I'm very happy with Mono-Blue Devotion, and I'd be happy to just record more of that every week. While I know some of you would be into that, I suspect it would get boring fast for most of my viewers. Fortunately, last weekend Ken Yukuhiro unveiled an awesome new deck, and as a huge fan of Hidden Strings, I had to take it for a spin and see how it plays.
- 4 Agent of the Fates
- 3 Artisan of Forms
- 2 Nivmagus Elemental
- 4 Pain Seer
- 4 Tormented Hero
- 4 Xathrid Necromancer
That first game was an impressive showing by my motley crew of cheap creatures that ended up killing the opponent remarkably quickly with minimal help. The second game showed the problem with this kind of deck—you need lands, creatures, and combo pieces. Sometimes you don't have part of that, and everything falls apart. The third game demonstrated just how thoroughly Agent of the Fates can dominate a creature deck if you can protect it. I'm genuinely afraid of what that guy could do to Mono-Blue Devotion.
Another moderately impressive showing by Artisan of Forms in the first game of this match. In the second game, the hand I accidentally kept paid off, but the hit I decided to take from Desecration Demon just put me too low for Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Still, I could have won if I'd just sacrificed both Pain Seer to Desecration Demon instead of sacrificing a Zombie, but I was (probably unnecessarily) afraid of Bile Blight. My draw was great in the third game, which led to what looked like a premature concession but may have actually been reasonable.
All the cheap interaction in this deck is just great in this matchup. Despite the fact that their deck is theoretically more powerful, sitting on an even board isn't necessarily bad—you get to build up synergies, and at some point a tempo blowout that swings the game becomes very likely. Agent of the Fates continued to impress, and I think I like the way I sideboarded this time more.
That matchup is brutal and demonstrates why this deck likely isn't "the next big thing." This is consistent with every Hidden Strings deck I've tried to build–they can never beat Supreme Verdict. Thoughtseize and Duress help a lot. I suspect I'd want more Thoughtseize rather than Duress in the sideboard now that R/W Burn should be on the decline thanks to Staff of the Death Magus, but it's possible that this matchup needs help enough that it's better to cut something else and keep Duress as well. I also wouldn't be surprised to see this deck move Thoughtseize to the main as other people pick it up.
Despite that hole, all in all I was pretty impressed with the power and consistency of the deck. The Xathrid Necromancer angle is great, especially with Artisan of Forms, and there are a ton of sweet little combos built into those spells.