Commander: Talrand, Sky Summoner Breakdown

Phil breaks down one of his current EDH favorites: Talrand, Sky Summoner. Let him show you how to be terrible to your friends.

Hello everyone. I’m going to get away from the straight-up satire this time, but don’t worry. There will still be jokes.

Commander is my favorite format, because it’s mostly casual, but you can still do fun, broken things. Today we’re going to look at one of my favorite commanders: Talrand, Sky Summoner. Clearly, with Talrand you want to run a bunch of Instants and sorceries to take advantage of his ability first and foremost. So keeping that in mind, most builds focus on control, with my build being no different. I’ve elected to go whole hog, and run zero creatures in the 99. Here’s my list.

Come Mr. Tallyrand, Tally me Drake-nana

Commander (1)
Talrand, Sky Summoner

Instants (30)
Swan Song
Brainstorm
Mental Misstep
Blustersquall
Stifle
Rapid Hybridization
Disdainful Stroke
Counterspell
Cyclonic Rift
Into the Roil
Think Twice
Turn to Frog
Essence Scatter
Negate
Scatter to the Winds
Capsize
Dissipate
Supreme Will
Void Shatter
Mana Short
Engulf the Shore
Insidious Will
Summary Dismissal
Commit//Memory
Evacuation
Gather Specimens
Condescend
Stroke of Genius
Blue Sun's Zenith
Dominate

Sorceries (11)
Gitaxian Probe
Ponder
Sleight of Hand
Preordain
Serum Visions
Call to Mind
Deep Analysis
Treasure Cruise
Expropriate
Fascination
Curse of the Swine
Artifacts (12)
Everflowing Chalice
Sol Ring
Mind Stone
Isochron Scepter
Brain in a Jar
Sun Droplet
Mirage Mirror
Vedalken Shackles
Worn Powerstone
Hedron Archive
Helm of Possession
Dreamstone Hedron

Enchantments (7)
Mystic Remora
Imprisoned in the Moon
As Foretold
Trail of Evidence
Steal Artifact
Confiscate
Lay Claim

Lands (39)
Ghost Quarter
Thespian's Stage
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Remote Isle
Desert of the Mindful
Lonely Sandbar
Reliquary Tower
Temple of the False God
30 Island

Let’s talk about some of the key cards.

Counterspells

There are plenty of options available for blue mages looking to counter their opponents things, far too many to list. But, a few in particular have stood out to me like Mental Misstep. While Misstep is restrictive on what it can hit,  it does some real work, stopping things like Sol Ring. Summary Dismissal is great at “countering” uncounterable shenanigans. Finally, there’s the OG, Counterspell itself. I’d usually recommend against the “soft counters” like Mana Leak and Daze, though. In my experience, any good they may do early on is not worth it later on as a dead card.

Bounce and Draw

I’ve always been a fan of a few bounce spells, these are good to deal with problematic stuff that actually does hit the field. I’ve been leaning more towards mass bounce like Cyclonic Rift or Evacuation, opposed to the ones that target. Into the Roil comes with a cantrip attached, so I’m keeping it in. Speaking of cantrips, almost all of the best draw spells are legal in Commander. (sorry, Ancestral Recall) However, the one I’ll mention specifically is Brainstorm —it’s a difficult card to play with, and really only shines if you have several ways to shuffle. It’s in my build, but it’s on the bubble, as I’m personally too poor to afford fetches, so keep that in mind if you’re on the fence about it. (too poor until my sweet MTG.one writing checks start coming in…the boss keeps telling me to talk to HR…) The X draw spells are nice too when we just need to gas up again.

Stealing, Dealing & Being Terrible

Cards that steal your opponent’s stuff are fun, except when used against you. I run a few, because I am a terrible person. (Read: The Worst Introduction to Commander Ever) But, if you want to be nice, you could probably find more counters and cantrips. Regarding the Mana Short— did I mention I’m a terrible person? Rapid Hybridization and Curse of the Swine are there for just dealing with creatures in a more…shall we say, permanent manner. This is pretty much the best blue can offer. Just make sure you can deal with the remaining tokens because nothing is worse than dying to Boars you gave someone. (Alright, maybe Jeremy’s UB Mill is worse.) Rounding things off, we have Expropriate. I love this card. If I wasn’t already married, I would propose to Expropriate. I’d say, “Expropriate, if loving a trading card is wrong, then I don’t ever wanna be right!”. Usually, it nets you two or three extraa consecutive turns, but sometimes you get to take their stuff too. I’ve done a lot more regrettable things for nine mana.

Artifacts

Control decks need mana. Mana Rocks help. I particularly enjoy Mind Stone, Hedron Archive, and Dreamstone Hedron. They ramp early, and can be cashed in later for real cards. Isochron Scepter on the other hand, is a little less under the radar. If you put a counter or bounce spell on the Scepter, you’ll either be in good shape —or get ganged up on. It’s usually one or the other. Vedalken Shackles, Helm of Possession are also very helpful in the “be a terrible person” gameplan with their repeatable theft effects. It’s a recurring theme here.

More Artifacts

Brain in a Jar is another personal favorite. Turning cards into instant speed one-drops is a very powerful effect, and when we need to step down the ladder a bit we can use Brain in a Jar to set up our next few draws. Sun Droplet is just here for some incremental life gain. We do need to stay alive sometimes. (But how do you kill that which has no life?) Rounding off our artifacts, we have Mirage Mirror, which is another ridiculous EDH card. Repeatable copy effects are awesome.

Enchantments

The best part of As Foretold this is the phrase “or less.” And “for 0.” And “each turn.” There are actually three best parts. Trail of Evidence and Mystic Remora are great because they let us draw cards! Card draw is awesome. Play more card draw. An extra card drawn a day keeps the doctor away. Imprisoned in the Moon gives us another way to permanently deal with a permanent threat. Permanently. Steal Artifact is another steal effect, which we’ve previously established as being awesome.

Lands

The best part of being a mono-colored deck is it opens access to utility lands that can be run with little negative effect on the manabase. Here’s the ones I pair with Talrand: Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic Expanse not only offer marginal thinning (on the cheap!), but the shuffle effect pairs well with Brainstorm. Plus, I’m too poor for fetches. Rileyquary Tower is great because you want to draw lots of cards, but you want to keep them, not just discard them end of turn. Which brings us to Lonely Sandbar, Remote Isle, and Desert of the Mindful – drawing cards on a land? Best of both worlds!

(un)Fun Lands

Ghost Quarter answers problematic threats like Maze of Ith, Cavern of Souls, and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. Thespian’s Stage is here because sometimes, you don’t want to destroy problematic lands. You want your own problematic lands. Finally, we have Temple of the False God. If it’s one of your first four lands, it stinks. But past five, it pays dividends, and you could say it makes it rain.

The important thing to remember with a deck like this, and in fact any control deck in Commander, is to try not to make enemies early. If someone jumps out of the gate and targets you, you’ll have a tough time defending yourself. So don’t fire off all your counters at the first available target. Sometimes it’s best to hold onto an answer, and wait for something that has a negative effect on everyone else. Then, by stopping it, you can score some good karma with other players. You want to act as the “fairness” police, at least until you can totally take control and start instituting your own version of fairness.

Usually we win the game by either making loads of Drakes and beating everyone down, or stealing a huge threat and…beating everyone down. I considered adding in some of the traditional blue finisher creatures, like Consecrated Sphinx or Stormtide Levithian, but decided to go the all spells route, as we don’t want any flavor violations.

This deck isn’t exactly fine tuned by any means., and I’d like to get some fancier stuff for it, like real fetches, Wasteland, Strip Mine, and the really good counters (Force of Will, Cryptic Command, Mana Drain), but I haven’t been able to trick anyone into accepting any amount of “dollhairs” for those particular cards yet. More trade sharking will have to be done at FNM still. But If this deck looks like something you’d like to try, and you can afford it, these are definitely great additions.

I hope you enjoyed the summary of my Talrand deck. I plan on writing some more non-satire articles in the future likely about Commander. I might just stick with being a smart ass though. Thanks for reading, and may your Drakes fly high to victory. (Not the rapper Drake, not him.)

[If you want to help Phil afford real cards so he doesn’t have to justify playing Terramorphic Expanse, keep an eye on our Patreon page for details on how you can support MTG.one soon. Follow us on Twitter @mtgdotone, and for something a little different, check us out on Pinterest.]

Phil Feichtner

Phil plays Magic and has four kids. These often conflict. When they’re not conflicting, he’s the resident comedian here at MTG.one.

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