July 17, 2015

Building with Blue

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I'm devoted to the idea of trying to build decks with Thassa, God of the Sea and Master of Waves every time a new set comes out, and Origins has a bunch of interesting options that I want to try. Additionally, Thopter Spy Network makes me want to look at the artifact theme anew, because I think a deck based around those synergies can really blossom. Let's wade in!

This is the starting point for a Mono-Blue Devotion deck like we saw in formats past. Foundry of the Consuls is no Mutavault, but it's a good combo with Bident of Thassa, and it's at least some reward for playing a manabase that only needs one color.

Bident is even more important to this deck than it was before, and it's very possible that the deck wants a third copy. I was wary of drawing too many legendary cards, so I'm starting with two Bidents and one Hall of Triumph for now, all of which combo with the full eight evasive one-drops. I like that Faerie Miscreant stacks well in multiples, and the Gudul Lurker can be cast on turn three if you don't have other uses for your mana. The one Hypnotic Siren is there to hedge against having a ton of lands out, though it could easily just be the fourth Lurker.

The disruptive threats are key to this deck. All three of these creatures provide a body plus a good way to interact with the opponent. Harbinger and Sorcerer even combo, as you can bounce a creature and then counter it when it comes back down, often keeping the 2/1 flier to make sure you have a creature that can get through. Stratus Dancer is a great card to run out on turn two when you are curving out, while still being awesome to play face-down against control decks. Stratus Dancer has already proved to be great in plenty of other decks, but this type of deck might be the best home for it.

Here's the payoff for being mono-blue: You get Shorecrasher providing a very powerful three-drop and lots of blue pips to make sure that Thassa and Master are operating at peak efficiency. For how much Thassa and Master dominated in the last Standard, they have not made a splash in this one—but the addition of some new cards could change that. In particular, Harbinger is a very powerful two-drop, and that may be enough to push this deck over the top.

The way this deck plays is classic aggro control. It's got games where it just curves out and ignores the opponent, but it also has enough disruption that it can deal with opposing threats as necessary. Keeping mana up for Silumgar Sorcerer and Harbinger of the Tides is often a good plan, and cards like Harbinger or Master of Waves can swing boards drastically in your favor. A lot of what the deck is trying to do is set up a good Bident hit, and if that looks possible you should play to it. Once you hit and draw two cards, the odds that you can continue to do so are high, especially with Stratus Dancer to stop any sweepers.

Another direction to go with mono-blue is the artifact route, and a couple new cards in particular have my gears turning.

The card driving this deck is Thopter Spy Network, which is an absurdly powerful card once it gets going. In an ideal world, you play the Spy Network, draw a card immediately, and then start cranking out Thopters. If it's giving you a card plus a Thopter every turn, it's fantastic—and all it takes to get going is a Darksteel Citadel.

The rest of the deck is built to enable that, and has a ton of other synergies going on. Thopter Spy Network is an excuse to play Springleaf Drum; once you're drumming, Ornithopter and Faerie Miscreant start making more sense.

Likewise, Ensoul Artifact piggybacks on the presence of Darksteel Citadel, Ornithopter, and Drum, and offers the deck another hard-hitting threat. Some decks have a very hard time beating a Citadel that has grown a soul, and against those decks assembling that combo is a high priority.

Lastly, Ghostfire Blade is a very strong card with enough targets, and a deck full of Thopters and Ornithopters seems like a good place for it. If worst comes to worst, you can pay full price to equip Faerie Miscreant, which at least nets you a 3/3 flier.

You have to get artifacts from somewhere, and these two cards provide a good place. The Walker is cool because it's a play on turn two or turn six, and can accumulate a lot of value over the course of the game—all while making you more resistant to sweepers. Whirler Rogue is a lot of action in one card, and it doesn't take much for me to want to get this into a deck.

I like a lot of what this deck is doing, but it feels like it needs more good ways to get Thopters, and a little more disruption wouldn't hurt. As such, let's take a look at what a blue-red version might look like.

By adding red, we get to take advantage of Pia and Kiran Nalaar, which is a very powerful card. Chandra's parents may be legendary, but drawing multiples is still good, and I'm not particularly concerned about getting Nalaar-flooded.

Besides the Nalaars, red adds a bunch of burn spells, which give the deck more reach and more ways to interact with opposing creatures. This ensures you have something to do when you are drawing two cards per turn off Thopter Spy Network, and certainly makes the deck more powerful overall.

This is another reason I wanted to try red. Thopter Engineer not only gives you multiple bodies for three mana, it makes all your artifacts hasty. That's a pretty cool way to save a mana with Hangarback Walker, as it can now activate immediately, and it's a great way to pressure the opponent when you play the Nalaars on turn four. You get a lot of attacking Thopters for not much of a cost.


I hope you've enjoyed my exploration of different blue engines this week (all of which draw cards, coincidentally enough). I would love it if a deck similar to these ended up being great, and I think the potential is definitely there. It's hard to argue with Siege Rhino, as that card is so powerful that it means you don't need to bother with synergy, but I'm holding out hope that a synergy deck ends up being good enough.

LSV



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