Five Blue Cards that Befuddled Players at Pro Tour Amonkhet

Posted in Feature on May 16, 2017

By Corbin Hosler

The Pro Tour is home to the world's best Magic players, and the mastery on display is evident to all watching. The mind games and subtle interactions that can make or break a career all come out at the Pro Tour, and the world's biggest Magic stage allows players to make their mark with a variety of different strategies.

To get an idea of exactly which blue cards stood out, I went to the authority: Shaheen Soorani. The expert on control decks and blue cards in general, Soorani is a widely trusted source on the world of blue spellcasting.

Shaheen Soorani
Shaheen Soorani

Presented in no particular order, here are the top five blue cards players found success with at Pro Tour Amonkhet.

Whirler Virtuoso

Sure, this is technically only half blue, but it's all value. Whirler Virtuoso was a key role player in the Saheeli Rai decks before Amonkhet, and it's found its way into the new Standard as well. Look no further than Eric Froehlich's Top 8 deck from Pro Tour Amonkhet.

Eric Froehlich's Temur Aetherworks Marvel

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Whirler Virtuoso plays multiple roles. Sometimes it's an energy producer, jumping you three energy closer to activating Aetherworks Marvel. Sometimes it's a win condition all on its own, churning out Thopters until the flying contraptions peck an opponent's life total to 0. And sometimes it just makes a seemingly endless stream of blockers to protect a Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

"Whirler Virtuoso is just so good in the decks that play it," Soorani explained. "A deck like Marvel can do powerful things, but without a card like Virtuoso it doesn't have the flexibility it needs to be so good. You may not think of it at first, but the card is actually a key part of the deck."

Virtuoso can really do it all, and its versatility makes it one of the best ways for players to show their propensity for navigating complicated board states.

Glimmer of Genius

Certainly in the running for best card draw spell in Standard, Glimmer of Genius was a common sight at Pro Tour Amonkhet. The card appeared in multiple decks, from the Aetherworks Marvel decks where it helped set up the perfect draw while also producing energy for Marvel or Virtuoso, to the Blue-Red Control decks where it found the right answers to whatever problems players were facing.

It's been some time since instant-speed draw spells were this good, and while the energy-producing aspect of the card is clutch on top of the Divination, that's not all Glimmer of Genius can do.

Two simple words: scry 2. That takes Glimmer of Genius from being a good card to being a Standard-defining card that sees play across archetypes. Whether it's for clearing out excess lands or finding crucial counterspells at the right time, Glimmer Genius is often the best play a blue deck can make on the fourth turn.

Four-mana, instant-speed draw spells have a pedigreed history in Magic, and Glimmer of Genius is more than ready to join that pantheon.

New Perspectives

Nothing says "blue mage" like an intricate combo deck, and New Perspectives brings that to Standard in a big way. The Amonkhet addition is the backbone of the emerging combo deck that bears its name.

The plan is, on its face, simple: cast New Perspectives, cycle through the deck for free until finding Shadow of the Grave to get back all the cycled cards, and then doing it all over again, producing mana each time with Vizier of Tumbling Sands and Shefet Monitor. Eventually the deck will find Approach of the Second Sun, and cast it twice in the same turn to win the game on the spot.

Simple enough, right?

As it turns out, not so much. The deck is difficult to navigate, and it offers players a multitude of decisions to make long before the big combo turn that makes everything look so easy. A handful of players took the deck to Nashville, and several of them found success with New Perspectives.

"The deck has trouble [against] control, but it's very powerful," Soorani said. "It's a pure combo deck, and you don't get those very often in Standard."

Pull from Tomorrow

Anyone remember Sphinx's Revelation? The instant-speed draw spell that dominated a Standard season and carried multiple decks with its power?

It's back in spirit with Pull from Tomorrow. The Amonkhet rare trades a white mana in its cost and life gain for the ability to see additional cards, but it has the same game-crushing power that Revelation was so feared for. Discarding a card isn't exactly a steep cost to pay when drawing so many at once, and while the optimal Pull from Tomorrow costs more than something like Glimmer of Genius, the payoff is undoubtedly higher. And—just like with Sphinx's Revelation—one Pull from Tomorrow quickly leads into another one, allowing blue mages to turn the corner and overwhelm opponents with card advantage.

"Just think about how many cards you see with Pull from Tomorrow," Soorani explained. "It's one of the strongest cards in Standard right now, and if you can build your deck to survive long enough to cast the first one, it can take over."

Torrential Gearhulk

Soorani didn't need many words to explain this card.

"It's what control decks have always wanted," he said bluntly.

Value upon cast? Check. Instant speed? Check. Win condition? Check.

All rolled up into one torrential ball. Dubbed by some as "Fatcaster Mage" for its similarity—while being a big creature on its own—to Snapcaster Mage. Gearhulk may not have the history of Snapcaster Mage behind it (and it is weak to current Standard staple Unlicensed Disintegration), but the card opens up so many options for blue decks. Need a removal spell or a draw spell? No need to make a decision now, just pass the turn and figure it out later!

If you have Torrential Gearhulk, that is. And really, what blue mage leaves home without one?

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