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Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

Mirrodin Limited: Blue is Beatdown

Maybe y'all figured this out already, maybe not,  but Mirrodin limited is
all about role-reversal...  and that means, my friend, that the blue cards
are for beating down.  Why?  I'd say for two main reasons-

1: the best counterspell is annul, which is good, don't get me wrong, but
doesn't stop all the decks you'll see from beating you down.  There are
quite often green/whatever or white/whatever decks that'll simply drop their
damage-dealers in non-artifact form, for the most part.  Annul is still
great,  but it's not the hard counter to ensure safety.   Override is slow
and expensive-  you can't keep up the beats and leave Override mana open
early, unless you're already winning.

2: No Sea Serpent.  Yes, blue needs a big fatty wall to hold the ground. 
Green has those.  That's why green is control here.  Usually there's a
sea-serpent-esque creature to fill this role, or at least a reasonable wall,
or bouncy guy, or tapper, or something.  But not in Mirrodin.  Instead you
get an expensive hill giant wearing some glasses of urza.

So what do you do with Blue?  Beat down.  Somber Hoverguard and Neurok Spy
are your staple dudes,  you need as many of these as you can get your hands
on.  Evasive and quick,  these guys put your opponent on a clock.  Which is
better?  In my eyes, the Spy...  yes, he's a "slower" clock, and he can't
block fliers (which isn't what you want to be doing anyways) but he's also
completely unblockable under normal circumstances,  and he comes down on
turn 3 every game.  Somber is usually a turn 4 play,  which means until he's
swung 3 times, he's not beating the spy in the damage race.  Even more
important though is the Skyhunter Patrols that'll stop Hoverguard cold

So after you've got your hands on as many of those as you can snag,  with
maybe a Looming Hoverguard or a Goblin Dirigible to help tip the scales in
the air if you're lucky,  you need to stop them from just roshambo'ing you
out on the ground.  Inertia Bubble, Annul, and the blue Spellbomb are your
tools for this.  Annul, while not being the catch-all stopper counterspell
is, is only one mana, so you can often lay your man for the turn and still
have the counter to slow them down just that little bit you need next turn. 
Fatespinner and the aforementioned Looming also give you so much tempo
advantage it's crazy, but they're in the rare and uncommon slots.  If the
blue bits aren't cutting it,  that's what your splash color is for.  Green
gives you ground-stallability (black has its share of regenerators this
time, too),  white, red, and black have cheap, efficient removal, and
sometimes some extra fliers for you.  Whether you're clearing the path for
the 'guard, or preventing them from swarming you,  removal and disruption
need to be cheap and abundant.  Did I mention Domineer?  I've gone blue on
just the basis of opening domineer before.  It's good no matter what you're
doing with your deck.

Back to the cheap and abundant train of thought- most people look at the
Thirst for Knowledges and Thoughtcasts (which you're hopefully drafting
along with the other stuff) as "Card Advantage"-  a traditional aspect of
control.  While they do fill that aspect quite well, in a primarily blue
draft deck, they are more along the lines of "Ensuring Card Quality"...
making sure you have the tools you need.  You -need- to get your evasion
guys online as fast as possible.  You -need- to make sure they can do their
job (by using removal/disruption)-  as noted above, if you're blocking with
neurok spy or hoverguard, you're on the losing end of the game in most
cases.  The card drawing doesn't really need to give you more
removal/creatures than your opponent-  it just needs to give you the right

Again on the cheap and abundant locomotive,  don't forget to snag a couple
of myrs.  Color doesn't really matter, though it's always a nice bonus if
it's a silver myr, or one of your splash colors is even better most of the
time.  Myr are preferable to talismans because later they can chump block a
bit while your real men go to town- they advance the whole "beatdown"
concept.  Artifact lands, too, are often really acceleration.  Hoverguard
and Thoughtcasts, y'know... affinity.  I've often played multiple off-color
ones if i've enough of those two cards, or myr enforcers.  It really depends
on whether your mana base is stable enough.  Myrs are better, since they are
two-fold acceleration (each one provides basically two mana towards an
affinity guy,  and comes out in addition to your land for the turn).

Some of this may all seem obvious to you,  but knowing what cards are good
and knowing -why- they are good and how to use them correctly are two
different things.  If you liked this article or didn't, if you have any
feedback, toss me an email.

You can reach Andy at:

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