Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
What Are Eminence Commanders in Magic?
Your choice of commander is crucial in EDH format, determining the colors you can use and the creature you'll have available throughout your match. But some commanders assist even before you cast them, supporting your army from the command zone with eminence effects. These often boost a certain subtype, rewarding your devotion to creature families.
Eminence units are rare, numbering less than ten as of this writing, but they're undeniably powerful; which faction-specific warlords reign supreme? These are the seven best eminence commanders in Magic: The Gathering!
7. Edgar Markov
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 6
Whether he's on the field or in the command zone, Markov's ability lets you create a 1/1 vampire token whenever you cast another vampire. A nice bonus, though I wish the tokens had lifelink or flying.
Markov himself needs a hefty sum of six mana, and his stats are only 4/4 considering, but he enjoys both first strike and haste. Additionally, when he attacks, he places a +1/+1 counter on all vampires you control (including himself), adeptly fortifying your immortals.
6. Arahbo, Roar of the World
Whether fielded or in the command zone, Arahbo buffs another cat by +3/+3 for the turn at the start of your combat. Thankfully, his green and white coloring accesses the best cats in the game, and +3/+3 is a significant boost.
Plus, if you summon Arahbo, he wields a solid 5/5 stats, and whenever another cat you control attacks, he can spend three mana to grant it trample and +X/+X for the turn, where X is its current power. Two great supports for feline-based themes.
5. Inalla, Archmage Ritualist
Inalla shares the colors of Nicol Bolas, letting you blend dragons and planeswalkers into your deck if you like, but he's designed to boost mages. Whenever another non-token wizard enters under your control, Inalla lets you spend an extra mana to create a token copy of that unit. It's exiled at the end of the turn, but it has haste, letting you utilize it immediately.
That's a great outlet for leftover mana, and since it's an eminence ability, you can use it from both the field and command zone. As icing on the cake, Inalla is surprisingly sturdy for a wizard, offering 4/5 stats, and he can tap five untapped wizards you control to drain seven life from a player.
4. The Ur-Dragon
Ur-Dragon needs an absurd amount of nine mana, but even if you never get around to casting him, he reduces the price of your other dragon spells by one, an excellent boost for one of the most popular subtypes. Additionally, his rainbow coloring validates any cards for your deck.
And if he does join the fray, Ur's a flying 10/10 who lets you draw as many cards as you have attacking dragons, then place a card from your hand onto the field for free. Huge power, extra draws, and free spells—what's not to like?
3. Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
While they don't technically have eminence, our last three entries all activate effects from the command zone. Derevi is a 2/3 with flying, a fair trade for her cost, and she can tap or untap a permanent when she arrives and when a creature you control deals combat damage to a player.
Thus, you can repeatedly dull enemy forces or refresh your own. And you don't have to overly concern yourself with protecting Derevi, as she can recast herself from the command zone for just four mana, avoiding the escalating prices of other commanders.
2. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic
Oloro's stats are a fair 4/5, but you often never need to cast him. After all, he grants you two life at the start of your upkeep whether fielded or in the command zone, an excellent way to trigger lifegain benefits (like the auto-win of "Felidar Sovereign").
And if you do cast him, he lets you spend a mana when you gain health to reduce each opponent's life by one and draw card. Oloro's also an excellent choice for non-creature enchantment-based decks, but note his lifegain isn't optional, so you can't decline in the rare cases you wouldn't want to activate it.
1. Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow
One of the best ninjas in the game, Yuriko's stats are a poor 1/3, but she offers a unique commander ninjutsu ability. By spending two mana and returning an unblocked attacker to your hand, you can cast her tapped and attacking from your hand or command zone.
At this point, it's too late for opponents to declare blockers, ensuring she'll land a direct hit. And when Yuriko or another ninja you control damages an opponent, she draws a card and has opponents lose health equal to its CMC, a daunting boost for your shinobi team.
More Unique Commanders in Magic
In addition to today's cards, commanders like "Skullbriar, the Walking Grave" offer special command zone abilities. In his case, he retains counters even when moved to the graveyard or command zone, ensuring he's as powerful as ever upon revival.
Eminence traits provide excellent passive bonuses since they're free, never actually requiring you to cast your commander, and there's little opponents can do to stop them. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of command zone-initiated effects, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill