Atarka, World Render | Illustration by Camille Alquier
Dragons might just be the most popular creature in all of Magic. From Shivan Dragon to modern-day silly ogre-demon-dragons like Hidetsugu and Kairi, these death-lizards find themselves in just about every set imaginable.
With over 300 to choose from, there’s bound to be competition when it comes to choosing the commander of your dragon deck. I’ve got you covered as we look at the best dragon commanders in Magic. It’s time to set flight!
What Are Dragon Commanders in MTG?
Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm | Illustration by Kekai Kotaki
Dragon commanders are more than just legendary dragons that you can put in the command zone; they’re creatures that reward you for playing a dragon-themed deck, either by creating more dragons or synergizing with the ones you already have.
Some of the “dragon commanders” on this list aren’t even dragons themselves but give you a strong incentive to build a dragon-themed deck around them. Likewise, there are a number of great dragon legends that didn’t make this list because they’re just powerful stand-alone cards, not rewards for playing dragon tribal. Old Gnawbone, Kokusho, the Evening Star, and Galazeth Prismari are examples of commanders that happen to be dragons but aren’t great “dragon commanders” since they have no inherent synergy with other dragons.
The dragons on this list are almost exclusively multicolored, with a chunk of mono-red options and a non-red commander here and there. There are mono-colored dragon legends in non-red colors, but it’s hard to build a mono-white or mono-black dragon deck, for example.
Best Blue Dragon Commander
#1. Renari, Merchant of Marvels
Renari, Merchant of Marvels is the only mono-blue legend to crack the list and might even be considered a multi-colored card since you often pair it with a non-blue legend. Dragons are already good enough on their own, but casting them at instant speed can be devastation. Renari even has some minor artifact synergies! Dragon Cultist is an on-theme background to pair with Renari, or you could stay mono-blue with Feywild Visitor.
Best Red Dragon Commanders
#5. Nogi, Draco-Zealot
I won’t fault you if you’ve never even seen this card before since it’s exclusive to the lesser-known “Game Night: Free-for-All” product. It’s a pumped up Dragonlord's Servant that rewards you for playing dragons by becoming a draconic attacker itself. It’s got a win-more feel to it, but the cost-reduction is a welcome addition to dragon deck, which usually have very high curves.
#4. Magda, Brazen Outlaw
That’s right, I went and kicked the red section off with a 2-drop dwarf. Magda, Brazen Outlaw is a stand-alone powerhouse that’s good enough for cEDH, but it can also head a casual red dragon deck. Many dragons like Chiss-Goria, Forge Tyrant and Blast-Furnace Hellkite have an artifact tie-in. Magda’s treasure-making ability ramps into these dragons or tutors them up, and there are complementary treasure-making dragons like Goldspan Dragon or Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge.
#3. Zirilan of the Claw
Zirilan of the Claw has a Sneak Attack ability from the deck, which is powerful enough to make up for how expensive it is to get going. You can do the “end of turn” trick here, where you activate the ability on the end step right before your turn and keep the dragon you tutored until your end step. You can also use Sundial of the Infinite to keep those dragons permanently.
#2. Ganax, Astral Hunter
Ganax, Astral Hunter is simple and flexible, exactly what I like in a commander. It pairs well with a number of backgrounds like Agent of the Iron Throne or Clan Crafter, and it provides a steady stream of mana to keep the dragons flowing. It’s hyperbole to compare it to Golos, Tireless Pilgrim, but it does refund a mana spent to cast it, which makes it easier to play from the command zone the next time around.
#1. Lathliss, Dragon Queen
Lathliss, Dragon Queen is more often relegated to the 99 of dragon decks, but the queen can certainly wear the crown if you want it to. It turns your dragons into more dragons and pumps them up as well. I like to think of it like the red Parallel Lives, and even if it’s not the commander it’s a staple in dragon-themed decks.
Best Green Dragon Commander
#1. Acolyte of Bahamut
Acolyte of Bahamut pairs well with any of the other four “choose a background” legends, and it gives you that oh-so-desirable cost reduction for a dragon deck. Heartless Summoning is my personal pet card for big-dumb-creature tribal decks, and I wouldn’t hesitate to put it in the command zone if I could. Acolyte isn’t far off, though it does require you have your partner on board to work.
Best Multicolored Dragon Commanders
#22. Korlessa, Scale Singer
And now we move into the mass of multicolor dragon commanders, starting out with Korlessa, Scale Singer. It’s more of a support piece than a full-fledged commander, but dragon decks are always happy to have the extra card advantage.
#21. Dromoka, the Eternal
Green-white dragons isn’t a popular deck choice, but Dromoka, the Eternal might be a good enough incentive to end up there. There are fewer than 50 dragons to choose from in those colors, so it’s not likely. If it does come together, Dromoka can beat players down fast. The bolster ability triggers off any of your dragons attacking, so you can stack up counters fast, even if they don’t always go where you want them to.
#20. Thrakkus the Butcher
I personally feel like Thrakkus the Butcher is just a worse version or Atarka, World Render, but there’s nothing wrong with redundancy. Thrakkus is a full two mana cheaper than Atarka, too. You could forego playing other dragons altogether and focus on making Thrakkus a one-hit kill commander, but you’re going to want haste enablers either way.
#19. Sylvia Brightspear + Khorvath Brightflame
Sylvia Brightspear and Khorvath Brightflame partner up to make a dragon deck possible. Funnily enough, Sylvia is the more important of the two since it’s the one who actually benefits your dragons. There’s an argument that these are better in the 99 than as the commanders of a dragon deck because they offer card advantage when they ETB and fetch the other one from your library.
#18. Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury
Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury is yet another legendary dragon that stacks up extra damage on attacks. Dash gives it built-in haste, which means it can slam the door on a game out of nowhere (you still pay extra commander tax when you dash from the command zone). The result is surprisingly similar to what you get from Dromoka, the Eternal, but the color pair aligns better.
#17. Wasitora, Nekoru Queen
Finally, some interaction! Wasitora, Nekoru Queen eats a piece of cardboard whenever it hits an opponent, and if the opponent has nothing to sacrifice you get a 3/3 Cat Dragon token. Look at them, they’re adorable! Fun fact, Wasitora is one of the cat spirits featured in the art of Nine Lives.
#16. Zurgo and Ojutai
Zurgo and Ojutai takes the Dragonlord Ojutai ability and spreads it out to all your dragons. With haste and temporary hexproof, you’re very likely to get in at least one hit and be up a card the turn this lands. It seems like Ojutai is doing the heavy lifting, but I’m assuming the ability to bounce a dragon is a nod to Zurgo Bellstriker’s dash ability.
#15. Rivaz of the Claw
Rivaz of the Claw says “dragon” in the textbox a lot so that’s probably a good sign. It gets your dragons into play fast and even gives your deck a recursive angle that many dragon-themed decks are lacking. It suffers from not being a dragon itself, which is a real knock against it, but the overall package of abilities makes it a fine consideration.
#14. Lozhan, Dragons’ Legacy
Lozhan, Dragons' Legacy is a powerful dragon payoff with a frail body and restrictive colors, which holds it back from being a top-tier contender on this list. This regularly dishes out 5+ damage when you cast your other creatures and even incentivizes you to play adventures in your deck. That’s enough for me to take a look at weaker cards like Sword Coast Serpent or Fang Dragon.
#13. Ziatora, the Incinerator
Ziatora, the Incinerator isn’t a dragon payoff in the same way most other cards on this list are. Since most dragons are high-power beaters, Ziatora’s a great way to cash in excess bodies for direct damage and some sweet, sweet Treasure. It wouldn’t be my first pick for a dragon-themed deck, but it has some micro-synergies in the tribe.
#12. Sivitri, Dragon Master
Sivitri, Dragon Master reimagined Sivitri Scarzam as a dragon-themed planeswalker. The color-pair is atypical of what you expect from a dragon deck, and the +1 isn’t much of a deterrent from attacks. Still, Sivitri’s -3 is a Sarkhan's Triumph and the -7 threatens a one-sided Crux of Fate, so there’s enough synergy to make it work if you can find the blue and black dragons to tie it all together.
#11. Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients
Whether you lean into the die-rolling text on Vrondiss, Rage of Ancients or not, there’s no denying the potential of this card as a commander. Capitalize on that enrage ability and you can flood the board with 5/4 Dragon Spirit tokens. Cards like Rile and Slight Malfunction become sleeper hits in a deck like this.
#10. Rith, Liberated Primeval
Rith, Liberated Primeval is a fairly straightforward dragon payoff, giving you extra dragons for dealing excess damage to your opponents’ permanents. It works best with fight spells and the extra ward protection for dragons is a nice added touch.
#9. Bladewing the Risen
Bladewing the Risen is another dragon boasting a reanimation ability, although it’s admittedly expensive to run as the commander. It’s a great dragon payoff with a mass pump ability, and it even creates infinite ETB/death triggers when copied with an effect like Heat Shimmer or Cursed Mirror.
#8. Atarka, World Render
Atarka, World Render is part of the two-hit commander club, and trample makes it especially hard to stop in combat. When Atarka’s not killing players with commander damage, it’s usually doing a good job of giving your other dragons double-strike, which means it even has an impact on combat the turn it comes into play.
#7. Firkraag, Cunning Instigator
Firkraag, Cunning Instigator encourages a unique style of gameplay where you want to force your opponents to attack one another with goad effects. The more dragons you can attack with, the more effective Firkraag is. You’ll be drawing cards, growing Firkraag, and sitting back while your opponents do your dirty work for you.
#6. Kaalia of the Vast
Kaalia of the Vast is a classic dragon commander despite being a human cleric, and it still has a bit of a cult following to this day. The magic of Kaalia is that nearly every set features some new dragon, demon, or angel, so Kaalia always has fresh new toys to play with, and it’s just as threatening now as it was in the early days of EDH.
#5. Scion of the Ur-Dragon
Scion of the Ur-Dragon marks our foray into the 5-color commanders, which tend to be some of the best dragons in the game. They take all the other entries on this list and cram them together into one deck. Scion is probably best remembered as the card that turns Moltensteel Dragon and Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon into an instant kill. I’m personally a fan of turning it into Dragonlord Dromoka and unexpectedly shutting off my opponents’ interaction for the turn.
I’ve said before that Tiamat is one of the best dragon commanders you can play. The sheer card advantage it creates on ETB is well worth it on its own, but it’s also one of many Food Chain combo enablers that you can put in the command zone. I don’t think Tiamat competes with the top three slots, but it’s a strong runner up if you want to try something different.
#3. Morophon, the Boundless
The best trilobite in Magic also happens to be one of the best dragons in the game. The changeling ability lets Morophon, the Boundless cheat a bit, but that doesn’t stop it from being an absolute house in whatever tribal deck you play it in. It takes a card like Tiamat and makes it cost only two generic mana. You can also combine Morophon with Fist of Suns or Jodah, Archmage Eternal to cast your dragons for free.
#2. The Ur-Dragon
The Ur-Dragon isn’t only a top-tier dragon commander, but one of the strongest tribal commanders of all time. The eminence ability is a godsend for a creature type populated by expensive threats, and it can’t be overstated how broken this is when it works from the command zone. It also has a game-ended effect once it hits the board, refilling your hand and slamming more dragons into play for free.
#1. Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm
I could see people fighting me on the top two slots here, but I’m confident that Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm earns the title of best dragon commander in Magic. Ur-Dragon has the color advantage and an incredible eminence ability, but it still relies on the rest of your cards to do most of the work. Miirym has minor protection and only needs to survive a turn cycle and the game it probably over. It’s a must-kill commander that’s hard to kill, and it doubles up your dragons in a way that’s very hard to keep up with.
Best Dragon Commander Payoffs
Dragons are interesting in that some of the best payoffs are just the other dragons in your deck. For example, Lathliss, Dragon Queen and Lozhan, Dragon's Legacy could be your commander, or they could just be one of many payoffs in the 99 of your deck.
Dragons get access to their own suite of support cards, including some excellent ramp options with Orb of Dragonkind, Sarkhan, Fireblood, and Dragonspeaker Shaman. They also have dedicated land support with Haven of the Spirit Dragon, Crucible of the Spirit Dragon, and Temple of the Dragon Queen, making it easy to support a 5-color dragon deck.
Scourge of Valkas and Dragon Tempest are two of the best finishers for the tribe, letting you deal damage and win outside of combat. Spit Fire is a personal favorite, giving you slow, repeatable removal for a deck that usually ignores what the opponents are doing.
The list goes on, but I find it important to remind people not to put Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund in their dragon tribal decks. It looks like a dragon payoff, but it’s a huge liability when your opponents copy or reanimate it, and the payoff isn’t even that great when that doesn’t happen (compare to Dragonlord Kolaghan).
Death by Dragons
The Ur-Dragon | Illustration by Jaime Jones
Dragons are as old and iconic as Magic itself, and each passing set expands the options for new dragon commanders. This article only covered the commanders that work well at the forefront of a dragon tribal deck, but there are many, many more dragons to choose from that push and pull in different directions.
My hope is that WotC will explore more options for dragon payoffs outside of the usual red ones, with cards like Sivitri, Dragon Master and Korlessa, Scale Singer being great examples of what I’m looking for. Just please, no more Miirym, Sentinel Wurms.
Did I miss any critical dragon commanders? What are your favorite dragons to fill out a tribal deck? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.
Thank you for making Draftsim your #1 stop for all things Magic!
Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: