Magic: The Gathering is the world’s greatest game. There’s tons of ways to play, with over 20,000 cards to choose from in this singleton format, no two games will ever be the same. But that also makes it incredibly daunting to deck build. The field narrows once you’ve found the legendary creature you want to command your army, but there are still thousands of cards to parse through. Luckily, there are some cards that have become synonymous with certain colors in Commander and some colorless cards that you simply must have in your deck. The format can really be as casual or as competitive as you want it to be, depending on your playgroup. But whether you’re knocking back drinks at a home game or prepping to take home a cash prize from a tournament, we hope these recommendations help you enjoy the world’s greatest game even more. 

Colorless

 

Lightning Greaves. Opponents won’t be able to do anything but cough in frustration when you cast the old greaves. Cast this for two mana, equip for zero, give a creature haste and shroud. Win the game. It’s simple.

Swiftfoot Boots. Another pair of must have shoes for the discerning commander. These give a creature haste and hexproof. Which means you can still target your own creature, unlike shroud with Lightning Greaves. 

Sol Ring. Turn one Sol Ring is the ideal opening play for a game of Commander. Pay one mana for this artifact that taps for two. If things are really going your way, you’ll use it to ramp into…

Arcane Signet. A two drop that taps for one of any color in your Commander’s identity. Pretty sweet deal. If the gods of Magic are really on your side, then you’ll be able to tap this puppy and cast…

Skull Clamp. Sacrificing your own creatures to draw two cards is diabolical, but a great strategy for many decks. This card is especially popular with token decks and black decks with lots of graveyard recursion.

Wizards of the Coast

Nasty but necessary.

Commander’s Sphere. Mana fixing building into card draw when you need more gas is pretty much a primer on how to win a game of Commander.

Black

 

Vampiric Tutor. If you can afford the forty-ish dollars you’ll need to pay to get a tournament legal copy of this card, absolutely do it. 

Wizards of the Coast

Worth every bloody penny.

Demonic Tutor. Very similar to it’s blood sucking cousin, this card doesn’t make you lose life, but is sorcery speed. It also puts the card directly into your hand, which is great for late game when you’re looking for a way to push through. 

Dark Ritual. Paying one mana to get three mana… seems like a raw deal? No way. Ramping in black is unexpected and can help you get ahead early. Your opponents won’t see it coming. And if they do, there’s probably nothing they can do to stop it.

White

 

Swords to Plowshares. You simply must have this in any deck that runs plains. Using only one mana to exile a creature is exquisitely efficient. And who cares if you give your opponent a tiny bit of life in exchange? You’re probably about to win anyways.

Smothering Tithe. Don’t listen to the groans of your friends when you tell them you’re running Smothering Tithe, just listen to the sound of treasure piling up around you.

Wrath of God. It’s one of the best board wipes in all of MTG and it’s got a brutal name to go along with it. Bring about the apocalypse when you spend four mana to destroy every creature on the board. 

Green

 

Cultivate. Even though the art on this card looks like the druid is about to finger bang the ground, it’s still a must-run in any green Commander deck.

Wizards of the Coast

Gives a new meaning to ‘tree hugger’.

Heroic Intervention. It’s an essential in any deck with green mana available. Cast for one and a green to give your permanents, lands included, hexproof and indestructible. 

Sakura-Tribe Elder. Most green decks revolve around ramping up to cast your big creatures quick. If your deck happens to have any graveyard recursion as well, then this card is a no-brainer. Cast for two, sacrifice it to find a land, rinse, repeat.

Red

 

Faithless Looting. The simplicity here is lovely. Draw two cards then pitch the worst two cards in your hand into the graveyard. Cast it for two extra mana from the graveyard to do it all over again. 

Blasphemous Act. If thirteen is your lucky number, then this is your card. This card costs a whopping nine mana to deal thirteen damage to every creature. But the good news is you take one mana off for each creature on the battlefield. Spicy!

Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Not every red deck is going to want Kiki-Jiki, but most of them absolutely will. If your deck cares about creatures at all, then you’ll probably want to include Mr. Jiki.

Wizards of the Coast

Please, Mr. Jiki was my father, call me Kiki.

Blue

 

Counterspell. Two blue mana to counter any spell makes this classic card essential in any blue deck. 

Cyclonic Rift. There’s many a game of Commander that was about to be won until a blue player cast Cyclonic Rift and bounced the board. This thing clears out even mana rocks like Sol Ring.

Rhystic Study. You better have some way to make your hand limitless because this enchantment is going to be drawing you a LOT of cards. It’s a hassle to keep track of if you’re playing a multiplayer game, but worth it.

Wizards of the Coast

Study hard, it pays off.

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