Welcome to our first installation of MTG standard spotlight, where we introduce and discuss some of the best decks in the format for competitive live tournaments and MTG Arena. In this article we dissect the stifling mono-blue Aggro archetype, a deck that has performed exceptionally well early in the standard season and is considered by many to be one of the best Magic: The Gathering standard decks. Whether you’re gearing up for the next Grand Prix, or just looking to grind Arena ladder for a shot at the Mythic Invitational, here are three reasons why mono-blue aAgro is a great MTG standard deck you should play.
Ridiculous Card Advantage
Mono-blue Aggro is by any definition an aggressive deck, looking to win decisively in the early game by dealing extensive damage with creatures that have evasion. Although effective, this strategy has traditionally suffered from several drawbacks, specifically the lack of card advantage. Because this aggro deck utilizes blue cards, however, it is able to maintain, and even surpass, the draw functionality of other decks while keeping early game pressure, turning ahistorical weakness into a formidable strength. Curious Obsession, for example, rewards each attack with an additional card, allowing consistency in land drops and access to more spells, while 4 of Opt makes the deck smaller and offers valuable card selection for only one mana. Most lists are also running some number of Chart a Course, which requires a player to discard a card after drawing two unless they attacked that turn, further empowering the constant aggression of the deck. By replacing the constant flurry of spells streaming from your hand, mono-blue is able to maintain pressure through the midgame and cycle through cards that may be ineffective in that particular match-up. This is especially helpful in best-of-one formats, making mono-blue a great MTG Arena mythic deck.
Aggro that Controls
Another problem aggro decks face in other colors is the inability to protect their threats, regardless of how impressively powerful they are; early creatures can be eliminated by cheap spot removal like Cast Down or Seal Away, while more expensive threats open the player up to counter magic like Absorb. The mono-blue deck, in contrast, relies on only a few threats, but then protects them vigorously with counter magic of its own. By utilizing conditional counter-spells like Spell Pierce and Quench that become less effective as the game progresses, this deck can out-control other decks and protect early-game creatures just long enough to deal their opponent lethal damage. Mono-blue Aggro also controls the early game through creatures like Siren Stormtamer and Merfolk Trickster, which not only provide early aggression and suitable targets for Curious Obsession, but also doubly function as control magic through limiting and manipulating your opponents options. Additionally, these creatures are also Wizards, allowing for mono-blue decks to run a full playset of Wizard’s Retort. By balancing early pressure with the threat of counter-magic, mono-blue Aggro offers a choice of damnations to its opponents that even the other best MTG standard decks struggle to mitigate.
With the meta changing rapidly, Mono-blue Aggro is a deck that offers a relatively consistent decklist at a fraction of the cost for other decks. Because this deck is only one color, expensive tech cards that fluctuate wildly in price are unlikely to be necessary, and there’s no need for playsets of shocklands or checklands. Additionally, the staple cards in this list are extremely affordable, making the deck itself one of the cheapest Magic: The Gathering standard decks available. Even the sole rare card in the deck, Tempest Djinn, is cheaper than some of the uncommons in the list. The list is also not a great target for innovation that could add expensive cards because each facet of the deck is heavily reliant on the other parts, and a change anywhere in the deck necessarily has a ripple effect on the functionality of the deck elsewhere. There are some cards, like Entrancing Melody, that are included in certain lists, and certainly the counter-spells are subject to change based on the perceived meta, but nothing worth more than a few dollars will be added to this archetype in the foreseeable future.
Mono-blue Aggro forces your opponent to abandon their own game plan and adjust to yours, immediately and continuously forcing them into a defensive position that frequently turns to desperation in only a handful of turns. By trading one and two mana cost counter-spells with their significantly more expensive cards, all the while replenishing your hand and pushing damage, Mono-blue is a fierce competitor in virtually any match up, and, when combined with its affordability, is one of the best decks for climbing MTG Arena ladder or for FNM at your local game store.