Last updated on August 16, 2023

Anowon, the Ruin Thief - Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Anowon, the Ruin Thief | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Fans of roleplaying games are more than familiar with rogues of all kinds. Maybe you’ve made a rogue for one of your Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. Maybe you chose the rogue class in a game like Dragon Age. And of course, “rogues’ gallery” is a popular term for the many antagonists a character like Batman encounters.

Rogues in Magic are sly tricksters, likely to hang out with thieves, mercenaries, and assassins. Streets of New Capenna and Battle for Baldur’s Gate may seem like the obvious places to find rogues, but they’re plentiful everywhere else across the multiverse.

Keep an eye on your coin purse. These party members aren’t all to be trusted.

What Are Rogue Commanders in MTG?

Alora, Merry Thief - Illustration by Aaron Miller

Alora, Merry Thief | Illustration by Aaron Miller

Rogue commanders are creatures with the “legendary” supertype that can be your commander in a game of EDH. Rogue is a class, so rogue commanders can be goblins, humans, vampires, and more.

Some cards are technically legendary rogues but can’t be your commander. A flip card can only be your commander if its top side is legendary, so a Nezumi Graverobber that flips into the legendary rogue Nighteyes the Desecrator can’t be your commander. I’d also stay away from silver borders and acorns. Sorry, Frankie Peanuts. Please don’t send me to sleep with the merfolk.

#42. Neyam Shai Murad

Neyam Shai Murad

Neyam Shai Murad is an Orzhov () rogue from Warhammer 40,000 Commander with a combat damage trigger. You get to trade returning a card to your opponent’s hand for returning a permanent to your battlefield, showing how nothing comes for free when you deal with rogues.

#41. Zareth San, the Trickster

Zareth San, the Trickster

Zareth San, the Trickster essentially has ninjutsu in a non-keyworded form because it’s from the wrong plane and is in the wrong class for ninjitsu. Oh, and it can’t do it from the command zone. Boo, hiss. Still, it’s a rogue that can steal your opponent’s permanents.

#40. Alora, Merry Thief

Alora, Merry Thief

Alora, Merry Thief isn’t the only rogue with some cheerful adjective in its name. The background you choose for it can change its flavor, but Far Traveler gives your commander two abilities that help a blink deck tick.

#39. Errant, Street Artist

Errant, Street Artist

Aside from kobolds, you aren’t going to get a commander for much cheaper than this. Errant, Street Artist is made to copy your copies and other non-cast spells. Flash and haste let you bring it out pretty much whenever you want, too. Not bad, but I’d probably rather run Errant and Giada as a commander.

#38. Sakashima the Impostor

Sakashima the Impostor

I find it interesting that Sakashima the Impostor doesn’t have the ability to return to hand if you never have it copy something. File under “Neat, but Don’t Waste Brain Cells.” This version of Sakashima has been far overshadowed by its Commander Legends counterpart. The fact that it stays legendary puts a damper on copy effects unless you’ve got another workaround.

#37. Thada Adel, Acquisitor

Thada Adel, Acquisitor

Thada Adel, Acquisitor is a merfolk that goes for your opponents’ artifacts. Since many are colorless, that’s some easy thievery that doesn’t need your commander to color-fix for you. Not a bad option, but I’d rather slot this in elsewhere than have it in the command zone.

#36. Safana, Calimport Cutthroat

Safana, Calimport Cutthroat

If you’re building around Safana, Calimport Cutthroat, you’re probably using Dungeon Delver as your background. You can lean into getting more Treasure quickly by running other creatures from Baldur’s Gate that let you take the initiative when they ETB.

#35. Kamber, the Plunderer + Laurine, the Diversion

Human and vampire, but both rogues. Adorable. Kamber, the Plunderer and Laurine, the Diversion are a pair of commanders that goad your opponents’ creatures and pay you in Blood and life when they die. Laurine acting as a sacrifice outlet should clue you in to the main theme.

#34. Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer

Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer

Get cozy: it’s a pillow fort commander. Gwafa Hazid, Profiteer gives you the right colors to have the best counterspells and lots of cards that tax opponents trying to attack you. You’ve also got the right colors to blink, so you could (in theory) include a few ways to offer to remove a bribe counter for someone who can’t. Not many, though. It’s business, not charity.

#33. Grenzo, Havoc Raiser

Grenzo, Havoc Raiser

Grenzo, Havoc Raiser is a cheap goblin commander that goads and steals cards when your creatures deal combat damage to a player. You could go big with trample, but you may as well go wide with goblin tokens.

#32. Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats

Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats

This Zendikar Rising vampire commander gives your creatures deathtouch, plus something that could be called “planeswalker deathtouch.” Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats relies on having party members to make it cheaper, but you’re in good colors to find some clerics, warriors, wizards, and rogues. Granting deathtouch to a bunch of pingers can also be a good strategy to clear the way for something bigger to swing.

#31. Krydle of Baldur’s Gate

Krydle of Baldur's Gate

Rogues and mill are Krydle of Baldur's Gate’s wheelhouse. You can use its second ability to make a creature unblockable, including itself. A cheap, occasionally unblockable rogue with a combat damage trigger is fairly archetypical of a rogue commander.

#30. Rilsa Rael, Kingpin

Rilsa Rael, Kingpin

Rilsa Rael, Kingpin gives one of your attackers increasing perks depending on whether you’ve completed a dungeon. It’s a decent home for rogues and other creatures that have combat damage triggers and creature death payoffs.

#29. Astarion, the Decadent

Astarion, the Decadent

Orzhov lifegain is a popular enough strategy, and Astarion, the Decadent can be an elvish enabler for that. You’ll gain four life when it deals damage, and deathtouch helps make it lethal and intimidating. There are plenty of other vampires to look at here too, like Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose and Indulging Patrician.

#28. Toluz, Clever Conductor

Toluz, Clever Conductor

Hey man. I like trains, too. Toluz, Clever Conductor is an Esper () commander that’s centered on discard. Don’t worry, you’ll get it all back when Toluz dies. Discard payoffs like Bone Miser and Archfiend of Ifnir can give you other perks while your cards are on their way to exile.

#27. Forge, Neverwinter Charlatan

Forge, Neverwinter Charlatan

My roommate has seen Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves multiple times now, and I have seen it… never. Not on purpose! Just never lined up. Forge, Neverwinter Charlatan is from the Secret Lair Drop that ties into that movie, and I think I know the character just from this card’s flavor. The fact that its ward requires sacrificing another creature is so slimy, and its sacrifice trigger is good, though slowed down to once per turn. It would be way too easy to break this and make a huge creature in short order, considering how Forge is stronger based on your Treasure count.

#26. Bilbo, Retired Burglar

Bilbo, Retired Burglar

This rogue seems to have left his adventuring days behind him. Bilbo, Retired Burglar from Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth gives you two triggers for the Ring to tempt you, or more if you manage to flicker it; it should be easy to get a fully-powered Ring emblem in no time. Bilbo encourages using spells to make it more evasive to pump out those Treasures. Is Bilbo & pirates a thing?

#25. Gwendlyn Di Corci

Gwendlyn Di Corci

Lo and behold, a legend from Legends. Limited reprints have made this incredibly expensive. I can see why, too. Gwendlyn Di Corci taps to force random discard. You can get discard payoffs like Waste Not and untapping Twiddle effects in these colors, and a 3/5 for four isn’t bad, even without any keywords. It loses ranking slots because you can build entire decks for the cost of this commander.

#24. Rankle, Master of Pranks

Rankle, Master of Pranks

Rankle, Master of Pranks is a hasty flier (duh, it’s a faerie), and its combat damage trigger is perfect for a group slug deck. Discarding cards, sacrificing creatures, and trading life for cards are all trademark mono-black things.

#23. Gonti, Lord of Luxury

Gonti, Lord of Luxury

I think there must be a demon in me because I’m always interested to see card thievery at work. Gonti, Lord of Luxury gets you a choice from the top four cards of an opponent’s library when it enters the battlefield. You don’t have white to blink it, but you can lean aristocrats and toss in Feign Death, Supernatural Stamina, and similar effects to repeat that ETB.

#22. Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive

Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive

Cheap. Smol. Mono-blue. Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive can be great in other decks that splash into blue, especially if you’re doing tokens. On its own, mono-blue can get you creatures with combat damage triggers that draw cards (Neurok Commando, Tandem Lookout, Scroll Thief) and ninjas with ninjutsu and other combat damage triggers (Mistblade Shinobi, Mist-Syndicate Naga).

#21. Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire

Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire

Looking at Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire didn’t give me an immediate strategy to build around. Then I found out the top theme on EDHREC was Ad Nauseum. Yeah. So that means a bunch of lands and free spells. Three mana to cast Varragoth, two mana for each boast activation to put your combo pieces on the top of your library, and then Sickening Dreams to deal a ton of damage to a player or creature (probably a player).

#20. Chevill, Bane of Monsters

Chevill, Bane of Monsters

A cheap commander in Golgari () colors that likes you to run creatures with deathtouch. Sign. Me. Up. Chevill, Bane of Monsters can put bounties on creatures and planeswalkers, but that doesn’t matter so much if your opponents can blink their creatures. Worse yet, if they’re looking to kill their creatures anyway. Sure, you get life and a card, but what are their creature death payoffs?

Deep breaths. This is what my therapist calls “catastrophizing.” Positives? You’ve got a reason to dig out Tempest’s Bounty Hunter. And as I said, fun with deathtouch. Good times.

#19. Sygg, River Cutthroat

Sygg, River Cutthroat

Sygg, River Cutthroat is a decent commander for either rogues or merfolk. Black gives you more options to drain your opponents of life, or you can use small unblockable creatures instead.

#18. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard

Pack lots of creature untapping effects in Yisan, the Wanderer Bard if you want multiple activations per turn. A well-balanced curve is also essential so that you can pull bigger and better things out of your deck. You’ll also want diverse ETBs, whether that’s artifact destruction (Manglehorn), more creature tutoring (Woodland Bellower), or something else.

#17. Cormela, Glamour Thief

Cormela, Glamour Thief

Haste helps speed up Cormela, Glamour Thief considering its 4-mana casting cost. It’ll give you mana for your spellslinging needs and return a spell to your hand as a death trigger. Halo Forager is one of the rogues you might run to reuse some spells from your graveyard, but throwing in some red or blue wizards can get you some spell copying.

#16. Edric, Spymaster of Trest

Edric, Spymaster of Trest

Edric, Spymaster of Trest’s ability can give cards to the entire table, which suggests going for a group hug strategy. You can also try to avoid giving your opponents any cards at all by taking extra turns. Extra turns mean extra combats, which means digging for more extra turn cards. Turn it up to 11 by running unblockable creatures. And you’ve already met Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive.

#15. Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth

Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth

Eloise, Nephalia Sleuth is a sacrifice themed commander, specifically token sacrifices. Surveilling before you draw the card from your Clues gets you some card filtering goodness to top it all off.  It’s a good place to run March of the Machines for infinite ETBs.

#14. Negan, the Cold-Blooded

Negan, the Cold-Blooded

I’ve only seen bits and pieces of The Walking Dead, but I know about Negan. If the point of Negan, the Cold-Blooded was to strike fear the moment you see it in the command zone, I think that goal’s been achieved. The ETB captures Negan’s ruthlessness, and the Mardu (}) colors let you access more death payoffs (Revel in Riches), Treasure doublers (Xorn), and blink effects (Teleportation Circle).

#13. Burakos, Party Leader

Burakos, Party Leader

Burakos, Party Leader has all the classes you could have in your party, and it’ll pay you off for having a full one. A Folk Hero background makes this an Orzhov deck, which is a solid color pair to add life loss to an attack trigger. Haunted One goes mono-black and pumps all your party creatures while giving them undying. And you can lean into the Treasures if your Burakos is a Guild Artisan. Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty good.

#12. Nalia de’Arnise

Nalia de'Arnise

Sorry for party rockin’. Nalia de'Arnise is best surrounded by cards from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, since there’s plenty of cards that can work with party dynamics. Remember Burakos, Party Leader?

#11. Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Grenzo, Dungeon Warden

Lots of goblins are cheaper than Grenzo, Dungeon Warden, so it’s as good a reason as any to go goblin mode. Grenzo’s activated ability is cheap enough that it’s got a few infinite ETB/LTB combos that it can enable.

#10. Evelyn, the Covetous

Evelyn, the Covetous

I think that The Beaches pretty much said it all. Evelyn, the Covetous from Streets of New Capenna encourages you to run a bunch of thieving vampires. The pair of abilities just oozes flavor: steal something and put it behind glass, then take it out as needed (or perhaps just for fun). While not a vampire, Hoarding Broodlord can give your exiled spells convoke.

#9. Nine-Fingers Keene

Nine-Fingers Keene

Nine-Fingers Keene is a Sultai () commander that digs for gates. The Maze's End alternate win condition is a gimme here, as are landfall triggers and effects that dig lands out of your library.

#8. Kamiz, Obscura Oculus

Kamiz, Obscura Oculus

Kamiz, Obscura Oculus enables your attackers by making one of them unblockable and giving another double strike. This begs to include unblockable ninjas and other rogues. It also suggests infect, if you’re into that. Since Kamiz makes creatures connive, wheels can also fit. Flexibility is very good or very meh, but I think Kamiz is in the “good” camp.

#7. Tinybones, Trinket Thief

Tinybones, Trinket Thief

Considering the number of commanders that let you steal your opponents’ cards or permanents, “Trinket Thief” feels like a slight misnomer. Tinybones, Trinket Thief is a discard-themed mono-black commander. While you’re at it, why not punish empty-handed players with Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage? Tinybones’s cheap casting cost also makes it easy to get out early. And often, should it die.

#6. Tivit, Seller of Secrets

Tivit, Seller of Secrets

Tivit, Seller of Secrets forces your opponents to choose their own adventures. What’s the balance of Clues and Treasures that they want to give you? If you’re leaning politics, cards from Conspiracy like Brago's Representative are going to go a long way. Time Sieve and Academy Manufactor can also get you an infinite turn engine with this Sphinx.

#5. Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief

Who doesn’t like getting to talk about Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief? By copying the spells you use to buff and protect your other creatures, Ivy is a tricky lil 2-drop commander. Auras and mutate creatures can target something else, so they can be copied as well. Those copies count toward devotion for that Aspect of Hydra, by the way. Simic () colors have lots of cheap combat tricks and other instants that should make Ivy very happy.

#4. Marrow-Gnawer


Ah, rats. Marrow-Gnawer is a tribal commander, no doubt. Now that you can put Karumonix, the Rat King in a Marrow-Gnawer deck to give your mischief of rats infect, this kind of deck can get all kinds of disgusting. Hey, I’m not against rats in our world. Beautiful, intelligent little gremlins. If you really want to start having fun, I suggest making or buying some custom rat tokens.

#3. Henzie “Toolbox” Torre

Henzie "Toolbox" Torre

Give me a reason to run big creatures and I’m there. I’ll make a deal with this devil. Henzie “Toolbox” Torre gives your costlier creatures blitz, and it cheapens them the more your commander itself is taxed. Sacrifice strategies are a natural home here; if you’re going to sacrifice them on your end step anyway, why not have a few other sacrifice outlets lying around?

#2. Sakashima of a Thousand Faces

Sakashima of a Thousand Faces

Clone effects are incredibly strong, and a clone effect on a commander with partner that also eliminates the legend rule for you is incredible. Sakashima of a Thousand Faces is a great commander to pair with another, including the more popular Krark, the Thumbless, Vial Smasher the Fierce, and Kodama of the East Tree. Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith can also be an interesting partner for an artifact token strategy.

#1. Anowon, the Ruin Thief

Anowon, the Ruin Thief

The tribal commander for rogues. The built-in anthem on Anowon, the Ruin Thief is a good start, but it also enables milling and card draw through your rogues’ combat damage. Better pack some infinite hand size effects. Shapeshifters like Vesuvan Drifter from MOM: The Aftermath are also good options. Dimir () colors are perfect for accessing lots of the best rogues in the game, like Frogtosser Banneret for cost reduction.

Best Rogue Commander Payoffs and Synergies

Mari, the Killing Quill

Mari, the Killing Quill can give your rogues deathtouch and a combat damage trigger. It relies on hit counters, but the payoff comes in the form of cards and Treasure. Always a negotiation with these rogue types.

Rogues are also one of the creature types included in party mechanics, so running any creatures from Baldur’s Gate that care about your party can benefit you. Harper Recruiter, Solemn Doomguide, and Nimble Trapfinder are just a few of the cards that give you party perks.

Quest’s End

Burakos, Party Leader - Illustration by Caroline Gariba

Burakos, Party Leader | Illustration by Caroline Gariba

Rogues are untrustworthy, cutthroat denizens of the Magic multiverse, and yet somehow many of them are good at leading Commander decks. Whether they’re pilfering their opponents’ decks or ruthlessly sacrificing their friends, rogues have all kinds of fun tricks up their sleeves. That is, if you aren’t on the sharp end of their blade.

Which rogues do you have in the command zone? Would you run any of these differently than I’ve described? Let me know in the comments below or over on Twitter!

Time to sheath our knives and have a round at the pub. Just never ask a rogue, “Who’s buying?”

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