Deck Tech: Mono Blue Prison with Martin Müller

Posted in Event Coverage on May 28, 2016

By Frank Karsten

Many players opted for more traditional strategies here at Grand Prix Manchester, but Platinum Pro Martin Müller showed up with a crazy concoction. Can you imagine an opening hand with 3 Prism Ring, 3 Island, and Day's Undoing? That's insane!

The Player

Martin Müller

Martin Müller is 18 years old and hails from Denmark. Despite his youth, his list of Magic accomplishments is already quite long: He won the 2014 World Magic Cup as the captain of the Danish national team, made it to the Top 8 of Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, and has two Grand Prix Top 8s.

Müller is currently ranked 7th in the Top 25, and with 56 pro points in this season, he has already locked up Platinum for the next season. Since he wasn't in desperate need of more pro points, he didn't feel a lot of pressure on him, and he was comfortable choosing an offbeat deck. "I didn't try to convince anyone, and I wouldn't have played this deck if I wouldn't have been locked for Platinum," he told me. "But it's really fun. I have no regrets!"

The Deck

Martin Müller's Mono Blue Prison – Grand Prix Manchester 2016

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"Jace's Sanctum is most important card in the deck," Müller told me. "It's what makes this deck work, and it's the most important card to have in play. It makes cantrips (like Anticipate, Nagging Thoughts, or Hydrolash) really good, and once you have 3 Jace's Sanctum in play, Pore Over the Pages is free!"

"Engulf the Shore is also key card for the deck, and it's the main reason for having a mana base with all Islands."

At this point, Müller had described a deck that could spin its wheels, see a lot of cards, and stunt the opponent's progress. So his deck seemed like a Turbo-Fog style deck to me, and I asked him if that was a reasonable description. "A Turbo-Fog deck has Howling Mine, which allows the opponent to build up a crazy board state as well, but that's not the case for my deck," he replied. "I use Engulf the Shore to bounce everything, and then I cast Day's Undoing to force them to shuffle all of their creatures all away. With Jace's Sanctum, I can even do both on turn five!"

"To make sure that people won't kill you before that, I have Prism Ring. It's one of the best cards in your opening hand and a key piece in the deck. This deck can even beat an Ob Nixilis Reignited emblem with it."

"So my deck is more of a prison deck. Prism Ring and Engulf the Shore put people in prison, while I keep drawing cards."

"The core of the deck is everything except the win conditions: 4 Part the Waterveil and 1 Rise from the Tides. I tried a lot of cards in those slots, ranging from Sphinx's Tutelage, Startled Awake, one Mountain and Fall of the Titans, Brain in the Jar with more Rise from the Tides, and more."

One reason for choosing Part the Waterveil (and one reason or not choosing the mill plan) is the synergy with Day's Undoing. Part the Waterveil removes the drawback of Day's Undoing in the sense that if you play both on the same turn, then you can still be the first to use that fresh new seven-card hand.

So all in all, this is quite the deck. "When it's going off and you get to twelve lands in play, you can get to a point where you can be playing five to eight spells per turn for multiple turns in a row. Everything in the deck is cheap, and you have so many card draw spells." Add Day's Undoing and Part the Waterveil somewhere along the way, and you have a deck that could be a blast to play.

But how was it conceived? To explain that, we have to go all the back to Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad. After the Pro Tour, Müller started playing Rob Pisano's Jeskai deck, which had gone 8-2 in the Standard rounds. "I was really impressed with Fevered Visions in the sideboard. So I tried to play a red-blue Fevered Visions deck." That deck already contained Engulf the Shore and Jace's Sanctum. "The problem was that I was unhappy with the nonbasic lands in that deck because of Engulf the Shore. I decided I was just going to build Mono Blue to see if it would function. I looked for life gain, found Prism Ring, and it all worked out."

Positioning, Matchups, and Sideboarding

So all this testing took place right after the Pro Tour. At that time, there was a lot of Green-White Tokens around, and that matchup is unfavorable because they have Dromoka's Command against Jace's Sanctum, planeswalkers to evade Engulf the Shore, and a fast clock. "But that deck had dropped in percentage, and the metagame shifted favorably for my deck. There are more Cryptolith Rite and removal-heavy decks now, which my deck is really good against."

His sideboard is also surprisingly strong. "It's a really linear deck, so normally you have a bad sideboard, but I have a good one. Against Ramp decks or Control decks, you don't want Engulf the Shore, and Hydrolash and Prism Ring can also be poor. Instead, I have countermagic and creatures. Thing in the Ice is a fine win condition against Ramp decks, and Jace is good against Control decks."

"How to sideboard exactly really depends on how your opponent's deck is set up and how good Engulf the Shore is against them. For instance, some black-white decks play Thought-Knot Seer and other creatures; others have no creatures at all. You have to adjust based on your opponent's deck."

Tips and Tricks

According to Müller, the deck is a lot of fun to play, even though opponents may not enjoy the long solitaire turns as much. He had one tip for prospective opponents, though: remember that Nahiri, the Harbinger can target enchantments. The biggest problem for the deck is people attacking Jace's Sanctum, so if you play Nahiri against this deck, then make sure you exile it while you can. Otherwise, before you know it, a never-ending chain of Part the Waterveil and Day's Undoing might not give you another chance.

Decklists will be posted after the start of Round 15

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