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January 25, 2019

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Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Instants?

Would you like your instant spells to be even better?

Who wouldn’t, right? But I’m not talking about making them cost less by running a Primal Amulet. I’m talking about making them more effective! I’m talking about setting your deck up to make the most of the instants you already run. Let’s brew up some opportunities!

Before I delve into this topic, let’s take our inspiration from a typical Blue deck. Blue decks run counterspells, which only work if they keep mana held up. How many times have you asked the Blue player “How many lands do you have open?” The answer is always, “Two Blue” at minimum. Leaving two mana up each turn is a real cost, but Blue mages get around this by running instant speed draw. If their turn is about to begin, they’re often spending that mana on something. This should be our goal! Let’s brew our non-Blue decks like a Blue Mage!

If we’re staring down a couple of creatures and our politics aren’t going to deter them from attacking, we’ll need hold up a few lands to cast our emergency spot-removal spell. If we needed to pull that ripcord, we made the right choice. However, if we didn’t, we’re in the same predicament again. This would be a perfect slot for instant-speed draw, but not all colours have easy access to that effect. This is where mana sinks come into play!

Red is a colour that doesn’t draw very well. That means if we’re in red and we hold up some mana, we’ll want to use it! This is especially true if we can’t ramp that well. We’re not interested in firebreathing effects, since those don’t help us get anywhere, so I’m looking at cards like Obsidian Fireheart or Hateflayer. I’m happy using both effects each turn if the opportunity arises!

Black is in an interesting spot since it is the colour with the most instant-speed spot removal. It also has tons of draw, except not often in instant form. We’re looking to find a few on-board ways to spend that mana, and a couple of my favourites are Arguel’s Blood Fast and Phyrexian Reclamation. Both require you to pay life, but that’s a part of playing Black!

White already has a couple of the best removal spells in the format: Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile. One could argue that holding up a single white isn’t a huge cost, but when you can’t ramp that easily, every mana helps! That’s why I run Mobilization if I care about tokens in any way, or High Sentinels of Arashin if I’m aiming for more of a “go tall” strategy.

Green might have the fewest instant effects, but since we’re ramping the most, we have the most use for a mana sink out of any colour! Fortunately, Green has some of the best. I love cranking out insects with Ant Queen, or taking advantage of the utility of Bow of Nylea. Both in combination are pretty fantastic!

No Commander article would be complete without talking about colourless options. Mimic Vat is a great one, even though you might not get incredible value at first. Once we get any creature with an enter the battlefield ability under it, we’ve got value for our mana before our turn begins.

I should point out the specific wording of Mimic Vat when it says “beginning of the NEXT end step.” This means that if we activate it during the prior opponent’s end step, we have the token for our upkeep, and all the way to our end step. This is useful if we can sneak in an attack or two. Finally, Quicksilver Amulet is a great way for us to use up mana during an end step. If all of our creatures effectively have flash, we’re guaranteed to have something to do each turn.

It might even be worth looking at your deck as a Blue mage to see if your spells line up well. If all of your counters cost two, but none of your draw spells do, maybe that’s worth reconsidering.

Hope this helps boost your decks utility, and gets you to play more Magic! Let me know your favourite uses of extra mana in the comments below, and remember to check out the Commander’s Brew YouTube channel for more interesting discussions on Commander!