10 Mar 2014

Magic - I'm Blue

Since I started playing Magic the Gathering in 1994, I was drawn to the colour Blue. Little young Dozer had just entered into highschool and over the PA system during the morning announcements at Colonel By High School a games club was announced.

Feedback by Wizards of the Coast
1994
I had few friends entering into highschool so I sought out those who played games. The club was formally run by a much older student named David Smith, who's younger brother Joe I would become friends with in my younger years of high school. Dave was the only member and he was in his final year of school. 

He brought over games of Battletech and Magic the Gathering. 

September of 1994 I bought my first starter deck of Magic and my first booster deck showed me a card that would result in my fealty to Blue.

Feedback. Cost of 2 colourless man and 1 blue mana.

Followed by Power Sink, Mana Drain, and Jump I was looking at a game where I was able to be a bit clever and I would be able to earn a win. 

I was not bringing down my opponent through fireballs, giant creatures, holy smiting or demonic gifts... I found weaknesses and through those discoveries, I used combinations of cards to earn a victory that was not shown. 

I felt like I was cheating at the game. I felt like I was using exceptions. 

I was made to feel smart and I could win. 

Today Blue is better explained. It's the colour of the adjustable elements and the colour of the mind. It's allied with Black and White on either side. Black makes Blue deceitful, manipulative, and secretive. With White, Blue becomes structured, thoughtful, and constructive. 

It's makes sense. 

Anytime I play a non-Blue deck it normally has one of the two allied colours. 

Right now I'm working on a mono Blue deck in the eyes of the Theros block. 

First off I need to look at how I'm going to win and how I will protect myself. First off being a mono-colour deck means that I only need one type of land - islands. So no mixing and land ratios to need to be worked out. Also some of the colourless mana options are viable. 

In the past colourless mana options have been a mixed blessing. You can draw 1 colourless mana or there is a neat ability that is another option. Now lands are hard to remove but you can only put out one at a time. So some of these abilities can be pretty good but you're weighing it against getting some coloured mana you may need. In a mono-coloured deck this is no longer a problem as long as I don't drown the deck on colourless lands. 

For example the card Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx is pretty handy. It came out in the Theros set so I know it will be legal for the next few years. Second the ability is awesome. Pay 2 colourless mana and tap the land to gain coloured mana equal to my devotion to that colour. A few creatures and some enchantments and vola, pay 2 and I can be reaching for blue mana in the double digits!

This is great to make sure I get those X mana spells like spell blast really fat in X amount of mana. 

Also with mono colour looking at some of the gods may be worth my time since they have a devotion cost that becomes much simpler if you're dedicated to one colour. Thassa, God of the Sea is the mono-coloured god for Blue. 

A 5/5 creature with indestructible is bloody good. I can only count Thassa as a creature if I have four more devotion to blue (when she comes into play, she is already sporting a blue devotion in her cost). She allows you to scry one card before you draw as upkeep happens before the draw phase. This is lovely for being able to cycle unwanted or unneeded cards out of the way for another chance a better card. 

Scry is a new ability in Theros and Blue has lots of cards that use Scry. Scry allows you to look at the number of cards equal to the value of the scry from the top of your deck. You then have the option of putting those same cards back or putting them at the bottom of your deck. 

Instant cycle of cards if you scry more than a few times with some different values. Makes getting to what you want a wee bit simpler. So I expect to be throwing down lots of Scry in this deck. 

Next up is picking my counter cards and if I'm going to counter heavy. Counterspells like... urm Cancel are staples in a Blue or mixed Blue deck. Countering is a great way to protect a Blue deck from the larger things that the rest of the colours have in their selection. Why fight Garruk's Horde, in all of its 7/7 Trample glory when simply preventing it from reaching the battlefield is much simpler. 

The down side with Blue counter decks is knowing when to counter and keeping back the mana at the end of your turn to be able to counter an opponent's spell. 

Early in the game, keeping back the mana to cast Dissolve, or putting out something else in your turn is a risk every Blue player has to make. If it pays off, it pays off in spades... if you're opponent wastes their turn for whatever reason, the opportunity to cast that something else was wasted and come the new turn a Blue player is still in the same boat as last turn. 

Also failing to counter a key spell will ruin a Blue player's day. Countering the wrong spell or deciding to let that spell pass for a better opportunity - that fails to show, it a slap in face. Blue has to be smart and play not only against their opponent's deck but also against their opponent themselves. 

I'm thinking with Annul, Stymied Hopes, and Thassa's Rebuff are just the best of a longer list of counter spells that really can punch into an opponent's strategy. I'm also thinking maybe one or two Traumatize (very well one of my favorite Blue cards of all time) can give me an mid-late game edge unless I'm lucky to be able to cast it early on. Ripping into an opponent's deck is off putting for them and can set the pace of the game in your favor. These will make up the counter/opponent deck control portion of my initial deck list. 

Creatures... Blue has an issue with creatures. They are weak or way too expensive for their stats. Now many of them fly and for some decks flying alone is a pain to deal with but still unless you're throwing down one of the larger Blue monsters like Kraken of the Straits which is costing a lovely 7 combined mana you're pin pricking your opponent. Mixed Blue deck lists tend to rely on the other colour for hitting power of creatures. Prognostic Sphinx is a good option in my current list. 

The extra scrying, the ability to protect it with on the fly Hexproof is pretty handy. Yet it's still lacking some heavy hitting with a 3/5. Good on the wall but crossing over into the assault it's just a hard to kill pin prick. 

I'm still looking at a few of the human wizards as extra hitters but their damage is weak. Unless I add some of the larger monsters, killing my opponent's creatures will be based off attack their deck instead of stepping up against their creatures head to head. 

Blue is not an easy colour to play and once I do finish my list, I'll need to play it and sort out the balance issues while cutting the fat from the deck. This is more important with Blue decks compared to others because Blue decks can use all the space of 60 cards and being able to quickly access that advantage in a efficient manner makes other players groan. 

I'll keep ya posted as things develop, Cheers.