Last updated on August 15, 2023
Nissa, Ascended Animist | Illustration by Chase Stone
So, you’ve been slinging spells and casting creatures, slowly building up a board full of creatures. Your opponents have been resilient, though; their life remains high, and despite the number of creatures you have, you don’t quite have the collective power to take them out. What you need at this moment is a mass pump card!
Ready? Let’s get started!
Warhost's Frenzy | Illustration by Igor Grechanyi
Mass pump cards, for the sake of this piece, are spells or permanents that provide a temporary power bonus to multiple creatures through an ability or as part of the spell’s resolution. These include the rules text “creatures you control get” that typically last a single turn or phase. Additionally, the context of this ranking cares about power gained during a combat step when your creatures are attacking.
Haze of Rage is interesting. It takes some of Magic’s most busted words, storm and buyback, and melds them with Banners Raised. Do those two keywords make this draft chaff common playable? My hunch is there are few decks that could make this work, ones that are trying to kill with Empty the Warrens, but in a “fair” way.
Warhost's Frenzy is so close to getting into so many of my Rakdos decks. Rakdos typically loves self-sacrifice and combat; this pays off both. Neither mode is the most efficient in the world, but there is value in having modal spells like this. Juri, Master of the Revue and Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper should love this spell.
While expensive at 5 mana, Soulblade Djinn, when it sticks, is a flying prowess threat on its own that also buffs the entire team alongside it. If you’re casting three or four non-creature spells in a turn and using Poppet Stitcher and Murmuring Mystic to also go wide, the Djinn can give you a way to turn their tiny bodies into killing machines.
Anax and Cymede show off heroic in a unique fashion: instead of going tall, it wants you to go wide with single target spells. Paired with Crown of Flames and Flickering Ward, this power couple can turn a team created through Archon of Sun's Grace into an army worthy of Akros.
For an uncommon legend, Balmor, Battlemage Captain is packing heat in its archetype. Unlike most of the prowess-style team pump triggers, Balmor also grants trample, giving it the evasion these effects crave. Three or four instants or sorceries chained together can result in big swings in damage that can take out player after player.
Bess, Soul Nourisher as a build-around commander can do silly amounts of damage reminiscent of Coat of Arms. The major constraint on it is needing ample 1/1 creatures to pump, but plenty of Selesnya decks produce Saprolings, Soldiers, and Humans with that stat line to make Bess swole and your little 1/1s equally large.
Beregond of the Guard is likely to show up in many human decks to come, especially in Katilda, Dawnhart Prime. Vigilance is a huge deal, and with token producers like Increasing Devotion, Beregond can knock players out quickly.
I’m still up in the air about Rites of Initiation’s placement. 1 red mana is just so inexpensive, and while discarding your hand sounds like a horrible thing to do, if the table dies because your ten goblins got +4/+4, it’s insane. It might be narrow, but if you’re going all in on aggression and can feed this three or more cards, it puts out lots of damage for its cost.
Overrun historically ran tables in Limited as a brutal win condition for just getting one or two more creatures than your opponent; in Commander and other Eternal formats, it isn’t quite the menace it used to be. It’s still the purest mass board pump effect you could ask for. Nothing fancy, no non-sorcery synergies to speak of. Just a clean, effective buff, no questions asked.
Earthshaker Giant may be a mana more expensive, but it being a creature version of Overrun to synergize with The Great Henge and similar effects more than make up for the extra mana, as does the huge body.
Klothys's Design scales with your devotion to green, so hypothetically it can grant +20/+20 to the team. Reaching that high of a devotion to green isn’t necessarily given, but getting it to 4 or higher is a breeze. Because its devotion based, you’re usually going to want non-token creatures to pump with it, because they’re more likely to make contributions to the devotion. In mono-green decks like Polukranos Reborn that are pip heavy and plan to go wide, I can see it being a hilarious massive pump effect.
Garruk Wildspeaker earns a higher ranking as a utility planeswalker; part of that utility is threatening an Overrun after just a single uptick. That’s not the bulk of its power, but a meaningful addition with a great payoff for go-wide lands decks playing Field of the Dead and other Awaken the Woods for bonus synergy.
It’s not the best ultimatum, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Titanic Ultimatum. It’s the biggest, purest mass pump effect in the game with a myriad of meaningful keywords that can position you to gain swaths of life. Even if your board doesn’t take out the table, you’re definitely going to survive another rotation of the table after attacks. Seven mana at sorcery speed in three colors does narrow down what decks would consider it, though.
Ezuri, Renegade Leader has shrunk in popularity with modern elf commander usurping its throne as the elfball option. Still, it held that throne for a while for a reason. Elves are great at producing lots of mana on one creature thanks to Priest of Titania and Elvish Archdruid. Converting that mana into multiple Ezuri activations was a clean way to convert your wide board into victory, and in many traditional elf decks, it works just as well now as it did back in the day.
Valor in Akros, when paired with token producers like a Call the Coppercoats, puts huge power and toughness buffs on your team. Token and go-wide strategies don’t lack ways to make more bodies; having that translate to power can be superb. It pairs best with haste effects, because then the creatures coming in pump the team and each other and can immediately use the buffs!
Goldnight Commander has a major upside over Valor in its card type and subtypes. A creature that similarly pumps the team on each other creature ETB has extra layers of synergy with Mentor of the Meek and other creature or human payoffs. You only need three or four creatures to enter the battlefield to become threatening; five plus ends games.
Indestructible doesn’t dodge every board wipe in the game, but it dodges a lot of them. There are cheaper and more efficient spells to protect your board than Make a Stand, but this also gives your team just a little bit more punch. Having a tool that can push damage and protect the team increases your opportunity to cast it from game to game. It’s a great budget consideration for attack-heavy decks that can afford to hold up some mana.
Reckless Bushwhacker sees play in Eternal formats for its pump and hasty body; in Commander, the haste is predominately what matters with it, but the +1/+0 and attacking body contribute towards playability. A lot of commanders want haste and to attack with other creatures; for its surge cost, this Bushwhacker comes with both. Its type makes it a relevant option for goblin decks, too!
Haste for cheap is invaluable to aggressive decks. Goblin Bushwhacker gives you exactly that. It’s a consistent, cheaper version of Reckless that comes with a +1/+0 for the whole group.
Gandalf, White Rider can fit into any archetype that wants to go wide and casts lots of spells. +1/+0 for each adds up quickly; if you can consistently cast three spells after it hits the table, you’re getting a bit of extra value from the scry, and a lot of extra damage from the pump.
Baru, Fist of Krosa paired with a Scapeshift ends the game in landfall decks. If you’re mono-green lands, like Titania, Protector of Argoth or Azusa, Lost but Seeking, and you want a “fair” way to end the game, why not Baru?
Are you in the market for interaction, token production, and team pump? Cabaretti Confluence does it all. Decks that are populating particularly like this kind of effect, and while 6 mana is a lot, the modes can have a major impact in different ways you’ll find relevant in many Commander games.
Camaraderie is only this low on the list because the team pump functionality is very much a secondary thought. Decks that go wide often are dumping their hands onto the table; to avoid blowouts from board clears, you’re going to want spells that refill your hand, which is the role this fills in a similar way to Collective Unconscious. The pump can help push through a bit of extra damage, though, and should be considered prior to casting and your attack step.
The modal double-faced cards from Zendikar Rising have been showing up more and more in Commander; Makindi Stampede is one such effect. You’re not going to typically want a team pump spell in hand on turn 1, making its tap land mode pretty appealing. Late, when you have a board, you can cast the Stampede half to push through a decent chunk of damage.
Shefet Dunes costs nearly nothing to put in most white decks because it can just replace a basic Plains. Its potential upside can take a 15-power attack and turn it into 30. You don’t even need other Deserts to consider this; if you’re going wide in Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, having a land double as a way to pump all your tokens is all upside.
+1/+0 may not seem like much, but in decks with dozens of creatures like Krenko, Mob Boss, it can functionally double your board’s power. Castle Embereth’s cost to run is close to zero; in most games, it’ll be an untapped red land. Having an instant speed effect a lot of players aren’t going to calculate into their blocking math gives you just a bit of extra reach when you’d want it.
Grixis Charm is one of the few charms I’m actually excited to cast for all three of its modes. Grixis isn’t known for being an aggressive creature-based color combination, but commanders like Inalla, Archmage Ritualist and Evelyn, the Covetous want everything this spell does. You can turn your smaller creatures into a win condition while modally having an interaction spell for creatures and permanents.
If you’re in Jund tokens or another go-wide strategy, Hit // Run is sweet. It can edict away a critical commander like Korvold early, and it acts as a way to turn Prossh, Skyraider of Kher’s kobolds into a lethal threat all on their own after blocks are declared. I guarantee you the first time you resolve the Run half of this spell, you’re going to surprise the entire table.
Dark Triumph is notable for two big reasons: its color and its cost. +2/+0 isn’t competing well against the other top-tier effects, but this doesn’t cost mana to use and is black. Mono-black go-wide decks tend to also be aristocrats (Marrow-Gnawer, Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker) making needing to sacrifice a creature hardly a cost at all. When you tap out and swing with eight 1/1 Rats, you’re often going to hear “no blocks.” Then, you sacrifice one, and bam. That player takes 21. With a few more creatures, that’s a knockout blow.
I wanted to rank Jazal Goldmane higher, but couldn’t bring myself to. If it ever activates, it’s probably ending the game. Getting to the mana to cast and activate it on the same turn in white isn’t that easy. If you’re paired with green, there are more explosive and evasive effects I’d take over this. If you’re not in green, generating nine mana at once isn’t guaranteed, opening it up to sorcery speed interaction by having to cast it earlier. Still, I have died to Jazal more than once, as +6/+6 or more usually is plenty to knock out a single player, and white has an incredibly easy time doubling or tripling that number.
I think people sleep a bit on Decimator of the Provinces; in Golgari go-wide decks like Izoni, Thousand-Eyed, this big pig can eat an expensive creature for a massive discount. Paying retail for this is rough, but if you’re intending to emerge it, I think this chonker can earn a slot in your deck.
End-Raze Forerunners has been heralded as the budget replacement for some higher-end cards, and I think that’s earned. It has the small upside of giving the entire team vigilance when it enters, making it a pump effect you’ll look to knock one player out with while keeping the team untapped for defense against your other opponents. A hasty 7/7 trampling pig isn’t the end of the world on an empty board, either.
As a partner, Kamahl, Heart of Krosa lets the whole table know exactly what you want to be doing: going wide and ramping. The payoff it offers is there, though. Overrun every combat, including the turn it comes down, makes it a consistent win condition to have in the command zone. In the 99, it goes beautifully in humans who can cheat it into play with Kindred Summons or ramp into it with Katilda, Dawnhart Prime. It even can win a game on its own in a pinch by animating a handful of lands to finish the job in a post-board-swept world.
Leonin Lightscribe’s biggest issue is its color. White isn’t known to be one of the storm or spellslinger colors, but it gets one of the best team pump effects to pay off those archetypes. In Jeskai decks like Kykar, Wind's Fury, this 2-mana creature outperforms its counterparts. It’s slightly narrower in archetype, but the typical strategies that take advantage of these “team prowess” effects cast a bunch of instants and sorceries in a row for value. Lightscribe makes that a win condition with enough drakes and birds.
Return of the Wildspeaker fits in as a modal draw and team pump effect. If you’re going wide with moderate-sized threats, like the Beast tokens Rampaging Baloths makes, both effects are critical to have for your game plan. Having both on one card is invaluable. Non-human is about as broad a creature category as you can get; decks like Prossh, Skyraider of Kher that have a big commander that makes lots of little friends absolutely should consider this.
Nissa, Ascended Animist is a flexible planeswalker in the same way that Garruk Wildspeaker is, but critically has three variant casting costs with varying usable loyalty abilities. In mono green decks, its -7 can easily come down from hand and produce 8 or more power per creature. Beyond being a game-ender, it can be cast cheaper as a tool to interact with artifacts or enchantments, and in a pinch, a way to start generating a board to eventually push through. It’s expensive but does a lot of different things for decks looking for a Forest based team pump effect.
#12. Elesh Norn // The Argent Etchings
On its front, Elesh Norn is a pillow fort creature; on its back, it’s a board in a can, a mass pumping effect, and a somewhat one-sided board clear. Then, you can do it all again. +1/+1 and double strike on a minimum of five 2/2s usually can take out a player on its own. With any wider of a board, which decks playing Norn have ample access to, you’re primed to end the game if you can reach that second chapter. All the costs are relatively inexpensive, making it a bit flimsy and prone to removal, but quick to come out and set up. It helps that white is one of the better colors at keeping its stuff on the board with Reprieve and Teferi's Protection, reducing the risks you need to take to get the pump to happen.
Phabine, Boss's Confidant is the kind of commander you have to answer the turn it comes down or it’s ending the game. You can expect roughly one 1/1 and +3/+3 from its trigger each combat while giving you more cards to fuel your attacks. If you untap with it, after you’ve already had one combat where you’re getting a team pump effect, you can deploy as many tokens as you’re able to and immediately swing out with them with a team pump effect. Phabine is my pick for the strongest commander with a team pump ability in the game; it does everything I’d want a deck playing Overrun to do.
#10. And They Shall Know No Fear
As far as ending the game, And They Shall Know No Fear isn’t the highest pump bonus in the world. However, for just one and a white, you’re protecting the team in addition to pushing a bonus point of damage for each creature you’re attacking with. It’s a bit narrower than Make a Stand, only wanting to be in white creature-type matters decks like humans. But in those decks, 2 mana to protect the team from a wrath while also providing bonus damage on attacks is too efficient not to consider.
Surge to Victory paired with a delve spell like Treasure Cruise either nets you so many cards it’ll feel impossible to lose or just ends the game on the spot. You don’t even need a giant spell to get value out of this; in decks like Zada, Hedron Grinder, not only are you attacking with a wide board of creatures, but you also want to cast and copy cantrips to draw massive amounts of cards, which Surge can do.
If you’re playing a decent chunk of instants or sorceries and are going wide, this spell creates backbreaking turns that either win you the game or put you so far ahead that winning becomes near inevitable.
Jeskai Ascendancy may be a combo card first and foremost, but it’s also the best of the mass prowess effects you can run. It does everything; it draws you cards, adds mana in the form of untapping mana dorks, pumps up those mana dorks to eventually attack and win, and does so for just 3 mana. In the decks that play it, Jeskai Ascendancy is usually one of the best cards in the list.
Blossoming Bogbeast makes dealing thousands of damage really easy. Take spells like Beacon of Immortality, a modest board of twelve creatures, and a Rhox Faithmender. In combat, with just your starting life total in Commander and its attack trigger, you’re producing 1,008 power from the Bogbeast trigger, 84 per creature.
Outside of ghoulish overkill, it can always attack and pump the team for +2/+2 and trample, which isn’t the most exciting floor, but you’re only going to need to gain two or three life prior for this to feel overwhelming.
This might be my riskiest pick, but I’m continually blown away by how brutal Tears of Rage is. Red wants ways to close out games like this when going wide; Krenko, Mob Boss and Judith, the Scourge Diva want to be going as wide as they can, but sometimes don’t have combat-based ways to close out the table because of their color limitations. Tears lacks evasion, but decks that want it normally are giving ten to fifteen 1/1s +10/+10 or more. Unless you’re facing other token decks, you’re taking out at least one player with this, usually the entire table. Bonus points if you’re playing aristocrat payoffs like Zulaport Cutthroat!
Pathbreaker Ibex represents repeated giant team pump effects on a single creature. It loves extra combat steps in decks like Wulfgar of Icewind Dale. It being a creature instead of another card type makes it trigger green staples like Beast Whisperer and The Great Henge.
The only concern is it needs to attack to get the pump trigger. Attacking decks tend to be packing ways to grant haste with protection in the form of Lightning Greaves or Swiftfoot Boots; if you have some way to consistently give this haste, it’s going to be a problem that ends the game either the turn it comes down or the turn after.
What puts Overwhelming Stampede over Pathbreaker Ibex is its mana value and instantaneous nature. When you cast a stampede, you just need one moderate-sized creature and a wide board to end the game. There are no other hoops to jump through. It synergizes with less typical green strategies as a sorcery, but not needing your pump effect to have haste is a major boon to many decks.
Craterhoof Behemoth is the classic top end of elves and other go-wide ramp decks that even has an Eternal format deck named after it: Turbo-hoof. Paired with accelerants like Gaea's Cradle, the big hoof can come down fast, and because its power granted equals the number of creatures you have, the damage is multiplicative, not additive like most other team pump effects. You deal damage equal to the number of creatures squared plus whatever the base attack values should it all connect, and it all has trample, so most is going to connect.
Infect is a polarizing mechanic; attached to a team pump effect, it drops the needed damage to kill a Commander pod from 120 to 30. That’s usually how Triumph of the Hordes plays; you amass seven or eight creatures with modest power by turns 5 or 6, then hit a player or two with a Triumph with 20 total power to knock them both out. Its mana value being so low makes it an easy win condition for any decks that can maintain five or more creatures at once, which isn’t exactly a high bar.
Finale of Devastation is a slightly more expensive sorcery speed Green Sun's Zenith, which is a stellar place to start. When you then sink tons of mana you can generate in most green archetypes into this for a creature with haste and a massive team boost, you’ve got a finisher that closes out the game stapled to a way to find every value or interaction creature you run. It can be a Rampant Growth when paired with Dryad Arbor early and a win condition late.
Pair it with one of the earlier big pigs or Hoof for double the overkill. If you want to make sure your creatures are getting in with no funny business, pull out a Grand Abolisher to lock out anyone’s opportunities to stop you. It’s a modal tutor that ends the game, and it’s utterly busted.
Mass Pump Card Payoffs
Mass pump spells synergize best with wide boards of creatures, but what kinds of creatures varies with the specific card. Some want as many creatures on the board as possible for a multiplicative bonus to each equal to their quantity. Others require different conditions to meet to get more power pumped; having creatures that help you meet that condition is valuable.
Tokens tend to go hand in hand with these spells. Token engines, or cards that produce tokens multiple times throughout a game, can expand the total damage these pump spells deal. Mechanics like populate and afterlife produce tokens that you’ll be happy to pump up swole with their allies.
One last consideration to think about when looking for team pump spells is your creatures’ access to evasion to push damage through enemy blockers. The most common keyword on great team pump effects is trample, combining both the pump and evasion effect into one, but if you already have evasion through cards like Wonder or Brawn, pump spells that go bigger but lack built-in evasion might be something to look into.
Blossoming Bogbeast | Illustration by Aaron Miller
Despite the categories namesake spell not ranking particularly highly, all these pump spells can easily find homes in Commander decks. Most also fill in niches or double up other effects Commander decks want ample access to.
Whether you’re looking to add some win conditions to your life gain deck with Blossoming Bogbeast or just want the best possible way to win the game with a bunch of extra green mana with Finale of Devastation, whatever you could need in terms of tram pump is here. Now go, take these mass pump spells and turn wimpy 1/1s into 8/8s and send them in!
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