Last week, the SCG Dallas Open showed us that Mono-Blue Aggro is a force to be reckoned with. Although Mono-Blue Aggro originated during Ixalan‘s release as a budget deck, it has come strength-to-strength with the addition of Pteramander and Essence Capture. This week, we delve into why Mono-Blue Aggro is one of the best decks in the format, what tools you can use to answer it, and how the Standard meta is shaping up for the upcoming Mythic Championship.
WHY IS MONO-BLUE GOOD?
Mono-Blue Aggro has become well-positioned as other decks in Standard fell into a midrange trap. Now that all ten shocklands are available, three-color midrange strategies are coming to the forefront, and Mono-Blue Aggro has all the right tools to stymie these decks in the early game. This means that decks like Sultai Midrange are often playing from behind against Mono-Blue and leaning hard on Wildgrowth Walker to recoup the life loss. Fortunately for Mono-Blue, Merfolk Trickster can nullify Wildgrowth Walker‘s ability and pave the way to victory.
Once an Ixalan Limited bomb, Entrancing Melody is now a Standard sideboard all-star. Despite the life-gain and cards drawn off the Krasis‘s cast trigger, the stats and evasion it presents do require a response. Since Krasis‘s converted mana cost is always two, you can take control of a giant one for just four mana. Plus, if there isn’t a Hydroid Krasis on the battlefield, Entrancing Melody can always take an opponent’s best creature and break problematic board stalls.
Mono-Blue Tempo by Robert Wagner, 1st Place @ SCG Dallas
4 Merfolk Trickster
3 Mist-Cloaked Herald
4 Siren Stormtamer
4 Tempest Djinn
1 Blink of an Eye
3 Chart a Course
4 Curious Obsession
2 Dive Down
1 Essence Capture
3 Spell Pierce
4 Wizard’s Retort
The Top 8 of SCG Dallas was varied, but notably, there were no copies of Mono-Red Aggro in the mix. Mono-Red Aggro’s absence from the top tables is another contributing factor to why Mono-Blue has pulled in results.
Mono-Blue Aggro has also surged in popularity due to its affordability. Coming in at an average price of $70 makes it an excellent choice for players wanting to enter the Standard format without a huge financial commitment. This extends to Magic Arena, too: the deck is mostly comprised of Commons and Uncommons, and it doesn’t require any rare lands.
Mono-Blue Aggro can be tricky to play, so we advise getting in as much practice as possible. At the same time, however, the deck will reward you for knowing the Standard format and for tight technical play. Like Bant Spirits in Modern, it’s a powerful, reactive deck with plenty of lines available; the most challenging match-up is the mirror.
HOW TO BEAT MONO-BLUE
So, how should we go about trying to beat this deck? There are plenty of tools you can add to existing decks to make this match-up more favorable. Here’s a quick breakdown by color.
Green: Kraul Harpooner
Sultai Midrange players can incorporate Kraul Harpooner as a means of early interaction. Harpooner also has reach, which is relevant given how many evasive creatures Mono-Blue Aggro has. It’s effectively a removal spell that isn’t affected by Spell Pierce, and it’s a decent late-game top-deck, as it can remove an adapted Pteramander or a large Tempest Djinn.
White: Race and Win in Combat
White-based Aggro decks offer a great match-up against Mono-Blue. Mono-Blue is can deal with one midrange threat at a time, but is ill-equipped to fight decks that can get on the board early. Mono-White and Azorius Aggro decks can push through early damage and follow it up with haymakers like Venerated Loxodon. For best results, try to set up combat steps where you can maximize Dauntless Bodyguard protection and/or Unbreakable Formation.
Other options: Citywide Bust
Red: Load up on Removal
Mono-Blue plays plenty of counterspells, so you may need to slog through a fair number in the early turns. However, many of their counters (Spell Pierce, Dive Down) only interact with non-creature spells, so Goblin Chainwhirler and Siege-Gang Commander really shine in the match-up. Fair warning: many Mono-Blue decks are starting to run Lookout’s Dispersal, so don’t be caught off-guard.
Black: Ravenous Chupacabra and Duress
Unconditional creature-based removal is a strong strategy against Mono-Blue. Black also has added flexibility in the form of Duress (or Thought Erasure, if you have the option). Duress is especially attractive because of its mana efficiency.
Blue: Use Counterspells Effectively
The mirror match is hard. Really, really hard. Being on the draw can make matters worse, so be sure to take advantage of the situations when you’re on the play. At the end of the day, practice and attention to detail are your surest routes to victory.
Other options: Faerie Duelist, splash for discard or creature based removal
Mono-Blue Aggro isn’t going anywhere, and it remains an extremely strong choice for upcoming tournaments. If you intend to pick up the deck, pay close attention to meta shifts and be prepared to “answer the answers” that pop up. Don’t be afraid to innovate, and do yourself a favor: Practice. The. Mirror.