We did Fighter so we might as well get Monk out the way with it. They’re similar, ish. Monks in Dungeons & Dragons take the Fighter mold and add some spellcasting and the ki system to deal rapid damage, but are absolute weaklings if they get hit. They don’t even wear armor, in a world of swords and arrows.
You can be pretty loose with how you build a Monk too, there are a lot of references to Asian myth, martial arts and popular culture in Monk abilities, so if you want to make Aang from Avatar or a something closer to spiritual Shaolin monks, you can reasonably pull it off.
We’re going to try capture the mystical martial arts expert that the players handbook lays out here, which puts us firmly in blue-white-red. Blue for the mysticism, white for the spirituality and red for the Flying Crane Technique.
WotC were kind enough to drop a Monk race into Magic with Khans of Tarkir, the Jeskai. This immediately gives us a great option that fits flavorfully and mechanically. Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest.
Shu Yun has prowess, which is as close to D&D’s ki points that you can get, I think. It’s a short-lived, highly offensive buff. He also buffs those around him with a strong offensive ability in double-strike, so he’s essentially ideal, but lets examine the alternatives too.
This might sound crazy, but Guile, Sonic Soldier kind of works too. His charge counters are like the ki system, kinda, and his Flash Kick is uh, a big martial arts kick. Okay, he’s a flavor fail because he’s an American soldier from Street Fighter, but on a purely mechanical level, he works. I hate it, but he works.
Elsha of the Infinite is a great choice flavorfully, a proper Monk with prowess, but the abilities beyond that are not combat-focused really, more of the mind. That can work depending on your idea of a monk, but it’s not quite what we want.
Narset, Enlightened Master might be better. With a hugely powerful combat ability and the perfect art, she embodies the Monk who mixes spiritual and mystical power with martial arts. Attack your opponent and things get pretty wild pretty fast. Narset has something of a reputation with Commander players, so maybe keep the build thematic and don’t go pure power, and you won’t get hated off the table.
We’ve got the commander, what about the 99? Filling the deck out with fun, flavorful cards is how I think you can capture the monk class feel from D&D. Just putting in lots of prowess creatures like Jeskai Elder, Monastery Swiftspear, Jeskai Sage and Jeskai Student give the impression of playing a deck build around a monastery of expert fighters.
Combine that with some low-cost noncreature spells and you can really get in some quick damage. I like anything that feels like a punch or kick here to really get the flavor down. Swift Kick, Awe Strike, Cunning Strike, Fervent Strike, Critical Hit and plenty more can do that – though some are less low-cost and more high-flavor. Tailor it to your playgroup and you can get the Monk feel pretty easily, with a lot of flexibility.