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"Baral, Chief of Compliance" Budget Mono-Blue Commander Deck

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

Baral, Chief of Compliance mtg

Baral, Chief of Compliance mtg

Baral, Chief of Compliance in Magic: The Gathering

Many players consider blue an essential commander color thanks to its mastery over draws and control, but who should spearhead a mono-blue EDH deck? I recommend Baral, Chief of Compliance; hecosts less than six dollars (not bad for a competitive commander), and his effect discounts your instants and sorceries by one mana.

This means you can fill your deck with cheap spells that go from decent to great with Baral's price cut. Throw in Baral's ability to draw and discard whenever you counter a spell and you've a versatile yet powerful commander—how can you build around him? Here are 99 budget cards (each costing less than a dollar) to support your Baral commander deck!

Creatures for Baral Decks

  • Curious Homunculus/Voracious Reader
  • Kefnet the Mindful
  • Vizier of Many Faces

Since Baral emphasizes instants/sorceries, you don't want too many creatures in your deck. Might seem like you're leaving yourself open, but Baral's vast array of counterspells, removals, and token-summoning sorceries will defend you as you build your board state.

That said, I do recommend Curious Homunculus/Voracious Reader. Homonculus taps for mana that can be spent on instants/sorceries, and once he transforms at your upkeep by having three or more in your graveyard, you've got a 3/4 with prowess. Kefnet the Mindful has incredible 5/5 stats plus flying and indestructible, but you'll need seven or more cards in hand for him to attack or block; luckily, his activated effect draws a card. Finally, Vizier copies any creature, and her embalm lets you cast her from your graveyard, offering a prime discard choice.

Artifacts for Baral Decks

  • Runechanter's Pike
  • Ring of Evos Isle

Again, we're focusing on one-off spells, not permanents, so you won't find many artifacts. But that works perfect for Pike, an equipment that costs two to both cast and equip, giving its bearer first strike and +X/+0, where X is the number of instants and sorceries in your graveyard. In a deck like this, that quickly translates to enormous amounts stats.

Ring of Evos Isle is another cheap play that gradually strengthens a blue creature and lets you spend two mana to give it hexproof for the turn, keeping Baral safe from removals.

Aura Flux mtg

Aura Flux mtg

Enchantments for Baral Decks

  • Aura Flux

Enchantments aren't the focus here. But consider Aura Flux, a three-cost spell that makes players (including you) sacrifice other enchantments during their upkeep unless they pay two mana per enchantment.

Of course, you won't have any others, so you'll be alright, but foes will have to choose between forfeiting their spells or losing mana. And if you happen to face decks that are light on enchantments, you can always use Flux as discard fodder with Baral's draw-discard counterspell trigger. Speaking of which, here are some of his best countering options...

Counterspells for Baral Decks

  • Essence Scatter
  • False Summoning
  • Interdict
  • Force Void
  • Flashfreeze
  • Exclude
  • Bone to Ash
  • Mana Leak
  • Miscalculation
  • Memory Lapse
  • Negate
  • Frightful Delusion
  • Spell Snuff
  • Squelch
  • Sage's Dousing
  • Quench
  • Tale's End
  • Spell Pierce

Remember, counterspells work great with Baral since they reap both his abilities, benefiting from his instant discount and giving you a draw-discard when you counter. Above you'll find a list of some of the best budget options, emphasizing spells that have at least one colorless slot for Baral to discount.

Some of these only work on specific card types; for instance, Flashfreeze can only counter a red or green spell, but when you face mismatched decks, just toss these with Baral for new draws. Next, let's examine non-counterspell instants for Baral to exploit:

Instants (Non-Counterspells) for Baral Decks

  • Grip of Phyresis
  • Fumble
  • Hibernation
  • Submerge
  • Aether Gust
  • Snap
  • Frantic Search
  • High Tide
  • Commence the Endgame
  • Grip of the Roil
  • Think Twice
  • Just the Wind
  • Supplant Form
  • Whiplash Trap
  • Blink of an Eye
  • Into the Roil
  • Ovinize
  • Vanishment
  • Hoodwink
  • Polymorphist's Jest
  • Compelling Deterrence
  • Opt
  • Lazotep Plating
  • Aetherize

While they don't counter and thus won't trigger Baral's secondary effect, these cards still benefit from his instant/sorcery discount, letting you cast multiple in rapid succession. Many focus on removing creatures, helping ensure you're not overwhelmed by swarms.

Again, some are powerful but depends on facing specific card types. Grip of Phyresis and Fumble can both steal an equipment, while Hibernation and Submerge excel against green decks. Great when you're up against the right builds, good discard fodder otherwise. Speaking of which, look for cards like Think Twice with flashback or madness that can be cast when discarded.

Sorceries for Baral Decks

  • River's Rebuke
  • Mana Vapors
  • Nagging Thoughts
  • Mass Diminish
  • Rise from the Tides
  • Stolen Identity
  • Spelltwine
  • Kefnet's Last Word
  • Inaction Injunction
  • Undo
  • Saheeli's Artistry
  • Hidden Strings
  • Pore Over the Pages
  • Callous Dismissal
  • Secrets of the Golden City
  • Tezzeret's Gambit
  • Reality Strobe

Remember, with Baral out, these guys cost one colorless less, resulting in powerful plays at little mana. You'll see several spells that perform best in 1v1; River's Rebuke is a brutal field-wipe that bounces all non-lands a player controls back to hand, and Mana Vapors prevents lands from untapping during a player's turn, both devastating for a single opponent

Discard cards with madness and flashback like Nagging Thoughts and Mass Diminish while using token-summoning effects on Rise from the Tides and Stolen Identity to fill your field.

Other effects are situational yet powerful; casting Spelltwine requires an instant or sorcery in both your and and opponent's graveyard, but once present, can be cast for free. Finally, spells like Inaction Injunction and Undo are cheap and easy ways to stall opposing creatures.

Lands for Baral Decks

  • Island (32)
  • Mystic Sanctuary
  • Coral Atoll

One of the nice things about mono-color decks is you don't need multi-color lands, the best of which are pretty expensive. Good ol' basic islands will do, and Mystic Sanctuary can recycle an instant or sorcery from your graveyard. Coral Atoll enters tapped and bounces an island back to hand, but provides blue and colorless mana each turn.

Recommended (But Pricer) Cards

Today we examined many budget-conscious spells that should more than hold their own; that said, if you're willing to pay extra cash, here's a quick list of upgrades that will cost a bit more:

  • Sol Ring (Artifact, a ramp staple in any commander deck)
  • God-Eternal Kefnet (Creature, great instant/sorcery support)
  • Temporal Mastery (Sorcery, extra turn that becomes crazy cheap with miracle)
  • Cyclonic Rift (Instant, amazing board wipe when overloaded)
  • Reliquary Tower (Land, provides an infinite hand size)

That's just the tip of the iceberg when you're willing to invest more money, but for now, as we await Magic's next set of mono-blue aces, share your favorite budget cards and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill