I think I’ve figured out why I can’t play mono-blue.
Start here: What is mono-blue good at? Blue is by far the king of counterspells, so there’s that. Card draw is also heaviest in blue. Blue also has a lot of other library manipulation, mostly based around artifacts or instants or sorceries. Beyond that, blue tends to be really good at copy and steal effects, and it has a lot of bounce as its default mode of removal. And of course, blue has a lot of extra turns, and cards that combo nicely.
What this means is that the “typical” mono-blue EDH deck runs a heavy permission suite, backed up with a combo finish. The obvious template for this is to run Azami as your general, and the combo win usually involves Mind Over Matter,
, and some Eldrazis to deck everyone. The other boilerplate mono-blue is Arcum Daggson, which is usually more of an artifact prison style thing.
As you can probably guess, I have absolutely no interest in running either of those types of things. I detest combos in EDH, although I actually detest them less than I detest lockdown style decks that drag the game on until eventually everyone just scoops in order to reclaim their lives.
My solution to this was to build mono-blue Ixidor, which could probably make it pretty far in a tournament of the worst EDH decks ever built by people who have access to good cards. The entire point of mono-blue Morphs was to trick people into throwing removal at my creatures, only to find out that they had just wasted their removal on crap. Unfortunately, since every creature in the deck was crap, there was no way to put any pressure on with an army of 2/2 creatures with no abilities, so no one ever threw any removal at them. They just played an irrelevant 3/3, and all of a sudden they basically had Moat in play.
Also, since most of the morphs actually got smaller when I morphed them up, there was no reason to ever morph them, which meant there was no reason to ever play them, which means there was absolutely no possible reason to play the deck ever.
So anyways, I’ve been toying with putting a mono-blue thing back together, and I decided to spend some time working on it this afternoon as I was watching Boogie Nights for the eight or ninth time. And here’s what I figured out:
Blue needs an Indrik Stomphowler.
Is Stopmphowler a staple of your meta? It sure is in ours. The thing about Stomphowler is that he’s awesome because he’s super easy to cast, he’s a 4/4 for 5, and he has a super relevant ability which ALWAYS gets good value. Stomphowler is technically a utility creature, but he also makes a decent beater. I think of think as a “utility-beater.”
Now, I don’t mean blue needs an actual Indrik Stomphowler. What I really mean is that blue is substantially lacking in utility creatures that are at all useful on offense. The closest parallel to Stomphowler is probably something like Mulldrifter, which costs the same thing and has a similarly relevant ability. However, where Stomphowler often gets turned sideways and gets you value, Mulldrifter typically gets pushed in front of some dragon the turn after it gets played.
And this is where I get stuck with building mono-blue, because if you refuse to build combo or prison decks you are left with the situation where you have to win through attacking. To be fair, this is completely self-inflicted, and nothing makes me quite as happy as turning guys sideways, so this is not a huge problem most of the time. However, I am acutely aware of the fact that I have a handful of decks that JUST SUCK at going aggro, and some times these decks find themselves in the situation where they really really really NEED to go aggro, and they can’t do it, and that is profoundly exasperating.
I’m now trying to figure out how to play something mono-blue that has decent utility-beaters that are relevant. I understand that blue has a bunch of four power flyers for five (Air Elemental, Serra Sphinx, Air Servant, etc) but none of them do much more than fly and beat for four, which makes them pretty unexciting. Blue also has a bunch of super powerful things in this range (hey, Consecrated Sphinx!), but the real value of utility-beaters is that no one will ever throw removal at them under normal circumstances, and boy does Constipated Sphinx fail in that department.
Again, this is where I’m stuck. Blue has been on the receiving end of some nice top-end fatties recently (Hey, Stormtide Leviathan!), so filling out the beaters section of my theoretical mono-blue thing is relatively easy; it’s that in-between part that I’m stuck on. One approach is to try to leverage support from enchantments like Gravitational Shift or Favorable Winds, although I worry that Favorable Winds is pretty terrible and Gravitational Shift seems like a serious peacock. I suppose I could overload on Clone effects, as blue has lots of those in the four and five slot, but that theme is done to death.
(Random aside: Another semi-terrible idea I had was to build around Blind Seer, as he seems appropriately rubbish and obscure.
(No really…I’ll wait here while you look him up.)
The idea of that particular pile would be to leverage every possible thing like Douse (of which there is Douse and, um, Douse), and then sit there turtling and countering everything relevant for only four mana. This awful thing could also run Training Grounds and an entire suite of crappy things like Sphinx of Magosi to madly peacock itself to death. Sadly, this atrocity was quietly taken out behind the toolshed and shot when I discovered I don’t own a foil Blind Seer, and SCG is thankfully sold out of them. If someone wants to send me a foil Blind Seer, however, it will be on like Donkey Kong.)
So can I build a mono-blue aggro deck? You tell me! This is where I shamelessly solicit help from y’all.
Mr. P’s Mono-Blue Project
My first current idea is Sun Quan, as he seems effective (if not particularly interesting). Sun Quan could make my team more unblockable than they already are, and I could load up on big dumb guys and attack a lot. Fascinating. This seems pretty un-compelling, but I could be wrong.
Another route that seems worth exploring is something based around blue’s theoretical appreciation for artifice, as expressed through endless blue artifact tutors and stuff of that nature. Grand Architect is a card I appreciate, and there are some very interesting options in the world of mono-blue artifacts. Sadly, the two “artifacts matter” generals that really jump out are Arcum Daggson and Memnarch, neither of which offer much hope for selling the tale that you are just playing an aggro deck.
Finally, blue has a whole bunch of stuff that plays with creature types. A few years ago, a player showed up at Worlds Apart with a Mistform Ultimus deck that ran a whole suite of “creature type matters” cards as well as a bunch of things that played nicely with various creature types. As much as I am loathe to build my version of someone else’s deck, this would be sufficiently weird that I might be willing to make an exception.
So here’s where I ask y’all to help me decide! Please help me build a mono-blue aggro-ish thing by answering the following prompts:
-Who should I build around? (The obvious choices are Sun Quan, some artifact dude, or Mistform Ultimus, but feel free to talk me into building Meloku, or whoever.)
-What should the focus of the deck be?
-What are your suggestions for utility-beaters? Where is my blue Indrik Stomphowler?
-Is it even possible to build mono-blue aggro in the first place?
Please help poor old Mr. P! In return, I will build this pile and play it, and write up fascinating and mostly true stories about the experience. It will be just like Cass’s Xiahou-Dun experiment from last year, except I will actually build and play the thing 😛
Thanks for your help!
Mr. P is known throughout the world for his selection of fine cheeses.