Last updated on July 25, 2022

Sheoldred, Whispering One - Illustration by Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss

Sheoldred, Whispering One | Illustration by Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss

I can’t think of a more mysterious, deadly, and interesting creature type than the mythical Praetors of Phyrexia. Nearly every player knows them and what they do. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur are household villain names at this point. Their art is amazing and incredibly detailed, they’re each powerful in unique and creative ways, and there’s one for every single color of Magic! What’s not to love?

But the Phyrexian Praetors are more than just cardboard. They have a unique storyline that’s fully fleshed out, have detailed interactions with one another, and are some of the most powerful creatures in all of Magic. So today I’ll be going down the list and ranking each Praetor card, discussing some lore FAQs, and even treating you to a sample 5-color Praetor deck for Commander that gives you an excuse to run all the Praetors you got from your Secret Lair in late 2021.

Let’s get started!

What Are the Praetors in MTG?

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider - Illustration by Daarken

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider | Illustration by Daarken

The Praetors are mysterious dictator tyrants of five unique factions on the plane of New Phyrexia, formerly known as Mirrodin. Each Praetor is entirely concerned with sculpting New Phyrexia into a plane of perfection, with each having their own design and view as to just what “perfect” actually is. This great quest of unimaginable scale is known as the “Grand Work.”

Despite their conflicting visions and roles, the Praetors and their correlating factions don’t necessarily stay in a state of conflict with one another. Each leader has their own agenda and role that adds to the monstrosity and uncanniness of New Phyrexia.

How Many Praetors Are There?

There are seven unique Praetor cards in Magic, one for each color while two of the Praetor characters have a second version.

So Who’s the Best Praetor in Magic?

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

When it comes to which Praetor is the best, the most powerful in terms of capabilities and strength lore-wise is obviously Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Elesh Norn holds all of the cards politically, and while she isn’t as strong as Vorinclex or as fiery-hot as Urabrask, she can project the most influence and has already dominated the lands of Sheoldred and Urabrask (possibly killing them).

With Vorinclex and Jin-Gitaxias off-plane, Elesh Norn is the natural leader of New Phyrexia and can execute her plan of unity and perfection, completing the Grand Work.

The Complete List of Praetors Ranked

That’s enough lore for now. What you probably want to know is which Praetor cards are the strongest. There are only seven to rank so I’ll list them in the order that I think is most sensical and explain why. I’m mostly focusing from a Commander perspective since that’s the only format where they really see much play.

#7. Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger

No matter how good the Praetors are or how cool you might think they are, somebody has to be last. In this case that somebody is Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger. When I think of Praetor I think of legitimate scary-looking creatures that do otherwise unimaginable things in Magic. Not just a mana doubler for eight.

Don’t get me wrong, having this Vorinclex in play is great, but Mana Reflection is often just better.

#6. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider follows the previous Vorinclex (sorry man, nothing personal). This card is just too specific to run in green or “big stuff” decks since it focuses too heavily on counters. But a 6/6 with trample and haste for is still good and shouldn’t be underestimated.

#5. Urabrask the Hidden

Urabrask the Hidden

In fifth place we have the most sympathetic Praetor, Urabrask the Hidden. Urabrask lived a very simple life of making metal parts and keeping the forges running, and that philosophy transfers over to its relatively barren oracle text. It just gives your creatures haste and has your opponent’s creatures enter tapped.

This card is great in the right deck, something like cascade with Maelstrom Wanderer. But it’s kind of dull outside of that.

#4. Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur

Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur

In fourth place is the OG Praetor, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur. Of all of the Praetors you could hope to stick for a complete rotation around the table at Commander night, this is the one you want. Despite costing 10 mana and only being a 5/4, this version of Jin-Gitaxis absolutely decimates any hopes your opponents had of winning once they discard their entire hand.

But keep in mind that this card doesn’t increase your maximum hand size. Keep your Reliquary Tower nearby.

#3. Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant

Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant

In third is the new Praetor from Neon Dynasty, Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant. This sleek new look for Jin-G is also a much more potent version, and at a cheaper cost! Instead of drawing you cards it copies your spells each turn and even counter’s your opponents spells. This is an incredible card overall, and we love to see this for blue.

#2. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite is a close second, and only so because it falls short if you don’t have a sizable board. Its -2/-2 isn’t something to understate since it totally purges all mana dorks and cheap hatebears. But you’re already playing it in a creature-based deck, and +2/+2 is incredible after you have a couple other creatures to start swinging with.

#1. Sheoldred, Whispering One

Sheoldred, Whispering One

In first place is Sheoldred, Whispering One. Sheoldred ended up in first because of the sheer value you get from playing it. Not only does it cause players with non-creature-based strategies to come up short, it also works as a great recursion engine later in the game. Its devastation in a turn cycle is only beaten by Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, but that demands more mana which is a pretty large setback.

The Lore of Magic’s Praetors

Who Were the Praetors and What Did They Do?

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger - Illustration by Karl Kopinski

Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger | Illustration by Karl Kopinski

Elesh Norn is the leader of the Machine Orthodoxy that seeks to replace skin with metallic structures. They believe skin is the ultimate symbolic barrier between individuals and unity. In accordance with this belief, Elesh Norn wants to be a “great unifier” of New Phyrexia.

Compare that cooperative lifestyle with that of Jin-Gitaxias, leader of the Progress Engine, an organization devoted to progressing Phyrexia through experimentation. These experiments try to further “develop” life through new tools, methods of warfare, and enhanced cybernetics.

But Sheoldred has another plan: to corrupt, enslave, and overpower all other human beings. She’s one of seven “Steel Thanes” that fight to control the black faction of Phyrexia and deals in the shadows with a constant influx of new information from spies and secret informants. In contrast with Elesh Norn’s beautiful porcelain and Jin-Gitaxias’ sleek metal, Sheoldred is covered in rusty metal plates and oily liquids.

Urabrask is the Praetor of the Quiet Furnace, the red faction in New Phyrexia. He’s in charge of the industrial side of Phyrexia, commanding and managing those who work in the forges or harvest slag. He’s covered in a mixture of bone, sharpened steel, and rusting iron, which gives him a very molten and fiery appearance. Instead of dealing in any kind of grand plan, he just supplies materials and weapons to the other Praetors looking to project power.

It’s this simplicity that causes the other Praetors to view Urabrask as weak and lacking in willpower. But he gains the most sympathy here since he lets Mirrodin refugees take shelter in his domain. Urabrask is the red Praetor and is open to freedom and emotion, something the other Praetors lack.

Finally there’s Vorinclex, the leader of the Vicious Swarm and diehard supporter of a survival-of-the-fittest lifestyle. He commands a group of Apex predators that to turn New Phyrexia into the ultimate arena to hunt down and eliminate flaws in the population. He looks to turn the creatures of the plane into ultimate perfection not through science or unity but through natural selection.

Is Urabrask a Slobad?

Urabrask the Hidden - Illustration by Brad Rigney

Urabrask the Hidden | Illustration by Brad Rigney

There’s some speculation that Urabrask the Hidden was secretly a Slobad, a goblin with a spectacular affinity for artifacts. This would explain his mercy shown to Mirrodin refugees, his lack of any real concept for the Grand Work, and why he was so looked down upon by the other Praetors.

The only real evidence I can find for this is that Jin-Gitaxis had a hunch (that’s right, we’re working off a hunch) that Urabrask had some grander idea planned that he hadn’t revealed. This could very well be a future where Mirrodin was reclaimed by Phyrexia and the Mirarri’s goblin population would benefit from that.

How Did Vorinclex Get to Kaldheim?

It’s not a secret that the Praetors aren’t planeswalkers, so it’s not unreasonable to wonder, “hey, how did this monstrosity cross into another plane of existence?” While we don’t know how Vorinclex got to Kaldheim, we can guess that he probably used the portal created by Rashmi called the Planar Bridge.

But this process destroyed all of his organic matter, leaving only his metallic parts. Vorinclex was able to rebuild himself from various animals that were curious to how his structure appeared in the forest, and eventually he rebuilt a powerful body compared to his previous one.

Vorinclex wreaked havoc on the plane with the help of an infected Tibalt, eventually returning to New Phyrexia through a portal after nearly killing Esika.

How Did Jin-Gitaxias Get To Kamigawa?

Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant - Illustration by Chase Stone

Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant | Illustration by Chase Stone

In the quest for multiplanar domination, Elesh Norn demanded Jin-Gitaxias find a way to compleat planeswalkers and use their abilities to transport Phyrexians across multiple planes. Jin-Gitaxias traveled to Kamigawa through the Planar Bridge and with Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh’s help, where he learned to successfully compleat a planeswalker without removing their soul. During his period of research on the plane, he was sliced in half by The Wandering Emperor only to be reconstructed by Tezzeret after being brought back to New Phyrexia.

And if you were wondering, that isn’t a typo. “Compleat” is the word in Phyrexia that means to bring something organic to perfection by turning their organic components into artifacts and machine.

Are the Praetors Dead?

As far as we know, none of the Praetors are dead. The only ones who are even potentially dead are Urabrask and Sheoldred, whose “realms” were “dominated” by Elesh Norn. Vorinclex and Jin-Gitaxis both experienced some near-lethal encounters in Kaldheim and Kamigawa, but they’re still currently alive and on New Phyrexia.

Is There a Praetor Secret Lair?

Yes, there was a Praetor Secret Lair that’s no longer available. It included a copy of each original Praetor in the Phyrexian language for $29.99, or $39.99 in foil. This was a great deal given just how much each Praetor is on its own, and you can still find copies of the Secret Lair for sale on TCGPlayer.

Decklist: Praetors in Commander

Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur - Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

Commander (1)

Kenrith, the Returned King

Planeswalker (1)

Kaya the Inexorable

Creature (26)

Alseid of Life’s Bounty
Benthic Biomancer
Mother of Runes
Spore Frog
Biomancer’s Familiar
Ilysian Caryatid
Incubation Druid
Lotus Cobra
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Generous Patron
Springbloom Druid
Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath
Vial Smasher the Fierce
Zirda, the Dawnwaker
Luminous Broodmoth
Solemn Simulacrum
Ashaya, Soul of the Wild
Seedborn Muse
Terror of the Peaks
Urabrask the Hidden
Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur

Instant (7)

Swords to Plowshares
Vampiric Tutor
Beast Within
Flawless Maneuver
Akroma’s Will
Cosmic Intervention

Sorcery (10)

Demonic Tutor
Bala Ged Recovery
Idyllic Tutor
Kodama’s Reach
Migration Path
Merciless Eviction
Mob Rule
Eerie Ultimatum
Genesis Ultimatum

Enchantment (9)

Training Grounds
Sylvan Library
Ascent of the Worthy
Garruk’s Uprising
Bear Umbra
Fires of Invention
Wilderness Reclamation
Mana Reflection
Kiora Bests the Sea God

Artifact (8)

Glaring Spotlight
Sol Ring
Arcane Signet
Fellwar Stone
Illusionist’s Bracers
Chromatic Lantern
Lithoform Engine

Land (38)

Bloodstained Mire
Branchloft Pathway
Brightclimb Pathway
Command Tower
Cragcrown Pathway
Fabled Passage
Flooded Strand
Forbidden Orchard
Forest x4
Hallowed Fountain
Indatha Triome
Island x2
Ketria Triome
Mountain x3
Plains x2
Raugrin Triome
Riverglide Pathway
Sacred Foundry
Savai Triome
Spectator Seating
Stomping Ground
Swamp x2
Temple Garden
Temple of Mystery
The World Tree
Undergrowth Stadium
Watery Grave
Windswept Heath
Wooded Foothills
Zagoth Triome

All together the Praetors only make up seven unique cards in a deck and don’t have much synergy with other cards in Magic. They aren’t a tribe in any sense and are really just five cool creatures to include in a Kenrith, the Returned King deck, which is exactly what I have for you here!

This list is your typical run-of-the-mill 5-color-good-stuff list with Kenrith. It has a lot of customizability since it’s meant to literally be a casual deck of your favorite cards. This version is more of an all-out list with an expensive mana base and tutors, but you can easily tone it down a bit.

The overall theme with this list is “big stuff,” which of course includes all seven Praetors and other bombs like Genesis Ultimatum and Mob Rule. If you’re already looking to include the Praetors and you’re going with a casual deck, this is one of the most fun ones to play.

Wrap Up

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite - Illustration by Igor Kieryluk

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite | Illustration by Igor Kieryluk

That wraps up what there is to know about the Praetors! They’re my favorite creatures in Magic. I just think they’re so cool and overwhelmingly villainous, and I can’t help but like them.

What do you think, though? Do you see them as intimidating as I do, or are they just another overpriced creature that dies to Infernal Grasp? Let me know in the comments down below or over on the official Draftsim Discord.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!

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1 Comment

  • Avatar
    Hugh S. Filth July 3, 2022 4:46 pm

    Can’t believe you forgot to at least mention Gix!

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