Welcome back to another Standard Issue! This week I wanted to examine the Mono Blue Artifact deck that seemed to finally get all the pieces to truly shine. The deck has shown it’s face in the metagame a few times over the past few weeks and has always been a strategy that’s had been of interest to me. First with Dominaria the deck got Mox Amber as a 0 mana artifact that was needed to replace Bonesaw and the deck also got Karn, Scion of Urza which gave the deck another form of card advantage and can produce huge threats with the critical mass of artifacts already in the deck. With the introduction of M19 to the Standard format a few new dimensions have been added to the deck in the form of Sai, Master Thopterist and Tezzeret, Artifice Master. These cards allow the deck to attack on a different axis using card advantage and creating blockers in the form of thopters. All these cards allow the deck to not be so all in on the Aetherflux Reservoir plan but still synergizes with the strategy.
Here is a recent list that took 1st at a SCG IQ in Lexington on July 15:
Mono Blue Reservoir by Sean Evans
This list is a departure from a lot of the lists that have been popping up lately and from the recent list that took 4th in Polish Nationals. With the release of Sai, Master Thopterist this deck started to really show up and Sai was generally a 3 of in all main decks with an extra in the sideboard. This recent deck decided to switch around the typical main and sideboard configuration. Instead of playing Sai in the main deck there are 3 in the sideboard and 0 copies in the main. Instead they decided to play the Planeswalkers that are usually found in the sideboard in the main. This deck has taken on a mid-range feeling with these walkers in the main and an extra copy of Baral’s Expertise. I think that the Inspiring Vantages are suppose to be Inspiring Statuarys.
This is one of the first appearances of Tezzeret I have really seen in this archetype and for me it was auto include but many decks have just stuck with 3 Karn in the sideboard. These Planeswalkers help to smooth out the deck allowing you to play more lands and then draw more cards to help mitigate flooding out. Commonly these deck would have a very low land count since flooding out was a huge problem with the deck so people played less lands resulting in mana screw. Now you can play a healthy number of lands and then have multiple forms of card advantage to help you find action later in the game.
Another thing to not is by having Sai in the sideboard you turn off a lot of your opponent’s removal in game 1 and they are likely to board some amount of removal out in post boarded games making Sai possibly a little better in those situations.
The question is what is the right configuration and that seems to still be being tweaked and figured out. Sai, Master Thopterist can present a real problem for the opponent and then you just combo off while distracting them with 1/1s. Planeswalkers in the main deck also add a huge power boost to the deck that it was definitely lacking and being able to compete in the mid-game and present serious threats to your opponent while also setting up a combo in the background seems like a winning strategy and I would be interested to try this configuration.
A card I haven’t been seeing much of lately is Reverse Engineer which was once a staple in this deck that you could often cast on turn 2. The deck in Warsaw was using Anticipate which I am not a huge fan of but the IQ deck played the full playset of Glint-Nest Crane when many decks are only playing 2. This is basically an Anticipate on a 1/3 flyer for this archetype. Sure you can’t grab your walkers with the crane but having that body for only 2 mana and usually replacing itself I think is worth playing the full 4 Cranes before playing Anticipate. Not to mention the crane digs you an extra card.
I’d be interested in trying a different configuration of Baral, Chief of Compliance with Tezzeret, Artifice Master and Mox Amber to enable the ramping effect of Mox Amber allowing you to play Tezzeret as early as turn 3. With Sai, Master Thopterist you can also ramp in to Tezzeret a turn early.With Inspiring Statuary you can enable some pretty explosive plays as well. Karn, Scion of Urza can be cast with only artifacts off of Statuary which can be huge setting up the possibility to cast both Planeswalkers on turn 4.
This all makes me wonder if the deck would be better suited to playing more of these planeswalkers in the main deck and let their synergy play off each other and use Mox Amber to ramp into them quickly to establish board dominance early. The main plan of the deck becomes attacking with huge artifact creatures or swarming with thopters. Here are some changes that I would be interested to try:
Mono Blue Artifacts by Dylan Tracy
This configuration focuses on drawing your planeswalkers more often and uses Baral to help ramp you with Mox Amber and reduces the cost of your Rebukes and Outcomes. I think this version allows you to play your walkers early and protect them with counter spells and artifact creeatures they create. The deck is by no means perfect but it is a very interesting strategy and one I have enjoyed watching develop over the past standard format it’s just unfortunate we will lose pieces like Aetherflux Reservoir with rotation but I think the interaction with Karn and Tezzeret is something to be on the look out for as we head into rotation and are given a whole new set of tools to work with in the archetype that I suspect will continue to receive support.
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