Setting a Higher Standard #1: Mono Blue Tempo

Today’s article is going to be the first in a series of deck tech style articles focused on primary components of the Standard Metagame. I’m going to go through these decks at a high level, discuss some key decisions and interactions that I’ve observed in my experience, and I hope you leave this page feeling a bit more informed about one of the keystone decks in the current standard metagame.

I have been playing something similar to Gabriel Nassif’s GP Lille list, with the Warkite Marauder slots initially being Nightveil Sprites (Warkite Marauder is great, do not consider the sprites for a second) with the following exceptions in the sideboard:

My sideboard has -1 Warkite Marauder +1 Entrancing Melody

The goal with this 75 is to establish an early creature and ideally card draw engine and slowly build the game around ensuring our creatures are continuing to attack until the opponent is dead right before they have a chance to establish any presence in the game.

This deck holds an interesting corner of the metagame. While I don’t believe this is the “best” deck in the format, I do feel that you are advantaged in the Jeskai and Drake matchups, and take a beating in the Golgari and Mono Red matchups, and a playable (read can’t be worse than 40%) Boros Matchup (while I do need to playtest this matchup, it seems the counter package and inevitability of Djinn gives you an edge.) This deck is also very affordable, coming in a chunk under $100. Keep in mind the accessibility of the deck also increases the chances of played rates vs win rate statistics being skewed.

This is important to keep in mind as you track standard decks’ playability and winability, as you are more likely to see sub-optimal plays in large, average size playing pools (the 10-0 list from the Pro Tour found here is proof Boros didn’t kill this deck – Chainwhirlers aren’t around to steal our tempo!!

Mist-Cloaked Herald

Siren Stormtamer

This is the core of your deck. You’re opening hand functionality is based on whether on not you have one of these creatures to play, and how it shapes your Turn 2, which is where you need to first be establishing some sort of advantage in the form of tempo by playing a card and doing some sort of “thing” (drawing, countering, developing.)

Do not be afraid to put Curious Obsession on the Stormtamer. This deck completely changes faces without the card draw engine of the Obsession, and you need to be willing to disable your Stormtamer, risk the 2 for 1, and rely on your Spell Pierces and counters to keep you through. With Stormtamer turning on Wizards Retort for UU, and Spell Pierce still around, AND other Stormtamers, the odds are in your favor you will be able to keep the 2/2 flying Combination of Coolest Creature Types Ever- Hollow Mine alive and in production.

Tempest Djinn

Did ya’ll know this guy has 4 toughness? It’s very good in a world of Lightning Strike, and while Lava Coil exists, you now have the luxury of playing around the removal at sorcery speed. And when you’re playing a deck with lower powered cards for flexibility, being able to know you are free on your turn from the coil stopping Djinn can provide you the lethal opportunity you need to close your game.

Merfolk Trickster

Speaking of playing around sorcery speed spells, this card demands respect. While normal operating procedure will be to stop an attack or move a flying blocker preventing our Obsession from getting through, this card is also the body with flash opportunity this deck relies on to actually kill the opponent in a timely fashion before the underpowered cards are overwhelmed. While I would be wary of tapping out to develop this, leaving a Spell Pierce or Retort up to “sneak” this in is a play to be wary of, particularly if this 75 is across from you at the playing table.

Wizard’s Retort

This is the card that Jeskai wishes they could play. You have eight wizards, and this card is still Cancel on it’s worst board state. You will be using this for keeping big creatures away from the board, and if they want to use their spot removal against our smaller creatures, we have our cleanest and simplest “tempo” card of the deck:

Dive Down

This at one mana, asides from Shock, means you are earning a man advantage every time you use it to stop a spot removal spell. Cast down, Seal Away, Justice Strike, Vraska’s Contempt, Conclave Tribunal, Baffling End all net you the tempo advantage your deck relies on. The earlier you make this play, the earlier this deck wins.

Thanks for taking the time to hear me out about my thoughts on this Standard deck, and I hope you came away feeling a little more aware of what this deck and it’s players are up to. I look forward to seeing you at the PPTQ at Enclave games, and as many Standard Showdowns and FNM’s as I can get to 😀

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