2021's Top Ten Commons

Dana Roach • December 2, 2021

A Common Year

As 2021 winds down, we're going to find ourselves inundated with lists of the top cards released this calendar year. The reality is, though, that most of the cards populating those lists are going to be rares and mythics, and more than a few of those rares and mythics are going to be expensive due to that rarity.

Not all gold is gold, however. Or even dark orange. Sometimes gold has a black set symbol, and that's why today I'd like to take a look my the top ten commons released in 2021.

Artifact Dual Land Cycle

The common artifact land cycle from Modern Horizons 2 has already seen fairly widespread adoption with many already showing up in over 3,000 decks on EDHREC in under a year. There's good reason for that, too: they're genuinely good in a lot of ways beyond just as budget alternatives for more expensive duals.

We regularly get common dual land cycles that show up to fix colors in Standard or Limited environments. They almost always enter the battlefield tapped but offer some small upside to offset that, such as gaining you a life in the case of the cycle featuring cards like Bloodfell Caves from the Tarkir block. These are almost always serviceable, but they're rarely good. You really don't run Blossoming Sands in a deck for the lifegain, or if you do it's minimally impactful.

The artifact land cycle, though? They can be genuinely powerful in the right situation. First, they dodge one of the most problematic aspects of the original artifact land cycle in that they're indestructible. Few things felt worse than seeing that Vandalblast drop when you've got a Great Furnace and Seat of the Synod on the field. These new artifact lands do not care about artifact sweepers.

More than just being resilient, though, they work well in all kinds of creative offensive ways. They feed Affinity and Metalcraft, obviously, and add to artifact counts for things like Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge's +2, the power on Shambling Suit and Nettlecyst, add to the numbers for Cranial Plating and Hunger of the Nim, and can be emergency sacrifice fodder for commanders like Breya, Etherium Shaper. They're some of the best targets to Imprint onto a Prototype Portal, and they make for excellent animated bodies with Rise and Shine. Ever wanted to turn your land into a Sword of Fire and Ice until end of turn with Masterful Replication?  I've done that, and all the things listed above since these have been released.

Behold the Multiverse

Behold the Multiverse is already showing up in 6,156 decks in the EDHREC database. It's not an amazing card, but it's one of those sneaky little efficient spells that fits into a lot of different decks. After all, Glimmer of Genius is in over 1,100 lists, and unless you're one of, like, six people playing a dedicated energy theme, Behold is just better.

For example, one of the problems you sometimes run into with two-mana draw spells, like Night's Whisper, is that you have nothing else to do on turn 2 thanks to an imperfect opening hand, but you don't really want to cast a draw spell and have to discard. Behold lets  you bypass that, dumping it to exile at any point when you have mana to spare until you hit the point later when you want to draw. That's sneakily useful in a way I didn't really realize until I played it. It also works well to disguise other Foretell cards you may be running. Yeah, that Morph is always Willbender, but what is the Foretell? It's harder to guess if you have other options in your deck.

Listen, I'm not telling you to jam Behold into all your blue lists, but I'd 100% run it over Divination, and that card's in thousands of decks.

Bone Shards

Bone Splinters was already showing up in 3,171 decks, and Bone Shards is a strict upgrade that's about to surpass it in deck representation. Being able to pitch a land or card you don't need or want to the 'yard is huge upgrade. Then you factor in the fact that it hits 'walkers too? Gross. Being able to put something in the 'yard or sacrifice something you want sacrificed while removing the biggest threat on the board all for a single black mana is a huge game swing.

This card is legit, and even more so once you realize it's a common that can be bought for less than you'd pay for a gumball.

Cathar Commando

Cathar Commando has already found a home in 2,106 decks in less than six weeks. When all is said and done, it's a three-mana instant-speed way to kill an attacker with power 3 or less, or at least block an attacker and destroy the scariest artifact or enchantment in play, and generate a death trigger, all stapled to two very relevant creature types in colors that have a gazillion ways to recur bodies from the graveyard. That's just all the things.

If I'm playing Soldier tribal in white, this probably makes the list, full stop, and the same is maybe true of Humans, too. It's an all-around solid card and one of the best uncommons we saw in 2021.


I was trying to avoid cards that were strong but in just one super narrow deck, but I don't think Chatterstorm qualifies. Sure, it's obviously useful in Squirrel tribal lists, if for no other reason than their is a real dearth of quality Squirrel cards in the game. I'm not sure it's entirely just a Squirrel card, however.

So, worst case it generates a 1/1 for 1G, which is pretty terrible. Is anyone ever doing that, though? Realistically the worst case scenario here is you cast a Birds of Paradise or something, then drop Chatterstorm to make a pair of 1/1s for 1G. That's not ideal, but it's not terrible. It's Saproling Migration or Sosuke's Summons territory if you're looking at spell-based token-creators in green.

What if you cast that Birds of Paradise, then someone casts Fog during your attack, then you Skyshroud Claim on your second main, and someone hits your Claim with a Twincast? Chatterstorm is dropping you five Squirrels. There's just so much upside here in decks that generally want tokens or sacrifice fodder, etc.

Deadly Dispute

Altar's Reap was already a playable card, and we've now got a handful of strictly better variants, including the excellent Deadly Dispute that's already showing up in 6,814 decks. Sacrifice an artifact or creature to two draw two cards and make a Treasure, all as an instant? Amazing.

It's one of my favorite cards to draw in my Juri, Master of the Revue deck.

Dragon's Approach


You know a card is good when it's a deck unto itself, and there are now multiple different decks out there built entirely around Dragon's Approach. What's most interesting here is generally these types of cards tend to allow a very similar style deck regardless of commander. Relentless Rats and Rat Colony decks might have different commanders atop the deck depending on what you think is the most interesting way to build it, but they tend to play the same way. The same is true of Shadowborn Apostles and Persistent Petitioners.

Things are a little more varied with Dragon's Approach decks, thanks to the ability to use the card to tutor up Dragons. It's also much more likely to show up as a one-of in decks like Neheb the Eternal and Firesong and Sunspeaker that care about efficiently spreading damage to opponents.



Ravenform is a sorcery-speed removal spell for 2U, which isn't great. Yeah, it's an exile effect, but given how efficient Pongify, Rapid Hybridization, and Reality Shift all are, do you really need a fourth that's a sorcery? Yeah, you do, given it also hits artifacts, something previously unseen in blue.

Making a flier is a bigger deal than people realize, I think. That's a body that can block almost anything and can sneak over the top to hit you or your planeswalkers. It's not THAT big of a deal though, again given the fact that, thanks to Ravenform, you can now remove artifacts in blue, and that's something we may never see again.


Resculpt   9,107


. Compared to Ravenform, it's one mana cheaper to cast, it's instant-speed, which is huge when it comes to removal, and the token it creates is a dumb, non-evasive body that is much less likely to be a relevant blocker or evasive attacker sneaking over the top to hit your 'walkers.

If you're playing mono-u or Dimir, colors with almost no way to permanently deal with artifacts, you probably should be running Resculpt in your deck, period.

Snow Dual Land Cycle

There are only five other land cycles in the game with basic land types, and all see heavy play. Yes, the snow dual land cycle, as represented by cards like Snowfield Sinkhole, always enter the battlefield tapped, but in a lot of cases that's fine. They're searchable with fetchlands and things like Nature's Lore[el] or [el]Tithe, they add to the land count for Cabal Coffers, and they count for things that care about snow permanents, like Scrying Sheets and Withering Wisps.

I'd love to hear what commons are showing up as your favorites from this year. I personally tend to favor noncreature spells over creatures, so it's possible I missed some bomb bodies along the way. Sound off below with any that jump out at you.

Dana is one of the hosts of the EDHRECast and the CMDR Central podcasts. He lives in Eau Claire, WI with his wife and son where he has been playing Magic so long he once traded away an Underground Sea for a Nightmare, and was so pleased with the deal he declined a trade-back the following week. He also smells like cotton candy and sunsets.