Since their first introduction back in the original Theros block, Gods have made regular appearances across many different planes. The pantheon from Theros has been joined by gods from Amonkhet, Kaldheim and the Forgotten Realms, and appropriately for a creature type that should, by rights, be filled with powerful cards, many of the Gods we’ve seen over the years have had a huge impact on constructed Magic. Let’s get across some of the best of them!
10. Svyelun of Sea and Sky
I’ll be honest – until I started researching for this article, I didn’t realize Svyelun was a God in addition to being a Merfolk. That does go some way in explaining the indestructible ability, I have to say: most MTG Gods tend to be indestructible (or at least somewhat difficult to kill, although that trend has been bucked more recently with the Kaldheim Gods). In any case, Svyelun is an enormously powerful bit of top-end for Merfolk decks, providing defense from opposing removal and a steady stream of cards to boot. Combine that with a usually-indestructible 3/4 body, and you’ve got a pretty good deal for just three mana.
9. Hazoret the Fervent
Back in the days of Amonkhet Standard, people lived in fear of Hazoret. Mono-red decks were essentially the best you could play, and their curve topped out at four with this hasty, indestructible beater that was usually played out with an empty or mostly-empty hand. Hazoret was truly terrifying. Hitting so fast and so hard was one thing, but the other was you couldn’t trade with the card, thanks to indestructible, and even if you had a 6/6 or something to block, it turned every card off the top into a three-mana Shock. That was often good enough, particularly when combined with Ramunap Ruins!
8. Valki, God of Lies
Valki was a huge part of the old Emergent Ultimatum decks before they rotated out of Standard last year, but he’s stuck around here and there since then. Some fringe Standard decks still play him, but these days he’s found a more comfortable home in older formats like Pioneer and Modern. There, he’s played alongside Bring to Light as a way to tutor up and cheat out the Tibalt side for just five mana. The two-mana 2/1 god side doesn’t get played a huge amount, it’s true, but hey – sometimes you just need a two-drop to block and trade, and Valki can do that.
7. Phenax, God of Deception
Mill decks in EDH have a range of different commanders they like to run with, but Phenax, God of Deception has remained amongst the best and most popular ever since it was printed. Mill decks are naturally very defensive, so it’s not much of a problem to play high-toughness blockers you can then later tap to mill through your opponents’ libraries. Admittedly, it does take a while, given that Phenax’s ability can only target an opponent individually, but once you’ve got 20+ toughness on the battlefield, it doesn’t take long to get the job done.
6. Heliod, Sun-Crowned
What happened to Heliod? He was once the centerpiece of decks with Walking Ballista or Spike Feeder, comboing off for either infinite damage or infinite life; he also played a huge role in mono-white life gain decks in Standard only last year. Nowadays, however, he’s fallen off the face of the Earth when it comes to competitive Magic, nowhere to be seen in Modern, Pioneer or Standard. Instead, he’s mainly relegated to Commander, where there are hundreds of infinite life gain combos he enables.
5. Thassa, Deep-Dwelling
For a long time, Conjurer’s Closet was about as good as it got for those wanting to regularly blink their own creatures for fun and profit each turn. Now, however, there are other, more competitively-priced options such as Teleportation Circle and, of course, Thassa, Deep-Dwelling. If you’re playing a creature-based value deck that can play blue, Thassa is a terrific inclusion, as being able to retrigger enter-the-battlefield effects from cards like Knight of Autumn, Sun Titan or the mighty Thragtusk every turn is pretty damn strong.
4. Xenagos, God of Revels
Xenagos has done alright for himself as the years have removed him from competitive relevance. As one of the most popular commanders for any Commander deck wanting to play with extra combat effects, Xenagos is still doing what he’s always done best – provide huge and hasty threats that provide immediate pressure. Following Xenagos up with huge tramplers like Quartzwood Crasher or Atarka, World Render makes it very hard to keep up, and if they’re able to kill the threat you play… well, you just wait until the next turn, and deploy another one!
Dragons are the most popular tribe in EDH, so being counted amongst the most popular commanders for the most popular tribe is quite an achievement. Tiamat isn’t quite number one – The Ur-Dragon easily takes that spot – but is still a very common choice for those wanting to play all five colors in their Dragon decks. And you can see why: for seven mana, you get a flying 7/7 that tutors up five cards. Even without the flying 7/7 part, that would be pretty good, but having a repeatable five-card tutor you can cast repeatedly from the command zone is absolutely nuts.
2. Purphoros, God of the Forge
Purphoros’s ability to hit all opponents for two each time a creature enters the battlefield may not seem like much, but it makes all the difference in a game of Commander when you’re trying to whittle down three opposing life totals at the same time. Of course, there are plenty of infinite combos with Purphoros – with Birgi, God of Storytelling and Grinning Ignus, for instance, or with Felidar Guardian and Restoration Angel – but you can go even bigger than that. With Purphoros out, use Tainted Strike to give him infect, then cast something that makes five creatures (Hornet Queen, Avenger of Zendikar, Myr Battlesphere), and that’s 10 poison counters for all your opponents. Game over!
1. The Scarab God
The Scarab God is one of EDH’s most popular commanders, leading Zombie decks to victory with a truly backbreaking combination of abilities. Being able to reanimate creatures – from opposing graveyards or your own – in conjunction with an ability that really feels like you’re stacking your deck as the game goes on means that you’re never short on business, and the life loss from the upkeep trigger also adds up very quickly indeed. The Scarab God is almost obnoxiously powerful as a commander, and it’s a Zombie fan-favorite for very good reason.