A couple of days ago I took part in a THSx3 draft. Always fun. Not that I’ve had chance to do it very many times. Still… I enjoy Theros, so this was fun. Although I misread signals (or someone else was making the conclusions on my right, which lead me to falter a bit), I managed to go 2-1 with my blue-white deck of pretty eclectic good stuff. I did have two [card]Griptide[/card]s and two [card]Wingsteed Rider[/card]s. I didn’t have any [card]Journey’s End[/card]s, [card]Gods Willing[/card]s or other instant speed tricks to tricker my heroic guys. I also had only on Bestow-creature. It was a curious, but apparently fairly good, deck.
The highlight of the deck was the [card]Prognostic Sphinx[/card]. Granted, you can’t really rely on being able to pick it, because its a rare, but it was definitely good. I didn’t have too many answers in my deck, but if I had the Sphinx on my side, I could at least dig one up quickly. Going from Griptide to Griptide was easy and the Sphinx would just keep hitting at the same time. Makes me think if he’s usable in Standard…
I’ve seen him in some U/B-decks, especially one tested by PV on his channel on Channel Fireball. However, since I only play monocolored decks, I’m thinking about some sort of Big Blue. It probably isn’t that viable these days, but there are precedents:
[cardlist title=Big Blue by Erik Lauer (1997)]
4 Wall of Air
4 Ghost Ship
4 Mahamoti Djinn
4 Control Magic
4 Force of Will
4 Ancestral Memories
3 Sky Diamond
3 Fellwar Stone
4 Mishra’s Factory
4 Thawing Glaciers
3 Steal Artifact
2 Disrupting Scepter
2 Circle of Protection: Red
2 Brass Man
1 Hurkyl’s Recall
2 Political Trickery
Erik Lauer is now the head of development (don’t remember the exact title, but something like that) at WotC.
[Erik Lauer] advanced game knowledge just by being himself, by doing what he loved to do — seeing potential in places others don’t think to look. — Brian Schneider
So, we’re following pretty firmly in his footsteps (quite presumptious of me…), trying to come up with a deck no-one else is playing and using undervalued cards, such as our Sphinx. What we need is pretty much this: We need a few early blockers, we need control, we need card advantage and we need a few big hitters (like the Sphinxes and probably an [card]Aetherling[/card] or two).
Now, back in those days, spells were much stronger than creatures. These days the balance has shifted. This has cost blue the most, since it generally has the most expensive creatures and the most effective spells. Still, there are plenty of undervalued spells. Lauer had the best counterspells of all time to work with ([card]Counterspell[/card] and [card]Force of Will[/card]), while we have [card]Dissolve[/card] and [card]Syncopate[/card], among other, more sideboardish cards. Lauer also had much better acceleration than we have in colorless these days. Even the [card]Control Magic[/card] of old is much better than the [card]Domestication[/card] of today.
But on the other hand, blue has extended its reach into other areas. [card]Curse of the Swine[/card] gives it access to creature destruction in an unprecedented way. Can any other color do the same? Also, there’s [card]Cyclonic Rift[/card] which can wreck anyone’s board, if you manage to get enough mana to overload it.
So, I guess we’re playing Tap-Out Control, meaning we aren’t really interested in sitting back waiting for things to answer, but rather getting good blockers and big flyers onto the battlefield early on. Of course, we are still very vulnerable to [card]Supreme Verdict[/card] (which can’t be countered), but on the other hand, with enough scrying we can find the AEtherling we need to circumvent that, even if we only have a couple of them in the deck.
Early blockers should probably start with [card]Omenspeaker[/card]. With only two mana needed, they can come down quickly and scry is good. After that, [card]Nightveil Spectre[/card] is an excellent blocker, as well as an attacker after you’ve stabilized. Hopefully those are enough to stop the initial onslaught and then we can get into the second stage. After we get to the second stage, ie get a Sphinx online, we can get continuous advantage from the scry and we don’t need to keep mana open, because the Sphinx can take care of itself (as long as you have the cards).
In the spirit of testing out new things, I’m going to try [card]Thassa’s Emissary[/card]. Its not an obvious choice at isn’t very cheap. However, it does sit well in the curve and if you manage to keep the game going long enough, you can Bestow him. Its not an obvious choice, but I think Bestow is underrated. So far, I’ve only seen three Bestow creatures used in Standard (mostly [card]Boon Satyr[/card] of course, but also [card]Nighthowler[/card] and [card]Hopeful Eidolon[/card] in some rogue-ish decks). Maybe my use of Emissary can be a breakout moment for it (probably not).
So, here’s a list.
[cardlist title=Big Blue]
4 Nightveil Specter
3 Thassa’s Emissary
4 Prognostic Sphinx
4 Curse of the Swine
4 Cyclonic Rift
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Pithing Needle
4 Ratchet Bomb
3 Wall of Frost
[card]Mistcutter Hydra[/card] is so going to kick this decks ass. I’m not quite sure its going to work out otherwise either, but I’d like to try it. Maybe after Born of Gods in February, depending on what it has to offer.
This isn’t exactly budget, but I think you could build it for under 100 euros, if you really, really try. Mutavaults are a big obstacle. A playset is at least 60 euros. Otherwise, only Jace is expensive, everything else (even Aetherlings and Nightveil Spectres) are affordable.