Powerful legends from Magic’s past.
Dominaria Remastered is something of a surprise hit for me. It shouldn’t be, as reprint sets tend to be full of exciting game pieces for me to fill my Commander collection with, but the number of powerful cards hiding in these packs is beyond the expectations I’ve set for myself. Among the surprises are some of the legendary creatures that the set is packed with—while some of the legendary pulls are absolute duds, others are enough to inspire a new deck all on their own.
Here, I’ll be looking at all the reprinted legends and ranking them as commanders, based on my experience. Pure power factors in a lot, but the Commander format has plenty of other things to consider including political aspects like threat perception.
#18 Arcades Sabboth
Legends | Rare
Market Price: $52.97
In the format that bears their namesake, Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH), we’ve moved well past the Elder Dragons. This guy is cool, his new art is beautiful, and if you really want to dip into the nostalgia you’ll find essentially nothing better.
He’s also way too mana intensive, both in his original cast and his upkeep demands, and there are many better options in his colors. I love everything this card represents, but you can do better and should avidly hope you don’t pull this elderly dragon.
#17 Lieutenant Kirtar
Odyssey | Rare
Rattlesnake cards are great, sitting out as a threat to deter potential attacks can be an exceptionally useful tool. However, I wouldn’t recommend a one-shot effect like this in your command zone, especially starting at three mana value to start.
This creature is solid in the 99, especially in either of his tribes, but I cannot recommend putting this card in your command zone unless you really want to lean into a Bird Soldier theme for your pet Aven Brigadier.
#16 Valduk, Keeper of the Flame
Dominaria | Uncommon
I like cards that let you go both wide and tall, and Valduk has one of the cooler payoffs for stacking him with all kinds of buffs. Increasingly, however, I dislike getting completely blown out with this kind of strategy and the kind of hate that can nuke all of his buffs (looking at Farewell and friends recently) knocks him much further down the list than he might otherwise deserve.
Mono red is also in a bit of a tough spot right now, so I would aim to go another direction if this kind of strategy sounds good to you.
#15 Pashalik Mons
Modern Horizons | Rare
The real mark against Pashalik is that he just isn’t Krenko, Mob Boss. Having a reliable Havoc Devil damage dealer in the command zone is something to consider, but if that’s your plan then you probably want black for Judith, the Scourge Diva instead.
All things considered, Pashalik is a fun option with a tribal payoff, but he’s generally outclassed by other options in the pool. That said, this card is far from a dud as its role in the 99 for goblins is just amazing.
#14 Sol’Kanar the Swamp King
Timeshifted | Special
A 5/5, potentially evasive beater with a slight upside is perfectly fine, I wouldn’t smirk if this showed up on the opposite side of the table (in fact, a lot of my decks run swamps so this guy might even be a problem!). Much like most of the options already noted above, there is not a lot of reason to run the original Swamp King over more modern options, but he is a tech commander option if your meta is full of fellow Swamp aficionados or if you want to avoid being tagged as a threat early with an innocuous pick.
#13 Xira Arien
Legends | Rare
Market Price: $57.23
When originally printed, Xira drew cards in a color combination that could use the help to add extra things to their hand. Now, three mana to draw a card in Jund is almost laughable. Almost.
Having a card advantage engine in your command zone, especially one that you can flexibly activate, is perfectly serviceable, and I rank Xira higher than she might deserve in part because of how unthreatening she appears. Looking like something that won’t cause problems but still generating card advantage is a combination that can get some mileage in the right package.
#12 Radha, Heir to Keld
Time Spiral: Remastered | Rare
Now we’re starting to get into Commanders that I can actively recommend, with Radha still being one of my favorite two mana value options in the game. If you have instant speed threats to play out, her attack trigger generating two mana is absolutely stellar (note: she doesn’t have the “this mana doesn’t empty as steps end” clause that many modern versions of this effect have, so you have to use that mana in combat or lose it) and if you can’t play something of value instantly she is still a solid mana dork right in your command zone. Reliably getting your mana is the very definition of good enough!
#11 Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker
Commander Legends | Uncommon
Tiana does a great job of steadily generating value with various sacrificial effects, feeding assorted engines that does her Artificer tag some serious justice. She has a notable downside of starting at five mana, so actually getting those engines started can sometimes take more gas than you might want to spend on, but boy when you get there!
Sram, Senior Edificer’s best friend, there are only a few commanders that I would recommend more if you’re into the idea of looping auras or equipment, and she’s the only game in town for that in this batch of reprints.
#10 Rith, the Awakener
Duel Decks: Phyrexia Vs. The Coalition | Rare
The format may have moved past the original elder dragons, but the later cycles of the flying lizards should still be considered for a slot in the command zone. Rith, the Awakener is the only member of her cycle in this set (big disappointment for me, but I digress), but she is a strong option if you’re looking to spit out an army of tokens. There is some nostalgia attached to her place in the list, but you may yet be surprised at how effective Rith is at making a boardstate that your opponents just cannot overcome.
#9 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
Archenemy | Rare
Speaking of overpowering boardstates. Kamahl is a classic way to both generate and capitalize on exactly that. His six mana initial asking price is a lot, but his complete package is already very mana hungry so you’re theoretically building around that to begin with.
Once you do have the mana, Kamahl can Overrun on demand and can add to the size of that overrun by animating your lands. It’s simple and about as straightforward as can be, but the added ability to animate opposing lands for shenanigans is just beautiful.
#8 Arcanis the Omnipotent
Commander 2017 | Rare
While Arcanis is almost secretly a 10 mana commander (casting him and having the mana to protect himself), in practice that’s not a terrible price to pay for an Ancestral Recall every turn. There are only a few “goodstuff” mono blue commanders, and Arcanis may well be my favorite just for the pure simplicity of him.
Drawing cards is good and he is good at drawing cards! Even better, since he is quite mana hungry, he naturally fits at the head of a sea monster or even an Eldrazi deck powered by mana rocks, a build that I thoroughly recommend.
#7 Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse
Core Set 2021 | Rare
With a huge number of Garruk’s Uprising style effects seeing print, it has become absolutely trivial to draw extra cards in green. Jolrael provides double payoffs for leaning into greens card draw engines, generating bodies and then providing a massive buff to your board based on the size of your fully packed hand (or more than fully packed with the help of Reliquary Tower and friends).
Payoff commanders can be a big deal and Jolrael is one of the best examples of paying you back for doing what you want to be doing anyway. Wrapping all that into a win condition just sitting in your command zone makes her an easy recommendation if you don’t already have a mono green commander you love.
#6 Lyra Dawnbringer
Dominaria | Mythic
Angels is a popular tribe for a reason, and while Giada, Font of Hope may have stolen the limelight Lyra is an easy second and the clear #1 if you really want to lean into the lifegain synergies of the angelic tribe. Making your big flying threats even bigger and having them gain you massive chunks of life is, unsurprisingly, a real power trip and having it attached to some of the most beautiful creatures in all of Magic is icing on top.
In addition, with a pile of effective keywords already printed on her, Lyra is one of the better mono-white commanders for you to throw buffs on to and win through commander damage.
#5 Zur the Enchanter
Double Masters 2022 | Rare
One of the original boogeymen of the format, Zur has fallen off fairly substantially in the power rankings, but is still without question a force to be reckoned with. Having access to a full toolbox of powerful enchantments is absolutely insane. If the “worst” thing he is doing is fetching up a Rhystic Study, then you know you’re already in a good place.
Zur is notorious for assembling assorted doomsday engines (if not literal Doomsday piles, though the option is there!) and making a nuisance of himself with every Pacifism known to man. If you like winning the game through enchantment value, Zur is still one of the best possible picks.
#4 Tatyova, Benthic Druid
Dominaria | Uncommon
Any card that has the increasingly common “do the thing, draw a card” text is always worth considering, and Tatyova rewards you for doing one of the most common things in the game. Drawing cards and gaining little drips of life along the way feels solid.
Even if Tatyova only rewarded you for your one land drop a turn it would be worth considering, but now every Rampant Growth cantrips and you can very quickly bury yourself in the vaunted combination of mana and card advantage. The design may be dull, as many of these kinds of cards are, but the power is undeniable.
#3 Chainer, Dementia Master
Torment | Rare
Market Price: $9.46
Full disclosure: Chainer was the first rare I ever pulled. If it were up just to my own personal preference, Chainer would easily be #1, but that entirely aside he is still a ridiculously powerful option to place in your Command zone. Being able to loot any graveyard for the low price of just three mana and three life is an absolute steal.
Sure, you lose those creatures if Chainer himself gets answered, but as an added bonus your opponents don’t get anything you steal back either. On top of that he is the centerpiece to several sacrificial loops, representing plenty of infinites to end the game in your favor.
#2 Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Modern Horizons | Mythic
Market Price: $17.98
Sacrificial synergies, proliferate shenanigans, card advantage, and a potentially very relevant form of protection all wrapped into a lore-relevant package. The original Father of Machines and leader of the original Phyrexia, this reprint deserves your attention and potentially the command slot in your deck.
I may personally prefer Chainer, but it is entirely impossible to ignore the power offered by Yawgmoth’s complete package, and I wouldn’t dare to say anything against the lore implications when it comes to running what may still be the best villain in Magic’s repertoire. Well, unless you argue that the #1 on this list is a villain, which there is a solid case for.
#1 Urza, Lord High Artificer
Modern Horizons | Mythic
Market Price: $19.01
The mastermind behind much of Magic’s Dominarian plot, this version of Urza is in high demand for a reason. This card is the very definition of power, representing a big beater, mana generation, and “free” spells that can easily become win conditions. He attacks the game from multiple angles, generating every conceivable form of resource that you could want, and proceeds to bury the table in those resources.
About all he is missing is the text “draw a card” somewhere on his person, but his exile ability will often play even better than “just” drawing cards. Of all the potential commanders packaged into this set, Urza is far and away the most powerful, and that power is so overwhelming that he easily takes top marks.