Year in Review - Top 10 Commander Cards of 2021
Birgi, God of Storytelling | Art by Eric Deschamps
2021 is in the Rear-View!
Welcome to Year in Review! Today we're looking at the top 10 commander cards of the year. We pulled together some of your favorite writers from Commander's Herald to chat about their favorite cards of 2021 for our favorite format! First up is the one and only Jake FitzSimons!
Jake's 2021 Picks
Birgi, God of Storytelling // Harnfel, Horn of Bounty has awesome art, sick lore, and is one of the finest combo enablers I've seen in years. Even when you're not comboing with her, she's essentially reducing the cost of everything you play. Birgi is brilliant.
An efficient sweeper that hits multiple permanent types and will often leave you mana positive, Culling Ritual has found a home in every single Golgari deck I own.
Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer is a rainbow mana dork in red that hates on topdeck tutors like [e]Vampiric Tutor[/el] and occasionally lets me steal a Mana Crypt? Almost too good to be true. I love this monkey.
Asymmetrical grave hate on an evasive creature, Dauthi Voidwalker also lets you cast stolen spells for free, which is nuts. In my opinion this might be the strongest card of the year for Commander.
Speaking of graveyards, do you have too many graveyard decks in your meta? Tired of Underworld Breach wins? Sick of not having stack interaction to stop that pesky Thassa's Oracle? Endurance lets you endure all that and more.
After years of wishing WOTC would print decent card-draw in white, my prayers were finally answered. Now white players get to join in the fun and ask, along with every person casting Rhystic Study, "do you pay the one?"
I'm not one to gush over Simic commanders, but that was before I saw Grolnok, the Omnivore. Frog tribal, graveyard shenanigans, mad value. This is the coolest frog in the history of Innistrad. Yeah, you heard me. Don't @ me The Gitrog Monster fans.
I didn't think my love affair with [elSkullclamp[/el] could become any more perverse, but this cheeky little uncommon from Kaldheim took it to the next level. Koll, the Forgemaster might be my favorite commander in years.
I was already a fan of Glen Elendra Archmage and Malevolent Hermit // Benevolent Geist is just a more efficient version. Getting a Mana Leak on a creature would have been one thing, but pay the disturb cost and bask in the glory of uncounterable noncreature spells!
I already look a bit like one, so I've always been a fan of dwarves. Getting a dedicated dwarf commander like Magda, Brazen Outlaw that lets you do more interesting things than just crew vehicles has been a godsend.
Lovely flavor, beautiful art, and one of the worst cards ever printed in the history of the game. Esper Sentinel made up for it, but when this was spoiled I thought it was an elaborate prank from Wizards. You want white card draw? Sure, how about a card that helps your opponents more than you?
That's quite a list with some heavy hitters. Gotta love that dishonorable mention, and there is a ton of range. Next up, we get a recap of 2021 from Mike Carrozza!
Mike's 2021 Picks
Let's get this one right out of the way. Prosper, Tome-Bound is my favorite new commander of the year. Card advantage and ramp built around a new idea in two of my favorite colors? No brainer number one for me.
The snow dual lands from Kaldheim at COMMON! Yes, a cycle this good counts as one for me. These are fetchable and snow has its applications. Altogether, I want more decent duals at common! Come on, WOTC!
Lots of death, lots of cards - that's the equation with Morbid Opportunist! Every single turn, a creature dies - it's the name of the game, baby! You get to have a card for the first creature that dies a turn, talk about value!
The "slow" lands from Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow are my second cycle on the list. Pick these up when they're cheap and enjoy a boost to your mana base. These have been great in the games I've had since they dropped. Don't sleep on them!
Conspiracy Theorist is a card that I can see getting more relevant in the future, but for now, it puts in lots of work in my Anje Falkenrath and Prosper, Tome-Bound decks.
I'm an aristocrats guy, what can I say! Cosmic Intervention is top tier protection that fits perfectly in any deck that needs protection or value from sending things to the yard. Get them while they are relatively low because they won't be reprinting this for a long time!
It's a trap to consider Cursed Mirror part of your ramp package, but every time I've played this, a solid turn has been the result. There are so many cool things that can happen, just keep your heart open.
Grim Hireling reads "smack your opponents around and get rewarded". Treasures are super powerful and to get 6 for combat if you hit your opponents in a pod of four players is absolutely divine.
Calling back to aristocrats, Plumb the Forbidden is an incredible card with so many applications. I love tokens and aristocrats. In response to a Wrath of God effect, you can cast Plumb the Forbidden, sacrifice your board, and draw that many cards. Life is a fine cost - it's well worth it!
Birgi, God of Storytelling // Harnful, Horn of Bounty is the only red card I've jammed into literally every single red deck I own since its release. I wish I could run both sides in decks separately because they're both amazing! Each spell you cast coming with an extra red mana is great. Chucking lands late game to the back half for an impulse draw-two is incredible. I can't believe this card is real - I love it!
AS A BONUS HERE ARE WITHOUT FURTHER COMMENTARY THE 10 COMMANDERS I ENJOYED THE MOST FROM THIS YEAR THAT DIDN'T MAKE THE ABOVE LIST:
- Breena, the Demagogue
- Hofri Ghostforge
- Plargg, Dean of Chaos // Augusta, Dean of Order
- Esix, Fractal Bloom
- Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar (I'M JUST HAPPY SHE EXISTS)
- Felisa, Fang of Silverquill
- Rionya, Fire Dancer
- Esika, God of the Tree // The Prismatic Bridge
- Shadrix Silverquill
- Gisa Glorious Resurrector
Incredible list - you gotta love those land cycles! Last but not least, and in no particular order, here are MD's top 10 cards of 2021:
MD's 2021 Picks
Years ago I built a 5-color planeswalkers deck that took ten-minute turns and felt pretty bad to play without a Doubling Season in play. Carth the Lion makes that archetype more focused and allows you to do nutty things by ulting planewalkers early, all while generating a clock and value.
I love turning downsides into upsides, which might be why I love Anje Falkenrath so much, and Change of Fortune really lets decks that care about discarding (like Anje and Rielle, the Everwise) jet out of control.
For my money, this is the best ramp spell of the year and it isn't close. Circle of Dreams Druid is really cool and I love the art, but Dream Devourer not only ramps but also protects your cards from Wheel of Fortune effects and from discard decks.
One of the best draw spells ever printed, Expressive Iteration quietly crept up to an absurd amount of money for a modern-era uncommon, but its effect on the game is nuts. Drawing two cards for two mana is a great rate, and the fail case is still a passible Telling Time, which means this card is rarely (if ever) bad.
The dungeon module promo cards from Adventures in the Forgotten Realms took me a little bit to get used to, but once I did they became some of my favorite pieces in the game. In particular, Hall of Storm Giants is a great early land drop that can close out games quickly, helping controlling decks turn the corner. This is one of my favorite threats in my 4-Color Control deck.
Harmonic Prodigy is nuts. That's the tweet. I didn't realize how powerful this card was until I had it on the battlefield in my Kykar, Wind's Fury token deck, and it caused most of my spells to generate mana on top of tokens.
Jorn Snow leads my secret-Carth the Lion superfriends deck, and I have to say Jorn, God of Winter // Kaldring, the Rimestaff has proved to be one of my favorite commanders. Not only did it prove to me that budget mana bases aren't that bad (I run strictly snow basic lands in that deck), but I also got to play with a Wilderness Reclamation on legs.
This was the card I was most excited to show was actually way better than it was, and I think I am getting there. While Odric, Blood-Cursed wants a deck to do a couple different (and even opposing) things, what he does really well is generate a tremendous amount of card velocity for Boros that ultimately lets you play a long game with lots of answers. You love to see it.
Siphon Insight is mostly just fine...but I sniped a Force of Will off of UltraBudgetBrewsMTG's Mizzix of the Izmagnus deck in the middle of a counter war and I can never, ever go back. Might as well have the rules text as the epitaph on my gravestone.
I'm not going to talk about the back side of this card because, well, it doesn't matter all that much. The front side of Wandering Archaic is bananas, and it creates some really sticky situations, especially in more interactive games. My working hypothesis is this card has not and will never live through a full rotation of a table without the rules text literally changing to read "target you wins the game".
Wrapping Up 2021!
That's all for this year-in-review from some of your favorite writers here at Commander's Herald! What are some of your favorite cards? Did we miss anything crazy? Let us know in the comments!