LOTR: Gandalf the White’s 14 Best Friends In MTG Commander

Friendly legends that make Gandalf the strongest, new white commander.

Gandalf, the White is my pick for the best new Legend in the main Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. I was quick to throw together a list designed to take ample advantage of his ability to play legends and artifacts at instant speed, particularly jamming piles of mana rocks in order to slam haymakers like Portal to Phyrexia on the table asap.

However, the real meat and potatoes (yes, taters, Precious) of the deck is a core suite of legendary creatures that work wonders alongside the Maiar himself. Here, I’ll highlight these 14 core creatures before going over the list itself, which I’ll readily recommend if you want to give Gandalf a go at your table.

1. Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful
Yoshimaru, Ever FaithfulCommander: Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, MythicYoshimaru, Ever Faithful - Commander: Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty - magic

Man’s best friend is also the first of Gandalf’s. Yoshimaru is already the best boy, but Gandalf the White makes him even better! Yoshimaru can get big with little issue, but Gandalf doubles up on all those counters so this big good boy can be the biggest good boy.

It isn’t complicated, but it doesn’t need to be, and if you’re going to run a card that’s “just” a large beater, it might as well be one that can get started on turn one. Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful is the card I’m hoping to see in my opening hand the most, starting off the list of Gandalf’s friends with some power.

2. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
Anafenza, Kin-Tree SpiritCommander Masters, Uncommon

Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit - Commander Masters - magic

Alright, hear me out, what if Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful could spread his counters around? Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit does exactly that, and like Yoshimaru she gets twice as good when Gandalf is on the table. Anafenza is a card that I’ve largely avoided, as the double white cost makes her a bit rougher in multicolor and the “least toughness” clause can be awkward.

However, when she’s triggering twice off the majority of your plays, that awkwardness hardly matters— you just get to enjoy making the rest of your board swole. I cannot recommend Anafenza enough, and would readily call her an honorary member of The Fellowship.

3. Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
Daxos, Blessed by the SunTheros Beyond Death, Uncommon

Daxos, Blessed by the Sun - Theros Beyond Death - magic

Given Gandalf’s overarching themes of light and goodness, I may have snuck in a few more solar powered cards than I might otherwise. Daxos gets in initially for the “Sun” in his title, but he stays in the list due to how literally life saving he can be. While those 1 life buffers may feel small at first, they add up quick.

Of course, Daxos also benefits from Gandalf (so far, you’ll notice everyone does, though some others down the line just help enable others), doubling up on half his lifegain triggers. As an added bonus, his toughness can really skyrocket in this build, making him a champion blocker on top of padding your life.

4. Oswald Fiddlebender
Oswald FiddlebenderAdventures in the Forgotten Realms, RareOswald Fiddlebender - Adventures in the Forgotten Realms - magic

Given the truly impressive number of impactful artifacts I end up with in my final list, Oswald Fiddlebender is essentially an auto-include. Gandalf may not be quite as famous for his love of artifacts (though he knows his way around a Palantir of Orthanc or two), but the artifice he empowers makes Oswald exceptional.

Imagine chaining up to a Spine of Ish Sah off Oswald with Gandalf in play. Or sacking your Cityscape Leveler to cheat out the aforementioned Portal to Phyrexia. Oswald and Gandalf combine to tinker out some downright mean machines.

5. Heliod, Sun-Crowned
Heliod, Sun-CrownedCommander Masters, Mythic

Heliod, Sun-Crowned - Commander Masters - magic

Heliod, as a character, may be diametrically opposed to what Gandalf represents, but the card itself is solid. Admittedly, he made the initial cut again due to the sunlight subtheme, but he stays because of both the lifegain subtheme in the deck (which is hard to avoid in mono white), and because of the easy inclusion of a combo with him.

Heliod, Sun-Crowned x Walking Ballista is a favorite combo win, but being able to cast it at instant speed with the help of Gandalf makes this another near auto-include. Many decks will have trouble dealing with this combo in “normal” play, so making it a surprise makes it that much better.

6. Loran of the Third Path
Loran of the Third PathCommander: Murders at Karlov Manor, Rare

Loran of the Third Path - Commander: Murders at Karlov Manor - magic

Dropping one problematic permanent with Loran is already good enough, doing a fine Reclamation Sage impression. She can potentially gun down two problems with Gandalf in play, and then sticks around to feed some cards around the table. While she isn’t necessarily anything to write home about, she doesn’t need to be.

Notably, vigilance is also a severely underrated keyword in commander. Throw in a few Anafenza buffs and Loran becomes a decent threat on both offence and defense, and you can also use her ability to give others cards as a political tool. “Hey, let me hit you with Loran, it’s just three damage, and I’ll let you draw a card before my next turn.”

7. Heliod, God of the Sun
Heliod, God of the SunCommander Masters, Mythic

Heliod, God of the Sun - Commander Masters - magic

Speaking of vigilance being good, Heliod, God of the Sun gives it to the whole squad. In this deck, it isn’t unheard of for him to be able to swing in as an indestructible beater, but this version of Heliod is here both for the keyword sharing and, strangely, for his mana sink ability.

Playing at instant speed sometimes means you won’t have anything to do. You get to hold up a hand full of potential threats, and many of them will be at their “best” when played in response to something. Sometimes, that best timing won’t creep up, and Heliod gives you a fine way to spend your mana while still building your board if you don’t have a better play.

8. Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle
Teshar, Ancestor’s ApostleCommander Masters, Uncommon

Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle - Commander Masters - magic

You love to see when your synergies line up, and Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle loves historic cards at least as much as Gandalf. Getting to bring little problems like Myr retriever or Filigree Familiar back repeatedly is a beautiful thing, and other times Teshar is helping you get back half of the Heliod, Sun-Crowned combo or other value plays.

Teshar is also commonly used in assorted loops, which while I didn’t include much in the way of here (I don’t like packing too many combo wins into a deck, typically), you may find that getting those loops off at instant speed is exactly what you want to be doing.

9. Ao, the Dawn Sky
Ao, the Dawn SkyKamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Mythic

Ao, the Dawn Sky - Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty - magic

Ao, the Dawn Sky may secretly be my favorite card in the deck. Being able to play a card that wants to die at instant speed is plenty of fun, getting to slam Ao down to block (and likely trade with) a problem to get his death trigger feels powerful. And boy what a death trigger.

Buffing your entire team for a total of +2/+2 can be impressive, and will do a great job of setting you up for a lethal swing at some stages of the game, but the real game is the first death trigger option. There are a lot of mana value 4 or less options that you can windmill slam down with Ao, including piles of mana rocks, meaning he can potentially set you up for the entire game.

10. Celestine, the Living Saint
Celestine, the Living SaintUniverses Beyond: Warhammer 40,000, RareCelestine, the Living Saint - Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 - magic

In most circumstances, Celestine, the Living Saint will play similarly to a lifelinking, evasive Sun Titan. However, with a few buffs or incidental lifegain, she can potentially reanimate all kinds of interesting threats and engine pieces. In Gandalf the White, that kind of recursion is even better.

Getting back assorted legends and getting additional triggers thanks to the Panharmonic effect is truly killer, and Celestine earns the name “saint” with how miraculous some of those recursive plays can get. If you have a “Legendary Matters” theme in your deck, Celestine should probably be in it.

11. Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
Elesh Norn, Mother of MachinesPhyrexia: All Will Be One, Mythic

Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines - Phyrexia: All Will Be One - magic

Hey, so I heard you like doubling triggers. In another life, Gandalf the White and Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines are the closest of friends (or more? Shippers, get on it!). Elesh Norn gives you even more of what you want, and there is no such thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to all this value.

Of course, mom here has another line of text, which can be just as important. Shutting down opposing triggers (especially at instant speed, as much as I’ve now beaten that drum an awful lot), can completely break a game wide open for you. If you have the budget for this version of Norn, she and Gandalf belong together.

12. Yosei, the Morning Star
Yosei, the Morning StarIconic Masters, Rare

Yosei, the Morning Star - Iconic Masters - magic

Take what I said about Ao feeling good to throw down as a sacrificial blocker and make it all the more annoying for the opposition with Yosei. Tapping down problems and keeping them that way is essentially unheard of in mono white, and Yosei can potentially do some mean things. Notably, he wears Gift of Immortality like a champ.

There are only a few cards that you want to burn your recursion on in this deck, but Yosei is absolutely one of them. Gandalf may not double up on death triggers, but that hardly matters with the raw power here. Even just stopping one untap step can be a real game changer, so don’t sleep on this one.

13. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Elesh Norn, Grand CenobiteIconic Masters, Mythic

Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite - Iconic Masters - magic

I can sing the praises of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite for days, but first, the song of my people: “Playing impactful creatures at instant speed is good.” You’ve heard this song and dance before, but it’s never been a better performance than with this iteration of Norn. You can probably see why already.

Growing your team while shrinking the opposition is already a big deal, but being able to do it in the middle of combat can swing things crazily. Personally, I like flashing in Elesh Norn when two other players are duking it out, just really mess things up. Few things feel better.

14. Reya Dawnbringer
Reya DawnbringerUltimate Masters, Rare

Reya Dawnbringer - Ultimate Masters - magic

Long ago, when EDH first became a thing, Reya Dawnbringer was a certified bomb. Reanimating a card every turn is always good, and in the era of battlecruiser Commander you could much more reliably see her hit the field. Sure, you still see her cheated out with Kaalia of the Vast on occasion, but Reya’s time feels past. Not so with Gandalf.

The light theme aside, which is again how she first snuck into the list, being able to cast Reya at an opposing end step to more reliably get an upkeep reanimation trigger really upgrades her performance. All the better, since my list is packed with ramping artifacts, getting up to Reya mana is much more feasible than in many others.

Gandalf’s Legendary Artifice

With these fourteen in mind, let’s talk about the list! The core is those much mentioned mana rocks and assorted artifacts that we want to hit, further empowered by our set of legendary creatures. These are all further supported by several, simple win conditions.

Luminarch Ascension

Market Price: $11.52

Approach of the Second Sun
Akroma's Will

Market Price: $23.11

While the table has to deal with trying to answer Gandalf the White and his friends, which is much harder if you keep playing mana rocks to let you replay an answered Gandalf, you can sit back and accumulate a terrifying amount of value while cards like Luminarch Ascension and Approach of the Second Sun threaten to steal games.

Gandalf ultimately allows you the freedom to approach the game from three angles, all of which can readily win. You can ramp out very scary artifact threats with mana rocks. You can play value legends and artifacts at instant speed, grinding down the table with that value and bonus recursion. Or, in the end, you have those one-card win conditions waiting in the wings. All fitting for Gandalf, who can turn the tide when it matters most.


Gandalf’s Legendary Artifice

Market Price:$406.20

Maindeck, 99 cards

Sortsort deckCommander (1)

  • 1Gandalf the White$3.78

Creature (28)

  • 1Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
  • 1Angel of the Ruins
  • 1Ao, the Dawn Sky
  • 1Archivist of Oghma
  • 1Cataclysmic Gearhulk
  • 1Celestine, the Living Saint
  • 1Cityscape Leveler
  • 1Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
  • 1Duplicant
  • 1Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
  • 1Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
  • 1Esper Sentinel
  • 1Filigree Familiar
  • 1Heliod, God of the Sun
  • 1Heliod, Sun-Crowned
  • 1Loran of the Third Path
  • 1Meteor Golem
  • 1Myr Retriever
  • 1Oswald Fiddlebender
  • 1Reya Dawnbringer
  • 1Solemn Simulacrum
  • 1Sun Titan
  • 1Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle
  • 1Thalia’s Lancers
  • 1Walking Ballista
  • 1Wurmcoil Engine
  • 1Yosei, the Morning Star
  • 1Yoshimaru, Ever Faithful

Sorcery (4)

  • 1Approach of the Second Sun
  • 1Emeria’s Call // Emeria, Shattered Skyclave
  • 1Rout
  • 1Urza’s Ruinous Blast

Instant (8)

  • 1Akroma’s Will
  • 1Enlightened Tutor
  • 1Generous Gift
  • 1Miraculous Recovery
  • 1Path to Exile
  • 1Sejiri Shelter // Sejiri Glacier
  • 1Swords to Plowshares
  • 1Teferi’s Protection

Artifact (21)

  • 1Arcane Signet
  • 1Archaeomancer’s Map
  • 1Ashnod’s Altar
  • 1Commander’s Sphere
  • 1Conjurer’s Closet
  • 1Everflowing Chalice
  • 1Gilded Lotus
  • 1Hedron Archive
  • 1Heroes’ Podium
  • 1Mind Stone
  • 1Nyx Lotus
  • 1Panharmonicon
  • 1Pearl Medallion
  • 1Portal to Phyrexia
  • 1Skullclamp
  • 1Sol Ring
  • 1Spine of Ish Sah
  • 1The Mightstone and Weakstone
  • 1Thought Vessel
  • 1Thran Dynamo
  • 1Vedalken Orrery

Enchantment (2)

  • 1Gift of Immortality
  • 1Luminarch Ascension

Land (36)

  • 1Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire
  • 1Emeria, the Sky Ruin
  • 1Myriad Landscape
  • 1Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
  • 32Plains