Why would I want any lands in play that aren’t basic Island? Alright, maybe some fetches to shuffle away my bad Brainstorms, but I’m sure you can forgive me for that. Here’s the list I played.
I won’t go through every card in detail, but this is a countertop deck with a twist. Instead of the usual white package of miracles and kill spells we have access to an amazing lock piece; Back to Basics. We need a way to stem the damage though, so Energy Field also earns itself a spot. Field’s great, and a lot of decks just don’t have an answer to it at all. This is often the case when they have no lands due to Back to Basics, or we have the countertop lock anyway. Eventually we either beat down with a Vendilion Clique or Shackle their creatures until they run out and we have a lethal attacker.
Round One: MUC vs. Death and Taxes
My day didn’t start well, with my first bus not arriving and the second one breaking down halfway through my journey.. Luckily, I managed to catch an alternate route and arrive at the venue with 2 minutes to spare.
Shuffling up, I sat down to face my round one opponent. Keeping a full 7 I was quickly able to establish a lock after landing a Turn 2 Energy Field. From there I assembled countertop and eventually played a shackles. His board was huge, with Jitte and an Aether Vial on 3 being the only cards I was worried about. The game was going long and it with him casting a Palace Jailer off a Cavern of Souls it looked like my best option was decking him, we were stalled on topdecking for a long time and down to about 15 minutes on the round. Eventually I had 8 cards in hand, my options were play a fetchland and have it get Wastelanded (cracking my Field), or play Snapcaster Mage and hoped he didn’t see the line to zap it with his Jitte. I went with the latter, pondering before he did see the line and swung in for lethal the next turn. We didn’t bother starting a game 2 with only around 4 minutes left on the clock.
Round Two: MUC vs. 4-colour Delver
I mulliganned to 6 and my opponent played a turn one Delver of Secrets. I pondered into a Back to Basics as my opponent played a Deathrite Shaman and flipped the Delver. From there it was Energy Field into Back To Basics and he had no basics in play. DRS was overworked for a few turns before I started disassembling his board with a Vedalken Shackles, then I eventually stole his last D
RS and slowly chipped away for the win.
Game 2 was a slog, which is kind of what I want. He stuck an early True Name Nemesis and I was stuck on a reactive hand and an Energy Field. Again, I drew the Back to Basics and resolved it with 1 mana left up to Spell Pierce his Force of Will. From there I got the countertop lock, and even a Vedalken Shackles. His only none-land permanent was the True Name Nemesis though so I had nothing to steal with it. We went to time with about 20 permanents on my side of the board. I was thrown into the next round with yet another rumble in my stomach.
Round Three: MUC vs. Miracles
These games basically consisted of us saying no to each other until one of us landed a threat. Mine was a Counterbalance that I had to tap out for. He responded with his own, flipping an Island from the top of my deck it resolved, he followed up with a Sensei’s Divining Top. From there he controlled my spells where they mattered until he had enough basics in play through my Back to Basics to cast a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and leave up Top mana. I was ultimated and scooped.
Game 2 was very similar, with me trying to resolve my own Jace with Force backup but him blind flipping his own with a Counterbalance and then playing it the next turn through his own Force. It wasn’t long before he ultimated me again, I made him play it out that time as he fatesealed the last 3 cards in my library. In hindsight, I was probably too aggressive in the matchup and should’ve played a more reactive game.
Round Four: MUC vs. UB Reanimator
He mulliganned to 5 and I filtered my draws a little, then playeda Back To Basics locking him down his lone Underground Sea.I Vendilion Cliqued him on the end of his turn 4 drawstep just in time to catch a fresh Lotus Petal that he needed to go off with. Shortly after I assembled the countertop lock and beat him down with the Clique.
I had a lot of sideboard includes that worked for this matchup, but mulliganned an unteractive hand and still sadly didn’t see any of them. Force of Will was also deciding not to show up to the party. He made a quick Griselbrand, we fought over Energy Fields for a couple of turns with him chunking me down, countering one and breaking the second with a Thoughtseize. He stuck an Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and did the final burst of damage.
He revealed Chancellor of the Annex, meaning I couldn’t Spell Pierce him when he went off on turn 2 and reanimated in the Chancellor. It took a few turns for him to beat me down, me stalling with a Clique and digging with Snapcaster and Brainstorms, unfortunately I was a turn too late to find a Devastation Tide. My next round opponent dropped and I finally got to find some food before covering the Top 8.
Mono Blue Control Evaluation
All in all, I don’t think the results of the deck are enough to formulate a negative opinion of it. I think that it’s extremely powerful in the right hands, and with time those records will flip over drastically. A lot of decks just can’t answer a resolved Energy Field or Back to Basics, but there’s definitely a lot of play to get it right. I’d happily recommend the deck, just get in a lot of practice with it first.
Top 8 Text Coverage
With my own tournament over, I decided to stick around and write up coverage for the Top 8 players in the tournament. Full decklists for the Top 8 and a metagame breakdown are available here.
Quarter-final: Callum (3) Tinfins vs. James (6) BR Reanimator
This would be a fast one, James mulliganned to 6 and Callum played an Underground Sea and main-phase Brainstorm. He followed up with a Lotus Petal, cracking it to Cabal Therapy naming Entomb and missing. A second Therapy took down James’ Thoughtseize, revealing a hand that had the rest of the pieces to present a threat.
James topdecked an Unmask and cost it targetting himself to bin a Griselbrand. He cracked his own Petal and a fetch to Exhume the Griselbrand and draw 7. Chrome Mox let him Dark Ritual and Thoughtseize himself for a Chancellor of the Annex which he also exhumed.
Callum played a Polluted Delta and passed. Swinging in, James was able to draw yet another 7 cards and produce the components of a 2nd Chancellor. Callum drew for his turn and scooped.
James: +1 Iona, Shield of Emeria, -1 Tidespout Tyrant.
Callum: +3 Swords to Plowshares, +1 Flusterstorm, +1 Disenchant, -2 Ponder, -2 Sensei’s Divining Top, -1 Tendrils of Agony.
James revealed a Chancellor at the start of the game. Callum played a Sea and passed. James Unmasked himself for the Chancellor and put it onto the field with Animate Dead. Callum played a Tundra and passed back.
James got in for 4, then passed back. Callum tried to Entomb on the end step, forgetting that there would be two Chancellor triggers on the stack (one from the reveal and one from the Chancellor in play). Distraught, he Brainstormed instead. James entombed a Griselbrand on Callum’s end step. James beat him down for a few turns and eventually managed to Exhume an Iona which named black. Callum scooped them up.
Semi-final: James (6) – BR Reanimator vs. Aston (2) Death and Taxes
I decided to follow James into his next game, interested with how the matchup would turn out. It ended up being incredibly interesting and not at all how I would’ve expected.
Aston mulliganned to 6 and James revealed a Chancellor. Aston played a Plains and passed. James drew and moved to his Cleanup, binning a Griselbrand. Aston played a Ghost Quarter and passed back.
James cracked a Bloodstained Mire for Snow-covered Swamp and Lotus Petalled for Animate Dead on Griselbrand. He payed 7, then payed 7 again in response to Aston’s Swords To Plowshares. Drawing 14, James had enough resources to Petal twice and ditch a Griselbrand and Sire of Insanity off his Faithless Looting. Cracking Petal, a Chrome Mox on black into Dark Ritual let him Exhume Griselbrand and Animate Dead the Sire. Both players discarded their hands.
Aston played a Vial off the top of his deck and passed. James got in for 12 and cast Reanimate for a Chancellor of the Annex. Aston drew the Karakas a turn too late and scooped.
James: +3 Abrupt Decay, +1 Iona, Shield of Emeria, +1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, -1 Tidespout Tyrant, -2 Thoughtseize, -1 Faithless Looting, -1 Chancellor of the Annex.
Aston: +2 Path to Exile, +2 Containment Priest, +2 Rest in Peace, +1 Leonin Relic Warder, -2 Mother of Runes, -1 Mirran Crusader, -2 Stoneforge Mystic, -1 Sword of Fire and Ice, -1 Umezawe’s Jitte.
James yet again revealed Chancellor, but Aston played through it with a Cavern of Souls on Human and a Mother of Runes. James Petalled, cast two Dark Rituals and Thoughtseized himself before Reanimating a Sire of Insanity. They both ditched their hands again. Aston played a Vial again off the top and passed.
James attacked with Sire and Mother of Runes blocked, protecting herself from black. Aston passed. The same thing happened three more times with both players drawing and discarding their uncastable spells.
Aston found a Flickerwisp and put it into play from his Aether Vial, which was now on 3. James played a Badlands. Aston got in with the Wisp and played a second Vial. James entombed for a Faithless Looting, his graveyard already full of plenty of reanimation targets. For the next few turns Aston beat down in the air while James failed to topdeck a reanimation spell.
In game 3 Aston mulliganned to 6 again and scryed to the top. James played a Swamp and Ritualled into Entomb, then Reanimate on Sire. Aston drew and played the Karakas he’d scried to the top, unfortunately not being able to bounce the Sire. James got in for a few turns while Aston made land drops and eventually drew a Swords to Plowshares for the Sire.
James responded by drawing the Reanimate for his Griselbrand and drawing 7, going to to 5 life. He passed and Aston bounced it with Karakas. Aston played Ghost Quarter and blew up James’ Swamp, hoping he wouldn’t have a second one to find from the deck. He did. He then drew and cast Reanimate on the Flickerwisp in Aston’s graveyard, the only target that wouldn’t kill him. Aston Pathed the Wisp on the end step.
Aston passed and James’ Unmask revealed his draw for the turn as a 2nd Karakas. He played a Bayou and Animate Dead on a Chancellor. Aston flipped a Sanctum Prelate off the top of his deck, but was to die to the crackback from Chancellor.
Final: James (6) – BR Reanimator vs. Claude (5) – BUG Midrange
The players sat down for the final and drew their opening hands. Both kept and James revealed double Chancellor of the Annex. Claude played an Island and Pondered, which fizzled to the Chancellor triggers.
James played Mire for a Badlands and Unmasked Claude, pitching animate dead to it and stripping Claude of a Daze. Then Faithless Looting binned both of his Chancellor’s. Claude cracked a Misty finding Bayou and played a Noble Heirarch.
James played Petal, then Unmasked Claude again to take his Murderous Cut. Exhume landed him a Chancellor and he passed. Claude played a Tarmogoyf and a Verdant Catacombs. Goyf was already a 5/6 and looking just about as threatening as Chancellor.
James flew over for 5 and Looted away an Entomb and a Thoughtseize. Claude swung back for 6 with his Exalted Goyf and fetched a Tropical Island. Then with an extra land to prevent James’ Chancellor trigger he played Garruk Relentless. A wolf was made and the turn went back to James.
He attacked Claude and passed the turn. Claude got in for 7 with the wolf and Goyf, putting James to 6. James drew, played a Bloodstained Mire and passed, leaving Chancellor back. Claude Brainstormed and attacked with Goyf. Chancellor chump blocked it and Claude made a second wolf. James fetched a Bayou.
James drew a card. “Cast Griselbrand.” he stated, tapping 3 lands and putting it onto the stack. Claude thought about it for a couple of moments with a concerned expression before realising James couldn’t actually cast Griselbrand off 3 lands. They both laughed and went to the sideboards.
James: +1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, -1 Tidespout Tyrant.
Claude: +2 Surgical Extraction, +2 Flusterstorm, +1 Vendilion Clique, +2 Pithing Needle, +1 Nihil Spellbomb, +1 Thoughtseize, -1 Garruk Relentless, -1 Umezawe’s Jitte, -1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor, -1 Sylvan Library, -1 True Name Nemesis, -3 Abrupt Decay.
Claude mulliganned to 6 and scryed to the top, James revealed Chancellor. He then played a Badlands and Faithless Looted his Chancellor and a fetchland into the bin. Claude played a Bayou and ran Heirarch into the Chancellor trigger.
James played his own Bayou and a Chrome Mox on black. He cast Dark Ritual and Entombed Grizelbrand, hoping to hit a 1 mana Reanimation spell off a flashbacked Faithless Looting but missing and dropping another Unmask and Mire into his graveyard.
Claude untapped and cast Thoughtseize, hitting the lone Animate Dead James had in hand. He then played Pithing Needle, naming Griselbrand. James drew a card and passed. Claude Brainstormed and Thoughtseized it from James’ hand, revealing it as a Griselbrand. James drew and passed again.
Claude fetched an Underground Sea and cast Leovold, Emissary of Trest. He faded a few turns of James’ draws and added a True Name Nemesis to the field, presenting him with 6 power on the table. He drew a card and tried Animate Dead but it was met with a Force of Will from Claude, who retaliated by attacking James down to 4 with his team.
James drew and dropped Exhume on the table, this one resolved. It brought a Griselbrand with it that would be able to swing for some lifegain next turn, after all he was only looking to be at 1 after the True Name Nemesis attacked. It also however brought back the Noble Heirarch that Claude had countered on turn 1 to a Chancellor trigger, meaning Claude could swing with an Exalted True Name Nemesis for exact damage.