Why Aren’t More Players Choosing Mono-Blue Aggro?

Tom Ross has tested it and can confirm: this deck is real. The allure of golden manabases is preventing too many players from picking up this powerhouse for SCG Baltimore! Tom aims to correct this issue here and now!

Mono-Blue Aggro has been flying (and perhaps swimming) under the radar ever
since Guilds of Ravnica dropped. Last year, Gabriel Nassif
finished second at Grand Prix Lille with Mono-Blue Aggro. Afterwards, Izzet
Drakes, Golgari Midrange, and Boros Aggro took over the metagame.

Why didn’t more people pick up Mono-Blue Aggro?

For one, it wins on some tight margins. One-mana 1/1s aren’t very appealing
on paper, and the deck doesn’t operate great when it doesn’t draw Curious
Obsession. It looks like a mash of bad cards that can only win by cheesing
the opponent out. Really, how can anyone respect Mist-Cloaked Herald

Lately Mono-Red Aggro has been the talk of the town. Going into SCG
Indianapolis, I figured it to be the deck to beat. It was a tier 1 deck
before getting two great cards in Skewer the Critics and Light the Stage,
so the good only got better. Mono-Red Aggro was rampant on Magic Arena over
the last month in ladders, perhaps to the point that Mono-Blue Aggro was
suppressed. Well guess what…

Mono-Blue got better too.

And it’s already putting up solid, week one results.

Let’s start with how Mono-Blue Aggro operates. It’s a classic tempo deck
that aims to win with evasive creatures that are unblockable or fly and
with cheap interaction in the form of countermagic like Spell Pierce,
Wizard’s Retort, and Essence Capture. Kat Light has found success with
Quench as well, which can be close to a hard counter when your aim is to
play a short game.

The primary objective is to land Curious Obsession on an evasive creature
and ride the card advantage to victory. Much of the deck is focused on
protecting said creature with Siren Stormtamer, countermagic, and Dive
Down. Most opening hands including Curious Obsession will be keeps, even if
they only have one land. Games with double Curious Obsession are downright

Dive Down is one of the best cards in the deck. It will always trade equal
or higher to whatever spell or effect the opponent is trying to use to
remove your creature. The +0/+3 is quite serviceable as a combat trick,
enabling trades with things like a 3/2 Merfolk Branchwalker or Jadelight
Ranger with your two-power creatures. In some good spots you can even get a
Lyra Dawnbringer in a favorable fight with Tempest Djinn.

Siren Stormtamer is truly the glue that holds Mono-Blue Aggro together. It
has all the creature types you could want, is a cheap evasive flyer, and a
protection spell all in one. I love Spellskite in Modern Infect, so I can
appreciate the shield that Siren Stormtamer offers. When in doubt, leave
mana up to sacrifice Siren Stormtamer if you have a good threat to protect
like a Tempest Djinn or a creature with Curious Obsession. Mono-Blue Aggro
plays a “protect the queen” game during the midgame. Don’t leave a crack
open in your castle.

A straightforward payoff for playing a pile of Islands, Tempest Djinn plays
exactly like Enigma Drake from Izzet Drakes. If you can untap and protect
it, you should win in short order. It hits hard and makes drawing a ton of
Islands palatable.

Merfolk Trickster is the most difficult card in the deck to play with and
against. Leaving up two mana represent anything from countermagic to
protection to this flash 2/2 creature. It eats things like Adanto Vanguard,
Healer’s Hawk, and Hunted Witness from Mono-White Aggro in combat. It can
shut off Judith, the Scourge Diva in combat to really screw up the math for
a Rakdos player. The most face-value use is to tap down a big attacker or
to tap a potential blocker. I’m always looking to snipe off a creature with
this after letting them attack. Those ominous two open Islands is scary to
plan a turn through, which makes up in part why Mono-Blue Aggro is so

Entrancing Melody is rising in stock due to the popularity of Hydroid
Krasis. For four mana, you can take their 6/6 flying blocker and make it
into your own threat. Of course, Entrancing Melody has wide applications
against any creature deck. It can take a large Wildgrowth Walker that the
opponent worked so hard to explore counters onto or it can take any token
for two mana, the most popular being a Knight from History of Benalia.

The Horse combo of Diamond Mare and Surge Mare are great sideways options
for beating Mono-Red Aggro without directly removing their creatures. This
is pretty nice, since Mono-Red is shifting to a more burn-oriented build
than before, so lifegain and the ability to race become more important. Of
the two, Diamond Mare is better since it can be used efficiently against a
broader range of decks, including Mono-White Aggro and various
low-to-the-ground Rakdos and Gruul builds.

What Do The New Cards Add?

Flying is almost as good as unblockable. We saw Kat Light cutting
Mist-Cloaked Herald straight up for Pteramander, a decision I approve of.
The upside to Pteramander is huge in a deck with nineteen spells, many of
which replace themselves. A five-toughness creature goes a long way in a
world with Lava Coil and so many four-power creatures. Mono-Blue Aggro can
easily get the adapt cost of Pteramander into the three-cost range, often
even to just one with a lategame topdeck. Given enough time and mana, you
can even respond to a burn spell like Shock or Lightning Strike by
activating adapt again.

Mono-Blue Aggro is always appreciative of card selection. You want to draw
as many copies of Curious Obsession as you can. Once you’ve stuck a good
threat or two, all you want to draw are protection spells and countermagic
since you can flood out with too many Islands in the lategame. Three-mana
for a 2/2 isn’t the best in the world, but sometimes you need to cash in
that extra Island for a real card. Another small upside is that it’s a
Wizard for Wizard’s Retort.

Gabriel Nassif was already playing a copy of Essence Scatter maindeck, and
Essence Capture is an obvious strict upgrade. I think the card is just
straight up good. Kat went a step further and added Benthic Biomancer for
some synergy with the counter from Essence Capture. I think that the
interaction is nice but that Benthic Biomancer is rather weak on rate, so
much that I wouldn’t play too many copies of the combo for the payoff of an
extra loot. Still, I’m a fan of two Essence Capture maindeck and can even
believe three to be the way to go.

Kat was the only player of the top performing lists to play Quench. It’s a
tough pill to swallow to stick a strictly worse Mana Leak into your deck,
especially when you were a part of the glory days when it was a part of
Standard. Truth is times are different now. There are haymaker
planeswalkers plopping down on main phases left and right. Creatures are
huge, and midrange is quite popular right now given the recent win with
Sultai Midrange in the hands of Anthony Devarti.

Notable Exclusions

The scry 3 is really sweet. Bad part is a four mana 4/4 is close to
unplayable in a deck like Mono-Blue Aggro. Tempest Djinn is one thing, but
that key fourth Island is elusive when you play only nineteen or twenty.
The scry itself brings a tough tension as well. Do you set up to have four
lands on turn 4 or risk it with less and hope to draw another eventually?
Naturally drawing Sphinx of Foresight in the midgame without that fourth
land is also a real pain.

Warkite Marauder and Siren Stormtamer are both Pirates, which gets you to
Mana Leak a good portion of the time. Unlike the case of Wizard’s Lightning
in Mono-Red Aggro with eight enablers, Lookout’s Dispersal has a much
larger opportunity cost when you must leave up three mana to react. With
the release of Ravnica Allegiance, Quench does most of what
Lookout’s Dispersal was trying to do and will continue to replace it moving

What to Play for SCG Baltimore

I’m strongly considering playing Mono-Blue Aggro for SCG Baltimore this
weekend. It’s an aggressive deck that has the tools to beat anything
because of efficient countermagic. It’s tough to play against and has
largely not been taken seriously among the hype for the premier Ravnica Allegiance cards like Hydroid Krasis, Judith,
Growth-Chamber Guardian, Wilderness Reclamation, and Kaya’s Wrath.

In a different world, I would love to roll with Mono-Red Aggro or Azorius
Aggro. However, those decks are too mainstream for my taste. I want to play
something good, yet still has a reasonable amount of surprise value. It has
good matchups against the trending decks–Esper Control and various
Wilderness Reclamation builds–Mono-Blue Aggro just fits the bill for me.