(Note: This may seem as an article about Pauper, but really it is an article about Magic. Please consider sticking through even if you don’t play Pauper yourself.)
What have I been up to recently? At the end of January I had to move, then I played a good amount of Magic in the first week of February, switching between Bogles and Elves in Pauper. I must say that I did not like either deck as much as I did in the previous months.
In the second week of the month, the Legacy Challenge took place on Magic Online. I knew I was gonna play Canadian Threshold in the tournament and decided that while I wasn’t gonna play with the same deck right before the tournament, I wanted to play something similar. So I went back to Mono Blue Delver in Pauper, digging up a list from recent league 5-0’s. pistillone had a good run with the deck, so I copied his list:
If you bothered to check the original list, you will see that I did not adjust the Daze / Deprive / Logic Knot split. This was simply an oversight on my part, but I 5-0’d my first two leagues with the deck anyway, so I decided 4 Daze was good.
I also gave the list to @TogoresTCG because he had a Pauper tournament to play in. He won the tournament despite the fact that I forgot to give him boarding plans, which he asked for. However, Rodrigo pointed out that there was no reason to play Prodigal Sorcerer over Thornwind Faeries, so that change was made. Sorry, Tim!
After taking a short break from playing after the Legacy Challenge, I got back into the fray with Mono Blue and I ended up changing a few more things about the list and I have to say this is one of my favourite decks to play in a long time:
Today, I want to talk about why I like the deck so much. I won’t get into the specifics of the list, that’s for another day — anyone interested in watching me play the deck? The following attributes are things I am going to look for in decks for all formats in the future.
#124 — This deck has amazing mana.
Of course it’s easy to look at the list and say “well, it’s all basics, of course the mana isn’t terrible!”, but that’s only half of the picture. This is still a deck that wants to make six land drops in the first eight turns of the game, but it manages to do so quite consistently despite running only 17 lands.
This deck’s mana base isn’t “17 Islands”. The manabase also includes 4 Ponder, 4 Preordain, 4 Faerie Miscreant, 3 Ninja of the Deep Hours and 3 Think Twice. When you throw all of these together, you end up with a deck that can keep one-landers, manages to hit a lot land drops on curve anyway, but somehow also doesn’t have issues with flooding out.
The only deck I can think of that has a similarly strong manabase is Miracles in Legacy, and look how good that is.
I have always been meticulous about my mana bases, but usually only took into consideration that I want to hit certain mana requirements on curve reliably. In hindsight, I never looked at alleviating flood as much as I should have.
#125 — Interaction is king.
One thing I’ve been disliking about Legacy Storm more and more in recent months has been the inability to interact well with certain types of cards — Show and Tell strategies are much better at this thanks to the ability to run Force of Will, which is the main reason I think they’re in a higher tier than Storm right now.
Similarly to my Legacy Delver decks, Mono Blue runs a lot of countermagic. Cheap countermagic is generally the most flexible form of interaction, allowing you to deal with almost anything that gets thrown at you.
What makes interacting so important is that you get to draw out games — you deny your opponents early / easy kills — so you get to draw into your proactive cards or more interaction to prevent your opponent from winning.
This, combined with Mono Blue’s good mana, means that I’m almost never “not in the game”. A powerful deck that allows me to Play Magic in the vast majority of my games? Sign me up!
#126 — Mono Blue is as flexible as it gets.
This isn’t something particularly new to the decks I tend to enjoy — my Storm lists always had a longer game in mind in addition to access to a good “goldfish” mode; Canadian Threshold can pull off aggressive draws so reliably that some flat out consider it an aggro deck; 4C Delver during the Dig Through Time era had great Delver + Deathrite draws alongside amazing late-game potential with several card advantage engines; Mono Black in Standard could Thoughtseize -> Pack Rat people but also curve discard into removal into Underworld Connections and overwhelm the opponent with card advantage.
Not only is it hard to play against these decks because their plans can be almost polar opposites (do I have Delvers, Dazes and Bonesplitter or do I have Sprites, Ninjas and Counterspells?), it’s also extremely hard to prepare against them.
I have mentioned numerous times how much I dislike that Miracles gets to play Monastery Mentor. This is mainly because Mentor is such a powerful card that has almost nothing to do with the rest of the deck’s strategy, while still working perfectly with all the other cards. Because of how different it is from everything else the deck does, it is also very costly to run specific answers to Mentor. Depending on their deck, your opponent might be forced into running cards that are completely useless when you don’t draw Mentor.
Delver of Secrets does a similar thing. Loading up on removal is certainly not as costly against Mono Blue as it is against Miracles, but it can still backfire. Drawing a bunch of one-for-one removal spells isn’t the greatest when the Mono Blue player gets a free card from each of their creatures.
#126 — I enjoy playing a game of marginal profits.
Speaking of free cards, I’ve always had a soft spot for Spellstutter Sprite — UBr Tempo Faeries was my first (Legacy) deck, after all! Each of the creatures in this deck does something that almost challenges you to try and build on it.
You just dealt three damage with a Delver? How far can you push this, how do you use your cards to get extra attacks in? You got a free 1/1? Maybe hand it an axe! You return a creature to your hand? How can you get extra value from that?
This isn’t groundbreaking, but I’m having a blast with this deck, and that certainly counts for something, right?
Thanks for reading!