By Mark Mahler

mahler, mark - headshot

 

People love to hate on the mono-blue player and not without good reason. I have four mono-blue decks myself, but even I cast the stinkeye upon anyone who saunters up to a table and drops down ninety-nine cards with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir at the helm.

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We all know it’s no accident they chose that color for the box

With the advent of the new monochromatic Commander product this year, I thought it would a good time to share some decidedly non-dickish things you can do to offset the straight up prejudice that’ll be leveled at you by sitting down with the one color that we’ve all hated on at some point.

Now, I’m not going to go so far as telling you to completely rebuild your sapphire shenanigans deck, but if your playgroup has started to audibly groan and roll their eyes every time you whip it out, you might want to consider replacing a few key hate cards with these arguably less powerful–yet also less douchey–alternatives.

 

If your playgroup hates: Consecrated Sphinx, try swapping it out for: Military Intelligence, Compulsion

I just finished taking this guy (?) out of all of my decks, and I haven’t missed him since. Yup, drawing extra cards is awesome, but drawing extra hate isn’t. We all like to draw cards, but these enchantments are a much less obvious target for your opponents’ ire and they can lead to plenty of card advantage in their own right, as well. The first one also rewards you for turning your dudes sideways.

Bonus: Psychic Possession can be fun to play in its own right, but especially against the person playing Consecrated Sphinx, just to see how greedy they can get. You also do pretty well in that deal.

 

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I think I liked this spell better when I thought this guy just had two freakishly long and sparkly fingernails.

 

If your playgroup hates: Counterspell, try swapping it out for: Voidmage Husher, Trickbind

Nobody likes getting their spells countered, but I’ve never seen anyone lose their shit over getting their activated or triggered abilities countered. To put it in a less delicate metaphor, if your constant counterspells make folks want to shiv you on your way out to the parking lot, countering abilities might only make them want to spit on you instead. Progress!

Bonus: try giving Veiled Sentry a go in one of your normal counterspell slots, too. I like what I call “consequence” cards instead of “permission” cards (which are what a lot of Commander players hate about control decks in general and mono-blue in particular), and if nothing else it will force your opponents to play around it just to avoid giving you a huge fatty. This card plus a Leyline of Anticipation or a Vedalken Orrery can make a really sweet deterrent for the guy who’s constantly ramping out for Genesis Wave, too.

 

If your playgroup hates: Deadeye Navigator, try swapping it out for: Nephalia Smuggler, Day of the Dragons

The smuggler is the easy one-for-one swap to dial down the dickishness of your deck, but if you have a way to bounce permanents (and who are we kidding? You’re playing mono-blue) then who wouldn’t want to get repeated ETB triggers and 5/5 Dragons? In blue, no less. What more do you people want?

 

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“If you play that two-card combo again, I swear I’ll slap that spark right out of you”

 

If your playgroup hates: Mind Over Matter, try swapping it out for: Opposition

The imminent Barrin/Urza slap-fight of Opposition is much less abusable than Temple Bell’s favorite enchantment, but it’s stock has certainly risen since “Inspired” became a keyword.

 

If your playgroup hates: Time Warp, try swapping it out for: Brine Elemental

Don’t hate on the water crucifix—this card has done some major work for me in a lot of games. The effect is a pseudo-time warp, but it costs a lot and it takes a lot of work to flip this bad boy over again. Remember that Morph isn’t an activated ability, so your opponents can’t even counter it (although they can counter the triggered ability from Brine Elemental, so make sure your opponents aren’t also reading my advice about swapping out counterspells above).

Side note: if you play this with Vesuvan Shapeshifter, your playgroup will go right back to hating you again.

 

If your playgroup hates: Capsize, try swapping it out for: Reality Acid, Pendrell Flux, Vanishing

Permanents are called that for a reason, so I suppose it’s natural that Magic players would hate popular cards that flip that term on its head. Your opponents don’t want those cards back in their hands. That’s why they played them in the first place. When you shrug and say, “Well, you can always cast it again,” those really are daggers you feel shooting out of their eyes, and perhaps even out of their hands if you go hog wild with the buyback on this card.

Instead, try letting their permanents stretch their legs for a little while with one of these enchantments. Yes, you’re basically just lulling them into a false sense of security until you destroy them utterly, but they don’t know that (yet). If Capsize is the crazy ex-spouse who kidnaps your kids, think of these alternatives as the amicable divorce settlement that at least lets you see them on weekends.

 

If your playgroup hates: Cyclonic Rift, try swapping it out for: Ixidron

Sure, Ol’ Ixy only hits creatures, but it’s still plenty hilarious to turn an Eldrazi or a Blightsteel Colossus into a 2/2 vanilla creature. And as far as the social contract goes, “hilarious” beats “rage-inducing” any day of the week.

And, last but not least…

Before you cast this spell, ask yourself this question: Do I hate everything that’s good and wholesome in this world? If you answered “yes,” go ahead and cast it, you monster

Before you cast this spell, ask yourself this question: Do I hate everything that’s good and wholesome in this world? If you answered “yes,” go ahead and cast it, you monster

 

If your playgroup hates: Stasis, try swapping it out for: not playing Stasis.

Seriously, don’t play this card. You’re making the rest of us blue players look bad. Just stop it already.

 

If any you folks have your own suggestions for taking the bullsh*t out of mono-blue, I’d love to see them in the comments below, or you can email me at mahlerma@gmail.com. Thanks for taking to time to read this article. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what Wizards pulls together for the blue Commander deck this fall.

Something tells me that Stasis won’t make the cut.