Nearly Identical - Adeliz or Balmor?

Archmage Emeritus, a man with blond hair, blue runes over his skin and blue robes. He holds a staff in front of a castle.
(Archmage Emeritus | Art by Caio Montero)

Casting Spells and Taking Names

Hello! Welcome back to Nearly Identical, a series where I take a look at two commanders with similar designs and archetypes, find out what separates them, and help you find your next commander! Today, we're looking at two Izzet commanders that pump up our creatures each time we cast an instant or sorcery: Adeliz, the Cinder Wind and Balmor, Battlemage Captain.

Izzet is the best color combination for spellslinger nonsense, and these two commanders give us a simple-yet-powerful payoff for each spell we cast. Each instant or sorcery we cast gives our team a temporary buff that can turn smaller creatures into lethal threats. Adeliz specifically cares about pumping Wizards, while Balmor can pump any creature we control and give them trample.

Based on data provided by MtGDS, Adeliz and Balmor have a similarity coefficient of 87%, meaning that there's an 87% chance that a card found in an Adeliz deck is also found in a Balmor deck. At first, I was curious why this percentage is so high given that Adeliz only cares about Wizards. Since Balmor isn't restricted by a creature type, wouldn't these two be more disparate? Well, to the surprise of no one, the best creatures in a spellslinger theme are Wizards!

Archmage Emeritus is possibly one of the best options for card draw in a spellslinger deck. Turning each spell you cast into a cantrip is an incredible value. Talrand, Sky Summoner provides us 2/2 fliers for every spell we cast, which can be important in a deck that's often light on creatures. Wizards of Thay is both a cost-reducer and a way to cast sorceries at flash speed. They're especially potent with these commanders. Once we've triggered their Myriad on attack, we'll be able to cast any spell in our hand for three less mana, triggering our commanders and pumping up our team at instant speed.

Between the best creature type for spellslinging and wanting to cast low-costing and efficient spells, it's easy to see how players would follow the same build path for Adeliz and Balmor. In order to make them more distinct from one another, I'll be honing in on Adeliz's Wizard theme and discussing synergies that only benefit Wizards. For Balmor, I'll want to fill the board with as many tokens as possible.

Certified Spellslinger

Let's see what Wizards we're adding to Adeliz!

Kaza, Roil Chaser will reduce the cost of the next spell we cast equal to the number of Wizards we control. Our mana curve in the deck is actually pretty low, with most of our spells being in the two to three-mana range, so we don't need many Wizards out to have Kaza reduce our spells to just one mana. With Adeliz pumping up all our Wizards, Aegar, the Freezing Flame becomes a great source of card draw. Once our opponents block our massive Wizards with their clump blockers, we'll draw a card for each one that was dealt excess damage.

In this aggro deck that cares about spellslinging, the best keyword to have on a creature is Prowess. Goblin Wizardry will create two Goblin Wizards with Prowess, so with our commander out, these Goblins will get +2/+2 each time we cast a spell. Now that we have an idea of the creatures we want, what type of spells do we want to cast?

One-mana draw spells are the best and most efficient sources of card advantage. Opt, Brainstorm, Preordain are often our go-to's, but what about Of One Mind? Over half of the Wizards we have in the deck are non-Human (not including Goblin Wizardry. And with the cost-reducers we have in this deck, we should never need to cast it for more than one blue.

Irenicus's Vile Duplication asks the question, is your deck better if you had a second copy of your commander? Yes, it probably is. Having two Adeliz means you're giving all your creatures +2/+2 for each spell. Pair these with any Wizard with Prowess and your opponents won't know how to keep up. And speaking of keeping up, once you've emptied your hand of all the spells you can cast, you can just do it again with Past in Flames. You can recast all your spells for their Flashback cost, which can lead to one explosive, game-ending, turn. But how else do we want to win?

Volcanic Torrent might not seem like a win-con, but when you consider the number of spells we want to cast every turn, we can easily deal five to six damage to each creature. Even just four damage would hopefully sweep away most of our opponents' creatures, and Volcanic Torrent will deal two damage just on its own. And once we've cleared the board, all your massive Wizards will be free to attack. Cosmotronic Wave offers a similar a effect. While it won't sweep the board (unless you're against an army of 1/1s), it will offer you one free attack. And better yet, we have two copies of it in the deck! Hazardous Blast is a functionally identical reprint of Cosmotronic Wave: Giving us access to two cards with this effect means we're likely to draw into at least one of them.

Since our commander doesn't give our team trample like Balmor, having ways to make our creatures deal damage to our opponents is important. That's why I'm also including Crash Through. It's a simple one-mana effect that'll also draw us a card. It triggers Adeliz, and will probably end up being the way we win most games.

Now let's take a look at the deck!

Adeliz, the Blaze

View on Archidekt

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer


How do we plan to go wide in a spellslinger deck?

Third Path Iconoclast is a cheap two-mana token producer like Young Pyromancer, but will actually make a token for each noncreature spell we cast. This will churn out tokens for our artifacts and enchantments as well, making it perpetually relevant in games.

We've now reached a point where "Whenever you cast a noncreature spell" is the new norm for token-producers. Manaform Hellkite gives us an X/X Dragon that can swing on the turn we make it, but it'll go away at our next end step. Ovika, Enigma Goliath is the latest token maker of this kind, and they are powerful and expensive. Ovika makes a number of Goblin tokens equal to the mana value of the spell we cast. On top of them getting haste, we can fill the board and give them trample with Balmor to create a fast and lethal board. But, we also have some other ways to deal damage to our opponents.

Guttersnipe, Firebrand Archer, and Kessig Flamebreather, all effectively do the same thing. Whenever we cast a spell, we deal damage to each of our opponents. While getting in for combat damage is the main strategy of the deck, it only takes one or two board wipes to set us back. That's why having burn effects that can reduce our opponents' life totals can help put them in range for one good attack which we can dump all our spells into.

Once we've got our board set up, how do we win?

Balmor's ability to give our creatures trample turns every spell we cast into a mini Overrun, but what if we could just cast our own version of Overrun instead? Candlekeep Inspiration is a true game-ender in our deck. Over the course of the game, we'll fill up our graveyard with instants and sorceries. Our exile pile might become decently large if we Flashback any of those spells or if we get hit with a Bojuka Bog. Either way, Candlekeep Inspiration will see both piles and turn all our creatures into X/X monsters. Who even needs Craterhoof Behemoth?

Balmor plus Surge to Victory could possibly be one of the coolest wincons in the deck. The fact that Balmor gives you creatures trample means you'll be able to cast multiple copies of any spell in your graveyard. Even just exiling a Lightning Bolt could be enough to win a game. And both are incredible with Wizards of Thay out.

Dynacharge is an inexpensive Overrun that adds a bit more punch to our strategy. Three mana to give our creatures +3/+0 and trample with Balmor out is honestly a good rate. I think the real kicker is casting this at instant speed. We actually have another version of this with Pack Attack which is also a cantrip. Dynacharge offers more flexibility because you're not restricted to the number of opponents you attack.

Let's check out the list!

Balmor, Captain of Tokens

View on Archidekt

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Fast as a Lightning Bolt

Balmor, Battlemage Captain charges ahead with 1,600 decks. A small number compared to the lead Izzet commander Niv-Mizzet, Parun with 9,000 decks, but Balmor did come out in Dominaria United, which is still a pretty recent set. So, I'd say Balmor is fairly popular. Adeliz, the Cinder Wind, however, only has 1,000 decks, and she was printed back in 2018 in Dominaira (before they united, I guess).

When I started playing around Throne of Eldraine, I had known Adeliz to be a solid budget commander for spellslinger decks given that all you needed were cheap spells and cheap Wizards. It didn't take much to make her strong, so maybe back then my perception of her was that she was more popular. Nowadays, a commander getting 1,000 decks isn't hard, so I think players have simply found newly-printed commanders that grab their interest. I'd even say Balmor is a strict upgrade since he gives your team trample and isn't restricted to certain creature types. Neither is complex, but honestly, with the increasing number of new commanders with paragraphs of text, sometimes a commander with a single line of text is nice to see.

Let me know what you think of these commanders. Do you prefer your spellslinging alongside other Wizards? Or with Birds big enough to trample over your opponents? Let me know in the comments below, and I'll see you next time!

Josh is a creative writer that started playing Magic when Throne of Eldraine was released. He loves entering combat and pressuring life totals, and to him, commander damage is always relevant. Outside of brewing many commander decks, he can be found prepping his D&D campaigns with a cat purring in his lap.

EDHREC Code of Conduct

Your opinions are welcome. We love hearing what you think about Magic! We ask that you are always respectful when commenting. Please keep in mind how your comments could be interpreted by others. Personal attacks on our writers or other commenters will not be tolerated. Your comments may be removed if your language could be interpreted as aggressive or disrespectful. You may also be banned from writing further comments.