[Top 20] MTG Best Commanders That Are Powerful

MTG Best Commanders That Are Powerful
Commander is often seen as a battle royal between Magic’s most powerful Planeswalkers.


Commander, or EDH (Elder, Dragon, Highlander), is the only format in Magic the Gathering that started as an unsanctioned style of play created by a group of friends in Alaska in the mid 90’s. The format has evolved over the thirty years since its inception, until it was officially brought under the umbrella of recognized rule sets by Wizards of the Coast in 2011. Since then it has only grown in popularity and even received sets and cards based around the format.

To sum up the rules, you start with a legendary creature who acts as your commander. You may only have cards that share a color type with the commander of your deck and you may only have one copy of each. Your deck limit is now set at one hundred cards including your commander and your life point total is increased to forty instead of the usual twenty. The caveat is that your commander is always in their own specific zone and you can cast them at any time but, be warned, each time they die their cost will increase by two.

 

20. Jodah, the Unifier

Jodah, the Unifier Card Art

Jodah, the Unifier is a good example of what commander is all about. He costs one of each of the five different colors which means you can use any card in the game, though this is a bit of a double edged sword. The reason I consider him one of the weaker contenders in this list is because it’s very difficult to get that much different mana online. 

Most decks built around Jodah involve a lot of mana ramping, searching through your deck for specific color lands or using creatures that tap for mana themselves to get him online. There is also a big emphasis on the Cascade ability since his second text essentially puts the ability on all legendary cards.

Stacking the deck with powerful legendary cards like Ghalta, or Sheoldred will ensure a chain reaction of powerful creatures that your opponent will have a hard time dealing with. Each of those legendaries make themselves stronger as well with his first text block, if you get the right draws. 

  • Heavy cost but at 5/5 and a legendary himself, he won’t be an easy target.
  • Essentially gives all other legendaries Cascade which lets you play cards from the top of your deck that meet a certain mana requirment.
  • Being all five colors means you can pull from any of the schools in Magic.

 

19. Arcades, the Strategist

Arcades, the Strategist Card Art

Arcades, the Strategist is a decent commander with a little more reliability than our previous entry. With only three colors your choices are a little more limited but, that means he’s a little easier to get out onto the battlefield. He also has a very unique playstyle your opponents may not suspect, using creatures with the Defender status who cannot normally attack. 

In commander you're limited to a hundred unique cards so having the ability to draw is a must have. Every time you cast a creature with defender, you can draw an extra card as long as Arcades is on the battlefield.. His own power is slightly lacking but having flying and vigilance means you have a much greater chance of getting through every turn. 

While unique, his ability isn’t particularly game breaking as most defenders are still easily dealt with. He isn’t all that powerful himself either but, with an overwhelming army of creatures with heavy toughness you may be able to outlast your opponents.

  • A low cost will ensure you can summon your commander early on.
  • Grants you a free draw every time you play a creature with Defender.
  • A unique ability that your opponent may not expect or have an answer for.

 

18. Giada, Font of Hope

Giada, Font of Hope Card Art

A lot of Commander focuses around a gimmick if you haven’t already figured that out. Giada, Font of Hope slightly more so than others, focused solely around angels. Giada is a good example of the fact that you can make a powerful commander deck out of almost any legendary creature. Costing just two mana for her initial cast, which is good, because any subsequent angels you play after her come in with extra +1/+1 counters so getting her out earlier is essential. 

Her second ability also focuses on ramping up the number of angels you can play per turn giving you a free mana to cast on any angel spell.You’ll need to use all of white’s defensive ability to defend Giada. Indestructible, hexproof, protection from specific colors white is notorious for having an answer to most situations. Once she is protected all you need to do is keep pumping out angels and angel tokens until your opponent can’t defend against the overwhelming amount of flying creatures.

Giada is a much simpler, pared down version of a commander deck great for new players testing out the format. The limitations set by her single color mana cost help to funnel you down the strongest cards white has to offer. It also helps to make games played with her extremely consistent. 

  • Very low cost means you can get her out early enough to defend and put in work.
  • White has a plethora of defensive spells that will help to defend your commander.
  • There are more than enough angels in print to fill your deck with powerful creatures.
  • Acts as a mana dork for the angels in your deck letting you get ahead of your opponent. 

 

17. Nekusar, the Mindrazer

Nekusar, the Mindrazer Card Art

At first glance Nekusar may seem like it’s helping your opponents but with the amount of combinations in black and blue, it’s extremely easy to mill and draw your opponent to death. With cards like Sheoldred or Spiteful Visions every time an opponent draws a card they take damage. Add on top of that the fact you can only have seven cards in hand without special circumstances, and your opponent will have to choose what cards they want to keep and toss out the rest.

His cost is a little high, needing three separate colors and an extra two colorless, but if you play your cards right (get it?) your opponent may not even want to get rid of him early on. He is very deceptive since you have forty health in commander and usually multiple opponents, the one health for a draw may not be a bad trade. 

Nekusar may be a one trick pony but like most blue cards in magic, it’s more of a mind game than just trying to bowl over your opponent. You have to know your cards well and use them at the right time to deceive your enemies until you make your final strike. 

  • All three colors used with Nekusar will help to increase the sources of damage over time effects pressed on your opponents each turn.
  • Opponents may choose to keep him around to gain extra draws, taking damage slowly over time, until it’s too late.
  • There are a plethora of cards like Spiteful Visions or Phyrexian Tyranny that will increase the damage dealt with each draw.

 

16. Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin

Go-Shintai of Life's Origin Card Art

Go-Shintai is interesting because it takes advantage of a unique rule in commander. The color cost associated with abilities also count towards the limitations imposed by the rules, meaning you only need to pay green mana to cast Go-Shintai but can still have cards of any color in your deck. This alone sets him apart from the others on the list like Jodah, the Unifier, because you don’t need all five colors to get your main win-condition online.

The five color cost is a little hard to get online but luckily Go-Shintai has a passive ability that triggers anytime you play a non-token shrine. You certainly want him out as early as possible to start stacking that effect. Once you do get one color of each mana his ability really starts to put in work, returning any enchantment your opponent destroyed to the battlefield.

Shrines are very consistent and work well with each other but, they aren’t the end all be all. A deck revolving around Go-Shintai still requires a tremendous amount of luck to work properly considering you’re looking for single cards out of ninety nine. 

  • Low cost commander that only requires a single color but can use all five colors with its first ability cost requiring all five mana. 
  • High toughness will save it from a lot of low cost burn spells.
  • Go-Shintai’s passive ability buffs all shrines just by playing them. 
  • Go-Shintai itself is considered an enchantment so it can interact with other enchantment effect cards. 

 

15. Muldrotha, the Gravetide

Muldrotha, the Gravetide Card Art

At six cost Muldrotha is the heaviest contender on our list so far but his benefits reflect that high price. Coming in at a 6/6, Muldrotha avoids most burn spells your opponent will throw out leaving just removal to deal with it. The only ability Muldrotha carries is a passive that turns your graveyard into a second hand, meaning you only need to protect him to gain the benefits.

Black, green, and blue are perfect colors for this type of deck. Green and black focuses primarily on graveyard play, throwing everything away just to bring it back (usually for a cheaper cost). Splashing blue will not only speed up tossing cards into your own graveyard but will also give you the opportunity to cut down your opponents deck. 

The amount of cards throughout the years that have sacrifice effects give you tons of options to choose from. Cards like Spore Frog let you sacrifice itself to prevent all damage or Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest adds +1/+1 counters to all your creatures when any player sacrifices any permanent. While Muldrotha lets you play from your graveyard the whole deck really does need him to function properly which is why it’s lower on this list. If your opponents can remove Muldrotha just a few times the cost becomes very hard to pay, leading to a breakdown in your combinations.

  • High power and toughness will help put in damage and avoid a lot of burn spells.
  • Opens your graveyard to play one of each type of permanent a turn.
  • Can be combined with cards like Spore Frog or Kaya’s Ghostform to sacrifice or immediately resurrect your commander or creatures. 

 

14. Shorikai, Genesis Engine

Shorikai, Genesis Engine Card Art

Moving forward with Shorikai, Genesis Engine, it should be clear at this point that commanders usually follow a specific style of play. In this case that would be vehicles and artifacts that can Crew them. The Crew mechanic lets you tap a certain number of other creatures that equal the cost of the ability, turning it into an attacking creature for the turn. 

While Shorikai has a Crew cost, his focus is more on pumping out 1/1 pilot tokens to crew other vehicles. The added ability of drawing two cards each time you put out one of these tokens means you’ll have your pick of the ninety nine cards in your deck. Vehicles like Parhelion II pumps out flying angels each time it swings or, Mobilizer Mech instantly crews another vehicle for you when it attacks.

The fact that vehicles aren’t creatures until they’re crewed means they avoid board wipes and creature removal. This is a bit of a double edged sword though, if you can somehow cause avehicle to lose its creature type it can no longer attack. The biggest win factor Shorikai has going for it is the fact that most opponents aren’t going to run that much artifact specific removal. 

  • Shoirkai’s low cost ensures you can get it out early and start pumping out tokens.
  • The tokens Shorikai creates are 1/1 but crew for 2.
  • If needed, Shorikai can be crewed to swing or block eight damage.
  • White can boost your creature tokens even further increasing their crewing capability.

 

13. Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver

Wilhelt, the Rotcleaver Card Art

One of my favorite archetypes in Magic the Gathering has always been zombies. The height of my MTG career was definitely around the time of Innistrad, specifically a card called Relentless Dead. This card sparked my eternal love for graveyard play with creatures that continue to recur and be used as a secondary source of fuel in lieu of your mana. 

Wilhelt continues this trend by pumping out an army of the dead from the corpses of your already fallen undead. He also gives you an extra draw for sacrificing these disposable pawns and while you can only use it once at the end of your turn, it ensures if any of your undecayed zombies dies from combat you have a free token to sacrifice. 

There are a ton of cards that work in synergy with Wilhelt, like the aforementioned Relentless Dead that recurs infinitely and revives your other zombies or, something like Poppet Factory that pumps out more zombie tokens for casting spells. You can also go the route of needling your opponent to death with cards like Zulaport Cutthroat which causes damage each time a creature dies. 

Unfortunately there are plenty of cards that render zombie decks useless with exile, or total graveyard removal. Zombies also aren’t particularly strong so don’t expect to get any giant scary creatures out and swinging, the entire point is to go as wide as possible and overwhelm your opponent. Wilhelt himself has a slightly high cost considering his three toughness will get him burned A LOT.

  • Causes your other zombies without Decay to produce a free token.
  • Can be combined with cards like Zulaport Cutthroat to peck your opponents health down.
  • Has the ability to give you a second draw each turn which is big in commander.
  • Having blue will help you to counterspell some of the heat Wilhelt will bring as a commander.
  • You can choose to send him to the graveyard instead of the command zone and avoid the tax associated with his death by bringing him back with another zombie.

 

 12. Kaalia of the Vast

Kaalia, of the Vast Card Art

Another Tribal deck in the list, inching towards the top ten, Kaalia of the Vast has a very Constantine approach with a hellish army of Angels, Demons, and Dragons. While she may appear weak at first there are plenty of ways to increase her damage output with +1/+1 counters, extra combat keywords, or indestructible. She also has a relatively low cost considering her ability lets you cast other big cards for free.

The whole point of this deck is pretty complicated and revolves around flicking specific demons or creatures to do massive amounts of damage. I have tried (and failed) to understand the full intricacies of how it actually works but, I also haven’t tried playing with it either. Recently a deck using Kaalia made it to the top four in commander league play only using a handful of creatures and  a large portion of them are archetypes that don’t even work with her ability. 

While there are comments and reports among forums, touting turn three or four wins with some specific combos, there is a lot that can go wrong with decks that revolve around creature damage. Board wipes, counters, and removal are all a possibility but even if you went all in on making an army you’ll be able to cheat out quite a few for free with Kaalia’s ability.

  • Can cheat out a massive creature each turn she attacks. 
  • White offers plenty of protection to keep her on the field. 
  • Having flying from the get go means it’s just that much easier to attack without worry.

 

 11. Esika, God of the Tree

Esika, God of the Tree Card ArtThe Prismatic Bridge Card Art

There is a very popular card in Magic called Birds of Paradise that tends to find its way into most  commander decks that can tap for any color mana. Esika looks to shake up that meta and turn all your legendary creatures into Birds of Paradise that can also put in damage of their own. The main takeaway is that Esika gives everything vigilance, meaning you can attack with those powerful legendary creatures and then tap them for mana at the end of your turn.

Esika really starts to show promise when you understand the rulings and the fact that both sides of the card count towards your commander color limit. Since her flip side is all five colors, you can still run any or all colors and still cast her for two green and one colorless. You can also choose to play either side of the card from the command zone depending on the need, though the death tax does also count to both sides. 

Esika has a lot of potential to ramp into large creatures, combo with enchantments, or overwhelm your opponents with an all legendary deck. Her four toughness also gives you a little cushion to avoid a lot of low cost burn spells. 

  • Color limits apply to both sides, meaning you can still use all five colors and never cast the enchantment side.
  • Gives all legendaries you control vigilance and tap for mana, on top of their existing abilities.
  • Vigilance and tap for mana synergize extremely well, letting you attack and then tap for mana in the same turn.
  • You can choose to play either side of the card from the command zone. 

 

10. Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

Gishath, Sun's Avatar Card Art

Dinosaurs have made a big comeback in recent MTG history with the release of the Lost Caverns of Ixalan. Gishath, Sun’s Avatar looks to exploit those new powerful dinos in a similar fashion to Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant, letting you play those extremely heavy costs for free. 

That’s the big drawback of dinosaurs, they tend to have very powerful abilities and imposing power and toughness, at the bereft of a heavy mana cost. Therefore most dinosaur decks focus on ramping your mana and getting them out for a fraction of the cost or even completely free in the case of Gishath. 

Cards like Vaultborn Tyrant, Ghalta, Stampede Tyrant, and Etali, Primal Storm are each heavy weights that can win a game on their own. When you have the ability to play all of those at once just for attacking with your commander it’s easy to see why Gishath can escalate out of hand. Unfortunately a big component of what makes this deck so powerful is him and he can be removed relatively easily, driving his cost through the roof.

  • Lets you play dinosaurs for free, letting you focus solely on his heavy cost and protecting him.
  • When used in combination with Ghalta, you have the potential to play fourteen dinosaurs at once from the top of your deck and from your hand. 
  • Can attack immediately with haste, carry over damage with trample to activate his effect, then stay defending with vigilance. 
  • There are well over a hundred dinosaurs in Magic, letting you easily stuff it to the brim with as many as you want.

 

9. Kenrith, the Returned King

Kenrith, the Returned King Card Art

The further up in this list we get the older the cards are going to become. Kenrith, the Returned King first made an appearance in 2019 in the Throne of Eldraine set. At first glance it’s easy to see why he is so powerful, and that comes from his versatility in all situations. Like a true king, Kenrith has the means to respond to all situations with his multi-colored advisors from each of the different clans. 

Most Kenrith decks are pretty straight forward, using cards like Agatha of the Vile Cauldron or Biomancer’s Familiar to reduce the cost of his activated abilities so that you can use them as often as possible.The main feature of Kenrith is that he doesn’t specify how many times you can choose an ability. This leads to a lot of infinite combos of mana, +1/+1 counters, or life gain.

The main drawback with Kenrith is that he is a little inconsistent, relying on other cards to reduce his costs. He is still very usable by himself, able to address a slew of different threats your opponent may have.

  • His abilities count towards your color limit meaning you can use all five colors in your deck.
  • Abilities can be activated more than once each turn. 
  • Multiple infinite combos to choose from such as mana, life gain, or counters.

 

8. Krenko, Mob Boss

Krenko, Mob Boss Card Art

Krenko, Mob Boss has been a staple in the commander format since his inception in 2012. He’s a bit of a one trick pony though, which means there isn’t much to talk about unfortunately. Krenko revolves around pumping out the most low cost goblins you can manage, while simultaneously burning your opponent with spells.

A single color, single ability commander is rare to come by, especially one that stands the test of time for over a decade. Krenko decks are very simple, flood the board with goblins and goblin tokens which in turn increase the number of tokens created next time. Cards like Act of Heroism or Aim High untap other creatures as well, letting you activate his ability several times in one turn.

  • Goblins aren’t going anywhere and have kept coming through the years, only adding to Krenko’s repertoire as a powerful commander.
  • Single color commanders can actually help streamline the consistency of each game.
  • The tokens you summon count towards the total goblin count.
  • Can be untapped multiple times a turn to cast his ability for free.

 

7. Edgar Markov

Edgard Markov Card Art

Zombies, goblins, and now Vampires (oh my!).. Edgar Markov is a unique casebecause his ability specifically outlines that it works whether he’s on the field or in the command zone. That means from turn one, any vampire spell you cast (only creatures have been printed with this) gives you an extra 1/1 vampire token along with it. While there aren’t really any enchantments that directly affect vampires, most vampires themselves buff each other.

While most vampires will temporarily boost your tokens power and toughness, Markov himself adds permanent +1/+1 counters to your vamps each time he attacks. This doesn’t specify non-token vampires, meaning each of those 1/1s you’ve been building also reap the rewards. He also has first strike and haste, meaning unless they double block or their defender is bigger than him, he’s not gonna die for swinging out each turn. 

  • Edgar unfortunately falls into the same traps as the other tribal decks on this list which means he is just short of the top five. Board wipes, exile, and burn all get rid of a lot of the low cost tokens before or during your ramp up, possibly cutting your reign short.
  • Edgar’s Eminence ability means you can reap rewards from turn one without even casting him.
  • Each time he attacks (that doesn’t mean deals damage) he permanently buffs all other vampires and vampire tokens.
  • Having first strike and haste means he can attack as soon as he comes in and is almost indestructible against anything weaker or as strong as he is.

 

6. Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow

Yuirko, the Tiger's Shadow Card Art

At this point I feel we may cover every archetype in Magic, with Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow covering our ninja base. Ninjutsu is a newer ability that lets you swap out an unblocked attacker for another creature, of which it usually has some sort of trigger upon dealing combat damage. It’s a bit like Yu-Gi-Oh in a sense that your opponent has activated your trap card. Yuriko takes the cake though having the unique ability Commander Ninjustsu that lets you swap her in from the command zone instead of your hand. 

It is a bit of a double edged sword, as your opponent knows from the start that they are dealing with a (supposed to be secret) mechanic which does slightly hurt its ability to perform. What does help is the fact that this ability isn’t considered casting the card, meaning it avoids the commander tax and can be flashed out for two mana consistently. Her colors also lend tremendously to the ninjutsu ability with plenty of unblockable creatures in blue, and black heavily leaning towards Menace.

All of the ninjas revolve around dealing combat damage to your opponent and more than likely creating treasure tokens, or drawing cards to speed up your game. While tribal decks are usually countered relatively easily with creature removal, the Ninjutsu mechanic adds another layer, letting you swap out those unblocked creatures with others at instant speed and avoid losing some of your more valuable creatures.

  • Can be cast for two mana avoiding the commander tax with Ninjustsu
  • You can pepper in extremely high cost cards to deal massive damage with her ability.
  • The other ninjas you manage to deal combat damage with count towards most (if not all) other triggering abilities.

 

5. Isshin, Two Heavens as One

Isshin, Two Heavens as One Card Art

Finally to our top five with Isshin, Two Heavens as One, and surprisingly it isn’t a tribal deck. Isshin revolves solely around creatures triggered abilities on attacking. Yes, that is every attacking ability of creatures you control, triggering twice each time. Like some of the other cards on this list there isn’t really some convoluted combo that you need to try for each game, instead you just need to make sure each one of your creatures are attacking. 

Now one drawback is most of the creatures you’re going to want in a deck like this are fairly high cost, and getting together ninety nine of them can be a bit of an undertaking to your patience (and wallet). But with cards like Etali, Primal Storm or Caesar, Legion’s Emperor, each card is a win condition in itself and must be dealt with accordingly by your opponent. This leads to slowing down any plans they already had in lieu of defending against the multiple abilities swinging at their health total every turn.

At three cost with three power and four toughness, and the ability to trigger other abilities twice, it’s very easy to see why Isshin breaks the top five of this list. With all the other creatures aggressively swinging at your opponent they would be hard pressed to even have the spare mana to deal with him. 

  • Three cost 3/4 is amazing value, and leads to a well defended commander early on.
  • The text specifies an attacking creature that triggers another permanent's ability, meaning that counts towards enchantments and artifacts as well.
  • Cards like Aurelia, the Warleader give you a second combat phase and untap your creatures, meaning you would get two extra combat phases per turn.

 

4. Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm

Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm Card Art

Flying into our number four spot is the spirit dragon Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm. Five cost 6/6 with flying and ward two, which means to even target Miirym your opponent must pay an extra two mana, sharing in the commander tax just a little. Where the legendary wyrm really shines is its interaction with other dragons that enter the battlefield under your control.

Each time another nontoken dragon enters the battlefield under your control, you may copy it for free even if it’s legendary. That’s a big thing in Magic because normally if you were to copy a legendary creature type without this ability, one of the copies would immediately blow itself up. Dragons (like goblins) have been around since the game's inception and continue to make appearances in most sets produced today. Unlike goblins though, dragons tend to be a bit beefier and can fly over top most opponents' creatures. 

When you factor in dragons like Scourge of Valkas or Lathliss, Dragon Queen which deal damage directly or pump out 5/5 dragon tokens it’s not hard to imagine how quickly this deck can spiral out of control. Also unlike a lot of our other tribal commanders dragons have a lot of support in enchantments and spells that will help round out a consistent deck.

  • Red and Green hold most of the dragon types in Magic letting you stuff it to the brim with synergizing cards.
  • Can even copy dragons with the Legendary archetype.
  • Has ward two which means your opponent will have to pick and choose whether to target your commander directly or the other dozens of dragons being copied.
  • There are quite a few infinite combos that can be achieved by pumping out dragon tokens.

 

3. Lathril, Blade of the Elves

Lathril, Blade of the Elves

I was slightly torn with the second and third place slot on this list but, in the end I decided to put Lathril at number three because she is a bit of a one trick pony, however powerful that trick may be. Focusing on pumping out the most number of elves you can possibly produce, Lathil follows the same format as Krenko from further up the list. Instead of just relying on the power of your army to roll over your opponent, Lathril uses her secondary ability to tap down elves you control to deal damage directly to your opponent. 

While black doesn’t have as much elf support, there are still quite a few hiding in its depths. Black also lends to giving you the ability to remove your opponent’s creatures, since green is severely lacking in that area. What green does have is the ability to churn out an exorbitant number of elves and elf tokens that will let you trigger her ability multiple times.

Green also has multiple outlets of untapping your creatures, leading to the possibility of triggering that direct damage more than one time a turn. Cards like Awakening or Benefactor's Draught even untap all creatures you control instead of singular one, letting you divulge all your mana into casting those spells. Lathril does fall slightly short as stated before, tribal decks are relatively easy to deal with if planned for which is why I placed her at number three. The fact that most of those elves will probably be less than a 2/2 leaves them especially susceptible to cards like Kozilek’s Return or Blazing Volley which deals one to two damage to each creature.

  • Lathril has menace which makes blocking her combat damage that much harder. 
  • She produces elf tokens which benefit her second ability. 
  • There are plenty of ways to add counters to your creatures in green, or even buff elves specifically.
  • Can be untapped multiple times per turn with other cards to deal massive damage directly to your opponent.

 

2. The Ur-Dragon

The Ur-Dragon Card Art

At number two we have our second dragon on the list. As I touched on when covering Miirym Sentinel Wyrm dragons have been in Magic since the very beginning so they have tremendous support. The Ur-Dragon beats out Miirym in most aspects even though it  shares the ability to play dragons free when attacking. The difference is in all the other text surrounding that one aspect.

Sharing the same ability as Edgar Markov, The Ur-Dragon also starts working from the word go, giving you decreased costs of dragons just by being your commander. That also counts for himself lowering that high cost of nine down to an eight. There are also plenty of other cards that reduce the mana cost of dragon spells you play like Dragon Lord’s Servant or Dragonspeaker Shaman.

Where The Ur-Dragon really beats out Miirym is his triggered ability activates whenever any of your dragons attack, they don’t even need to do combat damage. You also get to keep the cards you draw unlike Miirym and cast one for free from your hand instead of putting the extras on the bottom of your library. The Ur-Dragon also wins out in sheer power coming in at a whopping 10/10 with flying which is one fourth of your opponents max health in commander. 

There are plenty of high cost dragon cards that you have the potential of playing for free with The Ur-Dragon’s ability. You could even use Miirym in the deck as a normal dragon and have the possibility of copying The Ur-Dragon when you cast him from the command zone or, even throw Isshin into the mix from our number three spot and watch your commander's ability trigger twice.

  • Eminence lets him begin working from your first turn, lowering dragon costs passively.
  • Lets you keep the cards you draw instead of throwing them back to the deck.
  • Lots of dragon support through the years means finding ninety nine other synergistic cards might be a bit of a challenge.
  • The cost can be reduced in multiple ways with cards like Dragon Lord’s Servant or Dragonspeaker Shaman. 
  • Having all five colors means you aren’t limited in choice, there are plenty of unique hiding in the other colors like Imrith, Desert Doom in blue or Ebondeath, Dracolich in black.

 

1. Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice

Atraxa, Praetors' Voice Card Art

To those who have been in the commander space for a while the number one spot in this list should come at no surprise. Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice has been one of the strongest commanders consistently since being released way back in 2016. Banned in about half the formats, most of the play Atraxa sees is as a commander. While at first glance it may not seem that game breaking I assure you Atraxa has been on the ban fence since print.

The most common use of Atraxa is (or was) a method of play called Superfriends, in which you focus mainly on stacking your deck with as many planeswalkers as possible. The loyalty counters associated with the most powerful cards, the planeswalkers themselves, are considered under the proliferate effect and will increase passively each turn. She also doesn’t need to do anything to get that ability to trigger, just survive and when you can put just one counter on her, she is included in that proliferate. 

Now I’ll admit Atraxa may not be the most game breaking or combo heavy deck in the commander format today but, I think what she does offer is powerful accessibility. Atraxa was released as a part of a commander preconstructed deck that immediately gave players the ability to win games with the most basic of knowledge. As they continued to play they continued to get better and evolve with that newfound knowledge, leading to her reigning championship for years in the commander scene. 

I think that’s what makes her the strongest, is that she was designed and built for new players to start the game and ended up dominating the competition even with seasoned players. I have distinct memories of getting my own Breya deck from the same set, while my friend was lucky enough to find one last Atraxa for himself. That specific preconstructed deck was sold out at every store, and the resell market had driven the price up 200% until eventually the hype died down. 

  • Very easy to use only needing to sit on the board to keep proliferating. 
  • Each of the four colors associated with Atraxa benefit and synergize with each of her combat keywords.
  • Proliferate works with all counters that stay on creatures, including planeswalkers, stun counters, and poison counters, not just +1/+1 counters.
  • If you put a single counter on her and give hexproof she quickly becomes almost unkillable (almost).

 

Final Thoughts

Commander is one of the most popular formats in Magic today. It was created by fans of the game all the way back in the 90’s and continues today, being recognized as an official format by Wizards of the Coast and receiving dedicated releases and tournaments. It is definitely my favorite way to play (until I’m three hours into a stalled game with four people) and has probably the most unique decks in all of Magic. 

The single copy of each card makes you really consider and weigh all your options and if that one card will be worth it half way through a game. You also have to think in much broader terms, as all other standard formats tend to only have eight to ten different cards in playsets of four. As an avid green player myself I am a little partial to all the different tribal decks available in commander. The decks actually feel as if they are telling a story instead of cheating out the quickest possible win in Standard or Modern.

For anyone just starting out in the commander format these are all great places to start but, I think the real fun comes from finding your favorite legendary cards and just seeing what you can make around them. Meta’s aren’t followed near as much in the EDH format so you have a little more breathing room in playtesting new and unique ideas. The major drawback is most cards are legal in commander while banned in others and this includes the incredibly expensive older cards Magic is famous for.

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Josh rolled a 2 in in charisma, causing him to spend most of his life writing, instead of actually talking to people. The plus 7 to strength is really only there to help his halfling wife.
Gamer Since: 1997
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Elden Ring
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dark Souls 3 , The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout: New Vegas


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