Voltron is one of the classic Commander archetypes, and its legacy is strong thanks to Commander’s rule about commander damage – 21 combat damage from a single commander, and you’re out! That means suiting up your commander with an arsenal of Equipment and Auras before going to combat can be very profitable. Of course, the name comes from an animated series where different robots or vehicles combined to form a larger, more powerful combat robot, which pretty much encapsulates how it feels to stack more and more enhancements onto your legendary creature of choice. If you’re looking to live by the sword, these are the commanders you’ll want to use.
#5: Jeska, Thrice Reborn & Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh
Our first commander is actually a pair of partners! While partners are often used to build decks of specific color combinations, we’re sticking with mono-red this time around.
Rograkh may seem like an unusual commander when you’re thinking about dealing combat damage, but his base stat line doesn’t really matter when you’re covering him in armor and weaponry. Plus, he comes with some great combat keywords built in! The low mana value also helps with recasting Rograkh, as Voltron commanders tend to be popular targets for removal. And when you’re trying to deal commander damage, Jeska can really help by tripling up Rograkh’s contribution to player elimination. Just don’t give Rograkh protection from red if you want to make the most of Jeska.
#4: Zurgo Helmsmasher
Zurgo Helmsmasher is a member of what I like to call the “Three-Hit Club,” meaning that it only takes three full-contact swings from Zurgo to eliminate a player. The conditional indestructibility means that you can attack with impunity, but more importantly, it means you can cast a wrath effect, clear the board of non-Zurgo combatants, and send him directly at an opponent. You won’t get to do that every turn, so make the most of it by attaching cards like Inquisitor’s Flail and Battle Mastery so you can deal with opponents in one or two shots. You can also try Worldslayer, though depending on what your playgroup prefers, you might be asked to desleeve that one!
#3: Narset, Enlightened Master
While the last two selections may focus more on Equipment, Narset’s ability allows her to stack lots of Auras onto herself every time she attacks. Savvy Magic players often think of Auras as dangerous because of the potential for card disadvantage, but Narset comes with hexproof preinstalled, which mitigates some of that danger. Cards like Indestructibility and Spirit Mantle can protect Narset from other forms of peril while Eldrazi Conscription and similar get the job done. You can still include plenty of Equipment if you want, especially alongside Sigarda’s Aid – that way, you can snap them right on when they show up in a Narset trigger pile!
#2: Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest
Shu Yun is a little different than some of the other Voltron commanders on this list because, while there’s plenty of room for Equipment and Auras, Shu Yun also asks you to cast a noncreature spell each time you want to attack so that you can give him double strike (I suppose you could use him to give other creatures double strike too, but that seems unnecessary!). That’ll also trigger Shu Yun’s prowess, making him even more formidable in combat.
Any spell that provides evasion is welcome alongside cards like offensive options like Leering Emblem and protective ones like Eel Umbra. Throw in some cheap countermagic, white defensive spells and red redirection, and you’re in the business of running silent and deep into enemy territory.
#1: Rafiq of the Many
Rafiq has been the classic Voltron commander since the early days of Commander, and I’m happy to report he still stands tall atop this mountain. The exalted mechanic is a great way to create a board of threatening creatures while still focusing on a single attacker at a time, and cards like Sublime Archangel and Finest Hour make that keyword even more powerful.
Between protective auras like Shield of the Oversoul and Equipment that provides protection – I’m thinking Sword of Fire and Ice and its many friends – it’s not hard to make Rafiq an unstoppable combat juggernaut (just make sure that protection doesn’t knock your auras off!). You can even mix in some card draw with cards like Puresteel Paladin and Argothian Enchantress, though it’s easier if you decide to focus on Auras or Equipment in particular. That said, Sram, Senior Edificer is here no matter which side you fall on.