@moorebrother1 said in Blue Brew no more Blue Stew:
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 ...
"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.