Last updated on May 23, 2023
Minn, Wily Illusionist | Illustration by Dmitry Burmak
It’s a game called Magic; players are supposed to be wizards. Or planeswalkers. Or something like that.
Wizards as a creature type need to stand up to a higher level scrutiny than other creatures. Boring wizards are worse than boring, say, soldiers.
Today I’ve got the best legendary wizards to use as commanders for your EDH decks. That’s an even higher level of scrutiny! The face card of your double-sleeved, maybe foiled-out deck. I’m looking at all the heavy hitters as leaders of wizard tribal decks, and some smashing spellcasters that run the show on their own without need for competing wizards in the 99.
Got it? Okay! Time to make the magic happen!
What Are Wizard Commanders in MTG?
Inalla, Archmage Ritualist | Illustration by Yongjae Choi
Wizards are a creature type, the second most common behind human (although warriors are quickly closing the gap!) Wizard commanders are legendary wizards, and there are more than 180 of them.
Let’s look at the top cards in the different colors with some tips on how to build a deck around these 33 chosen mages.
Best White Wizard Commander
There are only two mono white wizard legends, and Mangara of Corondor isn’t really playable. That leaves…
#1. Preston, the Vanisher
It turns out that, yes, there are enough good cards to play mono white blink in Commander, and Preston, the Vanisher is giving Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines a run for her money. It does a similar trick with doubling ETBs, but it’s a giant bunny, a plane-invading megalomaniac, so I think you can get away with it a bit more at some tables?
Best Blue Wizard Commanders
The classic wizard color. There are lots of good commanders in this color that are powerful, so let’s boil it down to archetypes, just a bit. I’m leaving off honorable mentions Lier, Disciple of the Drowned and Baral, Chief of Compliance, which would be really good if EDH were 1v1.
#5. Braids, Conjurer Adept
This deck asks you to hope you’re the only one at the table with a fist full of bombs like Portal to Phyrexia and Ancient Silver Dragon. Pack enough counter magic to keep Braids, Conjurer Adept, and it’s a fun way to try to get old battlecruiser cards to work in Commander. Party like it’s 2013!
#4. Naban, Dean of Iteration
The first honest wizard tribal deck is my favorite wizard deck. Naban, Dean of Iteration can really start blinking and bouncing and drawing cards and doing all sorts of nonsense pretty quickly, mostly because it’s so quick to get out. I’ve also held it in reserve to drop for a big turn later in the game if folks are leaving me alone. I’d argue that this is one of the best decks to take into a 1v1 space. If you can just not lose for as long as possible, you’ll find the resources to come out on top with this value machine.
#3. Talrand, Sky Summoner
The OG tokens deck for many of us. Who doesn’t have this deck sleeved up? There are many builds. You can run all cantrips to turbo out drakes. You can run a bunch of counters along with that in case you were hoping to decrease your popularity at the table. My favorite (but least good!) build of Talrand, Sky Summoner is to use a lot of bounce cards. An alternative or addition to the 99 is Alandra, Sky Dreamer, because Drake memes.
#2. Emry, Lurker of the Loch
Urza, Lord High Artificer is a more popular leaders of mono blue artifacts because that card is broken. Emry, Lurker of the Loch is where you go for artifact combos, which is why it’s in every other artifact deck that runs blue, it seems.
#1. Minn, Wily Illusionist
It’s like someone put Talrand, Urza, and Braids in a dev blender and made the perfect blue commander. There are lots of powerful builds with Minn, Wily Illusionist, and a lot of them go infinite if you can find your Meloku the Clouded Mirror in the 99.
Best Black Wizard Commanders
I know Ghoulcaller Gisa would have made this list back in the day. But it’s barely holding onto fifth place in the list of zombie commanders, so let’s move on.
#3. Tormod, the Desecrator
Tormod, the Desecrator is played more often than you’d guess as a partner to pull in black and make some tokens, especially with undead buddy Ghost of Ramirez DePietro.
#2. Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia
Not a very heavily played commander, Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia seems like a hidden gem. I’m not saying it’s Bitterblossom in the command zone, but I’m not saying it’s not Bitterblossom in the command zone.
#1. Maralen of the Mornsong
Mostly a pure combo commander, Maralen of the Mornsong wants you to run mostly lands and Dark Ritual into Ad Nauseum into Skirge Familiar into Exsanguinate. If that sounds fun to you and no one in your group plays counterspells, this is a nice way to become arch enemy the next game!
Best Red Wizard Commanders
Only two mono red wizards. Kinda surprising to me, actually. Get on this, WotC, please.
#2. Rionya, Fire Dancer
This is a hard to pull off combo deck that wants to duplicate something like Combat Celebrant, Port Razer, or Lightning Runner to go off. Red cantrip and tokens until you get there. Cool enough, but it’s a bit of a snooze, and you might rather just put all those cards in your Isshin, Two Heavens as One deck.
#1. Krark, the Thumbless
Krark, the Thumbless forms a kind of cEDH storm deck with partner Sakashima of a Thousand Faces trolling for various Izzet shenanigans and stuff like Dualcaster Mage.
Best Multicolored Wizard Commanders
Most the great ones are here. I’m going to have to focus, which means I won’t get to cover classics that are slowly falling out of favor like Riku of Two Reflections, many additional Izzet spellslingers including Vadrik, Astral Archmage, niche decks that are fun but probably a bit underpowered like Araumi of the Dead Tide, and one of my faves, Ghen, Arcanum Weaver. Not to mention the many other favorites you’re likely to flame me for leaving out!
Special shout out to Gorion, Wise Mentor, who isn’t quite there yet but will probably do some serious climbing in the ranks after Wilds of Eldraine releases new adventure cards.
Another special shout out my current obsession, Stenn, Paranoid Partisan. It’s great as an anchor to an Azorius superfriends + board wipe tribal deck. It’s glorious. It reduces the cost of the walkers and can save itself from board wipes. I have a good time while playing it. Maybe I’m the only one having a good time, but we all need at least one deck like that, yes?
#22. Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder
Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder, the most popular cascade commander, tends to fold the runner up, Averna, the Chaos Bloom into the 99. These aren’t the easiest triggers to bring off, but a good cascade deck needs Yidris’s trigger as more of a cherry on top than anything else.
#20. Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
There are a number of builds of this deck, but the most popular seems to be a bit of bird tribal. Small, evasive creatures that can hit an underguarded opponent allows you to start with the Derevi, Empyrial Tactician triggers. There are more controlling builds of this, stax builds that use Derevi’s untap abilities to break the synchrony effects, and even ramp versions with lots of mana dorks.
#19. Kwain, Itinerant Meddler
An up-and-coming group hug commander, Kwain, Itinerant Meddler is a bit simpler to pull off than other group hug decks, especially for newcomers to the style. Run cards that reward you extra for the additional cards, like Faerie Mastermind. Add some prisons and control, and you can run wincons ranging from Jace's Archivist to mill or Felidar Sovereign and cards that gain life for card draw.
#18. Volo, Guide to Monsters
Because Prime Speaker Vannifar was too hard to pull off, we have Volo, Guide to Monsters to make Birthing Pod EDH a little smoother.
#17. Garth One-Eye
Is Garth One-Eye a slightly less good hipster alternative to Kenrith, the Returned King in five color?
#16. Adrix and Nev, Twincasters
Synthesizing Strixhaven Simic Simulacra!
Five times fast, please. You know the drill.
Adrix and Nev, Twincasters make a lot of tokens and lots of large tokens with a mix of classic Simic cards and newer Quandrix tech.
#15. Magus Lucea Kane
A mana dork in the command zone. Cool cool cool.
*looks at notes*
Magus Lucea Kane copies spells, too?
#14. Kykar, Wind’s Fury
Because we wanted Talrand to be better, we have token cyclone Kykar, Wind's Fury. It scales up or down to the number of combos you can squeeze in along the way.
#13. Niv-Mizzet, Parun
Step one, find a Curiosity. Step two, win. Niv-Mizzet, Parun is the commander to use for all those cards you bought trying to make infinite combos in the early days of Modern.
#12. Rona, Herald of Invasion / Rona, Tolarian Obliterator
Here’s a better use for all those combos. Rona, Herald of Invasion is exploding onto Pioneer at the moment with Mox Amber and Retraction Helix, and it works with all those old chestnuts you built around Pila-Pala. Go nuts. If you can win the table with Rona and a Viridian Longbow, you’ve won Magic. Congrats.
#11. Obeka, Brute Chronologist
This deck, dude. I dunno what to tell you. Obeka, Brute Chronologist likes to cut off the end step triggers, keeping tokens created by cards like Feldon of the Third Path, getting extra trunks cheaply with Alchemist's Gambit or even stealing stuff and not giving it back. This is where you play Sneak Attack in EDH, and no one likes that but you.
#10. Marchesa, the Black Rose
Marchesa, the Black Rose is value distilled. It leads a grindy and fun package than really liked to run fellow wizard Glen Elendra Archmage.
#9. Sefris of the Hidden Ways
Some dungeon triggers, some looting and reanimation, Sefris of the Hidden Ways is popular and flexible.
#8. Jodah, Archmage Eternal
Jodah, Archmage Eternal is, #sorrynotsorry, the ultimate boomer commander. Want to play every too expensive battlecruiser card in your box? Jodah’s got you. Grab some ultimatums, some praetors, a like bit of cascade, maybe, and now you’re having some fun.
#7. Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper
Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper is one of the more flexible partners, played with many buddies. The most common is the also flexible Tymna the Weaver, but it’s most powerful with Dargo, the Shipwrecker doing the typical cEDH Ad Nauseum things.
#6. Nekusar, the Mindrazer
Nekusar, the Mindrazer is the Underworld Dreams part of all those combos you lost to during the pandemic on Arena. Care to Peer into the Abyss?
#5. Veyran, Voice of Duality
Veyran, Voice of Duality is the most popular Izzet spellslinger commander, and for good reason. The kinds of triggers that are doubled are things like Guttersnipe, Storm-Kiln Artist, Archmage Emeritus, and all the token makers.
#4. Zur the Enchanter
Listen, Zur the Enchanter player. What do you want to tutor up first? Protection with a Diplomatic Immunity? Rhystic Study and Necropotence? Maybe the Solemnity and Nine Lives combo?
#3. Thrasios, Triton Hero
A popular partner for the colors alone, Thrasios, Triton Hero just happens to be awesome if you’ve cEDH’d your way to infinite mana. To be fair, everything is awesome with infinite mana, but in this case you’ve got an outlet to blow through your deck in the command zone here.
#2. Jodah, the Unifier
Jodah, the Unifier is the five color legends tribal commander you didn’t know you needed but now allows you to smash with enormous beaters really quickly.
#1. Kess, Dissident Mage + Inalla, Archmage Ritualist
These are the queens of the “forbidden tutors” or “consultation package” in cEDH, which wants to use Demonic Consultation and Tainted Pact with Thassa's Oracle. Kess, Dissident Mage is the more powerful version of that, since the graveyard recursion is so often key. Inalla, Archmage Ritualist is especially nice with Spellseeker. Both of these decks use their Grixis wizards to cast a blizzard of magic and win fast. Inalla actually runs a kind of wizard tribal version of this deck, so in this article, it’ll get the nod.
Best Wizard Commander Payoffs
How do I want to play my wizard commanders? Let me count the ways.
There aren’t that many wizard tribal commanders, but those that exist are pretty fun. There are lots of powerful wizard cards in MTG, and the ability to maximize them is pretty fun. Aside from Naban and Inalla, other fun but less powerful choices are Azami, Lady of Scrolls and Kaza, Roil Chaser
Many of the commanders on this list head up decks that are the top of the line for their archetype, like Simic tokens, the consultation package, spellslinger, and even dungeons. Many of these cards are newer and it feels like they were designed to go to the top of the archetype class, which I have mixed feelings about.
That’s why Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer didn’t make the list. It was fun trying to find a morph commander until they printed this card. Now it’s so much better than any other morph option, you just have to run it. Then you stuff your on-color morph cards into it. And then you play it a few times and that’s about it. It’s a bit too on rails to be fun for long.
If you’re about maximum value and maximum impact, ask your sleeves if upgrading to a wizard commander is right for you.
Kess, Dissident Mage | Illustration by Izzy
Prodigal Sorcerer was the only wizard in Alpha. And like most new players in the ‘90s, it was immediately my favorite. Powerful in some ways, but useless in others, “Tim,” as we knew it, reminded me of Gandalf in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in that way. Sometimes Tim saved the day. Other times you wondered where he was or why he wasn’t doing something cooler.
I hope I’ve taken you through some of that same magic about Magic that reminded you of when you first picked up this game. We’re here for the spells, and just like finally entering a mage tower is kind of a dreamed of rite of passage for new Dungeons and Dragons players, I’d say every MTG player needs one deck run by a wizard.
Or a Jedi. But Universes Beyond haven’t taken us there.
Which is your favorite wizard commander of the more than a hundred that didn’t make this list? Let me know in the comments below, or over in Draftsim’s official Discord.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe!
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