Magic: The Gathering has a wealth of formats to play in, and each has its own meta and must-purchase cards for a player’s collection.
In Commander, players build 100-card decks with no duplicates of any card - with rare, special exceptions. When building a Magic: The Gathering collection for Commander cards, there are always cards of every color to keep in mind.
This list does not include Magic: The Gathering commanders, just cards to go in decks themselves. Must-purchase cards will vary from player to player, but this list should cover a wide variety of playstyles and cards.
What is Commander in Magic: The Gathering?
In Commander, players can build a 100-card deck based on a few restrictions and rules. The player picks a legendary creature in the game’s collection to be the “commander” or leader.
Whatever that card’s color identity is, they are the only colors that can be used in the deck. So if the player uses Child of Alara, for example, they can use all five colors in the deck, as that is a rainbow card.
Players can use colorless cards, provided they do not generate mana outside of the deck’s color identity. They can have as many basic lands they want of the proper colors but can only have one of each non-basic land. Again, this must fall in line with the colors of the deck.
There are near-infinite ways to play Commander, but even with that in mind, there are certain cards that will help players no matter what archetype they’re going to build. These are cards that will enhance nearly any collection.
Must-pick MTG Commander cards
- Dark Ritual (Black)
- Llanowar Elves (Green)
- Aven Mindcensor (White)
- Counterspell (Blue)
- Wheel of Fortune (Red)
- Faithless Looting (Red)
- Chord of Calling (Green)
- Reliquary Tower (Land)
- Sol Ring (Artifact, Colorless)
- Drannith Magistrate (White)
10) Dark Ritual (Black)
There are so many cards to generate mana for Black decks. Cabal Coffers, Crypt Ghast, and so many others. However, Dark Ritual is easy to acquire, easy to cast, and incredibly useful at all phases of the game.
It’s a 1-cost Instant that adds three black mana to a player’s mana pool. This allows for incredible plays and dropping powerful cards early.
It’s also an incredibly cheap card, able to be picked up for less than a dolor for nearly every version of the card. There are expensive versions of the card (Judge Promos, Unlimited), but it’s a dirt cheap and powerful card.
Price Range: .61 to $114
9) Llanowar Elves (Green)
A 1/1 Green creature that is tapped to add one green mana to the player’s mana pool. It has seen about 45 different prints of the card period. There’s an excellent reason why.
There are so many other Elves that produce green mana, thanks to the Llanowar Elves. It’s also, again, incredibly cheap to get unless a player wants a very fancy version.
For example, the Alpha version of the card is over 300 dollars, but it’s also tough to find. It’s great in pretty much every deck that splashes in green, and getting it on turn 1 can allow a player to start doing annoying, obnoxious moves on turn 2.
Price Range: .16 to $374.99
8) Aven Mindcensor (White)
One of the biggest parts of Commander in Magic: The Gathering is being able to quickly search through the deck to find particular cards. Lands do it, artifacts do it, creatures and spells can do it.
Aven Mindcensor is a 3-cost Bird Wizard, and it slows that to a crawl. Whenever an opponent tries to search through their deck, they can only search the top four cards instead.
A 2/1 with Flash and Flying, it can be dropped on an opponent’s turn in response to them declaring some search ability. A must-have for any White deck.
A relatively newer card, it also has a varying rarity (Uncommon or Rare) depending on which version the card a player has. Luckily it’s also very cheap to get unless the player wants a very fancy edition.
Price Range: .85 to $57.90
7) Counterspell (Blue)
The card that started Blue’s identity of being “really, really, really annoying”, Counterspell is a 2-blue instant that counters a target spell. There are so many counters that are legal in Commander, and this is the first “permission” spell in the game.
This card is also very cheap in various art styles and editions, but things get a little more expensive here too.
Several versions are not tournament legal (Gold-bordered), but for casual Commander play, this is likely not a problem as long as it’s in a sleeve.
Price Range: .49 to $142.70
6) Wheel of Fortune (Red)
This is potentially the most expensive card on the entire list. A very old, very powerful card, Wheel of Fortune, shows up a surprisingly high amount of times in Red decks in Commander. It can completely ruin many Magic: The Gathering player's plans.
Why? What does this Magic: The Gathering card do? It makes all players discard their hands and draw seven new cards. So, of course, the caster wants to have only this card in hand to maximize its use. It's often used in conjunction with cards that punish opponents when they draw cards. But it's not cheap.
Price Range: $295.00 - $1583.34 (can go as high as $5,000)
5) Faithless Looting (Red)
What a classic Red Magic: The Gathering staple. It’s seen a few reprints, most recently in Strixhaven’s “Mystical Archives” list. A 1-cost sorcery, the player draws two cards and then discards two cards.
It is a fantastic card for discarding engines or simply getting some valuable cards in hand. It also has Flashback. Hence, it can be cast from the graveyard.
Thankfully, it’s not as hard to get ahold of these days.
Price Range: .47 - $8.53
4) Chord of Calling (Green)
Cards that allow searching as so great for having a 100-card deck. In this case, it’s a 3-Green + X and has Convoke. Convoke lets players tap their creatures to pay for one colorless mana of a cost per creature tapped.
This can be amazing with a few Elves and creature tokens in play. It’s also an instant. Hence, it can be done on an opponent’s turn.
The Magic: The Gathering player then searches their library for a creature card with a converted mana cost of X or less and puts it into play. It can be a significant game-changer with enough spare mana. There are only a few editions, but they are reasonably priced.
Price Range: $6.89 - $0.59
3) Drannith Magistrate (White)
Released in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, Drannith Magistrate, is a 2-cost Human Wizard with an incredibly powerful ability. Magic: The Gathering’s Commander meta is filled with ways to cast spells from the graveyard, off the top of a player’s deck, or outside the game.
Drannith Magistrate prevents opponents from casting spells anywhere but their hands, but not the owner of this card.
It’s not a crazy cheap rare, but it is worthwhile to have. It can slow down so many combos or sneaky tricks in Magic: The Gathering.
Price Range: $7.58 - $11.33
2) Reliquary Tower (Land)
This card is not complicated. It’s in pretty much every deck in all of Commander. It’s not a secret as to why. The player has no maximum hand size while this is in play, and it taps for one colorless mana.
It’s uncommon, easy to pick up, and is not especially expensive. It’s worth putting into every single Commander deck.
Price Range: $2.34 - $15.80
1) Sol Ring (Colorless, Artifact)
Another no-brainer, Sol Ring, is in many of the pre-constructed Commander decks for Magic: The Gathering, and again, for good reason. This artifact comes into play for one mana and can be tapped for two colorless mana.
It’s one of the best cards, period, for Commander. It’s another card that a player can put into any deck, and it likely won’t be a bad pick.
More recent prints don’t cost more than a dollar or two, but there are older, fancy versions of this Magic: The Gathering card to use instead for those with the spare cash. Who doesn’t want extra mana?
Price Range: $1.52 - $1649.99
There are so many other cards in any Magic: the Gathering player’s Commander collections. Despite this, these will not go amiss for virtually any player, giving plenty of options for additions for players seeking some exciting plays.