Blue Moon’s Triumphant Return

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Hello again!

Let me ask a question: When is Jund Midrange bad in Modern?

The easy answer is when something like Tron or U/W Emeria is going way over the deck's main game plan. Against decks that are resilient enough in the face of hand disruption and have large enough threats to ignore Gofy and friends. Midrange decks in general struggle against these go big strategies. Conversely, certain builds of Jund can struggle with the hyper aggressive decks as well.

The Eldrazi menace is in a weird grey area that can do both. The Eldrazi Mimic draws can easily run someone over, while the Oblivion Sower into Ulamog game plan requires separate cards to deal with. There may be builds of Jund with excessive amounts of land destruction or board wipes so that they can swing the matchup in their favor either way, but then the deck loses to other archetypes in the format. Jund players cannot simply jam their deck full of Fulminator Mages, Damnations, and Terminates and expect to reliably beat infect or burn.

As Jund (and even grixis) decks move away from the Kolaghan's Command and Liliana of the Veil grindy 2 for 1 game plan (or as these builds start losing), artifacts can increase dramatically in play-ability. The reason Blue Moon hasn't been around a lot recently is because of this single card: Kolaghan's Command. Outside of 2 for 1-ing with any given modes, rebuying Gofys or Scary threats, hitting Vedalken Shackles or Batterskull are huge backbreakers. The Blue Moon player can never tap out for these things, and the best answer the blue deck has is Dispel, which is easy to strip away with hand disruption. The good news is our new Eldrazi overlords have pushed people away from Kolaghan's Command. Similarly true for Electrolyze, these cards are simply too slow and too low impact against the deck playing 4/4s and 5/5s in the first few turns.

The big plus to playing Blue Moon is, even if they ban Eye of Ugin (let's be serious, when they do) the deck doesn't lose anything unless Blood Moon happens to go along with it. Which I don't see happening. Blood Moon is a card that doesn't end the game by itself. If people want to play around it they can. They can even construct their deck in a way that doesn't lose to the card at all. Plus, it is at least a little bit of a safety net for when this kind of thing happens in the future. The main problem is when Eye of Ugin is banned, people will likely start gravitating back towards Kolaghan's Command.

This is the deck I piloted to a Top 4 at SCG Regionals in Minnesota:

The Good:

The full eight counter spells were great, as I didn't play against Burn all day, but against most matchups Remand and Mana Leak are great cards to have on the play. On the draw, cutting Remand happened a lot, but if you played Twin that's nothing new. There really isn't much else to say about these cards. If Burn and Affinity are showing up in lower numbers, these cards will remain reasonable choices.

A big part of me was skeptical about this card. I've been a big advocate of it in standard and after playing just a few games with it I could tell it was going to fit right in. Far too many games came down to the thopter tokens dealing 10 points of damage to put the opponent into burn range. Other times, blocking a lifelinking creature and chucking the thopter at their face was perfect for racing. Very often it was a meaningful 3 for 1 after it resolved.

This card was very strong- locking people out of some games more so than Blood Moon. Multiple games I had opponents move to the discard step because they didn't want to play their creatures into countermagic and Shackles. The problem with it is that it is nearly dead against Tron and other random combo decks. It's power level may outweigh the dead card in those matchups, however, as it is a soft lock against plenty of strategies. Moving it to the sideboard is something to consider over the coming weeks.

Burst Lightning also did double work. Finishing most games out without Batterskull or Shackles was a challenge. Sometimes Snapcaster Mage + Kicked Burst Lightning was just what the doctor ordered. This card was exactly the card the deck needed for the weekend. Nickel and Diming most opponents was a reasonable expectation with this build and being able to finish off people who fetched greedily was great. That said, If Eldrazi decks remain top dog, this card is on the chopping block.

The Bad:

Saying this card is bad is a little unfair, because it has spots it is impressive in. However, the majority of times the card was dealing two damage to the face and drawing a card. This is simply too low of an impact. If you expect a room full of people playing 4/4's on turn two, its an easy cut. The problem is, Eldrazi SkySpawner, Eldrazi Obligator and Eldrazi Mimic are great targets. This logic is a trap. If they have their Eye of Ugin or Eldrazi Temple draw, there isn't a realistic chance Electrolyze will keep up. Some of the appeal of a deck like Blue Moon is it's consistency, which comes from the cards that say 'Draw a card' on them, making Electrolyze somewhat of a necessary evil.

The Eldrazi Matchup:

I played against Eldrazi once in the swiss at Regionals and beat it. However, since then more people have acquired the necessary cards and the Pro Tour information has disseminated enough for Eldrazi to be crowned as the actual top dog of the format. As people try to figure out how to beat the deck and it's new forms they will undoubtedly try a shell similar to this. Blood Moon is acceptable against them, but it cannot be the first card played. A turn two Remand or Mana Leak is crucial. On the play against non-Eldrazi Mimic versions, Mana leak is your friend.

Going forward, Roast, Flame Slash, Harvest Pyre and counterspells are likely necessary inclusions. The hard part comes in closing out a game. I've had some luck with Vedalken Shackles doing the heavy lifting, but it is very slow and hard to tap out for when behind at all. If you are worried about their hyper aggressive draws, a card like Blasphemous Act may be just the card we are looking for.

Also, I've been advocating for Chalice of the Void for months. As it turns out, people should listen to me more often! But if the Chalice of the Void versions of the Eldrazi deck are popular. Playing 10-16 one drops isn't a great place to be. Having access to a true board sweeper may become necessary as time goes on. Whelming Wave, Crush of Tentacles, and other blue sweepers are far too slow and bounce our Blood Moon. Aetherspouts and Aetherize just let them replay their hand. Once again, I find myself recommending a few copies of Blasphemous Act.

The changes are slight, but important. Land number 23 is necessary to cast Batterskull in a reasonable time frame. Cutting the Burst Lightnings wasn't easy, but likely also necessary for higher impact cards if Eldrazi decks continue to show up. This helps make us more resilient to Chalice of the Void as an side bonus.

There aren't alot of speculation targets in these lists. If I could offer anything it would be about Blasphemous Act. The card has casual appeal with Stuffy Doll and Boros Reckoner, as well as being fringe playable in spots like this. The card is at it's reasonable bottom at the moment. Even with a return to Innistrad set on the horizon, I doubt they would waste design space by reprinting this one.

That's all for this week! Go Blood Moon some people!

-Ryan Hipp

2 thoughts on “Blue Moon’s Triumphant Return

  1. I’m concerned with some of the changes you’ve made to blue moon. while it’s nice to try and hedge the deck in a direction where you have a better chance against Eldrazi, you can’t give up your matchups vs the other aggressive decks who are coming in trying to beat them. Point is, no matter what you do to this deck, you still cannot beat Eldrazi’s nut draws. However, this is not the case against a lot of other creature decks. Cards like burst lightning and spell snare can put them so far behind that it makes the rest of the game go smoothly for the most part. It is my belief that the goal of blue moon is not to just try to beat eldrazi but to find sort of a hybridization of beating eldrazi as well as beating the hyper aggressive creature decks. no matter how popular eldrazi is, people will still be bringing decks to tournaments like Affinity, Burn, and even Collected Company decks. These are some of the decks that are supposed to be good against eldrazi and these are decks we cannot afford to lose to.

  2. Cutting Burst Lightning was a mistake in my opinion. I totally agree with the comment above. By taking them out and adding more counters and heavier stuff (like roast) you’re focusing too much on Eldrazi and losing advantage over decks Blue Moon already had.

    Also, it’s not a good idea going for a whole set of mana leaks considering Eldrazi and other decks play Cavern of Souls. Making it a dead card.

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