Conquering the Commander Cube: Best Commanders For Your Cube Part 1

Justin Fanzo • May 25, 2023

Jared Carthalion by Lius Lasahido

Greetings, Commander players! Welcome to another installment of Conquering the Commander Cube, and it's part one of a two-part series on excellent commanders to include in your Commander cube. I've divided the article into two parts because there are so many great commanders, so for now we'll just be looking at ten. There are three main pieces of criteria that I use to assess the merits of a commander for a cube:

Number of Colors

As mentioned in prior installments of Conquering the Commander Cube, color variety is important in allowing players to develop a diverse pool of cards during their draft. I find the sweet spot to be 3-4 colors, as 1-2 colors tends to limit players too much during the draft, and five colors tends to be too easy for players, as it doesn't require as much creativity or selectivity as lesser numbers of colors.

Diversity of Strategies

Commanders with multiple possible strategies tend to be better suited for cube drafts, as they allow players to shift strategies during drafts as their card pool starts to take shape. This includes open-ended commanders that can adapt to fit a myriad of different strategies.

Conducive to Fun

Fun is the name of the game when it comes to Commander (or any game, really!), so we want to make sure to avoid toxic, frustrating, or overpowered commanders, as they can quickly kill the fun of a play session.

I'll be sticking with three-color commanders for this series, as they offer a nice balance of color variety and deckbuilding challenge. I won't be able to represent all color pairings in this list, but I will make sure to include unrepresented three-color pairings in part 2!

With those criteria laid out, let's jump into the first ten commanders that I recommend for a Commander cube!

10) Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest

Shu Yun is an excellent choice for a Commander cube, as he synergizes well with all noncreature strategies, including enchantments, noncreature artifacts, and planeswalkers. This allows for a high degree of flexibility for players.

9) Sydri, Galvanic Genius

This one is a particularly good choice if you follow the advice that I gave in the last article to offer a few free mana rocks for all players, as Sydri will be able to turn them into creatures with her ability. Even without the free mana rocks rule, most cubes will likely have a plethora of useful targets for Sydri's ability.

8) Cormela, Glamour Thief

On the surface, Cormela may seem like an overpowered commander for a cube, but remember that cards like Cormela, Glamour Thief are most dangerous in constructed formats where players can include a plethora of synergistic combo cards. In a cube, however, her ability is tempered, and I would say it sits at the right power level for a fun and casual cube.

7) Shattergang Brothers

The Shattergang Brothers work best with aristocrats strategies, but they can also be used in most permanent-focused decks as a form of indirect removal.

6) Xira, the Golden Sting

Nearly every Commander deck wants to destroy creatures, so why not get a payoff with Xira?

5) Kros, Defense Contractor

Kros is the essence of the Commander format distilled into a single card. It will have your opponents attacking each other while you sit back and scheme your victory. You can run Kros in either a counters-focused deck or a politics-focused deck to equal effect.

4) Zurgo Helmsmasher

Zurgo turns any creature-heavy deck into an aggressive force to be reckoned with!

3) Gnostro, Voice of the Crags

Gnostro is a Storm Commander which, like Cormela, appears to be overpowered at first appearance, but also like Cormela, Gnostro will be generally tempered by the random and controlled nature of the Commander cube.

2) Jared Carthalion, True Heir

Jared, like Kros, is a true homage to the Commander format. Jared introduces the monarch mechanic to games of Commander, and he cares about us being the monarch. Monarch as a mechanic is particularly fun in our format, as it creates interesting tensions and dynamics between players.

1) Rayami, First of the Fallen

Rayami is effective in a cube because her ability targets abilities on all creature cards, meaning that we will not only get payoffs for exiling our opponents' cards, but we will also get payoffs when our own creatures are exiled, so players can build a deck around Rayami's ability.

Final Thoughts

And those are my first ten commander recommendations for a Commander cube. Next time I will close out the list with the rest of my commander recommendations for your cube. I hope you enjoyed the recommendations. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or recommendations. Until next time, happy gathering, Commander players!

I'm an avid gamer with a passion for game design and both critical and creative writing. I've been playing Magic: the Gathering for over 15 years, and I've been playing the Commander format since its official adoption by Wizards of the Coast in 2011. My articles focus on vorthos deck building, designing decks for overlooked commanders, and designing commander cubes.