Don't let the price of the upcoming set put you off Commander altogether. There are lots of great preconstructed Commander decks out there already that are fun and a good way to learn the Commander format, and you can get many of them for under £40.
This Red-White deck comes from Magic: The Gathering's latest set Phyrexia: All Will Be One. With this deck, you lead the Rebel soldiers against the Phyrexians with Neyali, Suns' Vanguard- using her ability as well as equipment and artefacts to give your soldier tokens more power and extra attacks. It's a token-based aggro deck with the potential to go very wide and attack quickly. For only £32 this is a great way to get some new cards and some Commander staples.
If you want to go all-in on artefacts and equipment, then this Green and Red deck from last year's Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set should satisfy that desire. Chishiro, the Shattered Blade's ability lets you create tokens every time you use an aura or equipment, and you can buff your modified creatures even further. You'll probably need a lot of dice and counters for this deck, as the numbers can get big pretty quickly. Fortunately, the cost for this deck isn't that big, you can get it for under £30:
This is a really cool Commander deck that features 100 cards all with retro-style frames which should stand out at the table. The Brothers' War was the set prior to Phyrexia: All Will Be One, so you'll be getting some newer cards that can also be used in standard formats if you want. This White-Blue-Black deck has Urza, Chief Artificer who likes to construct an army of artefact creatures that scale with each artefact you control. You also get an extra two-card collector Booster Sample Pack that contains 1 special treatment card of rare or higher and at least 1 Traditional Foil Retro-Frame artefact card, so you get a bit extra for the £40 this costs:
All of these precons are great places to start, but they are made with the intention of improving them down the line. Once you've got to grips with your favourite deck, have a read of our guide on how to build a commander deck to find some tips on building and upgrading.
Commander is one of the biggest formats in Magic: The Gathering in multiple ways. If you're only just starting out with it, it's frankly terrifying. The sheer volume of cards is hard to comprehend, and while there are tools out there to help you build a new deck, you still need to pick a commander to go with first. It's a big decision too, because choosing the best MTG commander is often the first step in building a Commander deck; it dictates your themes, the colours you can use and probably how you want to win too.
According to the MTG Gatherer database, there are more than 1,200 legendary creatures in Commander. Not all of those are going to be legal, with some being printed in the Un-Sets and therefore unplayable in normal formats. There are some that are banned, too. Then again, there are also the partner commanders, most of whom can be played with another partner commander. Basically, there are a lot of choices when it comes to the best commanders in MTG, so finding the one that works for you can be hard. Generally speaking, it's good to start out strong when choosing your first deck.
We've also made sure we've got different strategies. There are a lot of ways to play Commander, and none of them are wrong, but it does help to know what to expect from the format if you're new. Each of these MTG commanders is good at different things, so we've made sure you've got lots of cool options to pick from.
Krenko, Mob Boss is a four-mana Red 3/3 Goblin that you can tap to effectively double the number of goblins you have in play. Goblins are an interesting tribe in Commander (and one of the best MTG tribes overall), because the sheer volume of them makes them quite hard to deal with.
You can play Krenko as an incredibly aggressive deck where you just constantly send swarms of goblins at your opponents without worrying about how you're going to replace them, because it's so easy to do. Or, you can choose to sit still and just make a lot of tokens. The latter seems odd, but if you put Purphoros, God of the Forge and Impact Tremors in the deck, then you'll be able to win the game just by tapping Krenko a few times.
Breya, Ehterium Shaper is yet another four-mana MTG commander, but this time around they're White, Blue, Black and Red. The key thing is that they're an artifact creature. Along with being a 4/4, they also create two 1/1 flying Thopter tokens when they enter the battlefield.
You can also use them to pay two mana and sacrifice two artifacts to either deal three damage to a player or planeswalker, give a creature -4/-4 until the end of the turn, or gain five life. The aim with this kind of deck is just to play a lot of great artifacts such as Darksteel Forge or Blightsteel Colossus. Just make sure you've got cards that can bring them back from the graveyard if anything somehow dies, and you're golden.
While The Scarab God isn't a zombie itself, it is still the best zombie commander in Magic: The Gathering thanks to its abilities. You can build an MTG deck that not only recurs your best creatures, but also steals the best things your opponents have as well. It never feels fair - and that's before you even factor in the fact that it doesn't ever really die.
Sisay, Weatherlight Captain is a three-mana White 2/2 that gets +1/+1 for each colour among other legendary permanents you control. Thankfully, they're not actually a mono-White commander, as they have an ability that costs one of each mana, which means your deck can have all five colours in it.
The ability allows you to search your library for a legendary permanent that costs less to cast that Sisay's power, and then put it directly into play. It's a truly absurd ability that lets you pull out a constant stream of answers from your deck to whatever problems you're being faced with. It's not a very cheap deck to build, but it is a lot of fun.
Edgar Markov costs somewhere in the region of £50 at the time of writing. We're not recommending you spend that much money just on your MTG commander. However, they are undoubtedly powerful. For six mana, you get a Red, White and Black 4/4 vampire with first strike and haste. Whenever Edgar attacks, you also get to put a +1/+1 counter on each vampire you control.
You can build a Commander deck based around Omnath in many ways, but we recommend focusing on the landfall aspect. That means putting in whatever creatures you can find with landfall abilities, such as Omnath, Locus of Rage. It also means finding ways to return lands to your hand like Mina and Denn, Wildborn, and play extra lands every turn such as Azusa, Lost but Seeking. The most remarkable thing about landfall is that it's something that you want to do anyway, so building a deck around it feels almost like cheating.
Sacrificing permanents is always meant to be a bad thing, but the aim is to turn it into an upside. However, this completely turns itself around when you factor in treasure tokens. Treasure tokens are things you can tap and sacrifice to gain one mana. That means that each Treasure you sacrifice not only nets you one mana, but also puts a +1/+1 counter on Korvold and lets you draw a card. When you then add in cards like Old Gnawbone, you're left with a deck that's bordering on legitimately broken.
Previews of Commander 2017 have been trickling out over the past week, featuring a ton of amazing-looking cards, with the full deck lists finally being spoiled on Friday. All in all, there's a strong argument that the Commander 2017 decks are the best ever released in the Commander series. While there aren't many obvious Legacy or Vintage staples, there are a ton of cards that will be heavily played in Commander and some new legends that, while not quite on the level of Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, will be the foundation of a lot of Commander decks. Basically, each of the Commander 2017 decks seems powerful, fun, and likely worth its $35 price tag.
I had to go a bit deep to calculate total deck prices because TCG prices are pretty skewed at the moment, thanks to a very small number of listings (with several cards showing a TCG-mid price of over $10, even though the same card is being sold on other well-known sites for $3). I used Card Kingdom prices to get around this problem. While the prices of many of the decks will almost certainly drop, at least this gives us a reasonable starting point to discuss prices.
Technically, Wizards is the most valuable deck in the bunch, aided by some really strong reprints like Nin, the Pain Artist, Marchesa, the Black Rose, and Havengul Lich, all of which are worth more than $5 at the moment. Meanwhile, Dragons brings up the rear thanks to a ton of flashy but inexpensive Dragon reprints. This being said, there isn't a significant difference between any of the decks in terms of price, with the most valuable deck being worth only about $7 more than the least valuable.
Ranking the eminence commanders is actually a bit tricky. All of the cards are powerful, but they are also restricted to tribal decks (unlike the secondary commanders that we'll talk about in a minute). As such, the ranking is as much about the tribes and their playability in Commander as it is about the individual cards. For a heavily tribal-focused Commander to really be good, it needs lots of strong tribal support.
The question for Edgar Markov is: do Vampires want to be Mardu? While people will build decks around the new legend, going into white doesn't really offer all that much to Vampire tribal, since most of the Vampires over Magic's history are black or red. As such, it seems likely that some people will buy the Vampire deck but, instead of using Edgar Markov as their commander, simply incorporate some of the best Vampire cards into Olivia Voldaren, Garza Zol, Plague Queen, or Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet decks.
This will probably be a controversial ranking, since a lot of people are hyped about the Cat deck in Commander 2017, but there's one huge problem facing Arahbo, Roar of the World: there simply aren't that many good cats in Magic. A quick Magic Online search shows that there are nearly 150 rare Dragons in Magic but only about 40 rare Cats. This means that, apart from playing the Feline Ferocity deck right out of the box, there just aren't that many ways to go about building or upgrading Cat tribal. While a lot of people will play Cat decks, until we get another few Cat sets in Magic, it's hard to imagine that Cat tribal will have the staying power of Dragons, Vampires, or Wizards as far as Commander is concerned. 781b155fdc