The Basics Of Blue In Legacy



By Lennie Brookes (AKA Qwerty)





(1) Denial
(2) Draw
(3) Utilty
(4) Basic Blue Strategies
(5) Legacy Blue Decks To Beat
(6)Conclusion



(1)
Denial
The simple capability of being able to just say "No!" is fundamental to the way that blue plays. Blue is the only colour that must control the game to win.
By using cards like Counterspell and Stifle, there are very few spells/effects that blue cannot stop from resolving. Of course, there are more cards than the two mentioned, but the available pool is significantly shallower than most people think. Forbid and Dissipate are hard counters, but are rendered unplayable by their high casting costs. By the time you have the mana to cast Forbid, important spells might have already been cast by your opponent. Having counter magic capability after a threat is in play is not very useful. Almost every denial spell played by blue in Legacy has a casting cost of two or less. Using this principle allows us to eliminate the majority of counterspells in print. What remains are the playable Legacy counterspells:

Counterspell
To many the defining card of blue. For just UU it trades on a one for one basis for almost every card. A definite staple for any deck capable of UU early on.

Force of Will
It doesn’t fit the two mana casting cost rule, but Force of Will has its own rules and apart from breaking the two mana costing rule it breaks one of blue's other rules. Using it tends to lose you card advantage. "Why," you ask, is it played? Simple: it’s free. It gives you the ability to deny spells when you have no mana on the table, and are not able to use traditional counterspells. It is the perfect answer for that final card your opponent wants to resolve, after they manage to overwhelm your mana base.

Mana Leak
With a casting cost of 1U, Mana Leak is the most splashable counterspell in Legacy. You can easily play other colours, to the extent that you’re playing non-U producing lands, and still use 4 mana leaks main deck.

Stifle
Fast becoming one of blue's multi-use cards, for just one U you have a land kill card (Flooded Strand), mass destruction denial (Pernicious Deed) and a generic ability counter (Wasteland)

Daze
Why play Daze over Force Spike? The same reason people play Force of Will: Daze is free. The decks that play it tend to be aggressive, tapping out early for threats, and need to defend themselves early without spending mana or losing card advantage.

Misdirection
Like Force of Will, Misdirection doesn’t the fit two mana casting cost rule. However, it is played for the same reason: it's free to cast. Its main use is to deflect harmful spells back at the caster and/or to defend blue's own permanents while taking out an opponent's permanent.

(2)
Draw

Blue's denial alone is not enough to win. Stopping cards on a one to one ratio is not good enough. But coupled with blue's drawing capability, it can become a valid tactic.

Blue's draw power ranges from powerful to extremely powerful. The low casting cost rule still applies (two mana max) but some spells like Fact or Fiction are just too powerful not to use. Older combos like Intuition and Accumulated Knowledge don’t have the same impact they used to have, because we have to pay mana multiple times and Intuition has a high mana cost.

Brainstorm
It doesn’t net you card advantage, but it does net you card quality when coupled with shuffling effects like Survival of the Fittest and Polluted Delta. On top of that, it is the cheapest draw spell in the format and can be used to protect your important spells when discard spells are cast against you by putting them on the top of your library.

Accumulated Knowledge
At first you do not really gain a benefit from Accumulated Knowledge. Its main strength in Legacy comes in longer games where draw over a longer period is more important than a high draw count on one turn (i.e. when you have to discard a lot of cards) If instant mass card draw is needed you can couple it with Intuition but this combo doesn’t have the same impact that it used to.

Fact or Fiction
If there is one card I have seen turn games more than any other it is Fact or Fiction. It nets massive card advantage, digs deep into your deck and puts your opponent under pressure. A badly piled Fact or Fiction can and will win you games.

Impulse
Again not a true draw spell, but unlike Brainstorm, Impulse digs a card deeper and you don’t need a shuffle effect to get rid of the unwanted cards. It is also lot more efficient than the classic Intuition and Accumulated Knowledge combo.

Ophidian
Ophidian provides a constant source of card draw. If left unblocked Ophidian will almost certainly win a blue player the game. Its main loss is that it's one of the few creatures that blue plays main deck and so blue has to waste spells protecting it.

Standstill
Standstill is a lot more situational than the other draw cards listed. You need to be able to take advantage of its drawback and force an opponent to trigger it. Landstill does this via cards like Mishra's Factory. Some creature decks play it after they have cast threats so that they will draw cards when their opponent tries to kill their creatures.

Deep Analysis
While Deep Analysis’s normal casting cost makes it a poor choice compared to Fact or Fiction, it has found use in Madness and Tog builds. Not to mention that the card is very good against discard.

(3)
Blues Utility/Fetch cards
Blue's utility spells tend to revolve around getting instants and sorceries, although there are a few exceptions.

Cunning Wish
With this, you can effectively get any card to deal with any situation depending on the colours you are playing in conjunction with blue.

Mystical Tutor
Cheap and efficient it gets the bomb sorcery that’s needed or grabs that instant you have been dieing for the past few turns, one of the better multiple use tutors blue has access too.

Intuition
The best available all-round tutor for cards you have main deck. Currently, only decks that take advantage of its side effect really use it.

Merchant Scroll
Merchant Scroll is a borderline card to be listed, but it does see play often so I will list it here and the reason why it's played. It's played because it gets silver bullet instants that you need there and then. It's weakness is that it is a sorcery and can only get blue cards.

(4)
Basic Blue Strategies

Tapping out
Never should you tap all your mana in your mana pool during your turn unless you have to, in legacy (as in most other formats) a blue payer should not cast spells during his own turn. Apart from when it asserts control or goes to win a game. Other than this, you should cast all instants in your opponent's end step.

Don’t Counter Everything
This is the most common mistake made by an inexperienced blue players. Just because you have a Counterspell in hand does not mean you need to counter a Llanowar Elves. If you have non-counter control elements main deck, blue's draw will get it for you. Counterspells should only be used on effects you can not handle if the spell resolves.

(5)
Legacy Blue decks to beat
These are decks with a high content of blue permission and blue draw. This section is just to provide lists, and a small overview of each deck. None have sideboards listed as they are generally meta dependant, but some decks will have Cunning Wish. The decks are not perfect builds; they are generic lists that are useful for testing, but they are close to the mark.

Landstill
Landstill controls the board and gains card advantage while aggressively attacking with manlands. If it goes to the late game, a Decree of Justice is often enough to win in a turn or two.
LandstillMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Denial
4 Counterspell
4 Force of Will
2 Stifle

Draw
2 Fact or Fiction
4 Brainstorm
4 Standstill

Utilty
2 Cunning Wish
2 Decree of Justice
3 Swords to Plowshares
3 Fire // Ice
3 Nevinyrral's Disk
2 Crucible of Worlds

Mana\Win
3 Faerie Conclave
4 Mishra's Factory
4 Wasteland
2 Island
2 Polluted Delta
3 Volcanic Island
3 Tundra
4 Flooded Strand



BBS
BBS tries to deny everything from just plain denial to soft locks with Back to Basics, Vedalken Shackles and Chalice of the Void. It then finishes the game with a Morphling. It is worth noting that while I have listed a mono blue version of this deck, BBS often splashes white for Swords to plowshares, Exalted Angel, Disenchant and Decree of Justice in about that order.
BBSMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Denial
4 Force of Will
4 Counterspell
2 Stifle

Utility
4 Powder Keg
3 Chalice of the Void
3 Back to Basics
3 Vedalken Shackles

Draw
4 Ophidian
3 Fact or Fiction
4 Impulse

Win
2 Morphling

Mana
4 Wasteland
4 Polluted Delta
2 Flooded Strand
14 Island



Solidarity
Basically this deck creates a lot of mana (High Tide+Reset), casts lots of draw spells, then Brain Freezes for the win. It tends to roll over and die to Gaea's Blessing. It is worth mentioning that some versions do not run Cunning Wish, instead adding more main deck answers. It can avoid Gaea's Blessing by casting a fatal Stroke Of Genius
SolidarityMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Combo
4 High Tide
4 Reset
3 Turnabout

Draw and Tutor
4 Brainstorm
4 Meditate
4 Impulse
3 Mystical Tutor
4 Cunning Wish

Denial
4 Force of Will

Win
1 Flash of Insight
3 Words of Wisdom
4 Brain Freeze

Mana
4 Polluted Delta
2 Thawing Glaciers
13 Island



URphid
It controls the board via denial and creature control spells. It then tries to out draw the opponent and win through sheer card advantage from the Ophidian. It finishes the deal with an Isochron Scepter or Morphling
URPhidMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
Denial
2 Mana Leak
4 Force of Will
4 Counterspell

Draw
3 Fact or Fiction
4 Brainstorm
4 Ophidian
2 Cunning Wish

Utilty
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Fire // Ice
4 Isochron Scepter

Win
2 Morphling

Mana
4 Mishra's Factory
4 Volcanic Island
2 Polluted Delta
4 Flooded Strand
10 Island



(6)
Conclusion
Blue will always be played. The sheer variety of of decks is a testament to blue's capability and usability in the Legacy format. While considered the hardest color to play, with a little research and testing a blue player can become a force to be reckoned with in his area. I hope this has helped and look forward to writing the second part of this article. If whispers are true other authors may be doing the other colours as well.

Thanks to Static, Someone, The Revernant, HKKID, Belgareth, butteblues18, goblinboy, SneakyH, Tawnos as bunny testing readers and editing in the case of hkkid/goblinboy Smile
Qwerty
&Mind's Desire>>>>:bmage:

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