5 Underrated Commanders From Strixhaven

5 Underrated Commanders from Strixhaven

Kristen GregoryCommander

There are over 2,000 legendary creatures to choose from for your Commander, and sometimes it can be hard to pick one. Join me in this new series as we go set by set to discover some underrated Commanders from throughout Magic’s rich history of legendary creatures. 


Today in the first entry in this series, we’ll be stopping by the plane of Arcavios. Arcavios is a wondrous plane with plenty of history to unearth, but it’s also home to the magic school Strixhaven, which the Strixhaven set is named after. STX  was a really cool set because it flipped the script on the Ravnican idea of two color pairs and gave the two color pairs something entirely different to do that still feels right. 


The first Commander on the list is arguably the most popular of the ones we’ll look at today: Adrix and Nev, Twincasters. Adrix and Nev is a Commander I’d like to suggest to people who want to try Simic but don’t really gel with Simic’s tendency to fall into “play an extra land, draw an extra card”. And who can blame them? Simic sometimes feels bland and uninteresting, while at the same time like playing with the training wheels on, or with the guardrails when bowling. 

Adrix and Nev give you an entirely different direction to take; tokens. Whether you concentrate on making Elf tokens, or making Clues, or making 4/4 Beasts, or just a mixture of the most efficient and interesting tokens available in Simic Quandrix colors, Adrix and Nev can helm that deck and just make it… better. Having a doubler in the Command Zone is a treat, and I really like that this one has Ward {2}, because, well, it’s going to get removed.

Concentrating on token copies also takes Adrix and Nev away from the typical UG Clones package (though don’t tell anyone I said this, but cloning Adrix and Nev is a bit good too). 

The selection of spells you can run in this deck trends quite unique as far as UG decks go, offering some wild and powerful effects that make for memorable games. I really value running unique suites of spells in my decks, and so this Commander is one I enjoy a lot.


Speaking of running unique spells, how about Killian, Ink Duelist? Killian is a cost reducer for removal spells, right? Well, you’re only half right. What he’s actually best at is being a cost reducer for Aura Enchantments, and then enjoying Lifelink and Menace at a baseline allows him to be a Voltron win condition. 

That cost reduction of {2} helps massively with casting some clunkier spells ahead of curve, and while you might still want to run the likes of Swords to Plowshares and Damnation, this also opens you up to running more expensive removal – like Abstruse Appropriation, or Baleful Mastery – that are usually on the pricier end.

Still, we’re about Auras here, and getting Chains of Custody and Twisted Embrace down to one or two mana, respectively, feels great. It also feels great if you have Mesa Enchantress in play, and now Pearl-Ear offers another source of card draw for Auras, too. 

The big hitters are, of course, Angelic Destiny and Spectra Ward, which feel much more attainable for just two or three mana. Hey, if you have Pearl-Ear out, then they’re both two mana. 

Killian gives you a different kind of Orzhov, and with new tech like Eriette of the Charmed Apple, Glasswing Grace, and Fell the Profane, the deck gets even more consistent. Besides, you can play one of my favorite cards: Doomwake Giant


Okay, so Boros is all about equipment, right? Well, it’s a good job we’re going to Lorehold for the next card. Velomachus Lorehold is much more about casting spells. This isn’t your usual RW Commander, and at seven mana for the first casting, it’s definitely one for a less high-pitch table. 

Still, at the right table, this one is a lot of fun. For starters, he makes MDFC spell-lands incredibly good, so you’ll want to run those for sure. They aren’t the strongest effects you want to freecast off of him, but having access to more hits means fewer misses. 

In practice, Velomachus operates as a control deck. It plays a lot of wraths, and has access to land destruction as a win condition too, if you’re feeling brave enough to have that conversation with your playgroup. What Velomachus wants to do is curve out with on-board sources of protection, like Benevolent Bodyguard, Selfless Spirit, and Invasion of Gobakhan, in order to not overly stack those protection effects into things you don’t want to have to use when free-casting. 

If you lean into burn spells, you can enjoy cards like Radiant Scrollwielder and Heartflame Duelist, which can keep you alive long enough to start killing people. 

Bear in mind that most extra combats won’t work, as they require them to be cast within the main phase to work. Luckily, the new Great Train Heist joins World at War and Savage Beating as another option that can be cast in combat. 

You’re likely winning with Surge to Victory or Past in Flames, in conjunction with Mana Geyser or Dockside Extortionist, but there’s no reason you can’t slot in any number of other win conditions. Velomachus is a control/value engine, so feel free to get creative.


Deekah is a lot of fun. She provides Fractal tokens with counters equal to a spell’s mana value whenever you cast or copy an instant or sorcery spell. She also has a way to get big damage through for four mana, which is cheaper than Rogue’s Passage

The fun part of a Deekah deck is that you have a lot of room to experiment when it comes to which spells you run. She only cares about instants and sorceries, so while you do want some synergistic spells (like Perplexing Test), you can just run your favorites.

Having redundancy is good here, so running cards like Metallurgic Summonings, Chrome Host Seedshark, Shark Typhoon, and Talrand go a long way to making sure your deck can pop off without having Deekah in play.

Deekah’s power comes from cards like Flux Channeler, offering a way to grow your token army. The new Dreamtide Whale is a huge pickup for the deck, and a card that really pushes me to want to build her. 

It’s a great time to revisit a Commander like Deekah, as the new tech we’ve seen in the past few years has given the deck a lot of options. Thunderclap Drake is undoubtedly one of the best, being a cost reducer and copier, but haymakers like Jin-Gitaxias are also great, especially if you can use High Tide or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to cast them early.


We’re closing this one out with my favorite Commander on the list, Hofri Ghostforge. Hofri can be a leader for a Spirits deck, offering +1/+1, trample and haste to Spirits you control. That’s pretty good, and lets you slam in with the NEO dragons and other great cards.

What’s more interesting is Hofri’s second ability: basically, when a creature you control dies, it puts a trigger to exile it. If you do (and it isn’t stripped from your yard in response) you get a token copy that’s a spirit. Pretty neat, right? Well it gets better, because when the token leaves play, the exiled card goes back to your graveyard.

That’s a whole lot of power packed into that tiny package, and it means that Boros Lorehold Reanimator is a definite direction for this deck.

What’s fun with Hofri is the directions you can take it. 

Hofri’s trigger means that you will get to exile an opponent’s creature than you controlled, and make a token copy. So, a popular build for Hofri is to build a deck revolving around threaten effects with sacrifice outlets. One time effects like Zealous Conscripts can bounce back again, while Helm of Possession is a sacrifice outlet in itself. Casting a Mob Rule or other mass-threaten with a sacrifice outlet in play is basically a one-sided boardwipe in which you’ll get to enjoy EtB effects all over again.

The other route you can go down is to get more tokens. Determined Iteration, Mondrak, Muster the Departed… all can help you accrue even more tokens than the singular one that Hofri creates.

If you’d like to see an example list, check out my Hofri list over on Moxfield: いってらっしゃい / See You Later (This Turn). The deck leverages Terror of the Peaks and Hallowed Spiritkeeper with Warleader’s Call as one win condition, while the other uses Valakut Exploration and Cavalier of Flame to win with… lands. In Boros! That’s peak fun right there.


Sometimes you just need some inspiration to build a new deck, and looking back at old Commanders can provide that. Strixhaven is great for this, as it has a whole host of interesting takes on two-color cards. Have you built any of these decks? What are your favorite tech cards?