An against-type blue deck

Building On A Budget - Robot Ninja Frogs

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Yes, you read the title correctly: Robot Ninja Frogs. Can there be anything better? Somehow I've managed to create a deck that has frogs who are not only robots, but become ninjas as well. Only an undead pirate space monkey could top this.

Seriously, though, this week's deck is about blue. This isn't your standard blue deck, but rather a new and upcoming breed. As time goes on you'll see more and more decks using the principles that I talk about here--blue control decks that use cheap threats or threats made cheap via affinity. Since you don't use much mana playing out your threats, you're free to use your mana to cast countermagic and card drawing spells.

The concept goes way back to one of the first great control decks--Counter-post. This deck was so controlling that it was deemed unbeatable by some. The trick to the deck was to use cheap and efficient answers like Counterspell, Swords to Plowshares, Wrath of God, and Kjeldoran Outpost (which was how the deck won).

Normally, aggressive decks can take advantage of Control decks when they tap out, forcing the Control decks to play catch-up dealing with whatever threats sneaked though. Counter-post never used any of its mana on the offensive until the game was completely under control. With low-mana threats, you'll tap out less often and thus be able to deal with your opponent's threats more easily.

How low is a low-mana threat? Ideally: zero casting cost. This is where the affinity mechanic comes to the rescue with its wonderful robot frogs. These frogs are not only mechanical, but also ninja-esque when they hop into play out of thin air; no mana required. Then they get to put the ninja moves to the test when they put on Mask of Memory to shroud their froggy faces in mystery.

Building on a Budget - Robot Ninja Frogs

The trickiest part about playing this deck is to know which hands to keep and which to mulligan away. The usual rule is to never keep a one-land hand. However, sometimes this deck can pull it off if you're holding an artifact land and a Spellbomb or two. The Spellbombs will effectively act as mana sources for Frogmites and Thoughtcasts until you find more land.

In general, you should always have countermagic mana open after turn 2, although you might run out of countermagic. At that point it doesn't really matter unless you're good at bluffing.

If you get down an artifact like Silver Myr or Mask of Memory down on turn 2, it's simple to play out your threats while keeping 2-4 mana open. The optimal curve goes:

Turn 1Seat of the Synod, AEther Spellbomb
Turn 2Great Furnace, Mask of Memory, Frogmite
Turn 3Equip, bash, play a land and have land untapped for Mana Leak.

From that point it's all about countering or Spellbombing threats that might block your ninja frog while you draw lots of cards and develop your board position, playing out Somber Hoverguards or whatever you draw off of the Mask.

Tips On Playing The Deck

  • It's fun to Discombobulate into more Discombobulates. It gives your opponent the feeling that you're stacking your deck. Guess what--you are!

  • If you're going first, don't worry too much about tapping out on turn 2--it's okay if your opponent sneaks one threat through. Your cheap creatures like Frogmite and Somber Hoverguard can trade with your opponent's creatures if you need them to.

  • Try to use your Mana Leaks early--they'll become useless later in the game.

  • It's almost always worth sacrificing your Spiketail Hatchling to counter a threat unless you plan on putting a Mask of Memory on it the next turn and attacking.

  • This deck can go into Beatdown mode. Sometimes your draw just has a lot of Frogmites and Somber Hoverguards with artifact lands and you play out your whole hand by turn three. When this happens, be sure to mention how well your Control deck is performing as you smash face.

  • Spellbombs are important. Try not to sacrifice them until you've cast your affinity cards--they're your Llanowar Elves and your Swords to Plowshares all rolled into one.

  • Sometimes you play a Silver Myr or Spiketail Hatchling on turn two and your opponent doesn't play a blocker on turn three. This is probably the only scenario where it's correct to tap out on turn three in order to Mask of Memory your creature and attack for some cards.

  • If you already have a good enough affinity to cast your Somber Hoverguards for one, keep the artifact lands in your hand to discard to Thirst for Knowledge (unless you need more mana in general to counter with).

Adding More Money To The Deck

Chrome Mox would make an excellent addition to the deck. It helps give you explosive draws and allows you to tap out on turn one instead of turn two. You can almost replace lands for them straight up. When Darksteel cards are available on Magic Online, I would try putting in Darksteel Citadels, which might give you enough artifacts to play Myr Enforcers as well.

Another interesting variation of this deck could be to use Isochron Scepter with Boomerang and the affinity base. This will keep your tempo going and make you more like the old "Fish" decks--bouncing blockers with Boomerang or Metamorphose on a Scepter and drawing cards with Mask of Memory.

This deck is not only fun to play because you're casting cards for mana discounts, but you also learn a lot about how tempo and control can work in harmony.

Until next time, may your frogs claim victory over the apes.

Nate Heiss
Team CMU
NateHeiss on Magic Online

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