Kaladesh is nearly upon us and with the full set finally spoiled it’s time to get to brewing for SCG Indianapolis, the first tournament where it will be legal for sanctioned play. I love brewing, especially with new formats, because it’s the perfect time to try something unconventional as there isn’t a defined meta. This is especially true when the previous format was warped around a specific card (i.e. Collected Company).
I am definitely the type that likes playing something unexpected, a fact that brings me to my first list which is the one I am considering playing the most. The numbers are probably not final since I still have a few more weeks to test but the basic shell is the following:
Kaladesh Mono Blue Control by Josh Dickerson
This deck is very reminiscent of Mono Blue Prison list from the previous format. What it loses in the engine of Jace’s Sanctum, it gains in another that also happens to be a threat with Torrential Gearhulk which is definitely the build-around-me card of this list.
One of the key synergies here is with Disappearing Act. Having to bounce one of your own permanents to counter a spell is not usually the best rate, but this list is set up to abuse it in numerous different ways. The first is with Thing in the Ice. After he’s transformed you can return it to your hand to get a second use out of his transform later on in the game. Being a 2-drop also means that you can just bounce Thing in the Ice instead of having to bounce a land with nothing else on board.
Disappearing Act also works great with Deadlock Trap. You get at least two uses out of each cast and with Act you can recycle it when needed.
Things get really crazy though when you’re able to bounce a Torrential Gearhulk. Being able to counter a spell for free and get the Gearhulk back is great value. Pulling off that “combo” even one time and the threat of another Gearhulk looming should be enough to take over a game.
Engulf the Shore is the next key piece. Just like with the original Prison lists, Engulf was your best tool for staving off aggression over a long period of time. Those lists had Day’s Undoing to recycle Engulfs whereas this list again uses Gearhulk as a replacement. You lose some inevitability from sheer volume of deck size having access to your whole library multiple times over, but you gain a faster win condition and generally good card.
Aethersquall Ancient at 1 is probably right where you want to be. It’s great when it works and terrible when it doesn’t, similarly to how Pearl Lake Ancient was in U/B control a few formats ago. It’s the gift that keeps on giving and if you’ve gotten the game to a point where it feels good to cast it you are probably going to be highly favored to win shortly after. It also has the ability to generate Energy for your Deadlock Traps, so there’s some added synergy there.
Glimmer of Genius is a super exciting card. Comparing it to similar effects already in standard like Comparative Analysis or Catalog or staples from previous formats like Jace’s Ingenuity and it’s easy to see how it matches up favorably to all of them. While it is a mana more than current Standard options listed above, you’re potentially seeing 2 extra cards, providing a better shot to hit something you need. You draw 1 total less card than Ingenuity but you have more options with scry and you’re also gaining 2 Energy. It also costs one mana less, paying 3U for an effect that could very well cost 4U or more. The extra energy also plays great with Deadlock Trap and Aethersquall Ancient just like previously mentioned.
I’m unsure about the exact numbers I’ll want of Unsubstantiate and Summary Dismissal. Dismissal seems like it could be great as Emrakul is still around and could very easily run away with the format if left unchecked. Ramp/Emerge style decks also still have a reasonable amount of tools at their disposal to compete so I think 3-4 will probably end up being the correct number. Unsubstantiate is great early to give yourself additional time and late in the game it has good synergy with both Gearhulk and Thing in the Ice so I imagine it is also a 3-4 of.
I also think that Jace, Unraveler of Secrets could definitely be moved to the main. He has great synergy with all of your threats and all of his abilities progress your overall game plan. At 5 mana though he’s pushing the curve a bit too high which is why I omitted him for now. He seems perfect in the sideboard though as you can trim as necessary to fit him in postboard games once you know what cards are less good in specific matchups.
The 3/3 split on Revolutionary Rebuff and Ceremonious Rejection is a concession to what I expect the meta to look like. Aggro decks received many great tools this set for coming out of the gates early, like hasty vehicles and cards like Voltaic Brawler and Lathnu Hellion, so having early efficient answers to them is going to be necessary. And I think for week 1 a 3/3 split is perfect as you’re not sure what decks will be most present.
There are similar argument for Negate as above but for Planewalkers. All 4 of them printed in Kaladesh could reasonably see a large amount of play and some of them might even be among the greatest ever made. Only time will tell but until it does I want to be prepared for super-friends style decks.
Insidious Will and Confirm Suspicions singletons in the board are a nod to potential control mirrors where games go long and you really need to make the most of each spell. Netting cards or having multiple potential modes are both things you’d want in that situation. Insidious Will seems like a very love/hate card
where it will either be a blowout or just meh and could probably be anything else. But having 3 modes definitely leads me to believe that it will be live more often than not, so I’m willing to include 1 for that reason.
Thanks for joining me again this week! Next week I’m going to flesh out another list I’ve been working on for the Open and I look forward to testing Mono-Blue throughout the week to see.
Until next week!