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Blue
by Brian "Motumbo" Augustine

     Going back over the years, there is only one color that has truly stood out and has stayed both balanced and powerful. That color, my friends, is blue. Blue has either the ability to win very quickly or the power to take control over the board and make the game last as long as the blue player wants.
     This article is not to go back over the years of magic and evaluate every arch-type of blue or to examine how blue has evolved. This article is to examine why blue is still good, how it will be good in the future, and to give a few pointers on some decks that I have been playtesting and winning tourneys with.
     Let me first start off by telling you a few things about me. I have gone by the name "Motumbo" for about 6 years now. I really don't know why one of my friends called me that one time, but it seems to have stuck ever since. I also love to trade. You will never see me at a magic tournament and not see me trade. Most everyone knows me for the trading that I get done. And lastly, I love to play blue. For me, playing blue comes very easy. Even though blue is a very difficult color to play if you are playing slow, control-type decks, I love to sit there and have to think how each possible play will effect the game.
     I always hear people say, "Blue doesn't take any skill to play. It's just all about counter spells. All you have to do is counter everything." That is very misleading. Blue is not always about countering everything. You have to know what to counter and what to let through. You also need to be able to know what is going to happen over the next few turns if you let something through, or have to tap out to do something. To play blue correctly, just like any other color for that fact, you have to think before you take any action.
     Let's first take a look at the fast side of blue. The main choices on this end of the color are none other than "Skies" and "Merfolk." The typical merfolk deck has been around for a very long time unlike the skies deck that came around during the Masques Block season. When playing these two decks, the whole point is to get out a couple of creatures early and to deny your opponent of any threats that will stop your onslaught.
     We will take a look at everyone's favorite blue creature type first - merfolks. Of course, these fun loving, huggable water dwellers are #1 on everybody's list. Now of course, everyone in his or her right mind has either played with or against a merfolk deck. This deck is a very difficult deck to beat if it is built correctly and played correctly. This reason this deck works so well, is because it is just as fast as rebels and speed black, and is combined with permission, card drawing, and bounce. What better of a deck to have both speed and control of every kind.
     When playing merfolk, you do need to consider the fact that playing so many creatures so fast and bouncing permanents to your opponents hand is going to empty out your hand very quickly. This is a problem easily solved when playing blue. The first good option for card drawing is "opt." This is a one casting cost card that lets you look at the top card and either take it, or if you don't like it, put it at the bottom and then draw the next card of your library. Next is one of everyone's favorite cards in blue, accumulated knowledge. This is a great card drawer. It can effectively net you 10 cards, well depending on how many you draw, or your opponent draws for that matter. Since you get to draw one card no matter what, it is a bonus to let you draw an additional card for each knowledge in each players graveyards. To top off card drawing, you have fact or fiction. Don't even get me started on this card. This card is so good, I could talk hours about this card.
Next, let's take a look at removal for merfolk. One of the oldest yet effective cards to date is "Boomerang." This card, of course, for "UU" will let you bounce any permanent on the board. This is great against cards that will not let you get through, cards like tangle wire and parallax wave, and even Circle of Protection: Blue. Boomerang is always my choice when looking for a bounce spell since its not limited to a creature or land, it's just that good. Well, what else is there that is any good to play? Well, one of the newer cards in invasion is "Repulse." This is a great card in 2 ways. First of all repulse lets you bounce a creature to its owners' hand, but on top of that, it lets you draw a card. Why would anyone look past this great card. Of course you also have the very cost efficient "unsummon" and "Seal of Removal." For only "U", these cards are a very good addition to any deck that is in need of a little more bounce.
     Now, of course when playing merfolk, you look to the almighty "Lord of Atlantis" to help you beat your opponent to the ground. Lord of Atlantis is a great card. Not only is he cost efficient being a 2/2 for "UU" but he gives all merfolk +1/+1 and island walk. So the more Lords you get out in play, the bigger all of your merfolk get and the shorter the game is going to last. Now, when playing merfolk, I always have had luck to play 2 "Dream Thrush." This little 1/1 flier is no merfolk, but he will help in the end. Not only can he fly over for 1 every turn, but use his ability to tap him and make any land in play a land type of your choice until end of turn. This can help deny your opponent of mana, or change his land to an island and make those island-walking merfolk unblockable.
     Now of course when playing skies, you want to basically beat your opponent into the ground as fast as you can but using flying creatures. This deck mostly plays good fliers like Rishidan Airship, Stronghold Zeppelin, Spiketail Hatchling, and Troublesome Spirits. These creatures are very cost effective for their power and abilities. Most of the creatures in this deck have a power of 3 except for that of Spiketail hatchling. The reason the deck plays this card is because it is a 1/1 flier for "1U" and you can sacrifice it to counter a spell unless your opponent pays 1 more mana. This is good since you will be tapped out most of the time when playing this deck thanks to that of Troublesome Spirit. This monster 3 / 4 flier is great for "2UU" and the only drawback is that you have to tap your lands at the end of each of your turns. Not a bad price to pay when there are so many cards in blue that can be free.
     Since tapping out with Troublesome Spirit and dropping creatures left and right, there are some cards that you may not want to overlook. These cards are gush, thwart, and foil. Now gush lets you draw 2 cards if you return two islands to your hand. This is a great card in use with that of foil. And foil and thwart are great surprise cards at any time. Also, misdirection is a great card that can be used to redirect some removal back at one of your opponents permanents if need be.
     Now with all this speed in blue, blue is also capable of controlling the board and denying your opponent of not being able to do anything. This is the way that some players and I like to play this game. By playing control blue for a while, it can help you learn to play other decks well. By being able what is most likely to happen when you are playing blue, this will give you some insight when playing against it as well. I have been to 3 tournaments in the past 3 weeks and have played the same blue deck and won each of the tournaments. Here is the deck list to the deck that I am currently playing:

4 Counterspell
4 Accumulated Knowledge
3 Thieving Magpie
3 Repulse
3 Exclude
3 Dominate
3 Thwart
3 Foil
3 Boomerang
2 Mahamoti Djinn
2 Fact or Fiction
2 Confiscate
1 Force Spike
1 Opportunity
2 Dustbowl
22 Island

     The way that this deck is put together, you rarely get a draw that is ineffective against any deck. Of course, as with any deck, this deck is in no way invincible, but if played right, can be very close to it.
     With all the playtesting that I have done with this deck, I have noticed one weakness. This deck is weak to rebel decks. Just straight white rebel decks. This deck has no problem with counter rebel, but a small problem with straight rebels. So because of that problem, I have added 1 extra Dominate and 1 extra boomerang. These additions served very well in the last tourney I played in because they would eitehr let me take their searchers or put 'em back in their hands and buy me another turn. Wizards bringing back Thieving Magpie to type 2 is insane. This card is so incredibly good, that it needs to be in every blue deck. Being able to attack for 1 every turn with a flier and getting to draw a card if it damages your opponent is insane, especially for blue. Blue is trying to let the least amount of permanents hit the board on the other side that it needs a lot of cards to do so. This mystical magical bird just lets you do that.
     After sideboarding there are a few cards to worry about as with any other color. The first one that needs to be looked at is "Boil." This card can just end the game if successfully cast against blue. I mean what else is a blue deck going to do without any islands in play? So always be on the lookout for boil. The other main concern for blue is that of "Obliterate". This is an uncounterable spell that destroys everything in play except for enchantments. So when your opponent gets to 8 mana, watch out, this could be devastating. So don't go out and get cocky when you think you have the game locked down. Simply play conservable and hold back a little so you have something to go off of if Obliterate gets cast against you.
     This is really what blue is all about. Being able to know when to cast things and knowing when to hold back. This should help you out on the quest to build the perfect blue deck or just get an opinion of what cards you should be playing in your deck to make it just that much better. I hope that I have been of some help to all of you that have read this and I will be back to bring you some other great articles. If you have any questions, you can email me at Brian.Motumbo@verizon.net.

 


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