Commander games have to end. While the multiple-hour, multiplayer slog can be a lot of fun, sometimes the haymakers just aren’t getting through and that eighth board wipe resetting things can be… problematic. Commander damage may get you there eventually, and your deck should consider running some game-winning combos, but what happens when commander tax is untenable and your combos have been answered? Ignoring infinites and the most well-known combo wins (looking at you Lab Maniac/Thassa’s Oracle), let’s look at some of the best cards and strategies that just say “I Win.”
Infect the Table
While it suffers the same problem as trying to win through combat damage, Infect only has to get 1/4th of the way there to knock out a player. Ten poison counters isn’t trivial, but compared to trying to crash in for 40 it’s practically an instant win. In fact, infect -can- easily be an instant kill with the right combination of cards, and it can come from some surprise angles by giving infect to creatures that might not have it before. Take Syr Konrad, the Grim as an example. Konrad is already scary, but note that he deals the damage as things die, so granting him the ability to spread poison counters around before nuking the board means a sudden win.
Live for the Win
One of my favorite strategies in the game is life gain. From draining the table with a big Gray Merchant of Asphodel to getting ready to beat down with a large Ajani’s Pridemate, lifegain strategies are a lot of fun. However, they can sometimes struggle to ultimately pull out the win. There are two cards that can transform a stacked life total into a win, and those are Test of Endurance and its creature counterpart, Felidar Sovereign. Test requires that you work a little harder at 50 life, but either life total can be surprisingly easy to maintain in a game that already starts you at 40.
Revel in Death
One-card win-conditions are always worth considering, and among these cards the best of them may very well be Revel In Riches. Treasure strategies are getting more and more cards over time- it is surprisingly easy to generate a handful of treasures in a single turn, and Revel only asks for a surprisingly small hoard of just 10 to secure a win. Creatures tend to die a lot in commander, so even if you’re not running any other treasure synergies this card can quickly become a miser’s dream as you win from atop your pile of gold.
An Artificial Victory
Revel in riches deserves its own note, but it’s not the only card that asks for a critical mass of artifacts. Hellkite Tyrant lets you steal your opponent’s artifacts and can win once his artifact hoard hits the magical number of 20. Meanwhile, mechanized production only needs you to hit a critical mass of 8 artifacts. When originally printed, there were not that many artifact tokens running around, but now Mechanized Production can win off of treasures (doing a solid Revel in Riches impression) or even Food! There is something literally flavorful about making a factory designed to churn out, and win, on the power of food.
Finally, sometimes you just want to give the game a clock. Approach of the Second Sun demands that the game ends before you draw into it for the second time, and this is sometimes a big enough ask that you walk away with a very easy win. The extra life padding is nice, and while you may ultimately draw some hate, there is a spark of joy that comes with playing a card that asks you to jump through so few hoops with the textline “Win the Game.” Since the opportunity cost of one card is so low, I strongly recommend you give this card a try if you’re struggling to close out games.