Mono Blue Tempo is Back!

Christian Calcano

Christian Calcano

Introduction: The Rise of Scapeshift

This past weekend was the 2nd weekend of this brand new Standard format after Core Set 2020 (M20)’s release, and it’s proven to be another set that has highly impacted Standard.

Bant 《Scapeshift》 had a breakout weekend taking down the Grand Prix in Denver in the hands of none other than Luis Scott-Vargas (LSV) himself. 《Scapeshift》 variants posted high finishes in multiple different Standard events taking place over the weekend, making it the clear deck to beat at the moment.

ScapeshiftField of the Dead

My Deck Choice and Card Selections

This past weekend I played in the Team Constructed SCG Open and chose to play Mono Blue Tempo in Standard. Ross Merriam piloted the deck to a 2nd place finish in week 1 and I think it’s one of the better decks to take on this metagame at the moment.

Siren StormtamerTempest DjinnCurious ObsessionWizard's Retort

I’ll break down the list I’m currently playing, how to sideboard against the most played decks in the metagame, and where I think Standard will go from here. Here is the list I played:

Card Choices: Mainboard

《Faerie Miscreant》

Faerie Miscreant

The first thing you might notice from my list is my decision to include the newly reprinted 《Faerie Miscreant》. While the card seems weak in general, I think it fits quite well in this deck. It effectively replaces 《Mist-Cloaked Herald》 for the upside of drawing extra cards. One might argue to play the full set of 《Spectral Sailor》 prior to playing 《Faerie Miscreant》, but they’re very different cards.

Spectral SailorLookout's Dispersal

For starters I’m not a fan of 《Lookout’s Dispersal》 so no need for the Pirate synergy in this deck. Also the deck only has 20 lands thus you’ll be operating on 2-3 lands most of the time, so sinking 4 mana into Sailor’s ability usually happens in the late game of which the deck doesn’t generally get to very often unless you’re behind. So being able to draw cards for just one mana while adding some amount of pressure to the board is why I’m a fan of 《Faerie Miscreant》.

《Winged Words》

Winged Words

The only other new addition to the main deck is 《Winged Words》. I’m not fully convinced it’s better than 《Chart a Course》 as there are games where 《Merfolk Trickster》 is your first creature. Drawing cards prior to attacking is good if you’re digging for a 《Curious Obsession》 or an 《Island》 for 《Tempest Djinn》, so 《Winged Words》 is better in that scenario. In the end I think they’re both fine but I don’t have a definitive one I’d play over the other.

Disruptions

Spell PierceDive Down

Other main deck things to note is my decision to play 4 《Spell Pierce》 and 3 《Dive Down》. I feel 4 Pierce is a must because 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 is an absolute must counter for this deck. 《Dive Down》 is the only way to counter 《Fry》 of which a lot of decks playing red are packing multiple in their sideboards mostly for Teferi decks, but also happen to be the best possible card against us. For that reason I don’t think you can leave home without at least 3 《Dive Down》.

Card Choices: Sideboard

《Cerulean Drake》

Cerulean Drake

Now for the sideboard, M20 delivered some great new options for Mono Blue. The clear all-star is 《Cerulean Drake》, which completely shifts what was previously a bad matchup. Mono Red simply has no way to interact with the Drake so in some games you get to run away with the game with a Drake and 《Curious Obsession》.

《Aether Gust》

Aether Gust

The next card we have here is 《Aether Gust》 and while I currently have 2 in my sideboard, I think that number will soon be 4. Various versions of Dinosaurs are starting to see more play as well and 《Shifting Ceratops》 is extremely difficult to beat. 《Aether Gust》 is your only way to interact with it and that’s only while it’s a spell on the stack, so you can tempo your opponent out before they get to resolve it. Overall it’s a flexible card that gives the deck more options post board, a very strong addition.

《Tale’s End》

Tale's End

The final M20 card that made it’s way into the sideboard is 《Tale’s End》. I chose to play multiple copies of this card mainly for 2 matchups, Nexus and Esper.

Blast ZoneWilderness Reclamation

This card is key vs Nexus because it counters 《Blast Zone》 which is a backbreaking card against Mono Blue. Protection spells do nothing against it which is one of the reasons why Mono Blue barely saw play in the last Standard format. But now you have 《Tale’s End》 to deal with it or even counter a timely 《Wilderness Reclamation》 trigger.

Teferi, Time RavelerTeferi, Hero of DominariaOath of KayaLyra Dawnbringer

Against Esper, the card has multiple targets which are all cards you care about. Both 《Teferi, Time Raveler》, and 《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》, 《Oath of Kaya》, and 《Lyra Dawnbringer》. I feel like the applications the card has in these matchups is more than enough to include a couple in the sideboard.

Sideboard Guide

Mono Red

Against Mono Red

Out

Faerie Miscreant Faerie Miscreant Faerie Miscreant Faerie Miscreant
Spell Pierce Spell Pierce Spell Pierce Spell Pierce

In

Cerulean Drake Cerulean Drake Cerulean Drake Cerulean Drake
Essence Capture Essence Capture Aether Gust Aether Gust

Bant Scapeshift

Against Bant Scapeshift

Out

Dive Down Dive Down Dive Down Spectral Sailor

In

Negate Negate Aether Gust Aether Gust

Esper

Against Esper

Out

Winged Words Merfolk Trickster
Dive Down Dive Down

In

Negate Negate
Tale's End Tale's End

Boros Feather

Against Boros Feather

Out

Faerie Miscreant Faerie Miscreant Faerie Miscreant Faerie Miscreant
Winged Words Dive Down

In

Essence Capture Essence Capture Aether Gust Aether Gust
Negate Negate

Orzhov Vampires

Against Orzhov Vampires

Out

Winged Words Wizard's Retort Dive Down
Spell Pierce Spell Pierce

In

Entrancing Melody Entrancing Melody Faerie Duelist
Essence Capture Essence Capture

Jund Dinosaurs

Against Jund Dinosaurs

Out

Spell Pierce Spell Pierce Spell Pierce Spell Pierce
Dive Down Dive Down Winged Words Wizard's Retort

In

Entrancing Melody Entrancing Melody Aether Gust Aether Gust
Negate Negate Essence Capture Essence Capture

Conclusion

I think the deck is good enough to be considered a tier 1 deck again and I look forward to getting to play some more Standard. The format is still relatively young so there’s still room to innovate on some of these existing strategies. Best of luck in your games!

Calcano (Twitter)

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Christian Calcano

Christian Calcano At the Grand Prix level, he has two wins, at GP Minneapolis 2012 and GP Atlantic City 2015, in seven total top eight finishes. He has also three additional top 16 finishes, and at the Pro Tour: Ammonket he has won the top eight awards. He is one of the top players who travels the world and continues to fight. Read more articles by Christian Calcano