Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What's the Best Color in Commander?
Many players, myself included, consider blue the strongest color in Magic's 1v1 commander playstyle. Its wealth of draws and counterspells more than outweigh its lack of big creatures, especially since commander's higher starting life lets you take a fair share of hits.
But blue doesn't stop there, offering copied creatures, extra turns, and a surprising amount of mana ramp (typically a green tactic). But with thousands of spells available, which arcane wizardry reigns supreme? These are the 50 best mono-blue spells in commander format of Magic: The Gathering!
50. Body Double
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Body Double needs a substanial sum of five mana, but she enters the field as a copy of a creature in any graveyard. Nab the biggest giant from either your own or an opponent's discard pile for a reduced cost, and bonus points if you've been diligently attacking opposing decks with blue's mill prowess (and thus have more options).
Like many of our opening cards, Clone duplicates any creature on the field. Let your opponent pay a full mana price for an eight-cost behemoth while you spend half as much, or imitate your own strongest champion (just don't copy a legendary you possess or you'll have to sacrifice one).
48. Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Shapeshifter is basically a more-expensive Clone, similarly replicating a creature for one more mana. But he also offers an alternative morph cost, letting you split his price into two payments (three and two), and you can even turn him back face-down at your upkeep if you want to transform him into a different soldier.
47. Rite of Replication
If your deck supports sorceries and instants more than creatures, Rite substitutes for Clone, placing a token onto the field that mimics any fielded creature. As a bonus, Rite offers an optional "kicker" cost: by paying five extra mana, you instead put five copies onto the field! Thus, it skillfully scales to suit your current mana production.
46. Vesuvan Doppelganger
Doppelganger is slightly more taxing than Clone, but it duplicates a creature without copying its colors. This is generally good, letting you replicate multi-colored aces without suffering weaknesses to multiple color protections. Plus, at your upkeep, you can freely change Doppelganger into a different unit, ensuring you're never locked into your first choice.
45. Sakashima the Impostor
Imposter works like Clone, but you now spend four mana to return him to your hand at the end of a turn, giving you the option of later copying a stronger creature. Additionally, his initial base stats are actually higher than zero, useful in rare situations where the transformation somehow fails.
44. Clever Impersonator
Like our other shapeshifters, Impersonator can copy any monster when he enters, but he can also duplicate other non-land permanents. Thus, planeswalkers, enchantments, artifacts and more are all fair game, greatly expanding your options.
43. Sakashima's Student
At base cost, Student works like Clone but keeps the ninja subtype even after imitating a creature, helpfully retaining his shinobi supports. Additionally, his alternative ninjustu cost lets you cast him tapped and attacking for two mana by returning an unblocked attacker to your hand, putting blue's multitude of unblockable cards to good use.
This versatile instant either taps or untaps all lands, creatures, or artifacts a player controls. This has several uses, most notably casting it before your opponent's main phase to tap their lands. Unless they have instants available, they'll be entirely land-locked for a turn, which can very often cost someone the match.
41. Phantasmal Image
Yet another mimic, Image enters as a copy of a creature but keeps its illusion subtype, offering additional synergies. Unfortunately, it's automatically sacrificed when it becomes the target of a spell or ability—but that's a small price considering Image's ridiculously low cost, needing half the mana of most imitations. Try mirroring a creature with hexproof or shroud to prevent targeting and negate the weakness.
40. Glen Elendra Archmage
2/2 stats are poor for a four-cost creature, but Archmage compensates with flying and the useful faerie and wizard subtypes. Additionally, you can sacrifice her and spend a blue mana to negate a non-creature spell, and thanks to her persist, she'll revive from the graveyard once with a -1/-1 counter, eventually letting her negate two plays!
39. Spellstutter Sprite
Like Archmage, Sprite enjoys flying and the helpful wizard and faerie bloodlines. Her 1/1 stats are low, but she harnesses flash, letting you cast her at instant speed. And when she enters the field, she counters a spell with a cost less than or equal to the number of faeries you control, rewarding you for swarming pixies.
38. Pact of Negation
Negation can be risky, but it counters a spell of any type for free! Well, you have to pay five mana at your next upkeep or lose the game, but you can avoid the price with cards like "Platinum Angel" or by simply winning before that upkeep occurs. And even if you can't avoid the price, it's often worth taking opponents by surprise with this unexpected counterspell.
37. Thirst for Knowledge
Thirst for Knowledge draws three, then discards an artifact or any two cards. Either way, you've stockpiled your hand and set your graveyard, hopefully preparing for a gimmicked artifact revival. Throw in instant speed and you've got a versatile spell for any deck.
36. Frantic Search
Search simply lets you draw and discard two cards. Your overall hand size doesn't improve, but you can keep what you need and toss what you don't, setting your graveyard along the way. Best of all, you also get to untap three lands, essentially negating Search's cost.
Remand can negate any spell for just two mana, and unlike many counterspells of its price, it can accept one mana of any color, a better fit for multi-color decks. Sure, the negated spell goes back to your opponent's hand, but you also get to draw a card, ensuring you're well-stocked for your next play.
At base price, Forbid is a three-cost counterspell that works against any card type, not a bad deal. Additionally, its optional buyback returns it to your hand if you discard two cards, ensuring you never run out of negates as long as you maintain card advantage—easy with blue's vast amounts of draws.
33. Sower of Temptation
Again, 2/2 disappoints on a four-cost creature, but faerie, wizard, and flying help compensate. Additionally, Temptation steals control of a target creature for as long as she's fielded, simultaneously removing a threat and adding a powerhouse to your own field.
32. Copy Artifact
This aptly-named spell enters the fray as a duplicate of any artifact, except that it's also an enchantment. Thus, it's vulnerable to several removals, but you're mimicking the strongest artifact creature, equipment, or standard relic with just two islands. Let an adversary pay full price for "Gilded Lotus" or "Blightsteel Colossus" while you tailgate with a hefty discount.
31. Spell Pierce
One mana for a counterspell that works on anything except creatures? Yes please. Your opponent can overpower Pierce by spending an additional two mana, but they generally won't have it available, and even if they do, you've drained them of two resources while only spending one yourself.
30. Tezzeret the Seeker
While I'm not especially fond of Tezzret's -5 ability and he only enters with four loyalty, his first two traits are too tempting to ignore. +1 untaps up to two artifacts you control, an insane ramp tactic with relics like "Sol Ring", "Worn Powerstone", and "Mana Vault". Then, -X both searches and fields an artifact with X CMC from your deck, an excellent bargain that saves both a draw and casting.
29. Master Transmuter
1/2 is especially bad for Tramsmuter's price, and neither of her subtypes are particularly helpful, but she offers an excellent effect. By tapping, spending one mana, and returning an artifact to your hand, you can play another from your hand for free. Use this to swap out cheap jewels or unneeded thopter tokens for daunting powerhouses like "Ancient Stone Idol". Plus, Transmuter herself is an artifact creature, qualifying for supports from either card type.
28. Tradewind Rider
Rider's 1/4 isn't great and he sadly lacks the merfolk, wizard, or faerie subtype. However, he has flying and can tap alongside two other creatures to bounce a target permanent back to your its owner's hand.
Use this to repeatedly remove lands, preventing your opponent from gradually increasing their mana output. Unless they have a removal for Rider, they'll be stuck with mid-game resources while you zip past them.
27. Cryptic Command
Command specifically needs three blue mana, but it offers an instant-speed effect that lets you pick any two (no repeats) of four great options:
- Counter target spell
- Return target creature to its owner's hand
- Tap all opposing creatures
- Draw a card
I'm especially fond of pairing the first ability with the second or third, thwarting an incoming spell while hindering remaining troops.
Creatures brandish two types of effects: activated (paid with a cost) or triggered (automatically achieved through a game state). Fortunately, Stifle can counter either with just one mana! This buys time before you have to deal with a hazardous ability, just remember that you're only negating the effect, not the actual unit that triggered it.
25. Force of Will
Before it was a separate trading card game, Magic had its own Force of Will. Like Pact of Negation, it lets you negate any spell for free, this time by exiling a blue card from your hand and paying one life. That's a much lesser trade-off than Pact's price, and if you need cards more than mana, you can always pay Will's base cost of five. With this around, blue is never a safe opponent, even when mana appears to be tapped out.
24. Memory Lapse
Compared to standard two-cost "Counterspell", Lapse only needs one blue mana (fitting better it multi-color builds); both simply negate any spell. But instead of sending it to the graveyard, Lapse places it on top of your opponent's deck. Thus, you've thwarted a threat without offering any graveyard revivals or other tricks to your rivals.
Simple and easy to use in any blue deck, Lapse is a mainstay in my own structures, and unlike many of today's cards, it's surprisingly cheap, costing well under a single dollar!
Commandeer costs a large amount of mana, but it steals control of an opposing spell (meaning you can pilfer instants or sorceries in addition to permanents). Better yet, you can cast Commandeer for free by exiling two blue cards from your hand, again proving blue's danger even when mana-less.
22. Show and Tell
Once you have an eldrazi or other high-cost permanent in hand, activate Show and Tell, which lets all players play an artifact, creature, enchantment, or land for free. Your enemies benefit as well, but smart timing lets you reap the most reward. And if a foe is stuck with only planeswalkers, instants, or sorceries (or an empty hand), they won't attain any benefit.
21. Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Jace offers many excellent forms, perhaps his best being the Mind Sculptor. Starting loyalty is only three, but he offers not three but four traits. +0 and -1 are the highlights, with the former drawing three cards and placing two back on top of your deck (a free "Brainstorm") and the latter bouncing a creature back to hand (a free "Unsummon"). +2 and -12 only sweeten the pot, offering one of the best planeswalkers in the entire game.
20. High Tide
Hide Tide simply lets islands tap for twice the mana until end of turn. Use this on your fourth or fifth round in mono-blue builds to afford spells that normally cost 6-8 mana, an awesome and instant-speed ramp. Just remember it also benefits opposing islands, so wait until enemy lands are tapped before you manipulate the ocean.
19. Personal Tutor
For a single mana, this card searches an instant or sorcery to the top of your deck, ensuring your next draw is what you need. Not only can this quickly pull an ace from commander's larger deck sizes, it's perfect for rigging miracle effects to your favor—we'll soon see a tempting candidate.
Statis causes players to skip their untap step, meaning once a land or creature is tapped, it's tapped. You have to pay a blue mana at your upkeep to keep Stasis active, but a well-timed activation can completely shut down opposing decks for a few turns. Bonus points if you combo with commanders like "Brago, King Eternal" to refresh your lands.
Snap bounces a creature back to its owner's hand, a fair removal for just two mana. But then it goes above and beyond by also untapping up to two lands, essentially making it a free spell. And remember that instants and sorceries in your graveyard help meet the conditions of cards with "spell mastery", "delirium", and "threshold".
16. Phyrexian Metamorph
Metamorph improves on regular cloning spells with two added benefits. First, it can copy artifacts in addition to creatures, granting additional options, and the imitated unit counts as an artifact, boosting any corresponding cards you possess. Even better, its unique mana symbol lets you pay either a blue mana or two life, allowing you to cast Metamorph with just three mana.
15. Time Warp/Capture of Jingzhou/Temporal Manipulation
Three sorceries with identical effects and costs, these spells simply grant an extra turn. Consecutive moves are powerful bonuses, granting additional lands, draws, combat opportunities, planeswalker abilities, and more—leaving opponents to twiddle their thumbs as they wait for their next turn.
14. Gilded Drake
Drake's impressive 3/3 stats and flying actually work against you, as you swap control with an opposing creature when he arrives. However, this lets you steal any foe you can target, seizing angels, demons, dragons, and even opposing commanders. You're handing your opponent an aerial 3/3, but his lack of secondary effects mean he's not especially threatening (and you can bounce him back to hand to repeat the process).
13. Hurkyl's Recall
For just two mana, Recall bounces all artifacts a player controls back to their hand. This excellent removal is instant speed, doesn't target, and circumvents the indestructible defense (common among Darksteel artifacts). You can even target yourself to avoid an opposing nuke and later recast your relics.
12. Snapcaster Mage
A 2/1 wizard with flash would already be a fair deal for two mana, but Snapcaster really shines with his effect, granting an instant or sorcery in your graveyard flashback for the turn. This lets you cast it into exile by repaying its mana cost, recycling anything from cheap counterspells to your extra turn sorceries.
11. Ancestral Vision
A balanced version of long-banned "Ancestral Recall", Vision draws you three cards for just one mana—eventually. You suspend it for four turns, meaning there's a delay, but it's still a great first turn play that later buffs your hand. Mix with draw-boosted cards like "Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix" for an especially-tempting combo.
Timetwister shuffles all hands and graveyards into their owner's deck, then has each player draw seven cards. This equalizes everyone's hands when you're running low, and it's an excellent defense against mill strategies since it resets your library.
9. Time Spiral
Like Timetwister, Time Spiral shuffles all graveyards and hands into decks, then draws seven cards for each player. It costs twice the mana and exiles itself, but you also get to refresh up to six lands, making this a tempting freebie in the later stages of your match.
Tinker sacrifices an artifact you control to search and field one from your deck. Thus, all you have to do is toss a cheap relic like "Sol Ring" or a thopter token to pull behemoths like "Darksteel Colossus", making this one of the best ways to gimmick high-cost spells into play.
This aura adheres to an opposing creature, granting you control until Treachery is removed. And since you untap five lands, Treachery pays for itself, offering an free theft of any champion.
6. Baral, Chief of Compliance
Legendary wizard Baral offers the best mono-blue leader yet. 1/3 stats aren't bad at all, and he reduces the cost of your instants and sorceries by one, making it ridiculously easy to cast counterspells and other tricks. Additionally, when you counter a play, he lets you draw and discard a card, preparing both your hand and graveyard as you see fit. Either effect would be great on a 1/3 wizard; when combined, they form the best blue creature in Magic.
5. Temporal Mastery
Mastery costs two more mana than standard extra turn spells and similarly grants an additional round. However, if it's the first card you draw on a turn, you can reveal it to immediately access its reduced miracle price, attaining the effect for just two! That's an amazing discount that you can rig using...
4. Mystical Tutor
Like Personal Tutor, Mystical searches an instant or sorcery to the top of your deck, but its instant speed lets you cast it at any time, letting you wait until the last second before revealing your plan. Remember to control miracle cards to the top to access their reduced prices.
A single mana and instant speed already catch the eye, especially when Brainstorm lets you draw three cards, then place any two from your hand on top of your deck. Not only does this rearrange your hand and draws as needed, it can place prematurely-drawn miracles from your opening hand back on top of your deck.
2. Cyclonic Rift
Rift's power lies in its versatility, offering two excellent effects at vastly different prices. At base cost, Rift simply bounces any non-land permanent (not just creatures) back to hand, a sweet removal for any threat. However, if you wait until you can afford its overload price of seven, you instead bounce every opposing non-land.
Not only does this board wipe leave your own field unscathed, there's nothing opponents can do (other than countering) to defend, as protection from blue, hexproof, and indestructible all fail against Rift's instantaneous onslaught.
1. Mana Drain
Just like Counterspell (in itself a great card), Mana Drain thwarts any incoming spell for just two mana. But then it adds that card's CMC to your pool as colorless mana during your next main phase. You've got an excellent negation packed with an excellent ramp tactic, meaning if a player hits with this, they're probably going to win.
Single vs. Multiplayer Commander in Magic
Note that a few of our top spells (like Mana Drain) are banned in the unique "duel commander" ban list, but all of them are legal in multiplayer matches as of this writing. Blue's abundance of debatably-overpowered spells render it a fierce threat in EDH, although it's not quite as lethal against multiple opponents, where it can't counter everything and can have stragglers gang up against it.
Still, it's an immensely powerful faction that I recommend testing yourself, and today's list only scratches the surface of its power—don't overlook blue's numerous multi-color bosses. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of arcane and aquatic aces, vote for your favorite Magic color and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill