Commander is one of the biggest formats in Magic: The Gathering in multiple ways. If you're only just starting out with it, it's frankly terrifying. The sheer volume of cards is hard to comprehend, and while there are tools out there to help you build a new deck, you still need to pick a commander to go with first. It's a big decision too, because choosing the best MTG commander is often the first step in building a Commander deck; it dictates your themes, the colours you can use and probably how you want to win too.
According to the MTG Gatherer database, there are more than 1,200 legendary creatures in Commander. Not all of those are going to be legal, with some being printed in the Un-Sets and therefore unplayable in normal formats. There are some that are banned, too. Then again, there are also the partner commanders, most of whom can be played with another partner commander. Basically, there are a lot of choices when it comes to the best commanders in MTG, so finding the one that works for you can be hard. Generally speaking, it's good to start out strong when choosing your first deck.
Best MTG Commanders
- Krenko, Mob Boss
- Kaalia of the Vast
- Breya, Etherium Shaper
- The Scarab God
- Yarok, the Desecrated
- Sisay, Weatherlight Captain
- Muldrotha, the Gravetide
- Edgar Markov
- Omnath, Locus of Creation
- Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
To help budding Commander players out, we’ve made a list of the best commanders in Magic: The Gathering. We've whittled it down to ten, so if you're a veteran player there's a chance your pick might not be here - but we're confident that these are some of the most absurd legendary creatures around.
We've also made sure we've got different strategies. There are a lot of ways to play Commander, and none of them are wrong, but it does help to know what to expect from the format if you're new. Each of these MTG commanders is good at different things, so we've made sure you've got lots of cool options to pick from.
1. Krenko, Mob Boss
The Goblin Horde
Krenko, Mob Boss is a four-mana Red 3/3 Goblin that you can tap to effectively double the number of goblins you have in play. Goblins are an interesting tribe in Commander (and one of the best MTG tribes overall), because the sheer volume of them makes them quite hard to deal with.
You can play Krenko as an incredibly aggressive deck where you just constantly send swarms of goblins at your opponents without worrying about how you're going to replace them, because it's so easy to do. Or, you can choose to sit still and just make a lot of tokens. The latter seems odd, but if you put Purphoros, God of the Forge and Impact Tremors in the deck, then you'll be able to win the game just by tapping Krenko a few times.
2. Kaalia of the Vast
Mythical beings out of nowhere
Kaalia of the Vast is a four-mana Red, White and Black 2/2 with flying. When they attack, you get to put an angel, demon or dragon onto the battlefield for free. That would be more than enough to warrant putting them on the list, but the creature that you put in also happens to come in tapped and attacking.
Basically, using Kaalia is the equivalent of promising a friend you’re only going to lightly tap them on the shoulder... and then hitting them with a sledgehammer. It's incredibly mean, but it's definitely effective as long as you don't mind really upsetting them. Don't hit your friends with sledgehammers though, please.
3. Breya, Etherium Shaper
Artifacts all day, every day
Breya, Ehterium Shaper is yet another four-mana MTG commander, but this time around they're White, Blue, Black and Red. The key thing is that they're an artifact creature. Along with being a 4/4, they also create two 1/1 flying Thopter tokens when they enter the battlefield.
You can also use them to pay two mana and sacrifice two artifacts to either deal three damage to a player or planeswalker, give a creature -4/-4 until the end of the turn, or gain five life. The aim with this kind of deck is just to play a lot of great artifacts such as Darksteel Forge or Blightsteel Colossus. Just make sure you've got cards that can bring them back from the graveyard if anything somehow dies, and you're golden.
4. The Scarab God
Zombies, lots of zombies
The Scarab God is a five-mana Blue and Black 5/5 that comes back to your hand in the end step after it dies. On top of that, you can pay four mana to exile a creature card from any graveyard, and then make a token of that creature that's a 4/4 Zombie. Plus, each opponent loses X life and you scry X in your upkeep, where X is the number of zombies you control.
While The Scarab God isn't a zombie itself, it is still the best zombie commander in Magic: The Gathering thanks to its abilities. You can build an MTG deck that not only recurs your best creatures, but also steals the best things your opponents have as well. It never feels fair - and that's before you even factor in the fact that it doesn't ever really die.
5. Yarok, the Desecrated
Just enter the battlefield
Yarok, the Desecrated is a five-mana Black, Green and Blue 3/5 with deathtouch and lifeline. It reads: "If a permanent entering the battlefield causes a triggered ability of a permanent you control to trigger, that ability triggers an additional time." The aim with Yarok is to play lots of things that have powerful effects as they enter the battlefield.
That can include any landfall cards, such as Rampaging Baloths, which will get extra value. It also means that Coiling Oracle and Risen Reef will be even better than usual too. It's a really fun way of playing the game that means you can just get absurd value from everything you're doing.
6. Sisay, Weatherlight Captain
Sisay, Weatherlight Captain is a three-mana White 2/2 that gets +1/+1 for each colour among other legendary permanents you control. Thankfully, they're not actually a mono-White commander, as they have an ability that costs one of each mana, which means your deck can have all five colours in it.
The ability allows you to search your library for a legendary permanent that costs less to cast that Sisay's power, and then put it directly into play. It's a truly absurd ability that lets you pull out a constant stream of answers from your deck to whatever problems you're being faced with. It's not a very cheap deck to build, but it is a lot of fun.
7. Muldrotha, the Gravetide
The graveyard is your hand now
Muldrotha, the Gravetide is a six-mana Black, Green and Blue 6/6 that reads: "During each of your turns, you may play a land and cast a permanent spell of each permanent type from your graveyard." In essence, it means you can keep using cards even after they've left the battlefield.
Because it says “play” instead of “cast”, this also includes lands. That means that even having access to one fetch land - such as Polluted Delta - can lead to you hitting your land drop each turn. It's just a very strong and resilient way to play Commander and, as a result, a great time - as long as they're on your side.
8. Edgar Markov
Vampires all over the place
Edgar Markov costs somewhere in the region of £50 at the time of writing. We're not recommending you spend that much money just on your MTG commander. However, they are undoubtedly powerful. For six mana, you get a Red, White and Black 4/4 vampire with first strike and haste. Whenever Edgar attacks, you also get to put a +1/+1 counter on each vampire you control.
On top of all of that, they have an eminence ability. This is an ability that triggers whether they're in the command zone or on the battlefield. This trigger creates a 1/1 Vampire token whenever you cast another vampire spell. The sheer size of the horde you'll create, and Edgar's ability to buff them, is incredibly hard to deal with.
9. Omnath, Locus of Creation
Play some lands and get some profit
Omnath, Locus of Creation is a Red, Green, White and Blue 4/4 that lets you draw a card when it enters the battlefield. It also has a really complicated landfall trigger: "Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you gain four life if this is the first time this ability has resolved this turn. If it's the second time, add red, green, white, and blue mana. If it's the third time, Omnath deals four damage to each opponent and each planeswalker you don't control."
You can build a Commander deck based around Omnath in many ways, but we recommend focusing on the landfall aspect. That means putting in whatever creatures you can find with landfall abilities, such as Omnath, Locus of Rage. It also means finding ways to return lands to your hand like Mina and Denn, Wildborn, and play extra lands every turn such as Azusa, Lost but Seeking. The most remarkable thing about landfall is that it's something that you want to do anyway, so building a deck around it feels almost like cheating.
10. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
Finally, we have Korvold, Fae-Cursed King. Korvold is a five-mana Black, Red and Green 4/4 with flying that makes you sacrifice another permanent whenever they attack or enter the battlefield. Whenever you sacrifice a permanent, you get to put a +1/+1 counter on them and draw a card. Korvold was good back when Throne of Eldraine released, but has become utterly absurd this year.
Sacrificing permanents is always meant to be a bad thing, but the aim is to turn it into an upside. However, this completely turns itself around when you factor in treasure tokens. Treasure tokens are things you can tap and sacrifice to gain one mana. That means that each Treasure you sacrifice not only nets you one mana, but also puts a +1/+1 counter on Korvold and lets you draw a card. When you then add in cards like Old Gnawbone, you're left with a deck that's bordering on legitimately broken.