Last updated on March 19, 2024

Marchesa, the Black Rose - Illustration by Matt Stewart

Marchesa, the Black Rose | Illustration by Matt Stewart

Every once in a while you have to stop and ask yourself: how edgy do I want my next Commander deck to be? If the answer is “yes,” then let me introduce you to Grixis.

Tri-colored decks are particularly common in Commander. The variety that comes with mixing three colors allows for a super wide range of responses and reactions to the practically infinite ways your opponent can play.

Grixis combines red, black, and blue in what is commonly called a “shard.” These three colors allow for a weird mix of chaos and control strategies, upsetting your opponent’s game while keeping your own on track as much as possible.

But what’s so special about Grixis? Let’s take a look!

What Is Grixis and Why Choose It in Commander?

Kess, Dissident Mage - Illustration by Izzy

Kess, Dissident Mage | Illustration by Izzy

We all know that all the 2-color combos in Magic are named after the Ravnica guilds. It’s a far easier and more comfortable way to refer to them. Plus it sounds way cooler.

The same thing applies for 3-colored combinations. The names for the first five of these spawn from the five shards in the plane of Alara, introduced in, you guessed it, Shards of Alara. The next five got their names from the Khans of Tarkir tribes, but I’ll leave those for another time.

So let’s go back to Alara. This plane was divided into five shards, each representing a sequence from the color pie. When it comes to Grixis, this means the enemy colors red and blue with black, an allied color for each of them to connect them.

This makes a Grixis commander’s color identity black, red, and blue. This identity allows for tons of focus on spellcasting with a big emphasis on removal and card draw. Strategies like stealing your opponent’s creatures and sacrifice are also pretty big in these colors.

According to EDHREC, the most common strategy used in Grixis decks is wheel: spells that make you and your opponent discard your entire hands and draw new ones, or at least a certain number of cards. I think this is already a great show of that chaos and control mix I mentioned earlier. It creates a huge amount of seemingly random interference while also keeping some level of control over the board.

Other popular Grixis strategies include Treasures, which at this point I’m pretty sure show up in spellslinger and any combination of colors that can play them. Grixis is a great color for wizard tribal after all, and a lot of wizards care about spellslinging.

Speaking of tribal decks, Grixis’ most popular tribe is none other than pirates. I love this both because pirates is a really fun tribe and it’s pretty flavorful in my opinion.

This should give you a very basic overview on which strategies are preferred when building Grixis decks. But now it’s time take a look at the available commanders and what they do so you can choose your own strategy!

Grixis Commanders

I’d like to say this is a selection of the best Grixis commanders out there, but it's really a list of all of them. There are plenty that play widely different strategies, so trying to do a “worst to best” list leaves lots of room for you to argue that one is the best at one thing, while it’s terrible at another.

Also keep in mind that you can build a 3-colored deck with partner commanders, but I won’t be considering those combinations since they’re not necessarily Grixis.

#45. Sauron, Lord of the Rings

Sauron, Lord of the Rings

Almost too costly to see play, Sauron, Lord of the Rings gets awkward around most things that are not zombies. Feeding its own reanimation is good and while everything else is fine, the Ring tempting and amass five might not be relevant when you're finaly able to cast this horror.

#44. Cecily, Haunted Mage / Eleven, the Mage

I’ll save my opinions about Stranger Things and Universes Beyond for another time. Eleven, the Mage is by all means a viable commander. This commander’s main focus is clearly card draw. The focus on having exactly eleven cards in your hand is pretty thematic and interesting in a quirky kinda way. With Triskaidekaphile you can go all-in on a silly number-themed deck.

Lots of controlled card draw paired with other instants and sorceries is the focus for Eleven. Keep drawing and keep casting spells for free. Grixis has a ton of cards that either support or benefit from spellcasting, not to mention ways to protect Eleven so that it can attack every turn and give you free spells.

#43. Tetsuo Umezawa

Tetsuo Umezawa

This isn’t one of the strongest commanders out there, but it can make for a fun and interesting casual deck. Tetsuo Umezawa’s first ability is pretty common in assassin creatures. Royal Assassin and Stalking Assassin both share the “destroy target tapped creature” ability.

Fill up a Tetsuo-led deck with some rogues or ninjas to sneak in some damage on your opponents, targeted removal to make sure no huge creatures stick for too long, and make use of that blue color identity to get some counterspells and card draw. It won’t be your strongest deck ever, but a removal-heavy deck is exactly what Nicol Bolas’ original killer deserves.

#42. Garza Zol, Plague Queen

Garza Zol, Plague Queen

The main color trio for vampires is Mardu (). Even though there’s been some vampires with white in their colors, we mostly owe this to the Commander 2017 vampire precon. Ixalan’s vampires showed up that same year with a massive wave of white vampires.

But blue had repeatedly shown up in vampires before that. I would’ve loved to see some stronger support for vampires as Grixis kindred instead of Mardu.

In any case, Garza Zol, Plague Queen is probably the closest we’ll ever have to a Grixis vampire tribal commander. I’ll talk about other Grixis vampire commanders later so I won’t spoil much, but it’s fair to say the focus is not always vampire.

#41. Gwendlyn Di Corci

Gwendlyn Di Corci

Cards from Legends are weird. And usually underpowered. Gwendlyn Di Corci is clearly not on the underpowered side of things, even if it also isn’t one of the strongest out there.

A deck built around Gwendlyn is clearly going to be a discard-based commander deck. Waste Not, Sangromancer, and Tinybones, Trinket Thief are all must-haves in this kind of build. Add to that a backdrop of cards like Notion Thief and several wheel effects like Windfall and you can make sure your opponents are constantly discarding while preventing them from having any real card advantage.

#40. Goro-Goro and Satoru

Goro-Goro and Satoru
There is a fair amount of work to really get Goro-Goro and Satoru generating dragon spirits. The ability to grant haste stapled onto this fast goblin human commander definitely improves it. Fun, but the whole card feels more like a mono red commander and lacks the diversity of play style that many of these other commanders promise.

#39. Cult of Skaro

Cult of Skaro
Choosing at random is fun, especially when you have access to a random number generator. Each of the choices are effects you’d be glad to have every turn for the cost of 2-3 mana, so as long as you can safely attack with Cult of Skaro, you should have a smashing good time.

#38. Sol’Kanar the Swamp King

Sol'Kanar the Swamp King

If Gwendlyn Di Corci was on the “not too powerful but at least interesting” end of Legends cards, Sol'Kanar the Swamp King is definitely on the “pretty uninteresting” end. It’s not a terrible card, especially for its time. A 5/5 for five mana with an evasive keyword and an ability that’s only gain was pretty strong for its time isn’t bad. It’s a relatively good card, but not a great commander.

The biggest drawback is that Sol’Kanar shines as a mono-black commander. Black cards usually have you use life as a resource, so having an easy way to recover those life points is always great. You gain life from your own black spells and your opponents’.

Not everyone plays black in commander but it’s definitely one of the most used colors out there. This card fits right in as one of your 99 and it’s far from the worst commander you could ask for, but it’s also not exactly a game changer.

#37. Sol'Kanar the Tainted

Sol'Kanar the Tainted

Sol'Kanar the Tainted is undoubtedly the better of the two Sol'Kanars. It has various abilities that you can choose to activate as long as it hasn't been chosen yet. It eventually ends with Sol'Kanar the Tainted being flickered, but I don't think you'll be playing this in any flicker or blink EDH decks.

This is certainly a unique and fun design, but not necessarily the most powerful one out there for Grixis. It's a nice little, well I wouldn't say group hug, more of like a group stab strategy.

#36. The Valeyard

The Valeyard
Is this a 5-mana enchantment that does nothing to affect the board? It highly depends on how often you’re presenting your opponents with villainous choices or voting. Between the cards from Dr. Who and Conspiracy cards, you might have enough fun ways to break your opponents. By the way, voting twice is usually cheating, but The Valeyard says otherwise. It does always feel like Grixis is on the edge of cheating, and should come as no surprise that all the villainous choice cards are available to Grixis .

#35. Parnesse, the Subtle Brush

Parnesse, the Subtle Brush

Parnesse, the Subtle Brush, from New Capenna Commander, is an interesting Grixis commander, to say the least. In addition to giving your a nice 4-life tax to prevent opponents from targeting you or your stuff, it allows opponents to copy a spell whenever you copy one. These two abilities come together to cause a lot of chaos at the table and leave you out of it.

Overall, I really like this idea and design. While there is plenty of spell-copying engines in Grixis to play in the deck, I wish this commander actually copied them itself.

#34 The Rani

The Rani
In competitive magic, relying on your opponents is not a good thing, however, in commander, goad does great things for you by turning your opponents against each other. All The Rani is doing is handing out buffs, and it’s not like you’re getting a free card out of it, you’ll have to pay to investigate. To get additional benefit, pair any clue tokens you gain with Academy Manufactor. Cards like Bothersome Quasit will help you goad more creatures and sit back since you’d rather not have to attack with The Rani if you can help it.

#33. Ashnod the Uncaring

Ashnod the Uncaring

Ashnod finally received her own card in The Brothers' War Commander. It's a 1/4 for 5-mana with deathtouch, but has a whopping ability to make up for the not-so-great stats. Whenever you activate an ability of an artifact or creature, which of course, can't be a mana ability, you can copy it if a permanent was sacrificed as part of the activation cost.

This seems a little underwhelming because it is, but sacrificing things as part of a cost really isn't that difficult to get going in Grixis. Sure, it would be much better without that sacrifice clause, but that isn't as much of a hindrance as it may seem at first.

#32. Crosis, the Purger

Crosis, the Purger

Crosis, the Purger can be pretty threatening if you play it right. Forcing opponents to discard all cards of a specific color can be pretty hard-hitting for mono-colored and even 2-colored decks. Just add some extra evasion like Krydle of Baldur's Gate and Megrim and your deck starts taking shape.

My favorite aspect of this card is that it’s the most viable commander for a specter tribal deck. Specters are focused on flying creatures that force your opponents to discard whenever they receive combat damage and that’s exactly what Crosis does. Pair that with a lack of legendary specters and it makes it the best possible commander for a pretty niche tribal deck.

#31. Davros, Dalek Creator

Davros, Dalek Creator
How many ways can you cause just one opponent to lose three life? One easy answer is any evasive 3-power creature, and you could count Davros, Dalek Creator. Of course, Davros is good friends with Ob Nixilis, the Fallen, Shrieking Affliction and the Tempting Witch. This scientist relies on smart attacks to really punish the opposition.

#30. Tetsuo, Imperial Champion

Tetsuo, Imperial Champion

Tetsuo, Imperial Champion is up next as a 3/3 for . This one is all about equipment, getting two different bonuses if it attacks while equipped. Normally I'm all over this kind of stuff, but not having access to white, one of the best equipment colors, is a big drawback to playing this as your commander.

#29. Lord of Tresserhorn

Lord of Tresserhorn

There really is something about old cards going on here. Lord of Tresserhorn is a weird card in my opinion. Playing it means paying a pretty big cost while also giving two cards to one opponent. That’s not exactly great.

There are ways to make this card work as a commander. The first is to simply build a zombie deck around it. Most zombie decks are Dimir () but a little red thrown in can help with board wipes and removal.

But the main problem with Lord of Tresserhorn is its low toughness, so the other way to use it is to raise it. Once you’ve made sure it can’t be easily killed by any medium-sized blocker you have a two-shot commander damage win on your hands. If you add Tainted Strike or Temur Battle Rage to the mix you can start offing opponents pretty quickly.            

#28. Don Andres, the Renegade

Don Andres, the Renegade
Don Andres, the Renegade really likes Stolen Goods, and the evergreen Threaten effects combine with sacrifice outlets to be absolutely devastating when you pull them off. As for getting those noncreature spells your opponents left on the top of their library, Decadent Dragon, Gonti, Lord of Luxury, and Thief of Sanity will do a fine job of taking them for your casting.

#27. Nicol Bolas

Nicol Bolas

One of the original Elder Dragons that gave the EDH format its name and the main villain in Magic’s story for quite some time. Nicol Bolas isn’t as great as that introduction makes it seem. And I promise this is the last card from Legends on this list.

Nicol Bolas shows up on plenty of different cards. Both as a creature and as a planeswalker. I think this specific showing of the Elder Dragon puts it a little ahead of Crosis, the Purger in terms of power. The upkeep cost of three different colors is a huge drawback if you don’t have a ton of lands. Discarding your opponent’s entire hand whenever they’re dealt damage by the dragon is a great effect that puts this card as the best of all the five Elder Dragons. But I still think it hasn’t aged quite as well as it could have.

#26. Ashad, the Lone Cyberman

Ashad, the Lone Cyberman
Like many bargain cards from Wilds of Eldraine, Ashad, the Lone Cyberman is decent on it’s own, and gets way better when you have creatures to sacrifice. Let’s see, can you name any nonlegendary artifacts that do not get better in multiples? Comment if you do, and let’s get some token copy buddies for the lone cyberman. Constructs, gnomes and golems play well with Ashad, perhaps you’ve met Noxious Gearhulk, Threefold Thunderhulk or Thought Monitor?

#25. Mishra, Artificer Prodigy

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy

Um. So. This card isn’t exactly great in Commander. Having a restriction of “one of each” for any non-basic land makes Mishra, Artificer Prodigy pretty much useless in Commander. Or that’s what you’d think.

Mishra has a very specific synergy that makes it work really well: you need to have Mishra, Artificer Prodigy and Possibility Storm on the field. Both cards trigger when you play an artifact. You want to resolve Storm first.

Exile the artifact, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile another artifact then play it. Your original artifact shuffles into your library and Mishra, Artificer Prodigy triggers, letting you search for that original artifact and put it into play. You just got two spells for the cost of one. All the while you have Possibility Storm frustrating your opponents with some good old-fashioned chaos.

This strategy can also be used with Blood Funnel and Nether Void. Have them resolve first and put your artifact in the graveyard then use Mishra to fetch it back. You also get to counter almost all of your opponents’ spells.

#24. Missy

If you've ever played against it, you get to know Missy real quick. When your opponent can use targeted removal to bring your creatures to the opposite side of the board, it eats you up inside to see your cards face down in front of Missy.

It takes some work to flip them faceup, but it’s a scary possibility. Missy is also dangerous as an artifact creature commander, causing chaos in games whether chasing planes is a factor or not.

#23. Sedris, the Traitor King

Sedris, the Traitor King

There are plenty of ways to go about building a Sedris, the Traitor King deck. The most obvious is to have a lot of creatures that can make good use of their newly-gained unearth ability. The main thing you want in this deck is Obeka, Brute Chronologist. Unearth makes the creature go away at the end of that turn, but your creatures don’t have to leave if you never actually reach that stage.

Adding a good amount of extra graveyard recursion to a Sedris deck is a smart choice. You obviously want ways to put your higher mana value cards into your graveyard so you can unearth them. But if Sedris, the Traitor King can’t help with that, you can always use Chainer, Nightmare Adept or Feldon of the Third Path so that your graveyard doesn’t go to waste.

#22. Admiral Brass, Unsinkable

Admiral Brass, Unsinkable
Did Admiral Brass, Unsinkable just make those four new bloaks walk the plank? Pirates, reanimation, swashbuckling, all you need are black sleeves of the Jolly Roger and you’re practically playing out a pirate movie. Seriously though, you stand a good chance bringing the likes of Breeches, Brazen Plunderer, Coercive Recruiter and Hostage Taker back into play. Besides, what’s that the pirates say? “Take what you can, give nothing back!”

#21. Mairsil, the Pretender

Mairsil, the Pretender

There are plenty of cards out there with good activated abilities. There are also plenty of cards out there that can become pretty annoying if their activated abilities are combined. The main card you want to exile with Mairsil, the Pretender is Aetherling. Being able to exile it then put it back on the battlefield allows you to exile other cards from your hand or graveyard and increase the number of abilities in there.

There are plenty of combos you can put in a Mairsil deck. With Aetherling and Nevinyrral's Disk exiled with a cage counter on them and you’ll have a repeatable board wipe every turn with Anger in your graveyard. Exiling and putting a cage counter on Hateflayer and Tree of Perdition allows you to take out one opponent per turn as long as you have the mana. These are two of the most popular combos but there are plenty of ways to create some really threatening interactions with this commander.

#20. Saruman, the White Hand

Saruman, the White Hand
Goblins and orcs have never felt more protected than under Saruman, the White Hand, but the real ticket here is the value on noncreature spells, and prowess is a really powerful ability. Saruman might not get to 10,000 strong, but your army is going to be fearsome fast. Another great aspect to this is adding amass to any of your instants.

#19. Evelyn, the Covetous

Evelyn, the Covetous

Evelyn, the Covetous is an absolute bomb of a commander in Grixis. It's very easy to cast with the hybrid mana symbols, and the 2/5 statline is made up for by the sweet abilities. In addition to having flash, when this card, or another vampire, enters the battlefield, you get to exile the top card of every player's library and set it aside. Once per turn, you get to play one of those cards and spend mana as if it were any color to cast it.

There's nothing I love more than playing somebody else's cards, especially when they're easy to cast like this!

#18. Thraximundar


Sometimes you wanna pull up to your game group and go, “my commander’s name is ‘He Who Paints the World Red’” just to feel edgy and imposing. And that’s not only fine but also extremely cool I promise that’s fact and not just my opinion. Even though Thraximundar’s first appearance was in Alara Reborn, a lot of people know the card for being one of the alternative commanders in the Commander 2013 Grixis precon deck.

The obvious main strategy for a Thraximundar deck is sacrifice. You’re probably not gonna be casting your commander a lot thanks to its huge mana cost. Fill your deck up with cards like Mayhem Devil and Butcher of Malakir, mix in some recursion like Dreadhorde Invasion and a few sacrifice outlets, and you’re good to go.

I’m basically saying that Thraximundar is a great excuse to build a sacrifice deck even if you’re not gonna play your commander all that much.

#17. Be'lakor, the Dark Master

Be'lakor, the Dark Master

Be'lakor, the Dark Master is from the series of Warhammer 40k decks that released in late 2022. This is one of the more expensive cards on this list in terms of mana value, coming in as a 6/5 for 6, but it has some sweet abilities that make it worth the price.

The first keyword, Prince of Chaos, is an ETB ability that has you draw X cards and lost X life, where X is the number of demons you control. Getting a board full of demons isn't too hard, and drawing cards at the cost of life-based on the number of demons you control is the most black-mana ability I've ever heard of.

The other ability, Lord of Torment, is a triggered ability that has your demons deal damage to any target equal to its power whenever it enters the battlefield. This makes Be'lakor very strong not just when it enters, but also passively throughout the game.

#16. Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor

Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor

Everyone who knows the curse cycle of cards from the Commander 2017 precons was hyped to see Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor. Even if you don’t like it all that much. At least now we know who’s torturing the unluckiest planeswalker so much. But silly lore aside, Lynde is a really interesting commander.

This is the first time we got a commander with such a strong focus on curses specifically. It makes for some really fun EDH deckbuilding possibilities. One of the strongest drawbacks is the ability that has you attach curses to yourself when they go to the graveyard. Being able to then reattach them to your opponents and draw two cards is amazing, but you can only reattach one per turn and that makes it risky, to say the least. Even with all that considered I still really like Lynda and all the possibilities to play around with curses.

#15. Sauron, the Dark Lord

Sauron, the Dark Lord
Having lost to it multiple times, makes me want to join the dark side and build Sauron, the Dark Lord. The first two abilities alone are hard to play around. Any Ring tempting, and believe me there’s enough, and this dark lord will take over the game. Not to mention it has the sweet spot of seven power for lethal commander damage in three hits. It’s easy to imagine how this character nearly conquered all of Middle-earth.

#14 Mishra, Eminent One

Mishra, Eminent One

Players got a new version of everyone's second-favorite Dominaria Brother in Mishra, Eminent One. This 5/4 for five is all about those artifacts and animates one of your noncreature artifacts once per turn as a copy. It enters as a 4/4 with haste and is sacrificed at the end step.

I really like this version of Mishra. It works both as an aggressive creature-based artifact commander as well as an engine to get extra activations or triggers out of your other non-legendary artifacts.

#13. Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge

Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge

The face for Commander 2013’s Grixis precon. We’re finally getting into one of Grixis’ themes: spellcasting decks. Jeleva, Nephalia’s Scourge is definitely a high-risk high-reward kind of card. Having to exile an increasing number of cards for every time you cast it is extremely risky because you might be taking extremely important resources away from yourself. But you could also be taking equally important resources from all of your opponents. And you could also be speeding your own game up if the cards you exile are strong enough.

Having quite a few powerful instants and sorceries in this deck is obviously a pretty good strategy. There are plenty of cards from Prosper, Tome-Bound’s Forgotten Realms precon deck that fit right in with this commander. Cards like Wild-Magic Sorcerer and Prosper, Tome-Bound itself (which is a great commander in its own right, by the way) really benefit from Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge’s ability. And spells like Mnemonic Deluge and Fevered Suspicion are pretty abundant.

#12. Zevlor, Elturel Exile

Zevlor, Elturel Exile

Zevlor, Elturel Exile, a Grixis commander from CLB, was quite literally made for Commander. Simply put, Zevlor copies your spells that target just one opponent or their permanent and makes enough copies to target those other players or their permanents. You read that right, for just and tapping it, you get up to two copies of any instant or sorcery. Pretty cool, right?

#11. Inalla, Archmage Ritualist

Inalla, Archmage Ritualist

Grixis isn’t without its tribal decks, and Inalla, Archmage Ritualist was the face for the 2017 wizard tribal precon. The eminence ability that lets you generate copies of any wizard you play is pretty great and can be exploited for quite a few combos.

It also works great as a simple enabler to build a powerful deck around. As it happens with a lot of tribal decks, sometimes the commander itself isn’t so important as part of the deck. You just want a creature that works thematically or mechanically with the tribe you want to build.

#10. Anhelo, the Painter

Anhelo, the Painter

Anhelo, the Painter, a 1/3 for 3, is up next. This vampire assassin with deathtouch gives the first instant or sorcery spell you cast casualty 2. That's a nice, cheap cost for doubling a spell, and I can see this ability working quite well in any predominantly black sacrifice version of a Grixis spells deck.

#9. Cormela, Glamour Thief

Cormela, Glamour Thief

Next up is Cormela, Glaour Thief. This vampire rogue commander from New Capenna is your classic instant- and sorcery-based spellslinger commander. It has haste, can add a bunch of mana to cast instants and sorceries, and bounces an instant or sorcery to your hand when it dies.

This is a nice and efficient Commander, and I think it's well-positioned for the meta if you're playing it at a relatively casual level. It's got enough power behind it to really drive a deck's strategy, but it just isn't efficient or powerful enough on its own to power through cEDH.

#8. Lord Xander, the Collector

Lord Xander, the Collector

Here's another one from New Capenna. Lord Xander, the Collector is a much heavier creature, a 6/6 for seven, but it brings enough power to make it worth the cost. When it enters the battlefield, a target opponent must discard half of their hand rounded down. Whenever it attacks, the defending player must mill half their library rounded down. To top things off, whenever it dies, a target opponent sacrifices half of their nonland permanents rounded down.

Just, wow. This is a lot of power packed into the commander Lord Xander, and the guaranteed half-board wipe is a strong method of deterrence. I don't think this is cEDH viable, but it will sure wreak a non-cEDH pod if it comes down.

#7. Admiral Beckett Brass

Admiral Beckett Brass

Let’s do one more tribal. I love wizards and I love wizard tribal decks but man, pirate tribal is such a cool idea for an EDH deck. Admiral Beckett Brass’ abilities are both very good and very on theme. Making your pirates stronger is pretty standard for any lord-type card and it’s always good for tribal decks.

What I really love is Admiral’s second ability. It basically allows you to board and plunder your opponents’ symbolic ships. You can take your opponent’s stuff for yourself if you deal damage with enough pirates. What’s more pirate-y than that? With the influx of pirates from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan and support from the Ixalan block and Commander Legends pirates, there should be plenty of choices for crewmates.

#6. Abaddon the Despoiler

Abaddon the Despoiler

Abaddon the Despoiler is a fresh commander from the Warhammer 40k series of Commander decks. It's a strong 5/5 with trample for 5 that comes with the “Mark of Chaos Ascendant” keyword. During your turn, it gives spells you cast from your hand cascade as long as the spell's mana value is less than the total amount of life your opponents have lost this turn.

This is one of those abilities that is as fun as it is powerful. It really incentivizes going in for attacks while also having consistent forms of damage. Like many Rakdos decks, this one really gets rolling once you start getting damage in.

#5. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager Nicol Bolas, the Arisen

This is the second and last time that Magic’s greatest villain will show up in this list. For now.

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is definitely the better of the two cards and it mostly has to do with the lack of an upkeep cost. Add to that that it turns into a planeswalker if you pay a high enough cost that allows you to draw two cards per turn. And you can mill an opponent out in a single turn with enough loyalty counters.

I’d pick this card to build a Nicol Bolas themed deck. It’s not like there’s a shortage of Nicol Bolas-related cards, not to mention all of the planeswalker cards out there. Basically any and every card that synergizes well Bolas’ planeswalker and creature cards are in Grixis colors, so go wild and build an all-out Nicol Bolas deck.

#4. Obeka, Brute Chronologist

Obeka, Brute Chronologist

I’m a big fan of cards that let you interact with the way turns develop. Discontinuity and Time Stop are always fun to play when a player is about to cast an important creature or spell for their combo because it’s not that you’re countering it; you’re cancelling their whole turn. Obeka, Brute Chronologist doesn’t work quite like that but it does give your opponents the choice of avoiding end-of-turn and other similar effects.

One of the most common combos for an Obeka deck is Final Fortune, Isochron Scepter, and Obeka, Brute Chronologist. Just get those three cards going and you have infinite turns. I personally prefer this card as part of the 99 and not as a commander, but it’s still an interesting card to build around.

#3. Marchesa, the Black Rose

Marchesa, the Black Rose

Dethrone is a super fun ability. It immediately becomes a great pay-off if you’ve lost a lot of life and at least one of your opponents has more life points. You can target them to make your creatures stronger and put some pressure on them. And as long as Marchesa, the Black Rose is on the field, you don’t exactly have to worry about your creatures dying. If they do die, they’ll just come back at the end of your turn.

This makes Marchesa an amazing card to play spells that give you control over your opponents’ creatures and sacrifice outlets. Use Captivating Crew’s ability on your opponent’s commander and use it to attack the player with the most life. Once it has a counter on it, sacrifice it with any outlet like Carrion Feeder or Viscera Seer and gain control of it for as long as you can manage. Rinse and repeat as much as you want. And if you’re the player with the most life you can always have an Unspeakable Symbol on the field to drain yourself while also putting counters on your creatures.

#2. Nekusar, the Mindrazer

Nekusar, the Mindrazer

Playing against Nekusar, the Mindrazer was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve had in Commander. It’ll have you drawing a ton of cards per turn. This would be amazing and rewarding in any other situation. But it wasn’t. It meant seeing our life points going down ridiculously fast while most of us had to discard tons of cards at the end of each turn because of the hand limit.

Mix your Nekusar, the Mindrazer with Underworld Dreams and Fate Unraveler. Then play tons of discard-related spells and cards that’ll have your opponents drawing tons of cards per turn and you’re set for the rest of the game.

#1. Kess, Dissident Mage

Kess, Dissident Mage

Cards that let you play spells from your graveyard have always been well-liked in Magic. And Commander is a format that needs them more than most since you only get one chance to play each of your spells. Kess, Dissident Mage lets you get around that.

There are plenty of combos to put into a deck helmed by Kess. Most spellslinger decks have infinite combos and ways to break the game, and having a way to easily cast any spell needed for the combo a second time in case the first fails is really good. Kess, Dissident Mage stands tall as one of the most popular spellslinger commanders thanks to its ability and color identity.

Nekusar Grixis Deck in Commander

Nekusar, the Mindrazer - Illustration by Mark Winters

Nekusar, the Mindrazer | Illustration by Mark Winters

I think I’ve made it clear enough that there are quite a few strategies to build around in Grixis. I actually have a Marchesa, the Black Rose deck that centers around stealing my opponents creatures and keeping them for myself, though it’s mostly proxies.

But I felt like trying to build something a bit more original for this so I put together a Nekusar, the Mindrazer deck. It’s built to be as EDH-budget friendly as possible so most of the cards aren’t even close to the most powerful you could add. I actually tried to keep the cost of any and all cards I used to under one dollar. That means that upgrades can be made without having to look at things like Timetwister.

This deck is built mostly around having Nekusar, the Mindrazer out on the battlefield so you can punish your opponents whenever they draw a card. In case your commander isn’t on the battlefield yet you have Fate Unraveler and Underworld Dreams to keep putting pressure whenever your opponents draw cards.

Most of the card draw in this deck is going to affect both you and your opponents with things like Folio of Fancies, Otherworld Atlas, and Prosperity. Using cards like Venser's Journal ensures you get extra benefits from all the card draw.

I also added a few cards to the deck that make a single player draw plenty of cards. The idea is to use these as finishers against specific players. Peer into the Abyss is pretty much a sure way to get rid of any opponent even without the rest of your strategy.

One of the advantages of making your opponents draw plenty of cards is that most of them will have to discard at the end of their turns. Megrim and Raiders' Wake ensures that your opponents keep losing huge amounts of life each turn. And for a final alternative win, Triskaidekaphile is a great card to have in a deck where you can essentially control the amount of cards in your hand. It’s not the most fun way to win but it’ll save you in a tight spot.

Wrap Up

Obeka, Brute Chronologist - Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Obeka, Brute Chronologist | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Grixis is possibly my favorite color trio. I enjoy all of the individual colors, the three dual combos that they form, and the way all three interact when combined. I like the ridiculously edgy motif that comes with Grixis and it has some super interesting strategies like the ones you can build around Nekusar, the Mindrazer and Marchesa, the Black Rose.

I wish we’d get a few more commanders for this shard. I’d particularly enjoy more vampire commanders considering black and blue vampires still get some occasional support.

But what do you think? Which of these commanders was your favorite? Do you like this color trio, or do you find it way too edgy for your taste? Do you think a good specter tribal will ever be viable? Feel free to leave your comments down below! And be sure to check out our blog for more content if you enjoyed this list of the edgiest of Magic’s color identities.

Grixis not your preferred color trio? Check these out: Abzan, Bant, Esper, Jeskai, Jund, Mardu, Naya Sultai, Temur.

That’s all from me for now. Have a good one, and I’ll see you next time!

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  • Avatar
    Kononai June 18, 2023 7:41 am

    Not to be pedantic, but Grixis is a shard, not a wedge

    • Nikki
      Nikki June 19, 2023 5:14 pm

      Might be pedantic but you’re still right. Thanks for pointing that out!

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