Last updated on September 21, 2022

Szarekh, the Silent King | Illustration by Anton Solovianchyk

Szarekh, the Silent King | Illustration by Anton Solovianchyk

I’ve never played Warhammer. I’m familiar with the concept, having worked in and around local game stores for well over a decade, but a lot of the themes are fairly new to me.

Warhammer is the latest project in the Universes Beyond series. We’ve seen a lot of these crossovers in the past year or so, with Secret Lair drops featuring The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Street Fighter, and more.

This new Warhammer 40k venture is by far the biggest release to date with around 160 new cards and every reprint featuring new artwork set in the universe of Warhammer 40k. While I don’t have any particular interest in any of the Universes Beyond products so far, I’m a huge fan of Doctor Who and am excited to delve into the world of Warhammer 40k to get a hint as to what kinds of decks we’ll see next year when this same product is repeated within the world of Doctor Who.

Let’s have a look at these decks and what you can expect to see from this product when it hits shelves in a few weeks’ time!

What Are the Warhammer 40k Commander Decks?

Command Tower - Illustration by Games Workshop

Command Tower | Illustration by Games Workshop

The Warhammer 40k Commander decks are a series of four preconstructed Commander decks set in the universe of Warhammer 40k. Each of these decks come with a complete 100-card Commander deck based around one of the factions of the game. You can choose from:

  • Tyranid Swarm (blue/red/green)
  • The Ruinous Powers (blue/black/red)
  • Necron Dynasties (mono black)
  • Forces of the Imperium (white/blue/black)

Unlike previous Commander precons, the majority of the nonland cards in these decks are brand new, with each deck featuring 40 new cards themed around some of Warhammer’s classic characters. On top of that, all the reprints in these decks feature new artwork that sets them in the universe of Warhammer 40k. The idea is for each of these four decks to feel like they really bridge the gap between these two franchises, and to give the fans of Warhammer 40k a unique gameplay experience in the setting of Commander.

Another difference between these decks and previous Commander releases is that they come in two very different versions. You can buy the standard edition for around $60, which looks exactly like the Commander decks you’re used to, or you can splash out and get a collector’s edition that retails for around $200. The collector’s editions feature cards printed in a new “surge foil” treatment, and they look absolutely stunning.

Sale
Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck Bundle – Includes 1 The Ruinous Powers, 1 Necron Dynasties, 1 Forces of the Imperium, and 1 Tyranid Swarm
  • Bundle of all 4 Warhammer 40,000 Commander Decks—The Ruinous Powers, Necron Dynasties, Forces of the Imperium, and Tyranid Swarm
  • All 4 ready-to-play MTG decks contain 100 Magic cards (2 traditional foil + 98 nonfoil)
  • Every card features Warhammer-themed art—including 42 cards that are new to Magic
  • Each deck comes with 1 Foil-Etched Display Commander, 10 tokens, 1 life tracker + 1 deck box
  • Command a new battlefield with epic multiplayer Magic games set in the world of the popular tabletop miniatures game, Warhammer 40,000

These decks look like they’ll be good for any Magic player. The cards are simple enough for new players to enjoy but cool and exciting enough for more experienced players to also be excited.

Like I already said I don’t know anything about Warhammer, but even I think the Tyranid deck looks awesome and I’m very tempted to pick it up for myself. Above all else, this product is great for people who play Warhammer. The themes of the decks should really resonate with them and look very similar to how these armies play out in the tabletop game.

Tyranid Swarm

Tyranid Swarm EDH precon

Commanders, Theme, and Strategy

The two main Commanders for Tyranid Swarm are The Swarmlord and Magus Lucea Kane. These two cards really set the theme of this deck up quite nicely. The whole idea of this deck is centered around two things: mana ramp and +1/+1 counters.

The Swarmlord is a big dumb alien that gets bigger every time you cast it and draws you cards whenever your creatures die. While it’s the face card of the deck, I think Magus Lucea Kane is actually the stronger Commander .

Magus is great to cast early and doesn’t only ramp you into whatever big Tyranid you cast, it also gives you extra copies of them when you do. It’s a little fragile and just a 1/1 for four mana, but it packs a huge punch. If you just cast it on turn 3 and follow up with a huge creature on turn 4, copying that creature will already have paid you off for taking the time to cast her.

Beyond just the general strategy of ramp and +1/+1 counters as you can see from the ability of Magus Lucea Kane, there’s also a theme of casting X spells. A lot of the Tyranids in this deck have X in their casting cost and come with a new keyword ability called “ravenous.” Ravenous has the same text as you see on tons of hydra creatures, saying that they enter the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters on them. Except it also lets you draw a card if X is five or more.

This is a theme that we’ve seen minimal support for in the past, most notably on Rosheen Meanderer from back in Shadowmoor, which would also make a fine addition to this deck.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Toxicrene

The first card I want to highlight in this deck is Toxicrene. I generally don’t like land destruction effects in Commander because they generally make the game less fun for everyone. But this is a nice way of doing it without screwing over other players’ decks.

Turning all lands on the board into rainbow lands that lose all other abilities is a very powerful effect. While everyone is helped out of color screw situations, you also shut down annoying lands like Reliquary Tower, creature lands, and all sorts of other things. It also lets all lands enter the battlefield untapped, which is really nice and makes this a fantastic inclusion for a lot of decks with budget mana bases.

Nexos

Nexos also catches my eye as a sweet ramp enabler for these Tyranids. The deck contains 22 basic lands, so the odds you have some in play are pretty high.

Some of these creatures want to be cast for a huge amount of mana and turning all your lands into Sol Rings sounds like a really simple way to stick a lot of mana into the next Tyranid that you play. If anyone out there runs a hydra tribal deck then I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that you need to pick this up for it immediately.

Exocrine

Now that you have a ton of mana, what are you going to spend it on? One of the biggest payoffs I can see here is Exocrine. Not only does it give you a big creature and potentially draw you a card like the rest it also wipes the board, something that’s extremely important in games of Commander.

Casting this for X=5 kills off most creatures in play while also giving you a 7/7 and an extra card. This is an incredible deal for just eight mana, something which should be easy to get to with all of the ramp available in this deck.

These decks only come with a couple dozen reprints, and most of the ones in this deck are typical Commander staples like a Sol Ring and the usual green ramp spells like Rampant Growth and Cultivate.

There’s a Hardened Scales which is nice, especially for Pioneer or Modern players who want some new fancy artwork for their decks. There’s also a Herald’s Horn and an Icon of Ancestry since this is, at its core, a tribal deck. I don’t think any of these decks are going to be all that exciting when it comes to reprints since it’s the core of new cards that’s the main appeal.

The Verdict

I don’t think the Tyranids had to try very hard to be my favorite deck of the lot. Of course the green player is going to love the Temur () ramp deck with alien hordes and big X spells. I think this deck really hits the mark with what a green ramp deck is supposed to be doing.

If I was to pick any of the four decks to buy, it would be this one for sure.

Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck – Tyranid Swarm
  • 100-card ready-to-play Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck—Tyranid Swarm
  • Green-Blue-Red Deck—contains 2 legendary traditional foil cards + 98 nonfoil cards
  • Every card features Warhammer-themed art—including 42 cards that are new to Magic
  • 1 foil-etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker, and 1 deck box

The Ruinous Powers

The Ruinous Powers EDH precon

Commanders, Theme, and Strategy

The two main Commanders for The Ruinous Powers are Abaddon the Despoiler and Be’lakor, the Dark Master. Unlike the Tyranids, this deck’s strategy isn’t quite as linear. There are a few different themes going on including some cards that like you casting instants and sorceries, of which there are around 16 in the deck.

There’s also a small cascade theme with a handful of cascade spells along with the ability of Abaddon itself, as well as cards that trigger whenever you cast spells from outside of the hand. There’s a demon tribal subtheme to support Be’lakor.

There really is a lot going on and the best way I can describe this is as “Grixis () good stuff.” If you enjoy midrange battles featuring plenty of creature removal, creatures with effects that annoy everyone else at the table, and some really wild and silly card effects then this is probably the deck for you!

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Let the Galaxy Burn

As a guy who loves a good cascade spell, my eye was immediately drawn to Let the Galaxy Burn. While the unique casting cost is quite a lot, the effect is massive and scales pretty nicely.

Just imagine casting this to clear the board for about 8 to 10 mana (dealing around four to six damage to each creature) while cascading onto Lord of Change, drawing you three cards in the process. You even have a great way of setting that up thanks to a reprint of Brainstorm in the deck.

Lord of Change

Speaking of Lord of Change, there are very few cards in the game that have such a strong enters the battlefield trigger. So much so that I immediately considered adding it to my Prime Speaker Vannifar deck, but I think Tishana, Voice of Thunder is better in that instance.

Plague Drone

A card that I think has a fair bit of potential to become a Commander staple is Plague Drone. Lifegain is a popular mechanic among Commander players (at least very much among the players that I know), and a simple 4-drop that not only shuts off all lifegain but reverses it into life loss seems like an extremely powerful effect to me.

I can imagine quite a few black decks wanting a card like this and it’s even a demon to boot, giving it some nice tribal interactions that some decks will be able to make use of.

Chromatic Lantern

Chromatic Lantern is always nice, especially with such sick artwork.

Decree of Pain

Decree of Pain is also nice to see since we haven’t seen it in a Commander product for over five years. But like I said with the Tyranids deck, the focus of these decks is on the 40 or so new cards in every single deck, not on the handful of reprints to flesh them out.

The Verdict

I’m not sold on this one. I think it seems to have too many directions and not enough synergy between the cards. Perhaps we’ll have to see how it plays out in person, but each of the other decks seem to have a very clear theme in mind and a lot of cards that care about said themes.

That said, this will probably be simple and easy to play since just about any Magic player knows enough to be able to just play a good stuff deck in Commander and not worry too much about the deck’s synergies. Overall this one doesn’t excite me all that much. I prefer my Commander decks to be very heavily driven by a theme, and this one fails at that.

Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck – The Ruinous Powers
  • 100-card ready-to-play Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck—The Ruinous Powers
  • Blue-Black-Red Chaos Deck—contains 2 legendary traditional foil cards + 98 nonfoil cards
  • Every card features Warhammer-themed art—including 42 cards that are new to Magic
  • 1 foil-etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker, and 1 deck box

Necron Dynasties

Necron Dynasties EDH precon

Commanders, Theme, and Strategy

The Commanders for Necron Dynasties are Szarekh, the Silent King and Imotekh, the Stormlord. The Necrons are basically an army of robotic skeleton warriors, so putting them in black and making them artifact creatures makes a lot of sense. The themes are fairly transparent here too.

The deck is entirely based around both artifacts and doing what black does best, self-mill and graveyard recursion. Although Szarekh is the face card for the deck, much like the Tyranids deck, I actually like Imotekh a fair bit more. It really comes down to whether or not you think it’s best to have an enabler or a payoff as your commander, since Szarekh mills you while Imotekh rewards you for getting stuff out of your graveyard once it’s milled.

The commanders work really well in tandem with each other. I almost wish they were partner commanders of some sort. The deck is trying to do a number of things, all within the same general strategy. Have lots of artifacts in play, mill yourself, get more artifacts back from the graveyard, repeat. I like it.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Trazyn the Infinite

The first card that I have to talk about is Trazyn the Infinite. I’ve always been a fan of Necrotic Ooze and I’ve seen many Commander tables die at the hands of Experiment Kraj.

These kinds of effects that let you steal all of the abilities of cards from somewhere else can end up being very powerful, especially when they get to begin the game in your command zone. In this case, having the activated abilities of all artifacts in your graveyard is extremely powerful, especially when you start throwing Staff of Domination into the mix.

Sceptre of Eternal Glory

There are some other nice cards to be had. I especially like Scepter of Eternal Glory, a new mana rock that works as a cheaper Gilded Lotus for any mono-color deck, which is something I’ll probably be interested in for other decks.

Their Name Is Death

Their Name Is Death is an absurd board wipe for a deck is almost entirely made up of artifact creatures.

Their Number Is Legion

Their Number Is Legion is an incredibly sweet payoff for your self-mill strategy, being able to just get cast from the graveyard in the late game and refill your board in an instant.

Darkness

It may look innocuous, but Darkness is a huge reprint. The card sits around $15, having only ever been printed in Legends and Time Spiral before now. It’s a Pauper staple for some sideboards, and its value is entirely based on last being printed in 2006. It may only be a black Fog, but it can do some work and is a very welcome reprint.

There are also some very nice reprints with Mystic Forge, Caged Sun, Gilded Lotus, and Living Death, making this likely the best deck in the bunch for reprints.

The Verdict

Mono-black is very dear to my heart. It’s a deck that made me fall in love with Pauper, and I’ve always enjoyed making it work in other formats, especially Legacy. This deck looks very enjoyable to play and is probably the most powerful for “competitive” play since Trazyn looks to be one of the strongest new commanders to come out of this set.

This has a lot going for it with its swarm potential, powerful removal, and a great synergistic theme.

Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck – Necron Dynasties
  • 100-card ready-to-play Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck— Necron Dynasties
  • Black Deck—contains 2 legendary traditional foil cards + 98 nonfoil cards
  • Every card features Warhammer-themed art—including 42 cards that are new to Magic
  • 1 foil-etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker, and 1 deck box

Forces of the Imperium

Forces of the Imperium EDH precon

Commanders, Theme, and Strategy

Your commanders for Forces of the Imperium are Inquisitor Greyfax and Marneus Calgar. The theme of the deck is also fairly well pronounced by looking at their abilities: this is a tokens deck.

The Imperium Forces is all about going wide on the board and buffing your whole army at once. Some of the creatures have the new “squad” keyword, which basically works the same as replicate (see Train of Thought) only for creatures, giving you tons of built-in ways to multiply your creatures with ease.

Much like the other two synergy-driven decks, I actually much prefer the backup commander Marneus Calgar over the face commander of Inquisitor Greyfax. Marneus not only pays you off for making tokens, but it also lets you create them with its activated ability. It’s pretty much everything I want in a cool build-around Commander card.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

The Golden Throne

The Golden Throne is a standout mana rock from this deck which could have all kinds of applications in Commander. While it’s a weaker mana rock than Gilded Lotus or Thran Dynamo and a weaker protection against losing the game than something like Platinum Angel, the combination of both is an intriguing prospect.

Ultramarines Honour Guard

Ultramarines Honour Guard is exactly the sort of card you want to spend mana on if you have a bunch of it. I really like the squad mechanic because it reminds me of the unleash mechanic from the Eternal card game.

The ability to make copies of your creatures over and over again is really powerful, and the best of the lot is this lord ability. Spending just eight mana on this gives you three lords to buff all of your creatures by +3/+3 in total, something that any kind of tokens deck is happy to have.

Exterminatus

There are some other really nice cards, like the new board sweeper Exterminatus. This gets around a lot of commonly paid protections like Heroic Intervention.

Defenders of Humanity

Defenders of Humanity is a really strong way to fill up your board with tokens and even lets you to do it twice. This card should make this a fairly resilient deck along with some potent removal options like Deny the Witch and Space Marine Devastator.

Swords to Plowshares

Once again there are no big money reprints, but there are still some pretty sweet ones. A really cool and reimagined artwork for Swords to Plowshares is the most interesting of the bunch.

Deploy to the Front

There’s also a reprint of Deploy to the Front, a card we haven’t seen since Commander 2014.

The Verdict

While I’m not usually a fan of white decks, I like token strategies and this looks like it ticks all the important boxes for a deck like this. You’ve got plenty of good token makers, a lot of powerful effects that boost your entire army, and plenty of sweet payoffs to help you get there.

Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck – Forces of the Imperium
  • 100-card ready-to-play Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck—Forces of the Imperium
  • White-Blue-Black Deck—contains 2 legendary traditional foil cards + 98 nonfoil cards
  • Every card features Warhammer-themed art—including 42 cards that are new to Magic
  • 1 foil-etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker, and 1 deck box

What’s the Best Warhammer 40k Commander Deck?

Necron Dynasties EDH precon

In my most humble opinion, the strongest Warhammer 40k Commander deck is Necron Dynasties. It has the most valuable reprints, the most promising cards for other Commander decks, and one of the more cohesive strategies of them all.

On pretty much every metric I can come up with, the Necron deck wins.

Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck – Necron Dynasties
  • 100-card ready-to-play Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck— Necron Dynasties
  • Black Deck—contains 2 legendary traditional foil cards + 98 nonfoil cards
  • Every card features Warhammer-themed art—including 42 cards that are new to Magic
  • 1 foil-etched Display Commander
  • 10 double-sided tokens, 1 life tracker, and 1 deck box

Commanding Conclusion

For the Emperor! - Illustration by Games Workshop

For the Emperor! | Illustration by Games Workshop

Universes Beyond has been a somewhat divisive issue for lots of Magic players. While some thinks it taints the rest of the game, to many it’s a great way to see other franchises that they know and love reimagined in MTG form.

While I haven’t yet seen a franchise that I enjoy incorporated into Universes Beyond, Doctor Who will be a big one for me. And if these Commander decks are anything to go by, I’m confident that the franchise is in good hands and can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next year.

What do you think of these Commander decks? Are you excited to pick them up for yourself? If so, which one do you think you’ll go for? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.

Sale
Magic: The Gathering Universes Beyond Warhammer 40,000 Commander Deck Bundle – Includes 1 The Ruinous Powers, 1 Necron Dynasties, 1 Forces of the Imperium, and 1 Tyranid Swarm
  • Bundle of all 4 Warhammer 40,000 Commander Decks—The Ruinous Powers, Necron Dynasties, Forces of the Imperium, and Tyranid Swarm
  • All 4 ready-to-play MTG decks contain 100 Magic cards (2 traditional foil + 98 nonfoil)
  • Every card features Warhammer-themed art—including 42 cards that are new to Magic
  • Each deck comes with 1 Foil-Etched Display Commander, 10 tokens, 1 life tracker + 1 deck box
  • Command a new battlefield with epic multiplayer Magic games set in the world of the popular tabletop miniatures game, Warhammer 40,000

Until next time, take care of yourselves!

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2 Comments

  • Avatar
    Pedantic Paulie October 16, 2022 11:50 pm

    Exterminatus doesn’t get by Heroic Intervention, unless Heroic Intervention was cast first for some reason. It only says nonland permanents lose indestructible, not that they can’t gain it.

    • Avatar
      Dan Troha October 17, 2022 7:51 am

      Nope. Jake is right here. You put Exterminatus on the stack. If you cast Heroic Intervention in response… it doesn’t matter. That goes on the stack, resolves, permanents gain indestructible. Then Exterminatus resolves and they lose the indestructible they just gained.

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