Neo-Freshmaker in Standard

What do you do when Mono-Blue has been hated out of your area? If you are Kyle Boddy, you go back to your roots and redesign the deck with the unspeakable name so that it can win again in Standard.

In my last article, I went over what it meant to finally attain 1900 in my Constructed rating, and how I got there playing at Matrix Games in the past few months with Mono-Blue as inspired by Mike Flores and Cedric Phillips. Finally, I would have two byes on rating and hit a threshold that meant something to me on a personal level.

Well, let me be the first to say that it was nice being at 1900, but I’m no longer even close. After two 2-2 performances at Matrix Games, I fear that my rating will be somewhere around the vicinity of 1860-1870 again. “Reality,” as Tim Aten would say, “has hit.”

That’s not to say I’ve been getting unlucky or playing poorly – I’m always unlucky and I always play poorly! But really, folks, I started losing games because people anticipated my deck and others like it, and started playing cards that heavily shifted the advantage to their decks, like Boil and even Choke (when’s the last time you’ve seen that card not in a Jamie Wakefield sideboard? Also, as an addendum, if you’ve never played against a Big Red deck running Hearth Kami in it with the Blue deck, I’d advise that you don’t waste your time trying. It’s far too frustrating).

So, what’s the reality here? The fact that Mono-Blue is very good doesn’t also mean that it can’t be hated out – which it can, and to a very large degree. Boil is near-unstoppable, making every Inspiration and Thirst for Knowledge painful to cast, and activating your Stalking Stones damn near impossible. Choke is less aggravating, but still annoying and worse for you than, say, Plow Under.

I guess it’s time to hang up the deck when the local metagame is hating you out – which it quite clearly is. I suffered another loss to Josh Weinandy playing the mono-Green Wood Elves deck (you literally cannot beat it) and my teammate-who-I-bailed-on-for-Chicago, Saran, playing Big Red with Hearth Kami (see above) and Boil in the sideboard. What will I play instead?

To quote the indomitable MC Lars:

“Well that’s fresh, that’s fresh – get fresh – I get fresh.”

Yes, the title of this article couldn’t be more appropriately named. Let’s not skip a beat, shall we?

Neo-Freshmaker – Standard

4 Sakura Tribe-Elder

4 Eternal Witness

4 Arc-Slogger

3 Viridian Shaman

3 Hearth Kami

2 Jugan, the Rising Star

2 Kumano, Master Yamabushi

4 Magma Jet

4 Oxidize

3 Kodama’s Reach

2 Rude Awakening

12 Forest

10 Mountain

1 Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep

1 Okina, Temple to the Grandfathers

1 Swamp


4 Cranial Extraction

4 Electrostatic Bolt

4 Plow Under

3 Sword of Fire and Ice

Let me be the first to say: Who needs Electrostatic Bolt maindeck? Not *this* guy. This deck does what the block deck did but better – killing the opposing Affinity decks. Hearth Kami is a great replacement for Electrostatic Bolt here, giving you a sorely-needed two-drop against Affinity that doubles as a two-for-one if they swing into it, and one less dead card in the Tooth and Nail matchup by providing you with an aggressive 2/1 for two that might randomly destroy a Sensei’s Divining Top or Oblivion Stone.

The idea of this deck is to minimize the dead cards you have in any given matchup, and with the exception of Oxidize (too good not to play, let’s be honest), I think I’ve done a pretty good job. You want to maximize your mana development with Sakura Tribe-Elder and Kodama’s Reach while making opposing artifact destruction spells ineffective by omitting Solemn Simulacrum. Another reason to skip out on Jens Thoren this time around is due to the fact that you don’t want to cast anything for four mana in game one – you want to skip right to five as quickly as possible and cast Arc-Slogger or Kumano, Master Yamabushi to finish the opponent off. With the presence of ten large casting cost spells that act as finishers (Slogger, Kumano, Jugan, and Rude Awakening), you will usually see one in your opening hand with a second by the time you hit six mana. This is good, as you want threat density in the late-game while your cheap creatures provide the early beats and stabilize the board.

Adrian Sullivan said that the jury was out on the Hearth Kami vs. Viridian Shaman debate, and while I typically don’t agree with running 3/3 of any particular card split, this is where it makes the most sense due to the very tough decision on which one is better as well as 3/3 fitting the overall mana curve much better.

Magma Jet is not dead in any matchup, and on the play against Affinity, it is fundamentally similar to Electrostatic Bolt with the drawback of being unable to kill Myr Enforcers in one shot. The modular token debate should be easily overcome with the fact that you have ten ways to kill artifacts of various casting costs, and you gain heavily from the fact that Magma Jet is actually good against control decks, rather than a fully dead card.

Jugan, the Rising Star is certainly an interesting choice as a large finisher, and I picked it for several reasons despite the mana intensity of the spell. For starters, it flies, which is a huge advantage in the mirror match, as killing it with several Arc-Slogger activations is necessary, but will result in a lot of pain from the +1/+1 counters it will distribute to your Eternal Witnesses and Viridian Shamans. Second, it is a spirit, which means the usually good Rend Flesh will not kill it. And last, but certainly not least, it’s a dragon legend. And attacking with dragon legends that get the boost from the legendary lands in the deck is never a bad thing.

There are significant omissions of cards often found in many Freshmaker builds across the Internet, such as the presence of land destruction in the maindeck or the sideboard. The land destruction we (the Get Fresh Crew – GFC) ran in the block as a team was effective in attaining other ways of mana advantage in the mirror match and actually worked against Tooth and Nail variants in that format. Unfortunately, in today’s format, the Urzatron is the most popular way to assemble quick Tooth and Nails and is largely unaffected by spot land destruction due to Eternal Witness. For the same mana cost you’d rather be casting your own mana accelerants in the form of Kodama’s Reach or effectively dismantling their deck by casting Cranial Extraction. Plow Under is in the sideboard, however, to provide tempo and some element of control at the five-mana slot against various control decks. There is also the lack of Solemn Simulacrum, as I noted above, to create fully dead cards in the form of Oxidize and Viridian Shaman (not so much, as it’s still a 2/2) in your opponents’ decks, attaining virtual card advantage there. Kodama’s Reach and Sakura Tribe-Elder do a much better job of smoothing the mana and providing you acceleration, and also don’t look stupid in the face of a three-land hand that fails to draw another land or gets one blown up by a Big Red’s Molten Rain.

Sideboarding with this deck is extremely easy, and plans look roughly like this:

Mirror Match / Death Cloud Green / Tooth and Nail / Mono-Blue

+4 Cranial Extraction

+4 Plow Under

+3 Sword of Fire and Ice

-4 Oxidize

-4 Magma Jet

-3 Viridian Shaman

In the R/G mirror match, you seek to cast Cranial Extraction on the following targets (also in order): Arc-Slogger, Kumano. That’s really it, but if you suspect they brought in Plow Under and you have another one to blow, feel free to use it on that. Plow Under stunts their development and is the best spell to cast on turn 4 as compared to a threat, if you have the choice. Sword of Fire and Ice replaces Magma Jet as your card quality manipulator, and will catch the opponents with their pants down and Oxidizes safely in the sideboard. One hit with a creature equipped with the Sword and the game ends right then and there. You decide whether or not to keep them in after board – but make sure to shuffle the cards into your deck then pull out cards, so you keep them guessing regardless of what you do.

The other three matches share the same sideboarding strategy, and your Cranial Extraction targets in the Black/Green matchup are Cranial Extraction, Kokusho, Plow Under, Rend Flesh. Against Tooth and Nail, you want to name Tooth and Nail, Sundering Titan, Mindslaver, and Darksteel Colossus. Feel free to switch Sundering Titan / Mindslaver at your leisure, as they are both equally bad for you (I personally think Titan is worse for you). The Sword effectively gives +4/+2 and Curiosity against Tooth and Nail, and for the price, you can’t beat it. Against mono-Blue, name Vedalken Shackles, Hinder, Keiga, and Meloku. The Sword is devastating if you can equip it to something in the mono-Blue matchup, and it will likely resolve, since they side out Annuls. If you expect a lot of mono-Blue (hah!), find room for 2-3 Boils in the sideboard by cutting a Sword and something else (probably Plow Under).

Big Red

+3 Electrostatic Bolt

+3 Sword of Fire and Ice

+3 Cranial Extraction

-4 Oxidize

-3 Viridian Shaman

-2 Kumano, Master Yamabushi

Most Big Red decks will leave in Slith Firewalker for quick-hitting damage when they are on the play and side it out on the draw for additional burn, so when you board in Electrostatic Bolt is heavily conditional on your play/draw status. If you expect a lot of Big Red in your field, I suggest adding Rend Flesh to the sideboard to combat turn 3 Arc-Sloggers and Kumanos, but so far, the deck is not heavily popular in this area. If you can manage to equip the Sword to any of your creatures, it becomes a bloodbath with Forge[/author]“]Pulse of the [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] as their only out – which, conveniently enough, is the only real target you want to name with Cranial Extraction (Arc-Slogger and Shrapnel Blast follow). You side out your Kumano because in this version of the deck, it is very likely that they will cast theirs first with a Seething Song + Mox combination. This matchup favors the R/G player, but the addition of Rend Flesh in the sideboard would make this matchup extremely good for the R/G player, so add it in there if you expect a lot of this deck.


+4 Electrostatic Bolt

-3 Kodama’s Reach

-1 Rude Awakening

This matchup is “good” for you, depending on who you talk to, but the general strategy here is the same – blow up sources of Blue and Arcbound Ravagers, and cast an early Arc-Slogger. Get two-for-one with your Viridian Shamans and Hearth Kamis as much as possible to combat Thoughtcast card advantage, recur Electrostatic Bolts, Oxidizes, and Sakura Tribe-Elders with Eternal Witnesses, and you should come out on the other end with the win.

The sideboard in this deck is certainly flexible – you can opt for Rend Flesh in the R/G mirror or Big Red matchups if you like and/or Grab the Reins, you can play additional artifact destruction if you feel it is necessary in the form of Tel-Jilad Justice or Molder Slug for more large threats, or any other myriad of suitable Red/Green/Black cards to fight the local metagame.

So yes, in conclusion, I’ve returned to this deck with the terrible name to play in Standard again. It’s consistent, tough to hate out, and performs well against the field with a good matchup against Affinity. What more could you want? As always, comments and criticisms are welcome in the forums at and my email address – kboddy at bw dot edu.

Kyle Boddy

GFC Member