Humans, Merfolk, Zombies, Goblins, and Elves are, arguably, the five signature creature types for each of the five colors. When building a tribal deck focused around any of these factions, there are plenty of different Commanders to choose from, so it can be a bit overwhelming to sit down and decide which Commander fits your tribe of choice the best. Fortunately, we have a few suggestions to help you move things along!
Humans are MTGs most common creature type. They exist across every slice of Magic: the Gathering’s color pie, though they are centered in White.
On the plane of Innistrad, Humans are primarily printed in the colors White and Green, and it’s from this horrifying world where we get our first Human tribal Commander: Kyler, Sigardian Emissary.
Kyler gets a +1/+1 counter whenever you play another Human and buffs every Human you control for every counter on him. Fill the board with low-cost Humans, and play into Kyler’s +1/+1 counter theme to ensure that even your smallest 1/1 Human tokens pack a punch.
Our next Human tribal Commanders of choice are a partner pair: Trynn, Champion of Freedom and Silvar, Devourer of the Free. Hailing from Ikoria, this champion and her menacing pet are a killer combination. Trynn gives you a 1/1 Human token at the end of every turn, and Silvar can sacrifice Humans in order to become indestructible and gain a +1/+1 counter. Trynn and Silvar offer you a novel sacrifice-themed Human deck. Silvar provides you with a wide selection of Black and Red sacrifice effects, whilst Trynn lets you access all of the Humans available in White.
Finally, we come to [Tooltips]Adeline, Resplendent Cathar[/Tooltips]. As a mono-white Commander, Adeline keeps things simple. Adeline has four toughness and power equal to the number of creatures you control. She helps give you more creatures by giving you 1/1 Human tokens whenever you attack, equal to the number of opponents you have. In a typical four-player game, Adeline will be giving you three Human tokens every turn. Adeline can go very wide very quickly, as well as being a potent threat in her own right.
Merfolk are Blue’s primary tribe. Lorwyn and Shadowmoor gave us access to Merfolk in Black and White, whilst Ixalan pushed the tribe into Green.
The most popular Merfolk Commander is Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca. Kumena shows off everything that Ixalan’s Merfolk have to offer. He allows you to tap down another Merfolk to make himself unblockable, three Merfolk to draw a card, and five Merfolk to put a +1/+1 counter on every Merfolk you control. Kumena is useful because his first two effects help you to get in some early Commander damage and draw into your threats in the early game. In the late game, Kumena can keep your amphibious army loaded up with +1/+1 counters. The card Intruder Alarm works wonderfully with Kumena, as it lets you use him to spread +1/+1 counters around multiple times in a turn.Svyelun of Sea and Sky is a mono-blue Merfolk God printed in Modern Horizons 2. Svyelun has three impactful effects. With this card in play, your Merfolk get Ward 1, making them harder to target with spells. Svyelun also becomes indestructible as long as you control at least two other Merfolk and she allows you to draw a card whenever she attacks. These three minor effects add up to more than the sum of their parts and come together to make Svyelun a fantastic asset to any Merfolk deck.
Finally, there’s Emperor Mihail II, who was printed as a supplemental card alongside the set Dominaria United. Mihail lets you look at the top card of your library at any time and cast if it’s a Merfolk. Mihail also enables you to generate a 1/1 Merfolk token whenever you cast a Merfolk spell by paying an additional mana. Of the three options presented here, Mihail has the fewest decks to his name on EDHREC. Don’t underestimate this aquatic emperor though! He’s the newest of the three and still has plenty of time to grow. No Commander can fill the board with Merfolk faster than Mihail.
Everyone’s favorite brain-eating baddies, Zombies, appear primarily in Black but have also seen significant support in Blue. A small handful of them exists in other colors, particularly White, thanks to Amonkhet.Wilhelt, the Rot Cleaver, is a recent Zombie Commander but a very popular one. A four-mana 3/3, Wilhelt gives you a free 2/2 Zombie token whenever one of your other Zombies dies. That token has decayed, meaning it can’t block, and it dies whenever it attacks. Still, Zombies in EDH die so frequently that limitation is probably necessary to step Wilhelt from being game-breaking. Wilhelt also allows you to sacrifice a Zombie during your end step to draw a card. Whether you use this to downgrade a regular 2/2 Zombie token into a decayed one, or you get rid of one of your decayed tokens, this is usually a good deal.
Prior to Wilhelt’s debut, The Scarab God was the undisputed king of Zombie tribal. A 5/5 God for five mana, The Scarab God deals X damage to each opponent at the start of each of your turns and allows you to draw X cards where X is the number of zombies you control. The Scarab God also enables you to pay four mana in order to exile a card from any graveyard and bring it into play as a 4/4 Zombie under your control. This combines graveyard hate with powerful token generation. Finally, The Scarab God lets you cheat around paying Commander Tax by giving you the option of returning it to your hand rather than the Command Zone. This card is a truly terrifying, if somewhat pricey, alternative to Wilhelt for Dimir Zombie decks.
For those who would prefer to keep things mono-black, Ghoulcaller Gisa is a great choice. As a five-mana 3/4, Gisa makes up for her less than impressive statline with her excellent ability. If you tap Gisa and pay one black mana, you can sacrifice a creature you control to create X Zombie tokens where X is that creature’s power. Even in a worst case scenario, this can be used to turn one Zombie into two, which is pretty useful. Gisa can turn your 7/6 Rotting Regisaur into 14/14 worth of stats spread over seven different tokens. Combine this with cards like Dictate of Erebos, which punish your opponents whenever you sacrifice a creature, and Gisa quickly gets scary.
Magic’s lovable yet annoying mascots, Goblins, are easily Red’s most popular tribe. Although Goblins also have a wide presence in Black, and Green has some Goblins, some of the best Goblin Commanders are mono-red.Krenko, Mob Boss is the gold standard when it comes to Goblin Commanders, and he’s earned that title for a good reason. A 4 mana 3/3, Krenko can be tapped down in order to create X Goblin tokens, where X is the number of Goblins you currently control. Few other Commanders can generate tokens at the blistering, exponentially increasing the speed that Krenko can. Make sure that you put the card Thousand-Year Elixir into your Krenko deck, and you’ll be able to use his ability multiple times in a single turn. If you combine that with a haste enabler like Fervor, then your opponents won’t have time to react before they’re swarmed by Goblins. Just make sure you watch out for board wipes. Muxus, Goblin Grandee isn’t quite as famous as his mob boss rival, but he still makes for a powerful Goblin Commander. A six mana 4/4, Muxus has an uncharacteristically high mana value for a Goblin, but his enter the battlefield effect makes him worth the price. When Muxus enters play, he allows you to search the top six cards of your deck for Goblins and put them all into play. Technically Muxus can’t fetch any Goblins that cost more than five mana but, apart from Muxus himself, very few Goblins meet that description. Muxus also gets +1/+1 whenever he attacks for every other Goblin you control. Just like no Krenko deck is complete without Thousand-Year Elixir, you should always put a copy of Conjurer’s Closet into your Muxus decks. By flickering Muxus, using the closet, you can keep searching the top of your library for more and more Goblins. Wort, Boggart Auntie allows you to make use of the wide selection of Goblins available in Black. For four mana, Wort is a 3/3 with Fear: a, now retired, ability which means she can only be blocked by Black and artifact creatures. By adding Black, Wort brings some Sacrifice and graveyard strategies into the standard Goblin game plan. Her ability to return a Goblin from your graveyard to your hand at the start of each of your turns guarantees this.
Last but not least, we come to Elves. The signature tribe for Green, Elves, also have a lot of cards in Black, and several in White.Lathril, Blade of the Elves was the face card of 2021’s Elven Empire Commander preconstructed deck and is the most popular Commander for her tribe. She gives you access to Elves in both Green and Black. For four mana, Lathril is a 2/3 with menace, creating an Elf token for every point of damage she deals to an opponent. You can also tap her, along with ten untapped Elves you control, to drain everyone else at the table for ten life. Lathril helps you get more Elves and then provides a powerful beneficial effect once you’ve gotten them. It’s easy to see why she’s such a popular choice. Ezuri, Renegade Leader has been an excellent choice for mono-green Elf tribal ever since his debut in Scars of Mirrodin back in 2021. A 2/2 for 3, Ezuri offers all of your other Elves protection by allowing them to regenerate for only a single Green mana. It’s Ezuri’s second effect, however, which really puts him on the map. He essentially has a repeatable version of the spell Overrun stapled to him. By granting all of your Elves +3/+3 and trample, Ezuri can turn a hodge podge collection of mana dorks and 1/1 Elf tokens into a formidable army.
We’ll close this article out by talking about a Planeswalker Commander. Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury, was the head of “Guided By Nature”, a 2014 preconstructed Commander deck. Freyalise’s +2 creates a token that functions exactly like the card Llanowar Elves. Her -2 is a Naturalize effect. Finally, her ultimate costing a steep, but not unattainable, six loyalty points, allows you to draw a card for every Green creature you control. The ability to generate a new batch of Llanowar Elves every turn makes Freyalise an interesting choice for Elf tribal decks.
Read more: MTG Best Commander 2022 for Each Color