Our Favorite Commanders and Cards of 2022

Kenessos, Priest of Thassa | Art by Joshua Raphael

The new year is well and truly here, but in the brief lull before the release of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, the authors of EDHREC have found the time to highlight their favorite cards and favorite commanders of the year. We promise we didn't get this idea from Commander's Herald, that's just a coincidence.

Let's get into it!

Christian Alexander

For my pick of the top card in 2022, I have to go with Kenessos, Priest of Thassa. As a marine biologist, I have a soft spot for both Merfolk and sea monsters. I've had a Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca deck since Rivals of Ixalan, and various iterations of sea monsters built with Thassa, God of the Sea, Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor, and most recently, Runo Stromkirk. I wasn't sure if I could be happier than I was with Runo - copying all sea monsters is great fun - but it always felt like I was in the wrong colors, and missed out on a lot of great Simic support for sea monster strategies.

In comes Kenessos! Kenessos perfectly scratches that itch, reliably throwing down huge creatures with his activated ability. Not only that, Kenessos also has a perfect value-generating static ability that isn't over the top like most Simic commanders. Turning every scry 1 into scry 2 and so on really helps make sure you're filtering out the cards you don't want, and scrying multiple cards at once helps stack the deck to cheat those sea monsters into play! This is the most excited I've been about a commander in a long time, and if you're interested, feel free to check out my decklist!

Editor's Note: We asked Christian for his favorite card and commander, but Kenessos was the answer for both. We'd argue, but it's not a good idea to get between a marine biologist and a Merfolk. 

Douglas Young

When asked what my favorite commander of 2022 was, an immediate answer leapt to my head: Kibo, Uktabi Prince. Then I went through the list anyway, because I was afraid that it was just recency bias from Jumpstart 2022, and, let's be honest, looking through lists is what I do.

I don't think it's just because the Banana-meister came out recently that I love him above all 423 of the commanders (and Backgrounds) that came out in 2022, though. When he was spoiled, instead of making the single Top Ten list I normally do for the meat and bones of a commander that looked interesting, I ended up making two and getting halfway through a third before the next spoiler season started. Not since Umori, the Collector was spoiled have I invested anywhere near as much time and effort in a commander (and even then, it was actually all about using the packrat Ooze as a Companion).

In short, Kibo is flexible, hilarious, and strong. What's not to like?

As for my card of the year, that was much more difficult. Many will undoubtedly go the power route and choose the best card of the year, Boseiju, Who Endures, and it does often win me games through my own Stax in my five-color Keruga Pod cEDH deck. When I'm only trying to play as a “seven”, rather than the top of the tier, Displacer Kitten routinely makes my Will and Rowan go near-infinite and draw my whole deck, blinking Will while making my inevitable Crackle with Power cost two less with each iteration. Gala Greeters makes my “Oops, All Creatures” deck tick, and Slip Out the Back is hands-down the best protection spell ever made for my +1/+1 Counters Lazav, the Multifarious brew.

But my favorite card for the yea would have to be Descent into Avernus. The only Mana Flare in red besides Mana Flare (sorry, Mana Cache), Descent also comes packaged as a Group Slug card in addition to being a Group Hug card, a spicy combination if there ever was one. Combine that with it being symmetrical but still giving you a slight advantage by giving you first crack at the full use of the Treasures created because it's your turn, and what you have is a potent kind of high-risk, high-reward type of card that will make sure that, one way or another, this game is gonna be over soon.

Jeremy Rowe

My pick for Commander of the Year is Rocco, Cabaretti Caterer. Because Rocco is a tutor in the Command Zone, it enables brewers to build around “Secret Commanders”. “Secret Commanders” are cards buried in the 99 that act as the focus of the deck, such as Josh Lee Kwai's five-color Nekusar deck, from the 5th Game Knights. Veggie Wagon has famously espoused his Rocco build as his signature, which has Tempting Wurm as the “Secret Commander”, featured on the first episode of Decked Out. My version is built around a creature type that seems underused, but quite flavorful: Mongers! Mongers have activated abilities that anyone can use, but my deck is built to use them better. The deck is nicknamed “Rocco's Grocery Store”, and Rocco is altered to be a chef Munchlax!

My pick for card of the year is Cut a Deal. White has struggled with card draw for a long time. With the critical mass of shared card draw over the last couple of years, white finally has enough cards that do similar things for the strategy to properly coalesce. This resulted in one of my favorite new decks: Kiyomaro, First to Stand mono-white burn! The deck is designed around using shared draw to find Black Vise effects while simultaneously filling opponents' hands for big damage.

Joshua Clough

My favorite commander from the Class of 2022 is Anhelo, the Painter. Grixis spellslinger is nothing new, but mixing that with a touch of aristocrats and making a hybrid sacrifice spellslinger deck was everything I didn't know I needed. He comes down early but can go out big and flashy, using Casualty to double up your Exsanguinate to bleed your opponents dry. Anhelo has me making use of fantastic old token synergy cards, like Deekah, Fractal Theorist and Metallurgic Summonings, to add fuel to the fire, and I feel like he occupies a very sweet space within Grixis and gives Kess, Dissident Mage some real competition.

My favorite card from 2022 is Luxior, Giada's Gift. Guess I really liked Streets of New Capenna. Luxior has led to some great Commander moments for me. Turning planeswalkers into creatures is just plain fun. I absolutely love equipping it to one of my favorite characters and letting them get involved in combat, same as everyone else. I've really enjoyed attaching this to Jared Carthalion for the inherent synergy with his own -3 ability, and since the release of The Brothers' War, I've loved the deckbuilding challenge of melding Urza, Planeswalker and equipping Luxior to go for that Voltron win!

Want more? Check out the author picks from Commander's Herald!

Mason Brantley

No other commander from 2022 has captivated my attention like Ognis, the Dragon's Lash. My relationship with Magic has been on-and-off for personal reasons most of the year, but Ognis simply has not left my mind. Every card I read, every interaction I consider, it all eventually ties back to this commander. I'd been looking for a change, and she offers something distinct from my typical builds. Fast, aggressive, and focusing your build in a way that is intriguing. It's easy enough to add powerful cards with haste, but there are smaller synergies, like Bramble Sovereign paying back for its ability, and even more innocuous and fun cards, like Phoenix Chick and Charging Cinderhorn. Despite all that, she hasn't made it to my roster yet, but she's first in line as I approach 2023 with renewed energy.

As an unabashed lover of the Warhammer 40K decks, it wouldn't be a shock to see one of those cards on my list. There're plenty of powerful, iconic, and versatile cards from the set. However, mine is an oddball pick: Tyranid Prime. The design is simple, yet it draws my attention. Its execution makes me understand the Mel/Melvin player psychographic.

Giving everything Evolve is already solid for counter decks, but the simple decision to make it a 0/4 is what really ties the whole card together. Play it on-curve? It'll easily grow with your board. Play it late? It has enough toughness to buff all but the largest creatures (because it'll trigger Evolve as it enters). This card's design gives me a ton of joy. C'mon, it's a Tyranid in Magic! My tabletop gamer heart is happy.

Nick Lucchesi

My favorite commander of the year is none other than this majestic flying horse. Hinata leads my mostly mono-red deck, affectionately named "Target Selection". I want to play massive red spells with the word "target" in their text box. Classics like Fireball are joined by crazy concoctions - for instance, discovering that Stone Rain + Radiate accidentally blows up everyone's lands. Whoops! Get those typical Hinata cards like Curse of the Swine and Distorting Wake out of here, I'm trying to use a Blood Moon to grant me a kill with Volcanic Eruption, and Hinata's the one to help me do it.

Two words set this card apart from anything else I could find from this year: "isn't legendary". This card takes cloning to the next level. A slam-dunk in my Dimir Clone deck, and every blue deck I look at seems to be improved with this card. Your commander can't fly? Not anymore. Need another copy for more triggers? This card has your back. Need to stop everyone from attacking anyone else, but you only have one copy of Pramikon, Sky Rampart? Think again. I'll be hitting the metaphorical CTR+C buttons with this card for years to come.

Joshua Wood

My favorite commander to come out this year is, hands-down, Jaxis, the Troublemaker. She provides so much value from being able to copy creatures like Solemn Simulacrum and drawing cards after it dies or dealing damage to everyone with Fanatic of Mogis, and her discard cost synergizes with cards like Containment Construct. I enjoy copying cards like Dire Fleet Daredevil and Firbolg Flutist that take advantage of what my opponents are doing, which helps add variance to my games.

I was going to mention Patriar's Seal or March of Swirling Mist as my favorite card of the year, but when I was going through my decks, I realized that I'm running Inspired Tinkering in three decks. It may be a five-mana investment, but you get three Treasures in return, which can then be used to cast something from the three cards exiled, and if we hit three lands, we can still play two of them (unlike Jeska's Will).

When I think about the kinds of cards I want to see to make red and white stronger colors in EDH, I don't look to Deep Gnome Terramancer or Jeska's Will. I want to see Cut a Deal or Reckless Impulse. Less powerful pieces that come in at the Common and Uncommon slot and help fill out the backbone of that color identity, similar to what Rampant Growth and Harmonize are to green.

Wrapping Up

Well, that's a wrap! Magic moves so fast these days that it can be hard to catch your breath from one set to the next, but it's always worth trying to find the time to reflect. What were your favorite cards of 2022? Your favorite commanders? Let us know in the comments below, and here's to a great 2023!

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.