Last updated on January 13, 2023
Nyx Lotus | Illustration by Raoul Vitale
Let's get to the facts straight away: Mono Blue is in a terrible spot in Standard. I’ve tried many lists varying from mono blue tempo, control, mutate, ramp, and finally ended up on Mono Blue Devotion.
In the past, I would have said a deck based around Nyx Lotus wouldn't work with all the artifact destruction around. With how much removal is packed in the form of bounce spells, though, this deck can keep the board safe from things like Gemrazer. While some decks run cards like Rampaging Brontodon, they’re pretty rare. You can usually play around those by countering them when they come down.
While Mono Blue isn’t a tier 1 deck, it gets incredibly close to it in the hands of a skilled player. Because of this, I think these types of lists tend to fall into obscurity. Today, the deck I’ll be showcasing was made by a player named Akachan, who got a top 8 finish in the Winter Trial Daily in Japan on November 25, 2020.
Let’s get into it.
Thassa, Deep-Dwelling | Illustration by Zack Stella
There are a few strategies in this deck.
The main one is to disrupt your opponent's gameplan. We have lots of bounce spells plus ways to tap your opponent’s creatures. You want to stall the game long enough to start putting down things like Arcanist's Owl and Nyx Lotus. It becomes very easy to untap your Lotus with creatures like Corridor Monitor once it’s on the field. You’ll be able to generate a ton (sometimes even hundreds) of mana once you get your combo rolling.
Because of this, you need to be pretty picky on which hands you keep and judge what type of deck your opponent is running. This often leads to losing the first game and having a strong comeback in games 2 and 3 thanks to the excellent sideboard techs. If your opponent disrupts your game plan too much, though, you can always aggro them down with your 3 damage flyers.
With that said, let’s go through each mana slot and what goodies we have in them.
Opt is especially useful to make sure you hit your fourth land without falling behind, whereas Dismissal can help slow down your opponent's plays. I prefer not to cast the bounce spell early on and instead save it to get rid of a high mana drop.
The 2-mana slot is packed with a lot of critical pieces that make this deck work. The most important being Thassa's Oracle. This creature wins you the game if you have enough devotion on the board. Thanks to a combination of high devotion spells and card draw, you can manipulate the number required quite a bit. The emptier your deck becomes, the easier it'll be to win out of nowhere with an Oracle.
Beyeen Veil and Jwari Disruption can count as land or disruptive magic. You likely want to play these as lands early on depending on your hand since they come into play tapped. But they’re great sources of disruption to push you into the late game if you already have three other lands.
Omen of the Sea draws cards, fixes the top deck, and offers us a single source of devotion, thus serving as ramp once we have our Lotus online.
Finally, Thassa's Intervention. This card is amazing thanks to its flexibility. It allows you to counter pretty much any card efficiently and serves as a great way of getting back into the game, letting you pick two cards from the top X it’s cast for. The latter option should always be at least X=2.
Brazen Borrower is a 2-mana slot as well thanks to its built-in adventure spell, Petty Theft. Yet another card to disrupt your opponent's game plan. Also, having two blue in its casting cost makes it a solid devotion boost to the deck.
Gadwick, the Wizened is a perfect source of card draw. Since we have so many cheap disruptive cards, Gadwick can single-handedly hold back hordes of creatures by itself. I’ve found myself in many situations where it was sitting on the field blocking Kazandu Mammoth and Questing Beast over and over to my opponent’s frustration.
Midnight Clock is yet another source of ramp, which is also relatively easy to get to 12 counters the moment Nyx Lotus comes into play with some Corridor Monitors untapping it. It instantly draws you a fresh hand, ready to continue your combo.
And then there’s Brazen Borrower, which I’ve already talked about.
At four mana, this is where the fun starts.
Nyx Lotus is a massive source of mana production and combos exceptionally well with Arcanist's Owl. Not only does the Owl provide four devotion to blue, but it’s also able to fetch copies of itself, the Lotus, Midnight Clock, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, Omen of the Sea, and Corridor Monitor from the deck. With a long list of excellent targets, you’ll rarely be in a situation where it doesn’t at least cantrip. Then, once Arcanist's Owl is on the battlefield, your Thassa, Deep-Dwelling can flicker it for even more card advantage.
Finally, we have some copies of Inscription of Insight. A cool spell that has a fantastic kicker effect turning into a value powerhouse, but beware: it's a sorcery! Missing a turn of bouncing stuff is pretty much game-over for this type of deck. Make sure you cast it during your turn.
To mulligan with a deck like this is quite simple: make sure it can disrupt your opponent until at least turn 4. To do this, you need the following:
- Two bounce or counter spells;
- Two lands plus a means of scrying and drawing into a third or three lands if you don’t have Opt or Omen of the Sea.
You’ll be drawing and fixing the top of your deck a lot, so it’s usually worth taking the risk to keep a hand that doesn’t have your combo pieces yet, as long as you can disrupt for a few turns.
Creature and Enchantment Heavy Matchups
Three copies of Mystical Dispute are great against matchups that run blue. Which cards to replace depends on the opponent. You'll generally be looking to reduce some copies of Jwari Disruption, Beyeen Veil, or Corridor Monitor. Don't replace all your Monitors, though, since you need those to go infinite with your Nyx Lotus mana.
Long Game Matchups
Finally, Into the Roil against opponents that play the long game. Great to keep bouncing their permanents back to the hand. The kicker allowing it to cantrip is perfect.
Dealing in Devotion
Emrakul, the Promised End | Illustration by Jaime Jones
It was an extreme challenge to build a viable Mono Blue deck. I covered this matter on my YouTube channel, but I think this is the closest to what competitive Mono Blue looks like in the coming weeks. Of course, Kaldheim has brought us new toys. There’s a high chance that these include some better blue spells.
Starting your control plan on the second turn is harsh in a meta full of powerful creatures that can take over the game themselves. The bounce spells in this deck allow for some decent matchups, but it’s still somewhat challenging to keep up with decks like Gruul or mono red. Just be patient and don't play your threats out too fast. You’re here to wear your opponent down until you can turn things around, so always stick to that game plan.
Regardless, I hope you have some fun with this deck in the weeks leading up to Kaldheim! I’ll be sure to check back and let you know my thoughts post-release. Feel free to leave your own in the comments down there, or head over to our Discord if a longer discussion is more your thing. Or, if you’re looking for some other deck help while you mess around in MTGA, check out Arena Tutor. It’s our MTGA tracker app with Draftsim’s signature AI built right in!
That’s all I’ve got today, though. I’ll see you next time with some more guides! Have a good one.Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: