Over the past year, Commander has risen monolithically. A huge percentage of the MTG community loves playing Commander, and really, who can blame them. Commander is one of the most entertaining ways to play with a group of players. The format can be as casual or as competitive as your play group decides. From casting enormous haymakers to executing a wide variety of cool combos, there’s something for everyone.
Part of the appeal to Commander is also the fact that players can utilize cards that otherwise may not have had their opportunities in the spotlight in various competitive Constructed formats. There is a wide range of cards that are extra strong in Commander by comparison. Today, we are going to look at the absolute best cards available in Commander. These include elite mana rocks, combo pieces, interaction, and more. Without further ado, here are the top 12 MTG best Commander cards.
#12 Rhystic Study/Smothering Tithe/Mystic Remora
These cards are grouped together because they all have a very similar effect. Each of these cards provides a major benefit to you unless your opponents are willing to spend a bunch of mana. Rhystic Study is a classic card that forces opponents to pay extra mana for every spell they cast or allow you to draw extra cards. Part of what makes effects like this one so effective is that, in a game with multiple opponents, you have the potential to draw way more cards than normal. This card puts opponents in an awkward bind, where they don’t want you to gain an enormous advantage, but they also want to be able to develop their boards without falling too far behind. All it takes is one opponent not paying the one mana for Rhystic Study for other opponents to follow suit, and you reap the rewards.
Mystic Remora is cheaper and costs significantly more mana from the opponent to prevent you from drawing cards, but only affects non-Creature spells and requires you to invest mana during your upkeep to keep around.
In a similar fashion, Smothering Tithe forces players to pay mana when they draw cards or allow you to create Treasure tokens. Notably, Smothering Tithe even effects your opponents when they draw their first card during their draw step, making it quite likely that you will end up amassing a large collection of Treasures in short order. Couple this effect with cards like Wheel of Fortune that make everyone draw a bunch of cards at once, and you’re in business. Add Underworld Breach into the mix, and you can keep casting Wheel of Fortune over and over, netting tons of Treasures in the process.
#11 Stasis/Winter Orb/Trinisphere
This group of cards further disrupt the ability of your opponents to properly play the game. Stasis and Winter Orb prevent Lands for all players from untapping like normal. Trinisphere makes everyone pay at least three mana to cast their spells, which can both make it difficult for players to cast multiple spells during the same turn. In some instances, Trinisphere can lock players from casting spells at all if they don’t have enough Lands to begin with.
The goal with these cards is to break the symmetry in some way. If you are ahead on board, these cards can help you cross the finish line as the opponents stumble. Interestingly, in the case of Winter Orb and Trinisphere, the effect only applies when the Artifact in question is untapped. This means that pairing them with Commanders like Urza, Lord High Artificer that can tap these Artifacts right before taking your turn can be quite an effective strategy.
#10 Drannith Magistrate
Drannith Magistrate is a simple card, but a very strong one at that. For only two mana, Magistrate makes it so that your opponents can’t play cards from anywhere other than their hands. The most important thing this does, and why the card is so powerful, is that it prevents your opponents from casting their Commanders for as long as Magistrate remains on the battlefield.
In addition, the card can also stop some extra shenanigans your opponents might be up to. This card is extremely good against cards with Cascade or Suspend as well, for example. This card being efficient interaction that affects every opponent at once makes it a premium Commander option.
#9 Ad Nauseum
Ad Nauseum is a premier combo piece in Commander. The goal, in many cases, is to try to use Ad Nauseum to draw your whole deck. This can be done in conjunction with cards like Angel’s Grace or even the new Doctor Who card Everybody Lives! that would prevent you from losing too much life. From there, Thassa’s Oracle can win you the game on the spot.
You can also try to play Ad Nauseum in a deck with mostly very cheap spells and a lot of Lands, using Maralen of the Mornsong as your Commander to help tutor for Ad Nauseum. Then, casting Sickening Dreams with a ton of cards in hand can win the game outright. There are multiple ways to win the game with Ad Nauseum, but the reality is that the card is powerful even when cast naturally, as you are bound to draw a large chunk of cards as long as your deck is full of efficient spells.
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#8 Jeweled Lotus
Jeweled Lotus is a fantastic card, and a relatively new addition to Commander. The card functions just like Black Lotus, except it is restricted to helping you cast your Commander. Assuming your deck is largely built around making your Commander as effective as possible, this is hardly a large drawback. Imagine getting to play powerful four-mana Commanders like Urza, Lord High Artificer on turn one.
Jeweled Lotus can help cast powerful yet more expensive Commanders ahead of schedule, as well as make it easier for you to recast your Commander on top of the Commander tax after having it get removed from the battlefield. You really can’t go wrong with a zero-mana ramp piece in your deck. There’s a reason that Jeweled Lotus, despite being specifically designed for Commander and reprinted in Commander Masters, still holds a hefty price tag of roughly $71 according to TCGplayer market price.
#7 Force of Will/Fierce Guardianship
Force of Will and Fierce Guardianship, again, function in a very similar way. Both cards are designed to help you interact with the opponent. This includes either trying to push a combo of yours through or prevent an opponent from resolving anything problematic. Force of Will is likely a little better at protecting your own combos, assuming your Commander isn’t needed to execute the combo, since you don’t need your Commander in play to cast Force of Will for free.
On the flip side, though, Force of Will does require you to exile a blue card from your hand in order to cast it. This is still a small cost to pay, though, for a Counterspell that you can cast for free. Fierce Guardianship, notably, only counters non-Creature spells, but the ability to protect your Commander or win Counterspell wars over combo pieces without having to invest any mana cannot be overstated.
#6 Major Tutors
One of the things that makes Commander super unique is that the format follows a strict Singleton model. Only the same basic Land can appear more than once in a Commander deck, which can make it a bit difficult for you to consistently find your most powerful cards. Well, tutors help a lot in that department. Cards like Demonic Tutor and Vampiric Tutor that have no restrictions regarding what cards you can search for are obviously among the best.
That being said, there are plenty of tutors that can still shine in the right shell. For example, Mystical Tutor is an excellent inclusion for blue-based combo decks, letting you find combo pieces as well as Force of Will or Fierce Guardianship to help protect your combos. Having the power to reliably find the best cards in your deck in any given situation is simply fantastic, earning these tutors a spot on this list.
#5 Underworld Breach
Underworld Breach is an elite combo card in Commander. We already mentioned the synergy with Smothering Tithe and Wheel of Fortune, but there are dozens of powerful combos to be had with Underworld Breach. You can use Lion’s Eye Diamond alongside Brain Freeze to mill everyone’s libraries, ultimately causing your opponents to lose via decking first.
You can use Wheel of Fortune in combination with Jeska’s Will to net a ton of red mana while repeatedly casting Wheel of Fortune. The world is your oyster, as Underworld Breach is one of the easiest and most versatile ways to quickly win the game in Commander.
#4 Thassa’s Oracle
As we’ve discussed, Thassa’s Oracle serves a very important singular purpose in Commander: to act as a combo win condition. The end goal is almost always the same. You try to mill or exile your entire library, then cast Thassa’s Oracle and win the game via its enters-the-battlefield effect. There are tons of ways to accomplish this goal. Ad Nauseum and Underworld Breach can certainly help get the job done, but the easiest and most efficient way to win the game with Thassa’s Oracle is to use Demonic consultation.
Demonic Consultation is a one-mana way to exile your library. The card was designed as a strange tutor, allowing you to choose a card name, exile the top six cards of your library, then exile cards from your library until you reveal the named card and put it into your hand. The thing is, you can actually name a card that is not in your deck, resulting in you exiling your entire library! Throw in some of the tutors and free Counterspells mentioned above, and you’ve got a solid gameplan.
#3 Wheel of Fortune/Timetwister
Both Wheel of Fortune and Timetwister are symmetrical cards that let each player draw a fresh hand of seven new cards. Timetwister, importantly, does make players shuffle their graveyards into their libraries too, so it doesn’t work well with Underworld Breach. The objective with these cards, just like with Stax effects like Winter Orb, is to break the symmetry in some way. One of the ways is to just empty your hand quickly before your opponents get to make use of their cards, then cast Wheel of fortune or Timetwister. This means that, while your opponents didn’t get any noticeable resource advantage, you did.
Another way to maximize these cards is to abuse them alongside cards that either punish your opponents for drawing cards or prevents them from doing so in the first place. Cards like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse can drain your opponent for a bunch of life in conjunction with Wheel of fortune or Timetwister, while Smothering Tithe can generate a ton of Treasures for you. Cards like Narset, Parter of Veils and Notion Thief are extra brutal, making Wheel of Fortune and Timetwister as one-sided as possible.
#2 Dockside Extortionist
Dockside Extortionist is a cheap Creature with an incredibly high ceiling. For only two mana, you get to generate Treasure tokens for every Artifact and Enchantment your opponents control. As was the case for Smothering Tithe, Rhystic Study, and Mystic Remora, Dockside Extortionist gets a lot better in multiplayer games. Even getting a few Treasures off of this card is worth it, but given how prevalent mana rocks are in Commander, this card can do a whole lot more.
In some cases, rather than saving up your Treasures, you can use dockside Extortionist as a supercharged Ritual. If you have ways to blink it or copy it with cards like Phantasmal Image, you can really go off with the powerful two-drop.
#1 Sol Ring/Mana Crypt
These cards being at the top of the list should come as no surprise to players that play the format. The reality is that these fast mana cards are so good that they are banned or restricted almost everywhere else. In Vintage Cube, these cards are held in similar regard as Power Nine cards like Mox Sapphire and Black Lotus. Sol Ring in particular has become such an iconic card thanks to Commander. Whether playing competitively or casually, playing a turn one Sol Ring strikes fear in the heart of the opponents.
Having to only spend one mana to have a card that puts you two mana ahead for the rest of the game until removed is absurd. Unlike some of the other cards on this list, there is no setup cost required. Sol Ring is elite in essentially any deck. Mana Crypt, while it does lower your life total over time (assuming you aren’t lucky enough to win every coin flip), provides the same benefit as Sol Ring with no mana investment required.
Finding a way to win before Mana Crypt becomes a problem is often trivial when you have two additional mana to work with every turn and getting to start at 40 life helps a lot in this regard as well. Given how little these cards ask of you and how powerful they can be when cast early, they seem like clear and obvious inclusions at the top of the list.
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