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January 23, 2017

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1 Drop Creatures for Commander: Blue

Part 3 in my 5 part series of 1 CMC creatures and their value to Commander players is here! The first two parts on Green and White really highlighted some powerful strategies and some possibly overlooked cards that work well within them. This week we look at all the 1 CMC creatures in Blue and decide if they can stack up to what we’ve seen so far.

Both Green and White each had a fair amount of one drops that would look good in any deck, but unfortunately Blue doesn’t really follow in their footsteps (and that is not surprising). Blue is traditionally the weakest colour when it comes to creatures while Green and White each specialize in making great ones. But to say Blue has nothing to offer in this category of ubiquitous one drops wouldn’t be exactly true. While they’re no Llanowar Elves or Mother of Runes, Vortex Elemental and Prophet of Distortion still do have some decent abilities to offer EDH players.

Vortex Elemental used to be an all star in fending off opposing commanders but since the tuck rule change it’s taken a bit of a backseat to some other options. Still though, having an indestructible creature tucked because it foolishly attacked or stayed back to block can be a real tide turner in some games.

If you’re playing Azure Mage in a deck then you’ll be pleased to hear there is a slightly worse version out there named Prophet of Distortion! Seriously though, this prophet is a decent option for a mana-sink in any blue deck and while the restriction of needing colourless mana can get annoying, a mana rock or a spare Rogue’s Passage can take care of that easily.

When we start talking about more specific strategies and even tribal synergies is where Blue’s one drops really get to shine. Blue is known to work well in graveyard decks with Dimir and Sultai synergies being the big plan. Both these styles of play are always happy to see an Enclave Cryptologist. While the Cryptologist requires a little mana to get going, the looting on the card can be even more desirable than the straight up ‘draw a card’ option.

Vanilla creatures are rarely mentioned in Commander circles and Jace’s Phantasm isn’t technically vanilla, but once you meet its requirements in a graveyard deck it is just a 5/5 flyer for 1. That fact remains that this card can come down on turn one and with a few good plays can be bashing opponents for 5 as early as turn 3. It’s not amazing or anything but it’s easily cast and recast and that makes it a force in certain decks.

Blink decks like Roon of the Hidden Realm or ETB decks featuring cards like Ephara, God of the Polis love it when creatures enter the battlefield and the 1 CMC creatures in blue are great at taking advantage of this style of play. One card that is a real favourite of mine is Nephalia Smuggler. With its 4 mana ability tap requirement, it really is a much more fair version of the controversial Deadeye Navigator, but one that people will often forget about. Also useful in these decks is Trusted Advisor. Recasting cheap creatures (or itself) can be a real boon in some decks and maximizing your hand size is always welcome for blue players.

There aren’t a ton of tribes running around in blue that are viable in Commander, but certainly Merfolk and Slivers have their place as archetypes people love to build. For those people Triton Shorestalker and Galerider Sliver are each nice additions to their decks for just one blue mana apiece.

Another great commander deck that uses blue is the +1/+1 counter deck and whether it be Bant with Jenara, Asura of War or Simic with Ezuri, Claw of Progress, adding a Cloudfin Raptor or a Cosi’s Trickster could help out.

Pressing on, we get even more specific with some creatures that are a bit harder to place but could definitely be useful with the right deck. Nivmagus Elemental is perhaps the most likely candidate for a Mizzix one drop while Martyr of Frost might show up in a card draw/control type shell.

Blue also is the home of the questionably good ability to change your lands to other lands. Realmwright and Tideshaper Mystic help fix your mana in this way and can be very helpful in decks that steal creatures with off-colour activated abilities.

Finally can someone tell me if Dakra Mystic is any good? It seems like it might be great in group hug decks or with commanders that want to manipulate the top of everyone’s libraries. The jury is out on that one, let me know on twitter or in the comments below!

Sadly, there are currently no 1 mana costing blue legendary creatures so our section of one drop commanders is very empty as of right now, but knowing WOTC I think we’ll eventually see a Merfolk or perhaps a legendary Vedalken creature at 1 for our General slot.

In the end blue doesn’t quite bring the same power and versatility we saw out of the White and Green in its 1 CMC creatures, but it’s in the specialization of these cards where we can find the value EDH players love so much. Until next time, keep looking out for the little guys!