Last updated on February 20, 2024

Warp World - Illustration by Ron Spencer

Warp World | Illustration by Ron Spencer

“Archetype” is a somewhat nebulous term in Magic. Most players understand what “control” or “aggro” means, but terms like “aristocrats,” “group slug,” and “superfriends” aren’t immediately obvious to newer players. Today I’m compiling a non-exhaustive list of some of the most popular archetypes for Commander, through these descriptors can be mixed and matched within the same decks.

Quick note: This isn’t a deckbuilding exercise or commentary on what’s optimal in Commander or not. The decklists are just here to highlight what kinds of cards you can expect in a given archetype. Plus, many of the decklists provided come from my own personal collection, and I only have so many Triomes and fetch lands, so cut me some slack.

Note: deck archetypes are numbered for clarity but not ranked.

#25. Ramp

Topiary Stomper - Illustration by Robin Olausson

Topiary Stomper | Illustration by Robin Olausson

Starting off with some of the broader macro-archetypes, ramp decks look to accelerate mana in the first few turns and drop haymakers and finishers way ahead of schedule.

Rampant Growth Birds of Paradise

While most green decks run some number of Rampant Growth effects, ramp decks usually play a large quantity of mana dorks like Birds of Paradise to kick off as soon as possible. They often forego mid-game 4-drops and 5-drops to load up on early ramp spells and late-game closers.

What better way to highlight a ramp deck than with Magic’s very own Veloci-Ramp-Tor precon (their name, not mine)? It’s a dinosaur-themed deck, which means a large number of expensive creatures. The package of Rampant Growth, Farseek, and Migration Path is a clear indication of a dedicated ramp strategy.

#24. Aggro

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar - Illustration by Bryan Sola

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar | Illustration by Bryan Sola

Aggro is a macro-archetype that simply means you’re trying to kill your opponents with damage as quickly as possible. Whether you do that through combat or burn spells, you want to start attacking as soon as you can.

Adeline, Resplendent Cathar

Aggro decks play to the board heavily and can be vulnerable to board wipes, so it’s important to play the most efficient threats you can at every point on the curve. The list provided is an Adeline, Resplendent Cathar deck that was developed for MTG Arena’s Brawl format, but it could easily be adapted to paper Commander with a few easy changes. You’ll notice the deck has an extremely high number of 1-drops and nothing that costs more than 4 mana since it’s trying to wrap up games way before the turns where expensive spells would matter.

#23. Control

Nymris, Oona's Trickster - Illustration by Johannes Voss

Nymris, Oona's Trickster | Illustration by Johannes Voss

Control is a reactive macro-archetype that wants to operate at instant speed and respond to what your opponents are doing. Control decks are usually much lighter on wincons and board presence, with more emphasis on interaction through counterspells, board wipes, and flash threats.

Nymris, Oona's Trickster

Control decks often have a combo element to them, biding time with interaction until the combo pieces can be assembled. This Nymris, Oona's Trickster decklist has a theme of casting spells during opponents’ turns, and it features almost exclusively instant-speed plays.

#22. Typal

The Ur-Dragon - Illustration by Jaime Jones

The Ur-Dragon | Illustration by Jaime Jones

Commander (1)

The Ur-Dragon

Battle (1)

Invasion of Tarkir

Planeswalker (3)

Sarkhan, Fireblood
Sivitri, Dragon Master
Sarkhan Unbroken

Creature (37)

Korlessa, Scale Singer
Sylvia Brightspear
Dragonborn Champion
Renari, Merchant of Marvels
Boneyard Scourge
Kyodai, Soul of Kamigawa
Nicol Bolas, the Ravager
Scion of the Ur-Dragon
Wasitora, Nekoru Queen
Glorybringer
Lozhan, Dragons' Legacy
Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury
Scourge of Valkas
Dragonlord Ojutai
Hellkite Courser
Scourge of the Throne
Dragonlord Kolaghan
Steel Hellkite
Savage Ventmaw
Khorvath Brightflame
Silumgar, the Drifting Death
Dragonlord Silumgar
Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm
Lathliss, Dragon Queen
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Dragonlord Dromoka
Sapphire Dragon
Skyline Despot
Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
Beledros Witherbloom
Bladewing the Risen
Tiamat
Atarka, World Render
Morophon, the Boundless
Bogarden Hellkite
Utvara Hellkite
Scion of Draco

Instant (3)

Goryo's Vengeance
Sarkhan's Triumph
Spit Flame

Sorcery (4)

Cultivate
Kodama's Reach
Patriarch's Bidding
Crux of Fate

Enchantment (5)

Dragon Tempest
Heartless Summoning
Rhythm of the Wild
The Elder Dragon War
Sneak Attack

Artifact (8)

Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Orb of Dragonkind
Lightning Greaves
Carnelian Orb of Dragonkind
Herald's Horn
Dragon's Hoard
Commander's Sphere

Land (38)

Command Tower
Path of Ancestry
Ancient Ziggurat
Haven of the Spirit Dragon
Crucible of the Spirit Dragon
Mana Confluence
Temple of the Dragon Queen
Secluded Courtyard
Cavern of Souls
Unclaimed Territory
Reflecting Pool
Fabled Passage
Temple of the False God
Ash Barrens
Raugrin Triome
Jungle Shrine
Savage Lands
Bloodstained Mire
Wooded Foothills
Morphic Pool
Luxury Suite
Spire Garden
Bountiful Promenade
Sea of Clouds
Undergrowth Stadium
Sacred Foundry
Godless Shrine
Overgrown Tomb
Watery Grave
Temple Garden
Plains
Island
Forest x2
Mountain x2
Swamp x2

Typal decks reward you for biasing towards a single creature type. It’s one of the most popular Commander archetypes, especially with first-time deck-builders, with many of the most popular commanders in the game being typal payoffs.

Generic typal support pieces like Herald's Horn and Cavern of Souls are perfect for these decks, whether that be ninjas, zombies, elves, or something less popular like avatars and rebels. The decklist provided is a typical The Ur-Dragon build, with a mix of generic typal support and more specific dragons-matter cards.

#21. Tokens/Go-Wide

Kasla, the Broken Halo - Illustration by Martina Fackova

Kasla, the Broken Halo | Illustration by Martina Fackova

Go-wide decks want to flood the board with creatures and use Overrun or Impact Tremors style effects to turn an army of creatures into a victory. They don’t have to be token decks, but it’s hard to reach critical mass of creatures without doing some sort of token shenanigans.

Parallel Lives Mondrak, Glory Dominus

These decks make cards like Parallel Lives and Mondrak, Glory Dominus staples in the format.

While go-wide strategies are usually associated with the color pair, I’ve linked to the Divine Convocation precon from March of the Machine Commander because it’s a cool spin on the archetype. Instead of trying to win with a Craterhoof Behemoth, it uses its token generators to fuel convoke spells, particularly instants that can be played when you’re technically tapped out to catch opponents off guard.

#20. Counters

Bright-Palm, Soul Awakener - Illustration by Mila Pesic

Bright-Palm, Soul Awakener | Illustration by Mila Pesic

Commander (1)

Bright-Palm, Soul Awakener

Creature (34)

Abzan Falconer
Biophagus
Champion of Lambholt
Conclave Mentor
Conclave Sledge-Captain
Death-Greeter's Champion
Dusk Legion Duelist
Elite Scaleguard
Esper Sentinel
Exocrine
Forgotten Ancient
Guardian Scalelord
Gwenna, Eyes of Gaea
Gyre Sage
Halana and Alena, Partners
Incubation Druid
Kalonian Hydra
Kodama of the West Tree
Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin
Lae'zel, Vlaakith's Champion
Leinore, Autumn Sovereign
Luminarch Aspirant
Managorger Hydra
Mawloc
Mirror-Style Master
Rishkar, Peema Renegade
Shalai and Hallar
Steelbane Hydra
Sunscorch Regent
The Red Terror
Tuskguard Captain
Tyrant Guard
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
Walking Balista

Instant (7)

Dromoka's Command
Generous Gift
Heroic Intervention
Inscription of Abundance
Inspiring Call
Silkguard
Swords to Plowshares

Sorcery (4)

Cultivate
Damning Verdict
Expand the Spheres
Kodama's Reach

Enchantment (9)

All Will Be One
Branching Evolution
Felidar Retreat
Hardened Scales
Invigorating Hot Spring
Jugan Defends the Temple / Remnant of the Rising Star
Ranger Class
Rhythm of the Wild
Together Forever

Artifact (7)

Arcane Signet
Commander's Sphere
Fellwar Stone
Ozolith, the Shattered Spire
Sol Ring
The Great Henge
The Ozolith

Land (38)

Arid Mesa
Bountiful Promenade
Canopy Vista
Cinder Glade
Command Tower
Exotic Orchard
Demolition Field
Fabled Passage
Forest x3
Gavony Township
Jetmir's Garden
Jungle Shrine
Karn's Bastion
Kessig Wolf Run
Krosan Verge
Llanowar Reborn
Mosswort Bridge
Mountain x3
Opal Palace
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Path of Ancestry
Plains x3
Prismatic Vista
Rogue's Passage
Sacred Foundry
Spectator Seating
Spire Garden
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Temple of the False God
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills

You can build a deck around just about any well-supported type of counter, whether that’s poison counters, charge counters, -1/-1 counters, and so on. The overwhelming majority of counter decks focus on +1/+1 counters, with an endless wave of support for the archetype.

Hardened Scales Branching Evolution

There are tons of Hardened Scales and Branching Evolution force multipliers for +1/+1 counter decks, with new support pieces in just about every new Magic set. The decklist is an upgraded version of the Call for Backup precon, using the backup mechanic as a basis for a +1/+1 counter deck that’s trying to make enormous threats and kill opponents through sheer combat damage.

#19. Lifegain

Liesa, Shroud of Dusk - Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Liesa, Shroud of Dusk | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Commander (1)

Liesa, Shroud of Dusk

Creature (26)

Archangel of Thune
Archivist of Oghma
Athreos, God of Passage
Auriok Champion
Burnished Hart
Celestine, the Living Saint
Dauthi Voidwalker
Felidar Sovereign
Giada, Font of Hope
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Great Unclean One
Kambal, Consul of Allocation
Lion Sash
Rhox Faithmender
Righteous Valkyrie
Serra's Emissary
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
Solemn Simulacrum
Sun Titan
Sunscorch Regent
Suture Priest
Tymna the Weaver
Valkyrie Harbinger
Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose
Vizkopa Guildmage
Witch of the Moors

Instant (7)

Crush Contraband
Despark
Flawless Maneuver
Return to Dust
Surge of Salvation
Swords to Plowshares
Szat's Will

Sorcery (9)

Austere Command
Blot Out the Sky
Deadly Tempest
Debt to the Deathless
Farewell
Fumigate
Revival / Revenge
Unburial Rites
Yawgmoth's Vile Offering

Enchantment (17)

Ashes of the Abhorrent
Aura of Silence
Authority of the Consuls
Blind Obedience
Cleric Class
Dawn of Hope
Ethereal Absolution
Exquisite Blood
Firja's Retribution
Ghostly Prison
Painful Quandary
Phyrexian Arena
Polluted Bonds
Rampage of the Valkyries
Sanguine Bond
Smothering Tithe
Sphere of Safety

Artifact (4)

Arcane Signet
Norn's Annex
Sol Ring
Well of Lost Dreams

Land (36)

Bojuka Bog
Cabal Coffers
Castle Locthwain
Caves of Koilos
Command Beacon
Command Tower
Fabled Passage
Fetid Heath
Godless Shrine
High Market
Isolated Chapel
Memorial to Folly
Myriad Landscape
Orzhov Basilica
Path of Ancestry
Plains x6
Reliquary Tower
Seraph Sanctuary
Shattered Sanctum
Shineshadow Snarl
Shizo, Death's Storehouse
Silent Clearing
Swamp x4
Temple of Silence
Temple of the False God
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Vault of Champions
Vault of the Archangel

As the name suggests, lifegain decks want to increase their life total and trigger lifegain payoffs like Sanguine Bond or Dawn of Hope. They’re naturally harder to kill due to their artificially higher life total, and they often feature one-shot wincons like Aetherflux Reservoir and Felidar Sovereign.

Liesa, Shroud of Dusk

The list here comes from user Gangus on Moxfield and uses lifegain effects to counteract the life loss effects on Liesa, Shroud of Dusk. The deck also features a small angel-typal package and several other punisher-style effects that amplify Liesa’s damage output, making sure it’s always ahead on the damage race.

#18. Superfriends

Commodore Guff - Illustration by Matt Stewart

Commodore Guff | Illustration by Matt Stewart

Commander (1)

Commodore Guff

Planeswalker (17)

Ajani Steadfast
Chandra, Awakened Inferno
Chandra, Legacy of Fire
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Gideon Jura
Jace Beleren
Jace, Architect of Thought
Jace, Mirror Mage
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Narset of the Ancient Way
Narset, Parter of Veils
Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
Sarkhan the Masterless
Teyo, Geometric Tactician
The Wanderer
Vronos, Masked Inquisitor

Creature (17)

Cartographer's Hawk
Deepglow Skate
Flux Channeler
Fog Bank
Grateful Apparition
Jaya's Phoenix
Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
Leori, Sparktouched Hunter
Mangara, the Diplomat
Narset, Enlightened Master
Onakke Oathkeeper
Oreskos Explorer
Silent Arbiter
Spark Double
Sparkshaper Visionary
Thrummingbird
Wall of Denial

Instant (5)

Guff Rewrites History
Path to Exile
Semester's End
Swords to Plowshares
Repeated Reverberation

Sorcery (4)

Blasphemous Act
Deploy the Gatewatch
Promise of Loyalty
Urza's Ruinous Blast

Enchantment (3)

Oath of Gideon
Oath of Jace
Oath of Teferi

Artifact (15)

Arcane Signet
Azorius Signet
Boros Signet
Fellwar Stone
Gatewatch Beacon
Honor-Worn Shaku
Izzet Signet
Nevinyrral's Disk
Norn's Annex
Sol Ring
Talisman of Conviction
Talisman of Creativity
Talisman of Progress
The Chain Veil
Wayfarer's Bauble

Land (38)

Cascade Bluffs
Command Tower
Exotic Orchard
Forge of Heroes
Frostboil Snarl
Furycalm Snarl
Interplanar Beacon
Island x7
Karn's Bastion
Mobilized District
Mountain x4
Myriad Landscape
Mystic Gate
Mystic Monastery
Plains x7
Port Town
Prairie Stream
Reliquary Tower
Rugged Prairie
Skycloud Expanse
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Epiphany
Temple of Triumph

Superfriends is shorthand for “planeswalkers matter.” These have a bit of a stigma against them since they can take long, complicated turns and often extend the length of games due to players attacking planeswalkers instead of players. They also frequently load up on board wipes as a means to keep creatures from threatening their ‘walkers.

Magic released its first superfriends deck with the Planeswalker Party precon as part of the Commander Masters line-up. Whereas the average Commander deck probably runs 0-2 planeswalkers, this precon jammed in just shy of 20, with plenty of ways to protect them and get extra loyalty activations.

#17. Recursion/Graveyard

Dauthi Voidwalker - Illustration by Sidharth Chaturvedi

Dauthi Voidwalker | Illustration by Sidharth Chaturvedi

Commander (1)

Kagha, Shadow Archdruid

Planeswalker (1)

Wrenn and Realmbreaker

Creature (25)

Ancient Brass Dragon
Bellowing Mauler
Burning-Rune Demon
Dauthi Voidwalker
Erinis, Gloom Stalker
Eternal Witness
Gravebreaker Lamia
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Junji, the Midnight Sky
Keen Duelist
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Nyx Weaver
Oriq Loremage
Ramunap Excavaor
Reclamation Sage
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Shigeki, Jukai Visionary
Shriekmaw
Sivriss, Nightmare Speaker
Skull Prophet
Stitcher's Supplier
Syr Konrad, the Grim
Tormod, the Desecrator
Underrealm Lich

Instant (12)

Abrupt Decay
Assassin's Trophy
Beast Within
Deadly Rollick
Force of Vigor
Grapple with the Past
Heroic Intervention
Infernal Grasp
Nature's Claim
Return to Nature
Rushed Rebirth
Tear Asunder

Sorcery (13)

Bala Ged Recovery
Cultivate
Damnation
Exsanguinate
Incarnation Technique
Living Death
Rampant Growth
Reanimate
Torment of Hailfire
Toxic Deluge
Unearth
Unmarked Grave
Victimize

Enchantment (9)

Animate Dead
Exploration
Family's Favor
Guardian Project
Heartless Summoning
Nature's Will
Phyrexian Arena
Sylvan Library
The Mending of Dominaria

Artifact (5)

Arcane Signet
Elixir of Immortality
Mind Stone
Sol Ring
Swiftfoot Boots

Land (34)

Arcane Lighthouse
Bojuka Bog
Cabal Coffers
Castle Locthwain
Command Tower
Darkbore Pathway
Deathcap Glade
Forest x6
Golgari Rot Farm
Llanowar Wastes
Nurturing Peatland
Overgrown Tomb
Swamp x8
Tainted Wood
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Temple of the False God
Twilight Mire
Undergrowth Stadium
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Verdant Catacombs
Woodland Cemetery
Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth

This is a huge category that could honestly be broken down a bit more into sub-archetypes like reanimator, self-mill, and small-ball recursion decks. Regardless of the specific strategy, graveyard-centric decks want to put as many cards in their graveyard as possible, treating it like a second hand of cards. Some of the most broken plays in Magic involve using the graveyard as a resource, and most decks naturally have some sort of recursive element to them.

This decklist comes from Mulciber113 on Archidekt and combines elements of reanimator, self-mill, and recursion packages to form a multi-faceted deck that can tailor its gameplan to whatever’s happening in the current game. “Graveyard Shenanigans” seems like an appropriate title for this entire category of archetypes.

#16. Landfall

Tatyova, Steward of Tides (Dominaria United) - Illustration by Howard Lyon

Tatyova, Steward of Tides | Illustration by Howard Lyon

Commander (1)

Tatyova, Steward of Tides

Planeswalker (2)

Nissa, Vital Force
Wrenn and Seven

Battle (1)

Invasion of Zendikar

Creature (26)

Ancient Greenwarden
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Blossoming Tortoise
Coiling Oracle
Colossal Skyturtle
Elvish Reclaimer
Embodiment of Insight
Erinis, Gloom Stalker
Eternal Witness
Jolrael, Voice of Zhalfir
Kamahl, Heart of Krosa
Kodama of the East Tree
Kura, the Boundless Sky
Llanowar Loamspeaker
Mystic Snake
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Oracle of Mul Daya
Ramunap Excavator
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Shigeki, Jukai Visionary
Slogurk, the Overslime
Sylvan Advocate
Thrasios, Triton Hero
Titania, Protector of Argoth
Yedora, Grave Gardener

Instant (8)

Awakening of Vitu-Ghazi
Beast Within
Harrow
Heroic Intervention
Joint Exploration
Kamahl's Will
Ride the Avalanche
Voidslime

Sorcery (16)

Coastal Breach
Consuming Tide
Crush of Tentacles
Devastation Tide
Emergent Sequence
Life from the Loam
Nylea's Intervention
Part the Waterveil
Pir's Whim
Praetor's Consul
Skyshroud Claim
Splendid Reclamation
Sylvan Awakening
Urban Evolution
Venture Forth
Wave of Vitriol

Enchantment (4)

Druid Class
Retreat to Coralhelm
Roaring Earth
Wilderness Reclamation

Artifact (2)

Conduit of Worlds
Sol Ring

Land (40)

Blighted Woodland
Command Tower
Crawling Barrens
Darksteel Citadel
Evolving Wilds
Faerie Conclave
Field of the Dead
Forest x12
Hall of the Storm Giants
Island x8
Lair of the Hydra
Littjara Mirrorlake
Lumbering Falls
Myriad Landscape
Otawara, Soaring City
Restless Vinestalk
Simic Growth Chamber
Tanglepool Bridge
Temple of Mystery
Terramorphic Expanse
Tolaria West
Treetop Village

“Landfall” is used as a way of identifying any lands-matter deck. They don’t necessarily rely on landfall permanents, but they all share the goal of using lands beyond just tapping for mana. Whether that’s fueling Scute Swarm or creating a card-draw engine with The Gitrog Monster, landfall decks feature more utility lands than the average deck.

This Moxfield deck by GilderBairn takes a more controlling approach to a lands-matter deck with asymmetrical board wipes that don’t bounce creature lands. You’ll also notice a slightly higher land count than normal, and more emphasis on land-based ramp than artifact-based ramp, which are both common features of lands decks.

#15. Aristocrats/Sacrifice

Nethroi, Apex of Death - Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Nethroi, Apex of Death | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Commander (1)

Nethroi, Apex of Death

Planeswalker (2)

Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools
Liliana, Dreadhorde General

Creature (32)

Haywire Mite
Carrion Feeder
Viscera Seer
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim
Bartolomé del Presidio
Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia
Blood Artist
Reassembling Skeleton
Vraan, Executioner Thane
Priest of Forgotten Gods
Viridian Emissary
Cruel Celebrant
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Bloodghast
Zulaport Cutthroat
Morbid Opportunist
Woe Strider
Pawn of Ulamog
Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Fleshbag Marauder
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
Wood Elves
Ophiomancer
Solemn Simulacrum
Poison-Tip Archer
Sanguinary Priest
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Meren of Clan Nel Toth
Krav, the Unredeemed
Syr Konrad, the Grim
Regna, the Redeemer
Protean Hulk

Instant (6)

Malakir Rebirth
Fanatical Offering
Plump the Forbidden
Saw in Half
Wretched Confluence
Szat's Will

Sorcery (7)

Pest Infestation
Diabolic Intent
Damn
Primal Growth
Blood for Bones
Ghouls' Night Out
Eerie Ultimatum

Enchantment (8)

Vampiric Rites
Ghoulish Procession
Dreadhorde Invasion
Hidden Stockpile
Bitterblossom
Blight Mound
Bastion of Remembrance
Journey to Eternity

Artifact (7)

Sol Ring
Skullclamp
Arcane Signet
Golgari Signet
Norn's Wellspring
Commander's Sphere
Bolas's Citadel

Land (37)

Murmuring Bosk
Indatha Triome
Sandsteppe Citadel
Command Tower
Exotic Orchard
Path of Ancestry
Terramorphic Expanse
Evolving Wilds
Myriad Landscape
Ash Barrens
Westvale Abbey
High Market
Grim Backwoods
Krosan Verge
Sunpetal Grove
Windswept Heath
Canopy Vista
Temple Garden
Temple of Silence
Marsh Flats
Shambling Vent
Nurturing Peatland
Verdant Catacombs
Twilight Mire
Deathcap Glade
Overgrown Tomb
Brightclimb Pathway
Necroblossom Snarl
Phyrexian Tower
Forest x3
Plains x2
Swamp x3

Players usually refer to creature sacrifice decks as “aristocrats” decks, a moniker coined by Sam Black, who piloted a well-known sacrifice-themed deck centered around Falkenrath Aristocrat and Cartel Aristocrat.

Blood Artist Nethroi, Apex of Death

These decks usually feature three key elements: sacrifice outlets, sacrifice fodder, and sacrifice payoffs in the form of death triggers. It’s the best home for Blood Artist and friends, and sometimes features combo loops as part of its strategy. The Nethroi, Apex of Death deck is full of redundant pieces in each of the main categories.

#14. Voltron

Geist of Saint Traft - Illustration by Igor Kieryluk

Geist of Saint Traft | Illustration by Igor Kieryluk

A Voltron strategy focuses all its attention on building up one unstoppable threat and having that be your main wincon. Voltron strategies often rely on hexproof or indestructible creatures to ward off interaction, and they use equipment, auras, and/or +1/+1 counters to enhance that threat. These decks can be soft to certain kinds of removal and often draw the attention of opponents since they often play the role of the aggressor.

Geist of Saint Traft

The decklist provided uses Geist of Saint Traft as a reliable early-game hexproof threat that piles on damage with a toolbox of equipment for different situations.

#13. Group Hug

Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis - Illustration by Willian Murai

Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis | Illustration by Willian Murai

Group Hug players just want everyone to have a good time. This strategy includes cards and effects that benefit multiple players. Howling Mine effects are a hallmark of group hug decks, though most of these decks also feature ways to punish players.

It’s the perfect political strategy for Commander, since you usually have more to offer other players in exchange for a reprieve from attacks or removal. It’s best to have control over your group hug cards though. If you just play completely universal effects that benefit everyone equally, the player with the strongest deck is often going to come out on top.

Though severely outdated, 2018’s Stalwart Unity precon is exactly what a typical group hug deck looks like, full of cards like Veteran Explorer and Humble Defector, but also sneaking in wincons like Psychosis Crawler and Keening Stone (severely outdated). To this day, Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis remains one of the most balanced and definitive group hug commanders.

#12. Group Slug

Mogis, God of Slaughter - Illustration by Peter Mohrbacher

Mogis, God of Slaughter | Illustration by Peter Mohrbacher

Group Slug players just want everyone to have a bad time. The antithesis of group hug, group slug players seek pain. This strategy attacks players’ resources, which often includes the group slug player themselves. Sulfuric Vortex and Painful Quandary are examples of group slug cards that sap players of their resources, whether that’s life, board presence, or cards in hand.

I’ve pulled a Group Slug decklist from fellow Draftsim writer A.L. Walser that exemplifies this playstyle perfectly. The commander’s mean, the cards are mean, and the entire premise of the deck is making sure players are dying, even if that means taking damage from your own cards.

#11. Chaos

Okaun, Eye of Chaos - Illustration by Yongjae Choi

Okaun, Eye of Chaos | Illustration by Yongjae Choi

True chaos decks are ones that maximize the randomness of the game by casting spells with huge splashy effects that don’t necessarily have a specific goal in mind. Chaos players are often less interested in winning and more focused on creating wild game states and memorable moments that don’t happen in a typical game.

Warp World is the quintessential chaos card, basically swapping everything on the board with a random arrangement of other cards that no one really has any agency in choosing. It’s also very common to see a coin-flip element incorporated into chaos decks, making Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom and Okaun, Eye of Chaos the most popular commanders for the archetype.

In the spirit of chaos, I generated a completely random decklist featuring chaos cards all mashed together. That comes courtesy of EDHREC’s “Average Deck” tool, so it’s more of an amalgamation of every chaos deck listed on their website. Is it functional? Who cares, it’s chaotic!

#10. Blink/Flicker

Lagrella, the Magpie - Illustration by Donato Giancola

Lagrella, the Magpie | Illustration by Donato Giancola

Blink decks are two-parters that look to combine powerful ETBs with effects that let you reuse them.

They usually end up being value piles that draw tons of cards with things like Mulldrifter or Coiling Oracle, using repeatable blink effects like Soulherder and Teleportation Circle to turn those ETBs into a value engine.

Disenchant Torpor Orb

The decklist here doesn’t have a concrete plan it’s trying to enact. Instead, it’s attempting to accrue so much value through ETB creatures that it just buries its opponents in card draw and options. Blink decks often cut back on removal spells since most of their interaction is tied to creature ETBs, though you still need a few Disenchant effects to make sure you’re not completely dead to a Torpor Orb.

#9. Spellslinger

Kraum, Ludevic's Opus - Illustration by Aaron Miller

Kraum, Ludevic's Opus | Illustration by Aaron Miller