Strixhaven is almost here, and we’re all itching to brew with the new cards. But what cards are the best Strixhaven card for Commander? Which are good in the 99? And what are my own personal picks? Grab your quill — school’s about to start.
The Best Commanders from Strixhaven
Let’s kick things off with my picks for the best commanders in the set.
Beledros Witherbloom is far and away the most exciting of the Elder Dragons. With fantastic art from Raymond Swanland, it’s hard not to fall in love. At seven mana, Beledros is a little pricey, but isn’t the worst for a green deck.
It’s also interesting to see how this direction for Witherbloom was seeded earlier with the Lathril Elves deck from Kaldheim. Instead of tapping ten elves to drain for ten, we’re paying ten life to untap our lands. It doesn’t take a veteran to understand how much value there is in a card like this, and I don’t think it’s too much to say that resolving Beledros can absolutely win you the game.
There are myriad ways to get access to additional untaps per turn, many of which involve processing Beledros through the graveyard and back to play. I know I’ve concentrated on the second ability, but it really is that good. Beledros’s other ability — making a Pest each upkeep — is actually secretly good, too, and when combined with token producers like Tendershoot Dryad and Wolverine Riders, you’re onto a winner.
Hofri Ghostforge, meanwhile, is the Boros reanimator commander we’ve been waiting for. Unlike Soul Separator, Hofri doesn’t permanently exile the cards he creates token copies of — instead, they’re exiled in a safe place before being returned to the graveyard when the token copy leaves play.
While there are obvious auto-includes in this deck, it’s the more niche stuff that makes me excited. Evoking an Ingot Chewer only to receive another; sacrificing a Silverchase Fox or Keening Apparition to exile a problem permanent only to receive a token copy. These are the value plays that will keep the deck ticking, and the ones you should be sure to check out. You’ll probably want to pack Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero and Loyal Retainers in this type of build.
Killian, Ink Duelist
Killian is probably my favorite uncommon commander I’ve seen for some time. He pulls double duty as a way to reduce the cost of removal, but also as a way to pull off a White-Black Enchantress build. While there’s less card draw available than in a Green-White build, you do get access to some sweet removal.
It also makes previously unattractive spells a little easier to justify. I usually take Grim Return over Minion’s Return, but if we’re building around enchantments anyway? Sure, I’ll play a spell that can turn on Doomwake Giant or Archon of Sun’s Grace. Angelic Destiny for two mana, or Bound in Gold at one? I’m sorely tempted to drop everything and build this right away.
The Best Strixhaven Cards for Your Commander Deck
Of course, there aren’t only good legendary creatures to helm your decks in Strixhaven. There’s also a bunch of great spells for the 99.
Body of Research
Body of Research is honestly pretty terrifying. If you’re set up to take advantage of it, this spell can end games quickly. Casting this on curve gets you an 80/80 or bigger on average, and that’s something the table has to deal with.
Thankfully, there are numerous ways to both protect and make the token unblockable in Quandrix colors, so expect to see this at tables a decent amount of the time. It’s probably a great card for the likes of Eutropia.
Harness Infinity is a spell that I never imagined I’d see, but one that has no doubt got necromancers everywhere sighing with joy. It absolutely needs the right kind of deck, but with enough self-mill, and a game plan that uses the bin? It’s an excellent way to get late game value. By using Final Parting to tutor it to hand (and put spells you’ll want later into your graveyard), you’re able to set this up manually. I wouldn’t worry, though — if you want this spell, there’s no doubt you’re capable of setting it up by accident.
What’s better than one copy of your favorite creature? Why, two, of course! What’s better than that? Being able to take a second copy of a legendary creature. Double Major is hands down one of the most dangerous cards in the set, and one I expect to see a lot of going forward. The popularity of Sakashima of a Thousand Faces is a good indication of how prevalent this spell will end up being.
I’m not sure what it is with two-mana green-based spells, but Rushed Rebirth is also looking to make waves. I’m no cEDH expert, but I’d be surprised if this wasn’t at least in consideration for enabling certain combo lines. Outside of the more competitive spheres, I really like this card in graveyard decks like Meren or the new Beledros. Combine it with Natural Order for big value.
We can stick to the topic of cEDH for a moment, actually. Culling Ritual might seem like it has a low floor; Dockside Extortionist is similarly hit-or-miss on lower-power tables. The stronger the table, though? These cards just get better and better. Culling Ritual removes early mana rocks and engine pieces and is a ritual on top. It’s quite good against tokens, too. To say this card is pushed is an understatement.
Many dismissed Baleful Mastery during preview season, citing the fact it gave an opponent a card as a reason it was overrated. The thing is, though… Baleful Mastery doesn’t have to give that card to the owner of the creature you just exiled. It’s a perfect political tool and a super efficient removal spell. I’d say it’s a snap include for black decks going forward.
Mila, Crafty Companion // Lukka, Wayward Bonder
While Reconstruct History is a card worth trying, it’s Mila and Lukka that really deserve the spotlight when it comes to cards for a Boros Reanimator build. You’ll know by now that I love this strategy, and am always on the hunt for cards to go into my Aurelia build. This card offers everything Boros wants: card draw in exchange for losing the attackers we need to keep in play, and reanimator plus card draw on the flipside.
Wandering Archaic // Explore the Vastlands
When someone asks what cards are best for Commander, it isn’t always clear that “best” means “strongest.” Some cards are the best because they offer a fun play experience. Wandering Archaic manages to tick both boxes!
Wandering Archaic — or “Dualcaster Sage,” as I’ve come to call it — is a way to gain value and provide wild choices for the table. You might end up getting to copy a green player’s ramp spell, or a white player’s removal spell, or a blue player’s card draw spell. What makes this card a homerun is the reverse side: Explore the Vastlands is a group hug card, and it can catch up the players who are having a rough game.
More than just a bear that occasionally gets in for value, Conspiracy Theorist is a perfect way to make your rummage-based draw go further. Discarding cards to draw is a big part of how red draws cards, and making the cost more forgiving is something I’m always happy to see. It might be too early to call it a staple, but it’s definitely more than just a niche madness card. Did I mention it pairs perfectly with Harnfel, Horn of Bounty?
We’ve had Teferi’s Protection. We’ve had Eerie Interlude. We’ve had Cosmic Intervention, and Akroma’s Will, too. Semester’s End throws in its oar as the latest in a line of reactive white protection spells that seek to gain other forms of advantage. Semester’s End is actually one of the better options, given it both offers a buff to creatures and planeswalkers, and lets us choose any number of them.
The Best Budget Strixhaven Cards
Strixhaven also has some great budget options. These are spells that can really up your game without breaking the bank.
Mortality Spear / Fracture / Rip Apart
First up, removal. Mortality Spear is an incredibly efficient spell in the right deck, and one I’m actually a little surprised to see turn up without white. It’s not even the worst if you hard-cast it. Fracture is a Disenchant with upside, and if you’re in the right colors, I’d advise taking it. Planeswalkers have a habit of denying your attack step. The same goes for Rip Apart — another super cheap option that can give you much needed flexibility.
Introduction to Annihilation
Introduction to Annihilation is an option to consider in red and black decks in particular. Giving a card in exchange for reasonably-costed exile removal that can hit enchantments is not to be sniffed at.
Teach by Example
If you’re into slinging spells, it might be frustrating that some Reiterate effects can be quite expensive to source. Teach by Example asks you if you’re playing blue and red. If you are? Well, it’s a common, and very easy to justify.
Plumb the Forbidden
Plumb the Forbidden is an unassuming little spell, but one I can see being surprisingly good. Having gotten decent mileage from the likes of Vampiric Rites and Disciple of Bolas, I’m all for more Aristocrats-style draw. What makes this one particularly good is that the initial cost is just two mana, and the fact that, short of Flusterstorm, your opponents won’t be able to counter all of your card draw.
Zephyr Boots are a nice cheap option for budget Voltron Equipment decks. Alongside Mask of Memory and Akiri, Fearless Voyager, you’ll be happy to have another source of card draw. If you can’t afford the pricier cards like Sword of Fire and Ice, Zephyr Boots is a decent enough option, particularly as it grants evasion.
To round things out, here are a few cards I’ll be looking to pick up for my decks.
Silverquill Silencer (Liesa, Shroud of Dusk)
Being able to tax an opponent’s commander for a total of five life and a card is just what Liesa, Shroud of Dusk wants to do.
Strixhaven Stadium (Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice)
It’s not like Atraxa really needed any other win conditions, but I’m excited to try Strixhaven Stadium in a deck with so much proliferate!
Blade Historian (Aurelia, the Warleader)
There’s only one thing better than extra combats, and that’s adding double strike into the mix. I’m super hype to try out Blade Historian. It’s probably sweet in Akroma, Vision of Ixidor partner decks, too.
Lorehold Apprentice (Kykar, Wind’s Fury)
If there weren’t enough reasons to try out Kykar, Lorehold Apprentice should convince you. I can’t wait to burn out an opponent before sacrificing my Spirit tokens.
Mavinda, Students’ Advocate (Feather, the Redeemed)
Feather already has so much card advantage, but she’ll always take more. Mavinda is a great way to reuse spells that end up in the graveyard.
Crackle with Power (Neheb, the Eternal)
I’m all set to replace Jaya’s Immolating Inferno with this monster of a burn spell. Phenomenal Cosmic Power!
Oriq Loremage (Chainer, Nightmare Adept)
Having a repeatable tutor is a very powerful thing, and that’s what Oriq Loremage offers us in Chainer. The deck has no problems turning on haste, and repeatable Entombs are worth every penny.
Access Tunnel (Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow)
Any way to make Rogue’s Passage cheaper is a win in my book. Yuriko decks will really enjoy this new land.
And there you have it: the best of what Strixhaven has to offer. I’m really excited to brew with this set. Let me know on Twitter if I missed anything worth getting. Stay tuned for my review of the best of Commander 2021 later this week!
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.