Agnostically speaking, Blue is the most powerful color in Prismatic. Every deck runs a solid base of Blue cards, and more often than not, simply by dint of having effects like Compulsive Research and other card drawing, it represents a lot of the best effects in the format. Black and Red are both good colors, and hard to cut – but only because of how they interact with Blue.
Blue offers the aggro deck little; in this Timeshifted Era, you have Flying Men, Unstable Mutation, maybe Curiosity, Spiketail Hatchling… typically meager fare. In Prismatic, aggro decks have access to Savannah Lions and a raftload of other good creatures, and you know your opponent will pack some Ridiculous Spells. So 1/1s will not cut it.
In turn, if you want to cut Blue out of a control deck, I have to ask… what are you smoking? Midgame is slow enough to throw in some mana-fixers and take advantage of spells like Deep Analysis, the Honden of Seeing Winds, and will typically run some five-color lands simply as a matter of redundancy and course… so why cut Blue? Marginalize it, okay – with little lures like Electrolyze and Supply / Demand, you have a lot of things that suggest you run actual Islands in your decks that minimize Blue.
Further, Blue brings the Transmute mechanic, and at more useful slots. Dimir House Guard will not hit the table very often, but Clutch of the Undercity will generally be good, and when it’s not, it can be something else good. Blue can tutor up Sensei’s Divining Top (a vital card in this format) with Trinket Mage and Dizzy Spell. It can even go for the more esoteric huge spells with Grozoth, and all along the mana curve along the way, there are yet more options.
Blue is a very hard color to cut.
I’m not saying that Blue is an overpowered color – it doesn’t have enough redundancy in its effects to really own that title. However, purely for its ability to Say No to the manifold Ridiculous Spells, most people are trying to marginalize other colors to shoehorn in more Blue!
However, that being said, if for thematic reasons, or to guarantee a completely stable manabase, you want to cut Blue from your deck entirely… your options aren’t that awful, depending on your preferred archetype.
In an aggro deck that wants to cut Blue, the Guildmages are non-awful. Close, but not entirely awful. Dimir complements a Rakdos Strategy decently enough, Simic is at least a bear even though he will likely do little unless you build around him, and Izzet and Azorius are both quite functionally fine in one color. Izzet especially shines, with spells like Firebolt in the format – useful, cheap sorceries abound, and he’s quite happy to help you capitalise on them.
There’s also the dubious honour Blue has of offering the discerning Prismatic player two of the most ridiculous Blue cards to ever be playable in a non-blue deck. Djinn Illuminatus and Dovescape are both wrecking balls in a Prismatic deck.
Dovescape, of course, requires a heavy commitment to White; however, in any archetype that wants to avoid Blue and lean on White – such as a Glare deck, or a White Weenie deck, this is completely cool. Most of the time, your average Prismatic deck runs about ninety or fewer creature cards, and typically, people do not carry creature answers to the Dovescape.
The Djinn, on the other hand… In a mono-Red deck, the Djinn is simply ridiculous. Replicating a Firebolt for ten damage, then untapping and doing it again out of the bin, is nothing shy of retarded in this format. He has a gigantic bullseye on his rear, and, sans Blue, you don’t have a good way to protect him… but if you can play an exhaustion game, and perhaps run a Green-Red, or Red-Black deck that wants to deplete your opponent’s resources then go for the throat, the Djinn is a game closer who turns every mild topdeck into a total deal-breaker.
If you opt to cut Blue, both of these cards are good, just not alongside one another. The White deck can happily slap in Azorius Guildmage, Minister of Impediments, Dovescape, Keeneye Aven, and Primoc Escapee. If it’s the kind of White deck that leans heavily on birds, it can even add Raven Guild Initiate – giving the deck a not-totally awful dodge of Blue, and a bit of apparent symmetry; you run Dovescape, and you have no “requirements” to run a non-creature spell. Plus, you can flip the Initiate. If you’re in Green-White, Supply / Demand fulfils the requirements as well and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Ultimately, though, with cutting Blue, the question has to be answered: Why? Blue offers so much, and asks so little in return, a seductive and siren call. It gives you a colorless mana fixing (Shoreline Ranger), a selection of good split cards (Fire / Ice, Supply / Demand, Spite / Malice, Stand / Deliver, Rise / Fall), and a bunch of gold cards that aren’t even that obtrusive in needing Blue, like Electrolyze, Trygon Predator, Dimir Cutpurse, and Sky Hussar.
The sad fact is, courtesy of R&D’s design motivations, whatever your main color is, you can get something better if you add Blue.
Tomorrow, I tackle the Eternal Bridesmaid of Magic.