The standard format is as expensive as it can get, and it can be off-putting for new players to join.
Even with Challenger Decks, these can barely put a dent against the top tiered decks.
But what if I told you that there was a competitive $50 deck in Standard? You wouldn’t believe me, right?
Mono Blue Tempo and You!
Mono Blue Tempo is probably one of the best decks that you can build in Standard if you’re just getting started as a new player.
You can build this deck for as low as $50 and take this to FNM’s, Standard Showdowns, and other MTG events in your LGS.
What’s The Decklist?
Mono Blue Tempo by Joe Bernal
Nerd Rage Gaming $5000 Championship Trial - June 2019, 3rd Place
There are different versions of Mono Blue Tempo, and you can find them on MTGGoldfish.
The only differences between these decks are their creature counts and their sideboards, depending on where they were played at.
The decklist that I presented ended up as 3rd place in a $5000 Championship Trial with 4 Esper variants, 3 Ramp variants, and 6 Aggro variants (Mono Red and Gruul) in the top 16th.
Identifying The Core Cards
Different versions of Mono Blue Tempo will always run the same core cards. Let’s talk about these core cards and how you can maximize them to their full potential.1 Drops: Siren Stormtamer, Pteramander, Curious Obsession
Mono Blue runs 4 copies of Siren Stormtamer and Pteramander, but in this case, the list only runs 3 copies of the latter.
Siren Stormtamer is a great enabler for Wizard’s Retort, giving you the ability to cast this ability for one less.
It’s Sacrifice ability also protects you and your creatures from targeted spells, so they have great value in mid to late game.
Pteramander is a 1 to cast 1/1 flyer that eventually turns into a 5/5 flyer with its Adapt ability, giving you an able body to defend against creatures like Lyra Dawnbringer and Hydroid Krasis in the late game.
Curious Obsession is your cantrip card that pumps up your creatures and gives you the ability to draw a card if the creature deals damage.
Attaching it to your Pteramander or Siren Stormtamer early game gives you easy card advantage while dishing out 2 damage.2 Drops: Merfolk Trickster and Surge Mare
Merfolk Trickster is your trick card that comes in handy for tapping creatures before attackers are declared, or when you just want to play a creature before your opponent’s turn ends.
Because it’s a Wizard creature type, it also enables you to run Wizard’s Retort for one less cost.
Surge Mare is not really a mainboard option for some variations, but it is a good card to have around for a number of reasons.
It’s a 0/5 body that gives you a solid defender against Aggro creatures (Goblin Chainwhirler, Gruul Spellbreaker, and even tokens).
For 2 mana, you can pump it twice to make it a 4/1 creature, so it becomes an effective removal or attacker either way.3 Drop: Tempest Djinn
Here it is. The big daddy of Mono Blue Tempo.
Tempest Djinn is the deck’s best finisher, and for 3 mana cost, it can swing out 3 damage and gets bigger the more lands you play.
Equipping Curious Obsession on Tempest Djinn gives it enough defense to avoid getting hit by spells like Lava Coil.Counter Spells: Spell Pierce, Negate, Wizard’s Retort, Essence Capture
In your mainboard, you’re equipped with at least 10 counter spells (again, depending on the variation).
These spells are designed to screw up your opponent’s tempo at certain parts of the game.
For the early parts of the game, Spell Pierce and Negate catches your opponent’s spells when they tap out.
Essence Capture counters creature spells and gives one of your creatures a +1/+1 counter.
Wizard’s Retort is your ultimate counter spell because it catches both non-creature and creature spells for 3 mana (or 2 if you have a wizard lying around).Defensive Spell: Dive Down
Dive Down is a defensive spell that gives your creature hexproof and +0/+3 until end of turn.
This comes in quite handy for protecting your Pteramander’s and Tempest Djinn’s in the late game, or if you want to give them the ability to survive damage.Draw Spell: Opt
Opt is a handy card to have around at the early parts of the game because it not only draws you a card, but it also filters out one card before you do.
Within an MTG context, Tempo refers to the way the momentum or speed the match is going. It’s also a label for decks to keep advantage on their side.
Unlike aggro decks, Tempo decks are built to wait and play around opponent’s spells to keep them at bay and maintaining advantage in the long run.
Mono Blue Tempo is equipped with spells to do just that. The way you keep favor on your side is to use your wide arsenal of counter spells and defensive spells.
This is your mindset for playing Mono Blue Tempo:
- Always keep your mana open for your counter spells. Certain parts of the game will have you catching certain cards such as Planeswalkers to out-tempo the opponent. Spell Pierce and Negate will come in handy for these.
- Enough mana available but no counter spell? You can use Opt to scry and draw one card before the opponent’s spell can resolve. This gives you enough room to draw a potential counter.
- When using Essence Capture, don’t put a counter on Pteramander so that it doesn’t lose its Adapt ability. Again, the text says “You may put a +1/+1 counter…”
- Save your Dive Down’s to protect your Pteramander and Tempest Djinn.
- When Curious Obsession is equipped on your creature, you need to attack with said creature. Otherwise, you sacrifice Curious Obsession at the end of your turn.
To see Mono Blue Tempo in action, check out Merchant’s video right here:
There you have it.
For $50, Mono Blue Tempo is a very competitive deck that can go toe-to-toe against top tiered decks.