Over the past few years, mono-blue artifact decks have grown in popularity quite a bit. This is primarily a result of newer printings, such as Urza, Lord High Artificer and Emry, Lurker of the Loch, which provided the deck with a lot more power. While these decks have been putting up some consistent, high-level results for the past two years, they never really broke into the forefront of the format. One of the main reasons for this is that artifact decks are relatively easy to hate out in Legacy, especially from Delver decks, which often leave the decks waiting to exploit an unprepared metagame.
However, Magic Online player Minest110 has recently been performing extremely well in the Legacy Leagues with their take on a mono-blue artifact deck which seeks to address those concerns. They recently carried this momentum to a Top 4 split in the recent Legacy Super PTQ online, which is an impressive result. Since there is a fair amount of innovation in this list, especially when compared to traditional approaches to mono-blue, and this innovation is specifically well-suited for the Legacy metagame at the moment, now seemed like a great time to evaluate this deck.
For more content on this deck, ChannelFireball’s one and only Andrea Mengucci recently made a video playing this deck. Let’s take a look at the game plan.
Legacy Mono-Blue Artifacts by Minest110
This deck functions more similarly to traditional affinity decks. A lot of the cards cost zero mana, which help facilitate cards like Emry and Thought Monitor, which allow you to generate a steady stream of card advantage. This begets more cards that generate advantage and then you can convert this advantage into board presence (more than having a couple of 2/2 flyers on board) by using Sai, Master Thopterist to overwhelm your opponent with Thopters. When your opponent disrupts this plan, you can use Echo of Eons as a way to refill and continue your game plan.
Historically, these have been mainstay cards in the archetype. Chalice of the Void provides a clear way to win a game by locking your opponent out of the game early. Urza and Karn, the Great Creator provided the deck clear game plans to work towards that generate a ton of advantage and will bury opponent’s in card advantage and board presence. There are a couple of reasons this deck is eschewing these mainstays.
The first is that Chalice is worse than usual at the moment. Prismatic Ending provides any white deck a clear answer to it, decks like Death and Taxes are well-positioned and even Delver has the ability to ignore it with Murktide in the mix. Meltdown has also become very common, and this card just gets picked up by that for free. Even against decks like Doomsday, Chalice might be too slow or, somehow, even ineffective at disrupting them. In addition, this deck wants to take advantage of Urza’s Saga, so drawing a one-drop and not being able to cast it is a pretty bad place to be.
Urza and Karn, on the other hand, are still effective against a lot of decks in the format, but they are slow. Exposing your key threats to Daze is particularly bad at the moment, since Ragavan decks represent a lot of the top of the metagame. These cards are still strong, but by cutting these cards, this deck is opening the door for a lot more resilience against the best decks in the format right now.
While Emry is usually a mainstay in these decks, this variant is optimizing for it as much as possible. Emry is an extremely potent card advantage engine that often needs to be killed on the spot. It functions very similarly to cards like Thought Monitor (more on that shortly), but requires quite a bit less resources to get going. It doesn’t generate quite as much velocity as those affinity cards, but it does provide a ton of resilience. In addition, it functions as a potential enabler for the Echo of Eons aspect of the deck, which really helps give the deck some extra staying power.
These are the replacements for Urza and Karn. While they don’t have the same impact on the game that a resolved four-drop has, they’re far more efficient and allow the deck to impact the game far earlier. Since this deck plays so many zero-mana artifacts, they are pretty easy to cast early which helps create a sort-of snowball effect from there. Being efficient is a major boon at the moment, since Delver decks are as efficient as ever, which can be tough to keep up with if you are relying on four-drops. Building your deck in this way also minimizes the impact of artifact hate, since Abrade is less meaningful against Thought Monitor and a bunch of zero-mana artifacts.
Sai is a huge reason this deck can eschew more expensive engines for cheaper, more efficient sources of card advantage. Not only does this card get better in play once you’re drawing more cards (since you can now keep up a steady flow of 1/1s) but drawing so many cards means that you’ll find it more often. While X/4 creatures have become a lot worse in the world of Unholy Heat, Sai still does a lot of work against the Izzet decks of the format. A steady stream of blockers against Murktide Regent combined with a body that neatly blocks Ragavan makes it perfectly positioned for the format.
This engine has more than proven itself in Legacy and it really adds to this deck’s ability to consistently execute its game plan. This deck, more than other versions of mono-blue, has a lot of resilience to the commonly played disruption, such as Force of Will. Many of the key pieces are cheap to play and don’t actually have a massive impact on the game individually. Echo plays into that plan, since your opponent will probably have to bit the bullet on a card like Thought Monitor in order to prevent you from generating card advantage. Following that up with an Echo and Lion’s Eye Diamond, a relatively low cost combo, you can really punish them for using their countermagic prematurely.
A staple of any artifact decks, these cards very smoothly enable this deck’s engines. I have written about these many times before and not much as changed here, except this is also an Urza’s Saga deck, which gives them a bit more efficacy.
Some amount of Baubles are common in mono-blue artifact decks since they work so well with Emry. Since this deck is optimizing for Emry, as well as trying to enable more affinity cards overall, playing the full eight Baubles makes a lot of sense. They are a bit finicky, and definitely lead to a fair amount of durdling, but they are a crucial piece of what makes the engine of this deck function.
These are the Urza’s Saga tutor targets and both serve very different, but very important purposes. Retrofitter Foundry allows you to have a grindy engine that most fair decks will struggle to interact with, especially since it also furthers your primary game plan. On the other hand, Shadowspear gives you the ability to easy dominate races, namely against Delver decks, and will make sure that a couple of chump blockers won’t stop your construct tokens from applying pressure.
Running so many ways to generate card advantage and cutting Chalice of the Void makes Force of Will pretty easy to support. While it isn’t a prison piece like Chalice, thus not giving you free wins in the same way, having access to Force of Will is really critical against any fast combo decks. It also lets this deck protect itself from haymaker sideboard cards, like Null Rod and Meltdown, which is a really important thing to have in the deck.
One of the primary reasons the deck can be built in this way, there’s very little that Urza’s Saga doesn’t do for the deck. It sidesteps artifact hate pretty cleanly while also providing a source of board presence that is pretty difficult to to interact with. Since this deck doesn’t play any expensive cards, it frees up your mana to activate Urza’s Saga and offsets the downside of losing a land when the third chapter triggers.
One of the other upsides of building your like Minest110 has is that since everything is either zero or one mana, you can run far fewer lands in your deck. This deck only has 14, which is pretty low for a deck like this, but there’s not much benefit to running more since all of the cards are so cheap.
This deck can support Force of Negation in the sideboard for the same reason it can support Force of Will in the main deck, and it’s another excellent element the deck gains from being built in this way. It really allows you to have a relatively effective combo matchup post-board.
These are some removal spots that are essential in Legacy. Dismember is really important against Delver, but also against cards like Collector Ouphe, which can be a huge pain to deal with. Engineered Explosives is good against any decks that go wide with one-drop creatures, but also against a variety of different problematic nonland permanents.
Some additional Urza’s Saga tutor targets that serve different purposes. Expedition Map is a nice card to have in the deck in matchups where Urza’s Saga is potent. Pithing Needle, as always, does a little bit of everything, so it’s not too difficult to find a matchup where you’d want it.
Not only is Pyroblast a bit of a problem for this deck, since it trades efficiently with most of the key card advantage cards, but red threats define the format at the moment. I could see playing more copies of the card and being able to do this is actually one of the hidden benefits of cutting Chalice of the Void from the deck.
Graveyard hate is always great in Legacy and, again, since this deck doesn’t run Chalice of the Void, Surgical Extraction becomes a viable option, which really helps against decks like Reanimator. Soul-Guide Lantern is also a really effective option and since this deck plays Urza’s Saga, a single copy can go a long way.
- With Mishra’s Bauble and Emry, you can get a faux “surveil” by targeting your self with Bauble if you think you hand really needs some extra help.
- You can activate Urza’s Saga on your main phase in order to reduce the cost of your affinity cards.
- Extra copies of Emry do mill you closer towards Echo of Eons, so don’t leave those in your hand if you’re not afraid of it dying.
While one of the key aspects of Delver is its ability to have game against everyone, this deck is built as well as it can be to handle Delver. Thought Monitor and Sai are key cards in the matchup and give you a lot of game against their artifact hate. You do have to watch out for Pyroblast, but Urza’s Saga helps mitigate that a fair amount. Since Null Rod is somewhat common (as well as Pyroblast), I think trimming on the Echo plan is pretty reasonable as you don’t want to overcommit into their sideboard cards.
They don’t usually have much dedicated artifact hate and the primary game plan is relatively effective here. I think losing Urza and Karn is a bit costly in this matchup, as they help provide a bit more staying power in the late game. However, being able to execute a really lean, efficient game plan early can leave them somewhat far behind. Force of Will really comes in handy here too, as you can effectively disrupt some of their key game pieces.
Death and Taxes
This matchup can be tricky, especially since they have Karakas to keep your legends in check. However, your game plan plays to the board pretty quickly and can really put them on the back foot early on. Make sure you play your artifacts in advance and don’t hold them in hand for any reason because of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Sanctum Prelate. Force of Will isn’t a great card, but it does help keep some of their scary cards in check.
Unlike some other decks I talk about, I actually think this matchup is pretty decent against Doomsday. It has a fair amount of free disruption, especially post-board, and a ton of mana sources which allows the deck to play around Daze pretty naturally. This deck’s clock is a bit slow, which is a knock against it, but overall I think it’s pretty reasonable.
I don’t think the Echo plan is the way to go since that might just refill their hand and allow them to set up a combo, but it’s still effective against them post-Doomsday, so leaving it in is still reasonable and having only a single copy of Lion’s Eye Diamond means you can get it off of Saga when you need it.