Sure, anyone can pilot a sweet deck that’s bursting with card draw and build around options. Even five color Commanders like The Ur Dragon can run over the competition real fast with their clear cut deck strategies and a well crafted mana ramp. Other decks are not so straightforward. The more complex a deck becomes, the more options are available to you every turn. Is it best to draw some cards? Eliminate your opponent's biggest threat? Deal damage right to their face? So if you’ve tired of crushing your enemies with Talrand, Sky Summoner or living out your power fantasy with Kenrith, the Returned King, it’s time to up your challenge rating and try out some of Magic: The Gathering’s more complex Commanders.

Inalla, Archmage Ritualist

You're a wizard Harry! Now copy yourself and get ready to die.

This wizard lord became a favorite of feisty brewers everywhere when she debuted in 2017’s tribal Commander set. Eminence is… pretty disgusting as the parlance goes in Magic, which just means it’s very, very good. She’s an intimidating Commander, you’re confronted with a wall of text on her card and literally millions of possibilities for how to best play her. You can go fast and furious, using your wizard family to speedily pummel your foes, or play the long game and use enter the battlefield effects for maximum value. Using this deck means lots of studying and facing the fact that with so many permutations and possibilities, you’ll probably never be on autopilot.

Planeswalkers

Three color Planeswalkers are few and far between and have creepy hands.

Each set seems to have more and more Planeswalkers you can use to lead your army into battle. They’re usually powerful, sometimes game breaking cards, but when the enemy can directly attack your commander, that’s trouble. It’s a major weakness that can be exploited to totally derail your strategy if you’re not careful about protecting your Planeswalker. Plus most Planeswalkers are only one or two colors, which isn’t a liability necessarily, but does significantly limit the cards and combos you’ll have access to.

Braids, Conjurer Adept

Beautiful eyes, savage playability. 

This mono colored card isn’t difficult to play because of the infinite possibilities it affords, but because it’s giving your opponents a ton of value. Braids text allows each player to put a high value permanent onto the battlefield at the beginning of their turn. And with limited removal in blue, if you’re not careful, this powerful effect will turn on you faster than you can say “untap, land, go”. Having bounce spells is a decent way to go, but the rubber hits the multiverse when you load your deck with cards that let you take control of your opponent’s creatures. 

Breya, Etherium Shaper

Better than anyone's MET Gala look this year.

Right off the bat, we just need to point out, Breya has an awesome looking hat. Ok, whew, glad we got that off our chest. She’s also four colors, which makes the difficulty to cast her by turn four magnitudes higher than that of other four drop commanders. Plus she’s lacking the one color that is known for mana fixing and ramp: green. But this is Commander, and shenanigans abound, so if you’ve done your due diligence and put in shock lands and mana rocks, you should be fine. But then what to do with her? Sacrificing artifacts to her produces one of three powerful effects and there are tons of different ways you can play this. One popular strategy is “eggs”, artifacts which provide value when sacrificed or “cracked”.  More recent sets also have lots of ways to make treasure tokens, which deal with your mana fixing problem early and give you lots of throwaway artifacts to sac to Breya in the mid to late game. However you pilot this deck, you’re going to need a lot of skill and a strong game plan to pull it off.

Group Hug Commanders

I'm about to lose my Gluntch.

With a “group hug” strategy you incentivize your opponents not to attack you, or prevent them from attacking you entirely by rewarding them with mana, card advantage or other perks. For example, Braids which we listed above. The tough part about these decks isn’t protecting yourself, it’s closing. It also varies widely depending on what level of shenanigans and political wheeling and dealing your EDH group puts up with. You’ll want big, game ending cards and combos to make sure all the gifts you give your opponents wind up helping you in the long run. If you’re really feeling up for a challenge and want a legendary creature whose name will make you throw up in your mouth a little, try giving Gluntch, the Bestower a whirl. 

Mairsil, the Pretender

Get ready to Google card interactions.

Huh, interesting how many of these Commanders are Grixis… (that’s red, black, blue for the uninitiated.) Enter the battlefield effects, or ETBs can be tricky to repeat, but there’s plenty of bounce and blink in blue. Mairsil demands a high level of skill, strategy, and keeping track of what the heck abilities they have. When you have a clear idea of how to win, this card can feel unbeatable. If you’re not playing at an elite level, this Commander feels like walking an ill-trained Great Dane puppy in a cat cafe. Good luck brewing this Ferrari of Commanders, you’re going to need it.  

Mishra, Artificer Prodigy

Only for the very brave and very stupid.

This card might as well be blank in the Commander format where you can usually only have one of each card besides basic lands. It’s a singleton format, so searching for an artifact with the same name is futile. Mishra’s text here is pretty much the antithesis of what EDH is all about, so uh… good luck making this work. Still, MTG players are a wily lot and the most insane skilled players will find a way to make this pop off. 

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