French Food for Thought – Champions Blue in Limited

Yann continues his Limited review, this time giving his opinion on Blue, the color that is probably the toughest to figure out in the entire set. Which card does he feel is the best Blue common, and exactly how highly does he rate the best Zubera in the set? You’ll have to read the article to find out, but there might be a few surprises for you along the way.

Hello dear readers,

I’m back to continue with the Limited series I started two weeks ago by reviewing White. First of all, I have to say a word about one of my controversial choices: the Kabuto Moth in eighth position in the pick order. Your reactions on this card evaluation were very critical, and the same week, Nick Eisel put the Moth in the second position, just behind Cage of Hands. Because I usually agree with the majority of Nick’s choices, I tried the card a little more. With these additional tests, I realized that I had certainly underrated the card. It’s probably the third best card in a defensive deck like Blue/White – right after Cage of Hands and Kitsune Blademaster, and the fourth or fifth card in an aggro deck, where Kami of Ancient Law is still better in my opinion, and Indomitable Will may be, depending of your deck and the format – in Rochester draft, the enchantment isn’t that impressive.

Kabuto Moth can rule the board in some cases, but the card still pretty slow. I don’t see a lot of decks where I will consider picking the spirit over Kitsune Blademaster – maybe if I had multiples of a card that triggered when Spirit comes into play, but that shouldn’t happen in a White deck.

Now, it’s time to talk about Blue, probably the most interesting color in CHK – you have access to really powerful cards, including the best common creature. You have the potential for good synergy with any of the other color, but at the same time, the color is not really deep, and the cards you’ll want to have depend a lot on your second color. So drafting Blue could lead you to the best decks in the format, or to drop before the first round to save some DCI points. In this article, I’ll try to give you some tricks to avoid this much-hated second scenario.

I see four good ways to use the Blue in this format. The usual Blue/White control deck, with flyers and ”walls” like Kitsune Blademaster or River Kami – this one is a classic, really interesting in this format where there’s no Sparksmith, Timberwatch Elf, or anything approaching that level of brokenness (at least not in the common slot). The Black/Blue aggro deck is also a possibility – here the Black will be dominant, and the Blue will essentially give you a few flyers. Then there’s the Blue/Red deck, my favorite in this format – you’ll want arcane tricks, good blockers, and card advantage in this slow deck that probably deserves an article on his own. As for the Blue/Green spirit deck, I recommend you the last’s week article by Nick Eisel. I’m not half as enthusiastic as he is about this color combination, because even if the synergy is good, you just put together the weakest color (Green) with the color with the least depth (Blue), which is a bit risky.

With all that in mind, you can easily understand that a pick order is not going to be perfect in representing Blue cards in the various decks – consider it a general indicator, useful essentially in the beginning of the draft, before your second color is chosen.

1 Teller of Tales

By far the easiest blue pick, you won’t have to consider your second color when this guy appears in your booster. All you have to do is look for an uncommon or bomb rare, or a Glacial Ray, and if you don’t see any, take the Teller of Tales. As long as you have something to control the ground, this guy will easily lead you to an aerial victory. He’s obviously at his best in a deck packed with arcane and spirit spells, and will even win duels against legendary dragons. Regardless, a 3/3 flyer for five is a great pick, and this one is a really good reason to start drafting Blue.

2 Mystic Restraints

An instant Blue removal spell for four mana is something we won’t see often. This one has troubles with opposing Tellers of Tales, Kami of Ancient Law and Call to Glory. That’s not a lot for a card that can neutralize legendary dragons without collateral damage. If you play Blue/White or Blue/Green, you really need Mystic Restraints, while in Black/Blue you’ll prefer your Black options, and try not to push your luck too much with double Blue cards.

3 Soratami Mirror-Guard

A pure beater. One of you best picks in Black/Blue, when you may take it before Tellers of Tales if you really want to play a lot of Swamps. In this archetype, you’ll appreciate the added ability, which is ridiculous with Wicked Akuba. The card has one fault: the vulnerability to Frostwielder or Yamabushi’s Storm. That second card means that in Blue/Red, where you’ll be pretty happy to play Yamabushi’s Storm yourself, Mirror-Guard drops quite a few slots.

4 Soratami Rainshaper

Another good beater that is ranked below his cousin because the three-mana slot is usually packed. Rainshaper’s ability is really annoying in the long game. The card really shines in Blue/Black and Blue/White, while in Blue/Red the toughness may be a problem, and in Blue/Green, you don’t want to play Sakura-Tribe Elder and Orochi Sustainer to accelerate three-mana creatures, as four is obviously superior. That said, the Rainshaper obviously stay playable in any of these archetypes.

5 River Kaijin

Here is a card that would have been mediocre in many formats, but shines in this one. Able to block and kill the 2/1, River Kaijin is one of the few commons that can also stand in the way of Kitsune Blademaster and live. It’s the best blocker you may hope for in Blue/Red, where you have to take it before the Soratamis in my opinion. In Blue/White, it completes your ground defense very efficiently. In Blue/Green and Black/Blue, the card still playable, but isn’t really adapted to the aggressive nature of those archetypes, and goes drops down to somewhere between the tenth and fifteen pick.

6 Consuming Vortex

A cheap bounce spell is always something a Blue mage likes, and this one can do a lot more than a traditional one. I recommend it for all color combination, for various reasons – some need the tempo, others need this card for Arcane, others lack of real removal – the Vortex will fill a hole in your deck.

7 Floating-Dream Zubera

As an active member of the growing Zubera lovers group, I almost wanted to put this card a lot higher in this list, but the other spells above this are just too good. Well, you already heard about the Zubera’s usefulness: for most of them, you can exchange them against a 2/1 with a nice bonus. This one is different – you can be happy to chump-block, even in the beginning of the game, to search a land or develop your board. And if you managed to put two of them in the yard the same turn, your opponent is really in trouble. Like the River Kaijin, Blue Zubera shine in Blue/Red and Blue/White, and are marginal in Blue/Green and Black/Blue.

8 Soratami’s Council

It’s not an arcane spell, and not a really good turn 3 play, but card-advantage is still something you’ll appreciate, and having two or three of those spells will help you a great deal in the mid-to-late-game. A useful card in every Blue deck.

9 Soratami’s Cloudskater

Damn, already the ninth spot on the list, and again something you’ll be very happy to play. Everything is right on the card: it’s cheap, it flies, and it’s still good in the late game.

10 Reach through Mists

I always liked one-mana Blue cantrips, as they let you play a little less land or a fewer bad cards. In this case, the arcane component is obviously a nice bonus. You’ll be happy to have it in any Blue deck, but in Blue/Green or Blue/Red, this spell is certainly more important.

11 Callous Deceiver

After ten really solid cards, we suddenly hit cards that you would prefer to have in your sideboard. Oh, the Callous Deceiver is not really bad, and he’ll be your 23rd card many times, but the point of toughness between him and the River Kaijin makes a real difference against the Samurais, or when you face Kabuto Moth or Indomitable Will.

Remember that the Deceivers won’t gain their bonus 40% of the time – instead they’ll gain their bonus in 40% of the turns where you can afford to pay the cost. Certainly, the poker factor on the Deceivers is a really nice addition and an acceptable reason to include Callous Deceiver in all drafts where fun is more important than victory.

12 Kami of Twisted Reflection

A double Blue cost for a creature with awful art and an irrelevant power, in slot that’s already filled for your mana curve? If you really play a lot of Blue and need creatures, you could do worse (see below), but I prefer those guys in my opponent’s deck.

13 Thoughtbind

It does its job, but his job is just to be a three-mana counter. That’s not something you really need in Limited.

14 Hisoka’s Defiance

This one has a better job as a two-mana counter. But you can’t really count on him. He doesn’t deserve a permanent contract – you’ll call him only in case of emergency (maybe against a Blue/Green spirit deck).

15 Peer through Depths

These card was a little difficult to rank… in 95% percent of your decks, playing it will be a mistake, even if you need Arcane spells, because too often you’ll exchange the potential splice bonus for ”Oh damn! Two creatures and three lands! I’m so unlucky!”. In a deck with multiple Glacial Rays, a lot of spells and few creatures (I’m talking about a strange concoctions with less than twelve creatures and more than twelve instants and sorceries, here) the card would obviously be more than playable, but a lot of cards get better with ”multiple Glacial Rays”.

16 Sift through Sand

Well, well, well… It’s arcane and it helps you find your bombs. But the double Blue in the cost is awful here, and any comparison with Soratami’s Council is simply indecent.

17 Psychic Puppetry

In case you desperately need Arcane spell, you may play Sift through Sand instead of this card.

18 Eye of Nowhere

Unless a Glacial Ray is spliced on it, this card is awfully bad.

19 Wandering Ones

Is the 1/1 creature for one Blue R&D’s new running gag ? We’d better stop laughing, or they’ll go on.

20 Hisoka’s Guard

Green has seven mana fatties. White has life gain. Black has bad creatures with enormous drawbacks. The Blue affliction in Limited is the 1/1 for two with a stupid power. The list is long. This one will be in the top positions.

21 Lifted by Clouds

Oh, I forgot the Jump-like affliction. It’s worse than the 1/1 for two. At least this one is an arcane.

22 Field of Reality

Really impressive, Mr. Buehler, but you can do better – why doesn’t this cost five ?

Thanks for all of those who read this far. I’ll see you next time for the Black review.