Top 13 Spells that Counter Commanders and They Don't Come Back to the Zone

Magic: the Gathering


Top 13 Spells that Counter Commanders and They Don't Come Back to the Zone

01/20/23 Comment regular icon1 comments

Have you imagined if a commander doesn't go back to the Commander Zone and has its abilities "countered"? In this article, we'll discuss some cards that have the potential of locking down enemy commanders.

Writer image

translated by Joey Sticks

Writer image

revised by Tabata Marques

Edit Article

When we think about creating a Commander deck, it is normal that the strategy is based on that commander — and I'm not talking only about the colors which will form your deck.

Creating tokens, guaranteeing draws, helping ramp, buffing and many others are effects that completely change the way you play and can guarantee victory, and as a result, it hurts a lot when something happens to your commander.

Have you imagined if a commander doesn't go back to the zone and has its abilities "countered"?

It was with this question in mind that we researched the 13 spells that counter commanders' abilities and prevent them from coming back to the commander zone, so you can use them in decks or know what to fear in your games.


Spells that Counter Commanders and Prevent Them from Going Back to Commander Zone

1. Oubliette

Loading icon

Yes, that card is valid in Commander.

Oubliette is an enchantment that phases out the target creature, that is, it and any other aura or enchantment attached to it are treated as if they don't exist, and they can't be the target of other spells until this enchantment leaves the board.

It is important to pay attention to that section, as, if you enchant a Voltron commander, the enchantments and auras will go back to the board alongside the creature (in case Oubliette leaves the field or is destroyed somehow).

If someone uses this on your commander, and you don't have a card to remove this enchantment in hand, the creature doesn't go back to the zone, and you will have to look for answers to get rid of Oubliette.

2. Darksteel Mutation

Loading icon

Depending on who is playing and which creature receives this enchantment, you may like indestructible even more or hate this ability with all your being.

Darksteel Mutation removes abilities, creature types and card types, gifting the owner of the creature a very beautiful 0/1 indestructible insect artifact.

If you want to remove the creature instead of the enchantment, you will need, for instance, some source of sacrifice, or any card that allows you to exile (example: Path to Exile) or any source of -1/-1 markers to send your commander back to the zone.

Now, doesn't it seem an excellent deal to sacrifice all your commander's abilities in exchange for an indestructible insect to block creatures that don't fly?

3. Imprisoned in the Moon

Loading icon

Is your commander a planeswalker? So, you need to know this enchantment!

Imprisoned in the Moon is a reference to a very iconic Magic: The Gathering lore moment and has a great effect to make you lose some friends: it transforms the target creature, land or planeswalker in a colorless land without any other ability or card type.

Personal opinion: this is one of the strongest effects in this list. There are cards that remove lands, but usually Commander decks don't have many of them and if your opponent uses them in the enchanted creature, they will be spending a valuable resource from their deck.

If your opponent removes the enchantment, you are also left winning, as you will worry about one less removal that can affect your board.

4. Song of the Dryads

Loading icon

Is your opponent having trouble creating mana? Be a nice person and gift their commander with this wonderful enchantment.

We know green decks are known for their ability to put many lands on board at an absurd speed and thinking this way, it is even funny that this enchantment takes out all abilities from its target creature and transforms it in a lovely forest that creates green mana.

5. Drannith Magistrate

Loading icon

Was it here that they asked for a creature that prevents the commander from being cast from the zone?


Drannith Magistrate is a well-known card used a lot in Stax or Control decks, and the reason is obvious: this creature prevents spells from being cast anywhere else other than its controller's opponent's hands.

There are many combos related to Magistrate Drannithlink outside website, but here we only want to speak of it on board.

It is simple: if you successfully cast Drannith, your opponents can't cast their commander and/or cards in exile and graveyard until they deal with this creature.

6. Nevermore

Loading icon

And what if the commander doesn't leave the zone?

When you cast the enchantment Nevermore, you must name a card that isn't a land, and it can't be cast. In this case, the card to be named is your opponent's commander. Quite simple and effective for a card that only costs three mana.

It is a great enchantment to delay your friend's game with a smile on your face.

7. Lignify

Loading icon

Who doesn't like Treefolk?

With the Lignify enchantment, you can gift a beautiful creature that protects 0/4 forests without abilities to an opponent.

This enchantment is weaker than others on this list, as it doesn't make the creature indestructible or transforms it into a land, allowing for cards that destroy creatures or that do board clears to take it out of the game, but we can't ignore the potential that Lignify has when it comes to irritating your opponent.

8. Out of Time

Loading icon

Let's phase out many creatures all at once?

Out of Time comes into the battlefield and untaps all creatures, including yours, causing them to phase out until this enchantment leaves the battlefield.

For each creature that is phased out this way, this enchantment gets a time counter that must be removed at the start of its controller upkeep. When the last counter is gone, this enchantment will be sacrificed.

This card has a lot of potential and if you know how to use it, it will bring chaos to many Commander tables.

9. Heliod's Punishment

Loading icon

Did you know it is possible to hold an enemy commander for four turns by paying only two mana to do so? Behold Heliod's Punishment!

This card costs just a few mana and gives you up to four turns to find answers and win the game or get rid of your opponent for good. It's worth noting that, besides losing its abilities, the enchanted creature can't attack or block until the enchantment is destroyed or sacrificed by its effect.

10. Immovable Rod

Loading icon

Did you miss an artifact in this list?

As you choose whether you will or not untap it, you can pay to leave the enemy commander tapped and without abilities for as long as you want until that person takes out this artifact from the battlefield.

Besides that, when the artifact comes into play, you can venture into the dungeon and take advantage of the small bonuses that dungeons have to offer.


11. Frogify

Loading icon

This is another card with a funny effect.

As in fairy tales, Frogify is an enchantment that transforms the target creature in a beautiful 0/1 frog.

The effect is quite similar to Gift of Tusks, Dance of the Skywise, Ovinize, Humble and Mercurial Transformation, but the difference is that Frogify is permanent until the enemy gets rid of the enchantment or the creature enchanted.

12. Ray of Frost

Loading icon

Ray of Frost has a very positive side: the flash effect allows this enchantment to be cast at the speed of an instant. But it also has its negative side: it is more effective against decks with red creatures.

If the creature is red and is untapped, you tap it. If it's of any other color, you don't tap it. If it's untapped, it can still attack you for the last time.

Anyway, the effect of "it loses abilities and doesn't untap during the upkeep of its controller" remains for red creatures.

13. Witness Protection

Loading icon

What if you change the name of your opponent's Commander by paying only one mana for it? With Witness Protection this is possible!

The enchantment strips the creature of all its abilities, turns it into a citizen, and changes its name to "Legitimate Businessperson". Taking advantage of this effect, I want to invite you to an exercise in imagination.

Assume this card was cast targeting the Etali, Primal Storm creature an opponent controls. Investing only one blue mana, the scary dinosaur will be a harmless and respectable merchant.

Witness Protection might not be at the top of the list, but it sure is the hottest of all, just for the ability to turn any commander into a “Legitimate Businessperson”.

Dealing with Enemy Commanders

Depending on your game style, you will find many different ways to deal with your opponent's commander, and these are just a few that focus on countering commander abilities and/or preventing them from returning to the zone.

As you must have realized, if your deck has white in it, it will have many options to deal with your opponent's commander.

Did you miss any cards? Do you have any secrets to do it? Share it with us in the comment section, and keep browsing the site to read more articles like this one!

Profile Main Image

Nat Almeida

Publicitária metida a escritora e viciada em sorvete de flocos. Posso ser encontrada em qualquer loja que tenha noites de Commander e venda chocolates.

Social Instagram Brands iconTwitch Brands icon

Profile imageSign in and join the conversation

— Comments

User profile image

Be the first to comment