Last updated on April 1, 2024

Raffine, Scheming Seer - Illustration by Veronique Meignaud

Raffine, Scheming Seer | Illustration by Veronique Meignaud

Confession time: my inner demon absolutely loves cracking open boosters of sealed Magic cards. You never know what you’re gonna get, like a box of chocolates or something. Most days I have to keep my demon at bay, but others, I unleash it on my Local Game Store…and my bank account.

But you know what? Sometimes you have to partner up with a demon to get things done. There’s got to be like a thousand folk tales and anime about it. All of Magic’s demon commanders are here, ready for your bloody signature on their accursed contracts.

Care to make a pact with a demon?

What Are Demon Commanders in MTG?

Kuro, Pitlord - Illustration by Jon Foster

Kuro, Pitlord | Illustration by Jon Foster

Demon commanders are legendary creatures with the demon creature type. There are a few exceptions: transform cards like Elbrus, the Binding Blade and Westvale Abbey become demons but aren’t legendary creatures on the front side. As Alchemy exclusives, Kardum, Patron of Flames and Gutmorn, Pactbound Servant can’t be your commander either, at least not in paper formats.

Some commanders care about demons but don’t have the creature type themselves. Kaalia of the Vast and Kaalia, Zenith Seeker are human clerics that like angels, demons, and dragons, while Raphael, Fiendish Savior cares about demons, devils, imps, and tieflings. You can technically run them as demon-centered commanders, but I’m leaving them off the main list. Tasha, the Witch Queen pumps out demons, but it’s not a commander that really plays into demon strategies. Plus, Tasha isn’t a demon…right?

Some demons are so legendary that they’ve returned over and over in Magic’s story. Ob Nixilis has at times been a planeswalker, but he’s currently without a spark. Rakdos is so notable that he lends his name to the Rakdos Guild on Ravnica and the overall color pairing in Magic.

Magic even has demons that must go unnamed on commander lists and would be downright unfair even as a mono-black commander: Griselbrand is banned across the format.

#43. Lady Orca

Lady Orca

Yeah, I’m even including the vanilla legend from Legends. Hi, Lady Orca. Bye, Lady Orca.

#42. Kuro, Pitlord

Kuro, Pitlord

Listen, not all demons can be winners. Kuro, Pitlord shouldn’t be your commander. It costs nine mana and taxes you to keep it on the field. The only saving grace is that you can pay life to reduce the power/toughness of an indestructible creature.

#41. Yukora, the Prisoner

Yukora, the Prisoner

If anybody’s using this as their commander, they aren’t saying much about it. Yukora, the Prisoner doesn’t really do a ton. You’re either taking advantage of the mass sacrificing or you’re avoiding it entirely by playing ogres.

#40. Kyoki, Sanity’s Eclipse

Kyoki, Sanity's Eclipse

Kyoki, Sanity's Eclipse is a spirit/Arcane-focused commander, but that feels like something that belongs to the Standard of its time. Kyoki exiles pieces from your opponents’ hands, but it doesn’t let you look at their hand and/or choose the card. No randomness, either. The only sanity that’s eclipsing is my own with all these “meh” commanders. Darn my completionist streak.

#39. Kothophed, Soul Hoarder

Kothophed, Soul Hoarder

Kothophed, Soul Hoarder specifically cares about your opponents’ permanents hitting the graveyard from the battlefield. You get cards and lose life. Sounds fine on the surface, but I can think of a bunch of sacrifice-oriented decks that would just laugh at this. Even tokens hit the graveyard before they disappear, but someone could easily finish you off by starting an infinite ETB/LTB loop with Mana Crypt or something.

#38. Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis

Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis

Voltron the exalted, is it? Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis is a flyer that’ll force your opponents to sacrifice creatures when it attacks alone. Necrogen Communion from Phyrexia: All Will Be One is a solid addition to this deck.

#37. Kagemaro, First to Suffer

Kagemaro, First to Suffer

Kagemaro, First to Suffer has one job, and that’s clearing boards. It’s as big as your hand, which is a good reason to run infinite hand size cards. Black without blue isn’t the most efficient at filling its hand, though.

#36. Shimatsu the Bloodcloaked

Shimatsu the Bloodcloaked

Mono-red sacrifice fodder almost instantly means Treasure tokens or Goblin tokens. There’s not really much space to develop your Shimatsu the Bloodcloaked otherwise.

#35. Spirit of the Night

Spirit of the Night

Spirit of the Night is, reductively, keyword salad. It’s a battlecruiser that doesn’t do anything besides exist as a big, stronk demon. It’s an option, but you can find commanders that cost less money and can front a better deck. Save this one for a better home in someone’s 99.

#34. Orca, Siege Demon

Orca, Siege Demon

Nein bitte Orca. Not as my commander. Orca, Siege Demon is a creature-death payoff, so it’s at home in a sacrifice deck. Probably best suited as major or a captain or something.

#33. Razaketh, the Foulblooded

Razaketh, the Foulblooded

Foul indeed. Razaketh, the Foulblooded is a sacrifice outlet that tutors any card to your hand. Sure, it’s a trampling flyer with 8/8 power/toughness, but it also costs eight to cast.

#32. Malfegor


I’m not enthused. I guess you could use Malfegor for a discard or madness deck. Your Bone Miser will probably file a grievance with your union and ask to be assigned to a better post.

#31. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen

Ob Nixilis, the Fallen gives you a reason to play mono-black landfall. Dread Presence and Retreat to Hagra are a good start, and Liliana of the Dark Realms is a strong planeswalker here.

#30. Sol'Kanar the Tainted

Sol'Kanar the Tainted

Sol'Kanar the Tainted does a lot, but there’s not really an obvious shell to build around it. It’s a big, elemental demon with a lot of 5s on it. It has to be around on your end step to give you value. You can focus on that last mode for blink benefits, but I’ve also seen some players lean into a chaos theme.

#29. Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath

Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath

Planeswalkers don’t have creature types, but Ob Nixilis never really stops being a demon, right? Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath can pump out demon tokens, and it can give you an emblem that plays into the sac outlet role that’s so common with demons.

#28. Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

In Commander, Ob Nixilis, Unshackled “only” chomps on a quarter of your starting life total. I don’t think I’d run this as my commander, though. It’s nice if it resolves, but it also feels like removal bait. Fetch lands alone are a reason to want to see this thing gone. If I were to build around this Ob Nixilis, I’d probably make it a demon deck or one that doesn’t really care about whether its commander is around.

#27. Orcus, Prince of Undeath

Orcus, Prince of Undeath

Orcus, Prince of Undeath has a modal ETB, and I’m not totally sold here. Either you’re wiping low toughness creatures or you’re returning some creatures to the battlefield with haste. Kind of opposite ends of the spectrum. Sometimes being multi-talented doesn’t mean you excel at any of them.

#26. Rakdos the Defiler

Rakdos the Defiler

Rakdos the Defiler forces everyone to sacrifice permanents! It’s your tax for attacking with it, and it’s your opponent’s tax for not having an answer to it. Demon-centric is the obvious place for this, although I’m wondering when we’re going to get an effect that lets you give “demon” typing to lands. Not holding my breath for it, though.

#25. Demonlord Belzenlok

Demonlord Belzenlok

Mono-black big stuff? Demonlord Belzenlok wants you to drive that lane. At least one of its abilities enables one of the most well-known infinite combos.

#24. Seizan, Perverter of Truth

Seizan, Perverter of Truth

Seizan, Perverter of Truth is going to gnaw on everyone’s life totals and libraries. It’s card draw rather than milling or discard, but that just makes it that much more of a fit for a wheels theme.

#23. Sol’kanar the Swamp King

Sol'kanar the Swamp King

Sol'kanar the Swamp King costs the same to cast as Sol'Kanar the Tainted, and it’s a lot lighter on the word count. Swampwalk is very situational, but gaining life from your opponents’ black spells is neat.

#22. Jerren, Corrupted Bishop / Ormendahl, the Corrupter

Jerren, Corrupted Bishop can be a human-centric commander, which is a bit cultish for a demon. Shadowborn Apostle is a human as well as a cleric, but you don’t have to limit yourself to that strategy. There are plenty of humans in mono-black.

#21. Mortarion, Daemon Primarch

Mortarion, Daemon Primarch

Oh, this could get confusing. Yes, Mortarion, Daemon Primarch is a demon in MTG. Its end step ability gives you a mana sink to help you widen your board with menacing warriors. It depends on the life you’ve lost during your turn, but black has lots of ways to fiddle with your life total.

#20. Taborax, Hope’s Demise

Taborax, Hope's Demise

Taborax, Hope's Demise is a demon cleric that cares about your creature deaths. If your clerics are dying, so much the better! Mono-black clerics is the place to bend the singleton rules of Commander with Shadowborn Apostle.

#19. The Balrog, Flame of Udûn

The Balrog, Flame of Udûn

Great. Now I have to talk about tucking. In Magic, that’s when something gets sent to the bottom of its owner’s library.

In this case, when an opponent’s legendary creature dies, you may want to tuck The Balrog, Flame of Udûn under your library and use Grenzo, Dungeon Warden to get it back. You also have the choice to just put it back in the command zone, which you might want to do if Grenzo’s not around.

It needs haste. I thought it myself, then I saw others online saying it. You can play Herald of Slaanesh and all kinds of other haste enablers. Take a deep breath. You’ll be fine.

#18. Vilis, Broker of Blood

Vilis, Broker of Blood

Should you choose to accept it, your pact with Vilis, Broker of Blood involves paying life and mana to remove creatures by diminishing their power and toughness (yay for getting around indestructible). Paying life also gets you cards. Exsanguinate your opponents, and don’t leave home without your faithful Gary (Gray Merchant of Asphodel).

#17. Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire

Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire

Aren’t demons by their very nature a little roguish? Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire’s boast ability easily enables digging for your combo pieces. You can focus on Ad Nauseam if you want, but you can also build a less single-minded deck by going demon-focused.

#16. Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos

Be honest, Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos players: Have you ever won a match and declared it “Game Ogre”? Or perhaps said, “Get Shrek’d”? Shrek Universes Beyond when, by the way?

The first scrying ability on this commander lets you filter towards the second ability. Rakdos colors with a burning sacrifice outlet is a good place to start, no doubt.

#15. Rakdos, the Showstopper

Rakdos, the Showstopper

Demons, devils, and imps. Oh my!

Rakdos, the Showstopper clears the board of its adversaries when it enters the battlefield. Red has haste enablers, so it’ll be easy to get a quick six damage to someone’s face if you drop this with the right support on the field.

#14. Gyruda, Doom of Depths

Gyruda, Doom of Depths

Using Gyruda, Doom of Depths as a commander means that you can’t use it as a companion. That also means that your deck isn’t necessarily restricted, but you probably want to run mostly even-MV creatures for those times you trigger Gyruda’s ETB. Milling opponents and stealing their cards are two of my favorite things to do in Magic, and that’s definitely the demon talking.

#13. Krav, the Unredeemed

Krav, the Unredeemed

Angels and demons, huh? Nobody call Dan Brown, please and thanks. Or is Good Omens the timelier reference?

Krav, the Unredeemed partners with Regna, the Redeemer for an Orzhov () commander combo. One’s a sac outlet, the other’s a token generator. Can I make it any more obvious?

#12. Shelob, Child of Ungoliant

Shelob, Child of Ungoliant

Look who’s climbing up my wall…. Black and hairy, not so small.

Shelob, Child of Ungoliant is the biggest spider commander printed so far. Golgari () colors are perfect for spiders; you can run almost any spider ever printed, including Arasta of the Endless Web for some spider token generation. I just love the flavor of turning your kills into Food tokens. Note the phrasing: they lose their other card types, but not their abilities.

Grab all your favorite arachnids from across Magic’s Spider-Verse Multiverse! Just make sure to have a Rule 0 conversation about filling the board with, you know, spiders.

#11. Hidetsugu and Kairi

Hidetsugu and Kairi

The team-up commanders from March of the Machine are full of fun and flavor. You get a mashup of abilities and colors and creature types; it’s just great. Hidetsugu and Kairi is no exception. Pairing an ogre with a dragon gives the team flying. Yikes. Being able to cast instants and sorceries that you exile for free is as good a reason as any to load up on cloning spells.

#10. Magnus the Red

Magnus the Red

I see lots of potential for Magnus the Red. Its abilities point toward a spellslinger shell; Young Pyromancer can be your early game and Ovika, Enigma Goliath can be your mid-to-late game. You’re also in good colors for Treasure (Storm-Kiln Artist + Xorn) or for artifact animation (Rise and Shine and Masterful Replication come to mind).

#9. Lord Xander, the Collector

Lord Xander, the Collector

Lord Xander, the Collector represents the life cycle of a creature on the battlefield: it enters, it attacks, it dies. And Lord Xander has triggers for each stage of life. You’re likely to attack most, so a mill focused deck is a solid choice. The extreme version of that deck makes use of cloning effects to get a bunch of 6/6s with a milling attack trigger. Just look at that card art. You have to call that a Loki deck, right?

#8. Kardur, Doomscourge

Kardur, Doomscourge

Here’s a demon berserker that gives you lots of potential. Kardur, Doomscourge can be your forced combat commander. You could also run sacrifice fodder that you attack with but sacrifice to other outlets so that they’re guaranteed to die as attackers, enabling lifegain/lifedrain.

#7. Falco Spara, Pactweaver

Falco Spara, Pactweaver

Falco Spara, Pactweaver may come in with a shield counter, but it doesn’t care which kind of counter you use to cast cards from the top of your library. You’re in green and white, so +1/+1 counters are almost mandatory. You can also remove -1/-1 counters, like the ones you can put on Devoted Druid to untap it. Yes, that means that you can get an infinite combo with Falco, the Druid, and Sensei's Divining Top.

#6. Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin

Holy heck! An Ob Nixilis that’s actually a great commander! Thanks, March of the Machine: The Aftermath.

Ob Nixilis, Captive Kingpin is oddly enough a commander with red in its identity that doesn’t want you to run damage doublers. Pingers are the order of the day, as is a mandatory copy of All Will Be One. Roiling Vortex is also a good source of one damage, and it lets you pay to shut down lifegain.

#5. Be’lakor, the Dark Master

Be'lakor, the Dark Master

Warhammer 40K is a treasure trove for demon lovers. Be'lakor, the Dark Master loves its demons, both with its own ETB and when your other demons enter the battlefield. “Dark Master” is an appropriate epithet; there aren’t many better commanders to oversee a bunch of demons. Here's our deck guide for Be'lakor.

#4. Rakdos, Lord of Riots

Rakdos, Lord of Riots

Red and black players look at the casting cost on Rakdos, Lord of Riots and snort. Did you know you can make an infinite ETB/LTB loop if you cast Ancestral Statue during a turn that you’ve claimed four life from your opponents? Demon-focused isn’t a bad option, but the cost reduction can let you do red-black good stuff if that’s more your style.

#3. Ziatora, the Incinerator

Ziatora, the Incinerator

“Demon Dragon” is a creature type pairing that should strike fear into any planeswalker, whether in lore or among the player base. Ignore all the demon dragons you’ve already read about.

Ziatora, the Incinerator is in great colors to focus on Treasure tokens, between Revel in Riches, Xorn, Bootleggers' Stash, Old Gnawbone, and many more. You can also lean into the dragon theme or into sacrificing high-powered creatures.

#2. Raffine, Scheming Seer

Raffine, Scheming Seer

The demons that are aligned with the crime families from Streets of New Capenna are each so good. Raffine, Scheming Seer costs only three mana to get out, which is cheap for a demon. Raffine doesn’t have to be part of your offense to have a target creature connive. You’re in the right colors to dig for cards with a wheels theme, and Elenda and Azor is a good piece to help you get a wider, more “conniving” board. I think the sphinx would tear me apart for that one.

#1. Jetmir, Nexus of Revels

Jetmir, Nexus of Revels

This fat cat (complimentary) encourages you to go wide with pride. Jetmir, Nexus of Revels is in Naya () colors, which means it’s perfect for pumping out a bunch of tokens. Stacking power buffs and tossing around keywords are great for a commander to offer, and Jetmir’s fairly cheap for its abilities and power/toughness. It also counts and buffs all your creatures, so there’s really no downside.

Best Demon Commander Payoffs and Synergies

Raphael, Fiendish Savior

Raphael, Fiendish Savior is a devil noble that gives your demons (et al.) a stat boost and lifelink. Perfect, considering the number of demons that ask you to pay some life for their abilities. It fits in with your demons, but it can also be your commander for a bunch of demons.

Ob Nixilis, the Adversary’s first ability gets a little better if you’ve stuck it in a demon deck. Herald of Slaanesh is a haste enabler and a cost reducer for demons. Mark of the Oni lets you take and keep control of an opponent’s creature if you’ve got ‘em.

Liliana's Contract

Liliana's Contract is a demons-matter enchantment that gives you an alternate win-con for having differently named demons. They don’t have to be legendary, and you’re playing Commander. See where this goes?

Shadowborn Apostle

Shadowborn Apostles can take up plenty of slots in your deck so that you can easily pull your demons onto the battlefield.

Bloodthirster is a demon built for the Commander format. Dealing combat damage to a player gives you an extra combat phase. Notice how many of these demons have payoffs that revolve around attacking? Reaper from the Abyss has a morbid ability that lets you reap non-demons.

Commanding Conclusion

Ziatora, the Incinerator - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Ziatora, the Incinerator | Illustration by Chris Rahn

Well, that was an adventure. There are quite a few demons I wouldn’t trust in the command zone, but there are nearly just as many I’d happily build around. There’s a lot of sacrificing and burning going on, but Streets of New Capenna and Warhammer 40K have given us demon commanders that splash into other colors and do other things.

Which demon do you run as your commander? Do you go all-in on demons or keep them in the command zone as finishers? Let me know in the comments below or over on the Draftsim Discord!

And to close, allow me to butcher a Blur song: “You should cut down on your demon life, mate. Get some exorcise!”

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