Mtg, Standard

Mostly Mono Blue GP Denver Tournament Report and Sideboard Guide

I started the tournament with two byes, thanks to last year’s Planeswalker Points. I got a good night’s sleep, had some breakfast, and went down to the convention center ready to battle.

Here’s the list I registered:

Noxious Grasp
Illustrated by Tomasz Jedruszek

Round 3: Nexus – WW 3-0

My opponent conceded game one because he had to take a mulligan to four, so we played game two with no sideboards. I saw that he was on Simic Nexus, and knew that I was favored. I ended up winning the game and match, and my opponent told me that he made the decision to concede game one because he likes his pre sideboard chances against almost every other deck in the meta. Makes sense to me.

Round 4: Mono Red – LWW 4-0 

Cerulean Drake makes this matchup so good, and is the main reason I felt like Mono Blue could afford to drop Tempest Djinn. You no longer have to race Mono Red in the same way, and Cerulean Drakes give us so much time to set up. 

Round 5: Scapeshift – LWL 4-1

I lost this match to Chris Oien, also known as Mullibok on Twitch. I did not prepare for the Scapeshift deck going into this weekend, and as such I had a very hard time beating an 0/3 with reach, and beating two was basically impossible. The one change I would make to my deck going forward would be to cut one or both Aether Gusts for some combination of Selective Snare or Crafty Cutpurse, to try to gain an edge in Scapeshift and Vampires matchups.

Round 6: Gruul Monsters – WW 5-1

Got ahead of my opponent game one, and made a huge Brineborn Cutthroat that got me across the finish line. In game two he played two Cindervines, which did not line up against my creature heavy draw. I had Brineborn Cutthroat with 2 other fliers and a bunch of counterspells to deal with anything he tried to do after the two Cindervines.

Round 7: Vampires – LWW 6-1

Lost a very close game one, and then got out ahead early to pick up game 2. My opponent had to mulligan to four in game three, and I was able to capitalize on his card disadvantage. 

Round 8: Mono White – WW 7-1

Opponent only had 1 land in game one and I won easily. Game two was closer, but I had a handful of counterspells to lock it down. Adanto Vanguard is the creature I want to see most early on in this matchup, especially when I have multiple Merfolk Tricksters in hand.

Round 9: Simic Nexus – LWL 7-2

I kept a bad opening hand in game one, and I got there eventually game two. We had an awkward standoff at the end of game three, with my opponent at two with a Shifting Ceratops on board, me at ten with a Merfolk Trickster in play, and both of us with nothing in hand. My opponent finally found the second Ceratops before I found my second copy of Noxious Grasp, Merolk Trickster, or Brineborn Cutthroat, which meant his pair of dinos got to attack and kill me.

Round 10: Mono Red – LL 7-3

I almost stabilized game one, and in game two he had multiple Legion Warbosses to run me down. As long as Mono Blue can deal with Legion Warboss, I like this matchup. The more Legion Warbosses that show up in post board games, the worse it gets for the Mono Blue player.

Round 11: Esper Hero – LWL 7-4

We split the first two games, but I couldn’t find lands in game three when I needed them most. I missed my 4th land for too many turns, and I was never able to get back into the match. I needed to be able to double spell just once to try to stabilize, but with a bunch of two drops in hand and three lands in play, I couldn’t quite get there.

Round 12: Mono Red – LWW 8-4

After splitting the first two games. I fell to one life with a Cerulean Drake and multiple counterspells in hand in game three. I got to attack in with a huge Brineborn Cutthroat for lethal, thanks to the fourth copy of Merfolk Trickster. 

Round 13: Bant Midrange – LWW 9-4

I lost game one to Trostani Discordant and a wide variety of mana dorks. I won game two to my opponent having mana problems, and game three played out similar – I got out ahead and never looked back, while my opponent missed land drops or had the wrong land at the wrong time.

Round 14: Gruul Monsters – WW 10-4

In game one, I got out ahead and countered almost all of his spells. I drew almost all of my counterspells, and I never let him get a blocker on board. In game two, my opponent couldn’t find red mana for basically the entire game, which let my slow hand play out to a dominant victory.

Round 15: Simic Flash – LWW 11-4

I lost game one because I ran out of gas early, but won games two and three because he ran out of gas first. This was the first time actually playing this matchup, and it felt good – I had more card advantage pieces then he did, and my spells cost less than his, which let me pressure his mana and get ahead on tempo.

After starting Day Two with two losses, I was able to rally wins through the rest of the day and end in 20th place. I love playing this Mostly Mono Blue deck because there are complicated lines, and it always feels like you are able to make decisions that impact the game. There are many card advantage engines in the deck also, and you rarely feel like you have completely run out of steam. 

As mentioned briefly before, going forward I would look to cut Aether Gust from the sideboard to make room for cards that are better in historically bad matchups. The Mono Red matchup already feels close, and Gruul spells are so big that there is usually time to set up counterspells for the important ones. Instead, I would look to add Crafty Cutpurse and Selective Snare to the sideboard. Both can play a role in the Scapeshift matchup, while Selective Snare also helps out against vampires. 

Here are my general sideboard plans for some matchups, but remember to adjust these plans based on card choices and playstyle of your opponents! Happy sailing!

vs. Feather:

In: 3 Cerulean Drake, 2 Negate, 1 Essence Capture, 2 Noxious Grasp

Out: 2 Spell Pierce, 2 Merfolk Trickster, 2 Lookout’s Dispersal, 2 Brineborn Cutthroat, 1 Wizard’s Retort

All of your opponent’s creatures can be problematic here, so counter and kill them while they are tapped out or light on mana. If you can keep creatures off the table, you should be able to find a way to win from there.

vs. Simic Flash

In: 1 Essence Capture, 4 Noxious Grasp

Out: 1 Unsummon, 2 Wizard’s Retort, 2 Dive Down

Our spells are cheaper, so trade up on mana as often as possible, and protect your card advantage engines. Spectral Sailor is key in this matchup. Kill Shifting Ceratops on sight.

vs. Esper Hero

In: 3 Negate

Out: 1 Unsummon, 2 Merfolk Trickster

They don’t have that many spells that matter, so counter the ones that do and start getting in there. They have expensive spells that are great to avoid, and the extra Negates should give you a density of counterspells to keep up.

vs. Mono Blue

In: 1 Essence Capture, 2 Entrancing Melody

Out: 1 Negate, 2 Wizard’s Retort

Steal their cards that matter, try to stay up on mana and tempo. Remember that Merfolk Trickster can eat all of the one drops in the deck, so attacking into two open mana should be done cautiously.

vs. Mono Red

In: 3 Cerulean Drake, 1 Essence Capture

Out: -2 Wizard’s Retort, -2 Opt

Draw Cerulean Drake, play Cerulean Drake. It is great at holding Obsessions. Counter Legion Warboss every time!

vs. Simic Nexus

In: 3 Negate, 4 Noxious Grasp

Out: 2 Dive Down, 4 Spectral Sailor, 1 Opt

This matchup is generally about speed, which is why Spectral Sailor comes out. Maybe it should be Siren Stormtamer instead, but I found this to work pretty well. Negate their Wilderness Reclamations, Noxious Grasp their Shifting Ceratops and planeswalkers, and you should be good to go.

vs. Vampires

In: 2 Entrancing Melody, 1 Selective Snare, 1 Essence Capture

Out: 1 Negate, 1 Opt, 1 Dive Down, 1 Wizard’s Retort

Entrancing Melody is great for stealing tokens and Knight of the Ebon Legion. Leave in Spell Pierce to snag Sorin, Imperious Bloodlord or their Mortifies. Again, Merfolk Trickster can eat Adanto Vanguard.

vs. Scapeshift

In: 3 Negate, 4 Noxious Grasp, 1 Selective Snare, 1 Crafty Cutpurse

Out: 2 Dive Down, 1 Unsummon, 2 Merfolk Trickster, 4 Opt

This is largely untested, but I think that this should set you up for success. Merfolk Trickster doesn’t have a lot of good targets, but it is still a 2/2 and can attack past an Arboreal Grazer with just one Curious Obsession (as opposed to two that any of our one drops need). I would absolutely shoot a grazer with Noxious Grasp if it unlocked enough attacks. Selective Snare will likely name Beast or Zombie, to clear up a big attack, or to buy more time. 

And that’s that! I hope that someone finds this write up and guide useful, especially going into MCQ weekend. I’m not qualified, but I’ll be rooting for my friends who are. Good luck!

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