Table of Contents
Hey everyone! Today I’m going to be covering my mono blue artifacts deck in Historic which I recently used to climb back into the top 5 on the Arena ladder with. The deck has felt really strong to me with good plans for every matchup and is so much fun to play too! I’ve also put a video up on my YouTube channel if you’re interested in seeing the deck in action!
This deck is essentially made up of two halves, the cheap artifacts and the payoffs for running those cheap artifacts. As a general rule of thumb you want your opening hands to have some number of cheap artifacts alongside one or two payoffs and you should usually mulligan a hand that doesn’t have any payoffs.
Thought Monitor: One of the issues with running a deck full of cheap artifacts is that you can tend to run out of steam and Thought Monitor is great at ensuring that doesn’t happen. The suite of cheap artifacts in this build are selected to try and have as explosive starts as possible so that you can cast Monitor for relatively cheap in the first few turns of the game.
You ideally want to be casting this for between 1 and 3 mana, but casting this for 4 is also reasonable if you need to. One of the most common ways you win with this deck is equipping Nettlecyst to a flying creature to make it huge and attacking for lethal in the air so the fact Thought Monitor has flying gives us a fast way to close out the game against decks that don’t have flying blockers.
Furthermore, since this is a 7 CMV creature, it’s immune to common removal like Fatal Push and Skyclave Apparition which makes it a slightly safer option to equip to against decks running that sort of removal.
Nettlecyst: This is the main finisher in the deck. The fact this produces a body immediately when you play it is great at both preventing attacks against the aggressive decks and applying pressure against the slower decks.
As I mentioned previously, equipping Nettlecyst to one of our flying creatures (Thought Monitor, Ornithopter, or a token from Sai, Master Thopterist) is usually how you’ll close out games, but you can also use it in conjunction with Shadowspear to win if the opponent has blockers with flying, we don’t have a flier, or we need to gain life to stabilise.
There are a lot of decks in the format that have good reach and can punish you for stabilising at a low life total (Cat/Oven decks, UR Phoenix, Burn, Embercleave decks etc) so giving the creature equipped with Nettlecyst trample and lifelink is a great way to stabilise and prevent them from burning us out.
Emry, Lurker of the Loch: You’ll almost always be casting this for 1 mana (casting this for 2 mana on turn 2 is also reasonable though) which is great value for what you get off this card. Typically, you’ll want to play this as soon as possible as it has to survive a turn cycle to be able to use it’s effect. You can also cast Emry on turn 1 if you have an opening hand of 2 0-mana artifacts and Emry which isn’t too hard to achieve considering we’re running 10 0-mana artifacts.
Basically all of the artifacts in this deck are good targets to bring back with Emry, but the most impactful are usually Nettlecyst, Thought Monitor and Aether Spellbomb. Nettlecyst is our finisher so getting that onto the battlefield helps to set up our endgame while also producing a big creature immediately. Emry can also bring Shadowspear back to help set up Nettlecyst + Shadowspear for the win.
Thought Monitor is a great target to reccur if we have the mana to cast it as it draws 2 and also incentivises the opponent to not attack you. If they do attack, you can block with Thought Monitor and then bring it back with Emry again the following turn to draw an extra 2 cards.
Finally Aether Spellbomb is sick to bring back and Emry is basically the sole reason Spellbomb is in the deck. At the base rate, you can sac Spellbomb to draw a card and then bring it back with Emry to draw an extra card every turn. It’s at its most powerful against creature decks where you can use Spellbomb to bounce a creature back to the opponent’s hand and then recur it with Emry. This loop makes it really difficult for creature decks without haste to mount any sort of pressure and is particularly strong against a deck like Auras. It also gives you access to strong, meaningful interaction against creature decks which is typically a big weakness of mono blue decks.
Sai, Master Thopterist: This card is so strong in this shell! It produces 1/1 creature tokens whenever you cast an artifact which helps build up a huge army of tokens that you can either use to block against aggressive decks or apply pressure with against the slower decks. The fact that the tokens have flying means that they’re great at stabilising against decks that rely on flying creatures like UR Phoenix while also making it impossible for a deck like Auras to attack for lethal without Aether Tunnel.
The 1/4 statline also makes it hard to kill with red removal which is particularly relevant against UR Phoenix – if you can keep them off delirium for Unholy Heat with Tormod's Crypt, they’ll have to use two removal spells in order to kill it, by which point you’ve usually gotten a decent number of tokens off it.
The most powerful thing about the tokens off Sai though is that they’re also artifacts themselves so for every artifact you cast, you’re getting an additional one off Sai. This means that the cost on Thought Monitor will hit 1 mana really fast and will also massively increase the amount of stats Nettlecyst provides too.
Sai also synergises insanely well with The Reality Chip – Chip allows you to play cards off the top of your library once it’s reconfigured so if you have Sai + Chip set up, you’re getting a bunch of artifacts from the top of your library and a bunch of 1/1 tokens for free in addition to that which is almost impossible for any deck to beat without a sweeper.
The Reality Chip: This is another really powerful legendary creature. The 0/4 body makes it a reasonable blocker against aggressive decks in the early game, but we’re mainly interested in the reconfigure ability. Being able to play off the top of your library is such a powerful ability, especially in this deck.
Since the curve is so low, the land count is fairly low, and you have a bunch of ways to draw if you do brick with multiple lands on top, it’s not uncommon to get over 5 spells a turn off this. The deck is really explosive as an early-game deck, but The Reality Chip suddenly turns the deck into a really powerful late-game deck where you have the inevitability if the opponent can’t kill it.
The Cheap Artifacts
Mox Amber: I wanted to highlight Mox Amber in particular and talk about 0-mana artifacts in Historic. I’ve been brewing with a bunch of artifact and affinity style decks since Kamigawa dropped and what really appealed to me the most about it was decks that were capable of really explosive starts that were largely enabled by 0-mana artifacts.
The difference between 0 and 1 mana artifacts is huge, especially with the payoffs this deck is running. Having 0-mana artifacts will usually mean getting Thought Monitor down a turn or two earlier (you can get 3 artifacts into play turn 1 by going Moonsnare Prototype, 0-mana artifact, tap the 0-mana artifact to Prototype to make a mana and play another 1-mana artifact), they enable our powerful 3 drops to be cast on turn 2 off Moonsnare Prototype, they make Nettlecyst larger when it enters play (which makes it less likely to be killed by red removal and increases our clock against slower decks), they enable turn 1 Emry, they get us 1/1 tokens off Sai immediately the turn we cast it and they greatly increase the number of cards we’re likely able to play per turn off The Reality Chip.
The problem with 0-mana artifacts in Historic though is that there aren’t many and the quality of them isn’t amazing either for the most part. Ornithopter is good as both a creature to attach The Reality Chip to as well as being a creature we can put Nettlecyst on to try and close the game out, but outside of Mox Amber, the quality of 0-mana artifacts drops off pretty significantly after that.
Tormod's Crypt is obviously great against decks using the graveyard, but it basically does nothing in other matchups. I was previously running decks without Mox Amber that were having to run 4 Tormod's Crypt main deck to enable the explosive starts which not only meant 4 of my cards did nothing if the opponent wasn’t using the graveyard, but I also wanted to side them out in those matchups and then lost access to the explosive starts.
Mox Amber is the perfect solution to this problem. It’s by far the strongest 0-mana artifact in Historic if you can enable it and adds even further to the explosiveness as it also produces additional mana itself. You might think running 4-ofs of three different legendary creatures might be too much, but they’re all cards we want to draw as often as possible and they all run away with the game if they’re not dealt with.
If the opponent doesn’t kill your Sai, Master Thopterist, Emry, Lurker of the Loch, or The Reality Chip, then you’ll usually be winning the game anyway because of the sheer advantage they provide so having a second copy in hand shouldn’t really matter. In the case that they do kill them, having an additional copy as a replacement is actually an advantage.
Running 12 total legendary creatures also enables us to max out on Mox Amber which solves the aforementioned problem which allows us consistent access to explosive starts. Finally, it also means I don’t have to run more than a couple of Tormod's Crypt main, which has felt like a number I’m happy with rather than a number I’m forced to run to enable the fast starts.
The other cheap artifacts are really important too – Aether Spellbomb provides us a way to buy tempo in the early game against aggressive decks, provides us with card draw if we need and is really strong with Emry, Lurker of the Loch.
Moonsnare Prototype is such a big upgrade to the artifact decks as mana is often a choke point so playing a cheap artifact that also produces mana is so strong and helps to enable the explosive starts. The channel ability on it also means we have access to flexible removal in the late game which is great against cards that would otherwise lock you out like Serra's Emissary or Solemnity alongside Nine Lives.
Shadowspear is really important at forcing lethal damage through with Nettlecyst as well as providing a way to gain a lot of life against the aggressive decks or decks with good reach in the late game.
Finally Tormod's Crypt has been really nice as a 2-of in the main deck at both enabling the fast starts as well as improving our matchup against UR Phoenix, Greasefang Parhelion, and sometimes GB Food if we can use it to shut off Cat/ Oven. A lot of decks are more heavy on graveyard interaction game 1 and then tend to side out of some of the graveyard synergies so I think having access to some main deck graveyard hate is great if you can afford to.
20 lands has felt like a good amount to me, you want to hit your third land on curve as often as possible, but you also don’t want to flood out considering how low the curve of the deck is. The Reality Chip also incentivizes you to run a slightly lower land count.
In terms of the lands themselves, the most obvious question is probably why I’m running Pathways instead of Islands and the answer is Master of the Pearl Trident. If you’re running all Islands, then the Merfolk deck is almost impossible to beat if they have Master of the Pearl Trident unless you have Emry + Spellbomb to bounce it every turn as none of your creatures will be able to block.
The downside of running Pathways is pretty low (the only real downsides are Archon of Emeria Field of Ruin which don’t come up very often, and budget), but this will only matter against exactly Merfolk so if you don’t have the wildcards for the Pathways then running Islands instead is going to be fine for the most part.
Even though we’re running a fairly low land count, Hall of Storm Giants has still come up in a decent amount of matches for me so has felt worth the inclusion. Lastly, Otawara, Soaring City has really nice upside as a one-of and Treasure Vault provides discounts for Emry and Thought Monitor as well as providing additional power and toughness on Nettlecyst.
Tormod's Crypt & Soul-Guide Lantern: Additional graveyard hate for matchups like UR Phoenix, Greasefang Parhelion, Rakdos Arcanist as well as any other decks that are heavily built around the graveyard.
Pithing Needle: This is mainly here for the white-based Control and Cat/Oven decks. Against Control, we can use this to shut off their Planeswalker abilities – we’re mainly interested in hitting Teferi, Hero of Dominaria as that will stop them from running away with the game. Against the Food and Sacrifice decks, we can use this to name Witch's Oven or Cauldron Familiar to shut off their Cat/Oven loop as well as being able to hit other targets like Gilded Goose if they have Trail of Crumbs.
Metallic Rebuke & Disruption Protocol: I’m going pretty heavy on the counterspells in the sideboard, mainly because of Divine Purge and Farewell. These are both absolutely brutal cards for this deck and can often be game over if they resolve even one of them so I wanted a high density of counterspells in the sideboard to be able to stop them.
Metallic Rebuke is a pretty easy include in any artifact-heavy deck because of how efficient it is, but the reason I’m running Disruption Protocol over something like Spell Pierce or Miscast is because there are also other matchups where we want hard counterspells. We don’t really have good ways to interact with what the GW Heliod combo deck is doing for example, so that’s a matchup where we also want unconditional counterspells in order to keep them off the combo and Spell Pierce and Miscast wouldn’t really be effective.
Best of 1
One of the biggest differences in best of 1 is the presence of very linear all-in combo decks that rely on the graveyard like Dragonstorm, Greasefang Parhelion, and Reanimator so having additional main deck graveyard hate that also synergises with out artifact game plan feels necessary.
The problem with porting this deck into best of 1 is that we rely on counterspells in the sideboard to deal with control decks and so won’t have any main deck way to stop something like Divine Purge or Farewell.
I don’t think it’s worth main decking counterspells in best of 1 because it will slow the linear game plan of the deck down quite a lot which is one of the biggest advantages of running this build in the first place. Therefore Control decks running Divine Purge might just be a bad matchup you can’t do much about unfortunately.
|+2 Pithing Needle||-4 Aether Spellbomb|
|+4 Disruption Protocol||-4 Emry, Lurker of the Loch|
|+4 Metallic Rebuke||-2 Mox Amber|
Pithing Needle is important at shutting off Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and the counterspells are really important at stopping Divine Purge and Farewell. Spellbomb isn’t as effective here as they don’t run many creatures which also reduces the value we get off Emry in this matchup too.
Since we’re cutting Emry, we only have 8 legendary creatures left so also need to trim some Mox Amber.
Pithing Needle helps to shut off their Cat/Oven engine and Shadowspear is important at making sure we don’t get burnt out by their drain effects. Specifically against the green sacrifice decks, graveyard hate like Tormod's Crypt and Soul-Guide Lantern isn’t very effective at shutting off Cat/Oven as they can very easily make excess food tokens to play around it.
If you’re against non-green sacrifice builds then Tormod's Crypt and Lantern are a lot more effective.
Rakdos Arcanist & Greasefang Parhelion
These are both pretty good matchups if you can shut off their graveyard so Tormod's Crypt and Soul-Guide Lantern are important. Since you’re bringing in extra Tormod’s Crypts as 0 mana artifacts, you can afford to trim some Mox Amber.
GW Heliod Combo & GW Enchantress
|+4 Disruption Protocol||-2 Tormod's Crypt|
|+4 Metallic Rebuke||-1 Shadowspear|
|-3 Sai, Master Thopterist|
|-2 Mox Amber|
These are both matchups where we don’t really have profitable ways to interact with what they’re doing other than counterspells so Disruption Protocol and Metallic Rebuke are both important at keeping them off their combos and key cards.
Other Aggro decks that don’t use the graveyard
Tips & Tricks
- Always plan your turns out in advance before playing anything. There are a lot of moving pieces and lots of ways to reduce the cost of cards or add extra mana so mis-sequencing your plays can often mean you’re unable to cast certain cards you otherwise could.
- The equip cost on both Nettlecyst and Shadowspear is relatively cheap so don’t forget you can attack with an equipped creature and then move the equipment to an untapped creature to use as a blocker after attacks.
- Even though you can select Treasure Vault with Emry, Lurker of the Loch, you can’t actually put it into play as Emry says ‘cast’ so don’t waste your activation on it!
- If you have Sai, Master Thopterist, it’s usually a good idea to hold onto your 0-mana artifacts until you cast Sai if you can afford to as you can then immediately start getting 1/1 tokens the turn you cast it.
- Don’t forget that the channel ability on Otawara, Soaring City is reduced by 1 mana for each legendary creature you control which comes up quite a lot considering the high number of legendary creatures the deck runs.
- Mox Amber doesn’t produce mana when The Reality Chip is an equipment so make sure to tap Amber for mana before you reconfigure The Reality Chip if it’s the only legendary creature you control.
- Be aware that the autotapper loves to keep Treasure Vault untapped because of the activated ability which can often result in you not having access to blue mana when you need it so be sure to manually tap Treasure Vault when you plan on using it.
- The activated ability on Sai, Master Thopterist doesn’t say nonland so you can use it to sacrifice Treasure Vault in a pinch.
- Don’t forget that Shadowspear can shut off Hexproof and Indestructible which can be useful against cards like Karametra's Blessing, Adanto Vanguard, and Blizzard Brawl for example.
This deck has felt really strong to me and is one of the most fun decks I’ve played in Historic recently so I’d definitely recommend it if you can. Thanks a lot for reading!
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