With how fast MTG spoiler season is coming and going with 2023’s release schedule, it can be tough to keep up with all the new cards coming out. Only a week after the official release of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, we will already be jumping into the first look for MTG’s next core set, March of the Machines. We’re still a few days before prerelease parties for Phyrexia kick-off, so players still have time to figure out what cards they may want to upgrade their Commander decks. To get your list started, here are some of the best cards from this set for Commander!
One quick note before we start: we are only looking at cards from the core set of Phyrexia: All Will Be One when making this list. We also will not be looking at reprints from Phyrexia: All Will Be One. Let’s get into it!
Honorable Budget Mention – Cankerbloom
Cankerbloom may not be among the ten best cards available for Commander in the newest set, but Rare and Mythic Rare selections completely dominate this list. As a result, we wanted to highlight a potential budget card that can be surprisingly powerful for those not planning on purchasing some of the higher-ticket Mythic Rare cards on this list.
Cankerbloom effects have seen Commander play for a long time, and while power creep makes them less interesting than they used to be, it is still a great way to get an impactful ability out of an uncommon. Cankerbloom can sacrifice itself to take out some of the most impactful cards in Commander or can accelerate your game plan if your deck cares about Proliferating counters. Any deck interested in recurring small creatures from the graveyard may find a surprisingly powerful ally in this innocent uncommon from Phyrexia: All Will Be One.
10 – The Eternal Wanderer
There are a lot of new Planeswalkers being released in Phyrexia: All Will Be One, but few seem to have quite as much potential at most Commander tables as The Eternal Wanderer.
This isn’t the type of card you’ll see at a cEDH table, but The Eternal Wanderer is a board wipe attached to a potent threat that is very difficult to remove. The Eternal Wanderer’s -4 ability as a card would already see Commander play in decks that want to focus on keeping their powerful creatures around while controlling the overall board state but attaching it to a card that synergizes well with the very common Enter the Battlefield effect strategies and creates threats of its own is absolutely ludicrous. Combine this with a floodgate effect that only allows one creature to attack The Eternal Wanderer at a time, and you have a devastating card that can stabilize the board state when behind, create threats on its own and accelerate your value combined with other powerful ETB effects.
The weakness of The Eternal Wanderer, and the big reason this card doesn’t rank higher on this list, is that six mana is a lot to ask for. This card is also isn’t very effective at tables that are trying to win the game with infinite combos in the early turns. Removal that specifically targets Planeswalkers tends to be more of a rarity in Commander, but damage, some targeted removal, and counterspells can still deal with this card. If The Eternal Wanderer resolves, however, it is very easy for the card to catch you up or get you ahead.
9 – Sword of Forge and Frontier
This card embodies the recent Gruul Exit from Exile Commander deck perfectly. Besides being a beautiful upgrade to a popular preconstructed deck, Sword of Forge and Frontier offers some very popular effects that make this card attractive to any Commander deck that wants to attack with creatures.
In addition to granting protection from Green and Red to an equipped creature, if you manage to damage your opponent with a creature equipped with Sword of Forge and Frontier, you get strict card advantage in the form of exiled cards off your deck, and you get to play an additional land during your turn. This does mean that you can guaranteed play at least one land revealed off your sword – a refreshing synergy between these two abilities. It would be best if you had the mana to cast your cards revealed off the sword – lest they disappear at the end of the turn. Still, this is an incredibly versatile tool that can keep cards flowing while getting you ahead of the table as long as you can connect with an equipped creature.
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8 – Ichormoon Gauntlet
If you are a Superfriends player, Ichormoon Gauntlet is probably the best card for you in the entire set. That said, Ichormoon Gauntlet is much stronger with Planeswalkers than without, which holds it back from some of the more generic powerhouses on this list. The fact that such a massive upgrade to a Commander favorite is this low on the list represents just how overtuned many cards coming from Phyrexia: All Will Be One are for Commander.
Ichormoon Gauntlet grants two things that, for a Superfriends deck in particular, make it absolutely devastating. Every Planeswalker can now Proliferate, which will add Loyalty counters to itself and whatever other Planeswalkers you may desire, and it makes every single Planeswalker you own a win condition. At only three mana to play, Ichormoon Gauntlet can come down a lot quicker than most tempo-negative win condition effects that offer a ton of value over time. This can, theoretically, allow you to start setting up absurd Planeswalker synergies very early in the game, catapulting your value to absurd levels and leaving your opponents in the dust.
Easy to forget is that Ichormoon Gauntlet is still playable outside of Superfriends/Planeswalker tribal decks. While the card primarily functions as a ridiculous resource for the already powerful archetype, Ichormoon Gauntlet also allows its controller to Proliferate whenever they cast a non-creature spell. This means that Ichormoon Gauntlet can be an excellent choice for any deck that has some counter synergies combined with a lot of non-creature spells.
7 – Drivnod, Carnage Dominus
Teysa Karlov players have just received a terrifying new toy. Drivnod, Carnage Dominus does precisely the same thing as Teysa and can easily make itself indestructible. While some setup is needed, exiling three creatures from your graveyard is not a big ask if your entire deck is focused on triggering effects off of dying creatures.
Because Teysa already does what Drivnod does at a lower mana value (with some additional token synergy), it’s challenging to see Drivnod as a new Commander. Drivnod could have its indestructibility effect combined with an interesting exile synergy to give it a different angle than Teysa decks, but since Teysa has two colors in its identity, that deck has a lot more tools available to it. Adding to this is a new fantastic artwork coming out in the Winter 2023 Secret Lair Superdrop that many Teysa fans would love to own.
Any deck that cares about creatures dying will love including this card, ensuring that it will have a home in the Commander format. However, like the Ichormoon Gauntlet, Drivnod is held back by only being powerful in specific archetypes built to take advantage of its abilities.
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6 – Mycosynth Gardens
Mycosynth Gardens has gotten a lot of attention from the Modern community for its potential in the Amulet Titan archetype, but Mycosynth Gardens also has a lot of potential in Commander. Much like copying an early Amulet of Vigor to make a ton of mana in Modern, Mycosynth Gardens can copy your early vital mana ramp, like Sol Ring and Mana Crypt – basically, anything that taps for more than one mana to ramp even faster into your midgame plays. This will, obviously, excel in a colorless deck as a result, but there is more to Mycosynth Gardens in Commander.
While the Gardens can copy early game ramp, this is also just a land that can repurpose itself into something more useful in the late game. Sure, if you’re not running an artifact-heavy deck, you probably do not want this card, but transforming the Gardens into one of many impactful artifacts in the late game, like Portal to Phyrexia, is an absolutely incredible effect for a land to have.
5 – Staff of Compleation
The fact that more than half of this list is Mythic Rare cards is a bit frustrating, but a lot of the cards from this set are absolutely incredible at most Commander tables, and Staff of Compleation is no exception.
While paying a bunch of life every turn, every turn is quite a burden in constructed, Commander players have a lot of life to throw around. There’s a reason why a card like Black Market Connections is considered such a Commander powerhouse.
I could see an argument for cards below this one being more impactful on Commander than this will be. Staff of Compleation, however, at absolute worst, is an incredibly adaptive mana rock that will continually be valuable no matter where you are in the game – providing you have life to pay to activate it. For that reason, Staff of Compleation seems at its best in decks that gain a lot of life, but it really does shine in any deck that wants a mana rock comparable to Commander’s Sphere. Use the Staff’s mana abilities to help ramp up to your mid-game and start drawing cards or Proliferating your counters to accumulate value even after your mana advantage has grown stale. Just the ability to ramp and become a card draw engine makes it an interesting consideration in many Commander decks.
Do keep in mind that, like all the lost Mana Crypt flips that have killed players and the greedy Black Market Connections activations, that this will add up at some point. This is also a card that I could see being overpriced financially for what it does, so be sure to watch this one carefully if you’re interested in it.
4 – Mondrak, Glory Dominus
It’s not tough to see why Mondrak will be one of the most sought-after cards in Phyrexia: All Will Be One for Commander players since this is just an Anointed Procession stapled onto a creature. Anointed Procession already has a gigantic price tag, commonly selling for anywhere between $35 and $50. Because most Commander games tend to go for a long period of time, doubling effects like these ones threaten to create a ton of value. Your Smothering Tithe can create double treasure tokens and any effects that make token creatures instantly become twice as effective.
While having Mondrak be a creature makes the card easier to remove, its built-in effect can grant it indestructibility. Four life, one mana, and two (presumably) tokens are not a strict cost for an instant speed effect that can potentially protect Mondrak, making it very difficult to remove. Fortunately, Commander staples like Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile can still deal with Mondrak, and the other Dominus cards, in a satisfying way.
Perhaps the scariest part about Mondrak is that it’s a Legendary creature. This means that Commander players can now play Anointed Procession as their Commander. This has the obvious downside of restricting you into one color when building your deck, but Mondrak will likely be a Commander that will quickly strike fear into players’ hearts. It may not, however, draw as much ire as the obvious number one pick for this list. While Mondrak should make for a terrifying Commander, it will likely be even better in the 99 to the many decks that already run Anointed Procession.
3 – Nissa, Ascended Animist
Nissa, Ascended Animist is a surprisingly versatile Planeswalker that can function as a threat and a Craterhoof Behemoth-like existence in Forest-heavy decks. The idea of an adaptable card with a mode that the MTG community has already compared to one of the best win conditions in all of Commander is a disgusting enigma that could easily top the ‘best Commander card’ list of a majority of MTG sets. The fact that it’s only third on this one is startling.
If you don’t quite have enough mana, or a big enough board state, to turn Nissa into a dangerous Overrun effect, you can still use her as a threat, constantly creating gigantic bodies equal to her Loyalty upon creation. If that weren’t enough, Nissa can function as a removal option to deal with opposing win conditions. This sort of flexibility ensures that Nissa will not stay dead in your hand and can be played even when behind or as removal when necessary. Even Craterhoof Behemoth, when played on an empty board in a state of emergency, is hilariously unimpressive. This can do a lot more than that in a worst-case scenario.
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2 – All Will Be One
All Will Be One is incredibly impactful in various decks, capable of being anything between a Warstorm Surge and part of a two-card infinite combo. Cards like The Red Terror and Quest for Pure Flame have exploded on the secondary market as a result of dealing infinite damage when paired with this card. Just be sure to state in your Rule Zero conversation whether you have infinite combos in your deck or not with this card. Otherwise, your All Will Be One may just end up unifying your opponents as one threat dedicated to taking you down.
All Will Be One is fantastic in any deck that wants counters, making it a natural upgrade to the Tyranid Warhammer preconstructed deck, where one of its infinite combo pieces is even featured. Planeswalker upticks can now start blowing up creatures when used in conjunction, and Proliferate effects suddenly function as a removal spell. Keep in mind that Planeswalkers entering the battlefield are still getting counters placed on them, so a Planeswalker with five starting Loyalty can also become a five-damage removal spell.
The only real downside to All Will Be One, akin to cards like Warstorm Surge and Doubling Season, is that it doesn’t do anything on its own. The potential upside of the card is so powerful that this ‘turn off’ in a tempo sense is definitely worth it. Additionally, as many Commander players know, because Commander is a multiplayer game, taking one turn off generally allows players to focus on other pressing issues affecting the game state. All Will Be One, however, is a very impactful card that is likely to be dealt with quickly.
While a ton of powerful Commander effects are coming in MTG’s newest set, All Will Be One takes the number two spot because it is a unique ability that we have not seen before. Doubling value out of certain interactions is a Commander mainstay that has already proven to be popular, but All Will Be One is an entirely new tool that Commander players have not had access to before. The only reason why this card is not in the number one slot is because one of the cards coming out in this set has already created a ton of controversy.
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1 – Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
Elesh Norn’s implications for Commander were so scary that Commander creator Sheldon Menery spoke up about the potential issues Elesh Norn may cause. This led many players to believe that the Mother of Machines may see a ban before it even gets a chance to see Commander play. Fortunately, according to the recent announcement from the Commander RC, this will not be the case, and Elesh Norn’s ban, while possible, is no longer an expected event.
The main concern for Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines is that it pairs one of Commander’s most beloved card advantage tools with a Stax effect that takes away the exact same tool from your opponents. While the impact of this card is obviously very powerful, it also leads to game states that your Commander pod may not find to be enjoyable, so be sure to check in with them before using an ability like this.Panharmonicon is a very common way to take over Commander games with value, and Elesh Norn dials that effect up to an 11. Like Mondrak, Elesh Norn is easier to remove than the namesake behind effects like this, but, in exchange, you turn off all value opponents would get from cards entering the battlefield, which can make Elesh Norn even more challenging to remove. Unlike Mondrak, Elesh Norn has no inherent protection outside of the removal effects that it turns off. This ‘dies to Doom Blade’ mentality is a good reminder when discussing Elesh Norn.
Also, like Mondrak, Elesh Norn is a great new addition to any deck that was already considering running Panharmonicon. Just note that if you choose to cast this card, the table will likely kill it as soon as possible.
I honestly do not think that Elesh Norn will be as impactful on Commander long-term as the second and third cards on this list, but it is undeniably the most impactful card from this set in preview season. Hence, it’s only fair to give Elesh Norn the throne she rightly deserves.