A personal restriction I imposed on myself when drafting up this list was to use only common cards. By doing so, I am able to keep the cost down and play under any banned list. I personally play by the Duel Commander ruleset for 1v1 games and recommend new 1v1 players to check it out.
So why Talrand?
Talrand at a glance is extremely simple and straightforward. He is mono colored, his CMC isn't too high on the curve, and his ability is easy to trigger. Talrand also transitions quite nicely into multiplayer games. These attributes make Talrand not only powerful, but also appealing.
Why wouldn't I like Talrand?
Talrand is just another take on aggro-control. The very nature of the deck can be a huge turn off for players. Once you get going it is more or less irrelevant what your opponent is doing. Until Talrand resolves, you will be playing the epitome of draw, go.
Ok, so how does it all work?
You draw cards. Drakes are generated. Beat your opponents face in. That is the short version.
Winning with Talrand is dependant on making drakes. Blue has access to a plethora of inexpensive cantrips and draw spells that allow you to create drake after drake. We also have plenty of cheap counterspells and bounce effects that allow us to create a board state and tempo that favor us throughout the game.
How about a sample deck list?
The sample list was constructed using only common cards that are legal under 1v1 Duel Commander rules. This is just a restriction I imposed on myself while drafting the deck.
Some card inclusions are questionable. Care to explain?
The creature package is a mix of recursion, card filtering, and creature bounce.
Merfolk Looter and Thought Courier can be played early enough and smooth out bad draws if necessary. Late game they are still relevant and their ability to filter cards can be a boon when you need to draw an actual draw spell.
I chose to play only three artifacts. Talrand doesn't really relie on too much support outside of blue magic.
Lotus Petal can enable a turn three Talrand or help you put the tempo in your favor with an early game Gigadrowse. Having a bit of extra mana is always useful.
Tormod's Crypt is straight up utility. Decks these days don't run a lot of graveyard shenanigans with all the hate around, but most decks do pick into their grave once in a while. I believe some form of graveyard removal or deniel is necessary in any deck.
Sunken City goes way back. If you have the mana available you can sustain the card for the whole game. You can also play it as a one time boost for an alpha or tempo swing.
Volrath's Curse is a great way to shutdown pesky creatures until you can find a better answer to them. The ability to return it to your hand when another threat presents itself is invaluable.
The inclusion of most instants and sorceries are self explanatory. A few stand out on their own.
Abjure flourishes in this deck. With any sacrificial blue permanent in play, usually a drake, you have a 1CMC hard counter. Not only that but you generate a drake to take the place of the one that was probably sacrificed! The mana cost also allows you to tap heavy and keep counter magic up.
Catalog isn't that impressive at a glance. The fact that you can play at instant speed and generate a drake is where it derives it's power.
Disrupt is admittedly situational. However, like other cards, Disrupt gets a boost from generating a drake. For 1CMC you have a soft counter that makes a drake and draws a card.
Frantic Search similar to Catalog, draws power from instant speed card filtering, drake generation, and untapping up to three lands. This combination is deadly no matter whose turn it is.
High Tide is exceptional. For a U you double your mana production and possibly generate a drake. This allows for some very explosive plays if your top deck treats you right. This is another card that makes a turn three Talrand possible.
Piracy Charm is just super flexible. Islandwalk will probably be irrelevant. The +2/-1 ability is amazing in this format of X/1 utility creatures as well as killing of certain generals such as Animar, Soul of Elements. You're drakes can also take advantage of the pump. Instant speed discard, while not at random, is also useful for gaining card advantage.
Prohibit falls somewhere between hard and soft counter. In a 1v1 setting, most decks have a lower curve. This allows Prohibit to stay relevant throughout the game.
Spy Network, while it doesn't draw you a card, it gives you access to valuable information. Resolving this early enough will let you know how a game is going to pan out. Late game it can reveal an opportunity to win.
Dream Cache functions similar to Brainstorm for two more mana. However, you are able to put two cards on the top or the bottom of your library. This small detail can make the difference in a big way.
Portent acts as your third Ponder in function, with two clauses that make it unique in it's own way. First you can look at your opponent's cards if you wish and shuffle their deck. Second, regardless of whose deck you manipulate, an extra card is drawn on the next upkeep.
The land base for this deck is simple and embodies the straightforward nature of the deck.
Saprazzan Skerry suffers from entering tapped, but provides one extra mana when activated. This lets Talrand see play a turn earlier and provides extra gas when you start casting spells. Sacrficing it is a small drawback, but a drawback nonetheless.
How much would a deck like this cost?
This deck would cost approximately $33.00. I came to this value by taking the medium cost of each card, rounding each amount to the nearest tenth and then adding those numbers together. This includes the price of basic lands.
Let's say I had more money to spend. What are some cards would you recommend?
Can this deck compete?
Yes! No matter your budget, this deck can hang with the best of them. Blue's power level is on another plane when it comes to budget building.
Anything else I should know?
Success with Talrand does rely luck and chance more so than other decks. Whether or not you can consistently draw cards and produce drake tokens will decide the fate of game. In this format, your deck will betray you. Grit your teeth and shuffle up.
1v1 Commander is a fickle game. Decks are becoming very fast and by proxy games are ending fast. The environment is generally more competetive and cutthroat so keep that in mind when you take a loss.
Avoid contentment. In Magic, Christmas comes four times a year. New cards will be printed and some new cards will be better. Evolve with the environment or expect to be left behind.
Experiment. Talrand is extremely flexible. The path I have chosen with this deck will not suit every individual play style. Certain players will not derive any fun from this type of deck. This version is linear, there is one goal, and one way to victory.
Have you thought of adding in the counters that also make creatures? Here are 2-3 of them and it seems like triple dipping. Also frantic search and rewind are good and cheap. Hiigh tide could help you cast multiple cards in 1 turn.
I would also recommend a set of artifact mana accellerators to get him into play sooner. Sky diamond, mind stone, prismatic lens, fellwar stone and if it is in the budget, sol ring.
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