Welcome to the spellbinding world of Magic: The Gathering! Magic, since its inception in 1993, has grown into the titan of trading card games it is today. The game’s rich lore, complex strategies, and the artwork on the Magic cards have captivated millions of Magic players globally. But what is it that makes this game truly enchanting? The diversity of gameplay formats. And in this plethora of game formats, one stands a cut above the rest for its unique dynamics and strategic depth: the Commander format.
In this article, we will look at the top 25 cards that have proven their mettle in the Commander format. Whether you’re a seasoned mage or new to the mystical realms of Magic, this comprehensive guide will unveil cards released across various sets, including Dominaria United, Modern Horizons, and Commander Legends, that could potentially take your Commander game to unparalleled heights.
Where to Get the Best MTG Cards
Magic is an expensive hobby. Many of the most OP cards in the game can cost $20, $50 or even hundreds of dollars. To boost your deck power for a reasonable price, we recommend Proxy King for high quality MTG Proxy Cards. Another great option is Proxy MTG. Proxy cards are typically a few dollars per card. For lower price cards, TCGPlayer is our recommended online shop.
So, if you’re looking to maximize card advantage, optimize mana, and control your opponent’s draws, this is for you. Join us as we traverse the magical plane, exploring the best cards for Commander in MTG.
Top 25 Magic: The Gathering Cards for Commander
1. Sol Ring
An absolute staple in any Commander deck, Sol Ring stands as one of the most powerful cards in the format. Costing just a single colorless mana to play, this artifact ramps up your mana by two, a boon that allows you to outpace your opponents in the mana race. Its low cost and significant benefit make it an almost no brainer inclusion.
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2. Mana Crypt
This card is the epitome of mana efficiency. At zero cost, it generates two colorless mana every turn. While it does come with a drawback, potentially dealing three damage to you at the beginning of each of your upkeep, the risk is often worth the reward, allowing a substantial mana advantage early in the game.
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3. Fetch Lands
Fetch Lands are vital assets in any multi-colored Commander deck. Cards like Misty Rainforest and Flooded Strand let you pay a life and sacrifice the land to search your library for a basic land or specific dual lands, ensuring you have the right mana for your colored spells. It’s a small price to pay for consistent color fixing.
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4. Dual Lands
These lands, which can tap for two different colors of mana, are exceptionally valuable in a format like Commander, where decks often incorporate multiple colors. They enter the battlefield untapped, ensuring they can be used immediately.
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5. Dockside Extortionist
A popular card due to its ability to create significant amounts of treasure tokens. The number of tokens depends on the number of artifacts and enchantments your opponent has, providing you with a significant mana advantage in games with multiple opponents.
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6. Cyclonic Rift
This blue instant can single-handedly turn games in your favor. For two mana, it can return one nonland permanent you don’t control to its owner’s hand. Overload it for seven mana, and it bounces all nonland permanents you don’t control, disrupting your opponents’ boards and potentially paving the way for a win.
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7. Smothering Tithe
This enchantment is a way to passively generate significant card advantage. Whenever an opponent draws a card, Smothering Tithe creates a treasure token unless the opponent pays two mana. With multiple opponents drawing cards, the number of treasure tokens can quickly escalate, offering you an impressive amount of extra mana.
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8. Demonic Tutor
This iconic black sorcery lets you search your deck for any card. The flexibility to find the exact card you need at a specific moment makes it a must-have in any black Commander deck.
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9. Rhystic Study
This enchantment is a card draw engine in multiplayer games. Every time an opponent casts a spell, they must pay an additional two mana, or you draw a card. This advantage can quickly outpace your opponents in terms of resources.
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10. Fierce Guardianship
This counterspell is free if you control a commander, letting you counter any non creature spell without expending any mana. It’s a great way to protect your strategy without sacrificing your turn.
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11. Teferi’s Protection
One of the most potent protection spells in the game, Teferi’s Protection can make your permanents phase out, saving you from any harmful effects your opponents might throw your way. The ability to make your board untouchable until your next turn is an incredible defensive tool.
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12. Land Tax
This enchantment ensures you never miss a land drop. If an opponent controls more lands than you, Land Tax lets you search your library for up to three basic lands. This card can keep your mana base consistent, preventing you from falling behind in the game.
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13. Vampiric Tutor
Similar to Demonic Tutor, this instant lets you search your library for a card, then shuffle your library and put that card on top of it. The tutor’s ability to find any card in your deck, combined with its instant speed, makes it a powerful tool, particularly in response to your opponents’ actions.
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14. Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
Ragavan is a powerful one-mana creature that provides card advantage and ramp. Whenever it deals combat damage to a player, you create a treasure token and exile the top card of that player’s library, potentially letting you cast it later. This monkey pirate is a worthy addition to any red commander deck.
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15. Mana Vault
Mana Vault is another potent mana artifact. For a single mana, you can tap it to add three colorless mana to your mana pool. It doesn’t untap during your untap step and deals one damage to you during your upkeep if it remains tapped. Nevertheless, the card’s potential for explosive starts is undeniable.
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16. Mana Drain
This powerful counterspell not only stops an opponent’s spell but also provides you with colorless mana equal to that spell’s mana cost during your next main phase. This card combines disruption and ramp, two crucial elements in Commander.
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17. Deflecting Swat
An excellent protective instant in red, Deflecting Swat can change the target of a spell or ability if you control a commander. Its ability to deflect potential threats for free makes it a valuable card in any red Commander deck.
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18. Lightning Greaves
This artifact is a popular tool for protecting key creatures. It provides shroud, preventing your opponents from targeting the equipped creature, and gives it haste, allowing it to attack or use its tap abilities immediately.
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19. Force of Will
This card allows you to counter a spell by paying one life and exiling a blue card from your hand rather than its casting cost. The ability to counter a spell for free at a critical moment can dramatically alter the game.
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20. Ancient Tomb
A great source of fast mana. Ancient Tomb is especially potent in cEDH where speed is everything. However, it can be a valuable addition in many other decks, in particular decks where you may actually have a goal of controlling your own life loss.
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21. Sensei’s Divining Top
This artifact offers control over your draws, letting you rearrange the top three cards of your library. It can also draw a card and put the Top on top of your library, saving it from being destroyed and setting up your next draw.
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22. Enlightened Tutor
This instant can search your library for an artifact or enchantment card and put it on top of your library. Whether you’re seeking a game-changing artifact or a useful enchantment, Enlightened Tutor ensures you get what you need.
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23. Gaea’s Cradle
This legendary land turns your creatures into a source of green mana, generating one green mana for each creature you control. In decks with numerous creatures, this card can result in a staggering amount of mana.
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24. Oko, Thief of Crowns
A powerful planeswalker with versatile abilities, Oko can create food tokens, turn creatures into Elks, or swap control of an artifact or creature you control with one an opponent controls. His abilities disrupt your opponents and maintain your resources.
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25. Survival of the Fittest
This enchantment turns your creatures into tutors. By discarding a creature card, you can search your library for another creature card, ensuring you always have the right creature for any situation.
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Of course, our list of the best cards for Commander would not be complete without mentioning some exceptional standouts that didn’t make the main roster, either due to their prohibitive cost or specific niche appeal.
The first on our list of honorable mentions is the infamous Black Lotus. Recognized as one of the most powerful and storied cards in the game, Black Lotus offers an explosive amount of mana for no cost, providing an enormous advantage to whoever plays it. However, its legendary status and scarcity have made it exceedingly expensive and out of reach for most players. Yet, for those keen to experience the power of this card, a proxy version could be an option.
Next up is Jace, the Mind Sculptor. A Planeswalker with an impressive four loyalty abilities, Jace has proven his worth in multiple formats, including Commander. However, his high mana cost and specific role in deck strategies mean he isn’t universally useful, despite his undeniable power.
Lightning Bolt, a single red mana instant that deals three damage to any target, is another card worthy of mention. While it shines in formats like Modern and Legacy, the larger life totals in Commander somewhat diminish its impact. However, its speed and efficiency mean it should not be overlooked entirely.
A newer card, Ledger Shredder, has already made a splash in several formats. This artifact offers a persistent way to interfere with your opponent’s draw step, slowly whittling away at their library, one card at a time. A copy of this card could provide a unique, frustrating challenge for your opponents in Commander. You can combine it with Otawara, Soaring City.
Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice is a popular choice for the Commander slot in many decks. This powerful creature offers a compelling package of abilities and an aggressive stat line. However, her four-color mana cost may require a bit of extra attention when constructing your mana base.
Lastly, we have Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, another recent addition to Magic: The Gathering from the “Baldur’s Gate” expansion. This powerful card can create explosive turns and reshape the game when played at the right moment.
These honorable mentions, while not on our main list, are all popular cards that have the potential to change the game in their unique ways.
Whether through immense power, frustrating disruption, or simply the joy of play, these cards offer different avenues of exploration for Commander deck builders.
The Rise of EDH Commander
MTG Arena, Magic’s digital platform, along with the release of multiple formats, including Modern play and the Standard format, has helped bolster Magic’s popularity. However, it’s the Commander format that offers a distinct appeal, particularly to those who enjoy a blend of social interaction, intricate tactics, and, of course, high-powered Magic the Gathering cards.
Unlike other formats where the focus might be on low cost, highly efficient cards, the Commander format expands the game’s scope. In Commander, each player starts with a higher life total and decks are larger, with precisely one copy of any given card allowed, save for basic lands. With its ‘Singleton’ deck rule and the presence of a ‘Commander’ – a legendary creature card around which your entire 100-card deck is built, this format offers an entirely different plane of strategic planning and play.
Notably, some of the best Magic cards that might shine in Modern Horizons sets or in Competitive Magic, may not hold the same power in a Commander game. This is because, in this format, one needs to consider not just the opponent’s life total or the opponent’s turn, but multiple opponents, each with their own threats and answers.
What Makes Magic Cards Great for Commander?
Before we delve into the top Commander cards in Magic: The Gathering, it’s essential to understand the crucial factors that contribute to a card’s value in this unique format. Three primary factors determine a card’s worth in Commander: its power level, the card advantage it provides, and its mana cost efficiency.
In the world of Magic, the term ‘power level’ typically refers to the card’s overall impact on the game. This is not solely limited to the card’s stats, represented by numerical values on the card itself, such as an attacking creature’s power and toughness. Instead, it goes beyond to include the abilities a card can manifest, how it can alter the course of the game, and how it interacts with other cards on the battlefield.
In the Commander format, a card’s power level is of the utmost importance. With the game designed to accommodate four players (though it can vary), cards with higher power levels can influence multiple opponents at once. This could be through large, sweeping effects that impact all players, or spells that control the game, adjusting the opponent’s life total or even manipulating the opponent’s draws.
Next on our journey through the magic universe is the concept of ‘Card Advantage.’ In its simplest form, card advantage relates to the number of cards you draw compared to your opponents. The more cards a player has access to, the more options and potential responses they can deploy.
In Commander, achieving card draw advantage can make a tremendous difference. This is primarily because, unlike other forms of Magic play, Commander games tend to last longer and are usually packed with more interactions. Thus, cards that provide a constant source of card advantage, either through drawing additional cards or making your opponents discard their own, are considered powerful assets in Commander decks.
Mana Cost and Efficiency
Our third stop is ‘Mana Cost and Efficiency.’ The mana cost of a card is the amount of mana, one of the game’s primary resources, required to cast it. Mana efficiency is about maximizing the impact of your cards for their mana cost.
In the realm of MTG, cards come at varied mana costs, from one mana to seven mana and above. While in some formats, such as Modern play, the focus is often on low-cost cards that can be played quickly, Commander presents a different scenario. Given the longer, more drawn-out nature of the game, higher mana cost cards, which often carry more potent effects, become viable and sometimes crucial to winning.
However, this doesn’t render low-cost cards obsolete. Cards like “Sol Ring,” which costs just one mana, are staple inclusions in Commander decks due to their efficiency. It’s all about finding the balance between high impact, high cost cards and efficient, low-cost options that keep your game plan moving forward. The ability to play both spells and basic land types effectively can heavily influence the outcome of the game.
Understanding these core aspects—power level, card advantage, and mana cost efficiency—will better equip you to evaluate cards for your Commander deck, ensuring you’re on the path to becoming a formidable player in the Magic: The Gathering universe.
Key Strategies for Using These Cards in Commander
Building Your Mana Base
A well-structured mana base is a cornerstone of any successful Commander deck. It’s crucial to maintain a balance of different land types that can support your deck’s color needs.
Mana fixing lands, such as Misty Rainforest and Flooded Strand, are a central component of this strategy. These lands allow you to pay a life to search your library for a basic land type, ensuring you have the mana necessary to cast your spells. Including a mix of basic and dual lands can further optimize your mana base, increasing the chance of having the right color of mana at any point.
Balancing Your Deck
Creating a balanced Commander deck involves more than selecting the most overpowered cards; it requires an understanding of your deck’s overall strategy and win conditions. The ratio of creatures, spells, and lands in your deck should reflect this strategy.
A high number of low-cost, or “one mana,” cards can give you quick early game plays, while cards with higher mana costs can offer powerful late-game options.
However, don’t overlook the value of mid-cost, “three or four mana,” cards that can provide consistent plays throughout the game.
A few copies of a six-mana win condition can add a punch to your late game, but loading your deck with too many high-cost cards can leave you unable to make crucial early plays. Aim for a balance that supports your deck’s strategy and consider your mana curve — the distribution of the mana costs of your cards — when building your deck.
Utilizing Instant Speed Plays
Playing at instant speed is a powerful tool in Magic: The Gathering, and Commander is no exception. It allows you to respond to your opponents’ actions during their turn, disrupting their strategies or defending your own board. Cards like “Force of Will” and “Fierce Guardianship” are examples of cards that can be played at instant speed, having an immediate impact on the game.
Additionally, instant-speed actions can add an element of surprise to your play, keeping your opponents guessing and adding an extra layer of strategic depth.
Always be aware of the mana you have available and the instant speed options in your hand. Use these plays wisely to outmaneuver your opponents and steer the game in your favor.
By focusing on these strategies — building a solid mana base, maintaining a balanced deck, and effectively using instant speed plays — you can maximize the potential of your Commander deck and enhance your enjoyment of this popular format.
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