Standard Mono Blue Tempo Deck Guide: The Next Evolution of Azorius Tempo?

Dragon Turtle Art by Dan Scott
Dragon Turtle Art by Dan Scott
mono blue tempo
49% global win rate
0.28% metagame share
Powered by
best against
vs dimir control
57.1% win rate
7 tracked matches
vs izzet turns
55.9% win rate
34 tracked matches
vs izzet dragons ️
50.0% win rate
12 tracked matches
vs mono-green aggro
50.0% win rate
28 tracked matches
worst against
vs mono-white aggro
21.4% win rate
14 tracked matches

Hello everyone! Today I’m going over a deck I never thought I would be able to cover in this Standard format: Mono Blue Tempo. I never thought that this could be a viable option as we were presumably missing a lot of the pieces: There aren’t great tempo creatures, they aren’t many good cheap interactive spells, and there’s no Mono Blue payoff. All the cards were stacked against the deck and it’s an archetype I haven’t thought about in months if not years. However, h0lydiva is clearly much more savvy than I am as she brewed up a Mono Blue list that she had resounding success with.

Monoblue Tempo Original
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Tempo
best of 3
2 mythic
28 rare
20 uncommon
10 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
2
Dragon Turtle
$0.50
Instants (26)
4
Consider
$9.16
4
Fading Hope
$1.00
1
Negate
$1.79
3
Reject
$0.75
1
Geistwave
$0.25
1
Silundi Vision
$0.79
4
Divide by Zero
$1.00
Lands (18)
3
Faceless Haven
$22.47
60 Cards
$114.96
15 Cards
$30.77

In short, I was confused. The deck just didn’t look inherently powerful, but that’s not an arbitrary sample size she allotted either. The deck definitely had access to some powerful cards like Delver of Secrets, Malevolent Hermit, and Fading Hope (if that can be considered inherently powerful), but we’re also playing some real suspect cards that have really never seen play like Dragon Turtle and Reject. That all said, I know Daniela is a great player and the results don’t lie, so there must be more here than it seems.

Spoiler alert: there was more there than it seemed. My main concern about this deck was how it could contend with the creature matchups, but it performed way above what I expected. Apparently just having a solid curve backed up by a piece of interaction or two, even if it doesn’t affect the board (although Fading Hope is one of the better cards in those matchups) is good, who knew?

Obviously the Blue matchups felt quite strong for this deck as you have so many cheap threats followed up by a boat load of interaction for those scenarios. Over all, Daniela brewed up a pretty impressive deck from less than impressive cards. I think she got the 75 very close to where I liked it, but like nearly all the decks I play, I generally have a few changes that more suit my tastes. Here’s where I ended up.

Monoblue Tempo v2
by DoggertQBones
Standard
Tempo
best of 3
2 mythic
30 rare
19 uncommon
9 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (16)
2
Dragon Turtle
$0.50
Instants (24)
4
Consider
$9.16
4
Fading Hope
$1.00
1
Negate
$1.79
4
Reject
$1.00
4
Divide by Zero
$1.00
Lands (20)
3
Faceless Haven
$22.47
60 Cards
$117.4
15 Cards
$8.03

I made only a few small changes. First of all, as much as I like the gumption of playing 18 lands (with 5 MDFC), that felt too low as this deck does use excess mana decently and I was mulliganing a lot of hands that were solid if they had a few lands. To make room I cut the two cards that were under performing for me the most: Geistwave and Disdainful Stroke. Geistwave was at it’s best against the Izzet decks trying to kill your creatures, but this already seemed strong there so it felt unnecessary. Disdainful Stroke was also a bit suspect in a world of monocolored aggro decks, and although Stroke isn’t dead against Monogreen, it doesn’t hit nearly enough targets and it can completely whiff against Monowhite.

Next changes were a few slots moved around in the sideboard. This did perform better against the creature decks than I anticipated, but I wanted a little more equity in those matchups so I added additional Ray of Frost, Dragon Turtle, and Tempted by Oriq to make me stronger in creature matchups as I felt we didn’t need many cards tom combat other Blue strategies.

Overall, I was very impressed by this deck and although I don’t think it’s going to be breaking the metagame open, it’s fun, different, and surprisingly competitive without having to utilize what are traditionally considered the best cards in Standard right now.

NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS/POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS

Ascendant Spirit
Ascendant Spirit Art by Lie Setiawan

Hall of the Storm Giant

Great land, but we’re realistically not hitting 7 mana most games and Faceless Haven is likely better.

Ascendant Spirit

Considering we are a Snow deck I could definitely see this making it’s way into the deck. Suspicious Stowaway has been reasonable, but not amazing for me so I have to wonder if this would just be better.

Bubble Snare

Although this look like a good draft card, I think it’s actually not too bad of a anti-creature card in reality. We likely have better options, but I did consider throwing one of these in over a Ray of Frost a few times.

You See a Guard Approach

An interesting modal card that is decent in a few scenarios, but not exciting in really any. Maybe fine as a 1 of, but I wouldn’t rush to put this in.

Into the Roil

I’m surprised that Into the Roil didn’t get the nod over Geistwave in Daniela’s version, but I don’t think I have room right now for it regardless.

Cosima, God of the Voyage

In a more fair standard I could see this card being played, but this is too weak for what’s going on right now.

Demilich

Daniela initially had one copy of this in the board, and although I’m a big fan of this card, it wasn’t really performing up to my expectations. We don’t have many proactive spells which made the cost reduction harder to enable and overall made the card a disappointing option.

Iymrith, Desert Doom

Although we don’t play many lands, I could definitely see this being a 1-2 of anyway, the card is just so powerful. Unfortunately, it likely doesn’t make much sense in a world where you need to stop aggro decks and you can’t tap out later in the game against Blue decks, but a dog can dream.

Alrund’s Epiphany

A quick look at the land count will probably explain why I chose to eschew this.

MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARDING

Tempted by Oriq Art by Billy Christian

MONOWHITE AGGRO

INOUT
+2 Dragon Turtle-4 Suspicious Stowaway
+3 Tempted by Oriq-3 Concerted Defenses
+3 Ray of Frost-1 Negate

We want to take out a lot of cards in this matchup so we’ll happily bring in Ray of Frost even if it is just a bad Bubble Snare. Unsurprisingly, this matchup is all about trying to survive and blunting their aggression. There’s no real secret to this matchup beyond make trades when possible and leverage your strong cards like Dragon Turtle and Tempted by Oriq as well as you can.

MONOGREEN AGGRO

INOUT
+2 Dragon Turtle-4 Suspicious Stowaway
+3 Tempted by Oriq-4 Consider
+3 Ray of Frost

Similar board plan and game plan to Monowhite. Ray of Frost is less embarrassing here as keeping Werewolf Pack Leader or Old-Growth Troll tapped down is really nice value for 2 mana. In a similar vein, Tempted by Oriq tends to be higher impact here as well since the targets are better compared to Monowhite. Stave off their aggression as best as you can and chip in damage when you can.

GRUUL AGGRO

INOUT
+2 Dragon Turtle-4 Suspicious Stowaway
+3 Tempted by Oriq-3 Consider
+3 Ray of Frost-1 Negate

This board plan is starting to look familiar, isn’t it? Out of all the aggro decks, the board plan works the best here as Ray of Frost is excellent against them since it kneecaps both of their big Dragons. Try to save your Rays for the Dragons, but Reckless Stormseeker is a strong target as well. Most of their threats are on the more expensive side so you can use that to your advantage and tempo them out.

IZZET DRAGONS

INOUT
+1 Negate-2 Dragon Turtle
+2 Test of Talents-2 Consider
+3 Ray of Frost-2 Fading Hope

Dragons is an interesting matchup since you are treating it like a Control matchup, but they can just cheese you with Smoldering Egg which makes it more annoying. Goldspan Dragon isn’t really a threat since we have a good amount of counters so if they don’t have Egg, they’re going to have a really hard time beating you.

I don’t want to, but you have to keep in some Fading Hope as a means to bounce Egg if you don’t find a Ray of Frost, but it can serve double duty as a way to save one of your creatures so it isn’t that bad. There is a consideration to not board in Test of Talents here as well since they aren’t super reliant on their spells so you can eschew those and keep in either Consider or Fading Hope if you prefer.

IZZET TURNS

INOUT
+1 Negate-2 Dragon Turtle
+2 Test of Talents-2 Consider
+3 Ray of Frost-2 Fading Hope

We have the same board plan here as we do against Dragons as most Izzet players are going to board into their Dragon package anyway; you don’t want to only board for their Turns plan which they’ll likely abandon post board. They have fewer Dragons so they’re less threatening than Dragons is since we have cheap threats and a comical amount of non-creature interaction. Keep a counterspell up on pivotal turns (generally turn 6+) and you shouldn’t have an issue.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Suspicious Stowaway Art by Jake Murray
Suspicious Stowaway Art by Jake Murray
  • Try to put yourself into a position where you can pass the turn after playing a Suspicious Stowaway. It may be tempting to keep jamming spells after it, but getting it to flip is really powerful and likely better than any proactive play you’re looking to make.
  • Malevolent Hermit is quite good at trading since it produces two bodies, you don’t always need to wait to use the activated ability.
  • Dragon Turtle will always come into play tapped and not untap even if you don’t target an opposing creature.
  • Generally I very aggressively play Jwari Disruption as a land, but in this deck we can operate on less mana so I’ll keep it in hand more like half the time.
  • Always remember we’re a tempo deck with few catch up mechanism, don’t put yourself in positions where you can get blown out by a big turn if you can help it as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recover from a really strong turn.

Thank you for reading!

DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on Twitch and Discord.

9 Responses

  1. ratkorga says:

    Interesting! I’ve been trying to make monoblue tempo work as well but it’s always felt worse than Simic or Izzet or Azorious versions every time I’ve tried. I’ll have to give this a shot. Looks fairly similar to versions I’ve tried before, but Concerted Defense, Reject and Dragon Turtle are things I’ve never even considered. Seems like they’d do a lot to shore things up against aggro, which has always been the problem.

    Any changes you’d recommend if I worked on a Bo1 version? Bo1 tends to be my go-to timekiller at work, and I’m always tempted to try to make Bo1 versions of anything that makes decent uses of Lessons…

  2. Thalassemia says:

    i’ve played a ton of mono blue tempo since this edition came out. it’s my main laddering deck. my version is a bit different, but has a lot of similarities. i run 4 frost augur, 4 ascendant spirit, 4 epiphany, and a higher land cough. i cut delver and a few of the lower impact spells like consider.
    i’ve been having a ton of success with it, i’ve made it to mythic both times using my list. however, it does have a glaring weakness – anything aggressive tends to run you over. mono white especially is just basically unwinnable. mono red or red/white aggro are also basically impossible, but are less common. mono green is unfavored, but not impossible. turtle and tempted by oriq are both great, but they never feel like enough to actually make the aggro match ups good. but the control decks/izzet/turns etc are all just super easy. ramp decks like selesnya or sultai feel even easier.
    overall it seems like a meta call of if this deck is worth trying or not. if you see a ton of the slow decks, this deck is great. if you’re seeing aggro, i’d give it a pass.

  3. Axodys says:

    On the most recent Constructed Resources podcast, Andrew Baeckstrom talked a little bit about a similar Mono Blue Tempo deck he tested quite a bit while helping PVDDR and Sam Pardee prep for Worlds. He was a big fan of the deck even if it wasn’t quite right for the highest levels of play right now. One cool trick he mentioned with Dragon Turtle is that you can get it to come in untapped if you bounce its target while its on the stack. That fizzles the etb effect so it comes in untapped. Not sure how often that actually comes up, but seems like a big swing play when you can pull it off.

    • DoggertQBones says:

      Thats a super cool trick I never considered! Yeah the deck has a lot more legs than I expected just looking at it. Pretty cool how much equity you can get playing cards that just seem meh by themselves.

  4. IICorinthianII says:

    Ha, I independently came around to a similar list (I really built it on a lark to clear some blue dailies), but was surprised to find it overperforming. I’ve really only had issues against WW, Fading hope and Divide by Zero have done great work against everything else. Have you tried Grazilaxx? I run two, and I haven’t ever been super disappointed to see him. He’s great after you’ve established a board and have forced the damage race, and having Stowaway draw two discard one isn’t terrible.

    • IICorinthianII says:

      Deck
      16 Snow-Covered Island (KHM) 279
      2 You See a Guard Approach (AFR) 85
      2 Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar (AFR) 60
      4 Delver of Secrets (MID) 47
      4 You Come to a River (AFR) 83
      2 Concerted Defense (ZNR) 52
      4 Fading Hope (MID) 51
      4 Faceless Haven (KHM) 255
      4 Malevolent Hermit (MID) 61
      4 Spectral Adversary (MID) 77
      4 Suspicious Stowaway (MID) 80
      3 Jwari Disruption (ZNR) 64
      4 Divide by Zero (STX) 41
      3 Saw It Coming (KHM) 76

      Sideboard
      1 Environmental Sciences (STX) 1
      1 Expanded Anatomy (STX) 2
      1 Introduction to Annihilation (STX) 3
      2 Pithing Needle (MID) 257
      1 Teachings of the Archaics (STX) 57
      1 Test of Talents (STX) 59
      2 Test of Talents (STX) 59
      2 Ray of Frost (AFR) 68
      4 Dragon Turtle (AFR) 56

      I’m light on the situational counters compared to your list, often, I’ve found, it’s more efficient to just bounce a creature rather than counter it.