Starting in Commander?

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on Dec. 29, 2017, 7:38 p.m. by RedMulligan

So a LOT of my friends play Commander/EDH and it looks like a lot of fun and a pain in the rear end at the same time - right up my alley as a prime MtG format. I've talked with my friends about how to get started, but they're not exactly helpful; for the past few weeks, they've been pelting me with these these insanely hard, highly complicated, ridiculously expensive decks that honestly aren't my cup of tea. I went looking online for other resources, but nothing has offered good advice about how to start. So I came here.

I want to get started in the format, but it's a little overwhelming (still a new-ish player). There's a big, vast land of Magic cards and staples that I'm not familiar with. I'm just lost and need some guidance.

One key piece of advice I did receive was that my commander deck should reflect who I am as a player. If that's the case, here's what I like/don't like:


  • Control (specifically the hard, grindy, 90's style). However, I don't know if my play style will work in a multiplayer format, so I'd like to go along the spell-slinger path.
  • Blue/Red, Jeskai, Grixis.
  • Having some rude/disrespectful combos and tricks.
  • Laying low until the other players kill themselves off, then I come in and deal the finishing blows.


  • P*ssing my money away on a deck that I probably won't like. I'm in college. Money is precious to me, so budget (<$300) is a must. That being said, I want enough flexibility that I can trick out the deck as soon as I get a job.
  • Insanely hard combos and decks. Not exactly to the Apedeck level, but something that I can figure out how to play within a week or two.
  • Green. I hate green.
  • Storm.

If you have any ideas about commanders to play or deck ideas that would suit me, please let me know. Any and all help will be appreciated. Thanks!


PartyJ says... #2

A budget start could be to buy a Commander precon deck from this year. They are fun to play and can be modified once you get the hang of it.

It's a good start where you can start playing instantly, without worrying to get a whole deck together.

The decks from this year are here still widely available.

December 29, 2017 7:54 p.m.

Suns_Champion says... #3

I have to second PJ on getting a precon. It's a good way to try out the format without dropping $200 and 6 hours on a deck you've built. Once you know you like the format, Start looking for Legendary creatures/decks/colors/strategies you like.

The Mizzix of the Izmagnus precon "Seize Control" might be a good place to start....

December 29, 2017 8:10 p.m.

ZendikariWol says... #4

Arright let's get the easy stuff out of the way. Commanders. Instead of suggesting specific ones I'll give you some guidelines. A commander should be a creature that either:

1) you want to have on the battlefield constantly, or

2) you want to cast frequently.

There's also eminence, a la (Inalla, Archmage Ritualist).

Some considerations for you include

Tasigur, the Golden Fang, Damia, Sage of Stone, Dromar, the Banisher, Kess, dissident mage , and Merieke Ri Berit. Nekusar, the Mindrazer or Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge for combo.

More considerations

Multiplayer format- killing one player won't cut it. Turning heads is also typically bad. Don't get on everyone's bad side. Combos tend to be just out-of-nowhere enough that you need a good pillow fort to dissuade attackers.

December 29, 2017 9:14 p.m.

GhostChieftain says... #5

Precon is for sure the easiest way to go.

Another option is to just take something you have already and just throw a deck together that you gradually add power to. You wont win early on this way. You just plain won't. It will however make you a better player by playing with suboptimal cards, and make you more attached to the deck you end up with. Dont worry too much about winning when you are just getting started, it is a fun format

December 29, 2017 9:26 p.m.

Caerwyn says... #6

First, you should ask your playgroup a bit about their meta. Perhaps play a couple games with borrowed decks. I would say the most important thing to know is what lands they are running, as that tends to be the most costly aspect of the deck. If they run a number of slower, enters tapped lands, you will have more funds to allocate to powerful, fun cards. If they have numerous fetch+shock lands, you may need to spend more on your mana base to be competitive, which would reduce the amount you can spend on other cards. As a recommendation, if players run more casual lands, you should not build a deck with faster ones, as that would give you a perceived "unfun" advantage.

After, I would start by choosing a couple commanders you are interested in. Search the compendium for the colours you want to play (there are some 500 results for "legendary creature" "not green"), and make a list of couple you might enjoy. Then think about how you would build around that commander. Perhaps read some decks on this website that run those commanders. Playsest those decks, and see if you like their gameplay.

When searching for your commander, you can use the following resource--it lists a bunch of potential commanders, and cuts out some of the junk legends that have been printed over the years:

[List - Multiplayer] EDH Generals by Tier

Commander / EDH* thegigibeast

SCORE: 832 | 6753 COMMENTS | 895109 VIEWS | IN 624 FOLDERS

Personally, I like Nekusar, the Mindrazer, who was mentioned by an above poster. Sen Triplets and Zedruu the Greathearted are cards I find pretty interesting, though I have not gotten around to building decks for them. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is pretty popular, and can trigger numerous life-based synergies.

December 29, 2017 10:28 p.m.

Dredge4life says... #7

One thing to note about the list above is that all of the decks are optimized to be as competitive as they can possibly be, and are made budgetless as a result. Your playgroup probably isnt at that level, so dont let the otherworldly price tag scare you too much. Also, dont feel pressured to pick a high-tier General simply because theyre high-tier. Ive been playing EDH ever since I got into Magic, and I fell in love with Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest. I win my fair share of games even though hes only ranked as tier three. Pick the Commander you love first and foremost, and worry about optimization later.

December 29, 2017 10:43 p.m.

DrukenReaps says... #8

The best thing you can do for yourself is grab a precon. They are inexpensive so if you don't like it no big deal. I'd recommend going with this years due to availability.

When you get to modding it this website is useful

Inalla, Archmage Ritualist should be up your alley. very control/combo and grixis colors.

December 29, 2017 10:59 p.m.

Salmonman1064 says... #9

I agree that the Mizzix precon seems to hit a lot of your check boxes, it's supposed to be control/combo. But I'd also recommend using The Locust God as an alternate commander, he is also really fun for control/combo.

December 30, 2017 12:50 a.m.

RedMulligan says... #10

I've definitely given a lot of thought to buying a precon. I like that it's a place to start, but I learn the playstyles of decks by brewing them myself. I looked into the Mizzix deck, but none of the stores within a 50 mile radius of where I live seem to have it. That's the one that seems like a lot of fun, but I'm not sure if it would be the best for me.

However, I tried playing the Inalla precon tonight and fell in love. I talked with some other people, and I got a lot of ideas for a Kess, Dissident Mage and Nekusar dual-threat deck. They, unlike my college playgroup, gave me a lot of useful advice and a sh*t ton of cards to start with (long story short, bought a few packs of MM17, pulled a lot of money, and traded it all away for a pretty decent shell, about 65 cards worth). I'll start putting things together tomorrow, and see what I can come up with. Thanks for the help so far, I'll definitely be looking for feedback on my first brew!

December 30, 2017 1:34 a.m.

Suns_Champion says... #11

That's great! Welcome to Commander!

Let us know when you have a deck list up, I'm sure many of us would love to help out!

December 30, 2017 11:25 a.m.

(Mind Sieze - precon) My suggestion based from your likes and dislikes. This is also the route I went getting into the format as we have similar likes/dislikes (I also hate green).

Its worth the investment about $40-60 depending where you get it. But it comes with True-Name Nemesis which is worth $25-30 by itself, if you buy it at a local card shop you can trade the one card in (its not great in edh format, vintage is driving the high price) and get the rest of the cards for $10-30 thats a great investment for breaking into the edh format and the precon is going to give you lots of the staple cards you will need.

Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge - is a Teir 1 commander if you are a competitive player and Nekusar, the Mindrazer is a favorite of mine.

December 30, 2017 11:32 a.m.

redkhan says... #13

Even though you dislike green I would highly recommend Tasigur, the Golden Fang as a good grindy control general. Otherwise start with a precon the wizard tribal one from this year would be good because of your likes.

December 30, 2017 2:19 p.m.

RedMulligan says... #14

So here's a list of the cards that I got for the deck:

However, there's plenty of things I know I need, and some things I might consider (thanks to crap, that's a lot of cards. What I want to do right now is have Kess play the support role while I tutor up Nekusar to play. As soon as I can start nabbing the wheels for Nekusar's pain, Kess's ability will allow me to cast them back for more wheel-y fun times (for me, at least). That way, people won't realize that this is actually a Nekusar deck: he's hiding, ready to strike! But my biggest problem is discerning which of these 150+ cards I need to whittle down to about 65, and also figure out how many lands I need to play. I've got a little money to spend, and this list is about as far as I'll go cost-wise.
December 30, 2017 6:41 p.m.

I'd suggest putting every card on a Edh prototype page and then working backwards to see what really fits/has a good synergy with the deck you are trying to build.

As far as lands go start with 38 and the mana rocks signets are especially good run all three. The more rock you add after that can reduce your land total but I wouldn't play with less then 34.

January 1, 2018 12:10 p.m.

11hrr says... #16

January 25, 2018 10:36 a.m.

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