Commander, also known as Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH), has experienced significant growth since its inception as an unofficial format. With the release of Commander 2014, the format underwent a fundamental change by introducing the option to have planeswalkers as commanders. This addition raised new questions and brought forth a whole new set of rules. In this article, we will explore the mechanics of planeswalker commanders and rank all 19 of them from worst to best, providing insights into their strengths, weaknesses, and overall impact on the game.
Can a Planeswalker Be a Commander?
Before we dive into the rankings, let’s clarify the rules surrounding planeswalker commanders. A planeswalker can only be a commander if it explicitly states on the card that it can serve as one. If the card lacks the specific line of text allowing it to be a commander, it cannot be used as such, and players must opt for a legendary creature instead. However, it’s important to note that Commander is primarily a casual format, and playgroups can agree to bend this rule, allowing any planeswalker to be used as a commander if they so choose.
How Many Planeswalker Commanders Are There?
As of now, there are a total of 19 planeswalker commanders in Magic: The Gathering (MTG). Most of these planeswalkers have been released alongside Commander preconstructed decks, while others have come from Commander-specific sets such as Commander: Legends. Each planeswalker commander brings its own unique abilities and strategies to the table, making them more or less appealing depending on the playstyle and preferences of the player.
Without further ado, let’s rank all 19 planeswalker commanders from worst to best, taking into account their individual strengths, weaknesses, and overall impact on the game.
#19 Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath
Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath takes the unfortunate position of being considered the weakest planeswalker commander in the game. As a mono-black MTG commander, it faces the challenge of being less popular compared to commanders in other color combinations.
Furthermore, its abilities fail to compensate for its color restriction, making it unappealing for many players. Overall, Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath falls short in terms of power and versatility, making it a less desirable choice for a planeswalker commander.
#18 Rowan Kenrith + Will Kenrith
Rowan Kenrith and Will Kenrith are unique partner commanders that are meant to be played together. They possess similar mana costs, which can create some awkwardness when trying to cast them effectively. While their abilities may have potential, the fact that they both require six mana makes them less impactful compared to other commanders that can shake up the game earlier. Players often seek commanders that can make an immediate impact, and unfortunately, Rowan and Will Kenrith fall short in this regard.
#17 Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes
Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes is a Gruul stompy commander that generates a 1/1 creature with trample and haste upon entering the battlefield and during your upkeep. Its +1 ability adds +1/+1 counters to a creature with trample or haste. While this commander has potential in Gruul stompy decks, it may not offer enough uniqueness or power to compete with other planeswalker commanders. However, the additional 1/1 creature it generates and its card draw ability make it a solid choice for players looking for Gruul stompy strategies.
#16 Jared Carthalion
Jared Carthalion, while not the most powerful five-color commander, can still find a place in certain decks. In comparison to commanders like Kenrith, the Returned King, Najeela, the Blade-Blossom, and Morophon, the Boundless, Jared Carthalion falls short in terms of overall power and unique synergies. However, players who appreciate the flavor and theme of this planeswalker commander may find it interesting enough to build a deck around it.
#15 Estrid, the Masked
Estrid, the Masked requires a specific deck archetype to reach its full potential. While it may not possess exceptional power, players with strong deckbuilding imagination and a focus on auras may find Estrid as a suitable commander. However, it falls short when compared to other planeswalker commanders in terms of overall strength and versatility.
#14 Tasha, the Witch Queen
Tasha, the Witch Queen, introduced in Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, is a five-mana planeswalker focused on stealing instants and sorceries from opponents’ graveyards. While the concept of stealing spells can be fun and powerful, Tasha’s balancing feels somewhat underwhelming. Its loyalty cost to cast one of the stolen spells, considering its starting loyalty and other abilities, may leave players expecting more impactful gameplay. Nevertheless, Tasha can still be an interesting choice for players who enjoy Dimir strategies centered around stealing and playing opponents’ spells.
#13 Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury
As a mono-green commander, Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury faces the inherent limitation of being restricted to one or two colors. While its second ability provides valuable board interaction, it lacks the versatility and impact necessary to compete with other planeswalker commanders. However, players who appreciate mono-green strategies or enjoy land-focused decks may still find Freyalise appealing.
#12 Dihada, Binder of Wills
Dihada, Binder of Wills offers a +2 ability to build loyalty and an impressive ultimate ability. Players who can leverage Dihada’s ultimate ability to sacrifice opponents’ permanents, potentially using proliferate synergies, can gain a significant advantage. However, Dihada’s overall utility and viability depend heavily on the deck’s focus and the player’s ability to optimize its abilities effectively.
#11 Nahiri, the Lithomancer
Building a mono-white deck in Commander can be challenging due to limited card draw options. Nahiri, the Lithomancer’s main appeal lies in its focus on equipment strategies. However, other commanders may offer a more efficient path to success for players who wish to build full equipment-focused decks. Nahiri’s viability depends heavily on the player’s preference for mono-white strategies and their willingness to work around the inherent limitations of the color.
#10 Saheeli, the Gifted
Saheeli, the Gifted’s true strength lies in its second ability, which enables the production of significant amounts of mana in a single turn. Building a deck around this ability can result in explosive gameplay and game-winning plays. Players who appreciate artifact-based strategies and the challenge of maximizing mana generation will find Saheeli to be a compelling planeswalker commander.
#9 Aminatou, the Fateshifter
Aminatou, the Fateshifter offers versatility as a commander, with relevant abilities that can shape the game in various ways. As an Esper-colored planeswalker, it provides flexibility in deckbuilding without severe restrictions. Aminatou’s first two abilities are particularly useful, allowing players to manipulate cards, permanents, and even the top deck. Its inclusion in the deck offers strategic options and makes it a solid choice for players seeking a versatile commander.
#8 Lord Windgrace
Lord Windgrace stands as a versatile commander with the ability to provide card advantage and mana ramp. Its second ability synergizes well with fetch lands, making it an excellent choice for land-based strategies. Jund, the color combination it represents, further enhances its effectiveness. Lord Windgrace can be a strong commander choice for players who enjoy land-focused decks and appreciate the card advantage and mana ramp it provides.
Elminster, the Azorius planeswalker from Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate, caters to spellslinger strategies by offering mana cost discounts for spells whenever scrying occurs. The white and blue color combination has a strong focus on scrying, making Elminster a natural fit for spell-based decks. Its abilities synergize well with powerful cantrips and high-impact sphinx creatures. Players seeking to build an Azorius spellslinger deck will find Elminster to be an excellent choice as a planeswalker commander.
#6 Daretti, Scrap Savant
Daretti, Scrap Savant shines as a mono-colored commander, demonstrating the potential strength of commanders focused on a single color. Daretti’s ability to filter through the player’s hand ensures consistent relevance throughout the game. Its -2 ability allows players to reanimate artifacts from the graveyard, offering flexibility and powerful interactions. Including high-impact artifacts such as Mindslaver can further enhance the effectiveness of this planeswalker commander. Daretti, Scrap Savant is a strong choice for players who enjoy artifact-focused strategies and appreciate the unique opportunities provided by mono-colored commanders.
#5 Grist, the Hunger Tide
Grist, the Hunger Tide stands out as one of the more unique commanders on this list, serving as both a creature and a planeswalker when not on the battlefield. Grist’s abilities revolve around the graveyard and sacrifice mechanics, making it an excellent choice for Golgari decks focused on reanimation and graveyard synergy. Its first ability generates Insect tokens and mills cards, allowing for explosive growth with the right conditions. The second ability enables creature and planeswalker removal through sacrifice. Finally, Grist’s ultimate ability deals damage to each opponent based on the number of creature cards in the player’s graveyard, potentially delivering a game-winning blow. Grist, the Hunger Tide is a compelling choice for players who enjoy Golgari strategies and appreciate the versatility of a creature-planeswalker commander.
#4 Jeska, Thrice Reborn
Partner commanders offer great flexibility for building versatile EDH decks, and Jeska, Thrice Reborn is no exception. Jeska’s ability to enhance combat damage simplifies winning strategies in a format where players start with 40 life. The ability to play aggressive decks without feeling outclassed by opponents adds significant value to Jeska as a commander. Players seeking to explore combat-oriented strategies and capitalize on their commander’s combat-enhancing abilities will find Jeska, Thrice Reborn to be an exceptional choice.
#3 Teferi, Temporal Archmage
Teferi, Temporal Archmage is a versatile planeswalker commander that offers an array of useful abilities. While it has found success in competitive EDH decks utilizing infinite combos with The Chain Veil and mana rocks, players of varying play styles can still enjoy Teferi’s versatile abilities. Its synergy with untapping artifacts, card draw, and tutoring make it a well-rounded and reliable choice for players who appreciate the strategic depth and versatility of a planeswalker commander.
#2 Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools
Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools stands out as a formidable planeswalker commander. With partner abilities, it offers flexibility in deck construction, allowing players to explore various strategies. Tevesh Szat’s starting loyalty and ability to generate blockers upon entering the battlefield make it challenging to remove. Its ultimate ability, dealing X damage to each opponent and generating X tokens, can quickly turn the tide of the game in the player’s favor. Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools is a highly desirable planeswalker commander for players who value versatility, board presence, and impactful ultimate abilities.
#1 Urza, Lord High Artificer
At the top of the list stands Urza, Lord High Artificer. Urza is widely regarded as one of the most powerful planeswalker commanders in the game. Its abilities synergize exceptionally well with artifact strategies, offering ramp and card advantages. The ability to tap artifacts for mana and create 0/0 constructs creates a powerful engine that enables explosive plays and overwhelming board presence. Urza’s ability to generate value from artifacts and its potential for infinite mana combos makes it a top-tier choice for players who seek a highly competitive and powerful planeswalker commander.
Planeswalker commanders have added a new dimension to the Commander format, allowing players to explore unique strategies and build around their favorite planeswalkers. While some planeswalker commanders offer more versatility and power than others, each brings its own strengths and weaknesses to the table. This ranking provides a general overview of their standing in terms of overall impact and effectiveness. However, it’s important to note that personal playstyle, deck preferences, and the local metagame can influence the ranking and desirability of each planeswalker commander. Regardless of their placement on the list, each planeswalker commander offers exciting opportunities for players to express their creativity and enjoy the Commander format to the fullest.