Too-Specific Top 10 - WUBRG!

(Esika, God of the Tree | Art by Johannes Voss)

Welcome, Unbelievably Broken Rare Generals!

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 Cromat is the only five-color creature with more than two activated abilities?)

When I first got into Magic, rares were the highest rarity in a booster pack (and we only had one kind of booster pack). Mythics have been introduced since then, along with alternate arts and foils of said mythics, sometimes only available in specific products which can only be purchased in certain locations, if you're lucky enough to get in by the end of specific time allotments. Perhaps still the rarest thing of all in Magic: The Gathering, however, is five-color cards.

In fact, prior to the year 2000, the only non-silver-bordered five-color card was the ever-elusive and ever-expensive Sliver Queen. Since then, they've gotten quite a bit more common, along the following timeline:

2000: Coalition Victory

2001: Atogatog, Cromat, and Last Stand

2002: None

2003: Karona, False God and Sliver Overlord

2004: Who // What // When // Where // Why

2005: Genju of the Realm

2006: Scion of the Ur-Dragon and Transguild Courier

2007: Horde of Notions and Sliver Legion

2008: Reaper King

2009: Child of Alara, Conflux, Fusion Elemental, Maelstrom Archangel, Maelstrom Nexus, and Progenitus

2010-2013: None

2014: Chromanticore and Sliver Hivelord

2015-2016: None

2017: O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami, The Ur-Dragon, and Urza, Academy Headmaster

2018: None

2019: Niv-Mizzet Reborn, Sphinx of the Guildpact, and The First Sliver

2020: Sanctum of All

As you can see, it's not a large list. But given that this is Too-Specific Top 10, why don't we whittle it down a bit more?

Top 10 WUBRG Cards

Criteria: Cards with a mana cost consisting exclusively of exactly one mana of each color. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

While there are 30 different cards that qualify as "five-color", I've always personally had a penchant for the simplest of those very complicated cards. So rather than standing on Transguild Couriers and the banned Coalition Victory, why not go for the true WUBRGs?

10. Sanctum of All

(1,263 Inclusions, 3% of 36,897 Decks)

Only printed recently in Magic 2021, Sanctum of All is nonetheless a shout-out to an ancient cycle of Shrines from Kamigawa that was also printed along a second cycle of the same. It's good for more than just a bit of nostalgia, though. Sanctum of All can search up a Shrine every upkeep, and then get you additional triggers for each of them once you start hitting a critical mass. Indeed, most people's one lament for this purpose-printed Shrine Tribal card is that it can't be your commander itself.

9. Maelstrom Archangel

(1,358 Inclusions, 4% of 36,897 Decks)

While Maelstrom Archangel has been pretty much outdone these days by the likes of Jodah, Archmage Eternal, in decks that care about attacking, multiple attack steps, or double strike, it can still put in quite a lot of work. After all, five mana for a 5/5 flier that lets you cast spells for free every time it gets through? How could that ever be bad?

8. Sliver Queen

(Helms 249 Decks, Rank #421; 1,569 Inclusions, 4% of 36,897 Decks)

Sliver Queen is the original Sliver commander, though it is not one of the most popular options for the tribe. However, personally, it's still the one that makes me pay the most attention if I see it across the table in the command zone. Sure, Sliver Hivelord, Sliver Legion, and The First Sliver are the most powerful on the face of things, but Sliver Queen just screams infinite combos coming out of nowhere.

7. Sliver Legion

(Helms 64 Decks, Rank #727; 1,869 Inclusions, 5% of 36,897 Decks)

Speaking of Sliver Legion, have you ever had to deal with a Craterhoof Behemoth in the command zone? All right, it's not that bad. In fact, it's usually worse, given that a Sliver player laying this down into a full board will often have haste, trample, shroud, flying, and double strike to go with the +7/+7 everything is getting.

6. Maelstrom Nexus

(2,509 Inclusions, 7% of 36,897 Decks)

If you've never seen this card before, get ready to be seeing a lot more of it once we all get back to our in-person tables. Maelstrom Nexus gives your first spell each turn Cascade, and it does stack if the spell already had Cascade, making the cavalcade of Cascade spells from Commander Legends that much more value-ridden. What you really need to keep in mind, however, is that instants can be used with this on every player's turn, allowing for four Cascades per rounding of the table, effectively. Is that a bit far-fetched? Perhaps, but then again there are entire classes of players who live for exactly that kind of thing.

5. Sliver Overlord

(Helms 1,537 Decks, Rank #76; 1,223 Inclusions, 3% of 36,897 Decks)

Still the most popular Sliver commander, Sliver Overlord both lets you search for specific Slivers and gain control of any others on the board that may have been stolen or not belonged to you in the first place. I also like that it has multiple arms as what was supposed to be a weird Sliver flex, only now there are different planes of Slivers that start with two arms anyhow, so....

4. Niv-Mizzet Reborn

(Helms 1,659 Decks, Rank #65; 1,144 Inclusions, 3% of 36,897 Decks)

Niv-Mizzet Reborn feels like the first casualty of the flood of cards we've seen over the last couple years. I say that because I remember when he was first spoiled and how excited people were, yet the only time I've even seen him played is in my Cycling version of the deck, which I played all of four games with before Golos, Tireless Pilgrim came out. Now, that's obviously taking my personal anecdote to a larger level, but honestly, if Niv-Mizzet Reborn had been any other character, I doubt any of us would even remember this card. Not that it's not good, mind you. It will pretty much always draw you a new hand anytime you play it in a deck dedicated to the two-color strategy, and that's a unique enough strategy that people want to build around it. There are even competitive builds that will utilize it. However, given the firehose of cards that came out alongside and after it, Niv-Mizzet still seems rather forgettable despite featuring a beloved character and a unique ability. Exactly like Obeka, Brute Chronologist, Yurlok of Scorch Thrash, Ghen, Arcanum Weaver, Averna, the Chaos Bloom, and Jared Carthalion, True Heir will probably feel by this time next year.

In fact, if you didn't have to look up what at least one of those almost brand-new tri-color Commander Legends legends did, then I would be amazed. If you do know what they all do, then go ahead, finish the cycle in the comments from memory. Bet you can't!

3. Sliver Hivelord

(Helms 447 Decks, Rank #278; 2,479 Inclusions, 7% of 36,897 Decks)

Slivers have always felt a bit invincible once they get rolling, but that in no way means that when Sliver Hivelord makes it official that it isn't terrifying. Sure, Crystalline Sliver might be better under a lot of circumstances at the higher power levels, but there's something to be said for turning every Wrath of God into an instant alpha strike.

2. The First Sliver

(Helms 1,341 Decks, Rank #93; 1,665 Inclusions, 5% of 36,897 Decks)

If you're less interested in winning and more interested in the journey, however, might I interest you in The First Sliver? Ironically, this ultra-value-based commander that you can see spinning its wheels at a table near you was actually a Competitive EDH staple for a time, helming Food Chain decks the world over. Most times these days you're more likely to just see a Timmy or Tammy flipping cards over with it, however. I, for one, am here for that, as The First Sliver is maybe the only fun version of a Sliver deck left to the masses. Remember, kids, variance is the spice of life. If you're bored of your decks winning the exact same way every game, maybe don't play all the tutors in the world?

1. Scion of the Ur-Dragon

(Helms 744 Decks, Rank #192; 2,264 Inclusions, 6% of 36,897 Decks)

Speaking of tutoring for the same three win conditions, Scion of the Ur-Dragon!

Okay, I'll try to keep my #PlayLessTutors mantra in check for a minute; even I can tell that it's getting tiresome.

Honestly though, despite my inherent biases, I really like Scion. It requires an epic amount of mana or an extra turn to really get going, and even then usually has a bunch of crazy convoluted schemes to actually get to the win. Failing that, it can often just result in a crazy last turn where 18 Dragons rise from the grave all at once and swing out, and who isn't a fan of that?

Honorable Mentions

Cutting our original list from 30 down to 19 got us a more obscure list, which I'm always a fan of. However, it also lets us just go right on listing right down to the brand new WUBRG example we got out of Kaldheim, which might be one of the most exciting new five-color cards we've gotten in years.

11. Child of Alara
12. Horde of Notions
13. Chromanticore
14. Cromat
15. Genju of the Realm
16. Fusion Elemental
17. Atogatog
18. Last Stand
19. The Prismatic Bridge

Seriously, though, it saddens me to see Last Stand not getting any love. Makes me glad I haven't cut the Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth package from my five-color Cycling, honestly.

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?

And finally, what is your favorite WUBRG card? Do you prefer the strict "one mana of each type" mana cost, or are the more unique or expensive versions fine in your book?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the round table painted like R&D's famous color wheel! (Man I hope that exists somewhere.)

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.