Last updated on February 1, 2021
Omnath, Locus of Creation | Illustrated by Chris Rahn
I love, love, love Commander. it’s what got me into Magic and keeps me interested in Magic. It’s also one of the fastest growing formats over the last five years, so being able to add the 4-color chapter to our growing catalog is awesome.
If this is your first time reading about Commander, (or EDH as my old-school heart likes to call it) there’s a couple of things that are good to know, so let’s list them real quick. Commander is played with:
- 100 cards, with only one copy of each card except basic lands;
- Your commander is at the helm in the form of a legendary creature or a few designated planeswalkers;
- Your commander’s color identity determines what color cards you can add to your deck;
- The format supports all cards that are legal in MTG with a few exceptions in the form of banned cards.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the quad-color commanders that are out there for you to tinker around with!
Breya, Etherium Shaper | Illustrated by Clint Cearley
Four-Color Commanders, Why So Hard?
I’m sure you can imagine that creating new cards for MTG is no easy task. Creating multi-colored cards, dubbed “gold cards” because of the gold rim, is a whole other thing altogether. Putting different colors together means that they have to find a synergy between them, while it’s important to set mono-colored cards apart from one another. This is the why it’s hard to make 2- and 3-colored cards work and feel well-balanced. Then there’s quad-color.
There’s a reason why there were only five creatures in the whole of MTG that had four colors, at least up until about 2016. Those OG quad-color creatures are the Nephilim and they were part of the original Ravnica block set, Guildpact.
Creating something with a 4-color identity can quickly lead to something that can feel “very soup-y,” as Mark Rosewater calls it. There’s a real challenge in creating a card that’s distinct and recognizable and costs four colors. Hence why there had only been the Nephilim cycle for so long.
The Quad-Color Commanders
But in 2016, that was about to change. The Commander product of that year would feature something fans had been asking for a long time: not one but five 4-color commanders would hit the scene. With the return to Zendikar (again), an already-famous legendary would join their ranks.
If you don’t already know them, feast your eyes on these beauties:
- Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice
- Breya, Etherium Shaper
- Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis
- Omnath, Locus of Creation
- Saskia the Unyielding
- Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder
Implications and Deck Design
Mark Rosewater has said on numerous occasions that “limitations push creative design.” You can imagine that with both 4- and 5-color commanders this becomes a problem because there are barely any limitations. This makes it very difficult to pick a direction for your deck.
In my experience, just throwing a bunch of color-fitting cards into a 100-card pile is far from making a fun or meaningful deck. Quite the opposite, in fact. It makes you not want to pick up the deck because you don’t have a connection with it and it just feels random and, yes, soup-y. Planning what you want your deck to do is important.
That’s why I suggest you come up with a plan when picking your quad-color commander and stick to it. I’ve got a couple tips of what you can do to put yourself on a creative path for your deck.
These tips are what I use when creating a new deck. It’s a great way to get your creative juices flowing and give you a start to an awesome 4-color deck. You can boost it even further by combining a couple of the tips to really push yourself and your deck to new heights.
Saskia the Unyielding | Illustrated by Greg Opalinski
Play to Their Strengths
Look at what your commander does, what they’re good at, and play to their strengths. For instance, Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder has cascade, so making that your theme puts you on a great path to an awesome deck that’s fun to play.
Weave Around a Combo
Take Goblin Charbelcher as an example. This has long been a cool combo in Legacy and Vintage. While it doesn’t have to be as cut-throat as those decks, it still gives you a great path to follow to a really fun deck.
Build with an Off-Color Theme
Artifacts are historically linked to blue, so why not push yourself and pick Saskia the Unyielding for your artifact deck instead? Bonus points if you include Stuffy Doll and incorporate both the commander’s strengths and flavor too.
Tribal decks are always great and often lead to crazy games. They put you on a clear path of what you can do. Wizards, humans, soldiers, spirits, and elementals are supported by all colors, for instance (hint hint).
Roll with a Playstyle
Think of things like the lands deck in Legacy, or dredge in Vintage, and incorporate that into your deck. These playstyles are different than the strategies that you usually see, so building a deck with a color combo you don’t see very often could really add some flavor to your games.
Dibs on Omnath, Locus of Creation.
Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder | Illustrated by Karl Kopinski
Build Around Lore
For example, Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice was built by the Phyrexian Praetors’ in those colors. She’s their voice. Create a deck that emphasizes Phyrexia and go ham.
Love World of Warcraft? Dig Family Guy? Into Lord of the Rings? Pick the best quad-color that represents your favorite movie, show, or game and use them as your building blocks.
Non-Specific Themes (Let Me Explain)
Use something other than the physical cards and go deeper. What’s your favorite MTG artist? How many hats are in MTG cards? How much MTG art is there depicting left-handed people? Try an all-ladies art deck or a one-eye-only art deck. Only brown, old, white, or new bordered cards. You see where I’m going with this.
The fun part is how long it’ll take for your opponent to figure out what you’re doing. Bonus points if the lands are included in your theme, too. Having all but one color in your commander enables you to make use of a theme like this wonderfully.
Yore-Tiller Nephilim | Illustrated by Jeremy Jarvis
Are Quads the Best Commanders?
The “best” is a word I feel doesn’t fit well in Commander, because it’s not the goal of the format. The goal is to have fun with your deck and your friends. There are definitely great options for certain themes and go-to cards that can go in any of your EDH decks, but the question I try to ask myself along the way is: “Is it fun?” I’ll give you an example.
I don’t like to play counters in EDH because just saying “no” to my opponent’s card isn’t fun to me. There are better ways to hold them off in my opinion. But I have a Nebuchadnezzar deck based on The Matrix with Force of Will, Cryptic Command, and Force of Negation. I’ll tell you why I broke my own code for these cards:
Force of Will
When Morpheus is captured by Agent Smith, he’s bound to a chair and given truth serum to betray the code to Zion. It takes him extreme force of will to resist answering.
Neo wakes up in front of his computer to find the text “Wake up, Neo” typed on his computer screen. It continues to talk to him and ends with “Follow the white Rabbit” before foretelling the knock on his door. A cryptic command.
Force of Negation
At the end of the movie, Neo finds himself being “The One.” He realizes this right before he gets shot at by Agents Smith, Brown, and Jones. He says “No” before stopping the bullets with his new force. A force that negates the bullets.
It’s for the amazing fun and flavor’s sake that these cards fit the deck perfectly and why I broke my own rule to put them in. When they’re in my hand my plan is always to counter trivial stuff because the point isn’t the counter itself, but to start a cool conversation with my friends and have fun with it.
That’s why asking yourself things like “Is it fun?” “Does it fit the theme?” and “Does it fit the Commander?” are important. These are questions you should keep in mind when creating your deck and are also the reason why the “best” isn’t applicable to these quadmanders, or any other card in EDH.
So, no, these aren’t the best commanders. But are they fun and should you give them a go? Hell yeah!
Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis | Illustrated by Willian Murai
The Community’s Reaction
Well, I did mention that this is something the community had been asking for a long time. It’s no surprise that the 4-color commanders were met with a lot of cheers and hoots. Finally, there were legendary quad-color creatures that could be used for Commander!
If you’ve been playing long enough, I’m sure you’ve used one of the Nephilim to build an EDH deck. And if you’re a bit like me, it always felt wrong because they’re not legendary. Mark Rosewater himself has said they should’ve been in hindsight. Now that there are six awesome choices for everyone to pick from, it’s no surprise the community has welcomed them with open arms.
I hope Wizards will make the effort to create more cards for the various color combos. I’m even going so far as to hope for quad-color planeswalkers that could helm a Commander deck.
Glint-Eye Nephilim | Illustrated by Mark Zug
Which 4-Color Commander is The Best?
Yes, I don’t believe there’s a “best” for Commander, but there’s definitely differences in power level between the “quadmasters.” Let’s put them up against each other and see who’s the best, shall we?
Pure Power: Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice
There’s a reason why Atraxa is the most expensive out of the bunch. She’s just plain powerful. Her keywords alone make her insane and proliferate puts her way over the top. She takes the best emblem in terms of power level.
Super Synergy: Omnath, Locus of Creation
When looking at Omnath, you just get inspired to throw as many lands onto the battlefield as possible each turn you get. The colors are perfect for it and the challenge of always being able to trigger all of Omnath’s abilities is a fun one to try to complete without being absolutely oppressive. It’s a great piece of design and this is definitely your best pick out of the six in the synergy section.
Artifact Lover: Breya, Etherium Shaper
Breya and artifacts. Need I say more? If you ever wished for an enabler to build the ultimate artifact EDH deck, this is it.
Cascade Commander: Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder
It was hard to imagine a card that would be better than Maelstrom Wanderer to helm a cascade deck. Enter Yidris to contest the throne. An amazingly fun commander that loves chaos. What better form than cascade to fuel its fire? A terribly fun commander and probably the best of its kind.
Group Hug: Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis
Group hug decks are a thing in EDH that should be played more often. They’re just fun to play. It’s cool to see everybody cast giant spells and create completely obscene board states. If this is your jam, then definitely pick up Kynaios and Tiro to helm your deck.
Next level unlocked if you incorporate a strong Zedruu the Greathearted theme. Your greedy friends should love that, right? Whether this is the best group hug commander is to be contested but there’s always room for more hugs, so bring it on.
Unconventional Stomper: Saskia the Unyielding
Saskia is the perfect commander to do something unconventional if you ask me. Its ability is very obvious. Just stomp hard and win quickly. But that makes me want to go a different route, hence my earlier suggestion of creating a weird artifact amalgamation.
I’m sure there are other ways to do completely different things that kind of take Saskia out of the obvious. This is what makes this card and others like it fun to play around with. Of course, if you’re someone who likes stomping hard, then she’s perfect for that, too.
Let’s go over some decklists of what you can do with your quadmander.
Yidris Cascade Mill
I’m kicking things off with a list from my brother who’s got a crazy Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder deck that tries to mill everybody out through cascade triggers. It’s a fun deck both to play and play against. Check it out:
Lord of the Void
Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker
Xyris, the Writhing Storm
Magus of the Wheel
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Sword of Body and Mind
Sword of Feast and Famine
Talisman of Curiosity
Reforge the Soul
Whims of the Fates
Wheel of Fortune
Choice of Damnations
Glimpse the Unthinkable
Wheel of Fate
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis Group Hug
The next decklist I found right here and really dig it. It’s a fun little group hug deck using Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis that has only one win condition. Bonus points when you’ve found it. The deck is all about helping everybody at the table play their spells and draw more cards and creating crazy board states. Here it is:
Braids, Conjurer Adept
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Gahiji, Honored One
Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer
Kruphix, God of Horizons
Pramikon, Sky Rampart
Selvala, Explorer Returned
Folio of Fancies
Font of Mythos
Horn of Greed
Pendant of Prosperity
Pyxis of Pandemonium
Geier Reach Sanitarium
Simic Growth Chamber
Avenger of Zendikar
Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Budoka Gardener // Dokai, Weaver of Life
Courser of Kruphix
Meloku the Clouded Mirror
Mina and Denn, Wildborn
Moraug, Fury of Akoum
Omnath, Locus of Rage
Omnath, Locus of the Roil
Radha, Heart of Keld
Shalai, Voice of Plenty
Tatyova, Benthic Druid
Field of the Dead
Breya Big Artifacts
There’s a time and place to go big or go home, and this Breya, Etherium Shaper list is just that. It’s on the high-end of what a deck costs, but the great thing about investing in these artifacts is that you can stick them in your other EDH decks and get more use out of them. Check this one out and enjoy:
Disciple of the Vault
Emry, Lurker of the Loch
Hanna, Ship’s Navigator
Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain
Sai, Master Thopterist
Sharuum the Hegemon
Sword of the Meek
Talisman of Creativity
Talisman of Dominance
Caves of Koilos
Field of Ruin
Seat of the Synod
Spire of Industry
Temple of the False God
Saskia Angel Tribal
This Saskia the Unyielding deck is something that I like a lot: angel tribal. It’s doing something different than what the commander is usually up to which is a fun surprise for the friends you’re playing with. This makes it feel new every time you pick it up. Here it is:
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Akroma, Vision of Ixidor
Angelic Field Marshal
Archangel of Thune
Aurelia, the Warleader
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Bruna, the Fading Light
Garna, the Bloodflame
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
Gisela, the Broken Blade
Heliod, God of the Sun
Herald of War
Herald of the Host
Iroas, God of Victory
Kaalia of the Vast
Karametra, God of Harvests
Liesa, Shroud of Dusk
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Samut, Voice of Dissent
Sephara, Sky’s Blade
Shalai, Voice of Plenty
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Sower of Discord
Tariel, Reckoner of Souls
Cavern of Souls
Field of the Dead
Path of Ancestry
Vault of the Archangel
Atraxa Legendary Superfriends
Even though it’s very tempting to go the Praetor route with Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, I’ve found you something different to sink your teeth into. This deck is a hybrid of superfriends and legendary friends with plenty of spice. Enjoy:
Ashiok, Nightmare Muse
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Jace, Unraveler of Secrets
Liliana, Dreadhorde General
Nissa, Vital Force
Tamiyo, Field Researcher
Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Tezzeret, Artifice Master
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
Venser, the Sojourner
Vraska the Unseen
Birds of Paradise
Dryad of the Ilysian Grove
Kethis, the Hidden Hand
Pir, Imaginative Rascal
Shalai, Voice of Plenty
City of Brass
Path of Ancestry
Spire of Industry
Riding the Quad into the Sunset
There you have it, all six wonderful 4-color commanders, complete with tips for how to tackle them and decklists to boot. I had a blast writing this for you and I hope you had as much fun reading. My hope is you’ll be able to take something away from it not only for these commanders, but for all your EDH decks. Have fun building and playing with your friends! And if you’ve got a cool idea for a quadmander, I’d love to see your suggestions in the comments down there.
That’s all for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll see you in the next one!
Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice | Illustrated by Victor Adame Minguez