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Mono-Blue Stompy wins Grand Prix Wickenburg
By Andrew Emmott
With Regionals fast approaching the MTG community is abuzz with Standard’s most degenerate aggro deck since the dreaded Pirate decks from the days of Mercadian Masques. While it’s R&D’s job to keep degenerate, meta-game-warping decks such as Mono-Blue Stompy from ever seeing the light of day, it’s the players’ job to suffer through these rough times with grace and aplomb.

So when you take that long road trip to Regionals this May, remember, you had better be doing one of two things:

1) Playing Mono-Blue Stompy

2) Playing against Mono-Blue Stompy

Let’s look at the monstrous 63-card build that Bud Winters piloted to a first place finish at Grand Prix Wickenburg just last weekend:

“Mono-Blue Stompy”

Imagecrafter x4
Fugitive Wizard x2
Coral Eel x4
Aphetto Alchemist x2
Sage Owl x3
Spire Golem x4
Fleeting Image x3
Wispersilk Cloak x2
Loxodon War Hammer x2
Unsummon x4
Twiddle x3
Inertia Bubble x2
Vex x3
Island x17
Seat of The Synod x4

Sideboard:
Inertia Bubble x2
Vex x1
Welding Jar x4
Domineer x4
Wrath of Marit-Lage x4

Now, let’s break the deck down card by card-

The Beat-down All-Star: Spire Golem
Before Darksteel, Mono-Blue Stompy was just another goofy rogue deck with the occasional Top 8 on the Grand Prix circuit. That all changed when Spire Golem was printed. “Affinity for Islands?” Bud Winters said, “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first read the spoiler. WOTC did realize that come turn 6, he’s free, right?” With evasion, high toughness and a whopping 2 power, Spire Golem quickly became blue’s Grand High Poobah of Phat Beats. “This guy has 4 toughness!” Winters continues, “Take that, Pyrite Spellbomb! The only way somebody’s gonna finish this guy off is with an Electrostatic Bolt or a Shrapnel Blast or a Dark Banishing or an Oxidize or a Naturalize or some other stupid card like that.” Indeed, at Grand Prix Wickenburg, Winters enjoyed not just one, but two instant concessions in the face of two Spire Golems. “One’s bad enough, but two just spells ‘Game Over.’ This guy’s worse than Spiritmonger. I mean, Spiritmonger never had flying, am I right?”

The One-Drops: Imagecrafter and Fugitive Wizard.
Early one-drops are key to any successful aggro deck and these two guys deliver. Not only do they have the upper hand in combat against most other popular one-drops such as Taunting Elf and Birds of Paradise, but Imagecrafter comes with an ability that leaves many opponents scratching their heads. Bud Winters comments, “It can really screw their combat math up with they think they’re going to hit Wirewood Pride for three and it ends up at only 2. A lot of people forget that the ability is there.” Some have suggested Arcbound Workers as an alternative one-drop for the deck because it can put it’s counter onto the Spire Golems, but Winters defends his choice. “With Dismantle as popular as it is, I don’t want them being able to pay three mana to take out one of my guys AND get to put a counter on one of theirs. I can’t believe they printed that card – it’s like Shatter and Battlegrowth combined into one card! Talk about tempo swings – that card’s worse than Frenzied Tilling!”

The Two-Drops: Coral Eel, Sage Owl, Aphetto Alchemist
When news came that merfolk were being discontinued as a creature type, many blue stompy players lamented because they knew it would mean the loss of Coral Merfolk come 8th Edition. But then along came Coral Eel. “This thing’s just like Coral Merfolk,” Winters explained, “Except it’s an EEL! That’s so awesome!” Many players question WOTC’s wisdom in allowing blue continued access to a 2-power creature at the 2-mana slot, but for now their pleas will just have to wait until Ninth Edition. Meanwhile, Sage Owl provides the deck with some much needed card selection. “This guy’s like Impulse on a stick- a flying stick! Talk about card advantage!” As for Aphetto Alchemist, some questioned his use in the deck in much the same way Hum of the Radix was questioned in the Molder Slug/Darksteel Ingot decks – but time has proven the walking Voltaic Key worthy of his card slot. “I love this guy,” Winters said, “Not only can he block a Crazed Goblin and live to tell about it but later he can untap your Spire Golem after it attacks. Do you realize how ridiculous it is to attack AND block with the same Spire Golem? Spiritmonger never did that either!”

It’s a Rainbow Efreet! It’s a Morphling! No, it’s: Fleeting Image
Touted as the Type 2 Morphling, Fleeting Image has been frustrating the tournament scene since it’s reprinting in 7th Edition. “When you got the mana open this thing is practically Spire Golem,” Winters noted, “I mean, he flies over for 2 and nothing can touch him. Bah-roken!” The new-school Superman has certainly been gumming up the meta-game. One Wickenburg player noted, “I decided to maindeck Spark Sprays so I could handle all those one-toughness creatures, but Fleeting Image just kept coming back for more. I hate that card.”

The Equipment: Wispersilk Cloak and Loxodon Warhammer
Many thought Equipment would break the color wheel and it seems these cards have proven them right. “Normally blue doesn’t have access to evasive or untargetable creatures,” Winters said. “Whispersilk Cloak changed all that. And Loxodon Warhammer? I’d play it just for the lifegain. I don’t need all that +3/+0 crap – I’m trying to win, but I’m not trying to win more.” Many thought Wispersilk Cloak was a little too costly for something that didn’t provide a boost in power, to which Bud Winters replied smartly, “Those people obviously have never lost one of their Spire Golems to an Irradiate.” Other MBS builds have tried to make use of the quirky new Skullclamp and have had mixed results. “I admit there are times when I’d rather have a 3/3 Spire Golem too, but a deck with three Sage Owls just doesn’t need the card drawing.”

The Insurance Game: Unsummon, Twiddle, Inertia Bubble, Vex
What is often overlooked in blue is its ability to control the board. What puts MBS over-the-top is its ability to gain a wee bit o’ tempo swing out of it’s handful of control spells. We will begin with the most controversial card in this list: Inertia Bubble. Winters was openly mocked for his maindeck Inertia Bubbles going into Grand Prix Wickenburg, but now he’s the one laughing. “Artifacts are kinda becoming popular in Standard now, and in game one I want to have a way to deal with problematic cards like Howling Mine and Tower of Champions.” After this comes Unsummon, a card which Winters has dubbed, “The Benny Goodman of Tempoland Swing.” With unsummon, MBS players are allowed to undo a creature’s attack for the turn AND force the opponent to cast the creature again, tying up precious, precious mana that would be better spent looking for an answer to those fat Spire Golems across the table. Some have suggested using Aether Spellbomb instead of Unsummon because of the optional card draw, but the suave Bud Winters simply replied, “I ain’t gonna pay no two mana for no creature bounce!” Slightly lower on the totem pole is Twiddle, a popular combat trick. “If I’m stuck I can hold off an attacker for a turn and buy myself enough time to draw into a Sage Owl, at which point we enter into Discount Card Advantage Warehouse and I proceed to beatdown.” Finally comes Vex, the counterspell that the meta-game just wasn’t prepared for. “Losing Counterspell was hard on every blue mage, but the printing of a hard counter at the three-mana slot has helped to close the counterspell achievement gap quite a bit. Now I have a reasonable answer to things like Rustpore Ram and Stir the Pride.”

Thinking Like a Champion: Seat of Synod
Many dismiss the rationale behind Winters inclusion of the blue artifact land, saying that they only serve to make a turn-3 Spire Golem less consistent. “These people are forgetting about one card – Wrench Mind. Anything that lets me discard one card where I should be discarding two is okay by me. It’s literally happened where my opponent was like, ‘Wrench Mind’ and I was all ‘I’ll discard a Seat of Synod,” and he was like, ‘That’s broken,’ and I was all, ‘Yep.’”

The Sideboard: Welding Jar, Domineer, Wrath of Marit-Lage
“Welding Jar is for those punks who think it’s funny to put artifact destruction in their sideboard. That’s like fighting dirty – sure you might win, but it’s just a little too crass. Welding Jar puts a complete end to these sorts of antics. It’s like a zero-cost counterspell in these match-ups.” Domineer is clearly for the mirror match. “I’m not standing idly by while my opponent puts down Spire Golems all willy-nilly. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen on my watch.” Finally, Wrath of Marit-Lage is a response to the increasingly popular Sparksmith/Spirit Link decks. “I hate that guy. He burns down the house AND gains life for his controller. It was all I could do to try an hate him out of the metagame.”

Conclusion: What to do against this deck.
The newest idea circulating around the net is Steel Wall as it can hold off everything except the fliers. After that are Spark Sprays, which handle most of the creatures in the deck and can cycle against other decks. This still leaves Spire Golem. Some have suggested Detonate, but it seems the Golem has built in protection – his converted casting cost is 6. By turn seven you’re usually dead, so detonate probably won’t work too well. A few radicals have suggested things like Choke and Boil, but not only do these seems a tad extreme, they don’t actually do anything about the Spire Golems themselves. Perhaps the only truly viable solution to the current Standard metagame is to just stop playing and see what options Fifth Dawn brings with it.

Read More Articles by Andrew Emmott!

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