Too-Specific Top 10 – Commander Outlet

(Makeshift Munitions | Art by Filip Burburan)

Without Sacrifice, We Would Have Nothing!

Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Osgir, the Reconstructor is the only Boros Lorehold card that allows you to sacrifice artifacts?)

With the sneak peek at Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, we saw a world split between tradition and Magic‘s first internet connection. More importantly, we also got to see the newest Rakdos commander, and it’s a doozy!

Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos does everything I want in the world: it sacrifices creatures to improve my card quality, then lets me impulse draw while dealing damage to my opponents (or their stuff)! It’s like a Chandra and a Viscera Seer in one!

Alright, that may be stretching it a bit – especially since neither Chandra nor Viscera Seer make you pay mana to activate their abilities – but tell me, is there any better feeling than having a sac outlet in the command zone?


Top 10 Commander Sac Outlets

Well, let’s find out, shall we?

Before we begin, what is a sacrifice outlet?

First off, a sacrifice outlet sacrifices something else, not itself, so commanders like Hope of Ghirapur are obviously not what we’re talking about. Where it does get a bit fuzzier is with triggered sacrifice outlets. No one would say that Korvold, Fae-Cursed King or The Gitrog Monster aren’t sacrificing things, and you can certainly build around those synergies, but as several people have shouted at me in many a heated discussion, “A sacrifice outlet has always meant being able to sacrifice things whenever you want to.” So I guess let’s move forward with that ‘popular’ opinion, and do activated abilities only.

Even restricting the criteria to just ‘activated abilities that sacrifice other things’ leaves a lot of wiggle room, however.

My initial writing of the criteria was “commanders with an activated ability that has sacrificing another card as part of its activation cost”. This was all well and good until I started running into planeswalkers. I would definitely count Grist, the Hunger Tide as a (fairly limited) sac outlet, but that definition would eschew it in favor of other competition. So, fine, let’s update it to allow for any activated ability that sacrifices another permanent. But wait, is Tergrid's Lantern a sac outlet? I don’t think so.

Other less obvious corner cases are things like Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Feldon of the Third Path, and Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded that create bodies for only a temporary amount of time. These are obviously not meant as sacrifice outlets. Additionally, and as per usual, we’ll be putting a tribal rider into our criteria; Kykar, Wind’s Fury may be a great commander, but you’re not really playing it for its ability to sacrifice things so much as its ability to create specific things to then sacrifice.

Criteria: Commanders with an activated ability that has sacrificing another card you control as part of an activated ability that does not include a time-sensitive component, without a tribal rider (sorry not sorry, Koma, Cosmos Serpent and Magda, Brazen Outlaw). As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score, although in this case it’s by the EDHREC score of each commander’s decks (e.g., decks they’re helming), rather than their total inclusions.

10. Toxrill, the Corrosive

(Helms 1,398 Decks, Rank #174; 1,469 Inclusions, 4% of 35,229 Decks)

Sigh.

My problem with Toxrill, the Corrosive isn’t that it lives up to its name (being just a little bit toxic by creating play states where only you get to actually play the game), it’s that it’s both bad and a little bit toxic. When you sit down at any table, the moment you flip it over you’re going to be public enemy number one, despite the fact that you probably won’t even be able to cast it until turn five or six. You’ll then kill a few mana dorks and utility creatures to make a few Slugs, and then it will get wiped. However, you’re playing like a big mana Drana now, so you’ll recast it the next turn, killing a few more creatures and getting a few more Slugs on your end step.

Rinse and repeat until everyone runs out of removal, essentially. The problem is, until that happens, you’re not actually doing anything but slowing down the game, at which point your plan is still to just… what? Swing in on an empty board with a dozen Slugs?

Sure, you could also go the Aristocrats plan and play every version of Blood Artist, but aren’t there already a dozen better commanders to do that with? Commanders that won’t have the entire table targeting you for an entire game in which you’re not going to do much but ramp and kill small creatures?

In summary:

9. Ayara, First of Locthwain

(Helms 1,426 Decks, Rank #171; 16,878 Inclusions, 4% of 437,469 Decks)

Speaking of better Aristocrats commanders that won’t have entire tables groaning anytime you flip your commander over, Ayara, First of Locthwain! While her sacrifice outlet does leave a bit to be desired in that you can only use it once per turn under normal circumstances, drawing a card without having to pay any mana every turn is huge, and her enter-the-battlefield trigger for every creature in your deck is even better. What really pushes Ayara over the top, however, is that she can be built at just about any power level. If you just want to play a durdly, creature-heavy deck that’s okay with sacrificing things, then Ayara is cool with that. If you want to go full combo, then there’s no shortage of ways to do that, either.

8. Ghen, Arcanum Weaver

(Helms 1,464 Decks, Rank #166; 667 Inclusions, 1% of 76,010 Decks)

I’ve honestly always been surprised that Ghen, Arcanum Weaver wasn’t a bit more popular, given how long folks were looking for a Mardu enchantment commander, so I’m happy to finally be putting together a list where he makes the cut. What I really love about Ghen (aside from finally having a great Curses commander) are the synergies he has with all of the enchantments with steep downsides.

Where else are you going to get to actually play these weird and wacky cards? Well, Blim. The answer is Blim. Still though, how cool is Ghen?

7. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher

(Helms 1,611 Decks, Rank #150; 2,631 Inclusions, 3% of 93,010 Decks)

The boogeyman of Jund, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher was once a premiere competitive Food Chain commander, and it still carries the stigma of that day. Given that it was unseated by a series of more and more ridiculous boogeymen, and isn’t even the best Nitro-casual Jund commander anymore, I do wonder if we shouldn’t stop targeting down Prossh. Getting seven bodies for six mana is a heck of a feat, especially when it comes with a sacrifice outlet that can kill with commander damage stapled to it. In this day and age, though, six mana is a lot for a commander, and there’s honestly probably scarier things going on at the average high- or even mid-power table.

I guess what I’m saying is… give Prossh a chance?

6. Dina, Soul Steeper

(Helms 2,023 Decks, Rank #107; 3,996 Inclusions, 3% of 116,369 Decks)

Witherbloom changed the calculus of a lot of Golgari decks that had essentially been pure Aristocrats up to that point. Blossoming Bogbeast, Veinwitch Coven, and Ezzaroot Channeler all provided a bunch of lifegain payoffs that steered Golgari decks that were previously carbon copies of each other in a bunch of different directions, and at the top of it all was Dina, Soul Steeper. Sure, she wasn’t the face card of the Witherbloom Commander 2021 deck, but she was the standout nonetheless. Being able to ping the whole table anytime you gain life adds up really quick, especially when you’ve got other cards that are doing the same while triggering Dina through their drain abilities. It’s not uncommon to see Dina trigger five or six times a turn in a dedicated deck, and that kind of life loss adds up quickly (especially when your own life total is going the other way).

5. Ghave, Guru of Spores

(Helms 2,140 Decks, Rank #96; 2,200 Inclusions, 2% of 95,521 Decks)

What can I say about Ghave that hasn’t already been said an arbitrarily large amount of times? Maybe we need an outside contractor here.

Thanks, Britney. Glad to see you doing business on your own again.

4. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician

(Helms 2,334 Decks, Rank #82; 19,854 Inclusions, 5% of 437,469 Decks)

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician has always been the epitome of “pushed”, so to see him at only #4 on this list really speaks to just how many players would rather be playing multiple colors. Still, even if you only have mono-black to pull from, Yawgmoth can get it done with any variety of powerful creature and planeswalker decks. The build I saw that really made me chuckle, though? Charge Counter tribal. Sometimes people just remind you why it is you love to play this silly format.

3. Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools

(Partners 2,893 Decks; 8,286 Inclusions, 3% of 317,345 Decks)

Then, to pull me right back, there’s Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools. The fact that he’s most popularly a Partner with Thrasios, Triton Hero tells you everything you need to know: there’s not a nice way to play Tevesh Szat. Sure, you could try and make a silly mono-black Thrull tribal build with Keskit, the Flesh Sculptor, but that ultimate would still be sitting right there, reminding the table why you have to die.

2. Osgir, the Reconstructor

(Helms 3,457 Decks, Rank #37; 1,742 Inclusions, 2% of 114,577 Decks)

If you’re looking for a card that will get the table excited, despite the fact that you’re playing an absurdly overpowered commander, might I suggest Osgir, the Reconstructor? If you’ve yet to see this commander in play, it’s hard to describe just how quickly things get out of hand, even in just the preconstructed version of his deck. Make no mistake though, when things get optimized, this is not the Boros you’re used to. A single Rings of Brighthearth already spells enough trouble, but two is just game over.

1. Breya, Etherium Shaper

(Helms 4,186 Decks, Rank #21; 422 Inclusions, 1% of 68,830 Decks)

Speaking of artifact commanders that can just win the game out of nowhere, it’s Breya! While she’s still not the most popular four-color commander, she’s honestly more kill-on-sight than Atraxa, although anything short of a Counterspell might not be fast enough if the Breya player has mana. With six total power for four mana, with an option to gain life, kill creatures, or damage players and planeswalkers directly, Breya can solve any problem, which is why it’s not really a shock to see her at #1.


Honorable Mentions

Whenever I do a list that goes off of the Commander rankings rather than the overall inclusion numbers, I like to shout out where things would be if we just looked at the cards that got played the most in general:

Top 10 Legendary (read: commander) Sacrifice Outlets

  1. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
  2. Yahenni, Undying Partisan
  3. Ayara, First of Locthwain
  4. Daretti, Scrap Savant
  5. Razaketh, the Foulblooded
  6. Sai, Master Thopterist
  7. Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
  8. Erebos, Bleak-Hearted
  9. Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools
  10. Izoni, Thousand-Eyed

If you’re looking for the actual honorable mentions, they were going to be Daretti, Scrap Savant, at 1,315 decks, and Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord, at 1,274 decks.


Nuts and Bolts

There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.


What Do You Think?

For those of us that have built a lot of sacrifice-heavy decks, it can be a struggle to find the right balance of sac outlets, payoffs, and engines. It probably comes as little surprise, then, to find that the most popular commanders on this list are both sac outlets and an engine or a payoff of some sort.

My question is: is that healthy?

Finally, what’s your favorite sac outlet? Is it in your command zone? Do you secretly think that triggered abilities are fine as sac outlets as well, but have already been shouted at multiple times on multiple occasions for saying so?

Let us know in the comments, and we’ll see you on the floor that until recently contained a table.

Doug has been an avid Magic player since Fallen Empires, when his older brother traded him some epic blue Homarids for all of his Islands. As for Commander, he's been playing since 2010, when he started off by making a two-player oriented G/R Land Destruction deck. Nailed it. In his spare time when he's not playing Magic, writing about Magic or doing his day job, he runs a YouTube channel or two, keeps up a College Football Computer Poll, and is attempting to gif every scene of the Star Wars prequels.