My Top 10 Commanders of 2023!

Benjamin Levin • December 7, 2023

The Thirteenth Doctor| Illustrated by Lenka Šimečková
Yasmin Khan | Illustrated by Tony Foti

Welcome to another installment of Shower Thoughts, the budget Commander series that proves that Magic isn't pay-to-win. As 2023 comes to an end, it's time to reflect on all the new commanders that have been released this year. Wizards of the Coast has printed a staggering 393 new commanders this year alone, and I want to share my personal top ten. This isn't a list based purely on the power of the commander, but on how much fun I've had either playing with or against. Make sure to check out my mid-year top 10 list after reading this one, and finally, let me know what your favorite commander of 2023 was!

Without further ado, let's get into it!

#10 - Gimbal, Gremlin Prodigy (Down from #08) 

I am sad to report Gimbal dropped down to number ten. In the past few months, it's felt like the deck hasn't performed nearly as well as previously. There are a ton of reasons why this is possible, from variance to match-ups, but because of this, I am dropping Gimbal down two ranks. To be clear, the unique playstyle is still incredibly fun when it works, but when it doesn't the deck feels awful to play. I do plan on tweaking the deck with some of the new cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. I'm hoping with some small adjustments I can make the deck feel good even when it isn't performing at 100%. If you want a more in-depth look at the commander, check out my mid-year top 10 list.

Key budget cards to include: Sentinel of the Nameless City, Saheeli, the Sun's Brilliance, Spyglass Siren, Threefold Thunderhulk, Sarinth Greatwurm

#09 - Davros, Dalek Creator

Davros is from the new Doctor Who precons, and boy, does he pack a punch. I think most people agree that the Grixis deck was a bit more unfocused compared to the other options, but when built in their own shell, they are an absolute powerhouse. There are still plenty of cards you'll want to include from the precon, such as Cult of Skaro, who is a great commander in their own right, Dalek Squadron, and Cyberman Patrol, but I think my favorite part of Davros is that the deck isn't reliant on him to function. Yes, he is a powerful card advantage engine thanks to the tokens and card draw or discard, but it turns out an army of menacing Daleks with afflict 3 can end a game pretty quickly, so if you want to speed up your game nights, give Davros a try.

Key budget cards to include: Cult of Skaro, Dalek Drone, Dalek Squadron, Wound Reflection, Missy

#08 - Kiora, Sovereign of the Deep

Kiora missed my original list, but I'm not making the same mistake this time. This is one of the commanders that I've played against more than with, but I still think they deserve a spot on this list. My friend built a pretty powerful list that, while not budget, could be made into one pretty easily. She feels like the quintessential Simic commander: you ramp into creatures and turn them sideways. Much like Davros, if Kiora isn't in play the deck still functions as a powerful Simic ramp deck. She's just a value engine in the commander zone, which is perfect, but with five toughness and ward three, she isn't easy to remove once she hits the board.

Key budget cards to include: Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle, Hullbreaker Horror, Monstrosity of the Lake, Scourge of Fleets, Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

#07 - Ellivere of the Wild Court

Enchantress is an archetype I've always loved in theory but never quite loved actually playing. It could be the decks I've borrowed lacked a solid win condition or didn't fit my play style. That was until I played Ellivere of the Wild Court. The biggest issue with Aura commanders, in my experience, is you only suit up one creature, and if the creature gets removed, it's over. But Ellivere's ability wants you to go wide, not tall because it can't put a role token on itself, and since each creature can only have one role, you aren't going to get away with just one or two big creatures. Instead, you want to have a ton of bodies you can put these roles on, which helps them grow into massive threats since the Auras buff each other.

Key budget cards to include: Umbra Mystic, Ethereal Armor, All That Glitters, Sythis, Harvest's Hand, Sanctum Weaver

#06 - Urtet, Remnant of Memnarch (Down from #04)

While Urtet might have been moved down a couple of spots, it isn't for any fault of the deck. Everything I said in my previous article holds true still. In fact, the main pilot of the deck has gotten faster, so the long turns have improved. However, other commanders on this list have been more fun in my opinion. If you want a powerful, unique, and pretty budget five-color commander, Urtet is still my number one option for you. Most Myrs are pretty inexpensive, and despite this deck being five colors, most of your cards are colorless. If you want some inspiration, you can check out my friend's list.

Key budget cards to include: Myr Kinsmith, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, Clock of Omens, Thoughtcast, Myr Battlesphere

#05 - Frodo, Adventurous Hobbit // Sam, Loyal Attendant

Number five is a commander pair I had high hopes for, but didn't have much exposure to when writing my previous article, but it's been a few months since they've been released and I can safely say this is one of my all-time favorite Food/life-gain commanders. It could be that I love seeing life totals go up or the puzzle of figuring out how to remove a player with 100 life. Usually, the answer is commander damage or sending them back to the Stone Age. The deck I've seen does run Aetherflux Reservoir like most life-gain decks should, but more often than not it is winning with combat damage thanks to Treebeard, Gracious Host. And thanks to Wilds of Eldraine we have Experimental Confectioner, which goes infinite with Peregrin Took. Check out Commander Spellbook to see how the combo works.

Key budget cards to include: Peregrin Took, Tireless Provisioner, Mirkwood Bats, Banquet Guests, Prize Pig

#04 - Éowyn, Shieldmaiden (Up from #05)

I'm happy to say I did move a commander up from my prior ranking. Éowyn has remained a mainstay in my deck rotation since her release and is still mostly a stock precon. I did make some changes, but only with The Lord of the Rings cards, so it's fine! Everything still remains true from my previous list: she is a powerful token and card draw engine in the command zone. I did predict she'd break the top three at this point, but there are a few new commanders that really shocked me with how fun they'd be. That being said, being number four is still great, and hopefully she'll be staying in my rotation for years to come.

Key budget cards to include: Lossarnach Captain, Riders of Rohan, Éowyn, Fearless Knight, Increasing Devotion, Horn of Gondor

#03 - Syr Ginger, the Meal Ender

I started making Magic content because I love brewing decks. This is where my YouTube channel, BathroomBrewsMTG, got its name, and every so often there will be a commander that gets those juices flowing, and Syr Ginger is exactly that. My friend actually bought the exact list from my $50 Syr Ginger deck tech, and it has crushed the table more than once. Plus there are some new toys to try from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, such as Tarrian's Soulcleaver, Threefold Thunderhulk, and Matzalantli, the Great Door. If you're looking for a fun colorless commander, I'd highly recommend Syr Ginger for your next deck.

Key budget cards to include: Myr Retriever, Ichor Wellspring, Welding Jar, Candy Trail, Gingerbrute

#02 - Pantlaza, Sun-Favored

Despite only being released a few weeks ago, Pantlaza has quickly become one of my all-time favorite dino commanders. Cheating on mana is one of the most broken things you can do in Magic, and having that ability in the command zone is great. This is made even better since discover is an ETB trigger, not a cast trigger, so if you can blink or cheat dinos into play on other players' turns, you can discover a bunch. The best way to do this and the MVP of my deck is Sneak Attack. It's a $5 card, which isn't a ton, but maybe not considered budget by most. However, sneaking in three extra dinos a turn cycle will often win you the game, especially if you can cheat in Dinosaur Egg and have evolve it a few times, giving you even more Discover triggers.

Key budget cards to include: Wayward Swordtooth, Sunfrill Imitator, Runic Armasaur, Pugnacious Hammerskull, Cryptic Gateway

#01 - The Thirteenth Doctor // Yasmin Khan

And coming in at number one is The Thirteenth Doctor paired with Yasmin Khan. This one actually came as a shock to me. I wasn't paying attention to spoilers at all for this set and was waiting for the full decklists to come out, but once I saw this list, I was in love. This pick is based purely on playstyle: I know pretty much nothing about Doctor Who, and I even pronounced Dalek wrong in my tier list video (I said "day-lick", oops). I've found I can take pretty fast turns with this deck while taking a lot of game actions, so it feels like I'm popping off, even if it is just casting three cards from exile. I did try some other partners with The Thirteenth Doctor, but I'm trying to keep the deck as stock as possible, and Yasmin feels like the best out of the box.

Key budget cards to include: Throes of Chaos, Laelia, the Blade Reforged, Kami of Celebration, Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald, Dance with Calamity

And that wraps up my top 10 list of 2023! Let me know your thoughts down below. What has been your favorite commander of 2023? What set are you looking forward to the most next year? Have a healthy and happy new year and see you nerds in 2024!

This has been Ben, from BathroomBrewsMTG, and remember, always wash your hands!

Ben has been playing Magic since 2012 and started creating Magic the Gathering content in October of 2022 on YouTube under the name BathroomBrewsMTG ( Primarily focusing on budget EDH content. When he isn't thinking or talking about MTG, he is usually playing video games, spending time with his wife or playing with his two cats. You can find him on Twitter @BathroomMTG.