Too-Specific Top 10 - Compleated Commanders

(Ajani, Sleeper Agent | Art by Victor Adame Minguez)

Oil Barons

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 Tsabo Tavoc is the only card with protection from legends?)

So, Phyrexia invaded again. Remind me, who isn't compleated yet? Seems like we might need to familiarize ourselves with the list before it changes.

Top 10 Compleated Commanders

In preparation for the Phyrexian invasion, Wizards did a massive errata earlier this year to update all canonically Phyrexian creatures with the creature type "Phyrexian". As such, it just became a lot easier to filter through and find out what creatures are Phyrexians and which ones aren't, so the first thing I did once stories started creeping out of Dominaria United was take a look at that list:

Top 10 Nonlegendary Phyrexians

  1. Phyrexian Metamorph
  2. Psychosis Crawler
  3. Massacre Wurm
  4. Wurmcoil Engine
  5. Blightsteel Colossus
  6. Suture Priest
  7. Spellskite
  8. Thrummingbird
  9. Phyrexian Delver
  10. Plague Myr

I was surprised to see that the list was extensive, coming in at 200 cards before Dominaria United even gets involved. Random unnamed monsters aside, we know that we're about to see the compleation of a ton of beloved legends we know on a first-name basis, and as such, I'd like to focus on the 31 legends we already know have seen the perfection of Phyrexia. Think of it as a means of checking our list as we search for Sleeper Agents.

Criteria: Phyrexian or compleated beings that are legendary. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score, only in this case we are ranking by helmed decks (as none of the planeswalkers made the list anyhow).

10. Glissa, the Traitor

(Helms 1,337 Decks, Rank #331; 2,818 Inclusions, 1% of 332,610 Decks)

The only legend ever printed to have natural first strike and deathtouch without having to work at it, Glissa, the Traitor is a force to be reckoned with in the red zone. Folks tend to build around her second ability, giving us a rare Golgari artifact deck! That's right, break out those Marionette Masters, Disciple of the Vaults, and Ravenous Squirrels!

9. Volrath, the Shapestealer

(Helms 1,361 Decks, Rank #324; 1,385 Inclusions, 1% of 177,824 Decks)

When Volrath, the Shapestealer initially came out, it was heralded as the first non-Atraxa 'weird counter tribal' commander. In practice, most builds actually ended up being just more +1/+1 counter builds with more Infect and Proliferate thrown in to get maximum lopsided value. That's not to say that there aren't a ton of fun, unique builds of Volrath out there, but just be aware that if you're looking to stack up weird counters from throughout Magic's history, you might be better off with Perrie, the Pulverizer.

8. Greven, Predator Captain

(Helms 1,409 Decks, Rank #310; 2,058 Inclusions, 1% of 341,519 Decks)

By contrast, a commander that did live up to their initial hype was definitely Greven, Predator Captain. If you haven't had the delight of playing against one of these brews yet, they're pure Rakdos delight. Paying life for cards, sacrificing creatures, smashing face with a huge guy with menace, what's not to like?

7. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider

(Helms 1,641 Decks, Rank #264; 25,325 Inclusions, 4% of 636,304 Decks)

If you're looking to be a real-life menace, then Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider may be more up your lane. Guaranteed to illicit groans whenever it hits the table, Vorinclex can cozy up to planeswalkers, +1/+1 counters, or both, all while keeping a shocking number of your opponents' cards from working correctly.

To give you an idea, here's the Top 10 Cards Vorinclex Shuts Down (or at least hampers from your opponents):

  1. Avenger of Zendikar
  2. Rhythm of the Wild
  3. Everflowing Chalice
  4. Urza's Saga (and all Sagas)
  5. Narset, Parter of Veils (and all planeswalkers, just keep in mind that it only affects the amount they enter with and add with their loyalty abilities)
  6. The Great Henge
  7. Spark Double
  8. Opal Palace
  9. Cathars' Crusade
  10. Beastmaster Ascension

It's not all fun and games, though. Beware of playing Vorinclex against cards with Cumulative Upkeep, like Mystic Remora, as it'll stop them from counting up (or make your own go up twice as fast)!

6. Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer

(Partners 2,020 Decks; 695 Inclusions, 0% of 662,592 Decks)

Speaking of cards that Vorinclex interacts well with, it's Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer! The only Phyrexian Partner on our list, Ich-Tekik is a monstrosity of Golem tribal value, no matter who you pair him up with. The most common variants tend to do a lot with artifacts.

For my money, though, the most fun variant of this card you can play is with Sakashima of a Thousand Faces to just get double the Golems and double the +1/+1 counters!

5. Belbe, Corrupted Observer

(Helms 2,506 Decks, Rank #168; 4,024 Inclusions, 1% of 317,421 Decks)

If you've never played against Belbe, Corrupted Observer, then you might not be aware of just how quickly this deck can stack up absolute loads of mana. One activation of any effect that makes each of your opponents lose 1 life, and you're sitting on six mana in your second main phase. Even better, with the amount of one-mana creatures that make each opponent lose one life on attack, you can often do this on the very turn that Belbe comes into play.

From there, it's all about finding expensive things to cast that will win you the game. Easy, peasy!

4. Ezuri, Claw of Progress

(Helms 2,567 Decks, Rank #160; 1,897 Inclusions, 1% of 336,121 Decks)

Experience counters are a hell of a drug, as evidenced not by just Ezuri, Claw of Progress, but also Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Mizzix of the Izmagnus. Having a static ability that continues to count upward even after your commander dies is a ton of value you accrue over a game. In the case of Ezuri, that value represents itself in a ton of +1/+1 counters every single combat step, making him the perfect commander for anything from small evasive creatures to Hydras. Throw in some rampant +1/+1 counter synergy in the Simic color identity, and it's not hard to see why this flexible commander is still popular, seven years on.

3. Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer

(Helms 2,922 Decks, Rank #127; 7,430 Inclusions, 2% of 326,297 Decks)

Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer was the initial rush of abusing creature copy effects in Commander, which is interesting, because based on my initial read of the card, that's not at all what I would assume a Brudiclad deck would be. It's not until you watch someone Twinflame an Academy Manufactor to then make their 15 Myr tokens into copies of it and create 4,000 Clues, Food, or Treasures that you realize just how ridiculous Brudiclad's effect truly is. People may think I'm operating in Magical Christmasland there, but any copy effect and token-generator in a Brudiclad deck is always on the cusp of going exponential. Don't believe me? Just take a look at the most-played token-generating creatures on Brudiclad's EDHREC page.

  1. Reef Worm
  2. Sai, Master Thopterist
  3. Academy Manufactor
  4. Thopter Assembly
  5. Dockside Extortionist
  6. Wurmcoil Engine
  7. Whirler Rogue
  8. Loyal Apprentice
  9. The Locust God
  10. Dragonmaster Outcast

More than half of those are absolutely game-winning in multiples, even if you don't manage to keep Brudiclad on the board.

2. K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth

(Helms 5,153 Decks, Rank #45; 14,344 Inclusions, 2% of 757,325 Decks)

If you're looking for the truly busted stuff, then you're not here for tokens, you're looking to cast things for free or super-cheap so you can do all of those broken things much sooner. Enter K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth. He may be a faker with a fake title, but he's more than willing to trade life for mana, and that's a bargain any black player will gladly make. Just don't count on his lifelink to get you far, because K'rrik has a habit of not staying in play very long.

1. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice

(Helms 12,153 Decks, Rank #1; 3,334 Inclusions, 3% of 118,021 Decks)

Another day, another Top 10 list with Atraxa, Praetors' Voice at the top of it. The #1 top commander for years running now, Atraxa is still one of the most flexible and generically good commanders that has ever been printed. With a bevy of relevant keywords, a Proliferate trigger that synergizes with a quarter of the cards in the game, and access to four colors, there are always more reasons to play Atraxa than not.

Honorable Mentions

First off, this list of mostly commanders did have two inclusions that didn't qualify under that heading:

If we'd done this list based solely off of inclusions in the 99, Kaldra Compleat would have come in at #10 on that list. Tamiyo, Compleated Sage would have been 19th, a poor showing for the first of what we initially assumed was going to be a long list of compleated planeswalkers. Alas, she remains one of the few examples we'll probably ever see of a compleated planeswalker, since it seems likely Teferi will go back in time to pull an X-Men: Days of Future Past, probably undoing all of the Praetors' hard work in the process (I hope to be wrong about this, and might be, given that there are at least three more Phyrexian sets after The Brothers' War).

Another distinct possibility of Teferi's upcoming time travel shenanigans is that we might also have some famous Phyrexians that will be retconned to never be compleated, which would be its own kind of interesting. With that in mind, I'll leave you off with the full list of current Phyrexian commanders, just to know who might become a real boy again in a hypothetically altered timeline:

  1. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice: 12,153 Inclusions
  2. K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth: 5,153
  3. Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer: 2,922
  4. Ezuri, Claw of Progress: 2,567
  5. Belbe, Corrupted Observer: 2,506
  6. Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer: 2,020
  7. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider: 1,641
  8. Greven, Predator Captain: 1,409
  9. Volrath, the Shapestealer:1,361
  10. Glissa, the Traitor: 1,337
  11. Xantcha, Sleeper Agent: 1,329
  12. Keskit, the Flesh Sculptor: 1,103
  13. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite: 1,041
  14. Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant: 894
  15. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon: 847
  16. Sheoldred, Whispering One: 476
  17. Selenia, Dark Angel: 401
  18. Ertai, the Corrupted: 388
  19. Geth, Lord of the Vault: 250
  20. Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur: 227
  21. Urabrask the Hidden: 224
  22. Volrath the Fallen: 214
  23. Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger: 212
  24. Urabrask, Heretic Praetor: 135
  25. Tsabo Tavoc: 49
  26. Ascendant Evincar: 42
  27. Morinfen: 27
  28. Gallowbraid: 19
  29. Commander Greven il-Vec: 13

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?

I realize that I may be alone in being excited about beloved planeswalkers becoming oily horrific nightmares, especially if they do end up that way more permanently rather than being Death of Superman'd, as they almost surely will be. I just can't help it, though, the prospect excites me! What about you?

Finally, who is your favorite Phyrexian commander? Are you excited about possible new additions to the lineup, or more nervous about who's going to get hit next?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table that somehow seems a lot spookier than the last time we played at it.

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.