Bang for Your Buck: Blue

The Bang for Your Buck that you’ve all been waiting for—blue! You can lie and say you that were hoping for artifact, land, or multicolor, but we all know that blue is the best thing in Magic to talk about. Today’s topic is everything blue in Commander, from countering spells to drawing cards and cloning things. Blue cards tend to get pricey, so the aim of this article is to help you navigate the rough waters between price and utility. You may have the money, but is it worth the cash? Read on to find out.

EDHrec.com is an excellent resource for data and suggestions for your EDH decks. It compiles all of the user submitted decks and forms statistics to show what cards are popular and where. I will use this website to get a rough idea of each card’s usage. For pricing, ChannelFireball.com is my go-to source. This article will discuss cards in the $5+ price range since anything cheaper isn’t really a consideration for budget reasons.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are my own. Just because I dislike a card doesn’t mean it may not be great for you. Experiences will vary, and my goal here is to save you money while improving your deck’s quality.

Glub, blub, don’t be a fish. Blue’s strengths include:

  • Excellent and efficient card draw spells.
  • Ways to steal other creatures in play or copy them.
  • Ways to bounce or mass removal any type of permanent temporarily.
  • Artifact synergies.
  • Counterspells—’nuff said.

Blue is really a jack-of-all-trades in Commander. I can say with absolute certainty that almost all decks are made better by including blue. Blue, like the ocean, is flexible, excelling as both a primary and support color. The ability to respond to any type of threat your opponent can play and the fact that many of your best spells can be cast at instant speed make blue hard to predict and play against. And what’s hard for your opponent is good for you. Additionally, blue has the best combo pieces and some excellent stax elements to boot. As if that wasn’t enough, blue also has access to cantrips, which can do wonders in a 100-card format. Smoothing out your draws and hitting land drops is an excellent recipe for success at any EDH table. It shouldn’t come as a Psionic Blast, but blue is the best color in Commander. Green can give it a run for its money, especially in popularity, but whether you need to be competitive, fun, or wacky, blue has your back.

But that’s not to say that it’s always smooth sailing in these seas. Blue’s weaknesses include:

  • Lack of hard creature, artifact, or enchantment removal.
  • Lack of discard or land destruction.
  • Weaker creatures.
  • Lack of ramp.

Blue has the ability to shore up its weaknesses not just by dabbling into other colors, but is able to self-correct in its own color surprisingly well. In addition to counterspells being a blanket answer to most problems, blue has been known to bend the color pie from time to time. Cards like Pongify, Imprison in the Moon, and Frozen Aether can all cover gaps. As for their lack of ramp, blue decks often lean on artifact-based acceleration. Cards like Thran Dynamo, Gilded Lotus, and Signets are more at home in blue than any other color. This is because blue has the best tools to mitigate flooding, and the ability to cast multiple spells per turn after drawing several cards.

Without further adieu, that’s enough fawning over blue, lets see what it can do for you.

Cyclonic Rift

Price: $7.99

Blue Deck Usage: 52%

If blue staples for EDH were chess pieces, Cyclonic Rift would be the king, queen, rook, bishop, and knight. Regardless of how competitively you play the format, the Rift should make your 99. Every. Single. Time. The rate to sweep up every type of disruptive permanent from your opponents’ boards is laughable at just 7 mana and it even has an emergency mode at 2. Despite being played in over half of the blue decks on EDHrec.com, this card still commands a sub-$10 price tag.

Verdict: If you don’t own one, try your hardest to get one. A staple that should be played in every blue deck across the board. Baby blue spells grow up wishing to be like Cyclonic Rift.

Rhystic Study

Price: $11.99

Blue Deck Usage: 26%

Rhystic Study is in the top-5 most played blue cards in the format, which is quite the accomplishment for a card from Prophecy. Sitting at $12 makes it the most expensive from the set as well, thank Thassa it’s just a common! Rhystic Study is a great political card that scales well with more inexperienced players and stronger opponents alike. Even if the tax is paid 90% of the time, there will be others where paying it or blowing it up are just unreasonable. Not to mention, it does replace itself and cause a nice tempo swing in your favor. $12 for a common is a bit absurd, but hopefully there will be a reprint in the next few years.

Verdict: A fine addition to many blue decks in EDH. I would hardly call it an auto-include but its uses range widely.

Mystic Tutor

Price: $7.99

Blue Deck Usage: 24%

EDH is a scary place—it’s dangerous to go alone. Take Mystical Tutor and let it light your way home. If your deck is well-built, there will always be some spicy cards to fetch with this powerful and efficient tutor. My most common targets, depending on the deck, include Force of Will, Cyclonic Rift, Mana Drain, and Temporal Manipulation. The price tag isn’t prohibitive considering the staggering rate of use.

Verdict: Highly recommended. It’s not hard to see why blue players love the versatility of Mystical Tutor.


Price: $5.99

Blue Deck Usage: 18%

Propaganda is great in blue-white taxing decks, but pretty mediocre everywhere else. I’m not buying into this card’s propaganda and would place this card in the “slightly overplayed” column. Taxing attackers is a great way to dissuade assaults on your life total, but most games don’t really come down to swings like that. Additionally, blue doesn’t have the card pool required to take advantage of this effect since mana taxing effects are often found in other colors.

Verdict: The price roughly mimics Ghostly Prison and I would pick this card up only if you have decks that want the redundancy.

Phyrexian Metamorph

Price: $8.99

Blue Deck Usage: 16%

Phyrexia is love, Phyrexia is life. Well, the Metamorph pays life, but who’s complaining? Phyrexian Metamorph gets my vote for the best clone in the format and it isn’t close to being close. Being able to copy any creature or artifact for just 3 mana is a huge tempo play and in a format where Gilded Lotus and Sol Ring sprout up aplenty, there is always something juicy to grab. Sub-$10 is a great deal for this card and a reprint would put this under $5.

Verdict: Great mileage for under 10 bucks. It has my Phyrexian stamp of approval.

Consecrated Sphinx

Price: $14.99

Blue Deck Usage: 12%

Speaking of Phyrexians, is this Sphinx truly blessed by the hands of Jin-Gitaxias? Of course it is! Consecrated Sphinx is one of my favorite blue cards ever printed and for good reason. Careful—you may evoke the ire of the entire table when you drop this baddie, and be extra cautious of clone effects. You don’t want to go there!

Verdict: The price has been slashed in half since its Iconic Masters reprint, so now is a great time to pick of this powerful top-end blue creature. Perfect for control decks, Maelstrom Wanderer, and of course, Unesh.

Tezzeret, the Seeker

Price: $8.99

Blue Deck Usage: 11%

If you’ve read my previous Bang for Your Buck articles you’d know that I am not the biggest fan of planeswalkers. Outside of dedicated Super Friends decks, random planeswalkers (righfully) are attacked immediately and often by the entire table. If your opponents are playing correctly, there will rarely be an instance where you untap with them. Tezzeret the Seeker is a little different though since if the board is too hostile for him to stick around, he can be cashed in right away to tutor up a artifact. This alone warrants inclusion in most artifact-based decks and even decks without a huge artifact theme. In Super Friends, he can go find The Chain Veil or Ensnaring Bridge, in Stax he can go find Winter Orb or Static Orb, and in combo decks he can go find Rings of Brighthearth or Basalt Monolith. Not to mention, his +1 ability is a powerful way to accelerate your mana.

Verdict: All the above reasons combined with a sub-$10 price tag make Tezzeret the ideal card to have a copy of lying around.

Cryptic Command

Price: $27.99

Blue Deck Usage: 10%

Yikes! Clocking in at close to $30, Cryptic Command commands a commanding price tag. I can speak to the high levels of fun and skill involved in casting a Cryptic Command, but I can also understand that $30 is rough for a single counterspell. Though the “tap all opponents’ creatures” mode hits everyone at the table, it still only counters a single spell, thus making it weaker in a multiplayer format. It’s a verified staple in most 1v1 decks that can support the heavy blue cost. Additionally, if you don’t have a stellar and consistent mana base for a multicolored deck, I can’t recommend this cryptic spell.

Verdict: Expensive, but lots of fun. The multiple reprints have done little to reduce the price (but I imagine they suppressed it quite well). I wouldn’t prioritize it highly for your EDH needs, but if you have one, it’s a great card to run.

Laboratory Maniac

Price: $14.99

Blue Deck Usage: 10%

It frightens me that one out of every ten blue EDH decks runs a copy of the Laboratory Maniac. The power level of this card is undeniable and if you are including this in your list you are up to no good. To be honest though, that’s just the type of Commander I like to play, but your mileage may vary. If winning a multiplayer game on the spot is right up your alley, this card won’t disappoint. And can we all agree to start calling him Dexter?

Verdict: The lab man has spiked hard in the last year, but he is worth every penny. Great competitive EDH staple.

Thassa, God of the Sea

Price: $7.99

Blue Deck Usage: 9%

Que pasa, senorita Thassa? Thassa was sweet in Standard, but that’s just about the end of where I’d play her. She could be a fine Merfolk tribal general or 99 inclusion, but outside of that, this card is very low impact. Not worth the mana cost or the $8.

Verdict: Thassa doesn’t pressure hard enough or dig you in your library deep enough. Easy pass for me.

Force of Will

Price: $74.99

Blue Deck Usage: 9%

There is no hiding from Force of Will’s crazy price tag. $75 is a lot of money and even if you find a played one for cheaper, you are still shelling out a bit. But I cannot stress enough how powerful this card is. It’s 9% usage rate is simply a factor of its price, not its playability. If Force of Will could be had for under $1, it would be closer to a 60% inclusion rate, if I had to wager. Control, combo, aggro, tempo—regardless of your deck’s strategy or theme, Force of Will absolutely earns a spot in any blue deck. As long as you have enough blue cards to reliably alternate cast this, the force is strong with this one.

Verdict: I suggest finding a way to obtain a copy even if that means holding off on other MTG purchases. If you can skip buying a box or a few other staples from your deck, make way to snag a Force of Will and never let it go.

Snapcaster Mage

Price: $59.99

Blue Deck Usage: 9%

Speaking of high-priced blue cards, Snapcaster Mage is right up there with Force of Will. When it comes to how good the card is in Commander, I find Snapcaster Mage far trails a card like Force of Will. If you can only pick one between the two I would pick Force of Will every time. Snapcaster’s power level in Constructed formats is not mirrored in Commander, and though I would recommend it for many spell-heavy decks, it isn’t necessarily worth $60.

Verdict: A great card no doubt for many Commander decks, but one you can do without, due to its $60 price tag.

Leyline of Anticipation

Price: $11.99

Blue Deck Usage: 9%

Leyline is a really fun card to play with. I wouldn’t call it super competitive, but since it only has one printing, this card is priced over $10. This Leyline is more playable in a metagame more focused on counterspells. It’s fine, but nothing special.

Verdict: This card doesn’t make me shiver with anticipation.


Price: $5.49

Blue Deck Usage: 8%

This is a serviceable Counterspell/Stifle effect strapped into one nice package. Better than Dissolve, Dissipate, and Scatter to the Winds, but likely worse than Forbid.

Verdict: Begone Voidslime! I wouldn’t really go out of the way to pick one of these up, and if you are itching to play it, I would wait until it rotates out of Standard. Then, you can find copies for around $1.

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Price: $149.99

Blue Deck Usage: 8%

Jace, the Mind Sculptor is better than all, and more expensive than all. The fact that Jace has surpassed the price of Mana Drain blows my mind. When I was originally writing this article, Jace had a price point of $64.99 here on ChannelFireball.com. I would have suggested you purchase one then if possible for your EDH decks, since this is a planeswalker I can vouch for. It had nothing to do with a possible unbanning looming. Well, this is the world we live in now. I know Jace will get cheaper with the Masters 25 reprint coming soon, but I would still wait for this card to settle around $80 before committing to one for the purposes of Commander. He’s good, but not that good.

Verdict: At $100+, I cannot recommend purchasing this card for EDH. Even competitive Commander decks don’t often play this card, so unless you are playing 1v1, I would skip out on Jace at this price tag.

Pact of Negation

Price: $29.99

Blue Deck Usage: 7%

Pact of Negation is a powerful cEDH card and one I highly suggest if you are playing with a cutthroat crowd. Otherwise, Pact can be risky and unnecessary, especially if you aren’t running much of a glass cannon deck. Despite reprints, Pact of Negation has held steady at roughly $30 and I don’t predict it getting cheaper.

Verdict: It’s a solid card in cEDH. Outside of that, I wouldn’t bother spending $30 on a card like this.

Glen Elendra Archmage

Price: $17.99

Blue Deck Usage: 7%

Long-time Cube staple and fan favorite, Glen Elendra Archmage is a great blue counterspell strapped to a creature. Pay an up-front cost for the Faerie and you just need to keep 1 mana open for whenever you want to deal with a pesky spell. It synergizes well with clones as well since they can copy this Faerie on the way down and persist into something better. Sadly, a Modern Masters 2013 reprint didn’t do much to help the price.

Verdict: At just under $20, Glen Elendra Archmage is a bit costly to just pick up. I do like this spell and find its effect unique, but until it gets reprinted, I would probably invest elsewhere.

Mystic Confluence

Price: $9.99

Blue Deck Usage: 7%

Be still my beating heart. Mystic Confluence is everything I want Cryptic Command to be and more. This powerful, EDH-tailored blue spell is super versatile and always provides maximum value. Though it costs 1 additional mana, it only costs double-blue, allows you to pick three modes, and costs 1/3 the price in paper.

Verdict: RIP Jace’s Ingenuity. $10 is a steal for a card that should see so much play for years to come.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Price: $19.99

Blue Deck Usage: 6%

Tamiyo is based bae! And, no, don’t get me started on that false idol that is the Bant-colored version. Tamiyo will always only have one iteration in my heart. I’ll admit, without a Doubling Season in play Tamiyo suffers a bit from the multiplayer nature of the Commander format. Though she is fine 1v1, she is a bit slow and awkward when there are multiple opponents all with their eyes on destroying her. $20 is way too much to include this card outside of a deck looking to ultimate her on the spot.

Verdict: Please don’t be mad at me Tamiyo! Though I didn’t recommend you for Commander, I do love you in Cube.

Jace Beleren

Price: $6.99

Blue Deck Usage: 6%

THIS is baby Jace. You better not let me hear you call Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy by that name! It belongs to the one and only Jace Beleren. Though Garruk is my favorite of the original five Lorwyn planeswalkers, Jace comes in a close second. In multiplayer formats, this Jace suffers from many issues it didn’t have in Constructed. +2 on him draws you one, but the table 3+ collectively, so that’s not great. His ultimate is laughable in a 100-card format, and if you -1 him he dies to a stiff breeze. Luckily, there is hope yet for this sweet planesalker. Group hug decks (decks that focus on helping out the whole table) will find a nice home for him. Since everyone is benefiting from the effect, provided nobody has a grudge against you, he should hang around by using his +2 ability. Luckily, he weighs in at around $7 and with so many printings it shouldn’t be hard to find one. It may be worth it for the hilarity with Consecrated Sphinx alone. BOOM!

Verdict: Sorry Baby Jace, you will have to win us over in Cube and 1v1 EDH.


Price: $21.99

Blue Deck Usage: 6%

Have you ever paid 5 mana for a Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur? Maybe a Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger? Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre? Those are certainly acceptable bribes. Bribery is great because it allows you snag something spicy and appropriate for the situation and it rarely finds itself without at least one opponent with a deck containing goodies. “Don’t like losing to it? Well, you shouldn’t have put it in your deck!” Bribery is such a blue mage’s card—I love it.

Verdict: It hurts to see a $20+ price tag, but it’s worth it for the fun stories alone. It may get old for your opponents, but maybe they will learn their lesson eventually.

Mana Drain

Price: $59.99

Blue Deck Usage: 6%

Long gone are the days where the mana received from Mana Drain could be considered a “downside.” Being able to acquire the most powerful counterspell in all of Magic (especially in Commander) for less than half of its old price is a great boon to the format. Thanks, Iconic Masters! Despite how hopeless it can feel to play versus Mana Drain, the new price makes me hopeful to see the inclusion rate increase from a paltry 6%. Of course, nobody is going to say $60 is cheap for a single card in your Commander deck, but compared to the old price of this card I am hopeful. Mana Drain is much more reasonable in multiplayer formats and is rightfully banned in all forms of 1v1 EDH.

Verdict: The price tag is still a bit high for the EDH staple, but skip out on a Thassa, Glen Elendra, Tamiyo, and Leyline of Anticipation, and put that money toward a copy of this epic spell.

Time Warp

Price: $17.99

Blue Deck Usage: 5%

Let’s do it again! I love being the only player who gets to play at the table. Wait… did I say that out loud?… Um… well, forget about that. Whatever you do, don’t pack your deck full of extra turn effects and absolutely do not get a Time Warp, Temporal Manipulation, Capture of Jingzhou, Time Stretch, Walk the Aeons, or Part the Waterveil for your Narset deck. Nope. Definitely don’t.

Verdict: Considering the two closest cards by comparison to Time Warp are both significantly more expensive, it’s not a surprise to see this card climbing in price as well. $20 is a bunch to pay for this, but oh the fun you’ll have. Get your Strangleholds ready.


Price: $24.99

Blue Deck Usage: 5%

The most laid back Commander players who wish to embrace the “casual spirit of the format” should avert their eyes now. Just skip to the next card…

Okay, I’ve given you fair warning.

Omniscience is a bona fide staple for many EDH decks. Whether it’s via Show and Tell, Academy Rector, or Dream Halls, there are dozens of ways to win the game once you have Omniscience in play. My favorite way to plop this thing onto the battlefield is Narset, Enlightened Master. Enlightened Tutor followed by a swing from her should spell lights-out for the table. Despite costing $25, I highly recommend owning a copy of Omniscience and jamming it into any deck that takes advantage of it.

Verdict: Take no prisoners. Aim to win, and with Omniscience, win you shall.

Teferi, Temporal Archmage

Price: $9.99

Blue Deck Usage: 5%

Teferi is an incredibly powerful planeswalker that doesn’t get enough love in EDH. One of my favorite Stax decks is Teferi Stax, a deck that combines Teferi, Temporal Archmage with The Chain Veil and mana rocks to go infinite and destroy the whole table. All the while able to play excellently under Stax pieces and soft locks. Outside of your general, Teferi is a bit expensive at 6 mana, but has great synergy with High Tide and mana doublers. If you can untap with Teferi in a combo deck, victory should be in sight.

Verdict: $10 isn’t much for a card that is unlikely to see another reprint outside of maybe Commander Anthology. If you’ve been on the cusp of including this card, I would go for it.

Temporal Mastery

Price: $9.99

Blue Deck Usage: 5%

It’s a miracle!! Whoopie, extra turn effects! Temporal Mastery may not be as easy to abuse with cards like Eternal Witness or Snapcaster Mage, but it works great with Mystical Tutor, Personal Tutor, and Scroll Rack. At $10, it’s even cheaper than Time Warp so it can certainly find a nice home at a relatively low cost. The times when you can naturally miracle this card are great because you have access to almost all of your mana that turn as well, not just on the extra turn.

Verdict: A card that plays out better than you’d think at first glance. Not really geared for the most competitive or most casual decks, but if your playstyle fits anywhere in between, this is a great card to own.

Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur

Price: $6.99

Blue Deck Usage: 5%

With Jin on your side, there’s no reason to be sad (blue?). Jin makes all the bad things go away. *Deep inhale* Ahhhhh. That’s the delicious smell of three opponents with no cards in hand. Be careful not to get this card stolen by a Control Magic effect or taken with Bribery. Bring the misery that is the Core Augur to a friendly table near you for the low, low price of $7.99

Verdict: The Iconic Masters reprint cut the price of this card by roughly 60%. Excellent. Now it will be that much easier to spread Phyrexia’s glory to the multiverse. Keep sippin’ on that Jin and juice.

Sadly, that brings us to end of my favorite color, blue, as well as the last color in Bang for Your Buck. Fear not—there is still multicolored, artifact, and lands to cover, and you won’t want to miss those. What are your favorite blue cards? Are there ones that you’d like to know whether they are worth running? Let me know in the comments and thanks so much reading! Until next time, may all your Mana Drains be mana GAINS!

Blue mana batteries not included.


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