Prismatic Lens – Blue

For my second installment of Prismatic Lens, we’re going to take a look at Blue, and a deck that I cooked up for the Prismatic format using entirely Blue cards. Predictably, this is a fairly strong deck, even barring the fact that my current budget does not allow for silliness like Absorb and Undermine.

For my second installment of Prismatic Lens, we’re going to take a look at Blue, and a deck that I cooked up for the Prismatic format using entirely Blue cards. Predictably, this is a fairly strong deck, even barring the fact that my current budget does not allow for silliness like Absorb and Undermine. For simplicity’s sake, I will once again include a brief explanation of the format here in case you haven’t heard of it before and don’t have a reference handy:

The Prismatic format is defined as using the entire online card pool (including retro sets like Mirage and Visions), with the exception of the following banned cards:

Battle of Wits
Bringer of the Black Dawn
Buried Alive
Burning Wish
Congregation at Dawn
Cunning Wish
Diabolic Tutor
Eladamri’s Call
Enduring Ideal
Enlightened Tutor
Gifts Ungiven
Insidious Dreams
Living Wish
Merchant Scroll
Mystical Tutor
Quiet Speculation
Rude Awakening
Sterling Grove
Sundering Titan
Tooth and Nail
Vampiric Tutor
Wild Research
Worldly Tutor

It says something about a format when Gifts Ungiven is banned, but Fact or Fiction runs free. All the banned cards fall into one of three categories: Excessively strong library searching (Anything on the list with the word “Tutor” in it, for example), alternate and basically instant win conditions (Battle of Wits, Rude Awakening) and Skullclamp, which is its own kind of ridiculousness entirely. So why are so many tutors banned? The fun part.

Deck construction for Prismatic requires a minimum of 250 cards, at least twenty of which must be from each color. Multicolored spells only count as one color, and will automatically try to count as a color you need, if any.

That being out of the way, I’m using the same rules I did last week; in this case, every card must have a Blue mana symbol in its casting cost (so, sadly, no Illuminate), with the exception of artifacts. Also note that there is no update for Time Spiral cards yet, because I haven’t updated the deck – I’m waiting for the December 1st B/R announcement first because I suspect at least two cards are getting the axe and I’d rather post a footnote update in the thread for this article later than publish a list with a card that might be banned in a week.

First, a few words on seemingly dumb card choices; the Snow-Covered Islands were in basically because I originally had Frost Raptor in the deck as “another untargetable,” but it simply wasn’t necessary. I’ve just never swapped back to normal Islands. Why singleton copies of Morphling, Keiga, and only a pair of Meloku? Just trying to keep the cheese factor down, really. I mean, there’s four Psychatog in here. There’s only so much cheese one deck needs. Also, Invoke the Firemind and probably the Fire / Ices should really be Prophetic Bolts, I simply don’t happen to own any. And no, I’m discussing all the other cards in here that “should” be something else, because I could probably do an article just on that alone.

So far as the stand-out lands, we have Stalking Stones for laying beats, Cephalid Coliseum for Yet More Draw (YMD – expect a lot of that here.) Oboro just because, frankly, I can, and Minamo because it’s retarded if you untap with Arcanis in play. I mean, as if Arcanis himself weren’t a portable gas station or anything. Full serve, even. Weaving our way down the mana curve here, we start with a mess of Brainstorms and a single Sensei’s Divining Top. I expect I will have to run more than one due to Krosan Grip in not too long from now.

Fellwar Stone is in for the obvious mana fixing and acceleration – it’s a Prismatic staple, really. Your opponent is going to more likely than not be playing lands of all five colors, and in Prismatic, you’re more likely to want mana your lands can’t produce than ones they can. Echoing Truth is just good policy in a format where Decree of Justice ends more hopes and dreams than finding out your Christmas legend of choice, be he Kris Kringle, Santa Claus, or otherwise, simply isn’t real. Sorry if that comes as a shock to anyone. Impulse is another “well, duh” card for a deck like this and usually Prismatic in general, of course. Boomerang, as I’ve said before, always has been and will be the stone cold nuts, so to speak. If you need me to explain why Counterspell is here… well, let’s just hope you don’t. Shadow of Doubt is actually in for similar reasons; in Prismatic, it’s often either a Squelch or a Dismiss, since it can “counter” a fetchland, Krosan Verge, or any of the few allowed tutors in the format. Prismatic is also rife with activated abilities, ergo Azorius Guildmage is rarely idle. Enough so that I’ve seen people choose to kill it over an active Arcanis, no lies.

Three mana is where the fun starts. Well, after the pair of mana fixers, Spectral Searchlight and Darksteel Ingot. With my draw luck, I’ve actually had to use Spectral Searchlight as a win condition now and then, so I’m not going to complain about it. Circular Logic is good here even without a lot of discard outlets, as paying three mana for what is more often than not a hard counter in this format is perfectly acceptable. Drift of Phantasms, alongside Perplex, is around primarily to transmute for the other three mana spells here, or Distorting Wake / Invoke the Firemind from our X spell list coming up later. Although Perplex is another functionally hard counter in the early game, and sometimes even the late. Exclude is a creature-specific Dismiss, with a discount of one mana. Typically it rushes out to meet opposing attempts at resolving Eternal Witness, Etched Oracle, or any Kamigawa Block Dragon Legend. Probe is just as brutal now as it was the first time, and Repulse beats out Repeal as the cantrip bounce of choice due to the often higher converted mana costs of threats in this format. Similarly, late game Prismatic board positions often feature far more land than is really necessary, so a kickered Rushing River is often worth doing without a second thought. Trinket Mage serves the primary purpose of being Sensei’s Divining Top with a body attached, although with Time Spiral being available online he’ll also have the option of a Tormod’s Crypt as well. If you draw one after you’ve fetched a Top, he’s also capable of getting Engineered Explosives.

Dimir Doppelganger serves multiple purposes in this deck, being capable of graveyard hate and copying creatures. There’s a whole mess of tricks this bad boy can do; removing Incarnations from opposing bins, replacing a fallen Arcanis or somesuch, and just being generally useful. Psychatog hardly needs an introduction, except to say that if you think he’s nutty in sixty card piles, you should see him in a format where graveyards themselves can end up over sixty cards. Recoil, an all-star of Pauper formats, is strangely just as good amongst more expensive company, and can serve as removal if the opposing grip is empty. Shadowmage Infiltrator is YMD, as is Electrolyze. Prismatic as a format tends more towards targeted removal than mass removal, since true creature swarms are rare, and you generally don’t want to blow up your creatures if you can help it. As such, Kira is supremely irritating against most other Prismatic decks, and also beats for two in the air. Of the Charms, Crosis’s is capable of functioning as removal or bounce, while Dromar’s is often another Counterspell, but the options for lifegain or removal also have their uses. Treva’s Charm is similarly useful in all modes, able to remove some of the format’s bomby enchantments, an attacker, or (my favorite), serving as a discard outlet for Circular Logic, making it a UUWG Dismiss. And finally, Voidslime was never in a format that made it happier. If you’ve untapped three times with a Voidslime in hand, chances are you’ve won, or you and your opponent are both in the middle of some fierce land flooding.

Etched Oracle is the poster child of nutty Prismatic cards. Not only is he likely to come down turn 4 or 5 with a mana to spare to use him, a 4/4 is a fairly beefy critter that “early” in the game. Plus, if you start turning him sideways instead of just using him immediately, his creature type becomes Flagbearer – your opponent will aim any available removal at him posthaste. Sudden Death and Krosan Grip are going to make him a sad man many times over, I predict. Deep Analysis is YMD, alongside Plagiarize, generally used on opposing Etched Oracles. And yes, that is exactly as much of an ass-hammering as it sounds like. Wonder is in as discard fodder, not to mention making for evasive Psychatogs. Jungle Barrier… well, is in mostly because a lot of Blue / Green spells are quite terrible. I mean, I could run Yavimaya’s Embrace, but then I also could shave my crotch with a cheese grater. I presume both are about equally pleasant experiences. At least it cantrips, and in this creature-light deck, you may appreciate its ability to actually block, too. Fire / Ice is of course a good card on both sides; admittedly Prophetic Bolt would quite often be better, but again, I own none. Thieving Magpie is YMD, and Augustin is another Flagbearer in disguise. The wannabe Flagbearers in this deck exist to draw attention away from your real bombs, further along the mana curve. Reviving Vapors serves dual purpose of YMD and lifegain, which is handy in this format to recover from a slow start. Clutch of the Undercity serves duty as either a potentially game-winning bounce, or of course transmuting for your other four-drops, like Etched Oracle. Mystic Snake is another format staple, simply because serving effectively hasty beats on top of countering a spell is just fun. Plus, he plays nicely with all the bounce in the deck. If you can actually get two Snakes out and have an Echoing Truth in hand, you probably have the game. Rise / Fall is fantastic in this format no matter which half you’re casting, although in this deck I often prefer the swinginess of Rise functioning as a combined Raise Dead and Unsummon.

Meloku sees play in Vintage. That will be all. [Does it? — Craig.] Izzet Chronarch is this deck’s version of last week’s Eternal Witness. Given that in this deck, even if you did have Witness, you’d probably target the exact same card you would with Chronarch anyhow, it’s a “might as well”. Plus, it helps fulfill the Red requirements of the deck. Dream Leash does a nice job of stealing Karoos or utility dorks, and even once in awhile will get you some fat or a neat artifact. Morphling. Yes, that’s all I’m saying about him. Future Sight once spawned its own sixty-card pile, and in Prismatic’s slower format, it can be just dumb here. Plus, with Sensei’s Divining Top out, you have access to “1: Draw a card”. I hear that’s Some Good. Despite being a gold-bordered format, Prismatic still has multiple single color bombs like Arc-Slogger, and as such, Govern the Guildless earns a pair of slots. Not only that, the Forecast can set up most any creature for itself, and it has the advantage of not being vulnerable to a Disenchant effect – as does Keiga, the Control Magic Star. Confiscate, while vulnerable to Disenchanting, serves its faux-removal purpose, along with the swinginess of giving you the offending permanent. Actually resolving this on a Mirari’s Wake is a thing to witness. Arcanis the Omnipotent is perfectly at home in this format, especially in a deck where his mana cost is effectively no different from that of an artifact.

As for large, game-ending men, we have Simic Sky Swallower (remember what I said about targeted removal? Yeah.) to be just a scary, scary dude, alongside company like Bringer of the Blue Dawn, yet another format staple, or at least ever since Bringer of the Black Dawn was banned. Tidespout Tyrant and Djinn Illuminatus (a.k.a. “I Win Djinn”) generally both say “at the beginning of your upkeep, if you control this, you win the game”. IWD has been personally involved in plays like Reviving Vapors (replicated eight times), Brainstorm (replicated ten times), Probe (replicated twice), and Recoil (replicated five times). Yes, I won all of those games. There’s a reason I refer to him as I Win Djinn.

Lastly, we come to our various X spells, starting with the previously mentioned Engineered Explosives. Just as Green hurts for draw, Blue hurts for straight up destruction effects, and so we take what we can get. Syncopate is almost a given in a format where Deep Analysis, Chainer’s Edict, and various Incarnations are all either highly played or flat-out staples. Overrule is in as another source of lifegain. Really, in this deck the fact that in can counter a spell is almost secondary. But it does also fulfill White requirements – of course I wish it were Absorb, but then I also wish the world was a perfect place. Invoke the Firemind and Distorting Wake are not only in as Transmute targets, but both of them are pretty bomby in their own rights. Either is capable of just winning a game. Finally, Supply / Demand is here because, until if and when it gets the banning I’m pretty sure it has coming, it’s one of the best possible tutor effects in the format.

So far as budget recommendations, well… sadly, with how expensive the best Blue spells are online, this more or less is the budget version. That said, Mystic Snake and Voidslime are actually the only non-land cards in here that frequently and consistently sell for over five tickets, thanks in part to Psychatog being uncommon, and Morphling being unplayable in most other formats. How’s that for convenient? Whether or not Mystic Snake’s reprinting will push it down below the five-ticket threshold has yet to be determined at the time of this writing, but even if it stays expensive, any other hard Counterspell will probably work just fine. Rewind, Cancel, or even something like Time Stop or Overwhelming Intellect would probably serve just as well. Voidslime can easily become Squelch and have mostly the same effect, although having the option of another hard counter is nice. If you’re made of money, of course you’d want Fact or Fiction, Absorb, and Undermine in the deck, conversely.

Strangely enough, I think if you actually counted up the costs of the cards, this would actually be cheaper than last week’s Green deck. Go figure, given that it’s about a dozen times better.

Definitely looking forward to forum feedback from both established Prismatic players (this means you, Abe) and those who are interested in knowing more about Prismatic in general, or are looking to try it. For now, I’m going back to Tribal Bible for awhile, but at some point in the future, I will share my ever-evolving “main” Prismatic deck, rest assured.

Signing off,
Rivien Swanson
flawedparadigm a(aye Carumba!)t gmaSPAMSUCKSil d(.)ot co[I like serpents.]m
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GodOfAtheism just about everywhere else.