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The Top 10 Cards of 2020
So Long, 2020
If I had to give 2020 an adjective, I'd likely pick 'extraordinary'. The bad was truly awful, the odd was exceptionally so, and the bright spots all felt just a bit brighter because of it. If I'm hoping for anything from 2021, a bit of normalcy, even normalcy bordering on dull or monotonous, would be welcome.
In our niche within a niche, 2020 was quite a year, possibly even extraordinary as well. The shuttering of many LGS's, the dissolution of in-person play, and the financial toll of real-world concerns made interacting with this hobby extraordinarily difficult for many. The rise of virtual EDH and online CommandFests was surprising in the best sort of way, and the cards and sets we were introduced to were equal parts fun, powerful, and flavorful.
10 contributors to EDHREC have put together their own personal top 10 lists, using any metric they like. Some picked the most powerful, efficient cards they could think of, some picked the splashiest, zaniest cards they could find, but most are a bit of a mix. All of the cards included had to be from the calendar year 2020 (Theros: Beyond Death, Ikoria, Commander 2020, Core Set 2021, Jumpstart, Zendikar Rising, Commander Legends) and did not include reprints.
Let's see what they picked.
Dana Roach (@danaroach)
10. : The Ozolith simply has to be responded to, because any deck that will run it is a deck that is just accidentally going to do abusive things with it.
9. : Is it an island? Is it a ? That's entirely up to you and everyone else at the table. The power of the card is highly variable, but one thing that's constant is it's almost always interesting.
8. : Free-to-cast spells are broken. Except when they aren't. threads that needle really nicely. It's insanely powerful... in the right deck that consistently has its commander out. The problem is, decks that consistently want their commander out tend to be running commanders that other players consistently try to remove. It's a really nice balance that keeps this card strong but mostly fair.
7. : What makes this the best of the MDFCs to me is the consistency. There just has to be something useful in your graveyard, and in Commander there's always something useful in your graveyard. Because of that, it doesn't take many turn eight hits to make up for the times you played it as a tapped land on turn three.
6. : Black can now deal with enchantments, y'all, and in a very black-feeling way. They really handled it elegantly here as well, making a card that's useful in mono-black and maybe Rakdos and Dimir, but not making one that you just run in any deck even glancing in black's direction.
5. : Forget using it as a sacrifice outlet; at a single black mana you can just hold Rites up just in case someone removes one of your creatures or something dies to a block. It's absurdly efficient. You haven't lived until you've used it on a creature wearing a .
4. : It's a that doesn't kill your stuff. At 1R it's also fairly easy to leave mana up on the off-chance one of your opponents swings for ten at someone sitting at 20 life, since it isn't restricted to your own creatures.
3. : Soul-Guide Lantern may not be the best graveyard-hating artifact (though on the other hand it may be) but it's probably the one that most consistently shines. maybe still has a home in decks with access to black and can recur it, and shines in Eggs packages where it doubles as a target to bounce and replay repeatedly, but by and large, Lantern is the cleanest, most versatile way to nope someone's yard when they try to do something nasty.
2. : You're pretty consistently gonna get mana out of it, or get half a hand worth of cards to make something happen that turn. That's the bottom end, and that's a real good bottom end. Sometimes though, you'll get that influx of mana that lets you play that half a hand worth of cards simultaneously, which is amazing. And once in awhile, just often enough, one of your opponents will be holding 14 cards, and this little three-mana gem will feel like the strongest card ever printed.
1. : This card is BONKERS. The worst case scenario is it is red's , and that's a pretty fantastic worst case. Best case, it's a self-powering draw engine in a deck able to play multiple lands per turn or running land ramp spells.
Andrew Cummings (@brewsmtg)
I'm the author of the Ultra Budget Brews series here at EDHREC, building entire decks containing no card that costs more than $1. I enjoy the Izzet color combination, bad cards, and not spending money.
10. : You'll almost always be able to pick off one thing of consequence from each player for 3 mana and if you draw it in the late game, it's essentially a that can't be countered and draws you a card. Never underestimate the power of modality.
9. : I have a bit of a soft spot for legendary dragons and this one has me excited. Possible card draw attached to any permanent entering the battlefield is powerful without being game-breaking.
8. : Tripling is the new doubling. This is absolutely a "win-more" card, but simply winning is rarely my goal: winning spectacularly is.
7. : I'm not sure why I love this card as much as I do. I do greatly enjoy enchantments that slowly whittle your opponents away ala , and the graveyard exile almost always ends up being more useful than you'd think.
6. : + + has quickly become one of my favorite ways to shotgun players out of nowhere.
5. shiver of flying Sharks is about the most EDH thing I can think of. This would have been higher if not for it's price.: Sharknado memes aside, killing your opponents with a
4. : This almost singlehandedly revived one of my favorite cycles of all time: the Hondens. I didn't need an excuse to cram them in to decks, but seeing others have a reason to play them has been a blast.
3. : is one of my favorite cards in all of Magic, but it's a bit lackluster in EDH. Thankfully, Sublime Epiphany isn't.
2. : I was excited about this card from the first time I read it, but it has overperformed for me in a major way. Obviously it's best with ways to play additional lands or fetchlands, but even without all of that, the card advantage this has provided me has been off-the-charts.
1. : This card isn't efficient. It might not even be good, in a strict sense of the word. What it is is fun. Magic players are degenerate gamblers at heart - I desperately want to get this card altered to include a VIP Double Masters booster exploding in the hands of that soon-to-be goo goblin - so convincing your opponents to draw a card for a 67% chance to blast someone else for 5 damage shouldn't be difficult. Add ways to double damage or copy the spell for maximum fun.
Trent Trombley (@ttrombley001)
I write the article series Evasive Maneuvers, where I examine and evaluate differing forms of evasion in EDH. While I write in an evaluative manner, I'm never afraid to include a card for flavor or artistic purposes, and never let a good theme deck go to waste.
10. : This card got some deal of hype and shade when it was spoiled, and I think I’m glad most people came down with a skeptical eye. That said, as someone who loves mono-colored decks, I still find it helps more than hinders.
9. : and might be two of my all-time favorite cards, and having another join the ranks with the upside of replacing itself in your hand just makes me smile.
8. : This card just makes me scoff and giggle at the same time. It’s big, bombastic, and embodies everything about green’s color design in the last few years, which is to say it does just about everything for less mana than its other colored counterparts, despite being the color that has the best access to ramp. It may not be the best beater, but I will never stop laughing at putting this Beast on top of the library with out.
7. : This card has become a meme, but I love it all the same. It's a sizeable blocker, but more importantly, I love how it synergizes with cards like , , and the underappreciated (and under-supported) Skulk mechanic. I also like that it forces you to keep track of your lands, with 8 being a good sweet-spot, while going over can cause problems without additional support.
6. : It’s not much, but has a lot going on for its humble mana cost. A tacked onto a body with a relevant evasive creature type and draws me cards when people cast their commanders or go nuts with ? Sign me up. Heck, he is the key to the city!
5. : Clean, simple, and efficient. Yes, it essentially replaces , but getting -level efficiency at instant speed with a sac-outlet seems just fine to me. Plus, it looks to be a macabre sequel (or prequel?) to Bud Cook’s .
4. : This card has saved my Boros deck many times. Its modality allows me to choose if I am desperate for another land, or if I'd rather wheel for different cards. The fact that it’s an instant means I can fetch it with , and it doesn’t wheel my opponents, something I try to avoid, as it often gives them three times the advantage I accrue.
3. : I’m still not convinced this card is amazing, but I don’t care. It just feels black, screams black: a hefty, multi-pipped cost with nothing short of the famous "Greatness At Any Cost" effect tacked on. Use it on yourself or on your foes, this card is sure to make stories, which is what I come to EDH for.
2. : Tribal decks comprise nearly 1/5 of all decks scraped by EDHREC, and nearly 1/3 of my own decks. While it pains me thematically to include this in a non-Human tribal deck, the payoff is just too good to pass up. It not only reimburses you for overextending, it almost incentivizes you. Plus, naming opponents' tribes in a pinch often draws me more than you'd think.
1. : For me, this card takes the taco. This card brings me back to when I got back into Magic around Mirrodin, playing on the blacktop with friends, using cards/decks with less sleeves than a bro-tank at Miami Beach during Spring Break. A bipedal anthropomorphized cat wielding an elephantine hammer atop a pterodactyl? It felt like the epitome of fantasy worlds coalescing — what more could I ask for? From the alluding art to the mechanics and even the name, this card hits the nail on the head for me – with a .
9. Wizards : I won’t pretend to be the biggest mono-white fan, but I would be remiss if I didn’t throw a bone to trying to elevate white in ways that feel unique to their slice of the color pie.
8. : as a commander is a thing I didn’t know I desperately wanted. The “lose the game” cards like are what first piqued people’s interest, but I think there’s way more potential for her than just that.
7. : Besides being a great ‘walker for any creature-dense deck, this and means that a mono-red deck can finally be achieved. Oh look, got reprinted this year too!
6. Joey) so the fact that Belbe is playing in space that’s interesting, open-ended, and powerful, makes her a solid addition to the color identity.: Golgari’s usual graveyard recursion shenanigans don’t interest me anymore (sorry,
5. : if I’m feeling a bit spiky, I’ll build Ghen like the Mardu enchantress deck I always wanted. If I’m feeling I need more jank though, Curses!
4. and friends: These might look strange next to all the other flashy cards, but I am, and will forever be, a budget player at heart. The easier it is to build functional 3+ color mana bases for less than a , the better.
3. : Delve is my favorite mechanic, so how could I exclude a card that basically just gives everything Delve? This card will make you the archenemy very quickly and I love it for that.
2. Ben from Conditions Allow outlined it quite beautifully. Yes, I do pretend doesn’t exist, why do you ask?: If you want to see what insanity you can do with Ormos,
1. : This dorky value engine was my #1 the moment I saw it spoiled. I’m gonna build a deck around cloning this card as many times as possible. How will it win? I do not care.
Jaelyn Rosenquist (@rosequartz_26)
10. and : What you might not guess from my articles on EDHREC is that I'm a massive Vorthos - and as a Vorthos, I've adored Halana and Alena as characters for years. I'm so happy that they've finally appeared on the cards, and they complement each other wonderfully.
9. might've : You been able to guess that I also adore cool new common cards, as well. is a common that can pull their own weight, but what you might not know is that it's a perfect callback to , creating a neat little mirrored pair.
8. : The Bouncelands are already some great lands in your deck, providing a sort of pseudo-card advantage in them. is a phenomenal addition to that roster, representing the Guildless of Ravnica trying to develop and occupy space despite the other 10 Guilds and their bouncelands encroaching in on them.
7. : Mana rocks tend to be really simple: you cast them, and then they tap for mana, nothing more. puts a really interesting and powerful spin on the formula, allowing you to make use of your opponents' lands.
5. : I know isn't exactly new, but the errata that it got reintroduced it to many players and added additional functionality that added it to the roster of cool removal enchantments, so I figured it would count. Many Commander players groan at overpowered value-engine Commanders like or , but lemme tell you: the best way to deal with them permanently is to lock them under an enchantment like or , where you can forget about them for several turns.
4. Staple Remover article for Lightning Greaves, and for good reason: the darn thing is bonkers. Reusable haste and evasion in the early game or you can pitch it in the late game? How is this an uncommon?: I featured in my
Hey all, I'm responsible for two series: Epic Experiment, a series where we look for unique new ways to build each deck, leaving the surface level to find new ideas to explore; and Collected Company, a series where we analyse each Companion and their impact on the format.
10. Modal Double-Faced Cards (such as ): Modal lands are huge for the format. The sheer flexibility of being able to play them as a spell or a land will help out a lot of decks, especially those aggressive decks that often feel the need to cut lands. There's also the case for some nonland synergies, like with , which can put these effects over the edge.
9. : is an unexpected tempo threat that does a lot of work at every stage of the game. Playing it with blue allows us to get even more value from our cantrips, and eventually, allows us to take over the game.
8. : Cantrips are the kind of card that usually fly under the radar because they're foundational and that might seem boring. is the kind of spicy cantrip that is crazy in the perfect home.
7. : is the kind of splashy (and dumb) effect that makes EDH such a fun format. It turns s into s and into "good game", so what's not to like?
6. : is my favorite original Partner from C16. feels very similar, but it's more flexible. Its shell isn't that obvious which makes the card even more fun to try out and Partner is the perfect keyword for this experimentation.
5. : Encore is a powerful mechanic, so having a commander that grants it to every single creature in our graveyard is just bonkers! Just imagine the triggers!
4. : is, very easily, one of the top cards printed in the last decade. This isn't an exaggeration. It does a pretty good impression of , one of the most powerful cards ever printed. The fact that this powerful effect is stapled onto such a cheap enchantment allows for plenty of shenanigans.
3. : is an interesting commander that pushes another over the top by simply giving us another copy of that same effect. Even if we don't consider the clone effect, we still have access to a effect in the command zone, which is a unique effect that can be quite powerful.
2. : Wizards are a tempo-oriented tribe that often have synergy with instants and sorceries. is the perfect commander for this play style, providing a powerful mana engine that allows us to go over the top with expensive spells.
1. : Companions act like a secondary commanders that require us to pay deckbuilding cost to have access to them. Of all of the Companions, stands out the most because its effect makes it the first non-hidden hidden commander! While Gyruda's lists may seem similar, there's enough variation that there's actually a lot of diversity happening there.
Angelo Guerrera (@thejesguy)
Hello everyone! I’m your friendly neighborhood Jesguy, and I write the Archetune-Up series on EDHREC! I’m a lover of Jeskai, a hater of graveyards, and I’m here to share my Top 10 favorite Commander cards from 2020!
10. The : is a fantastic little Equipment that packs a punch. Giving a power and toughness boost, two keywords, and the ability to strip hexproof and indestructible from permanents? Count me in. It is the of our time.
9. : I’m a blue mage at heart, and does everything I could ever want and more. Epiphany is EDH’s analogue to , and I’ll play it whenever I have the ability to.
8. Call it my inner Spike, but as much as I love : , I love a free even more. my list last year, so there is no way would miss out on this one.
7. Blink decks everywhere. She is easily the most played of all the Theros: Beyond Death gods. : With the mana cost of seeming a bit high these days, and seeming a bit too fragile, is a boon to
6. fight), and draws cards in a way that doesn’t feel oppressive like , and I appreciate that.: It could just be because I like drawing cards, but is my favorite legend from Jump-Start. She supports an unsupported archetype (
5. I’m always a sucker for a good dragon, so slapping one of my favorite enchantments, : , onto one is a game winning design in my book. I love this fella. Scary, threatening, and powerful, all in one scaly package.
4. uncommon commanders from Commander Legends. Despite the overall solid designs, stands heads and fins above the rest as the most interesting. I know I said I dislike graveyards, but Araumi provides too much value for me to hate.: WotC did a great job with most of the design for the
3. : This might seem like an odd pick, but is my favorite commander, no question asked. is a card I could have only dreamed about for that deck. Another way to reuse Gonti’s ability that is also helps smooth out my mana? I cannot express how much I love it.
2. : I like clone effects, but you know what I like more? Powerful Partners. I think is the best new Partner from Commander Legends. Want to play while staying in blue? Add Sakashima! Want blue in your deck? Now you don’t need to use either of the awful Izzet Partners, just add Sakashima! Sakashima is simple, powerful, and my favorite Partner, bar none.
1. Apex Legends of Ikoria: Yes, like last year, my #1 spot is home to multiple cards. I think every Apex Mutate creature from Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths is interesting, fun, and provides a unique deck to our format. Having built a deck myself, I can say that I underestimated these legends as a whole. I think they are incredibly underrated, and if you want a wedge-colored deck, I would give these friends a second look.
Ben Doolittle (@ben_doolittle)
Hi, I’m Ben, and my series, Conditions Allow, is about legendary creatures with a drawback that I try to turn into a strength. My favorite plane is Kamigawa, and my
favorite card type is land!
10.: An updated version of , is a fantastic card. It’s obviously great in Landfall-focused decks, but it also does a lot to help mono-white decks too. Cards like and (and now ) help you hit land drops consistently to build up a field of tokens, or build your creatures into a lethal threat.
9. : is just an awesome card. From the novelty of a free commander, to the humor of a zero-power creature with menace, first strike, and trample, everything about this little Kobold is amazing. His flavor text might try to convince you he is stronger than a normal Kobold of , but don’t be fooled. Even with all his keywords, he still can’t beat them in combat.
8. is a really cool card that I haven’t put into enough decks. Once again, the art is a big drawing point to this card, but the list of effects are great as well. It is one that I will be trying to find space for in every blue deck I build.
7. : is on this list almost purely for its art. I really like its effect, but I am always drawn back to the art. The bright blue of the feathers, the bold pose, and the hint of the wing folding overhead. The books falling in the background add depth. There is something happening here, and I want to know more about it.
6. : Much like , is a forest spirit, and they are my favorite. The kodama also makes winning with much faster, among many other crazy interactions. It is a simple effect with many and creative applications.
5. Triomes (such as ): Lands are my favorite part of Magic, and having such unique lands made the different settings of Ikoria really stand out. The art on each is amazing, and they are perfect for four- and five-color decks. , , and in particular are my favorite because you can find them with and .
4. : Ents, or any elemental defenders of nature, are great. Magic cards that let me do fun things with lands are great. does everything I want in both flavor and function. If she were either Gruul or Temur she would be higher up on this list.
3. : I threw her in a deck with 64 lands as every version of and I could find. It isn’t a good deck, but it is exactly how I played Magic when I first started, and I always have a blast playing it.
2. : You can build as mill, but I think the way to go is reanimator. I’ve found Anowon to be less susceptible to effects than other graveyard decks, since his primary resource isn’t your graveyard, but everyone else's. I’ve really enjoyed that play pattern, and Anowon is probably my favorite deck I’ve built this year.
1. : is one of my favorite cards, so was always going to be my favorite card of the year. Turning Landfall into damage is great, and this does that while also “drawing” cards and filling your graveyard. This is the card I have found myself putting into the most decks out of any set this year. It fits into graveyard decks, land decks, and any deck playing red. It’s great.
Jevin Lortie (@jevin_mtg)
Hi everyone! I write the Challenge the Stats article series (based off of my favorite segment from the EDHRECast), where I pick 10 cards from one commander that are potentially overplayed or underplayed in our data.
10. : I’ve heard people get down on Geode Rager for costing six mana, but I love Goad, and being able to hit at least one player turn after turn has me giddy.
9. : I don’t know about anyone else, but I tend to space out during long EDH games, especially over webcam. In addition to being a phenomenal air defense force and token generator, Arasta helps me focus on the game without playing obnoxious cards that make me ask, “Are you going to pay for that?”
8. : I have yet to see anyone pull off a really impressive play with this, but I want to see it happen so badly. Any token deck with white is going to love this instant army, whether it’s for defense or a surprise alpha strike. This, and Arasta, make me want to finally pull the trigger on a Selesnya tokens deck.
7. : We have plenty of effects. Besides being generally useful and only three mana, I like Valakut Exploration because it has significant upside in Landfall decks and burn decks. Also, don’t sleep on the fact that cards go to our graveyard instead of staying in exile!
6. : Radha immediately became the new leader of my lands-matter deck. She’s an engine that works really well with all of our effects, and she becomes a late-game win-condition.
5. : I love cards that punch up to meet the power level of our opponents. With the exception of 0-cost powerhouses like and , the more powerful artifacts our opponents are running, the more powerful Thieving Skydiver becomes.
4. : The taunter is a fantastic update to . Being able to choose a different player each time and fighting a creature instead of pinging itself is phenomenal. It’s the ultimate
Aikido card and I really hope we get more like it in the future.
3. : I wish I could pick all of the Encore cards. I love them so much. Runners up are , , and . Some of the Encore cards are just generally good, but the rest of them have specific decks that will love them.
2. : I can’t wait to punish the player with a and a . The floor on this card is to draw three cards or get some mana, and the ceiling is just... bonkers.
1. : Liesa is my new favorite commander. She puts a clock on the game, because we all want to shuffle up and get another one in, right? She made me realize that the commanders I’m drawn to are the ones that act like a Planechase card and change the rules of the game for everyone. I’ve been waiting for the right Orzhov commander to come along, and Liesa punched me right in my heart and gained five life.
Joey Schultz (@JosephMSchultz)
10.: By the data, it's far and away the card of the year. It can't not be mentioned, right???
9.: Again, this is a popularity pick. In just three months it collected 1,500 decks on EDHREC, and remains the standout commander of the year. I also feel that it stands as an excellent example of the many designs from this year that were aimed at EDH and regrettably came at the expense of other formats. Watch out there, WotC. We have to hold your feet to the fire when stuff goes that awry.
8.: I critique where critique is needed, but I'll also boast and sing about the best of the best. The return of Shrine cards was an indulgent delight I didn't even know I needed, and I can't wait for more surprises like it.
7. The Completed Battlebond land cycle (such as): Yes. Love. Yes. Best thing. Happy. Want. Put in all precons please.
6.: Double-faced cards are an innovative stroke of design that spark endless discussion and brewing potential. I remain convinced that the lowest-CMC spells among them (such as , , or ) are the best of the bunch, because their low mana cost allows their flexibility to shine. I won't call anything an auto-include in any deck, but this card made it into the greatest number of my decks for sure.
5.: Mill became a keyword this year. Yes, that was this year! My entire family - mom, stepdad, and brothers - play Magic, and though we each brainstromed tons of new decks this year, the one we had the most fun with was definitely Bruvac, who changes the math of mill, and which my family members now wield against me with ferocious and delightful aplomb.
4.: Tough love time. Aesi makes my top 10 because of its inevitability, and the cynical signpost it represents. Though I want to put a positive spin on the end of the year, so as to bring us into 2021 with good cheer, designs like these are nothing if not exasperating, and I can't quite paper over those flaws. I refrained from putting Companion cards on this list, but in truth, they were just a tip of the iceberg. I don't know who was asking for Aesi-yova to see print. In fact, from what I can tell, most players were asking for exactly the opposite of it. Aesi signals that the line of and -esque designs are not quite over, but WotC, if you're listening, y'all need to pump the brakes before it all wrecks this car.
3. like Jimmy and Josh, I am tremendously disappointed that even after all these years, Wizards continues to print cards like this by sheer accident while printing on purpose.: The only lesson that WotC appears to have learned from was not to make it legendary. It baffles me that they still consider draw prevention to be an interesting, entertaining, or rewarding area to continue exploring. Its sheer popularity requires it to be among my top 10, but
2.: WotC made many promises about improving white in Commander in 2020, and they failed to meet almost all of them. However, for every promise they failed to meet for white, they knocked it out of the park with red. Red is vibrant, hilarious, exciting, and original, and cards like excite me enough to budge me out of my traditional necromantic ways and into new strategies. It takes a lot to warm my cold, necromantic heart, but this Hellkite and other fabulous red cards like it managed to do exactly that.
1.: 2020 was nothing if not the year of deluge. Many a brilliant gem got buried, overshadowed by the flashiest top three cards from each set. I've cast this brilliant enchantment to choruses of "I didn't even know that was a card!" I encourage us all to dig in 2021 (and I encourage WotC to provide us with as many shovels as possible via swift reprintings). Some absolutely shining stars arrived this year, even though they got buried by an endless product cycle and the standstill of worldly events. However, if the point of this top 10 is for us to look back, that's exactly what I want my ultimate message to be: look back. This year was full of gems, and it's our job to unearth them. Go forth, and dig!
Is there anything you think we overlooked? Which list was your favorite? What would be in your top 10? Let us know below! Until next time!