Brew For Your Buck - Budget Mono Blue Reanimator

Baral, Chief of Compliance | Art by Wesley Burt

Back from the Brink (But Not Actually)

Hello, fellow brewer, and welcome back to Brew For Your Buck, where we swap out the top 10 most expensive cards in a deck with 10 budget cards that add a unique twist. The idea for this article was inspired by a new card from Murders at Karlov Manor (MKM): Reenact the Crime. It's a restrictive cost, but for only four mana we can copy anything that just so happens to hit our graveyard, and at instant speed. You can do all sorts of goofy stuff with this, but my black-mana-filled mind just went straight to reanimator. Any Reanimator plan, from Limited to Commander, needs to follow the classic reanimation equation:

Method + Target + Reanimate = fun!

We'll add targets and Reanimates as part of our budget package, but our commander will be the "method", and one that is likely to elicit a groan from our opponents:

Baral is notorious for being infuriating to play against. The typical play pattern is to leave mana up to counter everything your opponents try to do, becoming the fun police and saying "I'll allow it" way more often than is socially acceptable. We're going to take the deck in a different (and way more fun) direction, because Baral is a pretty strong reanimator commander. To start, he's a discard outlet from the command zone, so we'll still have to counter a few spells, but that will let us put our reanimation targets in the bin. He also reduces the cost of our pretty expensive reanimation spells, so we can actually end the game instead of just being the only one to get to have fun. So let's take a look at his $306.96 average list and see what we can remove to make way for our budget package:


            1. Mana Drain ($49.78)
            2. Fierce Guardianship ($39.65)
            3. Rhystic Study ($39.11)
            4. Cyclonic Rift ($30.06)
            5. Thassa's Oracle ($14.37)
            6. Isochron Scepter ($13.87)
            7. Sapphire Medallion ($10.75)
            8. Swan Song ($9.29)
            9. Mystical Tutor ($6.42)
            10. Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant ($5.91)

Total Value of Cuts: $219.21

A pretty typical list of blue staples is coming out of the deck, including one really good reanimation target (Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant). Don't worry, we'll replace him with something just as juicy and even throw in another free counterspell to boot. Only Otawara, Soaring City makes the list for expensive lands. Replacing it with an Island means we save another $22.01, for a total of $241.22.


Budget Additions


We already discussed Reenact the Crime ($1.60). Pitching a target to Baral after a counter makes this a three mana Zombify on that turn so you can untap with something huge. Another "reanimation" spell we have is Hour of Eternity ($0.09) whose cost is not only reduced by Baral and our other cost reducers, but can put multiple targets onto the battlefield as 4/4 Zombies. Finally, we can thank Nicol Bolas for sharing God-Pharaoh's Gift ($0.37) with us, not only as a reanimation piece but also as a target (more on that in a bit).


Before we get to more additions, I need to mention Guile. It's already in the deck, and normally makes for a poor reanimation target due to its last ability. But with Reenact the Crime, you can respond with that shuffle trigger on the stack, creating a token copy of it and thereby turning your counterspells up to eleven.

Our first new target has to be Scholar of the Lost Trove ($0.19). Not only can it get back a powerful spell like Solve the Equation or Windfall, it can also bring back God-Pharaoh's Gift (which in turn brings back more stuff) or our next new target, Phyrexian Triniform ($0.64). Triniform can leave behind tokens once it dies, and you can even Encore it out of the 'yard if you don't have a reanimation spell handy.

Diluvian Primordial ($0.31) is a classic; a big, blue creature designed specifically for Commander. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, but do add it to your deck. Finally, Conspiracy Unraveler ($1.58) is another MKM card seems like an awesome fit here. We're dumping so many cards into the graveyard (some of them with big mana values) that we can suddenly start casting our spells for free thanks to its ability.

Counters Copies

It's pretty obvious that Baral decks operate on a critical mass of counterspells, but we're only playing that game when we need to, so we'll replace the ones we pulled out at the start with ways to copy our targets once they've hit the battlefield. The best of these is Quasiduplicate ($0.42), which we can not only use to copy one of our targets, but get another into the bin thanks to the Jump-start mechanic. Cackling Counterpart ($1.35) is another great addition, since we can discard it to Baral before we have something to copy, then cast it from the graveyard with Flashback! Newly-printed See Double ($1.01) let's us copy our opponents' creatures in addition to our own, and maybe even copy a spell on top of it if someone's got a large enough graveyard. The best part about all three of these spells is that their costs get reduced by Baral as well, really amping them up when paired with our big targets.


Wrap Up & Savings

Let's see what we saved:

Out  Price  In  Price 
Mana Drain  $ 49.78 Reenact the Crime  $ 1.60
Fierce Guardianship  $ 39.65 Hour of Eternity  $ 0.09
Rhystic Study  $ 39.11 God-Pharaoh's Gift  $ 0.37
Cyclonic Rift  $ 30.06 Scholar of the Lost Trove  $ 0.19
Thassa's Oracle  $ 14.37 Phyrexian Triniform  $ 0.64
Isochron Scepter  $ 13.87 Diluvian Primordial  $ 0.31
Sapphire Medallion  $ 10.75 Conspiracy Unraveler  $ 1.58
Swan Song  $ 9.29 Quasiduplicate  $ 0.42
Mystical Tutor  $ 6.42 Cackling Counterpart  $ 1.35
Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant  $ 5.91 See Double  $ 1.01
Total  $ 219.21 Total  $ 7.56
Total (Lands)  $ 22.01
Original Deck Price  $ 306.96
    New Price  $ 73.30
    Total Savings  $ 233.66
    Savings 76%


Another huge chunk of savings. It's really amazing how top heavy some of these lists are when it come to price density. Just look at those first four cards! On top of the savings, we now have a deck that can close out the game in a hurry, putting huge creatures onto the battlefield (most with flying) and copying them to swing for the win! For example, use Reenact the Crime to target Scholar of the Lost Trove, use Scholar's triggered ability to cast the Quasiduplicate you binned. Use that to copy Scholar again, which then casts the God-Pharaoh's Gift in your graveyard. Go to combat, and the Gift brings back something else! What a line!

Anyways, there are a bunch more honorable mentions for reanimation targets. Believe it or not, blue has access to some really scary creatures! Sadly, this includes Baral, so if you feel like you don't want to draw the hate that he might typically get, you could try replacing more of the counters with phasing effects, since most of the things we "reanimate" will actually be tokens. If that's still drawing a lot of flak, I suppose you could also try this package in a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy shell as well.

What do you think? Did I miss any mono-blue reanimates? Would you have chosen different monsters to bring back? Am I a monster for brewing a Baral deck? Let me know in the comments and I'll see you next time when we brew for your buck!

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Please note: card prices listed in this article are accurate at the time of writing, but prices can vary over time and between locations.

Brian played Magic intermittently between 2003 and 2017 when he fully embraced his love for Commander. Finding ways to maximize the value of each piece of cardboard in the deck is one of his favorite things to explore, especially if it involves putting lands in the graveyard! Outside of Magic, Brian works as a consultant in the marine industry, turning his passion for boats and ships into a career.

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