7 Best Budget Blue Rares (Under $3) for Commander

Looking for the best budget blue cards for any Commander deck?

7 Best Budget Blue Rares (Under $3) for Commander

Your fingers are getting sore – after digging through the bargain bins at several local game stores and still haven’t found anything that is both cheap and impactful in Commander. With tens of thousands of cards available, it certainly is hard to find that elusive pearl. Tap & Sac is taking the pain away, with this new series of top budget cards for Commander, broken down by colour. 

We chose to limit our “best of” list to Rare and Mythic Rare cards, because naturally Commons and Uncommons are mostly less than a $1 and are already considered budget. The greatest satisfaction comes when you find a Rare that should be of higher value but for whatever reason has been suppressed, despite it being more than playable in a multiplayer format like Commander

This list also tries to avoid cards that fall into a specific theme or tribe, and rather have high utility in any kind of white Commander deck. We’re hoping that some of these cards will surprise you:

1. Midnight Clock

Cheapest price: US$0.60 (Jan 2022)

When this card was released in the high-powered Throne of Eldraine set, Midnight Clock saw some sporadic use in certain Artifact-focused decks, but it mostly felt slow and clunky because it took a long time to hit 12 counters in a 2-player game.

There really isn’t such a problem in Commander, as a 4-player table would mean your clock will have 4 counters on your next turn. In 3 turn cycles, you’ll be shuffling everything into a new Library, and redrawing a fresh hand of 7 cards! Those 3 turns should give you ample time to dump your cards from your hand, and even if you’re stuck with 2-3 cards when Midnight Clock triggers, it’s still a really good net positive value.

Many players also overlook that the clock is also a Mana rock by itself, tapping for blue Mana. It doesn’t come in tapped, so apart from ramping up your Mana base, you’re also opening up options to cast another counter spell to disrupt your opponent (Miscast or Spell Pierce anyone). For mono-blue or dual colour decks, Midnight Clock is a great all-round budget card to add into any kind of theme or archetype.

2. Thieving Skydiver

Cheapest price: US$2.50 (Jan 2022)

In Commander, Mana rocks like Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, and the various Talismans are almost a given in every deck, and that makes Thieving Skydiver all the more devastating because it can steal those Artifacts for yourself. Unfortunately, the Kicker cost cannot be 0, hence Mana Crypt is out of the question, but almost everything else is fair game.

Say an opponent has cast Sol Ring on turn 1 or 2. With the Kicker cost of 1, you can cast Thieving Skydiver for just 3 Mana, getting a 2/1 Flyer plus a free Mana rock while slowing down one opponent. Withholding 2 Mana each turn seriously hampers a player from executing their game plan.

You can also use Thieving Skydiver as a valuable removal spell for opponents’ key Artifacts. Key utility Artifacts like Stronic Resonator, and other Equipment pieces such as Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots, can easily be stolen for a small cost, no more than a Reclamation Sage or Return to Nature. By taking from the opponent and adding their own weapon for your arsenal, Thieving Skydiver is one heck of a powerful budget card.

3. Imprisoned in the Moon

Cheapest price: US$1 (Jan 2022)

In Commander games, it’s really hard to nullify a Commander because no matter if you Destroy, Exile, or shuffle it back into the Library, the owner can always elect to return it to the Command Zone, enabling it to be recast again. There’s another way to lock down a general, and that’s by Imprisoned in the Moon.

Imprisoned in the Moon puts an iron-grip stranglehold on a Commander because once it’s enchanted, it has become a Land and has lost all its other abilities. As a Land, an opponent can’t even use the Commander as a sacrificial blocker in combat, and any other abilities are also gone, meaning no value can be gained from it.

There are a few ways to break out of that prison, but it would involve Land destruction, Enchantment removal, or perhaps a bounce spell like Into the Roil or Unsummon to give the Commander some respite. Because this is so hard to get rid off, we consider it premium (yet budget) must-have in any blue deck.

4. Cavalier of Gales

Cheapest price: US$3 (Jan 2022)

The cycle of 5 Cavaliers from M20 saw some use in Standard, but never found a foothold in the bigger world of Commander. Prices dropped, and thankfully they’ve now become budget cards that hold incredible value in any game. One of the more powerful Cavaliers is Cavalier of Gales.

You get a 5/5 Flyer with an in-built Brainstorm for just 5 Mana. Even if it dies, you get to Scry 2, which gives you yet another chance to rearrange your draws to fit into your current situation. Cavalier of Gales can certainly slot into any deck as a sturdy blocker or an evasive attacker that provides value whenever it enters the Battlefield or dies.

5. Nimble Obstructionist

Cheapest price: US$0.50 (Jan 2022)

Talking about Creatures will innate value, Nimble Obstructionist falls into this dual category of being a usable Creature with a very special ability – one that can even prevent a game loss. If an opponent activates an Aetherflux Reservoir or triggers a Thassa’s Oracle (both very popular ways of winning in Commander), Nimble Obstructionist can completely turn the tables around, countering their win and likely making them lose as well.

The best aspect about Nimble Obstructionist is that its Cycling ability can’t be countered by traditional spells like Arcane Denial and Negate, because it is technically a triggered ability and not a spell. An opponent would need a very specific spell such as Disallow or Overcharged Amalgam. And apart from countering a potentially game-winning ability, you still get to draw a card as you Cycle.

Although Nimble Obstructionist can’t counter actual spells (e.g. Creature, Enchantment etc.), you can use it as a fallback 3/1 Flying Creature for 3 Mana if there aren’t any worthwhile abilities to use it on. Disallow might be a better counter spell overall, but it can’t come in as a Creature, plus it’s easily US$5-10, taking it way over budget for our purposes.

6. Monastery Siege

Cheapest price: US$0.50 (Jan 2022)

Blue has a ton of Enchantments, some for very specific uses, like Teferi’s Ageless Insight and Jace’s Sanctum that provide great value if your deck specifically draws lots of cards or uses a flood of Instants and Sorceries. Well, with Monastery Siege, the dual option makes it a perfect budget filler for just about any Blue deck.

If you choose Khans, you get a guaranteed loot effect every turn, essentially drawing 2 cards and discarding 1. This allows you to sift through your deck at double speed, and when there’s a tight situation you need to get out of, Monastery Siege can help you do that.

The other option, Dragons, is just an all-around good tempo setter for all your opponents. It doesn’t completely protect you and your stuff, but that 2 Mana tax is an amazing deterrent, and ultimately will make your other opponents’ Permanent look more appetising than yours. It’s not just for control and tax-themed decks, but any blue player knows that the colour is one of the slowest, and any trick that allows catching up is most welcome.

7. Archmage Emeritus

Cheapest price: US$2 (Jan 2022)

Our last card is a recent one but it’s not the worst, by far. Archmage Emeritus actually brings back memories of Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain, just that Archmage works for Instants and Sorceries. It’s not a Legendary, so it can’t be used as your Commander, but it’s a great budget addition for any blue deck because in blue you’re almost guaranteed to be using lots of Instants (counter spells, come on) and Sorceries.

The “copy” aspect of Magecraft will likely not apply as much, but drawing cards is very important in any game of Magic. With Archmage Emeritus, you can easily get into a flow of casting Unsummon, draw a card, cast Sinister Sabotage, draw a card, Cyclonic Rift, draw a card, and so on.

Four Mana is just right for a card like Archmage, though its weakness would be that its a rather fragile Creature so opponents will quickly target it if possible. Its card draw ability isn’t as damaging as the staple Rhystic Study, but it’s also only about 5% of its market value.

End Step

Were you surprised by any inclusions? It might be a good time to start picking up some of these gems for your next Commander deck. If there are any hidden pots of gold out there that fulfil the criteria (cheaper than US$3 and is a Rare or Mythic) that we missed out, please let us know too at lets@tapandsac.com!

Tap & Sac began as a dream – to see more people play Magic. We love this social and complex game, and one of our missions is to broaden accessibility and inclusiveness. Everyone can have fun in the Gathering.

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