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Artifact Deck Tech: Mono Blue Control Decklist

December 7th, 2018 | jscaliseok


Artifact has been out for over a week now, which means we have our first look at the developing meta. Though we could sit here and go over Drow Ranger and Axe, we’ve got better things to discuss. Those heroes will get their spotlight soon, but with so much talk about a "solved" meta, I thought it would be better to analyze something a little more interesting.

This week, we’re going to break down the Mono Blue deck that Melo took to the WePlay tournament. Though the deck didn’t quite perform as well as it could have, I think it has a solid base and, more importantly, a lot of potential against the current meta.

The Heroes

As with any Artifact deck, we begin by breaking down the heroes. There are a few options for a slow blue deck like this one, but right now this list runs Luna, Ogre Magi, Zeus, Kanna, and Crystal Maiden. All of those cards have a set purpose within the build, and they each control the game in their own way.

Ogre Magi is one of the strongest blue heroes in the game. His body doesn’t do much (as is the trend with this deck) but Ignite is incredibly useful, as is his special ability to occasionally put cards back into your hand. Card advantage is key in Blue, and few do it better than he does. Even getting one spell back can be enough to swing a game in your favor.

While Magi stands alone, Luna and Zeus both have similar functions in that they clear heroes off the board. A powered up Eclipse will knock out a lane in no time, while Thundergod’s Wrath enables you to kill heroes in other lanes (something blue cannot do otherwise). The raw power of the signature cards (not to mention that both heroes can pick away at your opponent's cards) make them perfect for this deck.

Bringing up the rear are Kanna and Crystal Maiden. The maiden is not a card that has seen a ton of play early on, but her static ability is extremely useful during the mid to later stages of the game (which is why she comes in last in the rotation). You may not be able to use that two mana early, but it can do some real work when you're chaining big power plays.

Another important part of Maiden is Frostbite. The three-mana spell helps you both take off tower damage (incredibly important when trying to get to an Annihilation) or keep your heroes alive. Disarming may not be as good as silence, but it is extremely handy in a range of situations. You can also use Frostbite to protect Luna for a round or two to increase the amount of ticks on Eclipse.

The last hero, Kanna, is important to this build for two reasons. First, her twelve health enables her to survive many of the popular red and black heroes. Having a card that can live into turn two is very important for playing to your curve.

In addition, Kanna’s signature card, Prey on the Weak is fantastic. Not only can the hounds set up damage to get you into lethal range, but they also do a fantastic job of cluttering up the board so that your opponent can’t push through.

Combat Tricks

As mentioned above, you need to protect your heroes. Placement will not always be kind in Artifact, and you can run into situations where you get your entire board wiped if you aren't careful. You can bounce back from such scenarios, but it's better to prevent them in the first place.

To do that, you have Frostbite (as mentioned above) as well as Cunning Plan and Compel. Using Compel on your opponent’s heroes to send them after a creep or dropping a Cunning Plan to get your hero out of danger is extremely important to set up future turns. Always think about how badly you need your heroes for the next round and protect them accordingly.

Using these early is critical against Black/Red decks because it ensures you can get the most out of your mana moving into the second or third round.

All of these cards have great late-game utility, but they are extremely useful early on. That is where your heroes are the most vulnerable. Also note they are great on turn five (or later) as a way to set up Annihilation.

Wide Removal

Though the heroes are key to this deck, the spells really make it tick. There are a ton here, but none of them would matter without strong AOE. Clearing the board is key, especially with so many Blue Green lists running around right now.

Your win condition (which we’ll discuss in a moment) doesn’t come until turn ten. As such, it is vital to delay the game as much as you possibly can. Running out your heroes into big boards and then blowing them up is one of your main goals. You do that in two ways: Annihilation or At Any Cost.

Melo ran a 2/3 split on those spells for the tournament, but for regular play I really like going 3/3 to ensure you have the best chance of drawing them.

At Any Cost may not kill that many heroes, but it is great against Black and vital at clearing creeps or staving off early pressure. In addition, the card is a fantastic way to take out creep heavy decks. If you see your opponent going all in on Kanna, you can use it to save Annihilation for other lanes.

Annihilation, as it has no health limit, is a bit more versatile and can be used to take down high-health heroes. This is a card you want to use on the wide boards or into situations where your opponent might overrun you. It can also be a good way to get a jump on your opponent and prevent them from casting certain spells.

Just be sure to note that Annihilation kills your heroes as well. You do not want to leave yourself vulnerable if you can avoid it, which means trying to set it up only when you have a hero coming back onto the board the following turn.

Both of these cards greatly reward initiative (which is always important Artifact), and that is why Arcane Assault is in this list. You will often go last, and you can punish your opponent going into the next round by taking back initiative and setting up a clear they didn't see coming. It may be tempting to spend the four mana spell on turn four (or whenever you can play it) but it is often best to save it for when you really need to go first.

Mana, Sweet Mana

Another core card in this build is Aghanim’s Sanctum. This improvement, of course, generates quite a bit of mana when left unchecked. For that reason, it should be your go-to turn four play unless you absolutely need to use At Any Cost to shut down an early push.

The reason this card is so powerful is not just the extra mana, but specifically that it enables you to double up on your top-end spells like Thundergod’s Wrath. Being able to drop that twice in a row decimates certain decks and ensures you can do as you please throughout the lanes.

This card also enables you to play spells like Foresight without incurring a tempo loss. Drop it as early as possible and never look back. You can always use it for small value, but you're looking to go big.

A Little Support

Your two main AOE options are incredibly powerful, but they are not the only way you take on your opponent’s board. You also have Conflagration, Ignite, and Dimensional Portal. None of these cards are game-ending, but they do a great job of keeping pressure off and enabling you to get to your finishers.

Ignite is a card you want to stick as early as possible. It is great to put down against Kanna, but if you aren't facing her it is best to focus on the lane you're feeling the most early pressure in. In the later turns it is fantastic to double these up against a lane with a lot of creeps.

Conflagration is just a bigger version of Ignite, and should be set and used accordingly. Just note that, unlike Ignite, this doesn’t get through armor. For that reason, you want to place it down into lanes with a lot of melee creeps or vulnerable heroes.

Finally, Dimensional Portal is a fantastic way to clog up a lane or stop large heroes from getting through to your towers. Remember, the creeps off of this don’t matter. They aren’t there to save the day. They simply exist to stall until you can use a big removal or AOE spell.

That being said, there are times where you can push with creeps as a way to get a tower down into the all important twenty health range. This is not the main mode, but look for it because it does come up from time to time.

The Finisher

While removal is always key in Artifact, at some point you need to actually win the game. In blue, nothing does that better than the ol' reliable Bolt of Damocles. This card costs a lot of mana, but it is a small price to pay to completely destroy a tower.

This card is important because it enables you to sit back and clear the board without every worrying about pressure. Even so, you do need to do some damage here and there. Always think about ways to get your opponent’s towers down to 20 health. Once that’s done, you can safely focus all of your resources towards removal. That does not mean you should completely give up pushing damage, but it does mean removal should be your first focus.

Also be aware that, while you commonly win by doing twenty damage to two different towers, there will be times where you kill one and finish the other off with double bolt (especially doable with Aghanim’s Sanctum).


Finally, we have the items. These are pretty basic. Nothing too cheap, but nothing too fancy either.

The single Demagicking Maul is a nod to the improvements that have popped up recently, while the Stonehall Cloaks keep your heroes alive. Blink Dagger is perhaps the best item in the game, enabling you to bounce back-and-forth to make the most of your removal, while Claszureme Hourglass gives you extra control and slows your opponent down.

Though these are fine for a slower control deck, one switch to consider is running an Obliterating Orb or two. Many of the popular decks in the game depend on key improvements, and while Maul is fine, you can't guarantee it will hit. Ten gold is a small price to pay to get rid of Cheating Death.


It is easy to see which decks have risen to the top of the meta. However, that does not mean there is no room for experimentation. This Mono Blue list has quite a bit of potential and is a blast to play. There are also a few ways to tweak it if you want. It is easy to get caught up in a stock list, but there is always room for experimentation. Cards like Earthshaker or Skywrath Mage are worth a look as well.
(Last Updated: January 15th, 2020)

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