Feeling Blue


There are lots of cards that are getting people excited at the moment. Some people are getting excited by the new Invocations.

Some by the new Gods.

Some by the super cheap “exert your lands” spells.

Oh, and there’s this guy.

But I’ve been excited by a rather more innocuous looking card:

Why is that? Well, at heart, I am a Blue player. I like saying no. I like drawing cards. I know that at some point I’ll win the game, but I don’t have to do that right now. For the time being I’m happy sitting here, drawing lots of cards, making land drops and taking all the turns.

At the moment, blue has an excellent position in the metagame, with plenty of tools for beating the “best decks” of the format and enough flexibility in its answers to handle whatever gets thrown at it. Supreme Will adds yet another card to its arsenal, one that has importance in both the early and late game. So before we start evaluating this, lets look at some of the tools in the shell we have to fit them into.

Baral, Chief of Compliance helps glue this deck together. The amount of mana he generates with the cheap card filtering and counters that you’ll be throwing out is phenomenal. Of course, the gravy is the first time you counter someone’s spell with him out, put your loot trigger on the stack and hear them exclaim “Wait! WHAT!?” Yes, I do get to do that. Yes, I countered your spell for only one blue mana, and now I’m going to draw and discard a card just for the rub ins.

The fact that as a 1/3 he also blocks rather nicely too is a little extra bonus, though you do have to be careful about putting him in harm’s way too often. Sometimes you just need  a warm body to throw under a bus, and his works absolutely fine when you need him to be just that.

Speaking of cheap counterspells, here are the main culprits. No, of course we run Disallow too, as a catch all, and maybe a few other three mana counters, but ever since the days of Limited Edition Alpha, we’ve known in our heart of hearts that countermagic is best at two. Why do I choose to run these? The ubiquity of creatures these days, especially cheap ones, means that I need a cheap way to interact with them. These all mean that I can leave up a counter on turn two, play Baral on turn three and have a mana open to either protect him or stop my opponent’s two or three drop. And if they don’t play one? Well, I can always just cycle away my Censor. Or keep it, and get to do it later. Either way I’m good.

Horribly Awry is a key card these days in many match ups. Against decks like Zombies and Mardu Vehicles I’m really happy to see it as it deals with- for good- Dread Wanderer and Scrapheap Scrounger, stops Diregraf Colossus from getting too big, prevents countered creatures from being fuel for a future Scrapheap Scrounger as well as straight up stopping cards like Winding Constrictor, Longtusk Cub, Whirler Virtuoso, Tireless Tracker, Enigma Drake, Lord of the Accursed, the aforementioned Diregraf Colossus and helps slow down delerium decks a tiny bit (admittedly not that much). It also matters in the late game when you’re able to cast Memory and shuffle your respective graveyards back into your decks, you get back all those lovely counters you’ve spent all game casting while your opponent’s deck remains far less threat heavy to your answer laden deck.

Negate has applications everywhere. While it excels in the control mirror, these days even aggro decks have plenty of noncreature spells to aim at. From Gideons and Vehicles to removal spells pointed at your very few creatures, Negate does a good job of, well, negating them.

Of course, once we’ve used all of our counter magic, we need a way of refilling our hand. These, plus Anticipate (which I’ve been trying to phase out but it keeps doing great work) are ways that, when our opponent does nothing for a turn we are able to use up all of that untapped mana to draw a bunch of cards. The Glimmer of Geniuses (Genii?) also give us a useful energy boost for our one-of Dynavolt Tower which itself generates so much card advantage when left unchecked by picking off all those pesky little aggressive creatures that Standard seems to be littered with. It also helps deal with a resolved Planeswalker pretty well, which is important as realistically the only other option for this is Commit.

Timetwister is a pretty good card. Most people would agree with that. As one of the (in)famous Power Nine it is one of the most recognisable and iconic cards in Magic. If you double the cost, well, that makes it a little worse. What pushes it over the edge in this card though is that the Timetwister isn’t even the “main” mode of use. Commit can act as both a counterspell and piece of spot removal (combining nicely with Memory to buy a little more time away from the threat… hopefully). Commit is also an instant, which has rather good synergy with another card in the deck.

The best Blue card in Standard.

By a literal mile.

No, seriously, the advantage that you can gain from this card is huge. It is big enough to eat almost every non-flying attacker that is thrown at you, counters things, draws you cards, rebuys your bounce spells and, at the end of your opponent’s turn, draws you a fresh grip of seven cards. Torrential Gearhulk is able to cast any instant out of your graveyard, which includes Memory due to the fact that Commit is an instant. Resolving a Torrential Gearhulked out Memory when you’ve got eight or nine lands out feels just great.

One of my favourite little tricks to do with Torrential Gearhulk uses this card:

Picture the scene: turn four, your opponent, having built up their board, plays a precombat Lord of the Accursed, generating a token off their Diregraf Colossus. They already have a Cryptbreaker and Scrapheap Scrounger and go to swing with their buffed up team.

Splash!

Goodbye all five creatures.

They spend their next turn developing their board again. Maybe you get to counter one. Then turn six they attack again.

Woomph!

In comes a Torrential Gearhulk. Shores get re-engulfed. The water settles and hey, what’s this Gearhulk doing back in my hand? Due to the fact that nearly all of the lands in the deck are islands there will almost invariably be six Islands on your side of the battlefield when you cast it. The only two lands that aren’t Islands are Cascading Cataracts and Geier Reach Sanitarium. Both of these provide extra utility to the deck in very different ways.

The Cascading Cataracts give something to Awaken with Part the Waterveil which will dodge most removal and be able to block or attack with impunity thanks to its indestructable nature. Geier Reach Sanitarium provides a little late game looting and a way to spend excess mana in the late game to improve card quality in your hand. It also has a degree of synergy with Torrential Gearhulk , in that you can make sure that the card you want to flash back is in the graveyard at the right time.

They also let you do little tricks with your Engulfs, in that if you have one of these out, you can cast a turn three Engulf the Shore with a Baral and have Baral remain in play (or on turn four pre land drop to keep up a Horribly Awry) or on turn four and keep around a Thing in the Ice, a two drop creature that can do it all, from blocking to wiping the board to acting as a stellar finisher.

While we’re looking it lands, it seems wise to mention these two. Both Irrigated Farmland and Fetid Pools look a little odd for a mono-coloured deck on the surface of things, but they are both Islands for our Engulf the Shores and the cycling is hugely relevant to mitigate flooding out and make sure you’ve got the right cards in hand at the right time.

So after all of this, where does Supreme Will fit in? This card, while a little expensive for just one of the options, has a lot of flexibility that many of the other cards in the deck do not. It acts as a counterspell in a deck that needs a critical mass of them to operate and also can find you the card that you need when you need it. Need to hit that sixth land drop for Gearhulk? No problem. Supreme Will can dig for it, and dig deeper than Anticipate too, going as deep as Glimmer of Genius for a whole mana less. I’m really excited to slot this card into my Blue deck going forward, and I’m excited to see what other toys Hour of Devastation will bring.

 

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About Christopher Cooper

Christopher has been playing Magic for over 15 years and has been writing about it for nearly 10. He has played nearly all formats available to him in this time, from Vintage to Draft to Commander-Planechase-Archenemy. He has a young daughter who also plays Magic, and a wife who doesn't. Christopher lives in Gloucester.

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