Last updated on April 17, 2024

Urza, Lord High Artificer - Illustration by Grzegorz Rutkowski

Urza, Lord High Artificer | Illustration by Grzegorz Rutkowski

The color pie is a vital part of Magic. It provides definitions and gives us interesting choices. If we pick one color over another, we are necessarily making a choice that dictates our deck’s strengths and weaknesses. The mana system supports this; the more colors you add, the worse your mana gets.

While many popular commanders utilize two or more colors, mono-colored commanders stick to just one. Many players find an affinity to one of the five colors because it suits their playstyle or the flavor they love. Picking a mono-color commander is one of the best ways to get to the heart of what your favorite color does and show it off to your friends.

What Are Mono-Colored Commanders in Magic?

Avacyn, Angel of Hope - Illustration by Jason Chan

Avacyn, Angel of Hope | Illustration by Jason Chan

Mono-colored commanders in Magic are legendary creatures with one color in their color identity. While they are often creatures of that color, they can be colorless creatures with an activated ability, like Bosh, Iron Golem.

Mono-colored commanders have some inherent weaknesses. Since each color in Magic has strengths and weaknesses, those weaknesses particularly become more pronounced. For example, a red deck can’t really interact with enchantments outside a few color pie breaks, and a green deck has little to no stack interaction. That doesn’t stop many of these commanders from being powerful and worth building around to highlight your favorite color’s unique strengths.

When grading these commanders, we’re looking for a few things. We want them to be efficient, of course, but we also need them to be strong and to work with their color. Creatures with odd effects outside their share of the color pie might not make for the best commanders, as they may not be super well supported. A commander that plays to its color’s strengths often has thirty years of support to draw on, making them intensely powerful cards.

#40. Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker

Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker

Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker offers tons of powerful aristocrat synergies. While reanimation strategies tend to focus on cheating large creatures into play, Shirei brings the tiny creatures back. This is excellent with an aristocrat strategy that’s already happy to sacrifice creatures such as Virus Beetle, Dusk Legion Zealot, and Bone Shredder for heaps of value that keeps coming back for more.

#39. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Birthing Pod-style decks are always popular for their value and flexibility. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is about as close to Pod as mono-colored commanders get. A carefully sculpted curve of utility creatures, like Reclamation Sage and Kogla, the Titan Ape, gives access to a plethora of creatures with every activation. Proliferate effects like Evolution Sage and Cankerbloom help Yisan function as a ramp tool as well.

#38. Gonti, Lord of Luxury

Gonti, Lord of Luxury

I love Gonti, Lord of Luxury. They’re a great option for a mono-black value deck as a solid blocker that draws you a card. Since you steal cards from your opponents, Gonti can give access to effects like artifact destruction black doesn’t get. You can throw in Panharmonicon and Conjurer's Closet for extra ETB value from Gonti or other black creatures, like Noxious Gearhulk and Gray Merchant of Asphodel.

#37. Avacyn, Angel of Hope

Avacyn, Angel of Hope

Avacyn, Angel of Hope is the perfect commander for any player who wants to do something a bit mean. It’s an excellent commander for Angel typal but pairs best with white’s cruelest cards, namely Armageddon and Ravages of War. The ideal scenario is to ramp Avacyn out quickly, then use those cards and other wraths like Planar Cleansing to ensure victory.

#36. Ilharg, the Raze-Boar

Ilharg, the Raze-Boar

Sneak Attack is a powerful enough card to build around in Legacy, so Ilharg, the Raze-Boar sticking it in the command is welcome. Since the creatures are put into play tapped and attacking, we can’t break the (legal) Eldrazi titans, but red has plenty of creatures with powerful ETBs to cheat in, like Spawn of Thraxes and Bogarden Hellkite. Don’t forget Conjurer's Closet to keep the creatures in play and extra combat spells like World at War to cheat in multiple fatties a turn.

#35. Vilis, Broker of Blood

Vilis, Broker of Blood

Black loves paying life for power, and Vilis, Broker of Blood takes that to another level. Already powerful effects like Call of the Ring, Phyrexian Arena, and Dark Confidant become even stronger engines. Throw in a Sheoldred, the Apocalypse to start gaining life with your card draw, and you can do some nasty stuff.

#34. Empress Galina

Empress Galina

While blue famously struggles with creature interaction, Empress Galina gives you a unique way to deal with opposing commanders and other permanents: steal them! The only way for your opponents to recover their commander is by killing it, putting them down tempo and cards. WotC’s recent focus on Commander has led to many more legends getting printed, so Galina has plenty of targets.

#33. Balan, Wandering Knight

Balan, Wandering Knight

White loves its equipment, nearly as much as Balan, Wandering Knight. The activated ability is especially useful, letting us cheat on a ton of mana. This helps us play equipment like Argentum Armor and Colossus Hammer without worrying about the expensive equip costs. A few defensive equipment, like Swiftfoot Boots and Mithril Coat, are vital to protect our Voltron commander.

#32. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling offers ETB decks a steady stream of flickers at the end of the turn and a large, indestructible creature later. The early game offers cards like Solemn Simulacrum and Aether Channeler to ramp and draw cards. Later, Thassa makes it impossible for our opponents to keep a board state with creatures like Agent of Treachery and Scourge of Fleets entering the battlefield each turn.

#31. Baral, Chief of Compliance

Baral, Chief of Compliance

Some EDH players want to watch the world burn. Others want to stop the burning – and anything else from happening. Baral, Chief of Compliance encourages you to play as many counterspells as possible and lets you see tons of cards in return. It’s the most controlling of mono-blue commanders and a great one to play if you never want your friends to actually play any Magic.

#30. Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Ghalta, Primal Hunger

Ghalta, Primal Hunger is every Timmy’s dream commander. 12 mana seems intimidating, but it’s relatively easy to power Ghalta out on turn 3 or 4 with their cost reduction. Once they’re in play, green has no shortage of effects that put that power to good use, like Rishkar's Expertise to draw a billion cards or Majestic Genesis putting 10 cards into play. One power-doubling spell, like Unnatural Growth or Zopandrel, Hunger Dominus, is all it takes for Ghalta to become a lethal threat.

#29. Talrand, Sky Summoner

Talrand, Sky Summoner

Talrand, Sky Summoner’s frequent printings have seen it become a bit of a meme, but it’s a fine commander. Blue wants to cast spells, and getting a free 2/2 every time you throw a Counterspell, Brainstorm, or Time Warp onto the stack adds up quickly. Mono-blue doesn’t often get aggressive, but Talrand can pull it off.

#28. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider lends itself well to two different decks: +1/+1 counters, and superfriends. Green loves big creatures and +1/+1 counters, so you can easily overwhelm your opponents with a flurry of power. Getting to ultimate planeswalkers like Garruk, Primal Hunter or Nissa, Who Shakes the World the turn they come into play is great value as well. Vorinclex could even make a fine infect commander if you’re so inclined.

#27. Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose

Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose

Black is almost as good at gaining life as paying it, so Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose presents a cheap win condition right in the command zone. It ends the game instantly thanks to the infinite combo with Exquisite Blood. A fair game plan is equally viable, relying on Vito’s powerful activated ability and the life gain from cards like Polluted Bonds and Gray Merchant of Asphodel to drain your opponent’s life totals, drop by drop.

#26. Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar has stolen many a Cube game, and they’re quite strong in the command zone. Creating three human tokens is right up white’s alley since both tokens and humans have deep synergies in the color. Cards like Cathars' Crusade and Court Street Denizen reward you for going wide with tokens, while cards like Beregond of the Guard and Coppercoat Vanguard love those tokens being Human.

#25. Tinybones, Trinket Thief

Tinybones, Trinket Thief

Izzet () mean that I like Tinybones, Trinket Thief? Maybe a bit, but they’re just too cute. And effective. Cheap commanders are fantastic, especially when they offer card advantage. Cards like Burglar Rat and Syphon Mind are already powerful before tacking on extra draws. Tinybones does a great job of denying your opponent's resources while filling up your hand and even closes the game if you have spare mana to invest in their future heists.

#24. Kemba, Kha Regent

Kemba, Kha Regent

One risk of Voltron decks is losing your Voltron piece and needing to rebuild later. Kemba, Kha Regent gives you plenty of board presence. The Cat tokens can hold equipment if Kemba dies, making going wide and tall viable strategies at once. Since they don’t cheat equip costs, you’ll either want equipment like the Swords and Umezawa's Jitte with low equip costs or cards like Sigarda's Aid and Puresteel Paladin to cheat on them so you don’t invest all your mana into moving equipment around the battlefield.

#23. Minn, Wily Illusionist

Minn, Wily Illusionist

Blue loves drawing cards, so it has no shortage of ways to enable Minn, Wily Illusionist. You need plenty of ways to kill your illusions; Perilous Research and Skullclamp are particularly enticing as they can create a new illusion. Blue has plenty of large creatures to cheat into play, like Tidespout Tyrant and Nezahal, Primal Tide, but artifacts or enchantments, like Portal to Phyrexia and Mind's Dilation are worth playing as well.

#22. Arcum Dagsson

Arcum Dagsson

Paying full price for your artifacts isn’t nearly as much fun as throwing them into play for a discount. Arcum Dagsson is as close to a legal Tinker as we have. The deck needs plenty of artifact creatures, either cards with the type like Myr Retriever and Junk Diver, or cards that make tokens, like Sai, Master Thopterist and Thopter Spy Network. As for artifacts to cheat, Spine of Ish Sah is a classic, but Portal to Phyrexia and God-Pharaoh's Statue do tons of work as well.

#21. Omnath, Locus of Mana

Omnath, Locus of Mana

It takes a lot of mana to cast Eldrazi, especially the fun ones, like Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and It That Betrays. Omnath, Locus of Mana goes a long way by storing up our mana each turn. They become a fearsome monster on their own, especially with a few untap effects like Wilderness Reclamation and Seedborn Muse.

#20. Rionya, Fire Dancer

Rionya, Fire Dancer

Rionya, Fire Dancer is a ton of fun. There’s a lot you can do with these token copies, like making a fleet of Humble Defectors to draw a ton of cards or burning the table out with Fanatic of Mogis and Terror of the Peaks. This is also a combo engine that goes infinite with Combat Celebrant, Godo, Bandit Warlord, Bloodthirster, and basically everything else that works with Helm of the Host.

#19. Preston, the Vanisher

Preston, the Vanisher

Preston, the Vanisher is a lovely play on a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, but this bunny offers much more than smoke and mirrors. These Illusions offer plenty of value in one of the best colors for flickering creatures but it takes very little to turn Preston into a combo machine with a few cards like Felidar Guardian and Restoration Angel.

#18. Ashaya, Soul of the Wild

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild

Ashaya, Soul of the Wild turns your team into a Forest, with devastating results for your opponents. It’s fantastic with landfall. Each nontoken creature you play triggers cards like Scute Swarm and Greensleeves, Maro-Sorcerer for board presence, but Ashaya’s also a combo engine. Cards like Ley Weaver and Argothian Elder generate infinite mana in a snap for spells like Finale of Devastation and Genesis Wave.

#17. Zada, Hedron Grinder

Zada, Hedron Grinder

Goblin decks typically go wide with their token producers and buff the team with lords like Goblin Chieftain and Goblin Trashmaster. Zada, Hedron Grinder spices that up by buffing your team with combat tricks. Suddenly, Brute Force does a mean Overrun impression, Ancestral Anger looks a lot like Ancestral Recall, and your Goblin deck becomes much spicier.

#16. Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle

Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle

Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle is more than a combo in a can. It’s like 30 combos in a can. This bird is the centerpiece of all kinds of infinite loops, often deploying cards like Myr Retriever, Blasting Station, and Krark-Clan Ironworks. This is a fantastic commander for anybody who wants to play a combo deck with a ton of redundancy and intricate lines.

#15. Azami, Lady of Scrolls

Azami, Lady of Scrolls

Who doesn’t love playing wizards? Azami, Lady of Scrolls provides a typal deck all the card draw it could want. They also go infinite with Mind Over Matter and they’re a charm with Isochron Scepter + Dramatic Reversal, both of which are impressive when you consider both Thassa's Oracle and Laboratory Maniac are wizards that Step Through can find.

#14. Selvala, Heart of the Wilds

Selvala, Heart of the Wilds

A player at cEDH tables, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds proves that a ton of mana acceleration makes for a fearsome commander. It’s easy to have this tap for 5-6 green mana. Cards like Wirewood Symbiote and Quirion Ranger let you do this multiple times. Selvala is a flexible commander with high power levels; you can build them to rub shoulders with the format’s best or as the leader of Timmy.dec.

#13. Oswald Fiddlebender

Oswald Fiddlebender

Oswald Fiddlebender is an incredibly flexible commander that offers great mana value. Birthing Pod for artifacts is incredibly good, especially if you lean towards a stax build that utilizes Oswald to find silver bullets like Torpor Orb, Damping Sphere, and Trinisphere. Once those lock down the game, Oswald Fiddlebender can find all the combo pieces you need to win in a single turn.

#12. Marrow-Gnawer


Marrow-Gnawer can be a very simple deck to build. One Gnawer, 40 swamps, 59 Rat Colony. That said, rat typal decks can go much deeper than just Rat Colony and Relentless RatsWilds of Eldraine introduced some new players, like Lord Skitter, Sewer King and Twisted Sewer-Witch. Piper of the Swarm, Ogre Slumlord, and Ratcatcher all give you more utility than just turning rats sideways.

#11. Magda, Brazen Outlaw

Magda, Brazen Outlaw

What’s better than playing a bunch of creatures nobody’s heard of, like Dwarven Grunt, Bloodfire Dwarf, and Spark Mage? Using them to cheat out dragons! Magda, Brazen Outlaw is fantastic fun, generating a strong mana advantage via Treasures and tacking on a tutor for dragons or artifacts that often nets mana in the exchange. A few cards like Springleaf Drum and Paradise Mantle to tap your dwarves without attacking really help this commander.

#10. Fynn, the Fangbearer

Fynn, the Fangbearer

EDH is a rough format for aggressive decks. After all, you need to deal 120 damage to take your opponents out of the game – that’s a lot of attacks. Of course, we could always reduce the number. Fynn, the Fangbearer is a fantastic aggressive mono-colored commander. You only need to deal 30 damage to take out your opponents – potentially less, with proliferate cards speeding the process along. Deathtouchers are already annoying to block. This commander puts your opponents between a rock and a snake.

#9. Giada, Font of Hope

Giada, Font of Hope

Giada, Font of Hope is relatively new to the scene but has quickly become the mono-white angel commander. A mana dork isn’t what you’d expect from a mono-white deck, but that really helps tie the concept together as angels tend to cost a lot of mana. A few other cheap typal enablers, like Starnheim Aspirant and Righteous Valkyrie, help tie the deck together for a formidable army of Serra’s descendants.

#8. Heliod, Sun-Crowned

Heliod, Sun-Crowned

White is the color for gaining life, so Heliod, Sun-Crowned has a lot of material to work with. Much of the life gain is passive; cards like Soul Warden, Authority of the Consuls, and Aetherflux Reservoir gain you life for taking basic game actions. Of course, we can’t forget the lethality Heliod offers as a potent combo piece with Walking Ballista or Triskelion.

#7. Orvar, the All-Form

Orvar, the All-Form

Orvar, the All-Form exists solely to prove that blue can ramp without artifacts. You want every Twiddle variant possible to make copies of your Islands to store up mana before your combo finishes. And you will finish with combos because Orvar is one of those commanders that basically goes infinite with everything under the sun (but especially Peregrine Drake and Mind Games). What Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle does with artifact loops, Orvar does with instants and sorceries.

#6. Bruvac the Grandiloquent

Bruvac the Grandiloquent

Bruvac the Grandiloquent is the best mono-blue mill commander. It’s hard to play mill in Commander, as the libraries are so large, and you have to chew through three of them. Doubling the number of cards you mill is a great start, especially as a combo with cards like Traumatize and Cut Your Losses that mill half your opponent’s libraries themselves.

#5. Krenko, Mob Boss

Krenko, Mob Boss

Goblins. Goblins as far as the eye can see. Krenko, Mob Boss is a must-kill commander, as it takes over games in the blink of an eye if left unchecked. The deluge of goblin tokens has a variety of uses, from fueling Skirk Prospector and Goblin Bombardment to providing lethal board presence through Shared Animosity and Coat of Arms.

#4. Marwyn, the Nurturer

Marwyn, the Nurturer

Marwyn, the Nurturer is the best option for mono-colored Elves, but it can also be built as a storm commander, with both decks relying on its insane mana production. The elf side is fairly typical; generate an obscene amount of mana to flood the board and finish the game with Craterhoof Behemoth or a similar effect. The storm build relies on combat tricks that untap the target, like Boon of Boseiju and Arachnoid Adaptation as a series of rituals that generate more and more mana with each iteration.

#3. Tergrid, God of Fright / Tergrid’s Lantern

Tergrid, God of Fright Tergrid's Lantern

Few commanders are so imposing as Tergrid, God of Fright. This deck wants plenty of cards like Dark Ritual and Sol Ring to land Tergrid ASAP, both for fast value and because the rest of the table will target you with this at the helm. Once Tergrid’s in play, cards like Fleshbag Marauder and Plaguecrafter can help you develop a board presence, while cards like Pox and Dark Deal practically win you the game.

#2. Urza, Lord High Artificer

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Winter Orb and Static Orb are certainly fun cards, so Urza, Lord High Artificer must be a fun commander since it exploits them, right? One of the best stax commanders, Urza lets you break parity some of the strongest cards in the game while serving as an infinite mana outlet. I’m especially fond of Polymorph builds where the only creatures are Urza in the command zone and Hullbreaker Horror and Tidespout Tyrant in the 99 for combo purposes.

#1. K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth

K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth

The easiest way to design broken Magic cards is by letting players cheat on mana. That’s why Phyrexian mana is such a disgustingly broken mechanic, so why not make all our black spells cost Phyrexian mana? If you build K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth at its strongest, you can win on turn one. Even if you don’t go that hard, the amount of mana this commander generates is utterly insane. Just include a few cards that help gain a little life back.

Best Mono-Colored Commander Payoffs

One of the biggest payoffs for mono-color commanders lies in the mana base. Firstly, a mana base that only needs to provide one color of mana has far more room for colorless value lands. Cards like Demolition Field, Scavenger Grounds, and Geier Reach Sanitarium can be tricky to work into a multicolored mana base that needs to provide fixing but mono-color decks can pretty much play as many as they’d like.

Secondly, mono-colored mana bases can leverage a lot of stax pieces that damage multicolor decks. A mana base primarily composed of basics doesn’t care about Blood Moon or Back to Basics. When you only need one color of mana, Hall of Gemstone and Contamination are boons rather than hindrances.

Mono-colored decks also have some support cards designed specifically for them. Commander's Plate gets better and better the fewer colors you run. Caged Sun and Gauntlet of Power work best in single-colored decks. Throne of Eldraine and Sceptre of Eternal Glory are more recent cards that benefit mono-colored Commander decks.

Many colors also have cards that reward you for having lots of permanents or basic lands in one color. For example, Scourge of Fleets and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle reward your mono-color mana bases, while cards like Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury and Gray Merchant of Asphodel reward you for keeping creatures of your chosen color in play.

Commanding Conclusion

Minn, Wily Illusionist - Illustration by Dmitry Burmak

Minn, Wily Illusionist | Illustration by Dmitry Burmak

There are enough commanders nowadays that you can do basically anything you want with any color combination you’re interested in, but restrictions breed creativity. There’s no greater restriction than confining yourself to a single color’s resources and cards.

But there’s something delightful about it, especially when you pick your favorite color. You can sculpt a deck designed to show why that color is your favorite, which really captures the heart of EDH as a format.

What’s your favorite color? What about your favorite mono-colored commander? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Twitter!

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