Deck Tech: Mono-Blue Control with Caleb Durward
Caleb has played a variety of archetypes in our Legacy Opens over the years, and this week adds another to the list: Mono-Blue Control. Against a small field, Caleb's relying on the power of Islands in a big way.
Caleb fans a few of his all-stars.
In fact, Islands are a primary incentive to playing the archetype. “I think Back to Basics is really good against Maverick and RUG Delver—I feel really strongly advantaged when I resolve it,” he explained. “Running a ton of basic Islands makes me really resilient to Blood Moon and Wasteland as well.”
Another advantage is that counterspells are a good defense against, well, pretty much anything. “The deck is really resilient with a lot of countermagic, meaning you don't just lose to the unfair decks.” Picking up the slack where the counterspells left off, Caleb's creature control options are also very strong, including Vedalken Shackles—but Caleb has additional spice. “The deck got a lot better when I added Solemn and Wurmcoil,” he said. “Solemn is just a value card that makes Jace and Shackles a lot better.”
A few other tricks are Caleb's singleton mana boosters, Chrome Mox and City of Traitors. “They've been excellent,” he said. “I keep thinking about whether the miser's City or the miser's Chrome Mox or another card is better, but then I'll play a game where I draw one and no other card wins the game.” It happened enough that he couldn't bring himself to make the cut.
Caleb's sideboard features the newest graveyard hate in the format: Grafdigger's Cage. Caleb has liked the card in this archetype a great deal. “It has more uses. For example, if my opponent was playing Nic-Fit, Grafdigger's Cage shuts off most of the deck,” Caleb said. It's also excellent against Dredge when you're a blue deck! “They eventually have to deal with Grafdigger's Cage, which you can protect with countermagic.” Caleb has already used the Cage in a unique spot against a tough matchup. “Round 1, I was playing against High Tide and he had to stop mid-combo on one turn—he was relying on Snapcaster Mage on High Tide!”
Caleb's also got a Hydroblast for red, although he's not sure if it's necessary to play such a narrow spell. “David McDarby gave me the fear of the Mono Red deck,” he admitted. Caleb's already lost one match to an unexpected foe, but he's optimistic. “I lost to High Tide; I'm assuming he'll Top 8, as it's a small tournament with a ton of competent players and a lot of Belcher. If I make Top 8, I'm hoping he's on the other side of the bracket.”