lands that all tap for blue! For me they’ll all be the foil Terese Nielson Island I collect from Invasion. Four wasteland is still a must to make the soft counters more valuable in the mid-game. There’s seven islands and seven fetchlands after that. The fetchlands don’t actually matter. In the list I opted for a few of each name to avoid Pithing Needle or Surgical Extraction on the lands. However, it may not be a bad idea just to play the Zendikar blue fetches. The reasoning being, it’s very easily possible to be mistaken for RUG Delver/Canadian Threshold in the early game this way. The choice is up to whomever is playing the deck. The deck plays eighteen land over the nineteen that RUG Delver/Canadian Threshold is currently running. The reasoning behind this is simple, they have to worry about their lands being targeted by Wasteland. It’s an amazing thing not having to worry about getting your lands destroyed!
Onto the sideboard! The lack of Back to Basics upsets me. I really wanted to fit it into the sideboard but it’s not that good in the current list. With the lack of Stifle for additional mana denial besides Wasteland, Back to Basics becomes slightly worse. On top of the lack of Stifle in this deck, the elite decks of the moment don’t have a lot of non-basics in them. When looking down the top tier, each deck has plenty of basics in it! The exceptions would be RUG Tempo/Canadian Threshold and Team America, both of which are tempo decks that run on very few lands and can return tapped lands to their hand with Daze in order to cast more spells. Right now just isn’t the right time for the card that repeatedly destroyed me growing up. The slots that took Back to Basics are Mind Harness, a card that will shape up that terrible aggro match-up that was described earlier. The two Mind Harness are why I’m not playing a full set of Submerge, I decided that diversifying the hate would be an improvement. The only downside is that Harness doesn’t flip a Delver of Secrets into awesome mode.
I mentioned earlier that Phantasmal Image was pushed to the sideboard. Image then took the slots that had previously belonged to Hydroblast. Which was all right, considering that there were five of them at the time. That was a rough metagame call.
Well now that we’re through the changes, these decks play very differently. The past list was focused on mana denial while attempting to win one threat at a time and countering every single spell played until that threat won the game. The new list isn’t as focused on countering every single spell, but instead countering crucial spells while continuing with the larger game plan. Counter the removal spells on threats, play multiple threats in order to overwhelm, but make sure that mass removal such as Terminus doesn’t throw you off. Creatures aren’t must counters anymore with the new list due to not having the fear of losing four life on every removal spell. But instead just continually bounce them while dealing damage and recur with Snapcaster Mage while attacking with Phantasm/Delver of Secrets.
The tradeoff between Stifle and Thought Scour is the most notable change in the deck. Actively milling the opponent to hit ten cards in their graveyard is something the deck wasn’t doing five months ago. It may not be a bad idea in some scenarios to sandbag the Phantasm until the opponent has a half full graveyard before casting Jace’s new pet. At that point in time it may be too late for them to try and stop casting spells or putting their lands in their graveyard. I think some of the more difficult lines of play will to be when to mill yourself rather than the opponent with ‘Scour when the top cards of the deck are undesirable from Brainstorm or Ponder. However, Snapcaster Mage can always refuel their graveyard.
This new list has eleven draw spells compared to the former list’s six. Meaning that while there are fewer counterspells, the draws will be smoother often relating into more drawn counterspells or whatever the deck needs at the time. The change in draw spells is actually pretty significant. Opening hands with basic Island, Ponder, Thought Scour are actually insanely good with this deck.
Sword of Body and Mind, I really tried to fit a single copy of this card into the deck. The problem being a few things, I’m actually unsure of how good the card would be. It’s a three casting cost card in a deck that only plays eighteen lands! Well, that and then it needs additional mana to become useful. I had a copy of the sword over a Ponder and a Vapor Snag at one point but then decided the consistency of the draws would be more effective over the course of an event. Rather than an occasional random late game blow-out against mid-range aggro decks.
I believe this deck could be a real contender in the Metagame, expect to see me playing it at some point. I’ve always been a fan of my pet decks, this is certainly one of them. There’s something about conditional cheap beaters that I enjoy playing with. I wish there was still room for Stifle, but sometimes you need to sacrifice cards you’re fond of. Oh well…
Note: I hope at least one person got the scrubs reference in the name of the article!
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep storming!
Bryant Cook on MTG the Source