Maximizing Your Deck on a Budget - Blue
How do you do, fellow Magic players? It’s Steve here again, bringing you part 3 of our color pie journey for the top 10 cards you can get in each color for under $50. I want to take this time to reiterate that this is a list of suggestions. It’s meant to be a guide for newer Commander players looking for a place to start when building their commander decks with a budget focus.
This was BY FAR the hardest list for me to put together yet. I struggled with making some of these decisions, and for full transparency, I’ve excluded Cyclonic Rift ($23.14) and Rhystic Study ($18.17) because these cards are just too big of a chunk of our $50 budget. We want to stretch our money a little bit further. But don't misunderstand, I think they’re great and you should absolutely run them if you have them.
So let’s get into the list, shall we?
Counterspell ($1.26) - Actual. Factual. Counterspell. What can I really say about this card? It’ll counter any spell that you can’t deal with that presents an imminent threat to you or your board state at the low, low cost of 2 blue mana. You need to be running this as part of a suite of counter magic. Since we come in a little under budget with this list, I’d recommend adding Negate as well as a couple other counters we’ll discuss a little further down the page. The best part about Counterspell is that it has been reprinted many times throughout the history of Magic so there are plenty of different art and border options on the card, so pick your favorite one! My personal favorite is the one all the way to the right in the gallery from Mercadian Masques with art from Gao Yan.
Mystical Tutor ($10.00) - Mystical Tutor is a fantastic card that says search your library for an instant or sorcery card and reveal that card to all players. Shuffle your library and put the revealed card back on top of it, and it does this at instant speed! The ideal time to cast this is on the end of your opponent’s turn so that you draw that card on your next draw step. That said, with blue, there are tons of ways to draw cards, so you could cast it main phase and draw the card you need as well. The beauty of this card is that it lets you find what you need in any given situation. It’ll find you Counterspell, a bounce spell, or maybe a big card draw spell like Windfall to refill your hand. It is the most expensive card on our list but, with good reason. You should be running this card.
Mystic Remora ($4.70) - Can’t afford Rhystic Study? Mystic Remora isn’t AS good but it’s definitely a good budget replacement. For 1 blue mana, you get an enchantment that says whenever an opponent casts a non-creature spell, you draw a card unless they pay 4 mana. The drawback to this card is that it has cumulative upkeep of 1 blue mana. This means that the turn after you play it, you have to pay 1 blue on your upkeep or sacrifice it. If you pay the cost, you’ll have to pay 2 blue mana on your next upkeep, and it increases each turn from there. If you play this card on turn 1 or 2, and keep it around for a turn cycle or two, trust me, you’ll draw some cards. I think, eventually, you will want to add Rhystic Study to your collection if you enjoy being a blue spell slinger. But seeing as card advantage is everything in commander, I would run both if I had them.
Phyrexian Metamorph ($3.51) - Recently reprinted in Mystery Booster, the Metamorph is an auto-include. Why? Because it could be anything - EVEN A BOAT! For 3 colorless mana and 1 blue (or pay two life via the Phyrexian mana mechanic), you get to copy any artifact or creature on the battlefield. This includes everything from a Sol Ring to ramp you, right up to a 20/20 Marit Lage token. This is a great way of solidifying your presence on the board by copying the biggest threat. If something better to copy comes along, you could always find a way to flicker or bounce the Metamorph back to your hand later for added value.
Capsize ($1.16) - At first glance, Capsize isn’t all that impressive. 2 blue mana and one colorless to bounce any permanent back to its owner’s hand. The line below that though says that you can cast this spell with Buyback for 3 additional colorless mana. This means, if you pay the spell’s cost plus the 3 mana (6 mana total) as you cast it, the spell goes back to your hand after it resolves instead of your graveyard. If you find a way to generate a lot of mana, or even infinite mana, you’ve got the potential to bounce everyone else’s permanents (including their lands) to win the game. Not bad for a common!
Baral, Chief of Compliance ($4.37) - The storm master himself, Baral is a great card for any deck that’s casting a lot of spells which, in a mono-blue build, is going to be your primary focus. He reduces the cost of all your instants and sorcery spells by 1 mana and when you counter a spell, you get to draw a card at the cost of discarding one. Baral is underplayed in my opinion, and really starts to shine when you run more counter magic. It’s important to note that his cost reduction also applies to X spells like Blue Sun’s Zenith and Stroke of Genius.
Jace Beleren ($2.27) - Jace Beleren, aka “Party Jace,” is a 3 mana planeswalker that is sure to make all your friends and foes alike smile. His +2 says each player draws a card. Of course, you don’t always want your opponents to draw cards but in the early game you can use this to your advantage by making friends with people. Offering opponents some card draw in exchange for not being attacked is great. That’s why they call him Party Jace! Jace’s -1 ability says target player draws a card, so if you’re feeling selfish you target yourself and be the only one who draws a card! Jace’s ultimate, -10) takes some work to get to but isn’t especially relevant unless you’re playing mill. It’ll just mill a target player for 20 cards. All things considered, Jace Beleren is a great way to interact with your opponents and make the game more enjoyable for everyone.
Spell Swindle ($1.30) - Spell Swindle isn’t just another counterspell. It’s mana ramp! For 2 blue mana and 3 colorless you can counter a spell and get X treasure tokens, where X is the countered spell’s converted mana cost. With a cost reducer like Baral in play, this costs 4 mana, and still gets you those treasure tokens to use later. Just wait for someone to tap out for a giant X spell like Torment of Hailfire or Gaze of Granite and you can start swimming in your treasure tokens, Scrooge McDuck style. Spell Swindle is peak value for $1.31 and you should run it.
Glen Elendra Archmage ($5.52) - Glen Elendra is a multi-use counter spell on a 2/2 flying creature. For one blue mana, you can sacrifice her to counter a non-creature spell. When Glen Elendra dies, she comes back to play with a -1-1 counter on her because of her Persist ability. Sure opponents will play around her when she’s on the field but sometimes being able to change your opponent’s play patterns can be just enough to put you over the top. She’s great protection against board-wipes and counter spells alike. She’s an all-star auto-include.
Mystic Confluence ($1.49) - Mystic Confluence probably wouldn’t have made this list because of it’s price a couple of years ago but, recent reprints in Battlebond and Mystery Boosters has made this all purpose utility card surprisingly cheap! For 3 colorless and 2 blue mana, you get a great modal spell with three options to choose from up to 3 times! (You can chose the same mode more than once). The first mode is counter a spell unless it’s controller pays 3, this is basically Mana Leak but, if you choose it more than once, you can price your opponent out of a critical spell. The second mode is return a creature to its owner’s hand, allowing you to bounce up to 3 creatures. The third mode is draw a card. Drawing up to 3 cards for 5 mana isn’t a great rate but if you find yourself casting Mystic Confluence with this mode chosen 3 times, you might want to consider not casting it. All of this at instant speed. I love this card.
The total cost of the 10 cards in our list comes to $35.58! We’ve still got a lot of breathing room to play with. Let's add Negate ($0.13) to supplement our counter magic, Windfall ($3.49) to refill our hand, Sower of Temptation ($1.73) to deal with a threatening creature, and Aetherize ($0.56) and Propaganda ($4.73) to protect ourselves from big attacks. Our grand total now, with these 15 cards, comes to $46.22! There are many other powerful cards in mono blue to choose from so take a look at your deck and see where it might be lacking.
I’m sure this list is sure to stir some conversation, so be sure to join us in Discord to talk about what you would have included, or what you think I should have left off this list! Finally, be sure to join me on Sunday as I dive into my top 10 black cards for commander. I look forward to destroying creatures and losing life with you in that post!
Happy Wednesday, here's a hippo!