It's a good day to be a blue mage.
Hell, it's a good era to be a blue mage.
Hasn't it been a pretty good life to be a blue mage?
That's what I'm saying!
And it's not just the overabundance of cheap, quality counterspells, nor the excess of card draw options.
So, you're saying it's the Torrential Gearhulks?
Oh… um, that wasn't what I meant, but they certainly don't hurt.
See! Now, we're starting to get to the real heart of things: there are just so many good blue options, and Dominaria isn't exactly short on compelling blue options, either. And it's not just the level 1 stuff like Tempest Djinn.
It rewards you for being all-in, but it's not like it's an absolute essential pure devotion. You've still got to support triple blue on three, so you wouldn't want to play many, but it wouldn't be completely out of the question to play a few if you were really getting your money's worth.
However, that's only the beginning. By the time it attacks, it's hitting like an Air Elemental attacking two turns ahead of schedule. The following turn, it's likely hitting for five, and if you hit at least one more land drop in the next two turns, we're talking about a four-turn clock on its own!
That makes it akin to a flying Doran, the Siege Tower or a flying Woolly Thoctar, which is a helluva thing for a blue deck to get.
As if that wasn't enough, there's also all the times you draw it later in the game. We're talking about being able to rip 7/4 fliers off the top that even happen to be so cheap that you can effortlessly protect them with countermagic.
Into the Roil was dope, and Torrential Gearhulk doesn't hurt its case. Besides, when you've got such a fast, aggressive dimension, like the one Tempest Djinn affords you, a little tempo can go a long way. Besides, we may be playing mono-blue, but we're still interested in battlefield interaction if we can get it at a passable rate.
Two mana is basically always a really inflection point for interaction, but there are a couple specific cards that really add to this.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria looks excellent to me. There's no greater competition than with blue cards that cost five or more, but I'm fairly certain that Terferi gets there.
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets did alright for himself (oh, Jace, how far you've fallen…), and Teferi is substantially stronger.
+1: Draw a card. At the beginning of the next end step, untap two lands.
While Jace starts with an extra loyalty and basically gets to Opt, rather than draw a card, Teferi gives us two mana! Two mana?! That's like… well, that's amazing!
Remember this old chestnut? That top ability was great! Yes, Teferi doesn't give it to us until the end of the turn, but that works perfect with permission.
Besides, he also draws a card!
And, you never know...
Okay, what about the -3?
-3: Put target nonland permanent into its owner's library third from the top.
That's basically the same ability as Jace, except it puts it into their deck instead of their hand. That's a full extra card, plus one less threat to deal with next turn. That's also to say nothing of the possibility of milling 'em, or some other nonsense.
Okay, so both of Teferi's first two abilities are better than Jace's first two abilities. What about his ultimate?
He could literally have no ultimate and he'd be better.
Yeah, but what about his ultimate?!
-8: You get an emblem with "Whenever you draw a card, exile target permanent an opponent controls."
Jace's ultimate is okay, but Teferi has him beat here, too. Teferi's ultimate actually has a profound effect on the game, whether you're ahead or behind. This card seems fantastic.
Where to start?
Yeah, "Float, Teferi untap, Pull"... I see you...
There's a lot to like about U/W. I like Essence Scatter and Negate better than Syncopate, at least out the gate, as they combo better with Teferi's untap ability. I could easily see going the other way, though. I just think Censor still seems better, though (in a Teferi deck).
Seal Away costing two would already be a big deal, just because of how good of a removal spell it is for two in a color that doesn't get many good two-mana removal spells. Alongside Teferi, however, it provides a clean layer of protection the turn you drop Teferi, which is particularly nice against Glorybringer or Hazoret the Fervent.
Baneslayer Angel 2.0 is no joke, but there's still the question of what mix of removal opponents play. Transforming into a mix of Regal Caracal and Lyra really forks your opponents that will be anticipating transformation. They may have solid answers for one or the other, but how many pieces of interaction are good against both?
Of course, it's not like every removal spell in the world kills Lyra but can't hit your Planeswalkers.
I don't think there's anything wrong with maindecking a couple Lyras or a full playset; and if we did want to do something along those lines, maybe we'd start with something along the lines of:
Why no Karn?
Karn looks good to me, too, but I guess I'm not nearly as wildly hot on him as most, it would seem. Drawing cards is nice, but he's not exactly the greatest at protecting himself, and U/W has plenty of outright filthy card draw options.
The printing of Sulfur Falls and Clifftop Retreat really changes the manabase dynamics. Why "wedge" control decks were already possible, their manabases just got so much better (and that's to say nothing of Teferi untapping a land searched up from Evolving Wilds, or some such fanciness).
While Jeskai's mana got better, we didn't really gain all that much in the way of red cards we'd be in the market for. It'd be a different story if we dabbled in any of the Wizards' stuff, but if we're a purer control deck, I guess we get Shivan Fire.
Being able to go to the face isn't always that important for a control deck, but it's nice being able to hit Planeswalkers. Besides, I could imagine some control decks that would need to be able to stay more proactive. For instance:
"What is this madness?" you might be saying. Well, why not? I mean, think about it. It's not hard to draw an extra card a turn from this thing without even needing to invest mana. There are plenty of spells that let you adjust the top card of your deck, so seeing a land on top isn't game over (or turn over). What's more, you can get multiple extra cards per turn, and the extra advantages start to quickly snowball, and hard. If everything else fails, you can even exile the top card of your deck to get extra looks at something you can play.
I don't know if we need to be this dedicated to keeping the top of our deck playable (and fresh), but I like starting testing new engines pushing them a bit.
Fresh topdecks gone wild!
I know it doesn't go upstairs in the base case, and it's ultra expensive to kick, plus it's not even an instant; however, this card seems solid to me. It'll kind of depend on how much we need to be able to deal five, but if Lyra Dawnbringer really takes off, this card is going to be gold. Besides, having one in our deck makes it easier to burn someone all the way out, sending ten upstairs.
I'm not there yet, but I could imagine it.
There are so many directions we can take U/R, though. For instance, I'm not even sold on control, or the aggressive creature decks we've talked about in previous weeks. What about The Antiquities War?
We get an artifact impulse on the way in, and then another on the following turn? We could do worse.
" Artifacts you control become artifact creatures with base power and toughness 5/5 until end of turn."
Planeswalker ultimates are pretty intense when your opponent can't even hold it off with attacks (or Vraska's Contempts).
Somewhere, Michael Flores is dancing in the streets…
Good card, great source of lots of 5/5s.
Icy Manipulator's back and playable?
This is not a drill!
Repeat, this is not a drill!
This is a drill.
Getting back to big daddy, Teferi, what about some kind of superfriends action?
- 1 Ajani Unyielding
- 2 Dovin Baan
- 4 Gideon of the Trials
- 2 Karn, Scion of Urza
- 1 Nissa, Steward of Elements
- 2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Using your planeswalkers twice in a turn? It doesn't take many turns of that to completely take over a game.
Okay, I've gotta admit, that's just super sweet.
There's a lot of potential here, but my God, does this deck look slow. It's hard to defend yourself early without black or red. Are we supposed to be playing some two-cost mana creatures? I could even imagine looking at Llanowar Elves, but we'd have to rethink the manabase, looking at something with a few more ways to turn 1 it.
It's kind of interesting, the difference of Llanowar Elves in U/G or B/G, compared to R/G or G/W. It's also interesting, considering the difference of playing Llanowar Elves in Sultai, compared to any of the other three-color combinations.
Makes me wonder what we might do with a manabase fueled by this setup?
- 3 Champion of Wits
- 4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
- 2 Hostage Taker
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 2 Ravenous Chupacabra
- 4 Servant of the Conduit
- 2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
- 2 The Scarab God
Sultai Energy could definitely get into turn 2 Jadelight Rangers, and Champion of Wits works well with Llanowar Elves (both helping get to six to eternalize and being a way to convert Llanowar Elves into more impactful cards later).
It's not quite Oath of Nissa, but it's still got spots. Here, it's just so nice to be able to smooth out our mana without Attune with Aether being legal. Then we can usually get a quality threat out of it later (sort of Traverse the Ulvenwald-esque).
What does the future hold for Standard?
God, it feels good to be a blue mage!