Budget Historic Deck Guide: Mono Blue Tempo
Wizards just announced that the second Arena Open will be on August 1st, and that the format of choice will be Historic. Between this most recent announcement, the upcoming release of both Jumpstart this very next week, and Amonkhet Remastered sometime in August, as well as the fact that the upcoming Mythic Invitational will be Historic, the format is going to get bigger than ever, attracting many new players.
Getting into Historic might be a bit intimidating at first, for players that either play mostly Standard, or are entirely new to Arena, as its card pool is much deeper, and decks need rares or mythics that can’t be played in Standard, since they come from older sets or even the Historic Anthologies. I’m here today to show you guys that it is possible to get into Historic with minimum investment of rare and mythic Wildcards, and my deck of choice for that plan is Mono Blue Tempo.
Mono Blue Tempo is a deck with a pretty straightforward goal: resolve a small evasive threat early, and protect it until it wins you the game. The deck is reasonably competitive in the current Historic field, and I feel comfortable calling it tier 2. It struggles versus fast aggressive decks that can establish a reasonable board presence before its shields come up, like Gruul Aggro, but it is very good against slower decks and those that don’t establish much of a board presence, like Simic Nexus. It’s hard to say what the Historic field will look like after Monday’s ban list update and Jumpstart’s release on Thursday, but I would expect the deck to still be very reasonable.
Here’s the list I’d recommend. As you can see, it requires only 2 rares and 4 mythics, making it one of the most budget-friendly options in the format. It’s even better than that in practice, as the mythics needed are 4 copies of Brazen Borrower, a card that sees play in a lot of other decks in both Historic and Standard, and that you’ll probably eventually end up wanting to craft anyway. You definitely will not regret spending wildcards for a playset.
Let’s go through a few of my card choices, starting with the creatures. Spectral Sailor and Siren Stormtamer both serve as cheap evasive threats, which both have some attached flexibility, with Spectral Sailor being able to provide card draw later in the game if necessary, and Siren Stormtamer functioning as an extra layer of protection for you and your team. There’s a single copy of Pteramander in the list, mostly there to provide a ninth one-mana threat, but the deck has a high-enough density of instants that adapting him early is realistic, and the 5/5 body can be very relevant, both offensively and defensively.
Brineborn Cutthroat is a bit of an outlier in the list, due to its lack of either evasion or utility, but it is very good on both the offense and defense, and grows very large very quickly just by doing what the deck already wants to do. Brazen Borrower is the only mythic in the list, but boy is it worth it. The versatility of the card is insane, being able to deal with any sort of tricky permanents that may have slipped past our counterspells, while also presenting a very real evasive threat with its three points of power. Flashing it in end of turn provides a fantastic answer to planeswalkers, that they ordinarily can’t interact with.
The last creature in the main-deck of the list, Sea-Dasher Octopus, is a bit weird in that, while technically a creature, it is hardly ever used as one. It is mostly in the list for its mutate ability, providing us with what is essentially a couple of extra copies of Curious Obsession. If you ever find yourself casting the creature half of this card, you are probably in trouble, but the flexibility is nice to have, and there are legitimately moments where an extra body on the battlefield is the difference between victory and defeat.
Speaking of Curious Obsession, it is one of the best cards in the entire deck, and the best possible starting hands all involve this one card. Putting Curious Obsession on some form of evasive threat ensures that you will never run out of cards in hand, allowing you to answer all of your opponents threats. This is absolutely a must have for the archetype.
The rest of the spells in the deck are all instants. The deck is mostly looking to play on the opponent’s turn, so we avoid cards that can’t do so as much as possible. In fact, there are only nine spells in the main-deck that must be played on our turn.
We start with four copies of Opt. As a cheap cantrip, it helps ensure that we always have spells relevant to the situation at hand, significantly increasing the consistency of the deck. There’s also two copies of Dive Down, a spell great at protecting our creatures against any single-target removal. Its hidden mode of increasing a creature’s toughness, allowing it to survive in combat, also comes up pretty frequently.
The rest of the spells in the deck are all counterspells, which are used to prevent any threats to us or our creatures from ever hitting the board. Our creatures help ensure that Lookout’s Dispersal and Lofty Denial are always enabled, with 12 Pirates for the former, and 9 fliers for the latter. There are three copies of Spell Pierce as a cheap disruptive tool that is very good in the early stages of the game, and a single copy of Mystical Dispute to round out our counterspell suite.
The large chunk of the sideboard is made up of counterspells that are good in very specific matchups. First of all there’s the last three copies of Mystical Dispute, an essential tool against any decks that are running Teferi, Time Raveler, as well as opposing counterspell decks. Second on the list we have Aether Gust, which is great against any list playing green or red spells, a pretty large chunk of the historic meta. The last one of the counterspells is Negate, which is great versus control decks, and is also not a tax-based counterspell, which can be helpful versus lists that generate large amounts of mana.
In the sideboard there’s also Cerulean Drake, which is good versus red aggressive decks, and dodges most pretty much every red removal spell. Last on the list is Sleep, which gives us a great way to close out games where the boardstate has gotten gummed up by opposing fliers or creatures with reach.
Changes with Jumpstart
Next Thursday is the date Jumpstart will finally be coming to Arena. With over 350 new to Historic cards being introduced, it is sure to help create exciting new decks, as well as boost already existing archetypes. Looking through the list of new cards, there are two that caught my eye as possible additions for Mono-Blue Tempo: Curiosity and Kira, Great Glass-Spinner.
Curiosity is an amazing addition to the archetype, granting us what essentially extra copies of Curious Obsession to the deck. The lack of a buff to the enchanted creature is certainly a drawback, but it also doesn’t fall off if you did not attack with a creature. I would believe Curiosity is a great upgrade over Sea-Dasher Octopus in the list. The best part is that Curiosity is just an uncommon card, bringing down the number of rares and mythics in the main-deck down to just the 4 copies of Brazen Borrower.
While it lacks the flexibility of being both an enchantment or a creature when needed, that Sea-Dasher Octopus possesses, being one mana cheaper is an amazing upgrade, as it makes one of the best lines in the deck, namely enchanting your creature on the second turn while holding up protection for it, much more likely to occur.
The other card from Jumpstart in consideration, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner, serves a very different role in the deck. Kira is an amazing tool versus matchups heavy in single target removal, allowing you to effectively protect your creatures while holding up counterspells for other threats such as sweepers. It is worth noting that Kira will also counter the first enchantment that targets each of your creatures per turn, so make sure to cast your copies of Curious Obsession or Curiosity before playing Kira.
Unlike Curiosity which will go straight into the main-deck, Kira will most likely be relegated to the sideboard. As great as in can be in some situations, in others it is just a below rate three mana flier. In an article about a budget deck, it is definitely worth noting that Kira is a rare card, but since the list is dropping Sea-Dasher Octopus for Curiosity, I’d consider it a fair trade.
This is the list I’m going to be trying out on Thursday, with the release of Jumpstart on Arena:
Historic can be pretty intimidating to get into at first, especially for newer players. A lot of decks in the format require you to craft rares and mythics that can’t be used at all in Standard. Thankfully, Mono-Blue Tempo proves that it is possible to build a reasonably competitive list in the format, without having to spend too many higher rarity wildcards.
With a ban list update announced for Monday and Jumpstart coming out next Thursday, I’d expect to see some pretty big changes to the landscape of the format soon. I would be very surprised if anything in this deck got hit on Monday, however, and Jumpstart brings a couple of very sweet upgrades to the list. If you’re looking to get into Historic for cheap, there’s no better archetype to do so!