October 26, 2015

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Introduction to EDH Part 3: Mono-Blue

Last week, I discussed how Black functions as an independent colour in the format, and what it's strengths and weaknesses were. This week, we're moving on to the most loved and hated colour in Magic, Blue.

Wisdom, Power of Will, and Arcane Manipulation

From a flavour perspective, here is what Blue likes to do. It has many finely tuned strengths, and as many staggering weaknesses. As a result, Blue can be one of the hardest colour to pilot on its own in EDH, but also one of the most rewarding.

The Power of the Mind

Blue is the only colour in Magic to have a truly unique (barring some bad spells from pre-Ice Age era) mechanic in Counterspells. Counter magic is incredibly strong and important in constructed formats like Standard and Modern, but takes a bit of a back seat in EDH. However, a couple of counters for the sake of self-preservation are always helpful. Blue's real advantage in the multiplayer-centric format is drawing massive amounts of cards and locking down the board.

A Small Bit of Weakness

While Blue's weaknesses aren't as back breaking as Black's, it does have quite a few more of them. Blue has absolutely no way to entirely deal with permanents. It can either return them to an opponent's hand or replace them with tokens. Blue is also relatively bad at combat, dealing direct damage, or recovering from either of those things. However, Blue's ability to manipulate the board state even against multiple opponents tends to outshine these weaknesses.

Blue Staples

There are two kinds of Blue staples, ones that people can afford, and ones that people can't. For the sake of this being an introductory article to the format, we're only going to go with the former.

1. Cyclonic Rift
Ever since this thing was printed I've witnessed it be an utter and complete powerhouse. It's not even a combo card or some expensive constructed staple. Just three dollars and you can save your skin many, MANY times.

2. Mystical Tutor
Everybody loves tutors, while Blue's main tutor is relatively weaker it still gets the job done. Nothing beats the fun of using Mystical Tutor to put a miracle spell like Temporal Mastery or Entreat the Angels on top of your library.

3. Phyrexian Metamorph/Clever Impersonator
Metamorph has been an EDH staple in pretty much any deck playing Islands since it was printed, but Impersonator has given it some hot competition for the past year or so. Both cards have relatively similar function, but Metamorph is easier to cast and tutor for, while Impersonator generally has more targets to copy.

What Does a Good Blue Deck Look Like?

Like Black, Blue's Commander 2014 deck provides an excellent example of how Mono-Blue tends to function in a multiplayer environment. So like last week, I'm using this deck as a baseline with a number of upgrades.

Whip up a Tsunami

This time, the general I'd choose to play is included in the deck. Lorthos, The Tidemaker is an absolute powerhouse, and while he is a bit on the costly side, Blue is excellent at using Artifacts to ramp him out.

Basic Game Plan

The game's main goal is to get out Lorthos as fast as possible, using all sorts of toys like Sol Ring, High Tide and Thran Dynamo. The deck maintains its lockdown strategy using other pieces like Tamiyo, the Moon Sage and Frost Titan to bog down opponents, and Cyclonic Rift when they get too far ahead. Besides that, there are other combos to be found with Deadeye Navigator and pretty much every other creature in the deck.

Possible Changes

It's difficult to improve from this base without tapping into super expensive cards, just because that's the nature of Blue. Even so, certain changes could always benefit the deck's build if you're trying to focus in a different direction. If you wanna go for a total lock, try using as many ways to replicate your commander's ability, such as using Voltaic Key or Filigree Sages to keep untapping the Strionic Resonator. Unlike Black, Blue is lacking in the versatility market, so it's up to your preference of actual strategy to see where you want to go.

Follow the Waves

Despite its general one trick pony style in this format, Blue can still be a lot of fun, and there are still a few ways to play around with the colour that I haven't gone into detail about here. So try out some stuff, have some fun, and tune in next week for your next colour guide.