One of the most exciting aspects of getting a bunch of new cards to play with in Commander is trawling through all the legendary creatures and figuring out which ones can be put to use as commanders in their own right. The new Warhammer 40k Commander decks have a fair few new legends, and not just the ones designed to lead the precon decks. No, there are some in there that I know people can’t wait to rip out of the precons and put in charge of their existing decks, or build brand-new decks around them. These are my top 10 picks for the best, sweetest or most impactful commanders from the new 40k set.
10. Deathleaper, Terror Weapon
“Haste tribal” already kind of exists as an archetype in Commander, often led by Gruul commanders like Xenagos, God of Revels. While Deathleaper doesn’t grant haste, it certainly makes creatures with haste into absolute monsters, giving newly-cast creatures double strike so they can get in there straight away for maximum impact if they have haste. Maybe it’s not as its best as a commander, given it loses the surprise factor with flash, but having this card out in addition to something like a Fires of Yavimaya or Rhythm of the Wild means every creature you cast is a huge threat the turn it’s played.
9. Inquisitor Eisenhorn
One thing I really like about some of these 40k commanders is that they take a well-established Commander archetype that is known to be settled in a certain color combination, and encourage you to try it in a different one. Everyone knows that spellslinger decks are based in red-blue – that’s just how it goes, Izzet mages are the ones filling their decks with instants and sorceries. Well, what if a Dimir mage wanted to have a go? Inquisitor Eisenhorn and his 4/4 flyer offer a pretty serious payoff for filling your deck with instants and sorceries, and if you can find ways to sneak him past opposing blockers, he’ll start drawing you cards as well.
8. Ghyrson Starn, Kelermorph
Pinger tribal, baby! This is already sort of a thing with cards like Zagras, Thief of Heartbeats and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, but Ghyrson Starn is about to take all the Prodigal Sorcerers and Cunning Sparkmages of the world to a whole new level. This card turns your pingers into repeatable Lightning Bolts, which is absolutely absurd. There is no lack of pingers in the Izzet colors, either, so assembling an army of creatures that say tap: Lightning Bolt will be trivial – and it only gets better from there. Get Torbran involved, and all of a sudden Prodigal Pyromancer is dealing… seven? Excuse me!?
7. Commissar Severina Raine
Commissar Severina Raine offers an extremely potent combination of abilities for anyone interested in playing the Orzhov colors. By combining a ridiculous go-wide on-attack ability with a useful sacrifice ability, the Commissar is effectively an upgraded three-mana Hellrider that can also draw you cards. I expect to see a new style of Orzhov token deck generated in her wake, unlike the usual Thalisse, Reverent Medium lists – this is a Commander that can, if you’ve built out a huge board of tokens, end the game on the spot with a big attack, especially as her ability hits all your opponents, rather than just the ones you’re attacking.
6. Abaddon the Despoiler
Similar to Inquisitor Eisenhorn taking spellslinger decks into blue-black, Abaddon the Despoiler moves the cascade mechanic from its traditional Temur home and moves it into Grixis. Considering classic cascade cards like Bituminous Blast can’t be played in Averna, the Chaos Bloom decks, this opens up all sorts of new opportunities for fans of the cascade mechanic to explore. Deny Reality, Kathari Remnant, the extremely unfortunately-named Sloppity Bilepiper and his jolly gutpipes – Abaddon will change the texture of the cascade archetype, especially as Grixis decks won’t have too much trouble dealing damage to their opponents each turn.
5. Belisarius Cawl
I’ve never been convinced by any of the existing white-blue artifact commanders. Shorikai, Genesis Engine is too narrow, Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage is sweet but clunky and Glacian plus Rebbec always feels a bit underwhelming. Belisarius Cawl, however, offers a pair of powerfully synergistic abilities that will reward you for churning out Thopters and Servos, and even gives you the opportunity to go infinite! With an Intruder Alarm out, cast Servo Exhibition, and the new 2/2 will untap the Servos, allowing you to rinse and repeat to your heart’s content.
4. Magus Lucea Kane
I have a bit of a soft spot for X spell tribal decks. It used to be all about Rosheen Meanderer, but then Zaxara, the Exemplary came along to open things up to the Sultai colors – and now Magus Lucea Kane moves us into Temur with an ability that looks absolutely bananas. Doubling all the spells and creatures you cast is ridiculous, and it’ll be so interesting to see how people build decks with her. I suspect they’ll be more creature-based than anything else, given her first ability, but I can’t wait to kick a Comet Storm a few times with Lucea out!
3. Trazyn the Infinite
As SaffronOlive pointed out on Twitter, this card comes with instructions built into its very name, and it doesn’t take too much digging to unearth some of the ridiculous things you can do with this card. With Trazyn out and Magistrate’s Scepter and Gemstone Array in your graveyard, you can take infinite turns by putting charge counters on the Scepter; with Grim Monolith and Voltaic Construct, you get infinite mana. Most exciting of all, however, is Trazyn with Grim Monolith and Staff of Domination, which gives you… well, infinite everything, really. Mana, cards, life – if you can’t figure out a way to win from there, I don’t know what to tell you!
2. Marneus Calgar
Maybe I’m heavily overestimating this card, but it seems so unbelievably good to me. In a bog-standard tokens deck, this card makes all your token generators replace themselves at a minimum, and that’s before recurring token generation from cards like Bitterblossom come into play. Felidar Retreat gets landfall: draw a card, Court of Grace becomes Howling Mine and Smothering Tithe becomes, somehow, even more broken – Marneus doesn’t say anything about creature tokens. On top of all of this, once you’re out of action, Marneus can start spewing out 2/2s, drawing you cards all the while. I’m ready to be wrong about this, but I think Marneus Calgar is absolutely bonkers.
1. Be’lakor, the Dark Master
Demons are a reasonably popular tribe, usually led by the likes of Rakdos, the Showstopper or Raphael, Fiendish Savior. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that Be’lakor, the Dark Master completely blows these options out of the water. Sure, there aren’t many blue Demons (there are 16, and only two are mono-blue), but that’s not the point. You now get to play Rhystic Study and Counterspell and Cyclonic Rift in your Demon tribal deck, not to mention the fact that Be’lakor’s abilities are ridiculous. A five-mana 6/5 that draws three to five cards, then acts as a Warstorm Surge for future Demons? Sorry Rakdos – it looks like your show has stopped, after all.