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By: JXClaytor, Joshua Claytor
Oct 11 2018 11:00am
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Mono Blue used to be one of my most favorite archetypes to play in Magic.  When most people thing of Mono Blue in the card game they tend to think of what some might think of a miserable experience.  They have memories of Counterspell to cheaply answer their threats.  Accumulated Knowledge to refill their hand with even more countermagic and Morphling to slowly, but surely end the game.  It's not often that someone will hear Mono Blue and think of something like Merfolk, or even more rare, Flying Men and Unstable Mutation.  To be fair Blue is not really known as a color to attack with.  Sure every so often there will be an Illusions deck but most of the time if you're Mono Blue, you're in Merfolk, looking to Spreading Seas a land into an Island and swim past everything with Islandwalk thanks to a Master of the Pearl Trident or Lord of Atlantis.

Mono Blue does a number of things well.  It draws cards well. It counters spells incredibly well, even if the cost to counter went up to 1UU instead of UU.  It returns things to hands well. It does not really attack well, but when it does, it relies on creatures that either have flying or are unblockable. There was a Mono Blue Aggro list as recent as April that was on the very outside fringes of playabilty.  It relied way to much on Throne of the God-Pharaoh to be anymore than goofball deck, well that and the other aggressive options in the format made it appear to be too slow.  With the printing of Tempest Djinn in Dominaria, the deck had a small uptick in success, but still the format was just a bit to fast for it to keep up with.  With rotation however, the deck has seemed to see a real uptick in play.  A lot of the decks natural predators rotated out and most importantly the Standard format so far, seems to have slowed down.  Thanks to the lack of giant red creatures with Haste, games don't seem to be ending on turn four as often as they used to.

While the deck might miss out on a card like Slither Blade or Nimble Obstructionist, it was mostly rotation proof.  The deck got to keep the core intact.  Tempest Djinn is joined by Mist-Cloaked Herald and Siren Stormtamer but what makes this deck tick is not the small hard to deal with in combat creatures, but a rather innocent looking enchantment, Curious Obsession.  Calling back to Curiosity this enchantment from Rivals of Ixalan shows off a bit of power creep as well, since for the same mana cost and ability you also get a small power and toughness boost.  The downside is if you don't attack with a creature the enchantment goes away, but in this deck you're not going to be leaving creatures back to block often, and even more rare will be times that you don't enchant a creature with an evasion ability.


Make no mistake, this deck plays more closely to a Merfolk deck, even with the inclusion of 13 pieces of countermagic than it does a Mono Blue control deck.  The game plan is to get a cheap creature in to play, slap an enchantment on it, and through incrimental card advantage, provided by Curious Obsession or superior card filtering with Nightveil Sprite, protect our creatures long enough to establish a dominate board. When that is done, we look to protect our incredibly advantageous position with our cheap counter magic and close out the game quickly. 

Let's break the main deck down.

Creatures

2 Exclusion Mage:  Great tempo play that clears the way of a potential blocker or gives you a chance to deal with a problematic creature that resolved earlier.  Helps reduce the cost of Wizard's Retort which can make a turn a five play of casting this and countering the next thing your opponent plays a real great play.

4 Merfolk Trickster:  This card is super important in the mirror match.  You can cast it after attackers have been declared and suddenly that Mist-Cloaked Herald that was going to get in for a point of damage is getting blocked and dying!  Merfolk Trickster turns off a ton of widely played cards in the format and can make combat more favorable for you.  As a Wizard it gets along fine with Wizard's Retort as well.  Against control having a flash creature that can come in to play at the end of turn, and suit up with Curious Obsession to immediately start drawing cards is pretty nice as well.

4 Mist-Cloaked Herald:  Unblockable threat that gets rather curious.  It's in my opinion, the best target for the enchantment, sure we have a bunch of fliers, but those can be blocked, especially against the Boros Angel deck.  Having this creature, without what one would consider an impressive statline is a necessary evil, it applies pressure, comes in under counter magic, and really highlights what we want the deck to do.

2 Nightveil Sprite:  This 1/2 flying creature is not super impressive on its own, but having surveil makes this card a must play, and in reality, if I could make the room for the full set, I certainly would.  Being able to dump extra Islands off the top of is great, this rogue allows us to filter cards, helping us draw more threats to help overwhelm the opponent.

4 Siren Stormtamer:  A very important piece of counter magic in the deck, this card serves to save not only your team from targetted removal, but can also allow you to attack without fear of Settle the Wreckage.  I have seen to many people play with Siren Stormtamer that just do not use it correctly.  I have resolved far to many copies of Settle the Wreckage against players that control this, and it's not because they decide that they need more land (which is a perfectly fine play if you actually need the land).  Stormtamer is not an ideal target for Curious Obsession, because of the whole possible need to sacrifice it to counter something that could ruin your day.

4 Tempest Djinn:  The second best card in the deck behind the enchantment.  This card I feel allows Mono Blue Tempo to be an actual archetype and not just a fringe deck in the format.  For three mana we get a growing threat that can close out the game quickly.  Outside of a very select group of creatures, there is not much in Standard that can take this on and survive in combat.  Lyra Dawnbringer off the top of my head is one of the things that favorably trades with it.  Resplendent Angel with some open mana survives it as well.  Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice can attack in to the Djinn and kill it, but honestly, if you're blocking you're already losing!

2 Warkite Marauder:  This pirate is an aggressive two cost flyer that makes blocking hard.  If you have any of the creatures I mentioned above lined up against you, the Marauder makes it an 0/1 so that your air force can get through unscathed.

Spells

I've already sung the praises of Curious Obsession enough, I don't feel the need to give it anymore praise, it's ego might get inflated!  As for the rest of the spells in the deck we've got a one mana counter in Spell Pierce that is great at cheaply answering Settle the Wreckage, Vraska's Contempt or Cleansing Nova.  Wizard's Retort can cheaply deal with the stuff that Spell Pierce can't and Essence Scatter gives us a way to deal with potential blockers.  Dive Down acts as another piece of counter magic giving the targeted creature Hexproof if the need arises.  Finally Chart a Course refills our hand, giving us more threats and answers as the game goes on.

I won't go over the sideboard as I feel that while this list is good for the MTGO field, it may not be great for you local metagame if you are playing this offline.  I will say that Metamorphic Alteration is a card that you should consider.  It basically turns any of your other creatures into another copy of Tempest Djinn.  Sleep is great against creature heavy decks.  Diamond Mare makes a whole heck of sense against aggro as well, giving you a nice blocker and life whenever you cast a spell as well.

That's it for me this week!  With Standard so far being an incredible format, I hope it is easy for you to find a deck that you enjoy playing.  If you haven't done that yet, I hope you give Mono Blue Tempo a chance!

 

1 Comments

Nice article, interesting to by MichelleWong at Tue, 10/16/2018 - 08:32
MichelleWong's picture

Nice article, interesting to read.

I feel this deck would be great fun for a few leagues, then I am guessing it will become very irritating to pilot, mainly because it places so much emphasis on Curious Obsession. It's one of those decks that relies so heavily on a single card. Drawing a hand without Curious Obsession and just sitting there sighing as your opponent overwhelms your board and runs rings around your Djinn and your 1/1 and 1/2s, must get tiresome and this situation will occur so often.

Also, one of the worst feelings in Magic is the "There is stone-cold nothing that could turn the battle around for me now (even if I were granted a free Demonic Tutor every turn)". I think this feeling could come up as early as Turn 3 with this deck. (I realise that this could be said of many "front-foot" decks, however this deck takes it to another level).

Did you find this to be true in your experience?