Kindred Spirits - Choosing Rogues for Commander

(Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive | Art by Randy Vargas

Hey friends, Beth, Queen of Cardboard, here with my series, Kindred Spirits. This series is about creature types you may want to use in your next deck. With the release of Outlaws of Thunder Junction, I wanted to talk about a slightly less popular type, Rogue. This type gets a lot of support in this set thanks to being an Outlaw, one of the primary featured mechanics for both Commander and Limited, with over 100 Rogues being printed this year.

Rogue as a type was introduced in print first in Mirrodin, but cards as early as Arabian Nights have been retroactively changed to be Rogues as well, from the previous type of Robber after the Grand Creature Type update. Although there are over 500 cards with the Rogue type, it wasn't until Anowon, the Ruin Thief was printed that it felt like they had support to build a "true" Rogue deck. Before the release of Outlaws of Thunder Junction, there were only a little over 9,800 Rogue decks built being tracked by EDHREC, compared to the 78,000 Dragon decks. Whether you decide to build a deck using Rogues or you just want to include a few of these little criminals in your deck, I've got a few personally picked out that you might want to consider. Keep in mind, these are all my opinion, and I'll compare them to some of the top rated cards on EDHREC as well as go more into my personal process of why I chose each card below.

Top Rogue Commander

This was an incredibly hard choice because there are some really good Commanders out there for Rogues these days but having played against quite a few of them, I'm always going to groan internally when I see a Master deck hit the table. As it turns out, getting copies of your commander and not having to sacrifice it due to the legend rule is pretty good. The Master, Multiplied is red and black so that covers a large amount of Rogues printed. While he doesn't have direct support for the type on him, he's just too good to not put in this slot in my opinion. If you use cards like Flameshadow Conjuring and Determined Iteration, you'll have an army of Masters, which is like a Rogue deck, even if he's the only one. You might be wondering why I picked The Master over Anowon, and my reasoning is that I believe Anowon is tired, leading you into a similar play pattern every time and with mill being the main target of a lot of decks built that way, you're apt to see heavy targeting early on in the game.

Honorable Mentions

Top Noncreature Rogue Spell

Several cards create Rogues, but Kaito's Pursuit is a spell that will work for your Rogue deck whether you're playing a go-wide strategy or not. This card is great if you're pursuing a Crime mechanic supported by Outlaws of Thunder Junction because it not only gives your Rogues menace but it targets an opponent, forcing them to discard 2 cards. The value here can't be ignored and it's not an expensive spell coming in at a total of three mana. The only downside is it's a sorcery, so you'll need to remember to cast this before combat so you can get the value of your Rogues having menace. Currently this card has only been utilized in just 3,000 decks of the 2,020,000 listed on EDHREC. This card might not be the most powerful as it's a sorcery, so your opponents will likely see it coming. However, I love that it has a two-part effect, your Rogues get menace AND you get to have an opponent discard two cards.

Honorable Mentions

Top Utility Permanent

In my previous article, I included my top planeswalker, and because Elves just have incredible support in my view, there was more than enough to pick from. Rogues don't have a planeswalker that "just works". Rather than trying to force you into understanding why I think Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage should be chosen because he's a Rogue, instead I'm going to talk about a utility permanent from here on out. While I will likely do a "Cards You Should Be Using in EVERY Deck" article, this category will focus on the type I'm writing about in this series. With each type, I'm going to look at what the top commanders for that type WANT to do and then choose a permanent card that will help you do what the type is asking to do. Rogues primarily want to go unblocked, steal creatures, and possibly mill your opponents.

Their main color is black, with blue and red being their secondary colors. While notably Anowon and Krydle are the only commanders of the top 7 choices that want to mill, it's a solid strategy and you should be swinging in for combat damage no matter your commander choice. For this reason, I've chosen Mindcrank as the top utility piece for Rogues. This artifact is in 37% of Rogue decks according to EDHREC stats and has a few infinite combos as well. The easiest combo to consider is a two card combo with Bloodchief Ascension which can easily fit in most Rogue decks, being mono-black. You can check out this combo and more with Mindcrank over on Commander Spellbook. This is a great way to win the game, especially if it's been dragging on and on and you're struggling to get through with combat damage. If you're absolutely anti-mill, I get it, but I encourage you to try the piece, steal some stuff from your opponents' graveyards, and be a menace. You may change your mind with this in the deck.


csb logo

Honorable Mentions

Top Common Rogue

There are a lot of great common Rogues, but having unblockable and infect on a single card is absolutely disgusting, which means there's no other choice than Blighted Agent for the top pick here. Even without having poison as a win-con, putting a few counters on your opponents really puts the pressure on them to do something, and hopefully lose the game. Having unblockable is great for Rogues because this will trigger combat damage effects as well like Anowon's mill effect. The other reason I like including this even if it's not your primary goal, is it gives your opponents a target. They'll be focusing on your Blighted Agent because he's got infect instead of worrying about something worse like Vorpal Sword or your evergrowing Nighthawk Scavenger. If poison is your wincon, you better include lots of protection for your board and your life total because opponents really don't like their game ending at 10 poison counters rather than 21 commander damage or 40 life.

Honorable Mentions

Top Uncommon Rogue

There are so many Rogues that could fit in this slot, including several other legendaries, but Alora, Merry Thief fits in any Rogue deck in my opinion. I used to run her in my Jodah, the Unifier deck but didn't completely understand why I would want to pick up my 5-cost commander and then play him again before the end of my turn. The truth is, I wouldn't, and there are far better ways to make Jodah unblockable, but Rogues have plenty of creatures that have enter-the-battlefield (ETB) effects and are inexpensive that you may want to replay. Giving creatures like Gonti, Lord of Luxury or Whirler Rogue unblockable and a second ETB is valuable.

Honorable Mentions

Top Rare Rogue

While again there are so many options here, there's something to be said about controlling your opponent's searches and getting to play those cards instead. Even in casual games, your opponents will search for lands, but not with Opposition Agent in play. While this card usually sees play in cEDH and not so much in casual games, if you've got an opponent who's searching again and again, it may be worth slotting this guy in, even as a control piece. Remember it's not the card that makes for an "unfun" game, but the way you play it. If you choose to slot Oppo in, it's something I would mention to my opponents as part of the rule zero conversation, and don't be surprised if you see a little more heat your way if you actually put it on the board.

Honorable Mentions

Top Mythic Rogue

Rankle is one of those cards that will have you getting an incredible amount of value and hate at the table. Ranking at 1,032 on the EDHREC listings, it's wild more people aren't running him. I think that while he's got some negative effects for you, the good far outweighs the bad. He's a flying 3/3 Faerie with haste and a paragraph of triggered effects if he does combat damage. Just remember that whatever you pick, it is a board-wide effect, meaning you will also be subject to his pranks. This can be easily overcome by using tactics that don't care if you're losing life, sacrificing creatures or discarding so it's generally more of a problem for opponents who didn't build a deck that counters these shenanigans. Even though Rankle focuses on everyone at the table, his ability to mess with your opponents should put him as a top pick in your deck, if not the command zone.


Honorable Mentions

Most Underplayed Rogue

Yes, I saw your comments on the Elf article, and no, it was not April Fools. I made a mistake but never fear, this time I used "legal:commander" to make sure that the card I chose as my most underplayed Rogue could actually be played. This selection is based off EDHREC rank, meaning when I search for Rogues, I sort them lowest to highest utilized and then pick something that is on the first few pages, or bottom of the list. I expect Deft Duelist to rise a little bit in popularity thanks to cards like Kellan the Kid and Annie Flash, the Veteran. Having shroud and first strike is a great mix, especially if you have a way to give your creatures unblockable, something that's pretty common in Rogue decks. If you've got white in your deck thanks to some of the new OTJ cards, consider slotting Deft Duelist into the 99.


Honorable Mentions

Best Not Rogue

Tazri is meant to be played as a "Party" deck commander, but there's no rule that says you can't put all Rogues in your deck and search for them there. The only reason Tazri wasn't my top commander is that she's not a Rogue herself. She's five-color, which can be nice since Rogues have received more colors in 2024. Most importantly, she allows you to dig for other Rogues and put them in your hand for the cost of 4 mana with rainbow lands or mana fixing. In a Rogue deck, more Rogues are better. Tazri currently isn't listed on EDHREC at all as a Rogue themed commander, but I think that's a shame and it tempts me to build one even more. Here's a link to something you might want to try if you're considering this commander.


Honorable Mentions

Best Non Dimir Rogue

Imagine my surprise when despite its most recent art, Treasure Nabber, is not a pirate, but a Rogue. This is one of my favorite cards to put in any deck that runs red because it steals your opponents' mana rocks, forcing them to either slow down or allow you to share them each turn. While this might not fit in most of your Rogue decks thanks to a majority of them being Dimir, you should consider this an auto-include if you're running red, a color that notoriously can have difficulties ramping without Treasure. You could even consider a mono-red Commander deck with Grenzo, Havoc Raiser at the helm.


Honorable Mentions

In Conclusion

It's pretty clear that Outlaws of Thunder Junction introduced a lot of relevant Outlaws, including Rogues, meaning you can commit crimes to your opponents' misfortune as much as you want. However, it should be noted that there are a TON of Rogues that are not only relevant but make for pretty spicy deck choices, whether you're trying to play a Rogue-specific deck or not. While a lot of the older cards that got the Rogue type after printing like Jovendidn't make the list this time, I'd encourage you to give them a try, after all you won't see 1/2 of your 99 in most games. What cards are you thinking about slotting in? Which Rogues make your top 10? Let me know in the comments below.

Read more:

Brew For Your Buck - Queza Crimes on a Budget

Top 10 (X) Cheerios

Beth is an casual Commander player who's passionate about silly decks, creating safe community spaces, and crowns. She loves to travel and play magic with friends. When not playing Magic, she's probably snuggling her dogs or playing some video games.

EDHREC Code of Conduct

Your opinions are welcome. We love hearing what you think about Magic! We ask that you are always respectful when commenting. Please keep in mind how your comments could be interpreted by others. Personal attacks on our writers or other commenters will not be tolerated. Your comments may be removed if your language could be interpreted as aggressive or disrespectful. You may also be banned from writing further comments.