Three Flavors of Blue-Green: Breaking Down the IBC Metagame

Counter and critters? Or, in the case of Mystic Snake, countering critters? Dave explores the possibilities of what may be the strongest color combinations in IBC.

I’ve been doing a lot of testing for the upcoming Grand Prix: Denver, and my general findings, so far, is that the two best colors in the environment are blue and green. Either together or with another color, U/G looks like the way to go in IBC. Cards like Vindicate and Phyrexian Arena aside, the best decks have been based on these two colors.

There are three very good decks that combine these colors, and each is a viable contender for top dog in IBC.

Straight U/G

These two-color decks tend to be more tempo-based…drop a bear early, protect it with counters, and bounce and control the pace of the game.

I had been working on a more cutesy-version of U/G trying to use an Unnatural Selection-based engine, but the more simple, straightforward version might be strongest. This is a design I’ve been working on, based on a few other decks I’ve seen across the Net.

U/G Tempo Control

12 Forest

4 Island

4 Yavimaya Coast

4 Lay of the Land

4 Gaea’s Skyfolk

4 Blurred Mongoose

4 Kavu Titan

4 Temporal Spring

4 Repulse

4 Fact or Fiction

4 Mystic Snake


4 Jungle Barrier

4 Exclude

2 Disrupt

2 Rushing River

3 Dodecapod

Is there a better two-drop in IBC than Gaea’s Skyfolk? A 2/2 flier for only two mana? Maybe you could make a case for Goblin Legionnaire, but I’ll take the”flying fish” any day. Combined with the uncounterable Blurred Mongoose and dual-castable Kavu Titan, you have twelve effective two drops, as well as eight three-casting cost bounce spells.

I’ll be honest; I’m not 100% sold on Temporal Spring. The fact that it’s a sorcery means you have to tap out on turn three or four to cast it… But it will buy you a turn if you cast it on turn three, essentially becoming a Time Walk against your opponent, setting back their mana development by a turn while your bears hit for two or four that turn.

Note that the mana base is a little low. I’m essentially counting Lay of the Land as a land. If you cast it on the first turn, you’ve thinned the deck a bit and improved your mana—just be sure to always go for that island you always need for a turn two Skyfolk.

Yes, I know the sideboard is a mess. It, like the rest of the deck, is a work in progress. Why no Jungle Barrier main deck? Because you’d rather be able to cast a Mystic Snake than a wall on turn four. Against a beatdown deck, then, yes, you want to put the Barrier in.

I’m still not sure about this build. The tempo control can be effective; drop a couple of bears, bounce and counter everything your opponent plays, easy as pie. The U/G tempo archetype apparently did very well at Origins. This might be more of a metagame call. It definitely needs work, but has a lot of potential.


Adding white to the mix gives blue-green access to powerhouses like Questing Phelddagrif, Eladamri’s Call, and what I think is one of the defining cards of the format: Meddling Mage. Kai Budde had some success with this U/W/G Call-based deck, taking second at a German tournament with it:

4 Opt

4 Fact or Fiction

4 Absorb

4 Eladamri’s Call

4 Repulse

4 Meddling Mage

4 Mystic Snake

1 Questing Phelddagrif

1 Treva the Renewer

1 Jungle Barrier

3 Temporal Spring

1 Kavu Chameleon

8 Island

3 Forest

2 Plains

4 Coastal Tower

4 Elfhame Palace

4 Yavimaya Coast


3 Armadillo Cloak

4 Gainsay

1 Tolarian Emissary

1 Obsidian Acolyte

1 Crimson Acolyte

1 Jungle Barrier

2 Dodecapod

2 Kavu Chameleon

Eladamri’s Call plus Meddling Mage is a potentially devastating combination in the early game. A turn three Call followed by a turn three and turn four Mage will can lock down many different decks that are dependent upon key cards, like Pernicious Deed and Urza’s Rage. At worst, it’s a good bear. Being able to dial long distance for a Mystic Snake is also a very useful play.

I’m not sure why Kai uses Temporal Spring in the deck; it doesn’t really seem to fit the theme of the deck. I think he would be better off using Exclude, Rushing River or even Prohibit in this slot. It would certainly be worth slipping in appropriate one-of cards like Rooting Kavu and Benalish Emissary (anti-Domain) main deck.

The sideboard has some interesting choices, like a lone Tolarian Emissary and copies of both Acolytes. Kai’s sideboard seems a little scattershot, however, the Dodecapod + Eladamri’s Call combo is reason enough to consider discard a bad idea in IBC.

This deck needs tuning but it has definite promise. I’d be tempted to play it, except I’ve been testing the deck below…


The strongest of the U/G decks is probably the decks that splash black – or rather, splash green – being mostly U/B in composition. The Brian Kowal deck that won one of the qualifiers at Origins is, in my opinion, one of the best IBC decks I’ve seen, as it can beat any of the traditional big three — Domain, Go-Mar and R/G beats. If you don’t think this deck doesn’t define the current metagame, think again.

4 Llanowar Wastes

4 Yavimaya Coast

4 Salt Marsh

6 Island

5 Swamp

2 Forest

4 Prohibit

4 Vodalian Zombie

4 Undermine

4 Repulse

4 Exclude

4 Pernicious Deed

4 Mystic Snake

4 Fact or Fiction

3 Spiritmonger


4 Plague Spitter

2 Disrupt

4 Gainsay

3 Dodecapod

2 Tsabo’s Decree

You know what this deck is? The IBC equivalent of Draw-Go. Lots of card drawing effects and a potent board clearer in Pernicious Deed (much the same as Nevinyrral’s Disk when it was Standard-legal), and a Mahamoti-esque finisher in Spiritmonger. The Kowal deck packs just about every counterspell you can fit into these colors. Prohibit is especially strong in the early game, countering otherwise annoying spells like Yavimaya Barbarian and Spectral Lynx.

Don’t laugh at the Vodalian Zombies. They give the deck early defense against R/G beats, especially beasties like Blurred Mongoose and Raging Kavu.

Against R/G beats, the deck has potent sideboard options in Plague Spitter and Tsabo’s Decree — the Spitter absolutely shuts that deck down — and both Gainsay and Disrupt give the deck over twenty counters against both Go-Mar and Domain.

If the deck has one problem, it’s the mana base. Twenty-five lands are a lot, but appropriate for a control deck of this type; however, it depends on getting green mana quickly, preferably by turn three so it can drop a Pernicious Deed and clear the board on turn four if needed. Personally, I’d find a slot for one or two more forests, or add Chromatic Spheres if possible to smooth out the mana base. But Kowal qualifed for New Orleans with this deck, so what do I know?


Okay, there is no good U/G/R deck right now. I’ve been working on such a thing – but even with Jilt, Guided Passage and Prophetic Bolt, making such a thing work hasn’t been happening.

But three out of four ain’t bad.

Dave Meddish

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