What are the advantages and disadvantages of using monocolored decks?
Commanders of only one color tend to make for decks that are extremely focused on one strategy, without worrying much about flexibility.
That happens due to the game's own nature, in which each color is specialized in certain gameplay aspects and it can't deal with another (with the exception of green that does everything). You can't expect to deal easily against enchantments if you want to play mono black. Though it is possible, it won't be something you will be able to do efficiently, for instance.
I would like to make clear that this article's focus is on casual EDH, not on cEDH. You can deduce some things out of this: power level is relevant, but not the main factor; if you need more efficient mana rocks and two card combos to work, it will also not be considered.
Besides that, I will put in at least one commander of each color.
Finally, don't get attached to order, as personal taste affects the sequence a lot.
Top Monocolor Commanders
Honorable Mention - Birgi, God of Storytelling
A red Commander that loves to play a lot of magics and Grinning Ignus's best friend. For those who enjoy casting a lot of spells in a single turn, love the storm mechanic and any evil stuff like that, you will certainly enjoy Birgi a lot. This card can scale in several board levels, depending on how you want to build it, though it suffers a bit with boards that are very interactive.
Particularly, I believe it gets a bit repetitive after a few matches, but it is interesting to face or use it every now and then.
Honorable mention - Urza, Lord High Artificer
The legendary Urza, extremely relevant in Magic's oldest stories from the lore (and now in the current one, with the release of Brothers' War), got an extremely powerful card with the release of Modern Horizon, in 2019. Any player that is interested in Magic's competitive scene has seen what this card is capable of, be it in cEDH or in Modern.
In casual Commander it is also able to wreck a lot of havoc. I, myself, think it's too much havoc for a casual table. However, I think it's important to mention it, for the blue and artifact lovers that like creating infinite mana. With mono blue, there aren't many ways to go wrong, you have draw and annulments to protect your artifacts.
10 – Krenko, Mob Boss
Everyone's favorite Globin, Krenko, Mob Boss couldn't stay out of this ranking. It is the most popular commander both of the color and the tribe it belongs to. Its mechanic is focused on filling the board with goblins, so it can create more goblins, and so you can create more goblins, and so on and so forth.
Evidently, it is a "glass cannon" commander. It is possible to win on board quickly, when there aren't many interactions, but even a well done spot removal can ruin this deck's goals.
Usually Krenko is accompanied by some friends, to reinforce its abilities, such as Illusionist's Bracers and Thousand-Year Elixir. Besides that, this deck also uses cards such as Swiftfoot Boots, both to speed up the ability use and to protect this commander.
9 – Tergrid, God of Fright
This time we don't have the most popular commander of its color, but it's not that far behind. Tergrid, God of Fright is a commander that got very popular due to terrorizing the board's health and due to stealing permanents from opponents.
It ends up being another commander which is very vulnerable to interactions, as it is extremely focused on sticking her on board and getting your opponents to sacrifice or discard permanents. Without it on board, this deck might make your opponents mad, but it doesn't present a real threat.
That being said, the deck's focus is to use all Fleshbag Marauder and Burglar Rat variants. With Tergrid on board and the use of these creatures, very quickly your opponent will be stripped bare and you will cash in. A round on board that you are able to use Tergrid and a source of sacrifice/discard, will place you very further ahead already.
Of course, you are playing mono black, so besides discarding and sacrificing, you have some resource bombs such as Sheoldred, Whispering One (which also makes your opponent sacrifice something, by the way) and some excellent finishers such as Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Torment of Hailfire.
8 - Fynn, the Fangbearer
Ok, I was going to start out by saying this is not a very popular commander, as I've only seen a few people using it, however, it is EDHREC's most popular commander, so I think I just had some bad luck.
A deathtouch and infect deck (though without the infect word itself). In mono green. Particularly, all matches I had the opportunity to play against this deck were complicated, which is a good sign. Deathtouch is already a complicated mechanic to play against, as no one likes losing their creatures to a small enemy creature.
However, here, now the small enemy creatures put you in an absurd clock, as they only need to deal 10 damage, considering that this commander is on board. It's not that arduous a task, as you are in green and it only costs two mana, and that means, if it goes out due to any removals, it doesn't take long to come back.
Besides the obvious color green staples, such as Beast Whisperer and Guardian Project, this deck increases the value of cards such as Acidic Slime and even makes Sedge Scorpion dangerous. And my favorite in this deck: Hornet Queen. These three are creatures that I usually don't recommend using, but they become beasts in this deck.
7 – Talrand, Sky Summoner
Do you wanna go wide, with lots of creatures and still have cards in hand and answers to deal with your friends? We have Talrand for you. The idea of this deck is to play many low cost magics with Talrand on board, build a board full of 2/2 with flying and hitting your opponents, all of that retroactively.
Honestly, there isn't much to say about Talrand. You will use Opt, Think Twice, Anticipate and the like, so you can always have a card to play, at your opponent's end step and still be able to save mana to annul some spell.
6 – Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
This format's most underrated tax collector. It can be mono White, can turn the board's hatred towards you, but that is the point. This one is for those who want to ask their opponents if they will pay one, without having to use blue.
This deck's objective is to play while your opponents watch you and still be able to argue that you're only using a small creature deck.
If you think that's too little, there's always space to be worse. Sanctum Prelate can hit many cards, if you know your surroundings well. Winter Orb, after you stabilize your board with many creatures and mana rocks, is very interesting. Meekstone prevents opponents from using creatures with a lot of power.
Honestly, the possibilities are huge and it will depend on what type of cruelty you want to inflict on your colleagues.
It's only important to remember you're still playing mono White, so life won't be easy.
5 – Heliod, Sun Crowned
Heliod is a very simple commander to see its deckbuilding. You want to gain health. White always gets a lot of health. The end.
I particularly really like the lifegain mechanic and taking advantage of it. Cards such as Heliod, Sun Crowned itself and Archangel of Thune are among my favorites. Besides being able to give purpose to all Elspeth, which is my favorite planeswalker. My preferences aside, gaining health, when you're in a place in which you gain a lot through combat, ends up being useful.
Besides that, Heliod has a few interesting combos: Walking Ballista and Triskelion create markers and infinite damage with Heliod on board (and its ability of granting lifelink). So, even though you might find health a useless resource, as you are on a board that is used to winning through combos, you can bring your own, very efficient combos (Pioneer and Modern players know that all too well).
4 – Selvala, Heart of the Wilds
Here we have one of the strongest green creatures in the game, in my humble opinion. Selvala does everything a commander deck wants to do: it ramps and draws cards.
The draw is linked to the strongest creature on board, but again, you're mono green, so if you don't have the biggest creature on board, something is going really wrong. Anyway, it will help you bring even bigger and bigger creatures, as it is a mana dork that scales with your biggest creature's power.
Honestly, it is a deck that can do a lot of damage even with simpler creatures, such as Ulamog's Crusher.
3 – Baral, Chief of Compliance
Baral, king of "opponent, not game". A two mana commander that reduces the cost of all instants and sorceries can't be bad. But if that wasn't enough, it also allows you to loot every time you annul someone's spell.
It is a commander that tends to go in two directions: it annoys your friends and wins based on concedes or some evil combo and it only uses annulments as protection.
Anyhow, it tends to make the whole board think a lot more about how to play. Though you might not come out victorious, hardly your opponent will leave the board with the feeling that you didn't do much throughout the game.
Of course, this is a love it or hate it deck. If you are the player that doesn't like annulments, you will certainly hate this, but I particularly believe that it is an interesting game aspect that creates interactivity, bluffing and makes everyone a better player.
2 - Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
A card representing the most powerful villain in all of Magic's history couldn't be weak, isn't it?
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician has three effects. Protection against humans, card draw through sacrifice and built in removal and proliferate.
Honestly, only the middle effect is interesting, but it does three things.
The cost of sacrificing a creature isn't a real cost, as you will probably build an aristocrat and will take advantage of that through cards such as Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat. As a result of the sacrifice, you draw, which might seem too little, but certainly anyone who's seen Viscera Seer in action knows its potential. If 1 scry is already quite efficient, imagine a draw.
To finish, you also place a -1/-1 marker on a creature, yours or your opponents. The fact that you can put it on your own creatures is quite relevant, as it allows you to combo with Butcher Ghoul and Nest of Scarabs.
1 – Purphoros, God of the Forge
It is certainly one of the funniest commanders to have on board. Purphoros is an indestructible enchantment which might become a creature, in case devotion is activated. Usually, you don't want it to be activated, as exiling enchantment is harder than exiling an enchantment creature.
This deck focuses on using cards that play a lot of creatures on board, though it doesn't seem to have such an interesting value. For instance, Hordeling Outburst for 3 mana you put 3 power on board, which nowadays is quite mediocre.
Mainly, it is a deck with a lot of potential to win matches, as it assaults everyone at the same time.
In the worst case scenario, it speeds up the game a lot. All matches with Purphoros on board get an interesting dynamic, as no one can simply expect to find its own combo.
Well, like I said before, don't get attached to the order of this top list. It is a mixture of quality with personal taste and from my experience seeing, using and playing against these decks.
I hope you've liked it and maybe I encouraged some of you to build mono color decks, as I see a lot of people giving up this option as they prefer to use 3-5 color decks, to have as many different cards possible in the deck.
Though I think it makes some sense, I really think one and two color decks deserve a bit more love, as they have a lot of potential both in power and fun factor.
This is my cue, see you next time!