Last updated on May 10, 2024

Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar - Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing

Although you can often find decent build-around rare commanders for cheap, including a decent number of the most popular commanders that are now under a dollar, there’s something extra fun about taking an uncommon legend and sitting across the table from a pile of mythic rares. It feels a bit like a hard mode flex.

I first started really getting into uncommons as commanders when I opened Slimefoot, the Stowaway in a Dominaria pack, and it’s been a bit of a collector obsession of mine since.If you share my interest in what can feel a bit like hipster Commander, “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination!”

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What Are Uncommon Commanders in Magic?

Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist - Illustration by Jason Rainville

Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist | Illustration by Jason Rainville

Commanders in EDH need to be creatures with the legendary supertype. Legendary creatures, which started in Legends (naturally!), have always been at least at uncommon rarity, but most legendary creatures come in at rare or mythic.

Uncommons, in terms of Magic design philosophy, are supposed to be impactful cards in Limited, often build-arounds, but perhaps their impact on Constructed formats will be less. Of course, sometimes uncommons have powerful enough synergies that they have large impacts on Constructed formats. Think Skullclamp, Mayhem Devil, and Swords to Plowshares.

It’s rare that an uncommon legendary creature has this kind of impact, especially in Commander, but that’s our focus today, those awesome outliers that can be fun EDH build-arounds, especially on a budget. There are more than 330 uncommon legendary creatures and more seem to be printed every MTG set

Paladin Danse, Steel Maverick

This ranking lists these cards as commanders. There are a number of legendary creatures that have some good value in the 99 but which are underwhelming as a commander, like Paladin Danse, Steel Maverick.

#47. Zoyowa Lava-Tongue

Zoyowa Lava-Tongue

This warlock is going to climb the ranks. Archfiend of Ifnir, Waste Not, Chainer, Nightmare Adept, and a host of other discard and sacrifice cards? Just wait for it.

#46. Greta, Sweettooth Scourge

Greta, Sweettooth Scourge

Gyome, Master Chef is probably better in the Golgari commander () food/sacrifice space, but Greta, Sweettooth Scourge has card draw in its abilities, and that’ always a thing to watch. Plus, Greta just murdered a gummi worm, so don’t underestimate her! I see this human warrior‘s fortunes rising.

#45. Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle

Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle

Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle is powerful bird cleric and fun to play, as you sac artifacts and recur them to your durdly hearts’ content.

#44. Koll, the Forgemaster

Koll, the Forgemaster

A falling cEDH deck, Koll, the Forgemaster is different than normal Boros () equipment decks, looking something like Dockside Extortionist with Skullclamp.

#43. Vega, the Watcher

Vega, the Watcher

Vega, the Watcher seems more fun as a supporting cast member to Gorion, Wise Mentor and Ranar the Ever-Watchful, but this might be the spirit commander for a deck that wants to mess around with stuff like One with the Multiverse, The Temporal Anchor, Future Sight, etc.

#42. Melek, Izzet Paragon

Melek, Izzet Paragon

There are so many good Izzet commanders (), and Melek, Izzet Paragon is good but doesn’t quite have enough magecraft cards to fill out what would be a pretty unique deck filled with spell copying

#41. Kangee, Sky Warden

Kangee, Sky Warden

Kangee, Sky Warden is the best Azorius () commander for fliers by a wide margin.

#40. Rebbec, Architect of Ascension

Rebbec, Architect of Ascension

Rebbec, Architect of Ascension grants a pretty wide swath of protection from spot removal, which is a useful service for the artifacts commanders that might want a spot of white to partner with this artificer, like Silas Renn, Seeker Adept, Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer, and a few others.

#39. Jasmine Boreal of the Seven

Jasmine Boreal of the Seven

I mean, you’re gonna order a copy of Muraganda Petroglyphs for this deck. But doesn’t Jasmine Boreal of the Seven want your deck to house the vanilla creatures from your boomer storage boxes? The ones that the younger version of you thought were good, letting you play Magic like you thought it was when Gigantosaurus was your favorite card?

#38. Bruenor Battlehammer

Bruenor Battlehammer

There are better things to do in Boros () equipment decks than Bruenor Battlehammer, but by playing with equip costs, it’s arguably one of the more fun ways to try to make that archetype work.

#37. Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder

Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder

Mr. Orfeo, the Boulder is here to FlingYargle and Multani. Other stuff, too, sure, but mostly that and stuff that’s also like that. After watching the Barbie movie, I decided for myself that his full name is “Mr. Ken Orfeo,” and now you know which song is in my head when I play this deck.

#36. Balmor, Battlemage Captain

Balmor, Battlemage Captain

This card doesn’t see quite the play it should, but Izzet () mages are spoiled for choices. In the right build, Balmor, Battlemage Captain goes fast, and it's actually quite solid in Duel Commander. Someday, Izzet prowess fliers will come together and this will be a top deck.

#35. Totentanz, Swarm Piper

Totentanz, Swarm Piper

You don’t have to be playing Rat Colony to want to run a Totentanz, Swarm Piper deck, but that’s a thing. Up until Wilds of Eldraine, rats deck were usually mono-black. But WOE gave us a decent number of good rat cards in red, like Song of Totentanz, sure, but being able to play Rat tokens with Impact Tremors and Goblin Bombardment is a lot of fun. I expect to see this deck rise in the ranks as more people figure this bard out.

#34. Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward

Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward

Paired with Candlekeep Sage as a background, Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward has quietly risen to second place behind Brago, King Eternal in the Azorius () blink commander space. There’s something about drawing a card when you Ephemerate your commander to keep it alive that’s especially pleasing to a certain kind of player. Me, I mean me.

#33. Thalisse, Reverent Medium

Thalisse, Reverent Medium

Thalisse, Reverent Medium is the most popular Orzhov () tokens commander because… have you read the card??? It’s a lot like a token doubler.

#32. Trelasarra, Moon Dancer

Trelasarra, Moon Dancer

If you’ve ever been stuck waiting for Trelasarra, Moon Dancer to finish scrying and adding +1/+1 counters in a Scurry Oak/Heliod, Sun-Crowned combo on MTG Arena, you know why you might consider this elf cleric over reigning Selesnya () lifegain champ Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn.

#31. Lagrella, the Magpie

Lagrella, the Magpie

Lagrella, the Magpie is a strange card to use as a commander. You’re probably going to just use Chulane, Teller of Tales to command your Bant () soldiers deck that you built to get both King Darien XLVIII and Harbin, Vanguard Aviator into the same deck. But Lagrella is a soldier (!?!), and having a piece of removal in the command zone is pretty helpful in a deck that wants to pack more bodies and less spells, and having a blinkable piece of removal that can also sort of slow-blink something else on your board is surprisingly amazing. This card is climbing the list because Bant blink is a good deck, but Roon of the Hidden Realm is, I’m sorry, meh at best. Just blinking Lagrella to keep forcing opponents to put their commanders back in the command zone can just shut down some decks entirely.

#30. Aegar, the Freezing Flame

Aegar, the Freezing Flame

Giant typal plus the typical Izzet () nonsense? Aegar, the Freezing Flame is a big wizard with a lot of ways to win and a lot of ways to respond to other decks.

#29. Minthara, Merciless Soul

Minthara, Merciless Soul

Tokens + proliferate. This is probably the place for all those Phyrexia: All Will Be One uncommons you drafted but didn’t have an EDH deck for. Minthara, Merciless Soul can get out of hand in a snap if folks aren’t careful.

#28. Svella, Ice Shaper

Svella, Ice Shaper

Ice, ice, baby. Svella, Ice Shaper wants to ramp. Is snow ramp better than typical ramp? Is Gruul () ramp better than mono-green? This is all unclear to me, but Svella, Ice Shaper is one very solid Gruul commander troll that can get huge things out quickly if you’re willing to buy all the snow-covered lands.

#27. Killian, Ink Duelist

Killian, Ink Duelist

If you liked Orzhov () auras in Historic better than Azorius (), Killian, Ink Duelist is the commander for you. This menacing warlock also likes equipment, Pacifism effects, and long walks at sunset by the Witherbloom swamps.

#26. Ganax, Astral Hunter

Ganax, Astral Hunter

Usually paired with the Acolyte of Bahamut background for a Gruul () dragons deck, Ganax, Astral Hunter helps you ramp those dragons out. It’s also part of a number of infinite mana combos, my favorite of which is the more aspirational than realistic Old Gnawbone and Hellkite Charger. And there’s always Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink with Staff of Domination.

#25. Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer

Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer

Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer pairs with other artifacts commanders, and until Meria, Scholar of Antiquity, it was one of the more common ways to get green in on the artifacts game.

#24. Hamza, Guardian of Arashin

Hamza, Guardian of Arashin

Hamza, Guardian of Arashin is one of the best +1/+1 counters commanders, and it’s clearly the best in Selesnya ().

#23. Cadira, Caller of the Small

Cadira, Caller of the Small

There are better Selesnya () tokens commanders than Cadira, Caller of the Small, sure, but have you seen the token this generates!?!

One of the best Selesnya cards in the game, Cadira, Caller of the Small is the leader if you’re Clowning Around with Preston, the Vanisher and going full rabbit with Regal Bunnicorn and Pollen-Shield Hare. This likely gets better with Bloomburrow.

#22. Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker

Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker

This is a fun deck to play, and one of the best aristocrat commanders. Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker reanimates your favorite weenies, like Serrated Scorpion, Creeping Bloodsucker, Bone Shredder, Abyssal Gatekeeper, and many others. Add an Ashnod's Altar. Whisk in a Zulaport Cutthroat. Fold in Pitiless Plunderer and bake at 350 for 30 minutes until golden brown or your opponents concede.

#21. Slimefoot, the Stowaway

Slimefoot, the Stowaway

The king of its own archetype, I’ll brook no argument as to why Slimefoot, the Stowaway is the most fun thing to do in Golgari ().

#20. Armix, Filigree Thrasher

Armix, Filigree Thrasher

Over time, Armix, Filigree Thrasher gets pretty scary in clearing out potential blockers. An excellent artifact commander, this golem pairs nicely with lots of buddies, but it likes to hang out in Thassa's Oracle cEDH infested waters with Kraum, Ludevic's Opus.

#19. Kardur, Doomscourge

Kardur, Doomscourge

One that hasn’t previously been on my radar is Kardur, Doomscourge, which actually seems to be a better goad commander than the more popular Firkraag, Cunning Instigator and a great demon commander overall. Enough Feign Death style effects in this deck, and you can run a Village Rites animated sac machine that keeps you safe while goading other shenanigans. If, like me, you play a lot of 1v1 Commander, this Rakdos commander may not be a card you’ve thought about much.

#18. Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer

Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer

How good is the Naya () toolbox? Better than you think. Who’s on the list for the Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer afterparty? Dockside Extortionist, Esper Sentinel, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Drannith Magistrate, Toski, Bearer of Secrets, and even such mystery guests as Vexing Shusher may show up when this druid‘s in command.

#17. Juri, Master of the Revue

Juri, Master of the Revue

This wily shaman continues to adapt its performance to the prevailing winds. Juri, Master of the Revue can still command an aristocrats deck, even though Raphael, Fiendish Savior has ascended in that role for Rakdos () players. But as a Rak Sac commander with some wicked Treasure synergies, Juri continues to find interesting roles well into middle age.

#16. Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty

Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty

Ramp, cast 6-drops, cascade. Throw in a Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood and Keruga, the Macrosage, then tutor up Apex Devastator. Good times for Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty.

#15. Araumi of the Dead Tide

Araumi of the Dead Tide

Recursion and self-mill decks are fun, especially if you’re using Araumi of the Dead Tide to bring back Mulldrifter and Massacre Wurm. Add some self-mill, and be sure to protect your graveyard and pack some countermagic for the graveyard hate your merfolk commander will attract!

#14. Cormela, Glamour Thief

Cormela, Glamour Thief

Leaving Grixis ()) vampires to Evelyn, the Covetous, Cormela, Glamour Thief is good as a rogue cEDH commander looking to power out some of that style’s most popular cEDH wincons, Ad Nauseum, Brain Freeze, and Thassa's Oracle.

#13. Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim

Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim

There’s some debate as to whether Teysa Karlov can get bumped off again this year (see Deadly Complication), this time as the Orzhov() aristocrats commander of choice by Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim. Do you want some of the infinite life loss and lifegain combo package in the command zone or do you want to double it all up as soon as possible? Teysa might still have the edge, for now. A lot rides on more combo pieces being printed at a Lurrus of the Dream-Den companioning cost.

#12. Zada, Hedron Grinder

Zada, Hedron Grinder

Zada, Hedron Grinder is an awesome budget commander. Fill up on cheap creatures and ways to get them, like Krenko's Command and Young Pyromancer, then toss a lot of targeting cantrips and buffs, like Ancestral Anger and Sudden Breakthrough.

A more expensive (and likely better build) is to do all of that with a mono-red goblins focus. And you already know how that works.

#11. Wilson, Refined Grizzly

Wilson, Refined Grizzly

Wilson, Refined Grizzly is one of the more popular “Choose a Background” commanders from Dungeons & Dragons: The Battle for Baldur’s Gate because this bear‘s cheap, flexible, and fancy AF. Raised by Giants gives you an interesting version of big green, and Cultist of the Absolute gives you (checks notes) Golgari sac!

#10. Syr Konrad, the Grim

Syr Konrad, the Grim

Syr Konrad, the Grim likes to do a lot of things black decks are good at doing. And it’s a wincon in the command zone for those strategies. Make creatures. Sac them. Recur them. Cards like Gravepurge gets good in this deck. And then there’s always Mindcrank….

#9. Tatyova, Benthic Druid

Tatyova, Benthic Druid

Tatyova, Benthic Druid goes fast. Still a decent cEDH general, and still a pretty popular Simic () leader even after a blitz of recent power in that color pair.

#8. Queza, Augur of Agonies

Queza, Augur of Agonies

Rising in popularity as a flexible Esper commander () Queza, Augur of Agonies is now the third most popular uncommon commander, and quite solid as a spellslinger commander. There are a lot of builds that synergize, including every Orzhov () payoff you’d like, but now with card draw and counterspells. The more powerful play is to emphasize wheels like Whispering Madness and Dark Deal for high impact table drain.

#7. Dina, Soul Steeper

Dina, Soul Steeper

Dina, Soul Steeper has crept into the top four of Golgari () commanders, and this dryad is now the second most popular uncommon commander because what it does is so unique. Staple a tiny version of Sanguine Bond onto a creature that’s also a sac outlet for death trigger effects, and you have most of an engine for 2 mana in the exact colors to go wild.

#6. Fynn, the Fangbearer

Fynn, the Fangbearer

Deathtouch typal is a thing. I’m sure the world weeps that they didn’t throw a black pip on Fynn, the Fangbearer, but we can’t have everything. It has somehow crept up to be one of the most popular mono-green commanders!  Infect, fight spells, pump, trample, a few pieces of protection. This can easily be a budget deck that’s pretty straightforward to play. It’s arguably the best non-cEDH uncommon commander.

#5. Dargo, the Shipwrecker

Dargo, the Shipwrecker

The top five are all cEDH cards, and all of them have partner, which tells you a lot about that busted mechanic. If you have these because they’re inexpensive and powerful and are building casual decks around them, let this be a warning as to how your deck might be perceived at the table, especially if playing with new people.

Let's start with a pirate commander: Dargo, the Shipwrecker is useful because it has a baked-in ability to get itself out earlier than its mana value, which allows for Greater Good or Neoform nuttiness in its best deck with partner with Thrasios, Triton Hero. You can do something similar in Naya () with Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa where the white gives you access to tutors like Academy Rector, or in a Jund () build with Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper, which again capitalizes on the high mana value with simpler cards like .

#3. Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar

Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar

This cute lil' elemental lizard is what allows a Voltron partner like Rograkh to kill the table. [card]Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar. When you absolutely, positively, got to kill every last… (you know the rest).

#2. Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh

Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh

This kobold might be number one except for the unique effect of Kediss. Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh is the ultimate Voltron commander. Classically good with Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar to try to kill the whole table at once, pairings with Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist to pants up for casual tables and Silas Renn, Seeker Adept for a fast mana Ad Nauseam (what else?) in cEDH are more likely duos.

#1. Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator

Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator

One of the most versatile of the Commander Legends uncommon partners, Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator is great in lots of decks and looks great while doing it! This siren loves pirate typal decks with Breeches, Brazen Plunderer. It likes to partner with Kediss, Emberclaw Familiar for Treasure value ramp or in a cEDH deck with only one other creature, Glint-Horn Buccaneer and some Polymorph effects. There are a good half dozen other powerful pairings. It’s hard on Malcolm decks in the cEDH meta, but it’s still strong deck.

Best Uncommon Commander Payoffs

Partner and Backgrounds

In these spaces, where you’re matching two commanders or a commander and a legendary enchantment, sometimes you just really need to dip into a color to build your deck. And uncommons often allow a bit more flexibility than some of the dual pipped rares.

Totally Niche Decks

Whether it’s Dina, Rograkh, Slimefoot, Fynn, Zada, Araumi, Rocco, or many others, some of the cards in this list helm decks that couldn’t really work with another commander!

Powered Down Options for Your Favorite Decks

Many of these uncommon commanders are total bangers. But some are just kind of decent, at best. When are those useful?

Thought experiment:

You spent your Nana’s birthday check on singles to really pimp out your favorite EDH deck, the right rocks, some expensive staples, a chase rare or two. Leather custom-designed deck box, nice double sleeves, you even sprung for custom tokens.

And now your deck is too much for your local playgroup.

You could take it apart. You could even pull out a few OP spells. Or you could swap out the commander for something a little less powerful or a little less synergistic from this list. Your deck isn’t as scary, and a lesser commander gives you some help with table politics.

I love my new Bant () soldiers deck. It’s better than you think it is, I guarantee. And Chulane, Teller of Tales is, as expected, bonkers as a leader. But it’s not quite on theme and it doesn’t matter what’s in the 99, Chulane brings the hate. Cue Lagrella, the Magpie, which I make a show of switching out for “to go easy on ‘em.”

Ah, good times.

Can a Commander be Uncommon?

Yes! As long as the uncommon creature is legendary it can command your 99. A regular, nonlegendary uncommon can command your forces in Pauper Commander, but that’s a different format with different rules.

Commanding Conclusion

Dina, Soul Steeper (Strixhaven School of Mages) - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Dina, Soul Steeper (Strixhaven School of Mages) | Illustration by Chris Rahn

I probably like these cards more than most. It reminds me of the build-around cards from the early days of Magic. I get a bit tired of WotC printing the perfect mythic commander answer to our favorite decks and everything at the LGS being the same thing. 

I’d love to see people mix it up. And I’d love to see uncommon-commanders-only nights once in a while.

How about you? Are you on this hype train, or is it back to Atraxa, Praetors' Voice for you?

Let us know in the comments or our Discord!

Thanks for reading and stay safe!

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