Too-Specific Top 10 - Grab Your Partner
(And Don't Think About Commander Tax Too Hard)
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 go infinite with ?)was specifically made to
With the news that Commander Legends will feature 41 new mono-color commanders with the original Partner mechanic, there has been quite a bit of hubbub about whether Partner can be done without breaking Commander in half or being so watered down that it's not even worth playing. My personal opinion is that I'd rather it be closer to option two than option one, as its been shown that folks often can't help themselves when hyper-powerful commanders are printed, and the set is meant to be for draft anyhow. Regardless of your opinions on Partner in its past, present, or Partner With form, however, I figured it would be useful to get a freezeframe of this moment in time as far as Partner is concerned.
Top 10 Partner Pairs!
As I evidenced with my shout-out to my favorite-fair-combo-enablersand , there are some Partners that are not actually available as commanders. Given that there are only ten total, however, and they're all Partner With, I wasn't sure that I wanted to focus on them for this particular list:
In truth, it didn't make much of a difference, as the number one optiononly sees play in 1216 decks, with its partner actually being the least popular at only 74 decks. That combined 1290 inclusions wouldn't have even gotten close to any of the top ten Partner commanders on the scale of sheer inclusions:
Top Partner Commanders (in the 99)
- : 6136 Inclusions
- : 5636 Inclusions
- : 4620 Inclusions
- : 4257 Inclusions
- : 4093 Inclusions
- : 3925 Inclusions
- : 2580 Inclusions
- : 2500 Inclusions
- : 2178 Inclusions
- : 2119 Inclusions
- : 1826 Inclusions
- : 1810 Inclusions
- : 1694 Inclusions
- : 1648 Inclusions
- : 1632 Inclusions
- : 1465 Inclusions
- : 1360 Inclusions
- : 1356 Inclusions
- : 1346 Inclusions
- : 1330 Inclusions
- : 1281 Inclusions
- : 1238 Inclusions
- : 1134 Inclusions
- : 1109 Inclusions
- : 1036 Inclusions
- : 965 Inclusions
- : 952 Inclusions
- : 918 Inclusions
- : 873 Inclusions
- : 872 Inclusions
- : 858 Inclusions
- : 750 Inclusions
- : 628 Inclusions
- : 527 Inclusions
- : 525 Inclusions
- : 499 Inclusions
Now you might be thinking "wait, did he just do the full rankings of every commander with both versions of Partner? Then what is the actual top ten list going to be this week?" Well, there's two reasons I did this full list: one, I'm hopelessly addicted to lists, as has been well documented over the last couple years; and two, I don't actually think that our typical EDHREC score rankings that include both spots in the command zone and inclusions in the 99 are actually indicative of what the best Partner commanders are. In the 99, Partner With commanders actually have an inherent advantage, as they basically come with "draw a card" stapled onto them, making every one anof sorts. This inflates their numbers somewhat, and honestly, if we're looking at the best Partner commanders overall, we should really be ranking them by when they're used as commanders.
Lastly, ranking the cards individually when they're supposed to be used as a pairing doesn't seem to make much sense. With that in mind, we'll be looking at the amount of decks helmed by each possible Commander pairing. Well, not each pairing, as there are 210 possible Partner combinations with an additional 11 set Partner With pairings (on a related note, would the multiverse please have mercy on our web design team?). We'll just be sticking to the actual top ten today, thanks.
Criteria: Commander pairings that have the Partner or Partner With mechanic. Breaking tradition, we'll be going by Commander ranking as opposed to the normal EDHREC score, which counts total inclusions both in the command zone and the 99.
10. Cazur & Ukkima
(Helms 549 Decks, Rank #230; 2,074 Combined Inclusions)
Every new set, there seems to be a new commander that looks really fun, but you know will be a risk to play because people will be convinced that you're playing that deck. This was almost immediately the case uponbeing spoiled and people seeing that this whale wolf didn't trigger upon dying, but rather upon leaving the battlefield. didn't hurt the combination with his ability to make Ukkima bigger, either, but ultimately what he contributes to the pairing is the ability to play and almost every one-mana mana dork in the game.
Could you still play Cazur and Ukkima for fun? Absolutely. Just be aware that statistics-wise, that's not what most people are going to think of when they see your command zone, so don't be surprised if people you haven't played the deck against don't give you the benefit of the doubt.
9. Trynn & Silvar
(Helms 553 Decks, Rank #228; 1,824 Inclusions)
Aristocrats-style, as evidenced by the greater than 75% inclusion rate of , , and .and , on the other hand, are a much more focused sort of pairing, focusing almost entirely on human tribal. Most builds focus on doing so in an
If you're wondering where the other portions of the aristocrats engine are outside of the death triggers, that's really the beauty of Trynn and Silvar: they provide both the tokens and the sacrifice outlet needed to get you going straight out of the command zone.
8. Rowan & Will
(Helms 580 Decks, Rank #218; 3,449 Inclusions)
If you're tired of doing the typical token and graveyard shenanigans, however, then the unique and purpose-built combination I myself routinely play this Izzet monstrosity of a spell-slinger and Superfriends mashup, and can confirm that it feels different than just about any deck I've laid hands on, although that uniqueness comes with significant hurdles that can slow down game-play if you're not careful.and his sister provide might be more up your alley.
If you do manage to get things down to the point where you can run through and efficiently explain five planeswalker activations before then castingsix times into a which then lets you do it all again as you roll into a and a without taking 20 minutes, then you're in a good spot.
Bonus points for repeatedlying your own already-used lands and planeswalkers to get more planeswalkers!
7. Haldan & Pako
(Helms 616 Decks, Rank #211; 1,776 Inclusions)
If you'd rather spell-sling from your opponent's decks in addition to your own, however, then you might instead look at the more happenstance combination ofand . I've still yet to see one of these decks in the wild, but I do have to say looking through the Partner page, there are several popular cards that give me a chuckle, probably none moreso than . Countering your opponents spells on the cheap is usually good enough for most folks, but being able to then cast them as well is just adding to .
6. Tana & Tymna
(Helms 616 Decks, Rank #206; 5,129 Inclusions)
Our first actual Partner combination,stacks up the tokens that let you swing through on each opponent, allowing you stack up the cards as well via . Combine that with the inherent power of having access to four colors, and Tana and Tymna can be quite the lethal combination. While a quick look through the Partner page will confirm for us that Tana and Tymna are as popular as they are due to the various brewings of Competitive EDH players, this particular combination feels like it could be reclaimed by the more casual crowd, as it is less well-known and may not get you immediately targeted.
Just keep in mind that playing the more casual version of this deck means not includingcombos, as any good faith you've gained from not having access to six mana on turn two will disapear the moment someone sees the quintessential card that makes Blood Pod strategies work.
5. Krav & Regna
(Helms 805 Decks, Rank #163; 7,120 Inclusions)
In the same vein as Trynn and Silvar,and allow Aristocrat decks to bring a sac outlet and a token generator straight from the command zone. The main difference, aside from the lack of a third color, is that Krav's sacrifice effect allows for some card advantage in addition to turning on the token effect of Regna (along with getting +1/+1 counters in near the same fashion as Silvar). Give it a couple years for the newer Commander 2020 pairing to catch up and we may have a bit of a contest between the two, but for now, Krav and Regna are leading the Aristocrats pack by about 250 decks despite lacking red and having a more expensive mana cost. Then again, they don't have the restriction of having to care about humans, either!
4. Okaun & Zndrsplt
(Helms 894 Decks, Rank #143; 1,024 Inclusions)
Rather than being part of a larger strategy, however, Coin-flip archetype by themselves. Given time, I'm sure that there will be more competition in this space, and we'll have to see whether or not they're in for the long haul. In the meantime, however, the inherent fun of flipping coins is popular enough on its own to give Okaun and Zndrsplt the number four spot all on its own!and almost entirely own the
3. Pir & Toothy
(Helms 967 Decks, Rank #124; 11,772 Inclusions)
We've managed to go almost an entire top ten list without mentioning that artifacts are the number one theme on EDHREC, and I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to tell you thatand didn't make the cut. Instead, raw power combined with the second most popular theme of +1/+1 counters rules the day in our number three slot, although it is worth noting that is often used for more than just the most popular type of counter. , on the other hand, is often just included in the 99 as a general value engine, especially in blink decks that can take advantage of his leaves the battlefield trigger more efficiently.
Together, however, they combine the two most popular colors for the +1/+1 counter theme, a three-manain the command zone, and a card advantage engine that can also swing in for a commander damage kill. That's nothing to scoff at even before you get into just how flexible Pir is, which is only going to increase a commander's popularity.
2. Thrasios & Vial Smasher
(Helms 1,108 Decks, Rank #108; 6,435 Inclusions)
I almost dismissed doing this list before I even started researching it, as just about everyone knew this is where it would end.is the card everyone points to to show just how broken the Partner mechanic is, and that is no coincidence. Even without the ability to tack on more colors and abilities, Thrasios starts as a two-mana engine that can convert infinite mana into an immediate win. compliments that raw power nicely by adding the two next-best colors in the game and some free damage to apply pressure to other players. Ultimately, the card itself becomes rather incidental, however, with the color combination and access to tutors and combos it brings being much more important.
This combination pales in comparison to what Thrasios can do with another partner that brings actual playability to the table, however....
1. Thrasios & Tymna
(Helms 1,251 Decks, Rank #99; 8,350 Inclusions)
is easily the second best of the original Partners, providing better card advantage in more immediate fashion than at the same cost while giving access to the third best color and possibly best complimentary color. If it hasn't become clear yet, I know next to nothing about Competitive EDH, but even in my ignorance of it, I'm aware of the titan that this combination has been for many years now, constantly providing a shell for the most powerful ramp, combos, and interaction. While and have since been eclipsed as a shell for wins, the fact that they have access to almost every color while also providing you with an extra card "in hand" from the start of the game has allowed them to stay at the top of contention in a format that is seeing newly top tier commanders in almost every set as of late.
In short, Thrasios and Tymna are the best Partner pair from a power level perspective, and its not close. Many things may change with the inclusion of 41 new Partner commanders, but this is unlikely to be one of them.
First off, I can hear the shouts of purists everywhere saying that Partner With commanders aren't Partner commanders, especially when we're trying to compare to the new stuff we'll be seeing in Commander Legends specifically. Well here, I got you:
Top 10 Pure Partner Commander Pairings
- & : 1268 Decks
- & : 1108 Decks
- & : 629 Decks
- & : 476 Decks
- & : 368 Decks
- & : 340 Decks
- & : 305 Decks
- & : 218 Decks
- & : 218 Decks
- & : 217 Decks
I think the reason I went with both Partner and Partner With is fairly clear now.
The Best of the Rest
While I went over earlier why the sheer numbers decided for me that I wouldn't be going through every Partner combination, I did set an arbitrary cut-off of 200 decks to ensure I had the numbers right for the whole top ten, and it would be a shame to let that go to waste:
12. & : 476 Decks
13. & : 368 Decks
14. & : 340 Decks
15. & : 312 Decks
16. & : 305 Decks
17. & : 247 Decks
18. & : 224 Decks
19. & : 218 Decks
20. & : 218 Decks
21. & : 217 Decks
22. & : 214 Decks
23. & : 205 Decks
I think this might be the most lists I've ever included in an article (which is saying something), but hopefully this goes a long way towards getting us a before and after snapshot of all of the new partners and how they will have affected our future meta.
Either that, or it's an excuse to include even more lists a year or two after the new Commander Legends commanders have hit the battlefield....
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. This one was all leg-work and very little search, however, as tends to be the case when you're ranking by Commander Ranking rather than total inclusions.
What Do You Think?
There was a lot oftalk about Partner coming back into the format again initially, but now that we've all had a couple weeks to stew on it...
And finally, what do you think of the mono-color twist on the new Partners? Do you think they'll be fun for draft? Are you planning on drafting Commander Legends?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the side-by-side tables of the next Con... someday.