Beating 4 Popular Decks with Mardu Blue

by Kelvin Chew on 18 May 2017, Thursday

Kelvin Chew

Mardu Blue at Nashville


Last weekend at Pro Tour Amonkhet, I finished 11-5 and was happy to hit Platinum for this season and the next. My deck choice was Mardu Blue and I went 7-3 with it. To start this article off, here is my decklist for the weekend.




The Zombies Matchup


During our MTG Mint Card and MTG Bent Card playtesting sessions, we expected variants of Aetherworks Marvel to be popular and decided that Mardu Blue had the best chance against them due to early pressure and counterspells in the sideboard.

Unfortunately, the stock Mardu Vehicles decklists had a pretty bad matchup against Zombies and we nearly gave up the deck because the matchup was around 70-30 in their favor, which was a problem because we had expected Zombies to be very popular too.

Aethersphere Harvester


Luckily, Eduardo Sajgalik mentioned Aethersphere Harvester and we quickly determined that it was the key card that we were missing in our Mardu Vehicles lists. After some finetuning, we brought our matchup against Zombies to about 50-50, which made me feel more comfortable about this deck choice. 

In general, Zombies are good at stalling the ground but are weak to flyers. They basically have no way to kill Aethersphere Harvester in Game 1. The matchup is all about racing and Aethersphere Harvester provides the life gain you need against them. Always save your removal spells for their key creatures. For example, Diregraf Colossus is kill-on-sight, similar to Winding Constrictor in Black-Green deck or you'll just lose right away if they follow up even with just one or two Zombies.

Cut // Ribbons Unlicensed Disintegration Walking Ballista

Amonkhet also adds Cut // Ribbons to the deck, which means we should try to push as much damage as we can. Together with Unlicensed Disintegration and Walking Ballista, there is a lot of reach in the deck and you can burn them out to close the game. You probably can't beat multiple Liliana's Mastery in the late game, so if you manage to attack for 10 - 12 damage, you can finish the last 8 - 10 damage with "burn".

Heart of Kiran

Managing the time when you crew your Vehicles is also very important. Take note that you shouldn't walk your Heart of Kiran into Grasp of Darkness if they have two mana up, because it is also pretty key. An addition hit from Heart of Kiran, which they cannot block, is crucial to the game plan. Not crewing Heart of Kiran when their mana is open creates an awkward situation where they might be forced to kill something else just to keep up the tempo.

This is how I would sideboard against Zombie decks.

-4 Toolcraft Exemplar
-4 Scrapheap Scrounger
+2 Declaration in Stone
+1 Oath of Chandra
+2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
+2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
+1 Wandering Fumarole 

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar Chandra, Torch of Defiance Nahiri, the Harbinger

After sideboard, you're playing a planewalker control game. Toolcraft Exemplar and Scrapheap Scrounger are the weakest cards in this matchup as Zombie can just stall the ground. Also, Scrapheap Scrounger cannot defend planeswalkers at all. A turn four Gideon, Ally of Zendikar will usually win you the game if you spend the first few turns killing their Zombies or casting creatures to defend Gideon.

As mentioned earlier, you really need to close the game fast because Liliana's Mastery and Dark Salvation are so powerful in the late game. For this reason, we added Declaration in Stone to improve the matchup as well.




The Aetherworks Marvel Matchup

Aetherworks Marvel Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

For Aetherworks Marvel Matchup, Game 1 is all about whether you are able to clock them before their Aetherworks Marvel hits the deadly Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Luckily, the deck can occassionally hit blanks which means you could get away with it sometimes. However, the reward of playing Aetherworks Marvel is worth the trouble.

This is how I would board against them. 

-3 Fatal Push
-3 Walking Ballista
-1 Canyon Slough
-1 Unlicensed Disintegration 
+3 Metallic Rebuke 
+2 Negate
+2 Declaration in Stone 
+1 Wandering Fumarole 


Metallic Rebuke Negate

Sideboarded games are much easier because you are able to interact with their cards. They might board into a midrange deck with Tireless Tracker and Chandra, Torch of Defiance and some builds also have Chandra, Flamecaller. Be careful to not hold your counterspells for too long as they may sometimes overrun you. Applying pressure is the key to winning this matchup. 



The Torrential Gearhulk Matchup

Torrential Gearhulk

Blue-Red Control decks are a good matchup for Mardu Blue because we have a wide range of threats that require different answers. Resolving Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is usually game over for them because the only way to remove it is Commit // Memory, which most decks only have one copy of.

I would not recommend running Gideon into Censor, since resolving it is so important but you be the judge of the situation since you need to be able to read whether they have Negate or Disallow as well.


-3 Aethersphere Harvester
-3 Fatal Push
-2 Cut // Ribbons
-1 Canyon Slough
-1 Walking Ballista 
+2 Negate
+3 Metallic Rebuke
+2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
+2 Nahiri, the Harbinger 
+1 Wandering Fumarole 

Dragonmaster Outcast Glorybringer Thing in the Ice

After sideboarding, we have even more planeswalkers which will cause them a lot of headaches. They might board in Dragonmaster Outcast and perhaps Glorybringer or Thing in the Ice.

In that case, I would keep in all my Unlicensed Disintegration against them since it also doubles up as a damage and you should usually be able to find a target for it. In addition, Walking Ballista is good for killing Dragonmaster OutcastMetallic Rebuke is great against Torrential Gearhulk because they will usually be under so much pressure they cannot wait until they have 9 mana.




The Mirror Match

Toolcraft Exemplar

Last but not least, let's talk about the mirror match. Both sides will usually board into a midrange planeswalker deck. I recommend ready up on Lee Shi Tian's articles since he is a Mardu Master and he has written a lot on this topic. This is how I would sideboard against the mirror.

-4 Toolcraft Exemplar
-2 Veteran Motorist
-1 Cut // Ribbons
-1 Aethersphere Harvester
+1 Oath of Chandra
+2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
+2 Nahiri, the Harbinger
+1 Wandering Fumarole
+1 Oath of Liliana 
+1 Release the Gremlins


That's all I have for today and these four matchups are what you need to prepare for at the moment. I feel that Mardu Blue is in a great position and I will likely run it for the next event. Sitting at 54 Pro Points now, I hope to pick up a few more Pro Points at the upcoming Grand Prix in order to secure a slot at the World Championship.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope it will help you in your next event as well. Cheers!

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