Last updated on September 28, 2023

Talrand, Sky Summoner - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Talrand, Sky Summoner | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Talrand, Sky Summoner is a card that’s constantly reprinted in Commander products to the point that it’s become a very cheap rare. Nearly every Izzet () deck that has noncreature spell synergies has a Talrand at this point. And look, it’s not a bad card, and it can be a nice commander too. After all, getting 2/2 flying tokens all the time isn’t too shabby.

This commander used to be the #1 mono-blue commander in popularity based on the decklists posted online, and that’s because it’s an easy commander deck to build and fun to play. You can get a competitive build without spending much, and that’s what we’re aiming to bring today.

Let’s dive into a Talrand, Sky Summoner Spellslinger EDH deck that can be built on a budget. It’s a very interactive and fun deck to pilot, too!

Let’s go!

The Deck

Archmage Emeritus - Illustration by Caio Monteiro

Archmage Emeritus | Illustration by Caio Monteiro

The Commander

Talrand, Sky Summoner

Talrand, Sky Summoner is a commander in which you’ll either want to go all out on your turn and make a ton of Drakes or cast at a single, cheap sorcery spell on your turn and hold mana to play interaction on your opponent’s turns. Once you have enough Drakes, you’re somewhat protected from enemy attacks and can go on the offense from there. With Talrand on the battlefield, each counterspell you cast comes attached with a 2/2 flier. With many of the supporting cards in the deck, you can loot or even draw extra cards with each spell cast. What’s more, with enchantments like Favorable Winds, your army of 2/2 Drakes get bumped up to 3/3s. From there, you’ll be able to take down your foes quicker than you might expect.


The majority of your cards are instants, sorceries, and ways to ramp into playing your commander. That said, you’ll benefit from having some creatures around, especially those that care about instants and sorceries being cast.

Archmage Emeritus

Archmage Emeritus draws you many, many cards while you’re busy making Drakes. It’s a perfect companion to Talrand.

Baral, Chief of Compliance

Baral, Chief of Compliance makes your spells cheaper, and you get to loot each time you cast one.

Curious Homunculus

Curious Homunculus is a creature that adds mana to casts instants and sorceries. And if it transforms, you’ll get a nice threat that reduces the cost of your spells.

Silver Myr

Silver Myr is ramp in a color that doesn’t get access to a whole lot. It’s a blue mana dork!

Consecrated Sphinx

Consecrated Sphinx is a creature you’re comfortable spending 6 mana on, especially if you have counterspells to back it up. You can even draw the protection on your opponents’ turns.

Ledger Shredder

Multiformat staple Ledger Shredder grows up very quickly, not only due to your spells but also because of your opponents’ spells.

Alandra, Sky Dreamer

Alandra, Sky Dreamer is Talrand #2, in the sense that it can also make Drakes. This deck often draws two cards in a turn.

Hullbreaker Horror

Hullbreaker Horror is a beefy card that can be cast with flash, and it turns all your noncreature spells into bounce spells.

Cheap Spells

Here’s the main bulk of the deck. You want your instants and sorceries to be cheap in order to cast multiple per turn, and you want them to make up 35-40% of your deck. When every instant or sorcery you cast brings along a 2/2 flying Drake, even the most innocuous spells are strong. But fear not, MTG’s given us plenty of good spells to include in the deck.


Most of your instants and sorceries cost 1-2 mana. They’re needed to keep your commander alive and to Negate certain board wipes or things that affect the game in a way you don’t want.

Meddle is a nice spell to change the target of a removal spell that’s likely aimed at your commander to another target. You can mess with other people’s affairs too. In this vein, you also have Narset's Reversal.

Opt, Ponder, and Preordain give you card selection as cantrips, and they’re a vital tool in any spellslinger deck.

Remand and Arcane Denial are counterspells that draw you a card. Twice the fun!

Hands of Binding and Hidden Strings are cipher cards that are very interesting when you have evasive creatures that can produce more instances of the spell and more Drakes for you.


Pongify is a blue unconditional removal spell for a single mana.

Expensive Spells

At some point in the game, you’ll have excess mana and you’ll be able to fire these more often.

Cryptic Command

Cryptic Command is one of the signature blue spells, providing offense and defense in a single card.

Mystic Confluence is Mana Leak, Unsummon, and draw a card. It’s everything you want, and you get to choose how much of each mode.


Desertion is a counterspell that steals the countered permanent.

Ray of Command is an instant speed Act of Treason that can be brutal if your opponent doesn’t expect it. You can use their own creatures to block their other creatures in a given combat.

Spell Swindle

Spell Swindle counters a spell and gives you lots of Treasures.

Sublime Epiphany

Sublime Epiphany is the jack-of-all-trades. Try getting all 5 modes at once!

Support Cards

Besides your main plan, there are cards that help you with achieving your goals. You have to be extra careful when including cards that aren’t instants and sorceries, so here are a few cards that are worth including as support cards.

Torpor Orb

Torpor Orb is very strong in this deck because none of your creatures have ETB effects, and nowadays everyone (I mean, every creature) and their mothers have ETB effects.

Bident of Thassa

Bident of Thassa gives you more cards and more reasons to attack your opponents with Drake tokens, even if you lose some in the attack.

Heraldic Banner

Heraldic Banner gives your blue creatures +1/+0 and the ability to tap for mana. Your Drakes are so much more menacing as a 3/2.

Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms is a strong tribal support, and this is in many ways a drake-tribal deck. Each of your drakes gets a substantial amount of power and this card can win games.


Glamdring makes one of your creatures extra beefy, and if it hits you can cast an extra instant or sorcery (and make one more Drake).

The duo of Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots help Talrand survive a bit longer.

The Interaction

Here’s what your deck does best. Not only is it filled with counterspells, but every time you fire one off, you’ll get an extra 2/2 buddy. These should be used carefully to protect your commander and board from board wipes or to prevent something far worse from happening.

You have cheap interaction in the form of Negate, An Offer You Can't Refuse, Remand, and Arcane Denial. You also have more expensive and board-affecting cards like Sublime Epiphany and Cryptic Command.

The Sweepers

There are a few sweepers in mono-blue that you can play, like Cyclonic Rift and Aetherize. Filter Out is an interesting one because it keeps your commander and Drakes on the battlefield while messing with people’s Treasures, enchantments, and planeswalkers.

The Mana Base

This is the favorite part of the deck for players that like to play on a budget. You only need basic Islands to make this work. You’ll play some nonbasic utility lands, but 70+% of your lands are basics. You don’t even need to run dual lands or Command Tower. Some interesting cards are: Lonely Sandbar, which has the cycling ability; War Room, which allows you to pay 1 life to draw a card; and Coral Atoll, a blue bounce land.

The Strategy

You’ll want to cast your commander ideally on turn 3 with the help of a mana rock. Without your commander in play, you should only cast instants or sorceries when you absolutely must or to draw cards. Some players wait to cast Talrand with a mana to spare to represent a counterspell or a card like Opt to at least make a Drake if your commander dies. In formats like Commander 1v1 and Brawl, it’s an interesting strategy, but in a 4-player commander game, the risk of getting your commander preemptively removed is relatively lower.

The name of the game is to hold mana after you have your commander in play so you can counter cards that aren’t favorable to your game plan. If there aren’t any spells worth countering in a given turn, you ideally be able to draw some cards at instant speed while making more tokens. Once you have enough tokens, you can then proceed to attacking your opponents here and there. The strategy changes a little if you have cards that benefit from hitting someone like Coastal Piracy or Bident of Thassa. You’ll want to hit players often to steadily draw cards. Five or six buffed Drakes can take out an opponent that’s already been weakened.

Two of the heaviest hitters in this deck are Hullbreaker Horror and Coat of Arms. Coat of Arms in particular can give +X/+X to your drakes, where X is the number of drakes you have minus one. Hullbreaker Horror is a massive 7/8 threat that wreaks havoc on the battlefield, especially with the number of instants and sorceries you have.    

Combos and Interactions

This deck is light on combo, and you don’t even have a combo win condition. That said, here’s a few weird interactions to note.

Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms buffs your drakes to the point that they become a serious air force. But let’s take into consideration that you can make more Drakes at instant speed and alter the buff Coat of Arms provides.

People won’t usually attack you since you can make 2/2’s at instant speed just by firing an Impulse or Opt. That shakes combat math heavily in your favor.

Hands of Binding

Let’s see what happens when you cast a cipher spell like Hands of Binding and have your commander out with a drake. Cast Hands of Binding, tap a creature, freeze it, and then make a Drake. Then, cipher the spell onto another drake you already have without summoning sickness, attack, and cast the cipher spell again, freezing another creature and making another Drake.

Rule 0 Violations Check

This deck is very safe to play and play against. There aren’t any aspects that breaks rule 0, and very few “oops I win” moments. People usually aren’t very fond of having their spells constantly countered though.

Budget Options

This deck already runs on a $200-250 budget, so let’s suggest some alterations to lower the cost if needed.

Other Builds

Talrand, Sky Summoner can be built in ways to explore the blue combo’y aspect, usually with Thassa's Oracle or High Tide. Blue has lots of counterspells and ways to tutor a combo, and Talrand’s Drakes can make you survive attacks. Another possibility is to play the control game with Rhystic Study or Mystic Remora. You can go the aggro route with lots of tempo spells and prowess creatures.

Commanding Conclusion

Hidden Strings - Illustration by Daarken

Hidden Strings | Illustration by Daarken

Talrand, Sky Summoner rewards you for playing instants and sorceries and for interacting with your opponents, and that’s what this commander does best. Just having some tokens can be the difference between being attacked and not being attacked. There are mechanics like monarch and initiative that reward you for dealing damage to an opponent, so you can capitalize on that without any effort thanks to your commander’s passive ability.

What do you think about my Talrand build? Are you looking forward to the flying drake fortress? Let me know in the comments section below, or let’s discuss it in Draftsim Discord.

Thanks for reading and until the next time!

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