As I am twisted echo of a human being I love playing mana denial strategies and as such, Blue Moon is one of my favorite fringe modern decks. A rogue deck that does best in a meta where it can prey on complicated mana bases though the power of Blood Moon. Understandably, it doesn’t fare so well against Tron, Burn, or weird fringe decks.
You might think that Tiny Leaders doesn’t have a properly established metagame yet, but since the internet is a thing we can hazard a pretty good guess at what people will be wanting to play i.e. the decks that receive the most whining about being OP or broken. The 5 big bad decks are Geist, Lands, Junk, Esper and Elfball. You might notice that these deck are either a, full of weak, easily sweepable creatures, or b, have very fragile manabases. Also, no Burn or Tron! Have to gamble on the weird fringe decks.
So let’s port the deck over to Tiny Leaders.
Nin the Pain Artist
Compared to traditional modern lists, you lose Batterskull, Cryptic Command and Kernaos, but you gain Counterspell, Dack Fayden and True Name Nemesis. Seems like a fairish trade to me. I’ve ironed my list a bit since my first foray with this deck and here’s what I used to 3-0 my LGS’ latest TL tournament.
Anger of the Gods
Delver of Secrets
True Name Nemesis
Dragon Master Outcast
Magus of the Moon
Red Elemental Blast
Elixir of Immortality
Back to Basics
Nin: The only Izzet commander worth considering. The awesome thing about Nin is she enables you to skimp on clunky draw spells in favor of more action. Whenever you run low on gas, just set her down and pop her for 3 or 4 next turn.
Sick, twisted and utterly repugnant, Nin is the perfect helmsman for this horrible deck.
Counterspell, Manaleak, Remand and Miscalculation don’t need much of an introduction; simple, efficient answers to all manner of problems.
Daze, Mental Misstep, Force Spike: Cruel in that they lure your opponent into a false sense of security. Misstep is especially usefully against elves.
Hinder: As they haven’t changed the tuck rule in TL this card is absolutely busted. The ability to remove an opponent’s one guaranteed resource is just horrendous.
Exclude: I expected there to be enough creature decks to take a gamble on this. Though in hindsight I think Hinder’s little cousin Spell Crumple could take this spot.
Bolt: Amazing removal, or helps me close out the game a bit quicker once I shift gears.
Fire/Ice, Dead/Gone, Electrolyze: Removal spells that offer great utility or some form of CA.
Flameslash: In case of Anafenza: ignite.
Mizzium Mortars: Back up Flameslash that also acts as a sweeper? Yes please.
Ponder, preordain: Help you dig toward the specific card you need for a single blue. Ridiculously good.
Ancestral Visions: Sometimes this feels like “One mana, in five turns win the game.”
Izzet charm: Dig, removal and counter spell all rolled into one.
Volcanic Fallout: I feel this is crucial against Geist’s counter magic and is especially juicy in response to their suiting him up.
Sudden Demise: So busted, especially when you lay down True Name Nemesis and name white to kill Geist.
Anger of the Gods: the extra damage pint is useful and the exile clause can be key when facing grindy reanimator nonsense.
Rolling Earthquake: Slight upgrade on regular Earthquake makes it worthwhile and can go big vs midrange.
Delver: Cheap, so you can normally protect him and a decent clock.
Dragonspeaker Shaman: Easy to protect and kills very quickly once she goes online.
Truename Nemesis: Another in a long line of broken blue printing mistakes.
Vedalken Shackles: Removal and win condition in one. So morale sapping for the opponent.
Snapcaster Mage: Swiss army knife that doubles as a wincon!
Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon: The lynch-pins of the deck. Never leave home without them.
Dack Fayden: Steals swords like nobody’s business, or digs like a champ. If you ultimate him and have Fire/Ice in hand you might even pull off a spectacular heist.
I wanted to go full basics for this, balls to the wall and that, but at the very last minute I caved a bit and shoehorned in Command Tower, Steam Vents and Sulpher Falls and Wasteland. Which I still feel shows considerable restraint.
Elixir of Immorality: Sadly, mill is a thing in this format, but this does a damn good job of ruining their day.
Pyroblast/Red Elemental Blast. Blue is an awful colour, played by awful emotional husks. Ruin their day with one mana counterspells.
Tormod’s Crypt: Necessary for graveyard decks/Land shenanigans. Would have preferred a Relic of Progenitus, but half my card pool seems to have wandered off to that same nirvana odd socks go to.
Negate: Easy to cast, catchall answer against creature-light decks.
Jace Beleren: Primarily here as an out against decks where getting into the red zone is a chore (Monoblack, Lands.dec).
Back to Basics: Not quite as good as the Moons. I keep this in the side for the likes of Lands.dec and Esper.
Shattering Spree: Seems good considering the preponderance of swords in the format.
Pithing Needle: 101 problems and pithing needle solves every single one.
Engineered Explosives: There are a couple of 1 and 2 mana enchantments I’m worried about sneaking through the counter wall. This deals with those nicely, with plenty of collateral damage included.
IDIOT ALERT: Somehow I forgot Spell Snare and Vendillion Clique were magic cards again. It’s like they have some sort of invisibility cloak.
How it fared
As the tournament geared up I saw a lot of things to please me: Lands.dec, Geist, and Grixis. I also saw U-Mill and Merfolk. Goddammit.Fortunately I go head to head against the following rogues gallery.
R1: G/B Elves
Was quite sure this would be okay, even though I assumed my opponent was just splashing for discard and Deathrite Shaman. Turns out he didn’t have Deathrite in his collection and was mainly splashing for stuff like Lys Alana Scarblade. He also tilts very hard when playing against counter spells/heavy removal. Not much to say, I countered his stuff, burnt the trees to the ground and then salted the earth under a sailor’s delight. Concessions were swift in both games.
Was really hoping to get this match-up and against my favourite local nemesis to boot. His build is very all in on Geist, attempting to accelerate him out on turn two by using various petals and moxes and then provide him with a whole suite of pants to run across the finish line in.
Game one: I completely punt by laying down a second island instead of a second mountain, which prevents me casting Volcanic Fallout on his end step, instead I try to moon him on my following turn, figuring I can take a Geist hit and Volcanic next turn. He subsequently uses Lotus Petal to put Spectral Flight on Geist and I’m totally buggered.
Game two: I have a Counter Spell and Dack Fayden in hand, which I feel will be good for preventing moxes getting him back into the game. This game starts out a lot slower and his first bit of action is Sword of Feast and Famine. Geist tries and fails to come down the next turn and I follow up with a top decked Magus of the Moon. My opponent is now mostly locked out of the game and Dack hijacking the sword for Magus means the conclusion comes swiftly.
Game three is markedly similar. He has a lot of moxes for a quick Geist, but I have counters and eventually Hinder to get rid of Geist permanently. Back to Basics ruins his mana base and Dack pinches his Mox Diamond. The rest is a waiting game as he tries to top deck enough lands to do something relevant while Nin draws me a bucket of cards. Nin gets there faster over blind chance.
R:3 Doomsday Esper
I have no idea what this deck does except it involves Doomsday and is therefore not to be trusted. On the plus side, an esper mana base seems ripe for a Bloodmoon.
Game one: Is crazy tight. I have a slowish hand, figuring he can’t be that fast, but he immediately Mystical Tutors for Doomsday! I’m pretty rattled, as I don’t have a counter in hand, but I use Wasteland to take him off triple black. Next turn he uses Dark Ritual to cast Doomsday! Lion’s Eye Diamond comes down, but I top deck a Hinder in time for his potentially game sealing Predict. but just to spite me he reorders with a Sage of Epityr from the hand! It seems we both have exactly what we want when we need it. Unfortunately for him, I have Snapcaster for Hinder, which completely ruins his Second Sunrise, since he’s still only on 2 lands thanks to Wasteland. With him having no library and no mana, I win by default.
Game two: Is much longer, as I keep a sketchy hand, but have turn 1 Pithing Needle for Lions Eye Diamond. Eventually Bloodmoon comes down and we’re both screwed, as I only have one blue source. Crucially my OP forgets that Mortify can target Bloodmoon, wasting his Lotus Petal to kill Dragonspeaker Shaman. I eventually take a risk to tap out for Nin and she steals the game through maximum grind.
Before I forget they exist again, Clique boom-boom needs to go in over Delver, Spell Snare probably goes in over Daze and I think Impulse needs squeezing in over Dead/Gone for supreme, instant speed digging. In the side, Shattering Spree would also become Shattering Pulse, which offers more long term utility. Also considering squeezing Spreading Seas in there somewhere too, being 2 mana is just clutch when you don’t have a wasteland handy in the first two turns. I also wouldn’t be averse to squeezing in a few fetches (4?) and lowering my Mountain count, as 3 mountains and a Steam Vents is probably enough red sources to get most things accomplished before the Moon rises.