Last updated on April 1, 2024

Staff of Domination - Illustration by Warren Mahy

Staff of Domination | Illustration by Warren Mahy

I’ve comboed with a lot of different cards in Magic, including things that just sound sad, like the old Morselhoarder plus Sinking Feeling plus Presence of Gond combo. So how about we up the brand recognition a bit with a card perfectly named for Commander game-ending nonsense: Staff of Domination!

If you trounce the table in one turn, well, I mean it says you were gonna do that right there on the card, see? Fair’s fair.

In case that’s the kind of Magic you like, we’ll rank the top combos using this card. And in case it’s not the kind of Magic you like, we’ll close with how to stop ‘em!

What Are Staff of Domination Combos?

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker - Illustration by Pete Venters

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker | Illustration by Pete Venters

Staff of Domination is a colorless infinite mana generator with the right combo pieces, generally creatures that can tap for 5 or more mana (which is not as rare as you might think). It can also be a payoff for infinite mana, depending on the other synergy pieces you have on the board.

Almost all of these combos are structurally similar. You meet the conditions for tapping a creature for 5+ mana and you do so. You use 3 mana to tap the Staff to untap the creature, 1 to untap the Staff, and you net at least 1 mana. Rinse and repeat. Then, assuming you don’t have something else to do with the mana you generated already, you can gain all the life you want, tap down everyone’s board, or usually more productively, draw through your deck. If you only produce 4 mana, you’ll keep tapping and untapping the Staff but won’t net any mana.

So, because of that pattern, we’re ranking these combos by ease of deployment, which is based on a few things, including how many cards you need for the combo, how easy it is to deploy the combo pieces in common decks or deck types, and how well the particular color of mana works in such decks.

#31. Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker + Dockside Extortionist

Sure, this is powerful, and you might be running all of these cards, but if you have Dockside Extortionist and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker out, you have quite a few paths to victory, I’m sure. Conversely, how often is the table going to just sit and let you keep both of them if they have a choice?

#30. Artifact Animation Effects

Grand Architect plus Pili-Pala is by now an old school infinite mana combo. The Staff plus a card that animates the Staff like Karn, the Great Creator, Rise and Shine, March of the Machines, Ensoul Artifact or Karn, Silver Golem does something similar with more headache. Plus, animating Staff of Domination means this combo is the most open to disruption.

#29. Magus of the Candelabra

Magus of the Candelabra

Magus of the Candelabra goes infinite with Staff and something that lets lands tap for more than 1 mana like:

Some of these are more likely scenarios than others to end up in functional decks, but if you play any of this list of cards, a Staff and Magus might be interesting includes if your deck can handle the green. Agatha of the Vile Cauldron’s worth a mention here since it can functionally increase the number of lands Magus untaps without spending more mana.

#28. Aphetto Alchemist + Chromatic Orrery

Aphetto Alchemist Chromatic Orrery

Powerful, and lots of artifact decks already run Aphetto Alchemist, but it feels like you’re finding a way to win when you get Chromatic Orrery down, anyway.

#27. Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix

Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix

Perhaps the least playable of the Commander 2016 partners, Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix is also the weakest of our 2-card combos. It does work if you build the deck right. Draw five cards and we go off with the Staff.

#26. Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter + Pitiless Plunderer + Ashnod's Altar/ Krark-Clan Ironworks

4-card combos are easy to disrupt, but this is here because Pitiless Plunderer, Ashnod's Altar, and Krark-Clan Ironworks are all key parts of the Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter game plan. So tossing a Staff into the deck seems like a low-cost investment.

#25. Incubation Druid + Nyxbloom Ancient

Incubation Druid Nyxbloom Ancient

Both Incubation Druid and Nyxbloom Ancient are typical enough options for green ramp decks, so you might already have these two sleeved up and ready to grab a Staff.

#24. Cradle Clearcutter

Cradle Clearcutter

It’s a 2-card combo, but you’ve got to get Cradle Clearcutter’s power up to 5 or greater. That’s okay in an Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer deck, where this card seems to see the most play, but not great otherwise. This combo was actually achievable in The Brothers’ War Limited!

#23. Vhal, Candlekeep Researcher

Vhal, Candlekeep Researcher

Vhal, Candlekeep Researcher taps for 3 mana, good for helping cast Raised by Giants from the command zone and then for the Staff. Not a strong commander, but not embarrassing.

#22. Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink + Ganax, Astral Hunter/Priest of Urabrask

Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink needs to be tapped for the 9-mana ability with everything on the battlefield, which seems like a huge ask. But if you do, you get 30 Treasures and can keep going, watching copies of Ganax, Astral Hunter drop Treasure while legend ruling themselves. It’s a bit easier to pull off with Priest of Urabrask, I guess, as maybe you dropped it that turn to help pay for the activation? Those both seem like reasonable cards for that deck on their own, so why not?

#21. Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink + Dockside Extortionist

Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink Dockside Extortionist

Surprise, Dockside Extortionist is good! This is an easier Orthion, Hero of Lavabrink combo because the 2-mana activated ability can be used if opponents have enough stuff for Dockside to create six Treasures, all of which seems quite reasonable by the time you can do this.

#20. Undermountain Adventurer

Undermountain Adventurer

Undermountain Adventurer begins a section here of 2-card combos that are great in the specific decks that synergize with the non-Staff piece. You’re golden if you’ve completed a dungeon. But that’s hard for a card that can’t be in the Sefris of the Hidden Ways deck.

#19. Accomplished Alchemist

Accomplished Alchemist

If you can gain 5 life in a turn, Accomplished Alchemist can make it happen.

#18. Deathbloom Ritualist

Deathbloom Ritualist

Five creatures in a graveyard seems reasonable enough for Golgari , until you start delving and collecting evidence. But Deathbloom Ritualist seems like a card you might play in some of those decks anyway?

#17. Alena, Kessig Trapper

Alena, Kessig Trapper

Alena, Kessig Trapper is an underpowered commander, and you have to be dropping creatures with 5 or more power, so this is late game play. Still, I’ve seen harder things to do?

#16. Overgrown Battlement

Overgrown Battlement

A core card in Arcades, the Strategist, Overgrown Battlement should have little difficulty finding enough buddies to tap for at least 5.

#15. Magus of the Coffers

Magus of the Coffers

You can run the combo in the kind of mono black decks that want cards like Cabal Coffers. You’ll need seven swamps on the battlefield to tap Magus of the Coffers to start the chain.

#14. The Locust God + Mana Echoes

The Locust God Mana Echoes

Mana Echoes feels like the sort of card you’d play in The Locust God anyway, in the sliver of deck space devoted to non-spells, especially in Izzet builds with more token generators like Young Pyromancer. You need five Insects and 5 mana up to do this.

One reason this combo is a nice fit for this deck is that half of these decks run Sage of the Falls to go infinite with the Insect swarm. So the table is already prepared for infinity.

#13. Karametra’s Acolyte

Karametra's Acolyte

Devotion to green in Commander seems easy enough to get, especially in mono green, but green has such better cheaper ramp that Karametra's Acolyte doesn’t really fit the gameplan outside of Staff.

#12. Kami of Whispered Hopes or Gyre Sage

Kami of Whispered Hopes Gyre Sage

These cards are reasonable includes for decks that dish out +1/+1 counters, say Simic or Selesnya . And each can start the Staff combo if they have enough counters, four for Kami of Whispered Hopes and five for Gyre Sage. Because Kami gives you any color of mana, that’s a much better version of the combo, letting you cast whatever wincons you find.

#11. Trazyn the Infinite + Big Mana Rocks

Trazyn the Infinite

The colorless rocks include:

You want the Staff and the rock in the graveyard, which is good because Trazyn the Infinite wants to put rocks in the ‘yard, and one way to stop the combo is to kill the Staff of Domination, so being able to run the show with it dead is kinda nice.

Basically you tap Trazyn as, say Sol Ring for 2 mana, untap Trazyn as the Staff for 1. You net 1 mana and repeat.

You can also use colored rocks like The Great Henge and Lavabrink Floodgates for this if Trazyn isn’t your commander.

#10. Myr Welder + Big Mana Rocks

Myr Welder

This is better and worse than our previous combo. Myr Welder is colorless, so that means this can slot into more decks, but it’s not in the command zone, so that’s a downside. A bigger downside is that the Welder exiles the cards when it imprints, so if they kill it in response, there’s no way to recur the pieces unless you happen to be running Karn, the Great Creator for basically exactly this purpose.

#9. Priest of Titania or Elvish Archdruid

Priest of Titania Elvish Archdruid

Priest of Titania and Elvish Archdruid are classics in this combo space. They’re low-mana cards that can tap for a lot in an elfball deck. Do you need the Staff when you have these cards popping off already? Maybe not. But the Staff can take you from a space where you’re tapping one of these for 6 to a place where you can drop your Craterhoof Behemoth a turn faster.

#8. Wirewood Channeler

Wirewood Channeler

A worse 4-drop than our two previous ones, Wirewood Channeler is better in terms of mana colors, as you can get more than green. In the Staff combo space, you can tap the Channeler for a different color each time you go around the untapping circle, which means this is a much more flexible card.

#7. Sanctum Weaver

Sanctum Weaver

Enchantress decks draw a LOT of cards, and Sanctum Weaver gives you a LOT of mana to use on those. The Staff allows you to keep tapping for different colors, which allows you, in some cases, to mostly empty your deck if you want, given the card draw. If you can’t find your wincon from there, well, the cards aren’t in charge of sleeving up the decks!

#6. Circle of Dreams Druid

Circle of Dreams Druid

Triple green is hard, unless you’re in elves, in which case Circle of Dreams Druid is like another version of Priest of Titania. But Druid is awesome in go-wide decks without elves, which makes this great for the kind of 2-color creature typal deck that has good enough mana to swing the cost.

#5. Krenko, Mob Boss + Phyrexian Altar/Ashnod’s Altar/Thermopod

Less good than some of our previous combos, you’ve got to rank a combo with a piece in the command zone a bit higher, especially with the top red commander in Krenko, Mob Boss. Depending on the support piece, you need three, four, or five goblins lying around to start. The downside of this version is that Ashnod's Altar and Phyrexian Altar, specifically, scream at the table: “I am doing something stupid over here!” Thermopod screams: “What I am doing over here is so degenerate I am willing to run this 5-drop to get there! Stop me now, while you can!”

#4. Krenko, Mob Boss + Skirk Prospector

Krenko, Mob Boss Skirk Prospector

The best version of the combo, since you’re always running Skirk Prospector in your goblin decks, so it may not be apparent what’s happening until it’s too late. The Prospector is an exploitable card, to be sure,, but it kinda fits into the goblin background a bit better.

#3. Marwyn, the Nurturer

Marwyn, the Nurturer

The elfball queen and top five most popular mono green commander, Marwyn, the Nurturer does the Priest of Titania thing in the command zone. But you can also use this card with other decks that can increase its power, like +1/+1 counters decks.

#2. Selvala, Heart of the Wilds

Selvala, Heart of the Wilds

Selvala, Heart of the Wilds is a more generically powerful and flexible commander than Marwyn, the Nurturer. As long as you have a decent curve structure, you can really pop off, especially in cEDH, where Staff is a part of almost all Selvala builds. And you can sometimes do it two turns faster than Marwyn.

#1. Metalworker


Busted. Metalworker is perfect for this combo. It’s colorless and thus can go in whatever broken artifact deck you want. All you need is to be able to tap Metalworker with three artifacts in hand, and you’ll find your win from there. And wow, this card needs a reprint! If only it wasn’t on the Reserved List.

How Do You Stop Staff of Domination Combos?

Because these combos are creature-based, your answer is to destroy the creature before it can tap or to remove the resources that are allowing the creature to tap for so much (creatures, enchantments, etc.). If I’m playing this combo, I’ll wait to play the Staff until I can use it that turn if possible, which usually means the creature can tap for 8+ mana, something that’s totally reasonable with a lot of these cards. So you’ll often not know about it until it hits the battlefield and then can run the combo at instant speed in response to a Shatter effect.

But even with those surprise scenarios, a creature that can tap for 5+ mana is just asking to do something broken, so you should preemptively avoid the chance of surprise with a well-timed bit of removal.

Once it’s all on the table and tap-ready, you have only two choices. First, you can play a Stifle effect, which can choke them from finishing it that turn. Then you can use other removal. A potentially longer lasting solution like Tishana's Tidebinder or Trickbind is nice, as well. Second, you can interrupt the scheme with a split-second card to break the Staff, especially Krosan Grip.

Wrap Up

Selvala, Heart of the Wilds - Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

Selvala, Heart of the Wilds | Illustration by Tyler Jacobson

I think Staff of Domination is reasonably fair. You have to have a lot going for you in order for it to work. You should be able to find a way to win the game with a reasonably sized board and a creature that taps for 5+ mana!

Then again, I’m a fan of many combos in more casual Commander. If you go infinite, game over and we play again. Just like if you swing with your Voltron commander or your huge board of tokens. I’d prefer that to four-hour durdle fests, at least for the second game of the night!

How about you? Are you pro- or anti-combo? Let us know in the comments below or on Discord!

Good luck with all the domination!

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