Too-Specific Top 10 - Grab Your Partner

(Thrasios, Triton Hero | Art by Josu Hernaiz)

(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 Ley Weaver was specifically made to go infinite with Lore Weaver?)

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-enablers Ley Weaver and Lore Weaver, 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:

  1. Chakram Retriever
  2. Ley Weaver
  3. Blaring Captain
  4. Blaring Recruiter
  5. Lore Weaver
  6. Soulblade Corrupter
  7. Soulblade Renewer
  8. Impetuous Protege
  9. Proud Mentor
  10. Chakram Slinger

In truth, it didn't make much of a difference, as the number one option Chakram Retriever only sees play in 1216 decks, with its partner Chakram Slinger 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)

  1. Pir, Imaginative Rascal: 6136 Inclusions
  2. Toothy, Imaginary Friend: 5636 Inclusions
  3. Krav, the Unredeemed: 4620 Inclusions
  4. Thrasios, Triton Hero: 4257 Inclusions
  5. Tymna the Weaver: 4093 Inclusions
  6. Reyhan, Last of the Abzan: 3925 Inclusions
  7. Ravos, Soultender: 2580 Inclusions
  8. Regna, the Redeemer: 2500 Inclusions
  9. Vial Smasher the Fierce: 2178 Inclusions
  10. Will Kenrith: 2119 Inclusions
  11. Brallin, Skyshark Rider: 1826 Inclusions
  12. Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder: 1810 Inclusions
  13. Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker: 1694 Inclusions
  14. Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa: 1648 Inclusions
  15. Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix: 1632 Inclusions
  16. Sylvia Brightspear: 1465 Inclusions
  17. Shabraz, the Skyshark: 1360 Inclusions
  18. Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist: 1356 Inclusions
  19. Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper: 1346 Inclusions
  20. Rowan Kenrith: 1330 Inclusions
  21. Virtus the Veiled: 1281 Inclusions
  22. Silas Renn, Seeker Adept: 1238 Inclusions
  23. Khorvath Brightflame: 1134 Inclusions
  24. Ukkima, Stalking Shadow: 1109 Inclusions
  25. Tana, the Bloodsower: 1036 Inclusions
  26. Cazur, Ruthless Stalker: 965 Inclusions
  27. Trynn, Champion of Freedom: 952 Inclusions
  28. Pako, Arcane Retriever: 918 Inclusions
  29. Gorm the Great: 873 Inclusions
  30. Silvar, Devourer of the Free: 872 Inclusions
  31. Haldan, Avid Arcanist: 858 Inclusions
  32. Akiri, Line-Slinger: 750 Inclusions
  33. Nikara, Lair Scavenger: 628 Inclusions
  34. Yannik, Scavenging Sentinel: 527 Inclusions
  35. Okaun, Eye of Chaos: 525 Inclusions
  36. Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom: 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 an Elvish Visionary of 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 upon Ukkima, Stalking Shadow being spoiled and people seeing that this whale wolf didn't trigger upon dying, but rather upon leaving the battlefield. Cazur, Ruthless Stalker 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 Food Chain 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)

Trynn, Champion of Freedom and Silvar, Devourer of the Free, 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 Aristocrats-style, as evidenced by the greater than 75% inclusion rate of Zulaport Cutthroat, Xathrid Necromancer, and Species Specialist.

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 Will Kenrith and his sister Rowan Kenrith provide might be more up your alley. 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.

If you do manage to get things down to the point where you can run through and efficiently explain five planeswalker activations before then casting Oona's Grace six times into a Mind's Desire which then lets you do it all again as you roll into a Teferi, Temporal Archmage and a Flood of Tears without taking 20 minutes, then you're in a good spot.

Bonus points for repeatedly Chaos Warping 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 of Pako, Arcane Retriever and Haldan, Avid Arcanist. 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 Memory Lapse. 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 Insult to Injury.

6. Tana & Tymna

(Helms 616 Decks, Rank #206; 5,129 Inclusions)

Our first actual Partner combination, Tana, the Bloodsower stacks up the tokens that let you swing through on each opponent, allowing you stack up the cards as well via Tymna the Weaver. 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 including Birthing Pod combos, 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, Krav, the Unredeemed and Regna, the Redeemer 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, Okaun, Eye of Chaos and Zndrsplt, Eye of Wisdom almost entirely own the 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!

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 that Akiri, Line Slinger and Silas Renn, Seeker Adept 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 Pir, Imaginative Rascal is often used for more than just the most popular type of counter. Toothy, Imaginary Friend, 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-mana Hardened Scales in 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. Thrasios, Triton Hero 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. Vial Smasher the Fierce 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)

Tymna the Weaver is easily the second best of the original Partners, providing better card advantage in more immediate fashion than Phyrexian Arena 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 Thrasios, Triton Hero and Tymna the Weaver have since been eclipsed as a shell for Thassa's Oracle 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.

Honorable Mentions

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

  1. Thrasios, Triton Hero & Tymna the Weaver: 1268 Decks
  2. Thrasios, Triton Hero & Vial Smasher the Fierce: 1108 Decks
  3. Tymna the Weaver & Tana, the Bloodsower: 629 Decks
  4. Akiri, Line-Slinger & Silas Renn, Seeker Adept: 476 Decks
  5. Tymna the Weaver & Kraum, Ludevic's Opus: 368 Decks
  6. Reyhan, Last of the Abzan & Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker: 340 Decks
  7. Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix & Vial Smasher the Fierce: 305 Decks
  8. Tymna the Weaver & Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa: 218 Decks
  9. Tymna the Weaver & Ravos, Soultender: 218 Decks
  10. Thrasios, Triton Hero & Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix: 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:

11. Brallin, Skyshark Rider & Shabraz, the Skyshark: 546 Decks
12. Akiri, Line-Slinger & Silas Renn, Seeker Adept: 476 Decks
13. Tymna the Weaver & Kraum, Ludevic's Opus: 368 Decks
14. Reyhan, Last of the Abzan & Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker: 340 Decks
15. Gorm the Great & Virtus the Veiled: 312 Decks
16. Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix & Vial Smasher the Fierce: 305 Decks
17. Khorvath Brightflame & Sylvia Brightspear: 247 Decks
18. Thrasios, Triton Hero & Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder: 224 Decks
19. Tymna the Weaver & Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa: 218 Decks
20. Tymna the Weaver & Ravos, Soultender: 218 Decks
21. Thrasios, Triton Hero & Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix: 217 Decks
22. Nikara, Lair Scavenger & Yannik, Scavenging Sentinel: 214 Decks
23. Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder & Akiri, Line-Slinger: 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 of Doomsday talk 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.

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.

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