Samite Belcher

Blue for beginners.

As soon as I started playing Magic I liked Blue. There was something about the Control that Blue has that appealed to me. But from what I've seen from most other players, this is unusual, and many players are put off Blue, at least Draw-Go, because it is harder to construct a good Draw-Go Control type deck. It's far easier to shove a load of Fat together and play beat-down.

[Do I detect a dig here -Ed]

So, here is a few pointers on how to construct a Draw-Go deck, which I hope will give those people who have yet to delve into Blue a better chance to get it right first time. Well at least a chance to construct something better than my first few efforts.

What you need…

Counters - a good start!
Board Control Spells - most important
Card drawing - a must
Land - plenty of it
Utility Cards - usually in the Sideboard
Kill - usually only a few

The first mistake to avoid is to go overboard with the Counters Spells, sure they are useful but you can't always counter early threats and some thing's Can't be Countered.

Look at it this way, if your Opponent goes first, during his first 5 turns he would have seen 12 cards from his deck. Even if he only has 20 land, then one third of those 12 cards will be Land, so that leaves 8 spells (although it could be lower). If he casts to his full potential on each turn then he would have played 5-6 spells (obviously this depends on the type of deck he has). So now he has only 2-3 cards left in hand. This is an important stage of the game for Blue because it is now that you should be able gain control of the Game. As the number of cards in his hand goes down, the fewer Counters you need to have in hand. It is the control spells in your deck that are needed to deal with that first rush of spells that he has cast as you can't counter everything…

Note :- It is Key to learn what spells you do need to counter and which you don't. Never counter something that isn't a problem.

…one off spells like Burn can usually be allowed to resolve, whereas Fat can't as it just keeps on smacking you around turn after turn, unless you have a way to deal with it. Card drawing spells are required to refill your hand with whatever you don't currently have whether it's more counters or Control spells it doesn't matter just as long as you get then in time to gain control of the game.

Note :- You are playing a Control deck! This means your life total CAN go down to 1 if need be, and although you don't want to get quite so near to dying, sometimes you have to, to gain control. In other words you don't have to/can't counter everything and early damage is okay!

Land must be plentiful. You absolutely cannot afford to be Mana Screwed when playing Draw-Go. Start with at least 25.

Here is an example of a Well-constructed Draw-Go deck from the past.

Counters 21

    4 Counter Spell 

    4 Dismiss 

    4 Forced Spike 

    3 Forbid 

    2 Dissipate 

    3 Mana Leak 

    1 Memory Lapse 


Card Drawing 8

    4 Whispers of Muse 

    4 Impulse


Control (4)

    Four Nevinyrral's Disk 


Land 26

    18 Islands 

    Four Stalking Stones 

    Four Quicksand 



    One Rainbow Efreet 

    .. and also the 4 Stalking Stones 


This deck came 12th in the Worlds '98 and is my favourite Draw-Go deck. It is a little out of date for today's Type 2 mainly because we don't currently have such incredibly strong control spells like Nev's Disk and turn one counters that don't include returning a land to our hands (Daze) or discarding two extra cards (Foil). And yet Blue is as strong as ever in the current Standard environment.

Currently Nether-Go is quite strong. Some decks splash Black Mana to be able to cast Nether Spirit and other don't, they just rely on being able to discard the Spirit to get into play. Personally I would run the Black Mana as it gives you access to good Sideboard cards like Perish and Anti-White/Rebel cards too. Blue has to change with the times, and right now multi-coloured decks are more playable than for a while due to the extra Duel Lands on offer in Invasion. So this means Blue is being mixed with Black, White and even Red at the moment because these other colours offer better control cards than mono-Blue. E.g. Waith of God, Hammer and Nether Spirit.

Here are some ball-park numbers to consider..

Start with 16-20 counter spells

Counter Spell, Daze, Foil, Thwart, Prohibit, Exclude, Absorb, Undermine etc.

Then go with 4-8 Card Drawing Spells

Fact or Fiction, Opt, Brainstorm, Accumulated Knowledge, Rhystic Scrying etc.

Now for Control 4-8, and this will make you decide what colour to mix in

Wrath of God, Hammer, Washout, Nether Spirit, Earthquake etc.

Kill , around 3-6

Nether Spirit!, Blinding Angel, Hammer, Blue Flying things etc.

Land 24-28

Forests..!..No I'm only joking, Islands, Rishadan Ports, Dust Bowl etc.

It's very important to use cards that you are happy with rather than just play with cards that other people say are good because after all it's your deck. I strongly believe that there should be a touch of you in very deck you construct. Copying decks card for card off the Net is so lame, put in some effort and you can construct something that suits you and also something that's unique (well almost) in your local area.

Remember that if your opponent knows exactly what you are playing card for card then it is far easier for them to beat you! and we wouldn't want that to happen now would we !!

Have fun, and I hope this helps at least one person somewhere out there.

[Never a better word said, it is a game after all -Ed].

Any comments would be appreciated.

Contact me on

Stuart 'Lonewolf' Haffenden