Last updated on January 15, 2024

Jeska, Thrice Reborn - Illustration by Yongjae Choi

Jeska, Thrice Reborn | Illustration by Yongjae Choi

Wow, Commander really has grown over the years. It wasn’t even an officially sanctioned format when it first started. Now we’ve got Commander precons popping up left, right, and center. But many things have changed since the format was born.

The command zone has experienced a fundamental change since the release of Commander 2014. With the ability to have select planeswalkers as your commander, a whole new set of rules and questions are bound to pop up.

Let’s take a look at how exactly planeswalker commanders work.

Can a Planeswalker Be a Commander?

Estrid, the Masked MTG card art by Johannes Voss

Estrid, the Masked | Illustration by Johannes Voss

Yes, believe it or not. A planeswalker can only be a commander if it specifically states on the bottom of the card, “this card can be your commander.”

If it doesn’t have that line of text, forget it. Pick a legendary creature instead.

But don’t take this statement too literally. At the end of the day, Commander is meant to be a casual format, meaning the rules are flexible. If your playgroup decides that any planeswalker can be your commander, then by all means, go for it!

How Many Planeswalker Commanders Are There?

As of now there are 30 planeswalker commanders (some with partner). Most of them have been released with Commander precons, but there are a handful of others that have come from Commander-specific sets like Commander Legends.

Some are obviously better than others. I’ll be ranking them from worst to best. Let’s get started!

#29. Kytheon, Hero of Akros

Kytheon, Hero of Akros Gideon, Battle-Forged

The transforming planeswalkers from Magic Origins are technically legendary creatures in the command zone, but each one has the ability to become a planeswalker, so we’ll add them to the list.

Unless you’re interested in running Isamaru, Hound of Konda with extra steps as a commander, best to avoid putting Kytheon, Hero of Akros in your command zone. A blisteringly fast white aggro deck might consider it, but white weenie’s not a very effective Commander strategy.

Gideon, Battle-Forged is also one of the worst Gideon cards out there, bless its soul. The +1 is fine protection, but the other abilities don’t add much.

#28. Sivitri, Dragon Master

Sivitri, Dragon Master

The reimagining of Sivitri Scarzam resulted in a really cool dragon-themed planeswalker with subpar abilities. For one, being puts it in a strange (though unique) color combination for dragons, one that misses a lot of the typical dragon support.

Second, the +1 is just a poor form of protection. If Sivitri’s a threat, your opponents will just pay life to kill it, and if they’re not able to deal with it, the +1 doesn’t do anything on your way to the other abilities. Crux of Fate as an ultimate is cool and all, but Crux isn’t out there auto-winning games or anything. That means this ends up as an expensive sorcery-speed Sarkhan's Triumph more often than not, albeit one you could use multiple times throughout the course of a game.

#27. Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh

Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh Chandra, Roaring Flame

Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh misses on too many knobs to make much of an impact. The front half is very limited, only hitting players and only pinging a few times before force-flipping into Chandra, Roaring Flame.

The planeswalker half is in a poor position of having an extremely threatening ultimate, so players are incentivized to get rid of it, but having fairly weak alternate abilities outside the ultimate.

#26. Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath

Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath

Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath has the undesirable position of being the worst planeswalker commander in the game. Mono-black commanders aren’t all that popular, and this particular one doesn’t have any great abilities to make up for its color restriction.

I just don’t see myself ever playing this card.

#25. Nissa, Vastwood Seer

Nissa, Vastwood Seer Nissa, Sage Animist

Nissa, Vastwood Seer is an excellent card, but an underpowered commander. It’s a great addition to the 99 (or 98) of almost any green deck, guaranteeing your next land drop and building towards its own transform condition. Nissa, Sage Animist is adequately described as “okay,” but the +1 being a functional Coiling Oracle trigger each turn is nice card advantage, and sometimes ramp.

#24. Rowan Kenrith + Will Kenrith

Rowan Kenrith Will Kenrith

I’m putting Rowan Kenrith and Will Kenrith together because nobody in their right mind would play one without the other. They’re partner commanders that can only partner with each other. That's why you're seeing 29 entries despite there being 30 planeswalker commanders.

What I don’t like about the Kenriths is their casting costs. A commander should shake up the board right away at six mana. Neither Rowan nor Will accomplish this.

It’d be a lot better if at least one cost 5 mana because then you could cast one on turn 5 and the other on turn 6. The twins both having the same mana value makes things awkward.

#23. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy Jace, Telepath Unbound

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, or JVP as I’ll call ‘em, is an excellent card that just doesn’t hold up in Commander too well. As a glorified Merfolk Looter, this once nearly-$100 card saw extensive Constructed play, but looting only gets you so far in Commander where you have more options for pure card advantage.

Jace, Telepath Unbound showcases exactly why planeswalkers don’t fair too well in Commander. The +1 is embarrassingly weak protection against three separate opponents, and the -9 isn’t even a guaranteed victory like it usually would be in a 1v1 match.

#22. Liliana, Heretical Healer

Liliana, Heretical Healer Liliana, Defiant Necromancer

Liliana, Heretical Healer isn’t much of a card on the front side, but ignite that spark and you end up with an average-level planeswalker and a Zombie token to play defense. Liliana, Defiant Necromancer has all the run-of-the-mill traits you expect on a Liliana planeswalker, though it’s a shame the discard effect is symmetrical. If you can consistently -X to get something good back right away then it’s fine, though the -8 is a bit of a pipedream.

#21. Jared Carthalion

Jared Carthalion

Jared Carthalion isn't the worst card in the world, but the competition for 5-color commanders is steep. When compared with the likes of Kenrith, the Returned King, Najeela, the Blade-Blossom, and Morophon, the Boundless, you can see how Jared doesn't offer a whole lot.

The only reason you'd want to run a commander with less overall power is if it offers unique synergies, but Jared Carthalion doesn't even offer that. Sorry, but this planeswalker commander just isn't interesting enough for me.

#20. Urza, Planeswalker

Urza, Planeswalker Urza, Lord Protector The Mightstone and Weakstone

Urza, Planeswalker is an “achievement unlocked” card that’s almost more show than it is power. If you ever get this on the battlefield, it’ll have an immediate impact, but it’s not unkillable by any means. There are some hoops involved in melding this in the first place, but thankfully Urza, Lord Protector and The Mightstone and Weakstone are both fine cards on their own. It takes a hit on the ranking due to how hard it is to get the planeswalker on board in the first place.

#19. Estrid, the Masked

Estrid, the Masked

Estrid, the Masked requires a very specific deck to work, and it’s not that powerful even then. Maybe I lack the deckbuilding imagination to make a great deck with it as the commander, or maybe I just don’t like auras all that much.

Estrid isn’t the worst, but I think you can do better in terms of planeswalker commanders.

#18. Commodore Guff

Commodore Guff

Commodore Guff was designed specifically to head Magic’s very first “superfriends” precon, an ambitious part of the Commander Masters precon cycle. As such, Guff is all about building up a board of planeswalkers, a strategy that’s well-known for being clunky and easy to break apart in Commander.

It’s a little disappointing that the first card for a character who literally rewrites history in the lore ended up being so flat and narrow. Despite being pretty cool and unique, Guff doesn’t make the superfriends strategy any more or less reliable than it was before. It’s just another ‘walker to throw in the pile.

#17. Tasha, the Witch Queen

Tasha, the Witch Queen

It was only a matter of time until Tasha herself found her way into Magic. This 5-mana planeswalker from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate is all about stealing instants and sorceries from your opponents' grasps. Tasha's first ability is a +1 that draws a card and exiles up to one instant or sorcery from each opponent's graveyard with a page counter on it. Her -3 works alongside this, allowing you to cast one of them without paying their mana cost. To round things out, she'll give you a 3/3 demon whenever you cast one of these stolen spells.

Tasha's concept is certainly fun and powerful, especially in Dimir where this sort of steal your stuff, play it later strategy is the norm. I'm a little disappointed in her balancing, though. 3 loyalty to cast one of the spells when she starts with four and her other ability is a +1 is sort of weak. I'd rather this either allow you to cast multiple spells, or cost less to activate.

#16. Mila, Crafty Companion

Mila, Crafty Companion Lukka, Wayward Bonder

Like the Magic Origins flip-walkers, Mila, Crafty Companion’s another “planeswalker” that’s cheating on the rules a bit. Technically we’re evaluating Lukka, Wayward Bonder here, but having Mila as the front-facing half of the card means you get to sneak this planeswalker into the command zone of a deck.

Lukka’s extremely mediocre for its cost, though having Mila as an alternative option brings it up a decent amount, since the creature half is reasonably good. Lukka’s just too expensive and gimmicky for a 6-mana ‘walker. Its ultimate is an emblem version of Warstorm Surge, though you could just cast that card for 6 mana anyway and forget the hassle of having to protect a planeswalker.

#15. Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury

Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury

As far as mono-green commanders go, Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury isn’t the best. Locking yourself into only one or two colors is a bad idea unless you commander is powerful enough to justify it. Its second ability provides board interaction, which I like, but it doesn’t have a whole lot to offer other than that.

#14. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager Nicol Bolas, the Arisen

Now Nicol Bolas, the Ravager is a flip-walker worth running in the command zone. It starts off as a reasonably-sized threat with a solid ETB, then threatens to transform into a 4-ability planeswalker with a lot of versatility. It’s a bit of a mana investment to get it flipped, and Nicol Bolas, the Arisen isn’t insane or anything, but the front half already sets the floor pretty high.

#13. Dihada, Binder of Wills

Dihada, Binder of Wills

As far as I'm concerned, Dihada, Binder of Wills only has a +2 ability to build loyalty and a really sick ultimate. Seriously, if you can pull off that ultimate, you'll almost certainly win the game on the spot. Worst comes to worst, you can use an outlet to sacrifice all your opponents' permanents before you have to give them back.

If I were you, I'd build this entire deck around Dihada's ultimate using proliferate synergies and the like. Otherwise, I don't see the point in running this commander at all.

#12. Nahiri, the Lithomancer

Nahiri, the Lithomancer

Well, I’m about to say the same thing about Nahiri, the Lithomancer as I did for Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury. Building a mono-white deck in Commander is hard, mostly because of how little card draw is available to you.

Odds are you’ll want to put tons of equipment in your deck, and there are other commanders that’ll get the job done if you’re planning on going full equipment mode in EDH. In better colors, too.

#11. Saheeli, the Gifted

Saheeli, the Gifted

You could remove Saheeli, the Gifted’s first ability altogether and I’d still give the card the same ranking. It’s really the second ability that matters. Being able to produce potentially insane amounts of mana in a single turn is nothing to laugh at.

I’d build the entire deck around that one ability if I used Saheeli as my commander.

#10. Jeska, Thrice Reborn

Jeska, Thrice Reborn

Partner commanders are always great build-arounds for flexible EDH decks, and Jeska, Thrice Reborn is no exception. Winning through combat damage can be difficult since players start with 40 life in Commander.

Jeska makes this a much easier task by allowing you to play good old-fashioned aggro decks without feeling outclassed by your opponents.

#9. Aminatou, the Fateshifter

Aminatou, the Fateshifter

What I like about Aminatou, the Fateshifter is its versatility. Not only are its first two abilities relevant (we can pretend the third one doesn’t exist), but Esper is also a great color combination in EDH.

You won’t be subject to harsh deckbuilding restrictions with Animatou as your commander.

#8. Lord Windgrace

Lord Windgrace

Yet another versatile commander. Lord Windgrace is both a source of card advantage and mana ramp. Being in Jund is also an excellent color combo for its effects. Plus, its second ability pairs especially well with fetch lands. Did I mention it's a great commander for land-based builds?

#7. Elminster


Azorius has long waited for a planeswalker commander to call its own, and Elminster has arrived in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate to be just that. Elminster is a spellslinger commander who gives discounts to the mana costs of your spells whenever you scry.

White and blue scry like no other color combination, which makes this a great mechanic for a spell-based deck. Scrying is often used anyway in powerful cantrips or huge sphinx creatures, so it's a natural fit into the archetype.

#6. Daretti, Scrap Savant

Daretti, Scrap Savant

Remember how I mentioned that mono-colored commanders have to be really good to work? Well, Daretti, Scrap Savant is one of them. Its ability to filter through your hand makes it relevant at all times, but what really stands out is its -2 ability.

You’ll pretty much always be able to reanimate an artifact from your graveyard when you cast Daretti regardless of its mana cost. Put some high-impact artifacts in your deck like Mindslaver and you’re good to go.

#5. Grist, the Hunger Tide

Grist, the Hunger Tide

Grist, the Hunger Tide is one of the more unique commanders on this list, as it's simultaneously a creature and and planeswalker when it isn't on the battlefield. That is what allows it to be a commander after all, as clarified by Wizards of the Coast in a rulings update.

Like many other Golgari planeswalkers, Grist, the Hunger Tide‘s entire kit revolves around the graveyard and sacrifice. The first ability gains one loyalty counter, creates a small 1/1 Insect token, mills one card, and repeats the process if the milled card is an insect card. The second ability, which costs two loyalty counters, allows you to sacrifice a creature in order to destroy another creature or planeswalker. This is excellent commander in Golgari decks that love to have creatures in the graveyard to target with their various reanimation spells.

The ultimate ability is a whopping table-wide explosion that deals damage to each opponent equal to the number of creature cards in your graveyard. In the right commander deck, this can be upwards of ten to twenty damage. On top of that, it only costs five loyalty counters! This is incredibly potent and makes Grist, the Hunger Tide an immediate lightning rod once it hit's play, so make sure you're either ready to defend it or content not untapping with it.

#4. Valki, God of Lies

Valki, God of Lies Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor

I suppose you could cast Valki, God of Lies if you wanted to, but let’s be real: You’re here for Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor. In fact, casting Valki early might be detrimental since it’ll tack extra commander tax onto your 7-mana planeswalker if it dies first.

Tibalt’s a pretty messed up planeswalker if it goes unopposed. The +2 is basically Opportunity every turn, it picks off a creature or artifact if need be, and better yet, you can play whatever card goes away with the -3. The -8 is achievable two turns after Tibalt hits the board, and it basically lets you play with everyone’s graveyards for the rest of the game. Expensive, but potent, and sitting in colors with access to plenty of board wipes to keep it around.

#3. Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes

Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes

Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes was one of the first cards spoiled for Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate. It's your typical run-of-the-mill Gruul stompy commander, who generates a 1/1 with trample and haste on ETB and on your upkeep. Its +1 ability puts three +1/+1 counters on a creature that currently has either trample or haste.

In Gruul stompy, you'll never be short of creatures to put these counters on, but the additional 1/1 hamster is a nice touch. Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes‘ other ability, which costs two loyalty, sacrifices a creature to deal damage equal to its power to any target and also draws the same number of cards if that creature was a hamster. This is some great card draw. It's essentially Lightning Bolt and Ancestral Recall in one, and I can't imagine a Gruul deck that wouldn't play that.

#2. Teferi, Temporal Archmage

Teferi, Temporal Archmage

There’s a competitive EDH deck out there that essentially goes infinite with Teferi, Temporal Archmage, The Chain Veil, and a couple mana rocks. You don’t have to be a hyper-competitive player to enjoy playing it, though.

Teferi’s abilities always come in handy regardless of the situation.

#1. Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools

Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools

Wow. This card looks great in theory, and from my experience, it’s even better in practice!

Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools has the partner keyword, so don’t worry about it being mono-colored. It also starts with lots of loyalty and can immediately generate some blockers for your board, so it’s going to be extremely hard to get rid of once it hits the battlefield.

But wait, there’s more! Just take a look at Tevesh Szat’s ultimate ability and you’ll see what I’m talking about. That’s right, it’s more than just a card draw engine. Since a lot of decks rely on their commanders as a win condition, activating Tevesh Szat’s ultimate ability is bound to win you the game.

What Special Rules Are There for Planeswalker Commanders?

Note that some of the planeswalkers on the list are modal double-faced cards where the planeswalker is actually the back half of a legendary creature on the front. Mila, Crafty Companion and Valki, God of Lies can be cast on their creature side or their planeswalker side from the command zone, though they’re treated as your commander regardless of which side you choose. That means they add to commander tax even if you cast the opposite side the next time. If you play Valki on turn 2 and it dies, Tibalt, Cosmic Imposter will cost 9 mana the first time you cast it.

Can Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker Be a Commander?

Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker

The short answer is no. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker can’t be your commander, nor can any other planeswalker unless it specifically states otherwise. But if you really do want to use a Bolas planeswalker as your commander, you could run Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.

It’s technically a creature but can transform into Nicol Bolas, the Arisen if you’re willing to pay the mana.

Can a Planeswalker be a Commander in Brawl?

Things are a bit different when it comes to Brawl. In this format as well as Oathbreaker, any planeswalker can be your commander, regardless of what the text on that planeswalker says. All rules for the command zone and color identity still apply as deckbuilding restrictions.

Sample Planeswalker Commander Decklists

OK so I've teased you enough. Here are a couple really cool decklists with two of my picks for top commander. Hope this gets the juices flowing.

Daretti and His Artifacts

Daretti, Scrap Savant - Illustration by Dan Scott

Daretti, Scrap Savant | Illustration by Dan Scott

This Daretti deck is all about slowing down the pace of the game with artifacts like Trinisphere, Magus of the Moon, and Lodestone Golem. Then, with value engines like Trading Post and Staff of Domination, you'll slowly but surely grind out your opponents to victory.

Tevesh Szat and Kraum

Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools - Illustration by Livia Prima

Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools | Illustration by Livia Prima

Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools and Kraum, Ludevic's Opus team up in this hyper-fast combo deck. Most wins involve playing Thassa's Oracle with an empty deck. You can draw most of your deck with Ad Nauseam, use Lion's Eye Diamond alongside Underworld Breach to generate loads of mana to recast cards from your graveyard, and use the rest of your cards in your graveyard to draw out your deck that way. Plus, you can always grind out your opponents with your commanders while using powerful counterspells as backup.

Oathbreaker: All Planeswalker Commanders

This wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Oathbreaker, a custom format designed just for planeswalkers. It’s a 60-card singleton format where any planeswalker can be your commander (except it’s called an “Oathbreaker” instead of a commander) and an instant or sorcery spell also starts in the command zone.

There are plenty of other rules associated with Oathbreaker, so make sure to read up on it if you’re interested in that style of play!

Wrap Up

Aminatou, the Fateshifter - Illustration by Seb McKinnon

Aminatou, the Fateshifter | Illustration by Seb McKinnon

Hopefully I’ve cleared things up for you when it comes to having a planeswalker as your commander. Having planeswalkers that can also be your commander can be confusing, but I think it’s an interesting mechanic that adds a healthy variety to the format.

But the discussion doesn’t have to end here. What do you think about planeswalker commanders? Which one is your favorite? Feel free to find us on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit to tell us what you think.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!

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