Hopelessly Devoted to Blue

Feature Article from Melissa DeTora
Melissa DeTora
11/20/2013 10:56:00 AM
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I have been getting a lot of requests asking for my updates to the Mono Blue Devotion deck I played at Pro Tour Theros. With GP Albuquerque coming up this weekend, I figured now is as good a time as any to write an article about it.

I am pretty much in love with Mono Blue. The deck can be very powerful at times and can just win out of nowhere simply by turning on Thassa, God of the Sea or topdecking a Master of Waves or a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. When players think of "Mono Blue," control is the first thing that comes to their mind, but this deck is very far from a control deck. It is actually a beatdown deck at its finest and wants to win the game by killing the opponent as quickly as possible. Here is the deck I played at Pro Tour Theros:

Monoblue Devotion by Melissa DeTora
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Cloudfin Raptor
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Judge's Familiar
4 Master of Waves
4 Nightveil Specter
2 Omenspeaker
4 Tidebinder Mage
Creatures [26]
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
Planeswalkers [2]
1 Bident of Thassa
2 Cyclonic Rift
1 Rapid Hybridization
4 Thassa, God of the Sea
Spells [8]
21 Island (234)
3 Mutavault
Lands [24]
Deck Total [60]


2 Aetherling
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Mutavault
3 Negate
1 Pithing Needle
2 Ratchet Bomb
1 Triton Tactics
3 Wall of Frost
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


Looking at this early version on Mono Blue, it's pretty obvious that we made some poor decisions in our deckbuilding. The strangest choice about this decklist is the lack of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. We did not include it in our decklist because we felt that it was a "win more" card. If you have a high devotion count, that would mean that you have a lot of creatures in play and it is very unlikely that you need lots of mana from the Shrine. After playing a bunch of games with Nykthos, I discovered that we were very wrong.

In most games, Nykthos is just a much worst Island, but there are times where Nykthos can do so much more. The most obvious use of the mana is to make all of your creatures unblockable with Thassa. Another thing it's good for is to cast an overloaded Cyclonic Rift much earlier than turn seven. The most interesting thing about Nykthos, however, is the fact that it can make non-blue mana to cast spells that you reveal off of Nightveil Specter. While our deck contains only Islands, we actually have other colored permanents in our deck as well. Nykthos can produce white mana with a Judge's Familiar in play, red with Frostburn Weird and black with Nightveil Specter. I have cast plenty of Hero's Downfalls that I flipped off of my opponent's deck and it has been awesome every time.

The next card I'd like to discuss is Omenspeaker. Omenspeaker was a fine card at the Pro Tour. It was good at blocking small creatures such as Burning Tree Emissary and Rakdos Cackler, and its Enters the Battlefield ability helped us find things we needed against other decks. However, with the rise of Esper and Mono Black, Omenspeaker has become very underwhelming. A 1/3 body is pretty terrible against decks that play Supreme Verdict and it doesn't add very much to our devotion count. He just had to go.

Here is my updated decklist:

Monoblue Devotion Update by Melissa DeTora
Main Deck
Sideboard
4 Cloudfin Raptor
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Judge's Familiar
4 Master of Waves
4 Nightveil Specter
4 Tidebinder Mage
Creatures [24]
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
Planeswalkers [2]
2 Bident of Thassa
2 Cyclonic Rift
1 Rapid Hybridization
4 Thassa, God of the Sea
Spells [9]
20 Island (234)
3 Mutavault
2 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
Lands [25]
Deck Total [60]


1 Claustrophobia
2 Domestication
3 Gainsay
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Jace, Memory Adept
2 Mizzium Skin
1 Mutavault
1 Negate
1 Rapid Hybridization
Sideboard [15]





Click for full deck stats & notes!


If you read my article from right after the Pro Tour Theros (http://magic.tcgplayer.com/db/article.asp?ID=11438), you would have known that I wasn't the biggest fan of Bident of Thassa. The main reason for that was, just like with Nykthos, it was mostly a "win more" card. This deck is all about board presence. If you have a commanding board presence over your opponent, you really don't need to play a four mana artifact that draws you more cards. This is especially true against decks that are trying to do similar things as you, such as RG devotion, Mono Red, and GW Aggro. However, when you are playing against a deck that is actively trying to kill your stuff and keep your devotion count low, Bident becomes not only very good, but actually one of the most important cards in the deck.

Bident of Thassa serves two purposes in this deck. The most obvious one is to be a Coastal Piracy. You play creatures on turns one, two, and three, follow it up with a Bident, and draw lots of cards. This is the best way to continue applying pressure to your opponent. You will always have backup threats to cast once your original onslaught has been dealt with.

The second use of Bident is to act as a permanent that adds two to your devotion count. Bident is a non-creature permanent and is much harder to deal with than creatures. If you have a Bident and a Thassa in play, you only need one more permanent with UU in its casting cost to activate your Thassa. Jace, Architect of Thought is very similar to Bident in this way. It can just sit there and add UU to your devotion count, all while drawing cards in the meantime.

Matchups

The best thing about Mono Blue is that is has excellent matchups against creature decks. I wouldn't go as far as saying that they are byes, but most decks just have a really hard time dealing with an indestructible 5/5 and a Master of Waves. While the creatures in the deck look bad, they do a pretty good job of holding the ground against opposing aggro decks.

I'm not going to do a sideboarding guide because sideboarding should really be done on a case-by case basis. You may want different sideboard cards based on specific cards your opponent is playing, but also based on how your opponent is playing. If your opponent plays very conservatively, you may want different cards than if he is playing aggressively.

Instead, here is a matchup guide that will tell you what the key cards are in each matchup and how the games should play out.

Mono Red

Mono Red is an excellent matchup. The most important card in this matchup is Master of Waves. The thing to remember about playing this card is that you should not wait to play it in order to get more value. Mono Red is just way too fast and you really can't afford to wait. I have seen many players make the mistake of not playing the Master on turn four because they want to add more creatures to their board in order to make more tokens next turn. I don't recommend that at all. Even a Master for one is worth it if it allows you to trade with more than one of their creatures. I like to think of Master of Waves as a one-sided Supreme Verdict for your opponent.

One thing to be aware of is Skullcrack out of Mono Red's sideboard. Usually when we think of Skullcrack, we mostly think of the "can't gain life" part, but the "damage can't be prevented" is very relevant against mono blue. The protection from red from Master of Waves means that any red damage dealt to it will be prevented, but if they cast a Skullcrack, the pro red won't do very much. Keep in mind that Skullcrack won't mean that the Master of Waves can become targeted by red spells. It only stops the damage prevention.

Green Based Aggro

This is another great matchup for Mono Blue. Their best card against us is Polukranos and in order to beat this deck you must play around the monstrous ability. Either a Rapid Hybridization or a Cyclonic Rift in response to the activation will buy you enough tempo to establish a winning board presence. Another card you must watch out for is Mizzium Mortars. We had Triton Tactics as a way to combat that card at the Pro Tour, but it was just too narrow and not good enough. I usually bring in one Negate if I think they have Mortars, but the best way to play around it is to simply not overextend into it.

Tidebinder Mage will do a lot of work against their creatures and Thassa is really hard for them to deal with outside of Selesnya Charm. Overall, green based creature decks are usually the decks you want to be playing against every round.

Esper

Esper is by far the hardest matchup for Mono Blue. They have so many problem cards for us such as Supreme Verdict, Hero's Downfall, Detention Sphere, and Sphinx's Revelation. The key to winning this matchup is to keep a very fast hand and always apply pressure. The problem with that is you will usually be sideboarding out a lot of your one drops after the first game, making your deck much less capable of getting those explosive starts. Cloudfin Raptor seems good because it can grow to be a 3/4 or bigger, but it is actually a trap. You need to overextend for it to be good, and you never want to do that against Esper. Not to mention that an Azorious Charm will reset the Cloudfin Raptor and playing a 0/1 creature in the mid game is the last thing you want to do. Judge's Familiar is equally bad, but it's a necessary evil because it makes the Esper player play much differently. They have to wait a turn to cast Thoughtseize, Azorious Charm, or Hero's Downfall, and their Sphinx's Revelations will be slightly weaker. However, the card by itself is just a 1/1 flyer, and becomes very bad very quickly. Not to mention that if your opponent has a Jace, Architect of Thought in play, the card just does stone nothing.

Card advantage is crucial in this matchup and that's why we have both Jaces after sideboard. Supreme Verdict will immediately put you behind, and Jace will help you catch back up. Once you are in control of the game and using Jace every turn, having counters such as Gainsay and Negate will help you seal the deal.

Mono Black

The mono black matchup is similar to Esper in the sense that card advantage is important, but the matchup is much easier because they don't play Supreme Verdict but rather rely on spot removal such as Doom Blade and Hero's Downfall. Like the Esper matchup, you need to keep a very aggressive hand and apply constant pressure. If you are always pressuring them, they will always be forced to react and not be able to cast cards such as Whip of Erebos or Underworld Connections. Mizzium Skin is our most important sideboard card because it acts as a huge tempo gain by countering a removal spell for only one mana.

The Mirror

We all know that mirror matches are pretty random but I feel that the Mono Blue mirror is much more random than most mirrors in Standard right now. The key cards in the matchup are Nightveil Specter and Master of Waves. It's very important to not only keep hands with some number of those cards, but also have answers to them, such as Domestication or Gainsay. Winning the die roll is very important, but that is of course not in our control. If you lose the die roll, you will become the control player and your Gainsays become your best cards.

I swear by this deck and will more than likely play it at GP Albuquerque this weekend. It feels great to play and I really like the matchups. I am always a huge advocator of playing what you are comfortable with, and Mono Blue is definitely the deck for me.

A word on the Magic Community

At GP Washington DC 2010, there were a number of incidents of theft among the Magic community. My friend Patrick Crane had his entire backpack stolen which included most of his Magic collection and a Standard deck that belonged to one of his friends. He spent his entire time in DC in a police station and didn't even play Magic that weekend. Unfortunately, his time in the police station did nothing because he never got his stuff back. It was truly a miserable experience for everyone involved and I was really disappointed in the Magic Community that weekend.

Flash forward to Grand Prix Washington DC which just took place last week. I ran into my friend Danny Batterman and he was lending cards to pretty much everyone there. With the cost of Legacy cards these days, I'm not sure how he could do it, and I have a lot of respect for him for being able to do that. Later that night, I was surprised to see the following post on Facebook.

(Names have been blocked out)


Well, one of the nicest guys at the entire GP just got his binder stolen. I felt really bad for him. This is the exact reason why I only bring the bare minimum to every GP I attend. Things like this happen, and it's really terrible. I really wanted to help him out and give him some cards, but being a Magic player for sixteen years, I know that cards are more than just cards and they do have sentimental value to some people. Donating money or cards won't bring back what he lost.

I was simply amazed at how positive Danny was throughout all of this. If this happened to me, I'm not sure what I would have done. I mean, I wouldn't have quit Magic, but I probably would stay away from big events for a while.

A few hours later, this happened:


Danny's binder was turned in! I couldn't believe it. I would have never even thought that was possible back in 2010. The Magic community has come a long way over the years and everyone really cares about each other. I truly believe that the average player would turn in a binder, a deck, or an expensive card to lost and found if they were given the chance.

Magic is a game that we all play but many players fail to realize that it is actually so much more than a game. I have been involved in this community for a long time and while there have been ups and downs, overall the Magic community is awesome. I have made many close friends through Magic and there isn't much I wouldn't do for them. I want to thank you guys for being awesome!

This weekend I will be at Grand Prix Albuquerque and I am really looking forward to playing Standard but more importantly seeing my friends.

Thanks for reading guys!

Melissa DeTora

@AllWeDoIsWinMTG on twitter
www.facebook.com/melissa.detora on Facebook




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