“TWoo, what happened to the blue deck??”
“Trav, y u no play Dirt Cheap Dirty Blue???”
I feel you.
Feels like something of a missed opportunity at Grand Prix Manchester—an opportunity to live the dream of taking throwaway draft commons and trading them for mythics on the grand stage.
Sure, winning is nice, but it’s just not as sexy to win with 4x mythic Elspeth format staple. So for those of ya’ll, sad, mad, and wondering, yeah, I feel you.
The universe is funny—it seems to have a sense of humor, and that I’ve gotten another chance.
I found myself burned out of Magic after GP Manchester. That’s usually how it goes for tournaments. If I binge, I crash. I want to stay away.
That only lasts so long though, so after a long week away I found myself at my “local” card shop in Cornwall, Troll Trader.
Friday Night Magic meant Theros block draft—a format I’ve grown to like more and more after a negative preconception.
And, I kid you not, my first four picks of the draft were these:
Hard to believe really. Scripted. Made up.
Chance? Eh, maybe.
I wouldn’t call myself religious, but this seemed to be a signal to me that the universe was giving me another chance to redeem myself, this time in Theros block draft.
Here is the deck I ended up with—a true masterpiece:
dat curve do
That’s right, 39 permanents and 1 Hour of Need.
As it happens… it happened. That’s right… IT happened.
My Oracle’s Insight for your Chromanticore? Seems fair to me!
What the deck was really about was this combo:
Make 6 5/5 Sphinxes in Limited? Is this good??
This is the combination that drew me to blue in the first place. It’s just unfair. It’s too strong for Limited. It turns throwaway commons into wins in Block Constructed.
And I got to thinking.
Here I am, with another chance. Another chance to do good with the blue men, and now we’re looking to Modern. That’s the PTQ season coming up.
Is it possible that Hour of Need and Battlefield Thaumaturge can work in Modern?
I think so… the real question is which shell to use this combo in.
As it happens, I’ve been obsessing over a Blue Wizard deck in Modern—the Voidmage Vial deck. The Sky Hussar deck. That’s the deck I’ve been working on for the Modern season. It’s good, but it’s still so unexplored.
The core is there—play embarrassingly bad creatures on which the opponent is reluctant to use removal spells.
When they don’t, start hoarding resources with Sky Hussar.
Try to prevent the opponent from progressing their board with our tiny blue men.
The question then, has been, how to finish? How to use those extra resources to catch up on the battlefield? I’ve tried it all.
That was no good.
At this point I was starting to win, but Abrupt Decay made me keep looking.
And this is where I arrived. This combination has seemed like the best, leading to so many wins. Together, these guys can bring us back from the tempo holes we find ourselves in. They give life to Sage of Epityr.
But, just because this wins, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Perhaps there is something else.
And, as the universe seems to be giving me another chance with Battlefield Thamaturge, I decided I would try it.
Here is where I am now:
Hour of Need Wizards
The game plan is simple.
Control the opponent’s key spells with Martyr of Frost and Voidmage Prodigy.
Dig for the combo, and one-shot the opponent with Sphinxes.
Honestly the deck is not good… it’s great! The core of this deck is just so solid, and it attacks from such a weird angle in Modern. It dodges most flood and screw, has tons of built in permission, and has an uncounterable draw engine leading to an unstoppable finish.
I haven’t seen the Voidmage Vial deck picking up too much steam, but I think it will. The deck is just too good not to. It’s too fun not to. So we’ll see.
Hour of Need is such a flexible and powerful card. It has so many different modes and costs. It can be a 3-mana removal, it can be a 7-mana overrun. It does so much and I want to see this card make it in Modern. I think it’s good enough.
Nobody wants to use a removal spell on Augury Owl, but opponent’s just don’t have much of a choice. All of our creatures are terrible, so there’s not much value to be gained.
Augury Owl and Omenspeaker are great in this deck. We need random bodies for Sky Hussar and Hour of Need and these are great at setting things up. Both are underrated cards and I’ve been liking them a lot in this version of the deck.
My full 75 with sideboard looks like this:
Pretty straightforward sideboard. Blue lacks great sideboard options in Modern, and white is really deep, so we tend to see these decks with basically mono-white boards.
Stony Silence comes in for Vial to hose the artifact decks.
Rest in Peace is a monster against graveyard decks.
Aven Mindcensor is great against shuffle-heavy decks like Pod and Scapeshift.
Misthollow Griffin plus Moorland Haunt and/or Rest in Peace is a bit clunky but an unstoppable force in long games. Lightning Bolt this!
Dirt Cheap Dirty Blue
You might have noticed that the deck is almost all commons, uncommons, and junk rares… except for the playset of Misty Rainforest and Scalding Tarn. As it happens, this is not a budget deck. This is a deck I would consider for Modern tournaments. But it’s close.
So, how important are the fetchlands?
In general, I would say they are very important. It starts with Sage of Epityr. Sage of Epityr is much, much better with access to fetchlands. It’s a combination that digs 4 cards deep, finds us the best, and let’s us shuffle away the rest. Without the fetchlands we leave a lot of power on the table.
The fetchlands also give us easy access to our mono-white sideboard, and without that, our sideboard is going to be miles worse. But we’re close, so let’s see what we can do:
Dirt Cheap Dirty Blue for Modern
Keep the main the same, swap in 20 Islands, and boom, done! We’ve got basically the same main for like a grand less. Bingo.
Now, Aether Vial and Serum Visions are surprisingly pricey in real life, but online? This deck is out-of-control cheap for the power level it offers.
There isn’t a better 20 Island deck to be had for anything close to comparable price. If we’re looking for budget / competitive, we’ve really broken the format with this one. More than just being good it’s an OPTION… the play style of most budget decks in Modern is so limiting, and this just does something totally different. Amazing.
As for sideboard for this version, don’t bother. The 60 is perfect.
In reality though, there aren’t too many options: we have Relic of Progenitus, we have Pithing Needle, we have Spreading Seas, and I don’t know what else. I’d take a page out of Merfolk lists floating around if I were you.
Vial Wizards in Modern
So, this is today’s deck… or really this year’s obsession in a new shell.
I’ve got plans to play in one Modern PTQ this season and if I do it will be with some configuration. I’m not sure if I’m going to finish with Grand Architect/Master of Waves or Battlefield Thaumaturge/Hour of Need, but it doesn’t matter too much.
We’ve developed a really solid core.
I will be playing Aether Vial, Sage of Epityr, Martyr of Frost, Voidmage Prodigy, Sky Hussar, and fetchlands. The rest is really gonna be up to taste of the week, and I’m excited to share the results.
For those of ya’ll looking for something fun, something different, I highly recommend this deck. I expect that I will continue to develop versions for some time, and I will be sharing.
Vial Wizards are real quiet right now. There are few players out there. But once people get a taste, I expect that will change, as this strategy is fun AND competitive.