10 Underrated Combat Tricks For Commander

10 Underrated Combat Tricks for Commander

Kristen GregoryCommander

Combat Tricks are an integral part of Limited Magic and even find their way into 60-card Constructed formats. While they have a little less impact in Commander, they can still be great. Here are 10 combat tricks we’re really high on right now.

The pervading philosophy is that Commander isn’t the best place for Combat Tricks. The argument is roughly that A) you’ll not see them very often and B) they are lower impact than in a smaller deck versus one opponent. By and large, this holds true, and Combat Tricks tend to be relegated to decks built entirely around using them.

You’ve got your Veyrans and other Izzet spellslinger decks that mix tricks with burn and draw; you’ve got Temur monstrosities like Kalamax and Xyris who want to be pumped up and protected; and you have outliers like the Boros Feather, the Redeemed. Outside of that? Well, decks tend to run fewer of them.


However, I’m a big believer in running one or two combat tricks where appropriate in Commander. They gain a lot of value from being so unexpected and underplayed in the format. Dropping one out of nowhere can ruin people’s calculations and leave you reeling.

One of white’s best finishers right now is a combat trick, and it ends games. What makes it powerful is its use as both protection and as a finisher. It’s the reason I’m also quite high on Galadriel’s Dismissal, which can protect your board or nullify someone else’s. 

Smuggler’s Surprise emerged from Outlaws of Thunder Junction, and I’d say it’s the first trick in a while to feel like a slam dunk in a lot of builds. 

Not all tricks are created equal, however, and finding your second copy of a card like Akroma’s Will can be tough going. Here are 10 underrated Combat Tricks, and why they’re worth another look. 


Wirewood Pride doesn’t make it onto the EDHRec front page for Elves, and whilst I can kind of see why, given that it truly excels in token builds and not all elf builds, I’m still sorry to see that it features in less than 10% of Lathril, Blade of the Elves decks, and not at all for lists for Rhys the Redeemed

Wirewood Pride is a massive buff in the average Elf deck, granting +5/+5 on an average board going into the mid-game. When you’re in Lathril, that can become +10/+10 with very little effort. What’s more, as it cares about the whole battlefield, it can include the many top Elves that people play in the format like Tireless Provisioner, Reclamation Sage, and all of the various mana dorks. And changelings, from Black Market Connections, or otherwise.

Having Wirewood Pride in your back pocket can turn a non-lethal attack from an opponent to another opponent into something far more deadly, and it’s this flexibility I love about it. Hell, this is probably good in some Voja, Jaws of the Conclave lists, let’s be honest.


Swift Reconfiguration is a very flexible option in the suite of one-mana white removal spells. While it doesn’t permanently remove anything, it can provide a lot of flexibility. It can save your creature from combat by making it a Vehicle, at which point it drops out of combat. You can do the same thing to a blocking creature, and you can use it to save a key piece during a board wipe. 

One of the best things I’ve done with this is to use it to stop combos. I’ve cast it targeting a Dockside Extortionist in a Rionya Deck, who failed to crew the Dockside. I’ve cast it to turn a Marrow-Gnawer into a vehicle before it can combo off, too. Very flexible piece, and especially useful at higher power levels and/or if your Commander has a strong static effect and doesn’t get in the red zone much. 


Super-trample is an intriguing prospect, and I’ve enjoyed playing cards with that effect quite often. It’s usually reserved for chunky creatures like Siege Behemoth, and so people tend to see it coming. Not so with Indomitable Might, a cheeky trick that sees very little play. I get it, people aren’t the biggest fan of Auras, but Commander is in a place where Auras are pretty okay right now, and if you get more than one combat out of this you’ll feel very happy. It’s perfect for large attackers without trample that people figured they could chump. 


The card that inspired this article today, and not why you’d think. Though I’ve played my fair share of Boros Charm over the years, it was the truly hilarious play I was on the other end of yesterday that prompted this dive into Combat Tricks. An opposing Arixmethes I thought I could block removed my blocker, and then my other opponent gave it double strike. I was dead. Double dead. It was unexpected, but one of those fun stories you’ll take away from a game.

The best tricks are, no doubt, the ones that are stapled to other modal effects. Boros Charm has dropped off a little recently, though, with players opting for phasing effects like Clever Concealment and Teferi’s Protection more often. While I think that logic is more than reasonable, I think the added utility of the trick on Boros Charm is more of a missed… trick… than you’d think. 


I wasn’t sure whether to include a creature on this list, and my first suggestion was actually Mocking Doppelganger. That said, I opted for one that is played less often, and is more of a true trick all things considered. 

Sigarda’s Vanguard is a little spendy at five mana, but it can come down and change the course of a game. Duelist’s Heritage already makes combat a nightmare for opponents, and this angel can essentially grant multiple instances of that effect after attacks, or even after blocks if you’re feeling truly spicy.

It also stays to provide value next time you get to attack too, which makes the five mana feel much more worth it.


Yeah, I play blue cards too, and Quandrix Command is always doing the heavy lifting for me. All of these effects, on their own, are a little under baked for three mana, but choosing two of them for three mana feels very efficient indeed. Most often you’ll use this to bounce something while putting counters on something else for a true combat blowout, but the added ability to counter The Great Henge or Rhystic Study while Time Walking an opponent by bouncing their set-up creature is very good. 

Pruning graveyards is always good too, and getting this as an option on a spell that already does so much is just gravy.


Given just how much of modern Commander revolves around attack triggers and combat damage triggers to accrue value, a mid-game Hellish Rebuke can stop a player in their tracks completely. Holding three mana in the mid-game is a big ask, sure, but when it can kneecap someone who is sending in multiple instances of 2-4 damage to gain value – and when you’ve got a couple of treasure yourself – it can be a big tempo play.

Naturally, it’s also good as a way to punish go-wide decks, and though it requires you to take the initial damage up front, if you pack some lifegain, you should be able to live and tell the tale.


I was musing the other day about how there need to be more reasons to play mono-color and two-color Commander decks, and how seeing more cards like Nyx Lotus and Throne of Eldraine would be healthy for the format. Brave the Elements is actually a great example of a reward for being in mono-white or even a two-color deck that makes primarily white tokens. 

Much like the furor over Surge of Salvation granting immunity from red boardwipes and allowing you to get in vs RB decks, the appeal of Brave the Elements is primarily the ability to walk on over, free from blockers, and smack someone upside the head. Getting to save a board from Blasphemous Act is just a bonus. It’s not Akroma’s Will, but it can give you the same lethal attack if everything else is going to plan.


Casting this on an Inferno Titan while the ping ability was on the stack in Henzie has opened my eyes to just how good this trick can be. While that is close to the ceiling of what you can do with it, it’s still fantastic at causing blowouts in combat. People don’t bargain for hidden deathtouch when they block, and this punishes them for their confidence in chumping. What’s more, if you have a haymaker with a great EtB, it makes that block even worse.

Feign Death effects aren’t the best in a format filled with exile removal, but they still come up surprisingly often, especially if you have some sac outlets in your deck – or just a Deadly Dispute


Today’s top card combines a number of aspects of other cards on today’s list to deliver a real haymaker of a combat trick. It comes out of nowhere, it is very easy to get high damage on, and it can affect an opponent’s attack, making it super flexible and highly capable of ending games.

The average player will have 4-5 nonbasic lands in play once they make a sizable swing, and giving each creature that much of a power boost is actually wild for the low mana investment. I think this comes a very close second to Akroma’s Will in ability to end games out of nowhere, and I’d strongly consider it for your red deck if you’re not already playing it. 


Combat tricks are a devious way to increase your win rate in Commander. Their relative underplayed status means that you gain a lot of virtual card advantage by running them, and above all? They’re a lot of fun, and lead to some hilarious moments. What’s your favorite trick?