Commander is the most popular way to play Magic for a reason. One of the biggest reasons is how vast and varied decks can be, including the truly staggering number of archetypes that can be perfectly effective in the format. Here, we’ll go over the top five archetypes in the format, including some of the subtypes within those archetypes.
Commander damage is still one of the defining aspects of the format. Being able to knock out a player by hitting them for 21 with your commander is unique, so many still build around this- aiming to make their commander as big as possible. Voltron strategies involve assembling a number of pieces on to your commander to make them huge, and can be done in a variety of ways. Equipment is the most popular means to suit up your deck’s leader, but auras and even counters all have their place.
There are a number of cards that can take full advantage of counters in Magic: The Gathering, and the number of commanders that love to see counters grow by the year. The most classic counters-matter strategies look to grow the board with +1/+1 counters, but there are some commanders that can throw around -1/-1 counters or even keyword counters! Notably, the Superfriends subtype falls into this category- decks that want to play a ton of planeswalkers and run ways to add additional loyalty counters.
Sacrifice synergies are extremely powerful, so it comes as no surprise that sacrifice-focused decks, popularly called Aristocrats (due to Falkenrath Aristocrat and friends), are top-tier options in Commander. Many commanders love to see things perish and can take substantial advantage of creatures (and often other permanent types) dying around them. These decks often have stellar payoffs for sacrificing cards, including draining life totals or forcing the opponents to sacrifice their permanents too!
Speaking of power, artifacts are arguably the most powerful permanent type in the game. In commander in particular, “fast mana” generated by inexpensive artifacts represent one of the most “broken” things you can do. Even that pure power aside, there are a huge number of artifact synergies that let you run artifact decks as a wide range of strategies- including artifact variants of everything we’ve seen above so far! The payoffs for artifacts are similarly varied and largely powerful, so consider adding some artifice for your next deck building project.
Unsurprisingly, the most popular mechanic in Magic is also the most popular way to play Commander. Almost everyone has a favorite creature type or two, and being able to reliably build around them with a payoff creature in the command zone feels spectacular. Even less supported tribes have a reasonable chance of being able to get enough support to work in Commander, with niche cards being able to find a home where they otherwise might get laughed off the table. Whether you want to sleeve up vampires or bears, you can do it here!