Thursday, February 21, 2013

Marvelous Modern – Getting into it – Blue Staples: Part 2

By: Dale Pon

This is Part 2 of Modern Blue staples, for Part 1 go Here.

Blue is the colour of control and one way of doing this is by having more cards than the opponent (i.e. card advantage). Thus, aside from counterspells, Blue is also known for its card drawing capabilities. There are different kinds of card draw in Modern; you get a variety of cantrips which let you draw a card and do something useful, e.g. Gitaxian Probe, Twisted Image, Thought Scour, and even Spreading Seas; then you get the kind of draw spells which modify the order of your library to a degree (unfortunately the best spells of this sort, i.e. Ponder and Preordain, are banned in Modern because they’re too good), e.g. Serum Visions, Sleight of Hand, and Telling Time; you also get the spells which just dig deeper into your library for a card, such as Forbidden Alchemy and Peer Through Depths; and lastly the kind that generates card advantage such as Think Twice and Visions of Beyond (if your graveyard is rather full).

Another thing Blue is known for is its ability to stall the game in an effort to control the game. This can be achieved by bouncing the opponent’s creatures (using a card like Vapor Snag), or by tapping them (using a card like Gigadrowse). Creatures such as Kira, Great Glass-Spinner and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir also serve to stall the opponent, the former by forcing the opponent to use two removal spells/abilities to get rid of one creature, the latter by only letting the opponent cast spells whenever they can cast sorceries. This slows down the opponent and buys time for you to draw the right answer. Naturally, if you’re like me you don’t always draw the right answer, thus it becomes necessary to search your library for an answer, which Blue allows in the form of ‘tutor’ cards such as Mystical Teachings and Gifts Ungiven. Mystical Teachings allows you to search for a specific instant card, while Gifts Ungiven forces you to search for 4 cards with different names which doesn’t initially sound very useful, but choosing your cards carefully can still result in you getting the desired result.

There are several other Blue staples in Modern that don’t quite fall in any of the aforementioned “categories”; such as my friend Delver of Secrets, Snapcaster Mage, Vendilion Clique, Sower of Temptation, and Threads of Disloyalty.

I don’t think Delver of Secrets needs much explanation, although you could always ask anyone who has faced the one mana 3/2 flier on Turn 2. Snapcaster Mage is an example of a card which creates “virtual card advantage” since you aren’t actually getting more cards than the opponent, you’re merely reusing an instant or sorcery in your graveyard, i.e. you’re getting two cards worth of effect for one card. Vendilion Clique is a very useful flier which also serves as hand disruption, while Sower of Temptation and Threads of Disloyalty allow you to take control of an opponent’s troublesome creature.

There are also several Blue cards, e.g. Merrow Reejerey, Pestermite, and Master of Etherium that are only staples for specific decks, i.e. Merfolk, Splinter-Twin and Affinity respectively. I won’t really explain them here since they each have synergy in their respective decks.

That about wraps up an overview of Blue staples in Modern, although chances are I’ve missed a few, so feel free to add any in the comments.

Until next time!

Thanks for reading.

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