Greetings fellow mages! The Pro Tour's all wrapped up, and boy did a Merfolk Wizard make some waves.
If you haven't heard, Mono-Blue Devotion had a mirror match in the finals of the Pro Tour, with another copy of the deck placing in the Top 4 from our very own Sam Black. Twelve out of a possible sixteen Master of Waves were in the Top 4 of the Pro Tour.
If you happened to have surfed around my articles the last couple of weeks, you might have seen me talking about how awesome Master of Waves is, and I even provided a theoretical U/B Master of Waves deck for everyone's consideration. It seems that everyone preferred a much more aggressive version with Judge's Familiar and Cloudfin Raptor, but now that the bag's out, what can we expect things to look like?
Let's go back to last week before all of our minds were blown with how well Team StarCityGames.com did at the Pro Tour.
I had been helping BBD, JVL, and the semi-abbreviated GerryT prepare for Dublin. BBD and JVL were set on the Junk list they ended up playing, and I thought the deck was awesome and planned on playing it in the SCG Classic Series in Raleigh the same weekend as the Pro Tour.
Then Kenny Castor told me about his mono-blue deck and how he had broken the format.
We had no prior knowledge of any of the mono-blue decks at the Pro Tour, and Kenny's initial build of the deck that I had seen him streaming with on Magic Online was much more aggressive with Cloudfin Raptor and Galerider Sliver. He didn't like the aggressive elements of the deck since Master of Waves lets us turn the corner at any point we want to and just kill our opponents. However, he did (much like everyone else who played with the cards) find out that Thassa, God the Sea is very powerful and wins a lot of games all by herself and there isn't much your opponents can do about it.
Ultimately, Kenny swapped out some of the aggressive elements and chose a bit more of a control/combo approach with Claustrophobia and Jace, Architect of Thought to push our devotion to the max and take advantage of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. He had Nightveil Specter in the main, but after playing with it online, he decided that it needed to be in the sideboard. Now that the mirror will be super prevalent, we definitely want them back in the maindeck.
This deck takes maximum advantage of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, and boy is that card absurd. It's because of this that I played a slightly different list from Kenny. I didn't want Quicken since it's only being used here as a one-mana draw one to try to smooth out our draws, and I played a few singletons instead with Rapid Hybridization, Opportunity, and Prognostic Sphinx. The Rapid Hybridization and the Opportunity were awesome. The Sphinx was cute, but it's not where we want to be.
I also played an Encroaching Wastes over one of the Islands, which ended up being very good over the course of the day, hitting Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in the mirror and Mutavault out of the control decks. In the Nykthos mirror, pushing the mana advantage you get is important since their Nykthos can let them catch up very quickly.
As was apparent in the finals of Pro Tour Theros, the mirror match all comes down to two cards, Master of Waves and Nightveil Specter, both of which match up poorly with a key card we decided to play in our maindeck with more in the sideboard.
Besides the obvious stealing of cards like Boros Reckoner and Loxodon Smiter, Domestication can also take Nightveil Specter while building your devotion, which is super powerful in the mirror. Domestication also does a number on Master of Waves. I get plus three Devotion, give all my tokens +1/+1, and kill all of yours? Don't mind if I do!
By playing Jace, Architect of Thought instead of Bident of Thassa and opting to not run the aggressive one-drops, we were slightly better against the Supreme Verdict decks while still keeping our matchups versus the green decks very good.
Unfortunately, out of the eight rounds in Raleigh, I played against Supreme Verdict decks five times and could only best them three of the five. Getting to sideboard in upwards of eleven cards against a deck sounds kinda awesome, but that's a lot of game 1s with many dead cards.
The night before the tournament I had an idea from my U/B Master of Waves list—I wanted to find some way to play Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver in the deck since it seemed like it would be absurd in the mirror, very good against the Supreme Verdict decks, and still pretty good against the green decks. Ultimately, I decided to not change the deck the night before and had my idea proven to me in the tournament when I lost to an Esper player who played Ashiok on turn 3 both games and felt like I could not win at all.
I'm going to be working on a blue devotion list using Master of Waves this week, and that's the thought process I want to go over now with everyone.
We want to keep the core of the deck together.
These are the cards that provide all of the synergy and raw power of the deck. From here we obviously want to add in Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, which takes up another four slots. Now we have 27 cards, and with 25 lands that leaves us with eight more cards to add.
We initially had Dissolve in the deck since we weren't planning on tapping out all the time with just Thassa, God of the Sea as our aggressive three-drop, but with Nightveil Specter back in the deck I don't think we want Dissolve in the main. Kenny's main argument for having them in the first place was for the Rakdos's Return decks, but I don't think those type of decks are very well positioned right now, so we can move Dissolve solely to the sideboard.
I think that we still want Jace, Architect of Thought because it's such a huge beating against control decks and the mirror and is still awesome against the beatdown decks too.
Cyclonic Rift also deserves consideration since we are still on Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, which makes overloading Cyclonic Rift a real game plan against just about every deck. I also like how Rift plays into the game plan of taking some early damage to advance our devotion and then taking over with Nykthos.
Lastly, we have to decide how many black sources we want to play and if Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver is going to be the only black card in the deck. I know that I don't want to play any other black cards in the maindeck, but we might want something in the sideboard. Thoughtseize is very good at combating opposing Ashioks, Detention Spheres, Supreme Verdicts, and Sphinx's Revelations. It can also be proactive against Garruk, Caller of Beasts from Makihito Mihara's G/R deck. Warped Physique is an answer for Master of Waves and Nightveil Specter and can also hit Stormbreath Dragon, Ember Swallower, and if we're lucky Desecration Demon.
Let's see where we are now.
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Tidebinder Mage
4 Nightveil Specter
4 Thassa, God of the Sea
4 Master of Waves
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
2 Cyclonic Rift
4 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Watery Grave
I think this is a good start and where I'll be putting the majority of my effort testing this week (possibly on stream even).
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver is extremely powerful against this deck, and it isn't really because of any one specific thing. Ashiok comes down early enough that we might not have the ability to pressure it enough before it can take over. Being able to take something like a Frostburn Weird to protect itself is awesome, but it can also take Thassa, God of the Sea.
Yep, that's right. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver gets to take our girl and use her against us.
The devotion mechanic only checks while it is on the battlefield. Anywhere else all of the Gods are actual creature cards. On the stack, in your deck, in play, and while exiled by Ashiok, they are good old country indestructible value providers.
This isn't even taking into account that Ashiok can take Nightveil Specter and Master of Waves too. Oh, and it can also give our control opponents an Identity Crisis they will never forget if they let Ashiok do its thing for too long.
I know that Esper Master Shaheen Soorani vehemently stated that Ashiok is bad, and I agree. In a control shell, it probably isn't where you want to be, but we're surfing the waves and hanging out with the God of the Sea herself!
I am really excited to try out Ashiok in this Master of Waves deck. I think that I have a good start on the sideboard, but it is definitely a work in progress. There are a lot of cards that I want, and we just need to figure out the right configuration.
I'll be working this week on my stream to try to figure out what the best sideboard configuration is and if this idea is even good—but I have a feeling that it is.
I really feel like the mirror is going to come down to Nightveil Specter and Master of Waves advantage, and Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Domestication fight that war very well and both have their uses in other matchups.
If you're interested in this deck, make sure you check out my stream so that we can chat about the card choices and see how the deck actually does since I will be playing it this week—possibly even with Kenny as a special guest!
Recently, I've been playing with Ross Merriam's W/R Aggro deck online, and I think that it might be positioned fairly well right now. With a lot of the decks focusing so much on exploiting the devotion mechanic, Brave the Elements becomes even more powerful than it already is.
- 4 Banisher Priest
- 4 Daring Skyjek
- 4 Dryad Militant
- 3 Imposing Sovereign
- 4 Judge's Familiar
- 3 Precinct Captain
- 4 Soldier of the Pantheon
The only change that I would consider making is playing some number of Last Breaths in the sideboard as an answer to Nightveil Specter, Master of Waves, and Frostburn Weird since those are the best cards against us from Mono-Blue Devotion.
Thanks for stopping by this week, and a huge shout-out to those of you who stopped by on my stream last weekend and told me about how much you made off your Master of Waves since I was advising people last Tuesday and Wednesday that I thought the card had potential and was underpriced.
I guess Mark Nestico was right and my grip on them coattails was tight!