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Much Abrew: Mono-Blue Devotion (Pioneer)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading to our new post-ban Pioneer format again to play one of my new favorite combos in all of Magic: Master of Waves with Mystic Reflection. We tried the combo in a Modern deck on stream a couple of weeks ago, but it seems like it might be even better in Pioneer, where decks are a bit slower and less powerful and answers like Path to Exile and Fatal Push aren't as good against Master of Waves itself! To support the combo, we have a Mono-Blue Devotion shell that can make tons of mana with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and turn that mana into oodles of cards with Gadwick, the Wizened and Spectral Sailor. How good is Mono-Blue Devotion in Pioneer? Can the Mystic Master combo compete in the format? How is the format itself, now that many of the broken cards are banned? Let's jump into a league and find out!

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Much Abrew: Mono-Blue Devotion

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Discussion

  • Record-wise, we finished our Pioneer league 3-2, which is a solid record, although a bit disappointing after starting off 3-0. While our loss against UW Control was predictable (the endless sweepers are tough to beat), our other loss came in a really close match to RW Heroic, where we came up just short of picking up the win and finishing 4-1.
  • As for the deck itself, it felt really solid. While Mono-Blue Devotion isn't a brand new archetype to Pioneer, the addition of the Mystic Reflection / Master of Waves combo is a really huge deal for the deck. In the past, Mono-Blue Devotion needed to either draw its entire deck with Gadwick, the Wizened and then try to win with Thassa's Oracle or beat down with a bunch of underpowered dorks like Harbinger of the Tides and Merfolk Trickster. Being able to randomly make a lethal board for five or six mana with Mystic Reflection and Master of Waves offers a way to close out the game much quicker than in the past, giving the opponent fewer turns to find their answers or kill us.
  • The other upside of the combo is that both pieces are surprisingly strong individually. Boros Burn is one of the most popular decks in Pioneer at the moment, which makes Master of Waves' protection from red quite powerful. Meanwhile, the ability to use Mystic Reflection like a weird removal spell on an opposing creature is always underrated. One of our wins came from turning a potentially devastating Mayhem Devil into a harmless Cauldron Familiar against Rakdos Sacrifice. While it takes a bit of work to set up (we need someone to have a small, useless creature on the battlefield) and has risk (our opponent could kill the creature we target in response and fizzle Mystic Reflection), every time I played Mystic Reflection, I come away impressed with how good it is as a weird removal spell for mono-blue decks, which lack strong removal options. 
  • As for the rest of the deck, it's mostly about adding blue mana symbols to the battlefield to make more mana with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Cards like Harbinger of the Tides, Merfolk Trickster, Barrin, Tolarian Archmage, and Brazen Borrower help to slow our opponent down while also working as weird ramp spells if we have Nykthos. While they don't usually win the game on their own, they are important support pieces helping to prop up our more powerful payoffs and finishers.
  • Outside of the Mystic Master combo, the most important cards in our deck are Gadwick, the Wizened and Spectral Sailor. Because most of our cards are underpowered as standalone threats, we need as many of them as possible. Gadwick and, to a lesser, extent Spectral Sailor (especially if we can make a bunch of mana with Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx) help us to refill our hand and keep a steady stream of tricky little blue creatures available to annoy our opponents.
  • I'm honestly not sure about Leyline of Anticipation in the deck. In theory, it does two things. First, it adds blue mana symbols to the battlefield for free (assuming we have it in our opening hand), which helps us get off to quick Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx starts. Second, it allows us to play the Mystic Master combo at instant speed, which is especially relevant against decks that have sweepers since we can combo on our opponent's end step, untap, and win the game. The problem with Leyline of Anticipation is that a lot of the cards in our deck already can be played at instant speed, which sometimes mutes its impact. For now, I plan to leave it in the deck, but I can see an argument for replacing it with more main-deck interaction (possibly Aether Gust or Wizard's Retort, depending on how the Pioneer meta shakes out).
  • So, should you play Mono-Blue Devotion in Pioneer? I think the answer is yes! The deck is really fun, has a spicy combo, and feels pretty competitive. If you like making tons of mana, drawing tons of cards, and maybe finishing the game with an underappreciated combo, it might just be the perfect Pioneer deck for you! Plus, outside of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx (which could really use a reprinting), the deck is fairly cheap to put together, both in paper and on Magic Online!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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