Last updated on August 14, 2023
Jeweled Lotus | Illustration by Olena Richards
The MTG community is always abuzz with whether booster boxes are worth it, and that’s never more true than with the expensive cards in Commander Masters sets. These boxes and packs cost more, so the risk of opening a pack with a bulk rare is higher. I’m not going to speculate about that value proposition here with Commander Masters or the set’s preconstructed decks.
Instead, I’m going to celebrate some of the best cards in the set. A Masters set always means singles are cheaper with the added supply, so this is a great time to check out some powerful options for your Commander decks that may have been out of your price range until now.
In fact, there are so many excellent cards in this set that I guarantee all bangers in this list. I also guarantee that too much power has just missed the cut. There’s no way, whatever your criteria, that you’ll get to the end and without asking, “Steve, sure, but what about this card?!?”
But in trying to capture rankings for play styles from cEDH to meme casual, I think I pulled it together pretty well. Come check it out!
Spot removal is fine enough, so not too much disrespect to another card reprinted in this set, Path to Exile, but it puts you a card down against the other two players at the table. I like my EDH removal to be like Darksteel Mutation and Song of the Dryads. They really put a kink in their command zone.
A Cube staple, Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma is an interesting downshift in rarity for a green stompy deck. This is also a stand-in for the many other interesting downshifts in the set, from Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle to Gonti, Lord of Luxury.
This card also represents all the dinosaurs in this set, from Ghalta, Primal Hunger to Zetalpa, Primal Dawn. Big, expensive battlecruisers that feel like they’re from a Commander land time forgot, they can still do a lot when they hit the table. None more so than Zacama, Primal Calamity with those sweet activated abilities.
The apex commander for its deck type, Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow is sitting here also as a stand-in for a lot of similar cards and powerful commanders from Commander Masters who are unlikely to appear in a 99. There are lots of ways to win with this card, whatever the power level of the table.
Meren of Clan Nel Toth is here for its power, but also as a stand-in for a bunch of other powerful commanders in the set who are good enough to see play in the 99. Sorry for the cards you love that didn’t make the list. There’s just too many!
Imp's Mischief is like Tibalt's Trickery in a deck that doesn’t run blue. It just takes people by surprise. You won’t have to ask many people before you find a Commander player who has a bad beat story with this card.
So this card just wins if it’s on the battlefield with an equipped Helm of the Host. If you can build a deck that facilitates and protects that, you’re in the money. In cEDH that means tutors, wheels, ramp, and removal. If that sounds fun, Godo, Bandit Warlord is looking for a battle.
Useful ramp outside of green, but ramping from a piece of equipment that equips for 2 mana sounds like I should be doing something better than Sword of the Animist.
This is such an interesting puzzle to build a deck around. Neheb, the Eternal looks like it finishes games in fireworks, and it can indeed do that.
A nice wincon for a variety of decks, from Syr Konrad, the Grim to Tinybones, Trinket Thief, Bloodchief Ascension is a cheap inclusion in any deck that cares about lifegain and drain. It makes an annoying combo finish with Mindcrank or Zur's Weirding.
I mean, what deck doesn’t want an Eternal Witness?
Voltron decks obviously need this card, but there’s lots of decks that are looking for a guaranteed bit of damage from a certain creature. Rogue's Passage is a reasonably painless way to do just that.
Even if you’re not trying to go infinite with the Walking Ballista combo, if you care about lifegain, you want Heliod, Sun-Crowned in your deck. Just ask all the Magic Arena noobs and their Ajani's Pridemates.
Wheel effects are useful, whether you benefit yourself with the card draw, or punish opponents for draw and/or discard. Paired with cards like Narset, Parter of Veils or Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, this card does work.
A key card in a spellslinger and/or Treasures deck, Storm-Kiln Artist is a must-include in a number of decks, including just about everything in Izzet and just about every deck that runs Krark, the Thumbless as one of its commanders. It goes infinite with various spells like Haze of Rage and Chain of Smog.
A much needed represent, Personal Tutor sees more play with reduced cost. It’s a sorcery speed Mystical Tutor that can only find sorceries. Board wipes are almost always sorceries, and when you need them, you need them. If you’re in blue, you have some card draw, I hope. This is better than you think.
Let’s see, do you like double tokens? Yes. Okay, how about double counters? Yep. Good. Okay, looking at my readout, then, it looks like, yep, yep, you have Green EDH Player Syndrome. I know this might be a shock, but there’s something we can do. If you’ve got a fever, the only answer is, more Doubling Season.
Muxus, Goblin Grandee came for the throne, but there’s no topping the boss, Krenko, Mob Boss. Offering an absurd amount of value in the command zone, Krenko is by far and away the most popular goblins commander. It’s also the most popular mono-red commander!
If you really wanna combo off, Grand Abolisher is your bud. A cEDH level card for your deck filled with tutors, this is still good in more casual Commander. Shutting down a whole pile of interaction won’t make you the most popular person at the table, but you pick your battles, right?
The ultimate aristocrats card, Teysa Karlov doubles death triggers. That alone is bonkers. But giving your creature tokens vigilance and lifelink while you search for your Blood Artist effects? Icing on the cake!
#20. Razaketh, the Foulblooded
Obviously, you’re looking to cheat Razaketh, the Foulblooded out. But when you do, you can empty the coffers with just a little bit of fodder. I should probably have Rune-Scarred Demon on this list, as well as Razakath, Junior.
#18. Craterhoof Behemoth
Craterhoof Behemoth. Green player, when you absolutely, positively got to kill every… well, you know. Accept no substitutes.
Notice a trend here? Green got a lot of goodies in Commander Masters! Without question one of the best green artifacts, The Great Henge is money in any green deck with enough stompers to get it out quickly.
As annoying to play against in the 99 as it is from an opponent’s command zone, Urza, Lord High Artificer is the most popular mono-blue commander for a reason. Give it a few artifacts and you’re now a blue ramp deck. And you can start digging into your library. A salt-inducing card that makes your opponents groan, there are many paths to infinite mana with Urza.
Not quite Teferi's Protection, but still a super powerful card to save your stuff from all kinds of removal.
I don’t understand playing Commander today and not running Vandalblast in every deck that can run it.
Toxic Deluge is the best sweeper in black, especially as “indestructible” proliferates across cards. Black usually has ways to get the life back, as well.
Tapping for 3 mana makes Gilded Lotus an important part of infinite combos. Leaving that aside, if you’re playing artifact untappers for your Shorikai, Genesis Engine deck or whatnot, this is big game. I’m not sure I’d drop this as a generic ramp spell, although I do love the color fixing.
Rocks that ramp for two mana are big game. These medallions give you a cost reduction without tapping, which makes them more rampy than a signet or talisman for colored spells that have a colorless cost as well. I’d take that deal in almost every deck
What if you can’t though, is what you’re thinking. Let’s say you’re a green deck with Emerald Medallion in hand but there’s a Selesnya player at the table. Do you drop it? Maybe. Do you think your deck is better, so getting your stuff out faster matters more than those tokens? Do you think your deck is optimized for cost reduction? Probably, since you are mono-colored.
The better question is what you can bargain in return from the Selesnya player when you ask them if you should play it!
I hear you like combos? Ashnod's Altar is the best sac outlet in Magic.
Smothering Tithe is total nonsense. Play it with Stasis for arguably the saltiest combo in EDH! It either slows down your opponents or speeds you up. All it takes is a blue player at the table to start drawing you into glory.
Auto-includes in any EDH deck, before these cards had been reprinted to oblivion the last few years, they would have topped this list and maybe still should. But I want some excitement and variety, hey?
#3. Rejuvenating Springs + Spectator Seating + Training Center + Undergrowth Stadium + Vault of Champions
The enemy Battlebond lands are a welcome addition. They come down like the OG duals most of the time, and given the sad state of dual lands in most Commanders, these are an immediate injection of power into your deck.
It’s gotta be the free spells at the top. Fierce Guardianship is clearly the best, followed by Deadly Rollick and Deflecting Swat. Go wide players understand the importance of Flawless Maneuver, and I just think people are totally sleeping on the power of a free Fog in Obscuring Haze.
The only time you don’t want to topdeck this card is when you have complete control of the game and there’s no way your commander, already on the battlefield, can be bounced or sent back to the command zone. Has that ever happened to you? If not, Jeweled Lotus is EDH Black Lotus, as intended.
The Great Henge | Illustration by Adam Paquette
What do you think? I left off like three dozen of my favorite cards because this set is so stacked with good stuff. Again, I can’t speak to the value proposition of boxes, but from a single buyer’s perspective, there’s a lot to like here.
I’m almost afraid to ask what you think I got wrong here, but that is what the comments and Discord are for! If you disagree with any of my rankings or justifications, or you just want to tell me I did a great job, let me know!
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