Last updated on June 27, 2023

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn - Illustration by Mark Tedin

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn | Illustration b Mark Tedin

Like any fantasy universe, Magic has its fair share of big baddies across the Multiverse. Phyrexians. Slivers. Birds. But none are as horrifying (or as wiggly) as the Lovecraftian Eldrazi creatures. They’re a fan favorite race of tentacle monsters from the fan favorite world of Zendikar, and they’re known as one of the more bombastic creature types.

Today we visit a world devoid of color and explore the Eldrazi commanders. Proceed with caution: this one’s not for the squeamish.

What Are Eldrazi Commanders in MTG?

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth - Illustration by Ian Miller

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth | Illustration by Ian Miller

An Eldrazi commander is any legendary creature with the Eldrazi creature type. There are some exceptions, but for the most part these are giant colorless boss monsters with game-warping abilities and an imposing presence on the battlefield.

The creatures originated in Rise of the Eldrazi and made return appearances in Battle for Zendikar, Oath of the Gatewatch, and the not-so-subtly-named Eldritch Moon. There’s an Eldrazi-themed Commander deck in the upcoming Commander Masters set, but at the time of writing only Zhulodok, Void Gorger has been revealed from that deck.

Honorable Mentions

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

Emeria. Keening Mother. Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Moon. Emrakul, the Aeons Torn goes by many names. “Best Commander of All Time” is not one of those titles, since this version of Emrakul has been banished from Commander since 2010. That’s probably for the best since this card can do nothing but wreak havoc on the format. Annihilator 6 is a lot of annihilating. I’d put this at #1 in an eldritch heartbeat, but the banlist dictates I leave it off the actual list.

Besides, Emrakul can barely hold their own against 15 squirrels.

Hanweir, the Writhing Township

Oh, there goes Mr. Johnson and the local laundry mat. Oh… Oh dear.

I adore Hanweir, the Writhing Township. It used to be my laptop background. Unfortunately, the children in the foreground of this stunning art are covered up by the textbox. A textbox you can’t even put in the command zone. Despite being a legendary Eldrazi creature, Hanweir isn’t a standalone card. It’s the melded pair of Hanweir Garrison and Hanweir Battlements, neither of which can be your commander. I’m sure someone has Rule 0’d these cards as their commanders somehow, which would be cool to see.

#7. Brisela, Voice of Nightmares

Brisela, Voice of Nightmares

Unlike Hanweir, the Writhing Township, Brisela, Voice of Nightmares can be jigsawed into your command zone. Half of it at least. It’s a bit Cheatyface to include Brisela here, but if either Gisela, the Broken Blade or Bruna, the Fading Light is your commander, a melded Brisela counts as your commander too. I recommend Bruna at the helm with Gisela in the 99 since Bruna’s can pull the other angel out of the graveyard.

Brisela isn’t as potent of a lock-piece as you’d expect though. It shuts off some natural foils like Swords to Plowshares and Chaos Warp, but it gets swept up in most wraths and dies to a stray Ravenous Chupacabra. It lends itself to a completely unique mono-white Eldrazi deck, which lets you play the normal heavy hitters plus white all-stars like Smothering Tithe and Teferi's Protection. It’s also a perfect home for Eldrazi Displacer, a personal favorite.

#6. Zhulodok, Void Gorger

Zhulodok, Void Gorger

Zhulodok, Void Gorger is our first peek at the upcoming Commander Masters Eldrazi pre-con. I’m glad Eldrazi are getting some love, but I’m not impressed with Zhulodok. Not that it’s bad, just that the rest of the titans are incredible in comparison.

As 6-mana 7/4 with no evasion or protection but with a potentially scary ability, your opponents will often kill on sight and not have a hard time doing so. It also feels a little “win-more.” Turning your subsequent Eldrazi and Ugins into mini Apex Predators is cool, but by triggering this you’re already casting amazing spells. How much more do you need? Zhulodok is also a mana short of being protected by Not of This World, though that spell does trigger the double cascade effect.

#5. Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

It’s pretty telling how powerful the rest of the entries are when you see Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in the bottom half. It pops a permanent on the way in, reduces your opponents’ boards to rubble on attacks, and protects itself with indestructible. The name might suggest otherwise, but your opponents have a very finite amount of time left when Ulamog joins the fray.

#4. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

I used to get grounded for lying, yet here’s ol’ Kozilek butchering literal truth itself with no repercussions. Unfair, I say. Kozilek, Butcher of Truth is the other annihilator 4 twin, but this one restocks your hand on cast. The original trio of Eldrazi titans all had an “anti-reanimator” clause that shuffles your graveyard away, but this can actually be used as an edge against dedicated mill decks and graveyard hate. Both iterations of Kozilek notably lack indestructible but make up for it with titanic stats.

#3. Kozilek, the Great Distortion

Kozilek, the Great Distortion

I used to get grounded for distorting reality, yet here’s ol’ Kozilek…. Hmm, I guess the joke doesn’t work as well here. Kozilek, the Great Distortion iterates on the first card by replacing annihilator with the world’s most tedious counter ability. Kozilek refills the caster’s hand, forcing other players to tiptoe around potential mana values and getting their spells countered free of charge if they pick the wrong number. This Kozilek also forgoes indestructible in favor of more control over the stack, and a 12/12 menace puts people down in two hits.

#2. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is basically the Galactus of Magic. There’s something terrifying about a giant unfeeling tentacle monster with an insatiable appetite for entire planes. College me can relate.

WotC correctly determined that annihilator is about as fun as a stubbed toe, so Ulamog 2.0 dropped the mechanic altogether in favor of exiling 20 cards on attacks. I don’t normally fret about incidental mill, but 20 is danger territory and your best answer to Ulamog is always in that first 20. Because of course it is. Ulamog also vaporizes two permanents on cast, leaving you with a commander that literally eats away at your opponents.

#1. Emrakul, the Promised End

Emrakul, the Promised End

Oh look, Emrakul made it onto the list anyway. Mindslaver is already on many players’ naughty lists; turns out making it a 13/13 flampler with protection from instants that can cost as little as four mana (thank you battles!) didn’t change anyone’s mind. Emrakul at least “makes up for it” by refunding the turn it steals from the chosen player. By that time, the damage is usually done.

Best Eldrazi Commander Payoffs

The Eldrazi legends are the payoffs for these types of decks. Sans Brisela, Voice of Nightmares, you have to ask yourself why you’d lock yourself into a colorless deck. The answer is usually one of these titans. However, there are advantages to doing so.

The most obvious boon to an all-colorless commander deck is its mana base. You have no color requirements, so you’re free to run as many utility lands as you want without missing a beat. I don’t often include Rogue's Passage and Reliquary Tower in decks with heavy color requirements, but they don’t punish you at all here. I’d caution to still run somewhere around 5-10 Wastes. These can help you combat cards like Back to Basics and Ruination while giving you something to fetch if you get targeted by Ghost Quarter or hit with Wave of Vitriol.

Having an Eldrazi as your commander unlocks the potential of a few powerful cards that don’t work in most decks. Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin are staples for any of these commanders, Shrine of the Forsaken Gods fits perfectly, and you can even run Cloudpost and Glimmerpost or the Tron lands to great effect.

Being an entirely colorless deck also means you can (and should) run swathes of colorless artifact ramp. Eldrazi decks often have a small artifact subtheme to generate the mana needed to cast a 10-drop creature, although it does make them admittedly soft to artifact sweepers like Vandalblast. I tend to like the mana rocks that can be cashed in for cards later like Mind Stone, Hedron Archive, and Stonespeaker Crystal.

Colorless decks also maximize the potential of cards like Liberator, Urza's Battlethopter, Forsaken Monument, and Ugin, the Ineffable while breaking parity on All Is Dust. One of the key cards for Eldrazi decks is Not of This World, a free counterspell for anything that targets one of your large Eldrazi creatures. Just watch out for that one person out there running Void Mirror in EDH.

It's All Emra-cool With Me

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn - Illustration by Kev Walker

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn | Illustration by Kev Walker

I have high hopes for the upcoming Commander Masters Eldrazi deck. I’m a big fan of the creature type, from their writhing aesthetic to their over-the-top game mechanics, and I’m excited for the tribe to expand that much more. That’s not a sentiment that everyone shares, and showing up with an Eldrazi titan in the command zone is going to make you public enemy number one.

Do you play any of the Eldrazi legends as a commander? If so, which ones, and how devastating does it get? Also, if you’ve found a way to make Hanweir, the Writhing Township a secret commander, I’d love to know how! Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.

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  • Avatar
    Kyle N. June 30, 2023 2:46 am

    With regards to your interest in the Hanweir Writhing township, I brewed up a rather fun jank deck using everyone’s second favorite mtg chef, rocco, cabaretti Caterer. Being in naya makes getting a land fetch for the battlements easy and ramping to get the 6 drop rocco out not too difficult. Green has plenty to get our secret commander out of the yard and can run some fun shenanigans in white and red as well.

    • Timothy Zaccagnino
      Timothy Zaccagnino June 30, 2023 8:29 pm

      Rocco as a the lead for a secret Hanweir commander sounds awesome.
      But mostly glad we can agree Gyome’s the real chef in the kitchen.

  • Avatar
    AAlex August 8, 2023 3:55 am

    “Zhulodok is also a mana short of being protected by Not of This World”
    Not of This World protect Zhulodok, since the card look at the power not the mana value.

    • Timothy Zaccagnino
      Timothy Zaccagnino August 8, 2023 11:34 am

      Yup! I caught that after writing and lose a lot of sleep over it, haha.

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