Last updated on December 29, 2023

New Perspectives - Illustration by Darek Zabrocki

New Perspectives | Illustration by Darek Zabrocki

It’s safe to say that Commander has absolutely exploded in recent years: it’s now the most popular format by a long shot! The sets released in the last year (even the last few sets alone) have featured some incredible legendary creatures. Sadly, not all of them have received the attention they deserve.

I’ve combed the cards to select 15 commanders from last half-dozen sets or so that I think are worthy of your attention. Some you may know, while others may be strangers. Why are these commanders so good, and which cards and strategies do they work best with?

Let's find out!

#15. Rona, Herald of Invasion Show and Ping

Rona, Herald of Invasion - Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Rona, Herald of Invasion | Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Rona, Herald of Invasion offers two different effects depending on its sides that, when paired together, lead to an interesting legendary themed Show and Tell meets Reanimate deck. Looting early sets up your graveyard to cheat in massive threats with classic black reanimation spells. After flipping, you can use pingers or mass damage effects to hit your own Rona over and over to dump your hand of expensive spells out for free.

It takes an iconic archetype and puts a spin on it that asks you to include some lesser-played threats like Pestilence Demon and Cuombajj Witches. You can do some spooky stuff with Rona while finding a new appreciation for pingers along the way!

#14. Florian, Voldaren Scion Aggro

Florian, Voldaren Scion - Illustration by Justine Cruz

Florian, Voldaren Scion | Illustration by Justine Cruz

Florian, Voldaren Scion is one of the most powerful commanders from Midnight Hunt. It’s not the most recent set, but there are a few big commanders from it that I think are incredibly overlooked.

Florian is one of those, and this card is capable of far more card advantage than you could possibly imagine. It lets you play one card from the top X of your library in the post-combat main phase, where X is the total life your opponents lost that turn.

The right aggressive Rakdos () deck can let you choose from 10 to 15 cards to find the right interaction for just about any interaction.

#13. Tovolar, Dire Overlord Werewolves

Tovolar, the Midnight Scourge - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Tovolar, the Midnight Scourge | Illustration by Chris Rahn

If werewolves are your thing, you’re (fashionably) late on Tovolar, Dire Overlord. This human werewolf brings a fresh face to the werewolf tribal genre and provides incredible card advantage and power through the flipside’s activated ability. The ability that generates power and trample is an excellent infinite mana outlet to fuel an incredible infinite power attack against your opponents.

This strategy is so strong because there’s plenty of tribal support in Commander. Just one or two among Herald's Horn, Vanquisher's Banner, Door of Destinies, or Coat of Arms can transform the game and make your army of 2/2 or 3/3 werewolves into complete monsters. Not that they weren’t already…

#12. King of the Oathbreakers Heroic Spirits

King of the Oathbreakers - Illustration by Tatiana Veryayskaya

King of the Oathbreakers | Illustration by Tatiana Veryayskaya

King of the Oathbreakers brings the spirit creature type matters theme to Orzhov, but asks you to do some wacky stuff to get more spirits. If you’ve played with heroic or Zada, Hedron Grinder decks before, this looks familiar but in two colors that are very far away from that typical strategy. Cheap instants that can target lots of creatures, like Pollen Remedy, become mass Spirit token producers that help your team dodge board wipes and interaction. There’s a lot of insane stuff you can do with this King. If you want to run some wild old cards that have a giant impact on games, you can go deep with this commander.

#11. Djeru and Hazoret Big Legends

Djeru and Hazoret - Illustration by Matt Stewart

Djeru and Hazoret | Illustration by Matt Stewart

Djeru and Hazoret slots easily into multicolor legend decks, but it makes an excellent commander in its own right. It wants to be attacking in a deck packed full of 5-mana or higher splashy legends it can cheat in for cheap, and it can use Boros’s affinity for extra combat steps to get its trigger multiple times per turn. Haste when your hand is empty helps to dig you out of holes should you run out of gas in the mid to late game. Sometimes you’ll flip an Avacyn, Archangel of Hope or Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite onto the table as early as turn 3 or 4 with a fast start and take over the game.

#10. Kinzu of the Bleak Coven Toxic Aristocrats

Kinzu of the Bleak Coven - Illustration by Andreas Zafiratos

Kinzu of the Bleak Coven | Illustration by Andreas Zafiratos

Kinzu of the Bleak Coven takes Nightmare Shepherd’s dies payoff and adds a twist to it: the creatures shrink and gain toxic 1. Where many black aristocrats decks want to reuse their creatures from the graveyard over and over, Kinzu requires you exile them, making it need different ways to win the game. Toxic is a sweet direction to consider: cheap, evasive threats or creatures that clear the way can get a few points of poison through. Fleshbag Marauder does a great job keeping your opponent’s creatures off the board while you then proliferate up those poison counters with Blightbelly Rat, Ichor Rats, and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. Plus, you get to play Chittering Skitterling, which is ludicrous in Commander if you can get somebody corrupted.

#9. Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief Faeries

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief (Dominaria United) - Illustration by Evyn Fong

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief (Dominaria United) | Illustration by Evyn Fong

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief is a new Simic commander from Dominaria United that's drawn a lot of attention since it was spoiled. It essentially copies your single-target spells that target a creature other than itself. That’s extreme Simic value unlike anything seen before.

It makes for an excellent aura-based deck. You can start to buff up another body like Artisan of Forms, and your commander can become nearly unstoppable. It doubles your value, forces your opponents to be selective when removing threats, and greatly increases the consistency of assembling an incredible Voltron creature.

I expect this to be a super fun strategy once you get going, and Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief only costs !

#8. Goldberry, River-Daughter

Goldberry, River-Daughter - Illustration by Marie Magny

Goldberry, River-Daughter | Illustration by Marie Magny

Goldberry, River-Daughter reminds me of a Chisei, Heart of Ocean but with so much more potential. Tap and untap effects let you spread out lore, +1/+1, and other counters all over the place. It can be built to take advantage of a wide range of different counters or focus on juggling around and moving up and down a specific kind of counter like lore counters on sagas or charge counters on mana rocks and other artifacts.

Proliferate fits beautifully into this kind of deck, as does weird counter-removal tech like Ferropede. Looping Kiora Bests the Sea Gods’s second or third chapter abilities by responding to the trigger and removing the lore counter from it each turn can take over a game in no time, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tricks Goldberry can do.

#7. Zask, Skittering Swarmlord

Vanquisher's Banner | Illustration by Milivoj Ceran

Vanquisher's Banner | Illustration by Milivoj Ceran

Insects finally have a perfect commander with Zask, Skittering Swarmlord. Creature-type synergies are at their best when they have a unique mechanic they want to play with. With insects, you want to fill your graveyard with them and have them crawl out onto the battlefield in swarms. The landfall bonus makes threats like Scute Swarm all the more pressing of an issue. You can easily adjust how strong this deck is as well by committing harder to some of Magic’s less potent bugs or going in more on aristocrats and a graveyard-based landfall plan to juice its power while playing only the greatest insects available.

#6. Ria Ivor, Bane of Bladehold Cranial Plating

Ria Ivor, Bane of Bladehold - Illustration by Andreas Zafiratos

Ria Ivor, Bane of Bladehold | Illustration by Andreas Zafiratos

Commander(1) (1)

Ria Ivor, Bane of Bladehold

Creatures(23) (23)

Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist
Blood Artist
Braids, Arisen Nightmare
Butcher of Malakir
Corpse Knight
Cruel Celebrant
Danitha Capashen, Paragon
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim
Grim Haruspex
Halvar, God of Battle
Losheel, Clockwork Scholar
Mentor of the Meek
Mirkwood Bats
Mother of Runes
Puresteel Paladin
Skrelv, Defector Mite
Solemn Simulacrum
Sram, Senior Edificer
Sublime Archangel
Syr Konrad, the Grim
Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire
Viscera Seer
Zulaport Cutthroat

Sorceries(9) (9)

Austere Command
Feed the Swarm
Night's Whisper
Phyresis Outbreak
Read the Bones
Sign in Blood
Steelshaper's Gift
White Sun's Twilight

Instants(11) (11)

Costly Plunder
Deadly Dispute
Enlightened Tutor
Generous Gift
Path to Exile
Swords to Plowshares
Teferi's Protection
Vampiric Tutor
Village Rites
Vraska's Fall

Artifacts(20) (20)

Arcane Signet
Ashnod's Altar
Blackblade Reforged
Commander's Sphere
Cranial Plating
Crown of Gondor
Fellwar Stone
Lotus Petal
Maul of the Skyclaves
Mind Stone
Orzhov Signet
Sigil of Valor
Sol Ring
Sword of Vengeance
Sword of the Animist
Talisman of Hierarchy
Thought Vessel

Enchantments(2) (2)

Angelic Exaltation
Phyrexian Arena

Lands(34) (34)

Bojuka Bog
Castle Ardenvale
Castle Locthwain
Command Tower
Evolving Wilds
Exotic Orchard
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Marsh Flats
Phyrexian Tower
Plains x5
Reliquary Tower
Scoured Barrens
Shambling Vent
Shattered Sanctum
Shineshadow Snarl
Shizo, Death's Storehouse
Sunlit Marsh
Swamp x5
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Temple of Silence
Terramorphic Expanse
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Vault of Champions
Vault of the Archangel
Westvale Abbey

Ria Ivor, Bane of Bladehold has tremendous potential to get exponentially more threatening with each combat step. Taking advantage of the mass of mites it can make can be done in a bunch of different ways, but my preferred method is to juice up my attackers based on the number of mites made to multiply their numbers faster. Cranial Plating and Nettlecyst are the two easiest ways to do this. And should you give whatever is suited up with them double strike and your commander’s trigger, the first instance of damage makes the mites equal to the creature’s power, then hits for twice what they originally would thanks to the new swarm your trigger made.

Even if your large threats are dealt with, you’re left with dozens of 1/1s with toxic 1 that can end players on their own. You aren’t short on options to get this kind of power either, with Sublime Archangel, Angelic Exaltation, and the Crown of Gondor all being easy ways to get the ball rolling.

#5. Arni Metalbrow Sneak Attack

Sneak Attack - Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

Sneak Attack | Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

Arni Metalbrow seems utterly outrageous to me. For one and a red, each time you attack, you can sneak in creatures attacking. Add onto this Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded and Sneak Attack and you have a recipe to put multiple horrifying threats onto the table for cheap. As long as you can keep paying and have creatures to keep putting into play, you can dump your hand onto the table at 2 mana each.

Discounted creatures like Molten Monstrosity can come in for cheap and cheat in 7-drops. Balancing the number of expensive threats you play with ways to get them and keeping your hand stocked is a challenge, but you can make game-ending plays quickly with Arni.

#4. Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier

Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier - Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier | Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Agrus Kos, Eternal Soldier is a combo-tastic commander that does outrageous things with a handful of creatures in play. Take something relatively simple like Flamerush Rider: with Argus Kos, you can copy each other attacking creature you control every turn. If one copy per creature isn’t enough for you, how about two each with Duke Ulder Ravengard giving the entire team myriad?

Even classics like Mother of Runes get upgraded to protect the entire team. Brash Taunter can fight your entire board for 5 mana and subsequently deal its collective power to your opponents divided as you like!

#3. Shanid, Sleeper’s Scourge Legends

Shanid, Sleepers' Scourge - Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Shanid, Sleepers' Scourge (Dominaria United Commander) | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast

Commander (1)

Shanid, Sleepers' Scourge

Planeswalker (2)

Dihada, Binder of Wills
Kaya the Inexorable

Creature (34)

Arni Brokenbrow
Arvad the Cursed
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Birgi, God of Storytelling
Breena, the Demagogue
Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder
Cadric, Soul Kindler
Chainer, Nightmare Adept
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Goro-Goro, Disciple of Ryusei
Greven, Predator Captain
Hope of Ghirapur
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Kambal, Consul of Allocation
Kytheon, Hero of Akros
Liesa, Shroud of Dusk
Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker
Norin the Wary
Piru, the Volatile
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer
Ratadrabik of Urborg
Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh
Squee, the Immortal
Thalia's Lancers
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Heretic Cathar
The Peregrine Dynamo
Tomik, Distinguished Advokist
Tymna the Weaver
Valki, God of Lies
Winota, Joiner of Forces
Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful
Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp
Zurgo Bellstriker

Instant (3)

Path to Exile
Swords to Plowshares
Vanishing Verse

Sorcery (3)

Primevals' Glorious Rebirth
Search for Glory
Urza's Ruinous Blast

Enchantment (2)

Day of Destiny
Legion's Landing

Artifact (21)

Alhammarret's Archive
Arcane Signet
Avacyn's Memorial
Azor's Gateway
Blackblade Reforged
Bolas's Citadel
Eye of Vecna
Fellwar Stone
Ghirapur Orrery
Jeweled Lotus
Mox Amber
Mox Opal
Orzhov Signet
Rakdos Signet
Relic of Legends
Sol Ring
Talisman of Conviction
Talisman of Hierarchy
Talisman of Indulgence
Thran Temporal Gateway

Land (34)

Arid Mesa
Blood Crypt
Bloodstained Mire
Eiganjo Castle
Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
Flagstones of Trokair
Flooded Strand
Geier Reach Sanitarium
Gemstone Caverns
Godless Shrine
Hall of the Bandit Lord
Inventors' Fair
Kor Haven
Marsh Flats
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Phyrexian Tower
Plaza of Heroes
Polluted Delta
Sacred Foundry
Scalding Tarn
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Shizo, Death's Storehouse
Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance
Takenuma, Abandoned Mire
Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Verdant Catacombs
Volrath's Stronghold
Windswept Heath

Shanid, Sleeper's Scourge is another new legendary from Dominaria United. It’s a Mardu () legends commander, and it gives your other legendary creatures menace and generates card advantage when you cast a legendary spell or play a legendary land.

Legends is such a fun strategy since it’s basically a Commander-exclusive theme. No need to worry about the legendary rule with the Singleton rule for deckbuilding, and you’ve got access to far more legendary cards than you need for a complete deck. You don’t even have to resort to playing otherwise unplayable cards.

#2. Shanna, Purifying Blade Lifegain

Shanna, Purifying Blade (Dominaria United) - Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Shanna, Purifying Blade | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Shanna, Purifying Blade is a new legendary from Dominaria United that I’m quite excited to play around with. It’s a Bant () lifegain commander that turns lifegain into card advantage, like Oloro, Ageless Ascetic. This probably won’t be the new Oloro, but I’m happy to see that style of lifegain control coming to Bant rather than being an exclusive Esper () feature.

Being in green allows you to take advantage of a lot of cards that you'd otherwise miss out on with Oloro, like Accomplished Alchemist, Lathiel, the Bounteous Dawn, and all the sweet green ramp.

#1. Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut

Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut - Illustration by Nestor Ossandon Leal

Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut | Illustration by Nestor Ossandon Leal

Colorless decks are delightful deck-building puzzles to work with, and Graaz, Unstoppable Juggernaut offers a big, silly payoff for producing buckets of tokens to turn into juggernauts. They keep whatever keywords they have, making mass thopter production with Thopter Assembly and Hangarback Walker terrifying threats the produce over 20 power with next to no effort. Eldrazi spawns and scions not only help get Graaz into play quickly but turn into 5/3s if you get extras.

Where a lot of colorless decks lean heavily into splashy Eldrazi titans to win games, Graaz wants to have a similar fast mana package but go for swarms of tiny artifacts it turns into devastating attackers. If you’re tired of the classic 10 mana colorless win conditions but still want to slam down massive colorless spells that take over the game, Graaz delivers.

Wrap Up

Command Tower - Illustration by Evan Shipard

Command Tower | Illustration by Evan Shipard

All of these commanders are worth a try, and I’ve enjoyed putting this list together. If you’ve got most of the cards already, all the better!

What do you think of the commanders? Which ones have you encountered so far? Which ones are you looking forward to trying out? Let me know in the comments below or over in the official Draftsim Discord.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!

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  • Avatar
    Matt October 5, 2023 9:02 am

    I don’t understand the addition of Verdant Succession in the Zask Insect deck, or am I missing something? keyword singleton format…

    • Jake Henderson
      Jake Henderson October 6, 2023 7:50 am

      Hey Matt! The reason is that it combos with Zask if you order the triggers right. The dead creature goes to the bottom of your library, and then you tutor out the creature with Verdant!

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