Magic: The Gathering EDH Insights #01 : Mono Blue & You
Hey guys, first post here on Steemit and before I start diabolic tutoring you guys, I'd like to take some time to introduce myself a little. I started this account to write about Magic: The Gathering related content in hopes that it'll help contribute to the growing MTG community, particularly in the formats of EDH & Modern (which I will occasionally give me two-cents on), otherwise I'll be mostly posting a series of MTG related content (OG Deck Brew coming your way!). As an EDH player, I'm very fond of mono-colored decks in particular and I enjoy working in a limited design space which I believe helps spark creativity. So big heads up for some of you people out there trying to get their mono-decks to work! Without further ado, I'll begin with this week's EDH Insight.
Prepare to have your minds unbounded, or maybe not
Mono-Blue has traditionally been a very strong color in EDH due it's consistency with draws (Knowledge is Power!) ,having access to the counterspells to solving problems, clones effects, gain control effects, extra turns and it's strong affinity with artifact related interactions. Some of the limitations of this color include not being able to actually cleanly deal with a permanent on board other than returning it back to it's owner's hand and that's a problem that usually sticks out when you're being pummeled to oblivion by your opponent's creatures. On the bright side of things, returning stuff back to hand plays around death triggered effects and indestructibility, albeit only for a turn. I'll be mostly going through strategies related to Combo & Control for blue decks as it is often the strategies that this color strives in.
Choosing Your Poison
Yes. the magical grotesque-looking swan illusion thing
Picking the right combo composition for your deck is incredibly important as it may not synergies with some of the other cards in your deck. The combo you've picked should be relatively easy to assemble in terms of being able to tutor pieces of it. For instance in blue, you have access to to artifact, sorcery and instant tutors which would make sense to have combos that include cards of those types. Commander related combos is particularly strong due to the fact, one piece of the combo is already in the command zone. I won't be delving into combos related to them (eg. Chain Veil + Teferi, Temporal Archmage), but I will focus more on the generic ones that people often slot into their Mono-Blue decks. Also if you require more clarification on how the interactions work, just drop a comment below!
Magical Land Untapping Drake? Flying-Bird Thingos?
Taking the classic Peregrine Drake + Deadeye Navigator combo for instance, it makes infinite mana and allows you to infinitely flicker a creature. Sounds great but there's no good way to tutor it out in Mono Blue, nor is there a reliable way to recur them from the graveyard other than shuffling your graveyard back into your deck or running Body Doubler. This combo shines better in decks with a strong Enter-the-Battlefield theme or access to creature tutors like those in Green. On the other hand Palinchron is somewhat similar to a Peregrine Drake except it has a built-in Deadeye Navigator effect for himself to make infinite mana but no infinite flickers unlike the previous one. The only condition to this combo is to simply have 7 lands that can produce at least 12 mana, 4 of which has to be blue. This condition is often fairly achievable as most casual Mono Blue decks often run mana doubling artifacts like Caged's Sun or Extraplanar Lens if you have Snow-Covered Islands and almost every Mono-Blue should run High-Tide as it's too good to exclude. If you're running a Simic color deck then this would be the perfect combo as you have access to creature tutors and Green has a plenty of mana doubling enchantments.
The One Scepter to Rule Them All
All the degeneracy contained within a single scepter
Isochron Scepter and Dramatical Reversal being one of the most dominant and easy to assemble combos in Mono blue, due to both pieces being tutor-able in Mono-Blue and only requiring you to have mana rocks that produces a total of 3 mana (If any one of those mana sources is colored then the combo produces infinite mana of those colors otherwise it's usually only colorless) . It's the simplest and easiest combo to assemble and it's something most Mono-Blue control decks opt for. As a control deck in EDH, you want have an achievable win-condition after successfully averting threats and surviving from your three other opponents (or more). Another thing to mention about this combo is that it allows you to infinitely untap your nonland permanents at instant speed which also means you're able to tap your Sensei's Divining Top to draw, and with the ability on the stack, untap it with Isochron and tap it again to draw. Essentially, you'll draw your entire deck which should include an actual form of win-con (a topic I'll get to afterwards). On a fun note, it does allow you to do some silly interactions with nonland permanents with tapped abilities like Crystal Shard to infinitely bounce something; when paired with Vendilion Clique (as your commander maybe hehe) means you can sculpt your hand and sculpt your opponent's hand anyway you want. (Also note, your opponents still can respond with an instant anytime during the process but if you have a Venser, Shaper Savant, then that won't be an issue) As always, your deck should always support the combo you're trying to win with, therefore in the case of Iso-Rev, running cards like Merchant Scroll, Muddle the Mixture and Fabricate will helps improve your consistency in assembling them.
The One Rings to— I mean Monoliths are all the Rage
The loop in the rings would ring a bell, wouldn't it?
Other than those mentioned, there's also the classic Rings of Brighthearth and Basalt Monolith and the powered cousin of that being Power Artifact (Reserved List!) + Basalt Monolith/Grim Monolith. These are often the additional combos that alot of Mono-Blue decks like to include as it doesn't take up much slot and the other piece also being a mana rock is gravy as well as being easily tutor-able with artifact tutors (with the exception of Power Artifact, you need to transmute your Muddle the Mixture or use Long-Term Plans for that). Also, a good rule of thumb to remember before attempting the Rings + Monolith is if your Monolith is untapped, then you only need 2 available mana to start the combo otherwise you need a total of 5 to start the combo (3 to untap then paying 2 to the Ring's trigger). Ultimately, these two combos produces infinite colorless mana which doesn't always mean you've won since you might need colored mana to cast your other spells unless you happen to run Walking Balista (a tutor-able mana sink). Rings+Monolith being super easy to slot into most of your Mono-Blue decks as well as Power Artifact (unless constrained with budget).
Other Notable Combos
Paradox Engine being one of the most disgusting artifacts that has graced the realms of EDH is small wonder why many have advocated for it being banned. But till that day, keep on un-tapping away. Within the context of Mono-blue, it does fit snuggly into Commanders like Azami and Arcanis and notably it also goes infinite with Strionic Resonator once you cast something to start the trigger. Paradox is most certainly strong but keep in mind it does require some way to draw into fuel to keep casting spells and untapping for mana. But still, it's easily slotted into most Mono-Blue decks due to only having to occupy one space and readily combo-able with your mana rocks. Another notable combo is Archaeomancer + Riptide Laboratory + Time Warp provided you have sufficient mana to loop the chain. The pieces are cards often included into a few Good-Stuff decks as they are... as the name suggests, very good in general. But never go out of your way to include a combo unless it synergies with the overall composition of the deck. Future Sight + Sensei's Divining Top + (any artifact cost reduction effect) eg. Cloud key, lets you draw your entire deck, somewhat subpar but sometimes it catches people off guard if you happen to have the pieces in your deck.
Sink or Swim friends, sometimes having infinite colorless or colored mana doesn't mean anything unless you got something to do with it. Here are some suggestions of mana sinks that work well on their own
Blue Sun's Zenith - A no brainer and often people's go to strategy for decking people. The downside is it cost triple blue so it might prove problematic if you don't have enough blue mana. The alternative is Stroke of Genius but this often only kills one player unless you have ways to recur it back to hand and Snapcaster Mage for the last player. Upside is it only cost 1 blue.
Laboratory Manic - The classic "You win the game" alternative win-con, often included for combos that draw your entire deck, only issue is it's completely useless on it's own (unless maybe you absolutely need a blocker and you have other win-cons). You still need someway to deck yourself out with this on board though.
Walking Balista - Have a loaded gun ready in Mono-Blue to ping those pesky dorks like Priest of Titania. Overall a very decent card and works with infinite colorless mana. Not to mention, tutor-able by artifact and creature tutors.
Dimensional Infiltrator - This one is will surprise your opponents. Opponent casts a Mystical Tutor? Flash this in and exile whatever they tutored for. Also with infinite colorless, you can exile your opponent's libraries!
I've probably missed a few things but feel free to point that out to me in the comments. Making the right card choices often comes down to what type of Commander and deck you're playing but it's often good to think about how those choices synergies with other cards you've chosen. I haven't mentioned this, but meta is a very important factor to consider when deciding which combos or card choices to include. (Eg. Flusterstorm is subpar in a creature heavy meta)
Jamming in combos without properly building around it is a recipe for inconsistency, especially for a Combo-Control Mono-Blue deck. I'm a pretty Spikey-Johnny player so I tend to value interactions in EDH that perform well and consistency.
Here's a link to my current Mono-Blue list that I'm currently casually playing in my meta. It's somewhat powered but it's not tuned for competitive play. If you're interested in the list and want some suggestion for replacement, also feel free to comment below.
Thanks for taking the time to check my article. Hope I helped enlightened some of you for your next EDH project or improve your pre-existing brews.
Note: All images portraying cards are owned by Wizards of the Coast.