Last updated on December 22, 2022
Kalamax, the Stormsire | Illustration by Nicholas Gregory
Sometimes you can get too wrapped up in the complexities and intricate synergies of the Commander format. You tunnel vision on new combos, unique interactions, and game plans that are too complicated to offer a consistent way to win the game. I suggest you take a step back and look at the simplistic (yet enjoyable) way to play EDH: good old-fashioned creature-based big-stuff decks.
“Temur Good Stuff” is a strategy as old as time, and one that that the color combination can easily support. It’s powerful, it’s fun to play, and it’s great for players of all skill levels. Today I’d like to introduce you to some of the best Temur () commanders in Magic and offer a sample decklist to get your brain turning and inspire you to start brewing.
Let’s get into it!
Why Go with a Temur Commander?
Animar, Soul of Elements | Illustration by Peter Mohrbacher
Temur is a color wedge of size. Your strategy almost always revolves around doing normal things like playing creatures, casting spells, and taking extra turns, but to an enormous magnitude. Nearly any deck can be described as simply “big stuff” or “big spells,” but don’t let this apparent simplicity trick you.
You have to carefully construct your deck to take advantage of Temur’s abilities and consistently get the mana and interactions you need to explode. A big part of that is using a commander that empowers this core strategy.
#9. Surrak Dragonclaw
Starting off our rankings in the 9th spot is the Khan of the Temur clan, Surrak Dragonclaw. Surrak promotes a simple creature-based strategy and helps protect your spells by making them uncounterable and giving trample across the board to further promote combat-based victories.
The name of the game here is simple: run them over. Decks with Surrak always want to run a few board-wide buffs and then fill your deck with a wide array of powerful creatures that pose significant threats to your non-creature-based opponents.
Since nearly all your creatures (other than mana dorks) have high powers and offensive-based keywords, you want to include cards that have excellent synergy with them. Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma is an excellent example of this. Not only do you get a 2-mana discount across the board, your cheaper creatures also get bigger and trample. Garruk’s Uprising and Rhythm of the Wild are similar cards but in enchantment form. The card draw from Uprising is critical to making sure you can refill your board and apply consistent pressure, and Rhythm gives you the option to quickly finish opponents off when you get a window of opportunity.
One of the pitfalls with Surrak Dragonclaw (and Temur Commander decks in general) is to just throw in a bunch of creatures in and call it “Temur Good Stuff.” While this won’t necessarily lead you completely astray from the main idea, it’s important to take advantage of the powerful instants and sorceries available to you.
There’s no reason not to include powerful staples like Cyclonic Rift, Negate, Stubborn Denial, and Mana Drain. You’re not creature tribal so don’t be afraid to throw in some tempo or card advantage to keep your engine running smoothly.
#8. Intet, the Dreamer
In 8th place is the Elder Dragon (in the lore, at least) Intet, the Dreamer. Intet promotes a big-mana, big-spell playstyle that aims to generate lots of mana or deal combat damage with your commander to cast gigantic game-threatening spells as early as possible. Instead of the typical Temur strategy of playing many 4-to-6-mana value creatures consistently to win via combat, this commander wants to cast fewer and larger spells to achieve the same ending with less resources.
Since you’re casting less spells overall you want your creatures and sorceries to be big in scale. Think Genesis Ultimatum and Atarka, World Render as the baseline. Your goal is to flip the kind of spells that make your opponent’s jaw drop off the top of your deck.
In terms of powerful creatures there are plenty to choose from but allow me to give you some recommendations. First, you want to be able to filter the top of your deck as much as possible so make sure to include Augur of Autumn, Oracle of Mul Daya, and Courser of Kruphix right off the bat.
With that out of the way, I’d like to direct your attention to some of the most powerful dragons in red. Terror of the Peaks is a huge flier that lets you blast enemies when other creatures enter the battlefield. Drakuseth, Maw of Flames helps clear your enemy’s lackluster defenses. And Dragonborn Champion keeps your hand full turn after turn.
Huge creatures won’t be the only threats you’re ripping off the top of your deck for . There are plenty of instants and sorceries to choose from as well. Omniscience, Mind’s Dilation, and Future Sight are all cards you’ll be ecstatic to see and are well worth including.
#7. Haldan, Avid Arcanist / Pako, Arcane Retriever
In 7th place is the partner combo of Haldan, Avid Arcanist and Pako, Arcane Retriever. This is a very cute combo where Pako steals cards from the top of your opponent’s libraries and Haldan plays them.
Instead of the typical Temur strategy of “big stuff,” you want to focus on having Pako remain unblocked in combat as often as possible and then win through card advantage supplied by your opponents’ own decks. Anything that gives Pako unblockable or creates more combat steps are must-haves, specifically Seize the Day, Relentless Assault, and anything similar.
You’re also attacking nearly every turn you have your commander so you should invest in some auras and equipments that makes that exchange easier and more profitable. Winged Boots, Lightning Greaves, and Whispersilk Cloak are all great examples.
While we’re on the topic of artifacts, I’d like to introduce you to Strionic Resonator and Wulfgar of Icewind Dale. These two cards will be your best friends and will give you twice the value from Pako’s attacks.
All in all I think this commander partnership is both a fun and powerful one. It plays different than most of the other Temur commanders and can be a pretty refreshing strategy.
#6. Omnath, Locus of the Roil
In 6th place is big daddy O, Omnath, Locus of the Roil. While Omnath can be a landfall-based deck, it’s an elemental tribal commander through and through. There are hundreds of playable elementals but you might not really realize this until you’re like me and have to research an Omnath commander deck.
Since you’re putting your lot in with a specific tribe you get to enjoy the benefits of the many tribal-enabling artifacts and enchantments that bolster your strategy. Reflections of Littjara copies all your creatures and elemental spells which is as good as it gets in terms of maximizing value and threat. Vanquisher’s Banner provides a board-wide buff and refills your hand. Herald’s Horn discounts your elementals by (which adds up). And Door of Destinies provides increasingly powerful combat stat buffs as the game progresses.
Despite committing to elemental tribal Omnath, Locus of the Roil still provides landfall-based synergies that you can take advantage of from a ramping standpoint. Avenger of Zendikar, Cultivate, Growth Spiral, Phylath, World Sculptor, and Roil Elemental are all powerful enough in this deck that they’re worth being included.
Oh, and of course I’d be remiss not to mention Omnath, Locus of Creation dominating over in the 4-color world.
#5. Riku of Two Reflections
Starting off our top five for the rankings today is Riku of Two Reflections. I love Riku and always have. Being able to copy instants and sorceries and creatures for just two mana is just too much fun for me to pass up. I think this commander is absolutely perfect for Temur. After all, what’s better than playing massive and powerful spells? Playing them twice.
Certain cards get better when cast they’re twice so you want to pick your cards more carefully than if this was just “Temur Big Stuff.” There isn’t much point in duplicating a legendary creature when you can only have one in the first place. Having Riku of Two Reflections in the command zone also means that cards that were otherwise not strong enough to play as a single copy can be extremely worthwhile now that you can duplicate them. But enough explanation, let’s look at the fun cards you’re duplicating!
Rite of Replication is one of the best because you’re suddenly getting an extra five copies of any given creature. That almost always results in scoops from your opponents should it go uncontested. Just copying an Avenger of Zendikar and creating upwards of 100 plants should be enough to win with a single landfall trigger. Progenitor Mimic is nearly as good and can get out of control if you’re able to untap with it two or three times.
Copying ramp or card-draw spells is something else you shouldn’t overlook. Doubling the effects of a single Cultivate or Growth Spiral early enough can be just as powerful as a second bomb creature.
#4. Maelstrom Wanderer
In 4th place is the bane of my 13-year-old self’s existence, Maelstrom Wanderer. Your typical Wanderer list has a very simple game plan: play Maelstrom Wanderer ASAP. The bonus of having a 7/5 with haste is negligible in comparison to what comes out when you cast it.
Eight mana is extremely steep and many of the most powerful creatures in Magic are at the 7-mana range. But more importantly you can chain your cascade spells to get more than just two creatures or spells from your commander.
Aurora Phoenix is an excellent inclusion because it can continue a cascade chain after your commander and it continuously comes back from the graveyard when you cascade in later. Sakashima’s Protégé can also continue the chain and enters as a copy of other creatures for further benefits.
In case your commander becomes too high in mana cost from multiple casts or you just have plenty of mana, Apex Devastator is a supreme game-ender that results in a completely full board from absolutely nothing. Four cascade chains starting at 10 mana grabs a dozen creatures or spells and immediately sets you as the target of three pitiful enemies.
What makes Maelstrom Wanderer so great is that it’s the absolute pinnacle of “Temur Good Stuff” as we know it. It’s easy to build, fun to play, and provides a high level of power despite a simple game plan. It’s everything you want in a Temur commander.
#3. Xyris, the Writhing Storm
In 3rd place is Xyris, the Writhing Storm, one of the more unique commanders on our list and one that supports a wheel-based strategy to win. In case you’re unaware, “wheels” in Magic are spells that cause players to discard their hand and draw new cards. It gets its name from the original wheel, Wheel of Fortune.
Since your strategy revolves around creature advantage generated by your opponents’ drawing cards, you want to include as many other affects that continuously support this strategy as possible. Cards like Teferi’s Puzzle Box, Magus of the Wheel, Font of Mythos, and Howling Mine are all great options to include.
As for closing out the game, you have a couple tools at your disposal. The Locust God quickly and easily generates a wide board state of small creatures that can be buffed up through various means to attack for copious amounts of damage. Impact Tremors can alternatively be paired with it to cause each wheel to do damage equal to the number of cards drawn in total. This means that you can instantly blow up all your opponents when you make your 28+ small 1/1s from your wheels.
#2. Animar, Soul of Elements
Runner up in the 2nd place spot for the Temur commander rankings is Animar, Soul of Elements. Animar is an OG commander in Temur (and commander in general), and it’s not just because it’s a classic that has over 4,000 total decks posted online. Animar is a run-of-the-mill creature commander that gets increasingly more powerful as the game goes on and it stacks more +1/+1 counters.
This cast discount can help support pod decks outside of their engines like Survival of the Fittest or Birthing Pod. It also allows you to reach those high mana-value creatures like Emrakul, the Promised End or Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre pretty quickly. A pod-based strategy also supports a fairly balanced creature curve which plays nicely into your discounts.
If you end up going down the pod line, Temur offers a ton of creatures to choose from at each mana value:
- Mana Value 1: Mana dorks, Wild Cantor, Sylvan Safekeeper, Bond Beetle, and Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer.
- Mana Value 2: Phantasmal Image, Wall of Roots, Rattleclaw Mystic, and Malevolent Hermit.
- Mana Value 3: Imperial Recruiter, Reclamation Sage, Wood Elves, Man-o’-War, Barrin, Master Wizard, and Pestermite.
- Mana Value 4: Purphoros, God of the Forge, Vizier of the Menagerie, Glen Elendra Archmage, Slithermuse, and Solemn Simulacrum.
- Mana Value 5: Wandering Archaic, Kiri-Onna, Surrak Dragonclaw, and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.
- Mana Value 6: Consecrated Sphinx, Soul of the Harvest, Primordial Sage, Deadeye Navigator, and Conduit of Ruin.
- Mana Value 7: Palinchron, Tishana, Voice of Thunder, Sifter Wurm, and Hullbreaker Horror.
- Mana Value 8: Maelstrom Wanderer, Craterhoof Behemoth, and Tidespout Tyrant.
#1. Kalamax, the Stormsire
In 1st place is the most popular Temur commander with over 4,300 decks posted online, Kalamax, the Stormsire. Kalamax is a spell copy commander similar to Riku of Two Reflections, but it does it for free. But Kalamax only copies the first instant you cast each turn. While this restricts you to instants specifically, you can still cast one for free on each player’s turn. This supports an instant-based deck and theme which is pretty rare for a color wedge so focused on creature-based win conditions.
Having each instant be twice as powerful leads you to craft a deck that uses cards that get better the more you play them instead of those that are just good value. Mana ramp is a perfect example of this since being three lands ahead is a completely different ball game than being one land ahead. You want to maximize this advantage wherever possible.
So in addition to your commander’s duplication ability you also want to run some enchantments that do the same thing, like Swarm Intelligence and Double Vision. At worst these are a harder-to-remove backups to your commander that give you some consistency. But at best they take your spells from “great” to “game-winning.”
Comet Storm should be the first card that comes to mind in terms of instants that benefit from being copied. You’re already going to be far ahead on mana which means casting this for eight or nine damage with kicker 3 isn’t out of the picture. Duplicating that spell makes it a lethal threat, and it means you can potentially blow up the table for 10 to 20 damage per player in optimal conditions. The same could be said for other instants like Starstorm or Electrodominance. Spells like Fact or Fiction, Dig Through Time, and Manamorphose can pull you ahead in card advantage outside of direct damage and keep your engine turning throughout the end game.
I really enjoy Kalamax, the Stormsire as a commander. Something about copying a spell upwards of four or five turns just makes me all giggly. You’ll feel like you’re getting away with something when you play Kalamax and that’s what defines a great commander to me.
Decklist: Maelstrom Wanderer Cascade in Commander
Maelstrom Wanderer | Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez
Averna, the Chaos Bloom
Birds of Paradise
Drakuseth, Maw of Flames
Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty
Kodama of the East Tree
Mwonvuli Beast Tracker
Nezahal, Primal Tide
Scholar of the Lost Trove
Shaman of Forgotten Ways
Sphinx of the Final Word
Sphinx of the Second Sun
Thryx, the Sudden Storm
Release to the Wind
Bring to Light
Maze of Ith
Yavimaya, Cradle of Growth
Of all the Temur commanders (and despite not being the most powerful), I see Maelstrom Wanderer as one of the most fun and beginner-friendly commanders in all of Magic. I think it provides a playstyle and general game plan that’s as fun as it is effective, and everyone loves playing huge spells for free.
This deck plays exactly how I explained Maelstrom plays in its ranking, which is to create cascade chains and extract extreme value whenever you cast a large cascade spell like your commander or Apex Devastator. Once you start this chain you can expect to continue to cascade into smaller and smaller creatures, ranging from Shardless Agent all the way to Sweet-Gum Recluse.
Of course, playing huge creatures with cascade can’t be done without appropriate ramp and mana and you have a wide array of options to chose from. The list includes the typical mana artifacts from Sol Ring to Chromatic Lantern plus the most playable mana dorks, like Birds of Paradise and Sylvan Caryatid.
You want to be able to hit eight mana as quickly as possible. Getting mana-screwed is akin to death with this list, and that’s obviously the last thing you want to happen.
In terms of game finishers, Apex Devastator and Warstorm Surge can usually wipe one or two opponents out altogether. Other than that you’re usually going to win with large board states that can’t be contended with. While this strategy is susceptible to board wipes and hard removal, this deck can rebuild really quickly which makes it much more consistent than other creature-based strategies.
Intet, the Dreamer | Illustration by Dan Scott
That wraps up the ranking for the top Temur commanders in Magic! I enjoyed putting together the Maelstrom Wanderer decklist. It was nostalgic and reminded me of getting absolutely crushed at age 13 by my friend Liam.
What did you think of the rankings? Were there any in particular that made your jaw drop to the floor when it wasn’t higher (or lower) on the list? Let me know in the comments down below or over on our official Draftsim Discord.
Temur not your preferred color trio? Check these out: Abzan, Mardu, Sultai, Esper, Jund, Jeskai, Grixis, Naya, Bant.
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