Who is Your Favorite Tribal Commander?

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on March 7, 2022, 1:05 p.m. by Guerric

I thought it would be interesting to hear who is your favorite tribal commander, and why do you prefer that commander over other options for the tribe?

For instance, while dragons are not my favorite tribe (that's reserved for Wizards), my favorite Dragon commander is overwhelmingly Scion of the Ur-Dragon.

I've always been amazed that so many people still play The Ur-Dragon over Scion. Recently I talked with a new Ur-Dragon player at mg lgs and he talked about how The Ur-Dragon is such a value. I mean, sure, he's cool and all, but in my view he is kind of a glorified mana rock for dragons that functions from the command zone, and costs an unplayable 9cmc to cast. With Scion you can get him our in the early turns of the game by making Scion a copy of him, and the built-in tutor provides so many broken lines of play. I used to play The Ur-Dragon, and the deck is so much more powerful with Scion. I'll never go back!

What tribal commanders do you like and why do you prefer them? Do you have any thoughts on Dragon decks? Also, for anyone interested, my primer on Scion can be found here- [Primer] Unleash the Dragon! A Scion Guide

I have a wildly unoptimized Sylvia Brightspear and Khorvath Brightflame knights'n'dragons deck. It's basically just play Syilvia, ramp hard and bring on the dragons.

It's magnificently simplistic, and I adore every peace of it.

It's propably my weakest deck, but the commander pair is just sooo awesome.

March 7, 2022 1:13 p.m.

Guerric says... #3


I've been thinking about adding Sylvia to my Scion deck as a "lieutenant" of sorts. I think I'm going to have to do it! I pulled her from a Battlebond pack back in the day and have been thinking about it since.

March 7, 2022 1:23 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #4

Anyone who doesn't say Morophon is a dang liar, haha

March 7, 2022 2 p.m.

griffstick says... #5

I've had 8 tribal decks in my life . I'm down to 3 now. I've had Dragon tribal 2 times. The first was Atarka, World Render. This was a budget build. I once ko'ed someone there turn 3, my turn 4 with cmdr damage. The second tribal Dragon deck was a better Dragon deck. Lathliss, Dragon Queen was the cmdr. It was so much fun. I used this cmdr because I had so many mono red dragons in my binders. This cmdr was just obvious so building it was easy. I have a deck I call hydra fight club and it's really cool. I made a mono black vampire deck. It was my very first deck. Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet was the cmdr. 8 yrs ago. I've had a mono white angel deck that was life gain + enchantments for draw. It was surprisingly strong. Lyra Dawnbringer was the cmdr. This was such fun to play. Dropping a Sunblast Angel on all my opponents was brutal. These are all retired decks.

The tribal decks I still have are mono red goblins. Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin and uts made on a budget. My local lgs store owner dean made a budget Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin deck on a budget. Total cost of the deck was around 100$ so I bought it from him and made slight changes to the deck. It's value is now around 180$. Another triple deck I still have is Varina, Lich Queen. I had a mono black Zombie deck that was all the zombie lords it could fit Mikaeus, the Unhallowed was the cmdr. When Varina, Lich Queen was released. I ask the store owner if he'd like to build a deck with me. We used all the cards from my mono black Zombie deck and built Varina, Lich Queen Zombie lords edh. Pretty cool deck. Kinda strong too. The last tribal deck I still have is is mono white soldiers. Djeru, With Eyes Open is the commander because the real commander of the deck is Elspeth, Sun's Champion. I wanted to build a soldier deck around Elspeth, Sun's Champion's +1 ability. This deck is fun.

I've never had a Morophon deck.

March 7, 2022 2:03 p.m.

Guerric says... #6


Varina is high on my list of decks to build if I ever decide to scrap my Esper planeswalker deck. It's good to know that one has still made the cut!

March 7, 2022 2:23 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #7

I will always have a soft spot for General Tazri. I loved Allies as a tribe the moment I prereleased Battle for Zendikar, and that's around the same time I was introduced to Commander as a format. When in the next set a 5c Ally commander was printed that does everything you want for a tribe (find more tribal members, sink your mana to boost them) I had no choice but to build the deck, and have always enjoyed the "fixed slivers". I was terribly disappointed when Zendikar Rising did not have new alles to join the party and instead gave us a party noone joined.

March 7, 2022 2:45 p.m.

Unlife says... #8

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell is one of my favorite tribal commanders at the moment, but not for dwarf tribal. I've got him helming a phoenix tribal deck for that little bit of extra damage.

As I think about this, some of my favorite tribal commanders do not actually share the creature type of the deck itself. I've also got a Saskia the Unyielding ooze tribal and Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder dragon tribal that I love playing.

March 7, 2022 5:50 p.m.

Gleeock says... #9

I think some people like The Ur-Dragon better than scion due to higher variance, less combo-in-the command zone & linear gameplay problems & less high-end focus on voltrony dragon strategy & more focus on just being able to lean on various dragons in the 99 if you want to. Sure, if compete level is you sole stipulation, then scion may be a "better" choice.

I'm not personally a big tribal guy because I feel that a good amount of them lead the linear play lifestyle. If I did make tribal it probably would be Varina, Lich Queen d/t so many options in a diverse tribe or maybe some form of equipicats because I think they can reach outside of the bounds of tribal so well with many equipment synergies. I did have a really solid Marisi, Breaker of the Coil warriors tribal deck, that was really fun & nontraditional & warrriors lend themselves to a lot of evasion, protection, & other diverse abilities.

March 7, 2022 5:55 p.m.

Gleeock says... #10

Unlife I like it, it would be harder to predict that I'm sitting across the table from Saskia the Unyielding ooze tribal :)

March 7, 2022 5:58 p.m.

TheoryCrafter says... #11

Sliver Hivelord was my first, and still is, my favorite Tribal Commander. When I first learned of slivers I knew I had to build a deck. I've had other players tell me I should go for a stronger sliver, which only encourages me to keep him as my Commander. This is because partly due to indestructibility and in part its not as obvious target as the others. They end up underestimating him at their peril. One of my best wins was in a 4 player game where one of my opponents used Morophon as sliver commander.

March 7, 2022 6:13 p.m.

I have a pretty sweet Scout tribal deck helmed by Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. It's not legal anymore, sadly, but since it's actually reasonable deck I still get to play it from time to time.

March 7, 2022 6:28 p.m.

legendofa says... #13

I used to have a Darien, King of Kjeldor Soldier deck. Unfortunately, I loaned it to a friend, and then it disappeared. Not a huge financial loss, but it was fun. Sorry, had to get that off my chest.

Anyway, Marrow-Gnawer Rat Discard is my best, favorite, and only tribal commander right now. It's not my strongest deck, but I don't really focus on winning in Commander games. I prefer to mess with everyone else at the table.

March 7, 2022 6:39 p.m.

AstroAA says... #14

I've had several tribal decks in my life, namely being:

Brimaz, King of Oreskos tribal soldier. Many of the decks using him as the commander I've seen use him as a tribal cat general, but I think the soldier tribe fits him better because you can use anthem effects like Field Marshal, Auriok Steelshaper, and Knight-Captain of Eos to greater effect. I turned the deck into Adeline, Resplendent Cathar tribal humans/anthems, because I think she's a simply better Brimaz at being more aggressive.

Lyra Dawnbringer tribal angel. Angels are my favorite creature type in Magic, and I think she's easily the best general for the archetype outside of maybe Kaalia of the Vast. It wasn't very good, and I eventually took it apart because I never played it.

Celestial Kirin tribal boardwipe. It's technically tribal spirits, but I like to call it tribal boardwipe because it basically turns every spirit into a boardwipe. I built it on a $50 budget, so it's very unoptimized and pretty slow, but it's still fun to play in a more slower-paced setting. I still have it, and play it when my group does budget games.

Oona, Queen of the Fae tribal faerie. I built this deck to be more of a hybrid combo/tribal faerie deck, and it slaps. It's not as good as optimized Oona combo lists, but it still wins games. I still have it built.

If you couldn't tell I really like mono-white tribal decks.

March 7, 2022 7:36 p.m. Edited.

Guerric says... #15


I get what you're saying about some people preferring variance, and The Ur-Dragon is definitely more of a Timmy commander that way. I'm a Mel, so I'm not much of a fan of variance, though counter-intuitively I also hate linear gameplay. I think what's fun about Scion for me is the toolbox approach. I have a lot of ways to adapt to a changing board state, and figuring out the puzzle of the right moves to make is where the delight comes from. But that totally makes sense why some people would just like playing battle cruisers for cheaper! I also think Varina would be fun to build. If I ever decide I'm done with my esper Aminatou planeswalker deck I can trade-in the cards and get all the zombies I want!


I'm glad you like white! I made a mono-white soldier/token deck early on helmed by Nahiri, the Lithomancer (from the precon), and included every version of Elspeth. It could slay sometimes, but the issues with white around card draw back then made me take it apart to build Teysa, Orzhov Scion instead. I had thought about Brimaaz as a better commander back then, and Adeline is better, so maybe one day I'll build it!

There's definitely a lot of cool options here!

March 7, 2022 9:33 p.m.

Just because I love the meme of creating a deck that has next to zero creature offensive capability (Outside a few cards), I'd have to say Pramikon, Sky Rampart. I've always loved trying to build at least somewhat usable wall tribal.

When Pramikon came out i was so excited to build a wall deck that no longer needed a rule-0 chat to play.

Outside of memes though, i love Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator partnered with Dargo, the Shipwrecker since pirates are my favourite tribe (If the username didn't give it away), as well as being my favourite colour combo.

March 8, 2022 5:32 a.m.

Niko9 says... #17

Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury holds a special place to me because she was the first commander I built. There was just something engaging about an old school mythical being who came back as a planeswalker. I also love Serra the Benevolent so yeah, they have my number doing this : ) But, over time, I've also really come to appreciate how Freyalise plays in the game. She's not a flashy commander, and I have maybe strictly better ones like Selvala or Ezuri for the deck, but Freyalise has the unique place in the deck that she will always do what you need to do from the command zone. It's not uncommon to ult her from populate effects, and she makes mana, elfs, or can just be a Naturalize if you are in a pinch. Which, in a deck that burns mana like tissue paper, a five mana enchant/artifact removal in the command zone feels great : ) I love versatility, and maybe it was playing elfball that really made me that way.

March 8, 2022 8:07 a.m.

Guerric says... #18


I used to run Freyalise before I switched to Ezuri for my elfball deck, but she's still in the deck and is always great. She's versatile too, because she cares about elves but can also just be an enabler for a stompy deck. She has lots of utility, but isn't the sort of planeswalker people have to kill since her ultimate isn't game winning. She also is easy to protect because she goes in creature-driven decks.

March 8, 2022 8:22 a.m.

Ashdust says... #19

I actually really love Strefan. Strefan supports big vampires, and vampires can be a really nasty tribe. I prefer the big beater vampires as opposed to a million little ones. (Freakin' Edgar-)

But no, I really like Strefans ability. Gives me a reason to pay life more often. I don't usually like paying life, but the more blood the merrier, y'know? I prefer going with blood and big vampire tribal as opposed to just Vampires, I always love my niche stuff. And if you can't find your big vampires, just sac the dozens of blood you likely have and sift through your library. If you have Falkenrath gorger, you can even cast all those discarded cards. Love Strefan.

March 8, 2022 9:10 a.m.

Gleeock says... #20

Ashdust I recently played against a Strefan deck & although the guy got hosed I really appreciated what it did. I also like seeing something besides Edgar.

March 8, 2022 1:20 p.m.

Ashdust says... #21

Gleeock: Was it the precon, or updated, or did they make it themselves? Going tall has its weaknesses, yeah.

March 8, 2022 1:22 p.m.

Guerric says... #22


Pirates are fun! I've always wanted to do pirates vs ninjas for old-times sake. Do you think those two are the most powerful pirate commanders? We've had Admiral Beckett Brass for awhile, but he seemed harder to build around.

March 8, 2022 1:30 p.m.

Massacar says... #23

I like Wort, Boggart Auntie for goblins. Not only does she give you access to black, which can be really helpful/fun, but her built in recursion helps you keep recycling your better pieces too if they get removed. She's also less common amongst the goblin commanders, which can be fun.

She's actually one of the very first magic cards I ever got. I didn't play as a kid, but a friend did, and when they moved their parent gave me a shoebox with some random cards in it. Fast forward a decade later to me in college, and I finally started to play with some friends. It took me a minute to remember where I had stashed those old cards though lol

March 8, 2022 4:19 p.m.

Guerric says... #24


It's hard to pick a more iconic tribe than goblins, and that's a cool choice for sure!

March 8, 2022 4:36 p.m.

Gleeock says... #25

Ashdust it was updated quite a bit. I was playing an oddball Naya gods enchantress goad deck, so basically the player had some inopportune board wipes that didn't do the board any favors against my gods... Likely the going-tall vampires would have been able to wipe one player off the face of the table, but choosing the right player for that can be tricky.

March 8, 2022 4:43 p.m.

NobodyP1 says... #26

Sliver Overlord on a more competitive side even though slivers are never going to be super competitive as a tribe due to needing 3+ slivers to combo off. I switch to the The First Sliver as the commander when I'm playing more casually.

March 8, 2022 4:45 p.m.

libraryjoy says... #27

My first real commander deck and probably still my favorite is Gisela, Blade of Goldnight angels.

It's a tough decision though. I play a LOT of tribal, so I have a lot of choices, some mentioned here, some not. Back before the most recent Innistrad set, I used to run Tolsimir Wolfblood wolf tribal with elf support. I'm looking for a good Archer tribal commander but haven't found the right one yet. I built Wydwen, the Biting Gale faeries, Sygg, River Guide merfolk, Yisan, the Wanderer Bard beast/elf tribal, and just finished Sisay, Weatherlight Captain snow tribal. I tried Krond the Dawn-Clad Archon tribal, but it's just not there yet.

March 8, 2022 5:25 p.m.

Unlife says... #28

libraryjoy, A friend was thinking of something similar, building an archer reach tribal deck with Dhalsim, Pliable Pacifist as the commander.

March 8, 2022 5:37 p.m.

libraryjoy says... #29

Hmmm, I'm not much into the Secret Lair cards, but looking through, I'm actually considering Halana and Alena, Partners. They're not archers, but could be possible. I lean toward red because I like the interplay between Greatbow Doyen and Falkenrath Exterminator. I'd love to go Naya, but still looking for a better commander or partner pair. There's Hallar, the Firefletcher, but she wants kicked spells, not archer tribal.

March 8, 2022 6 p.m.

Guerric says... #30


I've always wanted to build an angels deck as they are probably my favorite tribe, but there just isn't a commander quite good enough in my view. Kaalia is the best, but she incentivizes demons and dragons also, and is not an angel herself, which isn't quite pure enough for me. I like Gisela, but rather in the ninety-nine as Boros isn't quite the ideal color combo for me. An ideal angel commander would be five colors since angels occur in all five colors. Maelstrom Archangel would work if it was a legend, but I'm not into investing in a deck where I have to have rule zero discussions at the beginning of every game. Maybe I'm just too picky! I'm glad you're rocking it out with Gisela though. Here and Aurelia, the Warleader rock.

March 8, 2022 6:50 p.m.

Niko9 says... #31

I've had good luck with Bruna, the Fading Light  Meld as a tribal angels commander. The deck took a lot of tweaking over time, and has become many artifacts, mill, and humans, but the goal remains to put the biggest and baddest angels into the graveyard and then start blinking Bruna into ridiculousness. It will never be super competitive or anything, but she's very effective. A lot of the time I will just ramp to Bruna, cast her to get back a value human, and blink from there.

March 9, 2022 7:55 a.m.

Guerric says... #32


That's a really clever approach! If only it had access to black for mass reanimation (eg Haunting Voyage it could be somewhat competitive, but it's still one of the better approaches I've seen.

March 9, 2022 7:59 a.m.

Niko9 says... #33

Ha, thanks : ) It relies heavily on artifacts for self mill, and honestly I've been meaning to type it up for a while now and just haven't got to the deck. Black would help a ton, but white has a lot of recursion for enchantments and things, so the deck packs a lot of permeants to play out of the graveyard. One of the only nonpermenant spells is Planar Birth which is just there for the times it's so, so nuts.

One fringe benefit for running a lot of self mill like Grinding Station Perpetual Timepiece Unwinding Clock ect is that it can absolutely hose opponents tutors if they go to the top of the deck.

But maybe I will do a decklist for it soon. There was a ton of stuff that I thought would be good and fizzled when I was testing it, and it took forever to get kinda right : )

March 9, 2022 8:11 a.m.

Ashdust says... #34

Cleric Tribal isn't represented enough in my opinion. Orah is the best one, and I think I'm gonna brew him soon-

Heres a link to my custom Cleric Commander

March 9, 2022 8:55 a.m.

Massacar says... #35

Niko9 do you run Mesmeric Orb + Basalt Monolith? If not that would fit your self mill strategy very well.

March 9, 2022 11:27 a.m.

Niko9 says... #36

Massacar I definitely run Mesmeric Orb : ) If no one removes it early, it can go nuts. I've even had to sac it a few times to Grinding Station to not deck myself. But I do have a decent amount of cards to play out of the graveyard like Sevinne's Reclamation and Spectral Steel so unless it goes too far Mesmeric Orb is one of the best cards in the deck.

And I've thought about Basalt Monolith and it may be very good. It can be hard sometimes to assemble combos in this deck though, like monolith plus Unwinding Clock because there is every chance that I'm going to mill one or both of them. But it might be good.

I'll try to put this deck up today, it's a fun one : )

March 9, 2022 1:18 p.m.

libraryjoy says... #37

Remember the Fallen and Mine Excavation to get artifacts back from your graveyard, although I'm sure deck slots are hard to come by. I'm excited to see it - it's an approach I haven't seen before!

March 9, 2022 1:24 p.m.

Niko9 says... #38

Remember the Fallen was really good, and I ran it for a long time, but I think it eventually got cut. I didn't try mine excavation, that's a great idea. May need to test that a tid : ) Thanks for the idea.

I wrote up the decklist and some info. I'm not sure how to link it (I'm still super new here!) but it's in my decks now. Honestly, it's kind of a weird deck to play because it really relies on what your opponents are doing. But, it has always treated me well, and no one sees mono white self mill coming : )

March 9, 2022 4:01 p.m.

libraryjoy says... #39

Bruna Blinks Bombs (EDH) For those interested

March 9, 2022 4:11 p.m.

Niko9 says... #40

: ) Big thanks!

March 9, 2022 4:15 p.m.

Guerric says... #41

I should mention that while I opened this thread with my favorite Dragon commander, dragons aren't my favorite tribe. That honor belongs to wizards, and my most beloved commander is Inalla, Archmage Ritualist. It's not a cEDH approach because I don't do that and that wouldn't be tribal, but it is a wizards tribal deck that is a Johnny Combo player's dream. I've written an extensive primer for it here- [Primer] Casting the Mythal: An Inalla Guide. There are other great wizard's tribal commanders too, but Inalla just rocks the house for me.

March 9, 2022 5:48 p.m.

Guerric Definitely don't think they're the best, but they combo really well together and are really fun. Plus i LOVE breaking the mold of pirates. if i wanted to make a really aggressive deck I'd absolutely be using Admiral Beckett Brass

March 11, 2022 9:07 p.m.

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