Monomania Takes On Theros – I Speak for the Seas

(Spellseeker | Art by Igor Kieryluk)

Let’s Dwell On It

Greetings, everyone, and welcome back to Monomania. In this article series we build mono-colored decks as a way to explore ramp and draw packages that are synergistic with our particular deck’s strategy, challenging staples and misconceptions about the color pie. Today’s commander is particularly exciting to me because of subtle rules text phrasing and because she offers a slightly different direction than mono-blue typically takes.

If you’ve been reading Monomania for a while, you probably know that I don’t greatly enjoy mono-blue deckbuilding. I’ve found that most mono-blue decks seem to lean toward combo builds. While I don’t personally have a problem with combos, they do feel stale to me. I play Commander because I love the breadth and variety of cards that are available to me. In turn, I tend to abandon decks that only have one or two avenues to victory.

This is the reason that I find Thassa appealing—she’s the opposite. Instead of leaning toward combos, she lends herself to value generation.

This commander is Conjurer’s Closet stapled onto a Theros God, and thus is difficult to remove. Conjurer’s Closet is a card that I’m very familiar with from playing a Roon of the Hidden Realm deck for years. This effect is potent for doubling up on enters-the-battlefield triggers. In this way, Thassa reminds me of a powerful Commander option from last year: Yarok, the Desecrated. Thassa is worse than Yarok in several ways, not the least of which is her color restriction. Being mono-blue really hinders Thassa’s prospects to head up her own decks.

However, in my opinion, she's saved by her very particular wording: when Thassa flickers a creature, she returns it to the battlefield under your control, not under its owner’s control. This means that if you have a way to temporarily steal a creature, you can then flicker it and return it to your side of the battlefield with no time restriction.

Considering cards like Vedalken Shackles showcases the power of this effect. With Vedalken Shackles and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling on the battlefield, we can permanently steal one creature on each of our turns at a low cost. If we can control the board, this is the type of grindy effect that can beat opponents through attrition. Let’s see how we can support Thassa on her quest to flicker everything.

Bubbling Up

Building a ramp package to support Thassa takes little thought. Out of all of the commanders I’ve covered in this article series, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling is perhaps the general that most wants to fill the 99 with mana rocks.

To be more specific, Thassa loves mana rocks that cost two mana. Thassa herself costs four, so to most efficiently get our strategy up and running as quickly as possible, we want to jump from two to four mana as consistently as possible. Our most optimal line with this deck is to play a mana rock on turn two, then Thassa on turn three.

Sapphire Medallion is the standout card in this category. With the value engine at the center of our deck, we want to reach a point in the game where we can play multiple spells every turn. The Medallion cycle performs best in this type of environment. Cards like Sky Diamond can only produce one mana every turn cycle without some way to untap it. Sapphire Medallion can save multiple mana in the same time frame if you can cast more than one spell in a turn cycle.

This EDH staple speaks for itself. In this deck, though, it outperforms. This is probably one of the best cards in our deck. Without access to green, flicker targets in mono-blue tend to do one of two things: bounce creatures or draw cards. While these are good effects, the deck feels like it needs another avenue to explore. Solemn Simulacrum provides this exact type of avenue. Access to ramp on a flicker target is exactly what we want.

Through the Depths

As mentioned above, mono-blue flicker targets do love to draw cards. As such, creatures with ETB triggers form the backbone of our card advantage package.

Each of the above cards has a very desirable effect for our deck—they come down early, replace themselves, and provide card selection. While the above cards aren’t card advantage on their own, if we can flicker them even once, they start generating value. Watcher for Tomorrow has quickly become one of my favorite value creatures in blue since it released in Modern Horizons, and it makes me crave a return for the Hideaway mechanic.

Spellseeker is an extremely powerful card, but it does require us to build around it a little bit. Because of this card, I’ve included a Spellseeker package of instants and sorceries that cost two or less, including a variety of effects that can fit whatever situation we find ourselves in—Impulse for card selection, Counterspell for disruption, and Reality Shift for removal. The real power of this card in our format, however, is that it can tutor up Cyclonic Rift

Finally, we have a suite of big creatures that generate large amounts of card advantage at a time. While these Sphinxes are expensive to drop on the table, they can each refill your hand with gas on their own. Flickered once or twice, they ensure that you'll have impactful plays for the rest of the game.

The Deck

Now that we have the foundation set in place, let’s look at the rest of the deck. The formula is simple: ETB triggers, flicker effects, and stealing creatures. This seems like a fun playstyle, and I like some of the weird cards that this commander points toward. As always, season to taste.

Among the other notable inclusions here, we have a suite of effects that will allow us to steal creatures. Along repeatable effects like Callous Oppressor and the aforementioned Vedalken Shackles, we also have cards like Ray of Command, Reins of Power, Overtaker, and Domineering Will. For our top end, we have a few bombs like Diluvian Primordial and Agent of Treachery. Agent of Treachery is especially good here because we’re already trying to steal our opponents’ creatures, setting us up to capitalize on that draw three at the end of our turn. I've also included a few flexible roleplayers like Glen Elendra Archmage. This card is an all-star in flicker decks, providing a consistent threat of disruption.

Finally, we do have a combo available to us in this deck. With Thassa, Deep-Dwelling, Time Warp or Temporal Manipulation, and an Archaeomancer variant, we can set up a simple infinite turn combo.

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What do you all think? Does mono-blue seem interesting to you, or is this strategy too hobbled by its color restriction? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below! Remember to EDHREC responsibly: always dig a little beyond the statistics. I’ll see you all on down the road.

Steven Vincent is an ESL teacher located in Oaxaca, México who uses Magic as a teaching tool. He hasn't introduced his students to Commander yet, but he is inching them toward the format so that he has a play group and can more frequently sate his thirst for EDH.