Commander Masters Draft Guide

Commander Masters Draft Guide

Tom AndersonCommander

I’m not sure what percentage of the audience for Commander Masters is mostly excited about its Draft potential — but whatever size that minority is, I’m part of it. The first few Commander sets to introduce these modified draft rules were an unexpected hit, producing quality Limited gameplay filled with classic multiplayer moments. 

Any of you shopping for a box of Commander Masters to upgrade your decks, I urge you — take a moment to organize a draft night instead of just cracking all those packs by yourself. If you have a group who plays together regularly, it’s an easy way to take a break from your usual decks and dynamics. Even with strangers, Draft can guarantee an even, agreeable Commander experience without pre-game talks or feeling out player taboos.

So, having hopefully answered the “why” of drafting Commander Masters, let’s get straight on to the “how.”


The first thing to remember whenever we’re talking Commander Masters is how a Commander set alters the usual Draft rules. To quickly recap:

  • You are drafting a deck to play in 4-player multiplayer games, using Commander rules and life totals. “Each opponent” effects, goad, myriad and similar mechanics are strong.
  • Boosters contain 20 draftable cards, including a rare legend and 1-3 other rares. You pick your cards from each pack two at a time — which makes it easier to secure strongly synergistic cards instead of hoping the second one makes it back around the table.
  • The draft deck you eventually build needs to be 60 cards (including basic lands and anything starting in your command zone). However, that 60 can include multiple copies of the same card if you managed to draft more than one.
  • You will have to choose an eligible legendary creature or Planeswalker from within those 60 cards to be your Commander. Furthermore, the normal color identity rules still apply. If you find yourself drafting a lot of green and black cards, it’s very important to also grab a dual-color legend to lead them.
  • Commander Masters has two important additions to this rule which help you out. First, during Draft, all single-color and colorless legends count as having the “partner” ability, even if it’s not printed on the card. This means you can combine any two single-color commanders to cover the color pair you wanted to play.
  • If you still don’t have the right colors, or you somehow missed out on getting any legends at all, you can use one or two copies of The Prismatic Piper as commander(s) to customize your color identity. These get added to your deck the same way basic land does, so you never need to actually draft the Piper to have this backup plan.


When drafting Commander sets with people for the first time, I’ve noticed a lot of them tunnel vision on using the first commander they open and commit their entire draft to chasing that card’s themes. This is something a lot of Commander players might feel comfortable doing if they aren’t experienced drafters. It’s not even necessarily a losing strategy, although it is gambling on having that specific deck be open in your draft.

But with at least three legal commanders guaranteed in every booster, and a total of 123 such cards in the set, there’s no real need to rush into this important decision. The flexibility to partner up any two mono-color commanders means that so long as you’re picking a mix of good legends among your other cards, you shouldn’t have trouble settling on a duo who match the strongest colors available in your pool. 

The way I see it, getting 34-ish high quality spells within the same theme and colors is the tricky part — it’s much easier to pivot into a different commander choice halfway through pack three than finding a whole different deck!. 

This does open up the interesting strategic choice between a three-color commander who can upgrade your deck with powerful off-color spells and a two-color partner pair who can leverage the obvious advantage of a second card in the command zone. The right choice really depends on how closely the possible commanders synergize with your deck and the relative quality of cards in your potential third color.

My last general tip is to keep the usual dynamics of Commander and multiplayer in mind. All-out attacks leave you a sitting duck for surviving opponents, so it’s better to build up a single large and/or evasive threat while keeping other creatures back to block. 

Any sort of combo or recurring value engine is great, as are mana ramp and card draw. Interaction should only be used reactively: play removal at the last second when you need to stop a lethal attack or break up a powerful combo. Counterspells and tricks that grant hexproof or indestructible are highly valuable for this reason.


The usual concept of draft archetypes isn’t really present in Commander Masters. The choice of reprints in this set were chosen to meet demand from constructed Commander players rather than try and ensure a consistent mechanical theme in each color pair. Your choice of commander(s) is much more likely to give each draft direction as they push you into drafting around their colors and themes. 

But these loose “synergy clusters” can at least let you know what to expect from your common and uncommon cards, and how some of the more unusual “partner” pairings possible in this set might play out:

White/blue: Artifacts

UW is definitely one of the most suspect-looking “synergies” with very little direct overlap between how the two colors approach artifacts. White is almost exclusively incentivising equipment (which the set has plenty of) with a little support for artifact creatures. Blue’s artifact synergies are more general, encouraging playing larger artifacts through cards like Renowned Weaponsmith and Padeem, Consul of Innovation. 

You could potentially create some large evasive attackers with Filigree Attendant (or All That Glitters on Looter il-Kor), but I’m not convinced that the actual colorless artifact cards are worth leaning into this hard.

Commanders to look for: Sai, Master Thopterist, Urza, Lord High Artificer, Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage

Blue/Black: Reanimator

Here we have the unexpected return of my favorite Core Set 2021 draft deck: UB reanimator, starring Shipwreck Dowser! Of course, the presence of cards like Victimize, Torrential Gearhulk and Dread Return power up that little engine to a level more commensurate with Commander expectations. Frantic Search is its usual all-star self, helping to load up the yard along with Carrion Grub, Read the Bones and Mire Triton.

Blue also has a bunch of other ways to subtly leverage a graveyard deck with lots of big monsters, including Body Double and Braids, Conjurer Adept. You won’t be short on targets either. Slamming down a succession of early Ulamog’s Crushers feels like a great game plan regardless of who you have in the command zone. 

Just think carefully about which legends you want to reanimate vs. which you actually plan to cast before picking your commander(s)!

Commanders to look for: Chainer, Dementia Master, Stitcher Geralf, Taigam, Sidisi’s Hand

Black-Red: Sacrifice

Almost every time RB Sac decks are good in a draft set, it’s because cards like Act of Treason or Claim the Firstborn end up being the crucial payoff. But Wizards of the Coast seems to have left those efficient “steal your guy” spells out of Commander Masters entirely. 

I have to imagine that’s to prevent the crushing, feel-bad moment when someone’s commander gets nabbed and sacc’d, which is a worthy cause. But it leaves this supposed synergy feeling decidedly toothless.

In fact, Wizards seems really reluctant to give RB any tools for this deck at all. Mayhem Devil is extremely notable by its absence — again, probably because it is just too efficient at shooting all enemy commanders off the board. It has been supplanted by the likes of Havoc Jester and Blood Aspirant, cards that feel more like value-adders than serious payoffs. 

The cards that generate sac fodder are actually quite good, as are some of the sac outlets — but the cards you really need are elusive mythics. Perhaps RB Sac is the deck that ends up paying off precisely because you can expect every Blood Aspirant to wheel?

Commanders to look for: Judith, the Scourge Diva, Anax, Hardened in the Forge, Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder 

Red-Green: Power Matters

Another barely-there archetype in terms of actual synergy, although as a general gameplan you could do worse than “cast a bunch of huge legends and dominate the combat step.” 

All the support cards we do get are very clearly pushing us towards aggressive, high-impact plays: Furious Rise and Hunter’s Insight make combat a prerequisite for card draw, while Ram Through and Temur Battle Rage can be trumped by enemy spot removal. At least Fiendlash offers a recurring conundrum for our opponents, all but making creatures unblockable while also allowing some disgusting noncombat damage in the right situation.

The set also has cards like Spikeshot Goblin, which want you to raise their power instead of just capitalizing on what’s already there. I’m just not sure that’s something RG is very interested in. 

Play the biggest front ends you can, attack often and use your handful of potent tricks to brush aside attempts at resistance.

Commanders to look for: Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma, Tuya Bearclaw, Ghalta, Primal Hunger 

Green-White: Grow Wide

Every Draft player understands what “GW” really stands for at this point, so it’s no surprise to see another classic color archetype return for this format. The multiplicative way damage scales when combining token makers with team-wide pump is perfect for keeping aggro viable in multiplayer. We just need to make sure we have the strongest and most efficient versions of those effects.

Recurring token producers like Crawling Infestation and Kemba, Kha Regent are very important to help us keep expanding our board, while team-wide +1/+1 counters are better for a long game than temporary buffs. 

The “burst” versions of these effects can still be useful, but unless you can pull mythic bombs like The Hoof or Doubling Season, you’ll need to maximize the long-term power ceiling of your token horde. Getting to utilize a whole extra class of support cards has significant upside as well.

Commanders to look for: Pianna, Nomad Captain, Jazal Goldmane, Jolrael, Mwonvuli Reclus

White-Black: Aristocrats

WB is a bit of a blend between the mechanics we’ve already discussed, featuring some of the sacrifice tricks from RB as well as the tokens-and-counters synergies from GW. However, the support cards involved seem to just work out better for this color combination. 

Taborax, Hope’s Demise has far more Clerics to trigger off with white in the pool while Alharu, Solemn Ritualist gets enough sacrifice outlets to become a serious engine.

The “Aristocrats” label is shorthand for “aggro deck where you aggressively give up creatures to push damage,” and the focus here is definitely on attacking over saccing. Keep a low curve and pick up as much good removal as you can, because this is not really a strategy that benefits from Commander’s wide boards and long games. 

Either drafting and playing around some sweepers or having some sneaky reanimation targets for Victimize and Dread Return might help invigorate your late game and get your actual aristocrats over the line.

Commanders to look for: Teysa Karlov, Gorex, the Tombshell, Rankle, Master of Pranks

Blue-Red: Spellslinger

If you prefer your gameplay to be focused on the hand and the stack rather than the battlefield… well honestly, Commander may not be the most welcoming format for you. HOWEVER, there is a Commander Masters color pair you can feel at home in! 

UR offers a suite of perfectly OK support cards you can draft around all the already-powerful-on-their-own instants and sorceries reprinted in the set.

Because so much of the power is vested in the instants and sorceries themselves, this might be the kind of Draft deck that finds you rather than one you go looking for. If you open up a draft with Cyclonic Rift, Capture of Jingzhou, Disrupt Decorum and Ravaging Blaze, for instance, you might as well accept the gift and start going after cards like Storm-Kiln Artist and Cyclops Electromancer. 

Faithless Looting and Frantic Search make it very easy to dig through to those outlier spells while loading up the yard for Cryptic Serpent and charging up your “storm count” for Ripley Vance and Murmuring Mystic.

Commanders to look for: Kaho, Minamo Historian, Talrand, Sky Summoner, Melek, Izzet Paragon

Black-Green: The Fungus Among Us

Due to the loose nature of these archetypes/clusters, there turns out to be plenty of overlap, and I could have just as easily labeled GB as some mix of the tokens, counters, sacrifice and reanimator themes we’ve already seen in these colors. But this color pair does also have its own unique mechanic to build around which ties into all of those themes, and that is Saproling tokens.

Borrowing from another of my all-time favorite Draft archetypes, we have the combination of Fungal Plots and Slimefoot, the Stowaway to start performing slow, efficient resource conversions as our situation demands. Jade Mage, Verdeloth the Ancient and Nemata, Grove Guardian provide backup Saproling generators, and the latter two can also be win conditions to push a large fungal horde into the red zone. 

Alternatively, we can lean into sacrifice synergies like Bastion of Remembrance and Rot Shambler, or just use the Saprolings to cushion a more typical GB midrange strategy and out-last our opponents.

Commanders to look for: Slimefoot, the Stowaway, Nemata, Grove Guardian, Cabal Patriarch 

Red-White: Equipment

Equipment as a draft archetype has proven very hard to make work in the past. The presence of equipment-specific payoffs means you’re pressured to really max out on equipment slots, sacrificing other key noncreature spells and even sometimes your number of actual creatures. 

There’s also a lot of tension between the fact that equipment works best in long games where it helps you trade up with multiple creatures consecutively, and RW’s typical lack of other tools needed to play those longer games.

I can’t say for sure that things will be different in Commander Masters, but Wizards of the Coast has gone out of their way to provide a ton of powerful support for it. You have token generators, cost reduction, recursion and card draw to help RW keep up in the resource-driven world of Commander, as well as the more high-roll tempo side of Equipment with Champion of the Flame and some protection-granting tricks. 

Ancestral Blade is an irreplaceable pickup for this deck. Not only does it let you “cheat” an extra equipment in one of your creature slots, but its low casting and equip costs are excellent in a set where many payoffs just care about having stuff attached to them.

Commanders to look for: Akiri, Fearless Voyager, Khemba, Kha Regent, Balan, Wandering Knight

Green-Blue: Land Ramp

In constructed Commander, ramp isn’t so much an archetype as a fact of life; inescapable regardless of your colors, strategy or power level. But in Draft, our typical ocean of Signets, Diamonds, Medallions and other colorless accelerants does not run so deep, so the big mana deck becomes the exclusive property of UG. 

Land-based ramp is the order of the day, both to power up specific payoffs like Rampaging Brontodon and to help get the right mana for whichever rare bombs you’ve been able to snag.

Yes, this is definitely the color pair that benefits the most from adding a third (or fourth, or fifth) stripe to its identity — but there’s still plenty of power to access if you’re coloring inside the lines. Beanstalk Giant is the perfect all-rounder for the deck, while Yedora, Grave Gardener can also be a sneaky way to up your land count at a surprising pace. 

You can also look for the colorless Eldrazi as game-closers; Pathrazer of Ulamog and Ulamog’s Crusher are nearly as threatening as their mythic rare sire. Throw in a handful of counterspells and Aether Gales to defend yourself and your battlecruiser deck is ready for launch!

Commanders to look for: Tatyova, Benthic Druid, Braids, Conjurer Adept, Thryx, the Sudden Storm


Not being on Arena and being priced as a premium booster set means it’s not the most accessible play experience, but I hope a lot of Magic players will at least get to try out Commander Masters Draft. Limited is such a great, foundational aspect of Magic. And with the Constructed side of the game focused on Commander, these sets help keep Draft relevant. 

But I think Commander draft sets go beyond a marriage of convenience; these playstyles actually have unique potential to bring out the best in each other. Drafting decks guarantees the kind of variety and discovery that keeps Commander exciting in lieu of competitive stakes. Meanwhile, the switch to four-way multiplayer games seems to really improve the social aspect of drafting with friends rather than silo-ing people off into pairs. 

I’ve certainly found it easier to get interest in drafting Commander sets among people I know, and there hasn’t yet been a bad experience with any of them. I’m quietly confident that Commander Masters will continue on that upward trend.