Too-Specific Top 10 - &

(Ghalta and Mavren | Art by Jody Clark)

Just the Two of Us

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 Slimefoot and Squee are somehow the only Jund commander that makes a Saproling token?)

Of the many head-turning things going on in the multiverse-spanning March of the Machine, perhaps the most head-turning of all are the unexpected alliances of former planar enemies.

There's not much that can compete with Thalia and The Gitrog Monster or Yargle and Multani teaming up, but Wizards did give it the old college try. Slimefoot and Squee were good for a light chuckle as they searched for the cabin of the Weatherlight they had once manned. Kogla and Yidaro provided perhaps the strangest type line ever seen in Magic: Ape Dinosaur Turtle. Inga and Esika let us all down by having some of the most epic art ever made yet without giving us any Cat tokens. Hidetsugu and Kairi are keeping That LGS Guy With the Means to Play a Broken Combo Deck busy. When he's finally convinced to "tone it down", he instead swaps it out for every extra-turn spell.

When I see things like Zurgo and Ojutai looking amazing but only helming 448 decks, however, it does make me wonder: are any of these partner pairings, or the ones that came before them, actually that popular?

Top 10 Same-Card Partners

You'd think from all the hype that Borborygmos and Fblthp were the first creatures to ever bear the word "and", but putting two different creatures on a single card is something that Magic has done for a long time. Of course, multiple personages have been with us since Alpha, with Llanowar Elves even bearing the creature type "Elves" all the way up until Classic Sixth Edition. The first card depicting two creatures with the word "and" in the title was printed before that on Rank and File in Urza's Legacy, although it's not quite the team-up we're going for.

No, for the first true team-up card, we had to wait until Guildpact, the second set of the original Ravnica: City of Guilds block. This brought us Tibor and Lumia, one of the original Izzet Commander all-stars who've since fallen out of fashion as better spellslinger and pinger commanders have arrived on scene. Next came Anax and Cymede out of Theros, who never managed to pull off similar numbers with Boros (white, red) Heroic tribal.

After that? Well, after that, these partner pairs (not to confused with the mechanic Partner) took off like a shot and started putting down real numbers, so let's see which of them lands on the top of the heap, shall we?

Criteria: Creatures featuring the word "and" in their name and containing two creatures in their artwork. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.

10. Thalia and The Gitrog Monster

(Helms 3,017 Decks, Rank #237; 1,942 Inclusions, 3% of 72,995 Decks)

There's not much I could say about Thalia and The Gitrog Monster that I didn't already say when I wrote a whole article about them. A 4/4 with first strike and deathtouch would've fit the bill on its own in the olden days, but the fact that this comes with light stax, ramp, and card draw all attached pushes it way over the top.

9. Ghalta and Mavren

(Helms 703 Decks, Rank #774; 4,470 Inclusions, 3% of 133,085 Decks)

Sheer brokenness is no match for having "Dinosaur" in the type line. A 12/12 trampler that makes another 12/12 trampler is well worth the price of admission, even passing the "seven-mana cards should more or less win you the game" test with flying colors.

8. Drana and Linvala

(Helms 276 Decks, Rank #1,187; 6,442 Inclusions, 4% of 148,792 Decks)

What could be better than turning off all of your opponents' broken creatures? Well, turning them off and being able to utilize them for your own broken purposes, of course! I do kind of want to build Drana and Linvala simply to see if I can find the game where I manage to put together an infinite combo using my opponents' creatures, but that's probably a pipe dream, right? Right?

7. Pia and Kiran Nalaar

(Helms 53 Decks, Rank #1,892; 7,095 Inclusions, 1% of 1,198,202 Decks)

With only a few months since March of the Machine spoilers began, it's not exactly a surprise that older cards are winning out. With that said, I would imagine several of these new partner pairs ending up higher on this list as time goes by, especially with as aggressively costed some of them are. Four mana to be able to play an extra land, slow down your opponents, and sacrifice stuff to draw cards is more aggressive than four mana for a 2/2 that makes a couple of Thopters and lets you pay more mana to sacrifice them for damage.

This is not to say that Pia and Kiran Nalaar will suddenly stop seeing play. In the 99 of any deck that cares about Thopters specifically or artifacts generally, this is a great package. If anything, I would expect this mono-color option to stay in the top ten even after the other partners see their full numbers given just how easy it is to add and how relevant the decidedly less-pushed ability is.

6. Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis

(Helms 5,136 Decks, Rank #98; 2,096 Inclusions, 1% of 194,976 Decks)

What is surprising is seeing a four-color commander this high on the list. The "5,000 decks" stat helps, of course, but even the 2,000 inclusions is impressive given the color restrictions we're talking about. It's also not a surprise once you read Kynaios and Tiro. Draw and ramp is always a winning combination, even if your opponents are getting a bit of that pie as well.

5. Rin and Seri, Inseparable

(Helms 8,172 Decks, Rank #39; 1,407 Inclusions, 0% of 286,528 Decks)

Draw and ramp are nothing compared to the power of cute, though. Rin and Seri, Inseparable were popular the second they were released in Core Set 2021, allowing for the "best friends" deck that everyone had been clamoring for for ages. The fact that they're actually fairly powerful as well was just gravy.

4. Gisa and Geralf

(Helms 2,443 Decks, Rank #290; 19,946 Inclusions, 3% of 643,200 Decks)

No matter how you do the math, however, two colors is less than three (or four, for that matter). Gisa and Geralf are a two-color card advantage machine in the second-most popular tribe in the game, meaning that they're going to be more popular than lesser tribes at three colors and general value at four colors. Also, having some of the better flavor out there (as rival Zombie-raising siblings that can't stand each other) doesn't hurt!

3. Halana and Alena, Partners

(Helms 1,913 Decks, Rank #384; 20,559 Inclusions, 4% of 490,848 Decks)

The two-color bonus aids Halana and Alena as well, no doubt, but it's not about the command zone. No, the popularity of this pair is all about the 99. +1/+1 counters will fly when they're out on the battlefield, and even in Gruul that's something that most decks are looking for. With this card in the best colors for making creatures bigger, that advantage is just going to snowball, making these two a no-brainer in anything trying to put down huge things and hit the red zone.

2. Adrix and Nev, Twincasters

(Helms 5,787 Decks, Rank #84; 26,501 Inclusions, 5% of 556,179 Decks)

+1/+1 counters are so last year, though. If you really want to get with the times, you have to go all the way back to Commander 2021 to double your tokens with Adrix and Nev, Twincasters! With ward 2 tacked on just to make things more difficult for those trying to remove your kill-on-sight commander, this Simic pair will eventually stick and start doing ridiculous things that should win you the game (provided you remembered to put an actual win-condition in your Simic value deck).

1. Mina and Denn, Wildborn

(Helms 742 Decks, Rank #750; 38,193 Inclusions, 7% of 535,355 Decks)

Looking at our number one and number ten slots here really puts things in perspective: One is a four-mana 4/4 that lets you put an extra land into play, then return that land to your hand to give a single creature trample. The other is a four-mana 4/4 that also lets you put an extra land into play, kills anything it interacts with in combat, slows down your opponents, and sacrifices stuff for cards. Don't get me wrong, I'm as much of a fan of Landfall as anybody, but if you're looking for the definition of power creep, look no further.

Honorable Mentions

There still are a ton of plus-ones we've yet to talk about, so let's list out where these new additions are for posterity before they all start climbing further up the ladder.

Top 10 Same-Card Partners Printed Since the Latest Phyrexian Invasion Not Already Mentioned

  1. Surrak and Goreclaw
  2. Yargle and Multani
  3. Kogla and Yidaro
  4. Elenda and Azor
  5. Inga and Esika
  6. Shalai and Hallar
  7. Zimone and Dina
  8. Slimefoot and Squee
  9. Djeru and Hazoret
  10. Goro-Goro and Satoru

Lower than these ten, plus the three featured on our list, the pickings do indeed get slim. I wouldn't imagine we'll see too many of the other creatures from this 25-deep cycle spanning March of the Machine and Aftermath. If I were to predict one coming up the list, though, I think it would actually be Errant and Giada. Interesting Azorius commanders are hard to come by, and there are plenty of flying decks that will want them in the 99.

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?

When the criticisms of Strixhaven: School of Mages doubling and tripling the amount of text we had to read found their way around the internet, I scoffed at them. Maybe it was because I hadn't hit that much text fatigue yet, playing only once a week, or maybe it was because I quite liked Strixhaven. Either way, if I wasn't on the side of those pleading to Wizards to cut down on the amount of reading we have to do then, I definitely am now.

Being excited about these pairings became harder and harder, as I had to read through combinations of paragraphs of tiny text from two cards smooshed into one. And that's before we even get to the fact that the average pack of March of the Machine has two to three double-sided cards for double the reading. I find myself completely disinterested in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, and (as on the very first day its spoilers started coming out) I was too bored to read and comprehend what The Ring did, only seconds after finding out that pretty much every legend in the set cared about it.

Any time a new card in Commander comes down, I find myself holding my breath before asking what it does, knowing that I'm going to get two paragraphs of explanation that probably won't fully explain the card that I'm then going to have to read anyway. Wouldn't it be easier to just not care?

And finally, what is your favorite new "partner" pairing? Did you like the combinations, or did they get a bit too complex? What do you think about the ever-increasing word count on cards?

Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the two tables we pulled together for an epic four-way Two-Headed Giant game.

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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