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Budget Commander: Mono Blue Proliferate | Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus | $120, $200

Hey friends, welcome back to Budget Commander! Today we're checking out one of the neatest brews I've tinkered with: Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus!

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Counters, Counters, Counters!

Compared to the other Dominus (Dominuses? Domini?) in the cycle, Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus is the most unique as it's the first ever card to double your proliferating. Proliferate as a mechanic is already super interesting due to how open-ended it is, since it supports all types of counters. By choosing Tekuthal as our commander we're allowed to mix and match all sorts of cards that deal with counters and proliferating! The end result is a very unique deck that runs tons of cards you rarely see elsewhere.

Before we jump into the deck itself, a quick word on Tekuthal as our commander: being limited to Mono Blue makes for a very interesting but challenging build. The restriction means you don't have a critical mass of good proliferate cards to work with nor is it easy to focus on a specific type of counter, like loyalty counters (Superfriends) or +1/+1 counters -- it's possible, sure, but not optimal. Instead, I recommend embracing the scrappiness of having a restricted card pool and go for a generalized approach to counters, picking and choosing the very best of each type be they brick, charge, loyalty, poison, or any other kind of counter! If you instead want a Proliferate deck that has no shortage of options and can easily become whatever you want it to be, Atraxa, Praetors' Voice is right there waiting for you.

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First, let's cover the staples: there really aren't that many cards that can proliferate in Blue but we do happen to have two of the most powerful proliferate engines in the game: Flux Channeler and Inexorable Tide. Both these cards are incredibly mana-efficient proliferate engines in our deck and any game where we can keep one of these on the battlefield is a very favorable game for us indeed!

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There's a few other very good proliferate engines, such as Contagion Engine, Thrummingbird, and Guildpact Informant for repeatable proliferate, and Tezzeret's Gambit, Vivisurgeon's Insight, Contentious Plan, and Steady Progress adding proliferate to card draw which is great to have. These are all fine ways to efficiently proliferate but they just lack the explosiveness of the top two. Viral Drake is another solid choice but a bit overpriced since 4 mana is a ton to proliferate unless you're swimming in mana, but it's an evasive poison enabler that holds equipments so that's nice, though I'd hesitate to spend $6+ picking up a copy if you're on a tight budget.

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Now comes the fun part: our proliferate targets! First comes our ramp, which this deck excels at. There are a lot of sweet ramp options that scale disgustingly well with proliferate: Everflowing Chalice, Astral Cornucopia are two of my favorites, but there's also As Foretold, Empowered Autogenerator, Kyren Toy, Pyramid of the Pantheon, Treasure Map all generating more mana faster as we proliferate them! There are also lands like Mage-Ring Network and Saprazzan Skerry that can also tap for more than one mana with the help of proliferate.

We're also in Mono Blue which means we can and should take advantage of the mana doublers Gauntlet of Power and Caged Sun! Nothing to do with proliferate, just amazing in any mono color deck!

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For card draw we've got lots of spicy thematic inclusions like the proliferate draw options Tezzeret's Gambit and Vivisurgeon's Insight. We can also do incredibly fun stuff like proliferate divinity counters on Myojin of Seeing Winds to draw cards equal to the number of permanents we control, multiple times! Or place bricks on Oracle's Vault for draw + ramp, that's good too!

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For removal we've got some really sweet options like Transmogrifying Wand to add more "ammo" to it or Lux Cannon which charges faster with our proliferate cards. Both Contagion Clasp and Contagion Engine can pick off creatures while proliferating. There's also Simic Manipulator which you can proliferate to keep yoinking opposing creatures!

Also since we're in Mono Blue we have more sweet options like Spectral Deluge, Engulf the Shore, Scourge of Fleets and so on to utilize our high Island count.

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Winning the game is probably the weakest aspect of the deck. Initially, I wanted to lean on a Charge counter theme and win with Darksteel Reactor, but even with every single charge counter adder, proliferate, and even Deepglow Skate, it's still a weak win condition. It's undoubtedly the coolest way to win in my opinion but not the most optimal.

Instead, I think good ol' Poison is probably the easiest way to secure victory. There are not a whole lot of good poison enablers in Mono Blue unfortunately but Prologue to Phyresis is amazing at getting the ball rolling, and you can tutor it up with cards like Muddle the Mixture or Solve the Equation. There are also other cards like Grafted Exoskeleton or even Prosthetic Injector, equip it to Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus which flies, and start proliferating from there.

A nice backup win condition I like as well is Magistrate's Scepter + Tekuthal, Inquiry Dominus + Contagion Engine for infinite turns (if Scepter has a charge counter on it, activated the Engine to put 4 more counters on the Scepter then activate the Scepter to take an extra turn and repeat this infinite times). You can make this the primary win condition if you add more artifact tutors which Blue is good at doing!

$120 List

My sample list is more expensive than my usual brews in this series. Poison and proliferate in general is the hot new thing thanks to Phyrexia: All Will Be One so unsurprisingly any card that proliferates and wasn't reprinted recently has skyrocketed in price. This usually isn't a problem for me, but since we have such a small card pool to work with, I don't think the deck functions to a level I'm satisfied with if you don't shell out that $$$ for Inexorable Tide and Contagion Engine.

The primary goal of the deck is to win via poison using cards like Prologue to Phyresis and Grafted Exoskeleton. We want to spend our first turns ramping and finding a proliferate engine, hopefully Flux Channeler or Inexorable Tide, and we run some tutors specifically to find them (Drift of Phantasms, Long-Term Plans, etc.). Then we try and poison our opponents out, or go for the Magistrate's Scepter combo win. The deck plays Control-ish while it sets up a lethal turn.

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$200 List

The $200 list adds some powerful planeswalkers such as Tezzeret the Seeker and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon which benefit greatly from proliferate. We also added the last powerful proliferate card for the deck, Sword of Truth and Justice, which works well with our flying creatures most notably our commander. My favorite card though is Mercurial Spelldancer which passively generates tons of oil counters which we can spend on doubling our instants/sorceries or make Tekuthal indestructible, plus it holds equipment perfectly!

We've also shifted more to the Magistrate's Scepter combo win, since it's one of the strongest win conditions for a Tekuthal deck. Both pieces of the combo in the 99 are artifacts so we now have Tezzeret the Seeker, Whir of Invention, Fabricate, and Long-Term Plans to fetch either of them, plus Drift of Phantasms can transmute to find the Scepter. If you don't want to combo win you can replace these cards to further a different kind of win:

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Further Upgrades

There's a lot of powerful cards you can add to make the deck stronger if you so choose:

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Next Week: Otharri Go Wide Voltron!

I've got a sweet Boros deck that mixes Go Wide strategy with Voltron! You can't keep a good bird down!

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