The Rani (Doctor Who) - Illustration by Borja Pindado

The Rani (Doctor Who) | Illustration by Borja Pindado

As someone who enjoys fast-paced and combat-heavy Commander games, goad is one of my favorite mechanics. Since it forces players to attack, it ensures the game won’t turn into a long drawn-out war of attrition. Then there’s the bonus that goaded creatures can’t attack you, so you get to sit back and watch your opponents duke it out, opening up the board for you to attack with fewer blockers.

While you can slip a few goad mechanics into other decks, if you want to fully dedicate your deck to the mechanic you’ll want to have the right commander. There are a good number of commanders who can both goad other creatures and help support goad mechanics.

Though goad appears in all five colors, red is the color with the most goad support. This means that commanders with red in their color identity tend to find themselves a bit higher on this list. This list is also meant to rank these commanders as goad commanders, so some may be more powerful than ones higher on the list if you’re building a different type of deck around them.

What Are Goad Commanders in MTG?

Maeve, Insidious Singer - Illustration by Jason Rainville

Maeve, Insidious Singer | Illustration by Jason Rainville

There are two ways you could interpret “goad commander” in Magic: a commander with a goad ability on it, or a commander that would be good for a goad deck. For this list, I’ve stuck to goad commanders that have a goad effect or one that is goad in all but name.

There are other commanders that would work well with goad effects that don’t actually have goad printed on them, like Aurelia, the Law Above, who would give you benefits when other players attacked. However, since Aurelia doesn’t goad any creatures itself, it doesn’t fit into this list.

Honorable Mention: Thantis, the Warweaver

Thantis, the Warweaver

Not to immediately break my own rules, but Thantis, the Warweaver doesn’t technically count under my definition of a goad commander. That said, it very much captures the spirit of a goad deck, as it does force players to attack each turn and has a built-in reason to discourage other players from attacking you. A Jund commander has the proper color identity since goad appears most frequently on red cards, with black cards also having some good options.

#26. Popular Entertainer

Popular Entertainer

You can play Popular Entertainer as your commander alongside any legendary creature that has the “choose a background” ability. This red enchantment can add a goad element to any deck using one of these Baldur’s Gate commanders, making them honorary goad commanders. You’ll probably want to choose a black commander or a blue commander since those give you the most goad options outside red.

#25. Maeve, Insidious Singer

Maeve, Insidious Singer

Mono-blue goad might be a little hard to pull off, but Maeve, Insidious Singer does offer a nice payoff to goading an opponent’s creature. You’ll want to make sure you are activating this siren commander’s ability the same turn the creature you goad can attack; otherwise you won’t draw your extra card. Later in the game, when you have more mana, you can activate Maeve, Insidious Singer’s ability multiple times, giving you good control over every player’s board and also drawing you a lot of cards.

#24. Vislor Turlough

Vislor Turlough

Vislor Turlough is similar to Xantcha, but it can be a bit more punishing to the player you give it to. Turlough is also a doctor’s companion, meaning you can pair it up with any doctor commander to try and create the best possible combination for a goad deck.

#23. The Master, Mesmerist

The Master, Mesmerist

The Master, Mesmerist starts out somewhat underwhelming but can snowball dangerously if built right. Giving the creature you goad skulk can also be helpful if an opponent is playing a dangerous creature that’s a bit weaker, like Etrata, the Silencer.

#22. Alela, Cunning Conqueror

Alela, Cunning Conqueror

Because Alela, Cunning Conqueror generates a lot of flying creatures, it’s easy to get past your opponents’ defense with at least one creature. This means that later in the game, you can be consistently goading several creatures in each combat.

#21. Glóin, Dwarf Emissary

Glóin, Dwarf Emissary

Glóin, Dwarf Emissary can both generate Treasure and easily use it to goad creatures. Because its ability can be activated at instant speed, this red commander allows you to goad creatures right before their controller goes to combat, making it easier to ensure you’re goading the best creature each turn.

#20. Slicer, Hired Muscle / Slicer, High-Speed Antagonist

Slicer, Hired Muscle Slicer, High-Speed Antagonist

Slicer, Hired Muscle allows you to deal commander damage on every turn potentially. Thanks to double strike, Slicer, Hired Muscle can stay safe from blockers, especially if you add buffs. This can help take out opponents pretty quickly, though Slicer, Hired Muscle will likely be a big target for removal once your opponents see what’s going on.

#19. Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva

Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva

Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva gives you a chance to goad one of your opponents’ creatures on each of their turns. Naya decks can be good at going wide with creatures, meaning you shouldn’t have too much trouble activating this Naya commander’s ability if you build your deck the right way. Giving up blockers isn’t as big a deal if you know that your opponents’ best creatures can’t swing at you. It’s also nice that Kitt Kanto, Mayhem Diva’s ability is what taps your creatures, so you can use creatures with summoning sickness to activate it.

#18. Laurine, the Diversion

Laurine, the Diversion

Laurine, the Diversion gives you a repeatable way to goat creatures, and its partner commander Kamber, the Plunderer creates Blood tokens for you, making it easier to activate Laurine’s ability. Later in the game, when you have a larger amount of mana, you can stave off some of the more powerful creatures on the board by goading them.

#17. Farid, Enterprising Salvager

Farid, Enterprising Salvager

Farid, Enterprising Salvager edges out similar goad commanders like Laurine, the Diversion because its ability is more variable. This allows you more flexibility if there isn’t a good target for a goad ability, or if it would just make more sense to draw a card or buff your commander.

#16. Bjorna, Nightfall Alchemist

Bjorna, Nightfall Alchemist

Bjorna, Nightfall Alchemist may seem like a steep price to goad a single creature, but if you pair this Izzet commander with fellow friends forever Elmar, Ulvenwald Informant, you’ll be generating Clue tokens for Bjorna to use and also be able to untap it. Building in other ways to create artifact tokens can give you a good supply of things to sacrifice, and blue has a few ways of untapping creatures that you can use to get multiple activations off Bjorna, Nightfall Alchemist.

#15. Bhaal, Lord of Murder

Bhaal, Lord of Murder

Bhaal, Lord of Murder can be a very interesting aristocrats commander. While its ability is underwhelming in a normal deck, if you’re already planning to sacrifice your creatures, this Jund commander adds value to what you are already going to do. The one downside is that Bhaal does give a semi-permanent buff to your opponents’ creatures, and they’ll only be goaded for one turn.

#14. Kaima, the Fractured Calm

Kaima, the Fractured Calm

Kaima, the Fractured Calm can be a very fun goad commander but also a very risky one. You can buff up your opponents’ creatures, knowing that those creatures will be forced to attack players that aren’t you. You’ll also continuously buff your own commander at the same time. The only trouble is, you’ll have to focus especially hard on keeping this Gruul commander on the board. Otherwise, you’ll be vulnerable to the very creatures you helped make stronger.

#13. The Beamtown Bullies

The Beamtown Bullies

The Beamtown Bullies is an interesting goad commander because you’ll be able to supply your opponents with goaded creatures if they don’t have their own. Adding cards like Faithless Looting and Thrill of Possibility let you move through your deck and discard big threats into the graveyard. You can then use this commander’s ability to give those creatures to your opponents goaded. You can also make it punishing for the player you give the creature to by giving them something like Phyrexian Negator or Leveler. Jund also has good options to include other goad cards to help keep you safe while you’re dumping your best creatures into the graveyard.

#12. Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent is essentially always goaded, the wording just has to be different due to the unique way it enters the battlefield. It’s a powerhouse for very cheap and also allows you to draw cards. Because Xantcha, Sleeper Agent forces its controller to attack someone each turn, this Rakdos commander can also sow political dissent between your opponents, which you can feed into with more Rakdos goad effects.

#11. Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist

Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist

Edgin, Larcenous Lutenist’s personal goad ability isn’t super powerful, but this Izzet human bard is in a good color combination for a goad deck. Its foretell ability can also be very strong, allowing you to cast more spells than usual in a single turn by delaying them and setting up a big play later on.

#10. Firkraag, Cunning Instigator

Firkraag, Cunning Instigator

Firkraag, Cunning Instigator isn’t as flashy as some other goad commanders, but this dragon does offer you a consistent way to draw cards and buff your commander. Being slightly more understatted can also be an advantage for a goad commander since you’ll want to keep attention off yourself anyway. Having a massive flying commander can also give you a way to take players out with commander damage, making Firkraag, Cunning Instigator a good late-game threat.

#9. Grenzo, Havoc Raiser

Grenzo, Havoc Raiser

Grenzo, Havoc Raiser can be a very dangerous goad commander in decks that go wide. The more creatures you can hit your opponents with, the more of theirs you can goad. This also snowballs as you continue to play since they’ll be forced to tap down their creatures to attack, allowing you to get in with more creatures and goad even more of theirs.

Grenzo’s ability to play your opponents’ spells can also give you other options if your goading strategy isn’t fully working. Instead, you can simply deny your opponents’ resources from their deck, and potentially use them for yourself. Either way, you’ll want to provide this goblin rogue with a wide board and some good early attackers.

#8. Kros, Defense Contractor

Kros, Defense Contractor

Although Kros, Defense Contractor makes some of the creatures you goad harder to kill, this Bant commander does offer some serious benefits. Giving the goaded creature trample makes it more likely that it’ll be able to deal damage to your opponents. Tapping creatures you put counters on can also be a good way to open up your opponents’ defense. If you include proliferate abilities in this deck, and you’ve been consistently dropping counters on your opponents’ creatures, you could tap them en masse and launch a big attack of your own without worrying that they’ll attack you back.

#7. Jon Irenicus, Shattered One

Jon Irenicus, Shattered One

Jon Irenicus, Shattered One is similar to The Beamtown Bullies with the added benefit that the creatures you give other players stick around and stay goaded each turn. They also can’t be sacrificed, making it harder for players to get rid of cards you’ve given them that they might not want. This Dimir commander also buffs up the creatures you give away, making them bigger threats than they would normally be.

#6. Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant

Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant

What makes Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant an especially effective goad commander is that it offers your opponents a strong incentive to attack one another. This means that earlier in the game, you might not have to rely as much on your goad mechanics to get players to go after someone besides you, since they’ll likely want that extra card. This allows you to save some resources for when you start pulling ahead and need to force your opponents to attack each other, instead of just suggesting it with your commander.

#5. Nelly Borca, Impulsive Accuser

Nelly Borca, Impulsive Accuser

Nelly Borca, Impulsive Accuser is similar to Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant, but in addition to a good incentive for attacking other players, this Boros commander also makes it easier to goad larger numbers of creatures. Since suspected creatures have menace, they’ll be more effective against your opponents. Because they can’t block, you can also find more ways to attack with Nelly Borca, Impulsive Accuser without worrying about it dying to a blocker.

#4. Red Death, Shipwrecker

Red Death, Shipwrecker

Red Death, Shipwrecker is a cheap mana rock with the added bonus that it’ll goad a creature for you. If you include a Chromatic Orrery and an enchantment like Freed from the Reel, you can even set up a way to untap Red Death, Shipwrecker as many times as you need, goading every creature on the battlefield. Even if you don’t pull off something that spectacular, Red Death, Shipwrecker is still a good source of easy and consistent goading that offers you additional value. This is the type of commander that’ll help you set up other big plays, instead of being a big play itself.

#3. Baeloth Barrityl, Entertainer + Raised by Giants

Baeloth Barrityl, Entertainer Raised by Giants

Baeloth Barrityl, Entertainer’s static ability is one of the best sources of consistent goading in Magic. Partner it with the background Raised by Giants and you’ll easily have every creature on the battlefield goaded. Then you can just focus on keeping these two on the battlefield while your opponents are forced to battle it out amongst themselves.

#2. The Rani

The Rani

The Rani has the edge on a lot of goad commanders because of its use of a goading enchantment. This makes it easier for you to goad a larger number of creatures, since it won’t just be a one-turn effect. A Grixis commander is also in the best color combinations for a goad deck, giving you plenty of other tools to work with. Blue also has some flicker effects like Thassa, Deep-Dwelling that you can use to generate even more goading enchantments.

#1. Marisi, Breaker of the Coil

Marisi, Breaker of the Coil

Marisi, Breaker of the Coil makes it relatively easy to goad all your opponents’ creatures, and a Naya commander's colors are set up to support this type of strategy. Opponents not being able to cast spells during combat also makes it easier to be certain that your attacks get through and gives you the upper hand in fights since you can still use combat tricks. If you’re especially wary of counterspells, you can also throw a Vedalken Orrery in this deck and just cast any big spells you have during the combat phase.

Best Goad Commander Payoffs

Curse of Verbosity Kardur, Doomscourge

The best way to capitalize off your goad mechanics is to play cards that give you additional benefits when your opponents are attacked. Curse of Verbosity for example gives you extra cards when a specific opponent is attacked. Cards that care about attacking creatures like Kardur, Doomscourge can also be a good way to pay off your goad mechanics.

Coat of Arms

Universal buffs like Coat of Arms can also potentially work in your favor, but you’ll have to make sure you’re able to goad large numbers of creatures to make it work in your favor. If you’re confident in your ability to consistently goad at least one creature, you can include buffs like Eldrazi Conscription to use on your opponents’ creatures. This makes at least one player less likely to want that creature removed than if you put the enchantment on your own creature.

Commanding Conclusion

Kros, Defense Contractor - Illustration by Katerina Ladon

Kros, Defense Contractor | Illustration by Katerina Ladon

Goad can be a very fun mechanic, especially if you find yourself in a playgroup that is a bit too hesitant to attack. Having so many goad commanders to choose from is nice, because it allows you to incorporate the mechanic in whatever way best suits your personal tastes.

Which goad commander is your favorite? Which commander without a built-in goad mechanic do you think would still be a good commander for a goad deck? Let me know in the comments or on Draftsim’s Twitter.

Thank you for reading and see you next time!

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