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Top Ten Commanders You've Forgotten

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Hello folks!

I hope that you are having a great Friday today!

Have you ever looked at an eligible Commander and then realized that you forgot about how awesome of a card it is? How strong of a deck it can make? Sure thing! We all have, right?

Right!

I was recently surprised to find that a major power-house from Legends had barely pushed the needle on decks registered over at EDHREC.com. That guy? He’s my #1 today, and deservedly so.

However, that Assassin (…foreshowing hint…) led me to recall many of the fond leaders that either used to be played everywhere before falling out of fashion, or never caught on as much as they could have.

These have been lost to time. Cast offs and forget me nots.

It’s time to give them another day in the sun. Many of these are pre-Modern from the oldest eras of the game, while others hit as recently as New Phyrexia or Commander sets. Are you ready to drink from The Fountain of Lost Yesterdays?

10. Jacques le Vert

Jacques le Vert

Note that Jacques is actually a 3/4. His ability to pump the defense of your Green stuff twice not only will help to keep them alive, but is also something that seems pretty cool. I can think of three easy ways to abuse him:

  1. Color Making - Make your stuff Green! Use spells and abilities to give your dorks the color Green so they’ll get bigger as well. You could also run some other Green pumpers like Tolsimir Wolfblood or Kaysa.
  2. Self-Damage - Running toughness pumping effects means you can keep your stuff alive from Red-based damage to everything, such as Pyrohemia or Earthquake that will deal damage to all critters. Your increased toughness should keep you alive.
  3. Toughness Matters - Run toughness matters effects like Huatli, the Sun’s Heart or Assault Formation and play into that theme.

And that’s just a quick three ways that pop into my head! Jacques le Vert is a strong leader, with an obvious bonus to your team’s size that can be used in multiple ways. Plus, there are a whole lot of style points for running an original Legends Legend in the format named after Elder Dragons!

9. Tariel, Reckoner of Souls

Tariel, Reckoner of Souls

Tariel is a fun card for Commander. She will always tap and recur a dork from someone’s graveyard to your battlefield for a simple tap. But what really improves her fun-ness is that the ability is random. If your foe is playing it, then it is certainly recur-able. I like to swing with Tariel in the sky, and then after holding the fort with her 4/7 flying, vigilance body for a full turn at the Commander table, tap her right before I get my turn, and then repeat. The lack of any sort of a mana or discard, sacrifice, or other cost when recurring dorks is something that’s really powerful. You can also start using her immediately on arrival with traditional cards such as Thousand-Year Elixir or Lightning Greaves. Tariel has a fun presence at the kitchen table, and her random aspect makes her less feared by foes, and I find that she often goes un-answered longer.

Where have you gone, Tariel?

8. Cromat

Cromat

There was a time when Cromat was the default Five-Color leader unless you were building a Tribal Deck. You had a leader for Elementals, Dragons, Slivers, Allies, Atogs, Scarecrows, and others, as well as a generic Tribal leader in Karona, False God. Cromat was anything else. We had Child of Alara that came along that was preferred by some control-based builds. Progenitus was printed but hard to fit into a theme, or with it’s heavy color commitment In the last year-ish of Dominaria, War of the Spark, Commander 2018, Battlebond we’ve had tons of options printed, from Jodah, Archmage Eternal to Najeela, the Blade-Blossom, or Niv-Mizzet, Reborn. Tons of leaders that are kind of making Cromat feel less welcome as our obvious default Five-Color leader. And while Niv-Mizzet can make a strong argument to replace Cromat in some builds, Cromat is still the best of this lot by far. Many of the new leaders are also Tribal, such as The Ur-Dragon or Najeela, or are very specific, like Jodah. Really just Ramos, Dragon Engine and O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami are left as real options for many builds and even those aren’t as useful generally as Cromat. Don’t sleep on Cromat!

Cromat is Cromat! Cromat brings a ton of abilities to the table, and can be saved, pumped, kill something immediately on blocking instead of later, and tossed onto your library to remove from a dangerous situation (I’ve used that once to save it from Song of the Dryads, and then just tossed it into my Command Zone for another replay). It’s cheap with no additional colorless tax either! What’s not to love about Cromat?

Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin’.

7. Thelon of Havenwood

Thelon of Havenwood

I think that Thelon’s lack of play is due to bad timing. For a long time, the color identity rule of Commander or other cards in the game hadn’t been modernized, and you couldn’t run him as the leader of a Golgari deck. The rules change that allowed you to do so arrived to the Commander scene long after Thelon had come and gone, and was mostly lost to the sands of time. Now let me tell you something - after playing against both, I have found Thelon to be a much more powerful threat than Slimefoot, the Stowaway. And yet twice as many Slimefoot decks exist on EDHREC in around one year of existence. Maybe people don’t want to self-exile to pump their stuff up quickly? I don’t know - but it’s a nasty combo for a 2-drop!

6. Dakkon Blackblade

Dakkon Blackblade

Sixteen.

There are sixteen potential leaders for Esper. It’s a popular combination at the kitchen table, as you can do anything. Counters, bounce, steal, draw, land fetching, discard, exile and destruction of every permanent type, mass removal, forcing sacrifices. Everything from Land Tax to Consecrated Sphinx to Demonic Tutor are in your colors. Red is duplicative, as you even have burn and player removal in Black, or Green’s land fetching in White as the secondary option.

Given Esper’s popularity at the kitchen table, we have 5 leaders with 1000+ cards. In fact, all of these have at least 1200 cards. There are around 12,500 total decks played in Esper. (This does not include partners that give you Esper, such as Ravos, Soultender and Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker) Of those, Dakkon Blackblade clocks in at the 11 spot, with just 188 registered deck options over at EDHREC.com. Only a few other Legends options, Chromium, the Mutable, and Dromar, the Banisher are played less that Dakkon Blackblade.

But why? He’s strong for Commander. There’s a rule in Commander you may have heard of called Commander damage. If you deal at least 21 damage to someone’s face with your Commander in combat, then they die, no matter their life or board position. Dakkon is always going to threaten a big ol’ booty that can punch people in the face for two or three hits, without adding anything else. If you toss something on it like Steel of the Godhead? You are gaining massive life from your now unblockable dork while giving it +2/+2. Whispersilk Cloak? Loads of damage and they can’t target your Dakkon.

Steel of the Godhead
Whispersilk Cloak
In Garruk's Wake
Cyclonic Rift

You have so many ways of making Dakkon work, and he’s a perfect control-leader as he can really punish someone after you have cleared the way with cards like In Garruk’s Wake or Cyclonic Rift.

Plus, you know that you want to equip Dakkon Blackblade with Blackblade Reforged. Toss in Gideon Blackblade and Korlash, Heir to Blackblade for fun and punching of Blades of the Black. You’ve got this!

5. Teneb, the Harvester

Teneb, the Harvester

There was a time when Teneb was thought to be the best of the Ten Card Uber Cycle from Rith, the Awakener to Oros, the Avenger. Teneb was the best! Bring back a dead body from any graveyard as you punch people in the face over and over again! Sadly, his cachet must have dropped, as others in his Abzan Stable of Strength have passed him by. Today, only a single leader is registered fewer than Teneb – sucky Daghatar the Adamant. Abzan is a beloved color as four of its leaders clock in at more than 1000 decks, but Teneb has fewer than 500. Folks. Teneb is better. I have a deck led by Teneb. He is an option to lead in my Commander Cube. Teneb doesn’t disappoint. He has the status and the profile to keep himself out there.

Teneb is.

4. Glissa, the Traitor

Glissa, the Traitor

There was a time when Glissa, the Traitor was heavily played. But it’s been a long, long time since I ran into my last Glissa deck! Glissa was a little odd in that she was a pro-artifact leader for Golgari, which is probably one of the fewest pro-artifact color combos. Tethered to a fun graveyard infused powerhouse, Glissa ran a lot of cheap artifacts to recur, as well as fun ways to kill opposing dorks to recur your pretty trinkets. Cards like Executioner’s Module and Nihil Spellbomb were coveted. Glissa has faded, despite her power. Her first strike and deathtouch will hold off a lot of bigger bodies from swinging, especially if you have an artifact in your graveyard that you can recur if they swing into her and lose a dork. 3/3 for three mana is useful. Her physical presence on the battlefield is strong as well. Glissa’s day has, unfortunately, faded. But why?

Why?

3. Ragnar

Ragnar

I think that the major issue with Ragnar is that he’s not the biggest profile White and its allies in his own set. Want to play a fun Bant colored leader from Legends? Sure thing! Would you want to run one of the Elder Dragons themselves in Arcades Sabboth? Or how about current favorite, the Fog Machine himself, Angus Mackenzie? Or maybe Rubinia Soulsinger would make a mark?

But Ragnar?

Ragnar is the least played Bant Commander ever, according to EDHREC - fewer than 50 decks have been registered! By comparison, the Bant leader with the most is Derevi, Empyreal Tactician at 2337 decks! There are around 10,500 Commander decks registered with EDHREC, and fewer than 50 are Ragnar.

Are you kidding me?

Why? Ragnar is a buff looking Cleric who can help to save your dorks. He can tap and regenerate one, keeping it alive from destruction removal or damage. Keep it alive for another go! Ragnar’s ability to regenerate any creature just for a tap and a little mana is actually very rare. Most of them will require you to sacrifice a permanent (such as Tel-Jilad Lifebreather), discard a card (such as Rushwood Herbalist), or more. Another major restraint regeneration will have are the creatures you can regenerate, such as big ones with Vagrant Plowbeasts, Vampires with Baron Sengir, artifact creatures with Clockwork Gnomes, or Green ones with Trolls of Tel-Jilad.

Here they are:

Yavimaya Hollow, Niall Silvain, and Asceticism. That’s it! No other permanents work. Think about that.

Now how is a pertinent 2/2 for 3 mana in a popular color like Bant with an ability that’s very rare this underplayed? It has to be because you went to sleep on him!

Well folks, it’s time to wake up!

2. Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer

Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer

Take another look at Jor Kadeen. Five mana. 5/4 First Strike. Metalcraft that pumps your entire team, including Jor himself, permanently +3 in the front. That means Jor alone is an 8/5 first strike death machine that kills in three Commander hits!

Weapons Trainer
Stoneforge Mystic
Godo, Bandit Warlord
Valduk, Keeper of the Flame

Jor is the best Boros equipment leader out there. Run stuff like Weapons Trainer, Stoneforge Mystic, Godo, Bandit Warlord, and Valduk, Keeper of the Flame. Run some of the strongest equipment ever printed, such as Sword of X and Y or Batterskull along with some other artifacts to break Jor.

Take Jor and Valduk alone. With two equipment on Valduk, and a single mana rock out, when you swing, you are punching with:

  • 8/5 First Strike Jor
  • 6/2 + Equipment bonuses for Valduk
  • 2 6/1 trample tokens.

That’s a massive 22 damage plus the equipment bonuses on Valduk. If you add in a single Weapons Trainer into the mix, or more equipment? You are going to break people in half.

Jor will also count things like:

Akiri, Line-Slinger
Tiana, Ship's Caretaker

Now, there are two leaders in this color combo that came out more recently that I think are getting too much play. One is Akiri, Line-Slinger, who’s fine. I don’t have a lot of negative things to say about Akiri, other than she’s underwhelming. But Akiri can slide into this build too. As can Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker. Tiana can help recur auras and equipment, but it’s not like Boros is really about auras. It’s always been about equipment! And artifacts. Grab Tiana, and punch away.

Here is how underplayed and forgotten Jor Kadeen has been. War of the Spark has been released now for a couple of weeks. We already have more decks registered with Feather, the Redeemed, than we do for the entire history of Jor Kadeen!

Rectify this issue, and punch people with Jor!

1. Ramses Overdark

Ramses Overdark

Ramses is so fun! You can easily build a strong Commander deck around our good Human Assassin leader in the colors of Dimir. You can add in cards like bestow dorks, auras that will steal things, and loads more! Green isn’t the only color with Rancors! You can pop out recursive auras like Dependency or Shade’s Form all day long. There are a number of auras that work well in Dimir, and that also help your team. How did you forget about Ramses? Get ready for the aura-inspired killing field.

Thanks for reading. What did you think of my list? Anything in here you forgot about or are inspired by? Just let me know!