Modern Masters 2015: Playing to Your Weaknesses – Blue
(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, I’ll merely state if it’s a high, medium, or low pick in draft. A HIGH pick means that you should take it as soon as you see it (if it’s in your colors of course). HIGH picks are bombs that won’t come around the table a second time. MEDIUM picks are cards that have good synergies with other cards and are great at filling your mana curve or acting as role players. These cards might come around a 2nd time if you pass on them, so if there is another card that ranks higher, take that one and wait for this to come back. LOW picks are cards that are the leftovers. Maybe you need a 23rd card for your deck to round things out – THAT’S what a LOW pick is. You can take these ratings to mean the same for sealed as well. )
Sorry for the wait. I was out playing MTG all Sunday (and losing) and was stuck away from my computer for most of Monday and Tuesday because of work. Now that I have some time before the weekend, I’m going to make a mad dash for the finish line and try to get at least the basic colors done. I’ll be doing today’s article in the same way I did the first one. I’ll be referencing the MTG Goldfish articles about the various MM2015 archetypes, so if you want to read up on that information, please follow the links at the start of my first article. I’d also like to once again remind my readers that I was not playing MTG during most of these cards’ original release, and I’m basing my choices on a raw evaluation. I might get some evaluations wrong, but I feel like I should get about 80%+ correct. If you feel like adding anything to the conversation about the color/my choices, be sure to leave a comment below!
I’m going to start off with what I think is probably the most powerful blue uncommon in MM2: Air Servant. There are plenty of creatures with flying in this format, and Air Servant will shut down each and every one of them. Its only drawback is its 3 toughness, but otherwise the power level, mana cost, and abilities are great. Late game this guy will be saving your butt from attackers in the air like Iona or Hellkite Charger, and also making sure you’re doing 4 damage a turn in the air. If you can protect him Air Servant will make you “master” of the skies. I think this will be a pretty high pick in draft barring any other bomb, and will fit into any deck playing blue or even splashing for it.
There are enough artifacts in this set to make Affinity work (36 by my count), so I see this card to easily become a 5/4 flyer for 5 mana or so. The double symbol cost means you’ll probably be playing this in UW Affinity builds if you can get your hands on it, but it would fit in any 2 color blue deck to tell the truth. If you’re going to play UW, UB Proliferate, or UG Graft grab this card as soon as you see it. Even without the Affinity bonus, a 5/4 flyer is really good in limited. Not a first pick, but if I saw it as a my 4th or 5th choice in draft I’d take it in a heartbeat. Good finisher.
RATING: Medium to High
Keeping with our theme of flying creatures (which blue has a lot of), Hoverguard is another card I think is a solid choice. The most obvious choice is to play it in UW Affinity themed deck, letting you play it around turn 3 or 4 if you’re lucky, but don’t let his high cost deter you from picking him for any other blue leaning deck. In draft I’d take him over a 1/1 flyer like Thrummingbird unless I had some sick proliferate tech going on. In all likeliness I think most players will have at least 2-3 artifacts in their deck.
As I said above, most decks will be playing at least a few artifacts which means cards like Faerie Mechanist will be pretty useful. It would be absolutely bonkers in an affinity build, but I would probably splash him in a RW Voltron deck as well since you get a body and find something to equip. If you can build a 3 color Voltron/Affinity deck the Mechanist will do a lot of work. Thanks to Mox Opal, Sphere of Suns, and the bounce lands this will definitely be possible. Definite roleplayer in most blue decks, but an all-star in Affinity.
Last but certainly not least for the flyers is our good friend Mulldrifter, back from MM1. Who doesn’t like getting 2 cards and a flyer? Sure the 5 mana might be a bit much but you can Entwine it for 3 if you need the cards instead, and there are a few ways to take advantage of having him dying as well. Scavenger Drake comes to mind. Card advantage and a creature = value.
While it doesn’t keep a creature permanently tapped, it does keep them from attacking or blocking in much the same way as a Pacifism does. It’s also only 2 mana, which makes it easy to cast. If I was playing a blue deck and didn’t have any good removal spells I would be playing this. UB Proliferate will probably have a lot of good black removal spells, but I could see this getting some play in a UG Graft or a UW Affinity deck. It’s not a high pick, but a solid choice in pack 2 or 3 since it works well both on offense and defense.
RATING: Medium to Low
At first I didn’t really like the Graft cards, but once I saw how powerful the archetype can be with proliferate effects like the ones on Thrummingbird or Grim Affliction I changed my mind. Graft abilities are very versatile as they can fit into multiple strategies. I personally would try for a BUG 3 color Graft/Proliferate/Bloodthirst deck if I had the mana available to support it. Drawing cards in any limited format is a good thing, and although the Sages cost 6 mana to play, I believe they are worth playing. There is enough mana ramp from artifacts to get them out on turn 4 I believe. It will be a solid roleplayer in the UB/UG/BUG strategies and worth playing in your limited deck. Don’t be afraid to take him if your strategy suddenly gets hosed in draft because you should easily be able to move into another one that still has synergy with his ability.
Water Servant, like it’s flying brethren, is another solid uncommon in this set. He can easily turn into a wall or a beater depending on the situation, and would be a good asset in any blue deck you play him. Blue/Red Elementals has been panned by players as one of the worse archetypes in the format, but luckily Water Servant will be fine no matter what deck you put him in. I personally think it would be good in UW Affinity and UB Proliferate. He’s a good early pick in draft (maybe my 4th-5th choice) and can easily end up becoming your finisher if can clear your opponent’s board and hit them for 6 points of damage.
RATING: Medium to High
Now Vapor Snag is good, but I’d much rather have a Repeal in my hand since it hits ANY non-land permanent (good-bye equipment!) and replaces itself since you get to draw a card. It really all depends on the situation though. If your opponent puts out an Eldrazi, I think that Vapor Snag would start looking a lot sexier ^_^. I see this as being a great card for faster decks such as Affinity and Proliferate/Graft, and slightly better than Vapor Snag in most cases. High pick in draft.
I wonder if they were thinking this was good enough to take over for Serum Visions in the set . . . well, Telling Time certainly isn’t a bad card. You get to draw a card, set up your next turn, and filter away anything you don’t like to the bottom. Any card that lets me manipulate my library in limited, not matter how small, is worth playing. I can’t see a blue deck that wouldn’t want this. Dig to removal in UB Proliferate, dig to a big creature in UG Graft, or find that 3rd artifact to activate Metalcraft. I wouldn’t put a lot of importance on it early in draft, but I think I would surely have it in my draft/sealed deck. Everybody should have at least 1 or 2 ways to get some card advantage in sealed.
Aethersnipe is another card that is joining us again from Modern Masters 1. I don’t know why Wizards decided we needed to have it reprinted again instead of another elemental, but oh well. It should be okay in MM2 limited. It acts as both a beater and pseudo-removal which is something creatures need in this format if they want to see any play at all. If you can blink it with a card like Otherworldly Journey or use a sacrifice effect at will (such as on Bloodthrone Vampire) it can become pretty effective in your strategy. Not an all start, but a solid card.
RATING: Medium to Low
The last card I’d like to profile in today’s article is Tezzeret’s Gambit. Between Wither/Persist -/1-1 counters, +1/+1 counters from Graft and Bloodthirst, and if you’re lucky planeswalker loyalty counter, Proliferate is a pretty good mechanic. Thoughtcast can really only be played in an UW Affinity build, but Gambit is good in any deck thanks to the Phyrexian mana cost. I’d value this pretty highly in draft, and it would definitely be part of my sealed deck no matter what deck I was playing. 3 mana for 2 cards and killing an opponents creature/beefing up yours is value.
Other Cards that Might See Play
- Vapor Snag – This should probably be above but I was too lazy to talk about after doing Repeal. Great card for aggressive decks, and also good when playing ramp deck that play big creatures.
- Cloud Elemental – Solid 2/3 body with flying, blocks spirit tokens easily and fits in your curve. Decent card.
- Helium Squirter – 5 mana seems like a bit much for a 3/3, but if you have lots of +1/+1 counters on your creatures he becomes a lot better. Good in Bloodthirst/Graft decks.
- Remand – good tempo card and replaces itself. If you’re playing a fast deck and need to keep your opponent off balance consider Remand.
- Thoughtcast – easy card advantage in an Affinity deck
- Thrummingbird – just like the Squirter, it’s much better if you have the cards that synergize with it. Good in Proliferate/Graft/Bloodthirst decks.
Coming Up Next
I like blue a lot more than I like white so far, and I can see why everybody is saying proliferate strategies are so strong. That opinion will only be strengthened after I do my black article. I’m going to continue to say that I think you can put together some powerful decks if you get enough mana fixing to run 3 colors. I like BUG Graft/Bloodthirst/Proliferate and RUW Affinity/Voltron/Metalcraft as well.
I got some good feedback on the first article on Modern Masters 2015 limited, so keep it coming with this one as well. If you think I missed a combo/synergy or mis-evaulated a card please leave your comment down below. I’ll be doing black next, so look for it in the next day or so. Thanks for reading and see you again soon.