This entry is part 10 of 26 in the series Staple Remover

Posted by Chris-B
email – olwhiskeyboots@gmail.com
Twitter – @0hn0s3


One of the bigger challenges I can think of in EDH deck building is crafting a mono blue list that your opponents won’t hate.  Blue happens to be my favorite of the five, but I’m always cautious when using it in casual formats.  This color is most pleased with itself when your opponents are rolling around helplessly, unable to function.  Sometimes the urge to sculpt something mega-powerful is hard enough to reign in when blue is just one of the colors in a deck, never mind being THE color.  I’ve attempted and failed to make a fun mono blue commander deck in the past.  This week I will take a look at some ideas to break away from some of the common pitfalls of a mono blue commander deck.  Is it possible to tame the beast?

What makes a mono blue deck hard to design for casual play?  Take a look at blue’s strengths:

1. Permission: Counter magic and stack interaction

2. Theft: Control magic

3. Time Travel: Extra turns and tap/untap effects

5. Knowledge: Card draw and efficient card advantage are the most important upper hands you can gain

6. Cloning: Clones and copy effects

Add to this list the fact that blue gets the strongest tuck effects, and has the most potent interactions with artifacts (artifacts don’t have their own history of brokenness at all).  Sure blue gets to manipulate space-time, gain vast knowledge and clone anything else, but hey, white gets soldiers and Castle, so that’s fair right?  It’s the color people love to hate, but does it have a more friendly side?

You can see where the allure stealing all of your opponents things, and then copying those things and then taking extra turns so you can use all of those things is pretty hard to resist.  Resist we must!  Can we build a deck that doesn’t degenerate into counter spells and tap/untap abuse or infinite turns?  Is there a deck out there that won’t just be an orgy of counter spells and Control Magic?  I don’t know!  I failed miserably with a Sakashima the Imposter deck, but I’m going to do my best to learn from my past mistakes.

One of the higher hurdles we have to bound over in this challenge is the fact that a lot of blue generals are dicks.  I could sit here and write an article about how to make an Arcum deck that isn’t abusive and everyone loves, but in practice it probably wouldn’t work.  It would draw heaps of hate before you even played your first land.  The first step is going to be to select a blue general that can fly under the radar.  Also, it has to lend itself to a strategy that doesn’t play to all of blue’s strengths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calamari anyone?  There are a few different directions we could go with Lorthos.  We could create a mono blue ramp deck that drops big ol leviathans and sea monsters into play as it’s finisher.  We could go sea lore tribal with serpents, pirates and treasure.  Either way if you are playing Lorthos, you are going to want some ramp.  How is blue going to possibly ramp?

Dreamscape Artist – Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, its a blue spellshaper that can cast a green spell over and over.  Every card in your hand is now Harrow

Apprentice Wizard – This is still in blue’s part of the color pie right?  Right?

Sea Scryer – Not exactly Llanowar Elves, but it could be handy.

High Tide – The tide will get the job done.  [card]Jokulmorder[card] Incoming!  Lands out going…

All of the gauntlet type effects like Extraplanar Lens and Caged Sun help fuel our big blue ramp.

I’m sure not many people have a Candelabra of Tawnos sitting around, but we can still get a similar effect from Reality Spasm and Turnabout.

What types of big sea-beasts do we want to cast?  A lot of leviathans and krakens are god-awful, but there are some solid cards that stand out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While you are waiting to ramp into a giant deep sea creature, you could always have a sub theme of island walking creatures and ways to turn lands into islands.  It could give you some initial momentum before the big guys arrive.

With all of that mana we can draw plenty of cards off of something like Stroke of Genius or Blue Sun’s Zenith.  The main idea with this deck would be to break away from the traditional control/combo mode and ramp into some big creatures.  They don’t necessarily have to be Leviathans, you could always try a deck that ramps into big artifacts as well.  The framework would be fun to play around with.  There are some opportunities here to play around with sea themes.  If you are really daring you can dust off that old Island Fish Jasconius.  A big fish strategy probably isn’t going to mop the floor with everyone at your weekly commander playgroup, but it will certainly bring a unique flavor.  If we want to bump the power level up a little more with blue creatures there is always…

Speaking of creatures, I’m sure most readers are familiar with Talrand.  What I enjoy about the design of Talrand is the fact that you can still play a more traditional spell heavy blue deck, but actually win with a swarm of creatures.  It takes a resource blue normally has a lot of (instants/sorceries) and converts it into a resource blue is normally weaker in (creatures).  Also, if you play this guy as your general you are in the running for a VALUE award (a golden Consecrated Spinx statuette doing a line of coke off a Cabal Coffers).  Each time you cast a spell you are also getting a 2/2 flying dude.  In response to an attack you can fire off some spells and get some blockers to materialize out of no where.  You can still enjoy the instant speed tricks that blue offers, but your wincon can be drake tokens instead of an infinite combo.  There are some cards that interact well with Talrand including the new-ish mechanic Cipher.  Free spells and free drakes get the ol’ value machine cranking along toward victory.  Factor in some unblockability and cipher can really shine.  Just don’t play Trait Doctoring.  That card sucks.

 

 

Presenting a Talrand deck that should be fun without stifling to your opponents fun:

Creature [20]
1 Cursecatcher
1 Enclave Cryptologist
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Stonybrook Banneret
1 Grand Architect
1 Lullmage Mentor
1 Patron Wizard
1 Thada Adel, Acquisitor
1 Elite Arcanist
1 Merrow Harbinger
1 Talrand, Sky Summoner
1 Sakashima the Impostor
1 Azami, Lady of Scrolls
1 Empress Galina
1 Mulldrifter
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Deepchannel Mentor
1 Diluvian Primordial
1 Windreader Sphinx
1 Stormtide Leviathan

Instant [17]
1 Brainstorm
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Quicken
1 Counterspell
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Echoing Truth
1 Twincast
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
1 Dissipate
1 Hinder
1 Spell Crumple
1 Stroke of Genius
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Turnabout
1 Counterlash
1 Spelljack
1 Time Stop

Sorcery [16]
1 Ancestral Vision
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Hands of Binding
1 Hidden Strings
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Fabricate
1 Rite of Replication
1 Sleep
1 Talrand’s Invocation
1 Acquire
1 Bribery
1 Mind’s Desire
1 Recurring Insight
1 Spelltwine
1 Stolen Identity

Artifact [7]
1 Sol Ring
1 Isochron Scepter
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Whispersilk Cloak
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Caged Sun

Enchantment [2]
1 Favorable Winds
1 Spellweaver Volute

Land [37]
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
32 Island
1 Mutavault
1 Reliquary Tower
1 Remote Isle
1 Riptide Laboratory

Planeswalker [1]
1 Jace Beleren

The key to a Talrand build is to keep the power level of your spells in check.  If most spells we cast are netting us a 2/2 creature to boot, they don’t have to be as singularly powerful as in a traditional blue deck.  We can run effects like Brainstorm and Ponder to fish for more cards to create more and more drakes.  For this list there is also a wizard/merfolk sub theme to keep the party rolling along.  This list does run Mind’s Desire, but there are no components in place that try to build a huge storm count.  Later in the game you can probably get a decent count, but its not like we are going infinite.  The deck does run counter magic.  There aren’t enough counters in here to sit there all game stopping every semi-threat that pops up, but it should work well enough to keep board sweepers and token hate from ruining your day over and over.  Hmmm I can feel that blue allure.  Must build… mono blue… Stasis *slaps self in face* I mean Talrand, Sky Summoner

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