Blue Brew no more Blue Stew
@serracollector I'm playing on Mindbreak trap and it stopped combo when I saw it. Should I be playing 2 Mindbreak Trap with 2 Flusterstorm?
I don't know if you'll like this suggestion (or even if it's a good suggestion), but I can't help but notice that you're REALLY close to being an Oath-Compatible deck.
Now I know most people's gut reaction will be along the lines of "I don't like Oath!" or "the whole point of this deck is to avoid top archetypes, not copy them!" but I'd at least give it some thought. I'm not saying you should play an Oath instead, I'm saying that Oath of Druids might be a powerful card for helping you do what you're already trying to do.
You naturally have the two Sphinxes, and I'm assuming you're already comfortable with your ability to cast those. I'm not saying you should add any particular Oath creatures beyond those. Young Pyromancer feels like an easy swap to me. Pyro and Oath serve almost identical roles for you, if you go -2 Young Pyromancer, +2 Oath of Druids, I don't think you'll notice the loss. The only other Oath-unfriendly creature you're running is 2x Snapcaster Mage. Snap isn't as easy to replace, but I think the way your deck is built, you could swap them for 1x Oath, 1x Planeswalker probably. Don't "build an Oath deck" ... just think of Oath as a really big Tarmogoyf (I believe this mindset is how Brian Kelly has become such a successful deckbuilder, though you'd have to ask him!)
The standard Oath drawback of having to run no small creatures and a handful of giant ones isn't really a drawback for you - the small ones aren't central to your gameplan and you're already running the giant ones. Unfortunately the secondary Oath drawback of "haha your mana sucks now" is still an issue, and maybe a dealbreaker ... I think you should consider it though.
If you shaved a Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Fiery Confluence you could probably get those two Dack Faydens you liked in the maindeck.
Any advice for a Blue Moon deck vs Combo would be great!
I haven't played much Blue Moon, but there are probably similarities between that matchup and other blue vs combo matchups I'm more familiar with. Mindbreak Traps and Flusterstorms are definitely worthwhile, and probably the first line of defense. If that doesn't feel like enough ...
Outcome? - I've found anti-workshop cards to be better than I expected. My match-win rate shot up when I started bringing in the Shattering Sprees I was already running instead of bringing in dedicated counters. I've brought in Energy Flux and liked it.
DPS/Ritual Storm? - I like grave hate here. I wouldn't run more than 2 or 3 cards, but I think the first 1 or 2 can be quite strong. You want a permanent (so it's not sitting around to be Duress'ed), and you want to actually exile their graveyard, so you can turn off Dark Petition's spell mastery. Tormod's Crypt is nice here. (Nihil Spellbomb would be the champ if you had black mana, Relic of Progenitus may be good, but 2 mana might be too much). I've definitely run 1-2 Crypt/Spellbomb in lists where I prefer other anti-Dredge cards, to have that extra boost against Rituals.
Belcher? - I think you want your artifact hate here, but this may be the matchup where there's no subtitute for Mindbreak Trap. It's not a very common matchup.
2 Card Monte? - Nobody knows. Deck is unbeatable.
I think there's a traditional view about roles in the vintage control vs vintage combo matchup that's incomplete, at best. (probably true about most matchups, but that's another story)
It's unfortunate that we have two concepts in magic strategy that have the same name and mean VERY different things.
The term "control deck" when contrasted with "combo deck" or "prison deck" refers to a deck that runs familiar "control" cards, like counterspells and removal and draw spells and big finishers.
The term "control deck" when contrasted with "beatdown deck" refers to whichever deck in a current matchup or game state happens to have inevitability.
It's an understandable but fatal mistake to assume that your "control deck" is always a "control deck."
Different decks have strengths at different points in a given matchup. It's obvious and intuitive and well known that in "combo v control", combo has an early game edge. People get this, and they naturally understand that if they ignore the early game and have no relevant plays until turn 3, combo is just going to beat them. A lot of people just stop there, and assume that "the control deck" is "the control deck", and once you survive the first 3 turns you're guaranteed to win. I'd like to posit that in many cases, the combo deck is "the control deck" by default, and not recognizing this will make you lose.
Now I'm mostly thinking in terms of a traditional Ritual Storm or modern DPS deck, because that's where most of my familiarity is. I expect Outcome has a similar, but different "inevitability curve" (is there an accepted term to describe the shape of which turns your deck is strong in? I feel like this is a supremely important concept that I never hear discussed). I think Doomsday may actually have a completely different curve, with a weaker turns 1-3 and a much stronger midgame, but I'll leave that to an DDay expert.
If you take a naive default approach to the blue v storm matchup, you'll add cheap counters to survive the early game (which is important). In the midgame, usually the control deck swings far ahead - the storm deck has zero or one threatening card which is easy for the control player to stay on top of at minimal cost. The unintuitive thing is that as the game progresses, the storm deck's position gets better and better. The reason is that a perfectly crafted 8 card storm hand is usually going to beat a perfectly crafted 7 card control hand. The control deck is more constricted on mana (even with 4 Drains in hand you usually can't Drain 4 spells at once) ... you can't have more than 3 Force of Wills ... and especially these days, conditional efficient counters start to run up into their drawbacks. One Defense Grid can shut down multiple answers ... Duress is a better card than Flusterstorm in a late game standoff situation because you have perfect control over the timing - you can fire off a Duress and then decide to finish the job next turn with more mana. Information advantage gives the storm player an opportunity to turn almost any card into bait - in the late game Dark Rituals eating Mental Missteps is a feature. Lastly, the actual storm mechanic itself is very endgame friendly. A well positioned Tendrils of Agony or Mind's Desire can sometimes punch through a massive wall of counters. Mindbreak and Flusterstorm help, of course, but but the storm deck has plenty of proactive tools. I don't think Outcome decks have quite the same endgame, but the ability to fire off a must-counter Paradoxical Outcome at the end of your opponent's turn (with a 0 storm count negating Mindbreaks and Flusterstorms), then untap and do it again, is tough to beat.
What all of this means is that if your control deck just waits, your position gets worse and worse. There are only two possible responses to this (the only two responses there ever are in magic), you can go bigger or go smaller.
To go bigger...
you need to make sure your deck actually does have inevitability, by running cards that that give you an advantage in the combo matchup explicitly if the game goes long. Draw spells are good, but worthless without good cards to draw, and pointless if you're discarding to hand size. If you find yourself making it to the end game and losing anyway, you might consider more proactive hate cards (ESPECIALLY if you EVER find yourself discarding to hand size). A permanent lock piece or a sorcery speed hand disruption spell smooth out two critical bottlenecks for you - it means you're not limited to the mana you have in play or the cards you can keep in your hand. Flusterstorm is much better against Rituals than Shattering Spree is, but there is a critical mass point after which more Flusterstorms are dead and doing something weak is better than doing nothing. Moreso than the "go smaller" strategy below, it's best to run cards that aren't completely reversed if your opponent plays an EOT Chain of Vapor - which they WILL do if you're both trying to make the game go long. Tormod's Crypt > Grafdigger's Cage, Shattering Spree > Null Rod (that is, if and only if the game goes very long ... in the midgame stopping a burst of mana is more important)
It's also important that your big endgame trump cards are actually big endgame trump cards. Sphinx of the Final Word is a backbreaker against a control deck, but it's not really any better than a Gurmag Angler or Tarmogoyf against combo (it just happens to cost 5 more mana). There's never really going to be a good time to tap out for that card. You want a closer that does something truly impactful the turn you play it (Emrakul? Consecrated Sphinx?) or something that doesn't slow down your control plan to play it (Sometimes Vendilion Clique, or a planeswalker that can disrupt the opponent the turn you play it, like Jace or Dack).
And don't adopt a strategy that relies on outdrawing your opponent if you don't actually outdraw them. People tend to assume that since big-blue decks in vintage have been based on broken draw engines for years, that a big-blue deck will tend to outdraw their opponent. If you look at the list you posted, you'll see Ancestral Recall, Treasure Cruise, Dig Through Time, Library of Alexandria and Jace/Chandra as cards that net card advantage (and note that without proactive spells, Chandra doesn't really generate net card advantage against Storm). This is in no way a knock at your deckbuilding, that's a pretty well established and proven draw package. It's so established and proven that the Storm decks have it, too. Storm decks don't have the Jaces, but a stock DPS/Storm deck will have a Necropotence, Timetwister, 1-3 Yawgmoth's Bargain, and possibly a Wheel of Fortune. (And while they don't directly net card advantage, they also have more cantrips and tutors to find those cards). This is not to say you can't outdraw Storm with a blue deck, more that you don't get it for free, and you might need to find a way to capitalize on their lower average card quality instead of beating them with raw numbers (their cards aren't weaker, but engine cards like Mox Opal are more conditional)
To go smaller ...
You need to push the advantage you naturally have in the midgame and make sure the endgame never happens. The "now you're a fish deck" plan. This means applying steadily increasing pressure, probably to their life total, but possibly to their mana or hand. You still never really want to take your shields down, but this approach relies on cheap, lower impact threats that you can deploy without slowing down, rather than high defense cards with a big finish. U/R doesn't have the best options here, though Snapcaster Mage and Vendilion Clique are MVPs at this. White would give you access to some solid hate bears, Black would give you access to Duress (which is particularly good against combo with Snapcaster or JVP) and maybe super-cost-effective clocks like Tasigur.
I've personally had more success with this strategy, though I don't know that it's the right direction for the list you've posted. There's no one-size-fits-all, I'm sure.
Through this lens, I think your list MIGHT have something of an identity crisis. It's weird to me to see Sphinx of the Final Word and Young Pyromancer in the same list, because they sort of say opposite things about the way you think the game is going to go. On the other hand, one player's "unfocused" is another player's "flexible", and flexible isn't bad.
I don't know that there's enough combo in the metagame (including Outcome, the most popular combo deck) to redefine your whole list to beat it. Realistically I'd look for cards that impact multiple matchups rather than dedicated anti combo cards. I love Vendilion Clique against combo decks but it very rarely makes my lists over something more general purpose.
I think in your case, as a starting point, I'd want to be able to sideboard along the lines of ...
in:2 Null Rod
"Giant anti-combo game-ender" is just anything with a faster clock or more immediate impact than a vanilla 5/5, Emrakul, the Promised End, Inferno Titan, Consecrated Sphinx, even Stormbreath Dragon could all count. I don't really love any of these cards but I can tell you want a big finish, and those certainly fit the bill. I put Null Rod in this list even when I mentioned it as less great before - because it's significantly better against Outcome than it is against DPS, and your options for permanent-based hate are smaller. Arcane Laboratory could be a similar option? though that's a card I've never personally figured out how to use well.
I explicitly did not include the cards Preordain, Dack Fayden, or Mental Misstep, because I got the impression you were actively avoiding them. I think all three of those would make your combo matchup better, but none are must-run. (Misstep is worse against Outcome than it is against DPS anyway). I also purposely didn't touch the manabase, because I'm assuming you like it. Personally I couldn't imagine running just 22 sources to support 6 four-drops and 2 seven-drops (even with Mana Drain), but if you're not running into issues, more power to you :)
... I spend too much time writing posts on TMD.
@brass-man I am still playing Oath and I like the idea in general. If you look at the Tournament Report threads, I played a Blood Moon in Sun Titan Oath build where I had a 3rd place finish in a Vintage Trial. I know Oath decks like their color wheel to be extremely varied with 4 colors but the disruption of Blood Moon was amazing. I would totally run it in my main again on Oath.
@brass-man There is a lot in your post. Thanks for taking the time to write that up. I have tested the deck a bit more on Paper and on MTGO. I actually invested in a real side board on MTGO even though I was really about to just quit MTGO but this deck is really fun and brought me back (I'll save that for another thread).
I found that the main deck needed Consecrated Sphinx, it is a huge help. Since I'm not playing Mental Misstep in the main on purpose, I learned that I have to change my view of the tempo. I think @nedleeds was right that Mental Misstep has become a real crutch and I am so used to having it to slow down a Combo player that I was not looking at the of over tempo.
The DPS and Bargin decks are really just like old TPS decks, a little better but close. The way to manage them is to control the tempo. They are waiting to Duress you or resolve a Defense Grid then Combo out. The Paradoxical decks are aggressive in nature and play on offense.
I ended up just learning patience, game one is probably at 40% against DPS and maybe 50/50 against PO. I put Mental Misstep on the board with Dack Fayden. This allows me to play against Xerox decks on a fair tempo and it is working, and gives me a decent game 1 against Shops.
After boarding in MM and Dack and losing the Lightning Bolts the deck is able to control the tempo against control. I am really starting to favor this deck as my deck to play.
@moorebrother1 Your opening post chastises playing Mental Misstep, yet it seems you've now adopted it into your sideboard as a concession to its utility (and as a 4-of at that). Statistically speaking, you play between 50% (all matches are over in two games) and 66.6% (all matches are over in three games) of your games with access to Mental Misstep. If you're not running it out of pride or in the name of innovative deckbuilding than it shouldn't be in your sideboard either. I'd like to see you accept either having access to them game 1 or not at all.
I understand that you have a love/hate relationship with MODO and a subjective criticism of the userbase's ability to innovate. However, your deckbuilding choices are slowly drifting closer and closer to this build of Blue Moon. It was a deck from a Vintage Challenge, so it falls under your definition of an acceptable deck to judge the MODO metagame by. Maybe you could benefit by reaching out to TonyMontana on deckbuilding tips? People have reached out to me over Twitter, MODO, and on here about my published lists, and I've been more than happy to talk with them. Not everyone that plays Vintage will see your posts on TMD.
@hierarchnoble You make fair points. I have nothing against Mental Misstep. I just find that when I start building a blue deck they all started with the same list of cards. That is not to say those cards were bad and should not have been there.
The point of this thread was to try and break out of that and see where it led me. I have always enjoyed Blue Moon, I have played in all of the formats. I really wanted an Esper deck to play to and I like StoneBlade a lot.
These decks all have a common play style with different methods of getting to the same place. I think putting Mental Misstep and Dack Fayden on the board is not cheating the goal of this thread but embracing it. I had to get comfortable letting Preordain resolve again, which was annoying but healthy.
As a total metacomment, not directly related to this thread, in the past I've floated the idea of a "budget" tag for threads with budget constraints (that's still in a sticky but nobody's ever used it)
... there's a concept that has some value, like ... I don't have any problem that @moorebrother1 wants to build without Missteps, that's cool, it's his prerogative. But if I'm coming in and offering advice, I'm going to suggest the best cards because I don't know what all of your constraints are. I guessed you didn't want Misstep because you mentioned it earlier, but sometimes (not in this thread, but not very rarely), people have constraints that they don't tell people about until there have already been pages and pages of debate.
The same issue happens with budget decks. Building a budget deck is a worthwhile and interesting goal, but it can't be done unless you're VERY clear about what cards you already own, what cards you are and aren't willing to buy, how many proxies your meta has, etc.
I think the default behavior should be, if you're asking for advice, everyone should assume you're trying to maximize wins and you're willing to run any card. If that's not the case, that's totally fine, but the thread needs to be completely clear about where you deviate from that .... budget, cards you refuse to run, etc. I wonder if a
constraintstag would be helpful in that regard, or if anyone would actually use it. (paired with a requirement that those constraints be explicit)
As someone who likes responding with deckbuilding feedback I love the idea, but I don't know how valuable it would be
Could Trinket Mage into Chalice of the Void be an option over Mental Misstep?