The Blue Moon Archetype in Highlander

Welcome to the Blue Moon deck archetype for 7 Point Highlander! On this page you will find all the content related to this play style.

A Summary of the Blue Moon Archetype

Blue-based Control decks in the Blue Moon archetype can vary in their exact configuration, but they all hinge around one primary game plan; put a stranglehold on your opponent’s game actions by locking them out of ever casting spells in the first place. The three key cards in all variants of this deck archetype are Back to Basics, Blood Moon, and Magus of the Moon, all of which fulfil the same pseudo-land-destruction function. As a singleton format with access to all of the most powerful cards in Magic’s history, 7 Point Highlander decks are very often 3 or more colours. The Blue Moon archetype capitalizes on this dynamic by running these three non-basic land ‘punisher’ effects in their main deck, attempting to catch unprepared opponents before they can bring in answers like Enchantment removal or Hydroblast-style spells.

Blue Moon Deck Lists and Variations

The most popular variant of the Blue Moon archetype is purely a Blue-Red (aka ‘Izzet’) Control deck. These lists look to control the early game with removal and counterspells, and then pull ahead in the late game via card advantage in the form of spells like Mystic Confluence and Fiery Confluence. These versions of the Blue Moon archetype apply the lens of a Control strategy to the three non-basic land ‘punisher’ cards: they are a source of card advantage. If 7 spells are stuck in an opponent’s hand for the whole game and they cannot do anything else with their mana, then a Magus of the Moon effectively nets the Izzet Control player a ‘7 for 1’.

Whilst some games are entirely determined by resolving one of these powerful lock pieces, Izzet Control is not without its weaknesses. Wiley opponents can actively fetch their basic lands, hold up Abrupt Decay on a critical turn, or simply enact a different game plan that reduces the need to answer the Blood Moon after is resolves. Blood Moon effects do nothing to answer creatures or other threats that have already resolved. A player on this Blue Moon variant will almost always be in the ‘Control role’, so opponents can sideboard into a more aggressive role to put the Izzet Control player on the back foot. This is why Izzet Control players will very often sideboard out their 3 namesake cards despite their power level, instead sideboarding in more interaction.

Deck ListIzzet Control

In addition there is a video primer available, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Izzet Control playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

The next variation of the Blue Moon archetype is a hybrid strategy. Izzet Tempo-Combo is a deck often colloquially referred to as ‘Twin’, after the namesake card Splinter Twin. When combined with Deceiver Exarch or Pestermite flashed in at the end of the opponent’s turn, this offers an infinite damage win that is tricky to interact with as the opponent rarely knows when it is safe to ‘tap out’ and pass the turn. Likewise, when a canny opponent holds up mana to remove a creature in response to a combo attempt, the Twin player can also just attack with the evasive threat, giving this non-traditional Blue Moon strategy a tempo element.

Although cards like Splinter Twin and Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker suggest this is a Combo deck on the surface, in reality the Twin variant is a hybrid deck which sits in between the Combo, Control, and Tempo strategies. The main deck and sideboard can be built in ways that emphasize any one of these three over the others, e.g., Time Vault to capitalise on ‘untap’ combo synergies, or adding more tempo-based creatures. Further, very light ‘splashes’ of a third colour offer powerful sideboard options to shore up Blue Moon’s weaknesses, making Twin one of the most flexible variants of the archetype (at the cost of some degree of raw power and consistency).

Deck List – Izzet Tempo-Combo

In addition there is a video primer available, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Izzet Tempo-Combo playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

One of the most important aspects to winning a control mirror is having a haymaker that is difficult to answer or can be protected. Conventionally, this comes in the form of cards like Keranos, God of Storms from the sideboard which once resolved gives one player inevitability since it is so difficult to remove. This strategy can also be applied to main deck control mirrors via a relatively small Sneak Attack Combo package. Since other non-green Control decks have difficulty answering a resolved Enchantment, Sneak Attack will remain on the battlefield to make cards like Torrential Gearhulk ‘un-counter-able’, providing a source of surprise damage and interesting loops with Cryptic Command and Mystic Confluence. These otherwise standard Control cards are topped off with Emrakul the Aeons Torn, whose attack trigger causes the opponent to sacrifice six permanents and either lose on the spot or fall incredibly far behind.

Deck List – Izzet Combo-Control

In addition there is a video primer available, which covers the key groupings of cards and touches on the fundamental aspects of the Izzet Combo-Control playstyle in only 7 minutes. You can watch it here:

Building Blue Moon on a Budget

If you enjoy the sound of Blue Moon but you are on a budget, the good news is that the primary cost of the deck is all in Volcanic Island. Depending on the exact configuration, it is likely that you can purchase 74 of your 75 cards for a cost similar to the price of that single land, meaning that if you are limited on funds or collecting your Highlander staples sequentially, you can run this list without Volcanic Island. The good news is that a list without Volcanic Island isn’t technically ‘strictly worse’, given that you are actively looking to punish non-basic lands via Blood Moon so replacing your dual land with a basic Island isn’t always wrong.

Likewise, for the versions that run Mana Drain this counterspell can easily be replaced with Logic Knot, which saves you one point. Whilst cards like City of Traitors don’t always add multi-deck staples to your Highlander collection, the good thing about Blue Moon Variants is the accessibility of the main 70-odd cards of your 75. If you look to fill out your deck with all of these, not only will you find it easier to borrow just a couple of cards for a sanctioned event (e.g. a Volcanic Island and Mana Drain) as people are often happier to loan out one expensive card than 74 cards of the same value, but you’ll also find that most of Blue Moon’s cards are multi-deck staples and even the Commons will all contribute well to your budding 7 Point Highlander collection.

Playing 7 Point Highlander on a budget? Don’t forget to listen to listen to one of the 7 Point Highlander Cast’s seminal episodes on how to construct a good deck whilst on a shoestring!

Podcast – Building on a Budget

Highlander Blue Moon Video Content:

Compiled below are links to some excellent YouTube resources that can help you see versions of the Blue Moon deck archetype in action.

Watch this video to see Izzet Control in action:

Watch this video to see Izzet Tempo-Combo in action:

Watch this video to see Izzet Combo-Control in action:

Enjoy!

Where to next?

Did Blue Moon fit the kind of deck archetype you’re looking for? Want to know more about other Control decks? Visit the Control hub here.

Some of the decks featured above also contain a combo sub-theme. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Combo decks or those that have a ‘combo finish’ element to them, visit the Combo hub here.

Although predominantly a Control deck, Blue Moon deck archetypes sometimes involve a tempo sub-theme like the Tempo-Twin variation. If you’d like to know more about dedicated Tempo decks or those with a Tempo element to them, visit the Tempo hub here.

Dr Sarven McLinton

Sarven has been playing Magic the Gathering since Stronghold (1998) and is on The Highlander Points Committee. He is well-versed in a wide variety of deck archetypes but remains an avid student of the game. Sarven is a passionate writer and seeks to apply his extensive experience in research and statistics to gaming. By day, 'Dr McLinton' works as a Research Associate at the Centre for Workplace Excellence (CWeX) managing various projects investigating psychosocial factors at work, as well as lecturing Psychology Honours and supervising PhD candidates. By night, 'McLinton Sensei' teaches traditional Japanese Karate in South Australia's premiere sporting centre, the ARC Campbelltown. He holds a 4th-degree black belt and is a gold medalist, competing both nationally and internationally in Karate and Open-style contact tournaments.