Commander, or EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander), is a singleton format: that is, except for basic lands, you can only have one card of each in your deck, with a legendary creature that defines the colors of the deck.
Commander has become extremely famous and popular since 2014, so much so that Wizards itself stopped releasing products like Duel Decks to release more and more products focused on this format.
As there are thousands of legendary creatures in the Magic: The Gathering universe, the possibilities are nearly endless. And there will also always be those who are most targeted for being stronger.
Nowadays, it's quite common to sit at a table and observe strong legendary creatures in your opponents' command zone, such as Atraxa, Praetors' Voice, Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Edgar Markov, Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm, among other powerful commanders. Of course, this is relative to where you play and who you play with.
The Worst Commanders ever printed
Although it is common to see these strong creatures, the question that remains in the air is: among the thousands of cards in Magic, which would be the worst for the Commander format, more specifically as a commander?
In this article, we'll show you some of the commanders who were better off not in the command zone (and maybe not even in the deck), and explain why they're on this list. We've also excluded commanders who don't have any abilities, as they don't do anything other than cost mana and have power and toughness. So, we filtered by showing some of the commanders that, even with effects, are still bad!
But one thing is extremely important to remember: Magic was made to play however you see fit for fun! This article is to show some curious creatures that, for different reasons, don't make much sense to be used, or being easily replaced by current cards that do the same for much less.
In Magic, we have the ability landwalk, where the creature with this ability is unblockable if the defending player has the specified land in play. There are several interesting landwalk interactions, particularly for Voltron-themed decks. Or even some builds with Filth in the graveyard and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play, in a Sheoldred, Whispering One deck, for example.
But as you read in the title, we are not here to give good examples, but the opposite. So in this first part we separate some commanders who have the ability to landwalk, but exploited in a bad way. For each commander shown in each of the parts shown here, we will show an alternative of the same cost and colors.
We start with Lord Magnus. Though it doesn't have a landwalk type, it actually has a landwalk impediment: creatures with plainswalk or forestwalk can be blocked even if they have the ability.
The problem is that landwalk is not popular in Commander as if every deck used it, even worse when specifying a type. Apart from paying six mana on a 4/3 that only does that, it doesn't seem very interesting considering the cards that are at our disposal today.
At the same cost we can have a Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith, which as soon as it enters the battlefield looks for an equipment and if it is a Hammer of Nazahn, they are two cards entering the battlefield at the cost of one, apart from its second ability to tap creatures when an equipped creature you control attacks.
Another card that has the same effect as Lord Magnus, only this time for swampwalk, is Ur-Drago. Although its name is very reminiscent of The Ur-Dragon, Ur-Drago is actually an elemental, which is quite confusing.
As mentioned earlier from Filth's interaction with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Ur-Drago would be very useful, making them blockable.
But again, it's a card that serves a very specific ability. And seven mana on a 4/4 turns out to be awful in this color combination: for the same cost and color combination we have Toxrill, the Corrosive, which at the end of the turn starts to shrink the board, and if it lasts until your next turn, there were at least 4 slime counters on your opponents' creatures, granting -4/-4 for them.
Gosta Dirk, from the same set as Ur-Drago and Lord Magnus, is also part of the prevent landwalk cycle of a specific type.
It would stop strong creatures like Stormtide Leviathan, Colossal Whale or merfolk under the effect of Master of the Pearl Trident, but again, a lot of cost for little power whatever it does, and for the same cost of seven mana (or less) in that color combination we have better options, like a spirit tribal with Millicent, Restless Revenant, which will most of the time cost less than seven mana to be cast
Veldrane of Sengir
And to end our landwalk session, we have Veldrane of Sengir, which, despite having a very interesting illustration showing two angles of the same creature on its card, has an ability that guarantees forestwalk for itself, but also a debuff of -3/-0 next to it for the cost of 3 mana.
Decks that are monocolored already tend to be a bit more optimized for not having the need to fix the mana base so much, even more so in a color that has several sources of mana such as Crypt Ghast, Dark Ritual, Nirkana Revenant among other cards.
Taking that into account, Veldrane of Sengir turns out to be pretty stale in its color. In black for the same cost we have many viable options, like the previously mentioned Sheoldred, Whispering One and also the famous K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth.
The Bad Mana Dorks
Commanders that generate mana are very interesting, considering that they don't only have this ability.
Creatures like Codie, Vociferous Codex, Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders, Esika, God of the Tree, Galazeth Prismari, Giada, Font of Hope and Katilda, Dawnhart Prime are always going to be great, mainly because each deck will be built around the commander's mana ability along with its other effect, with the goal of extracting as much of them as possible.
But we are talking about bad commanders, not good ones!
Princess Lucrezia is just a creature that costs six mana in the blue and black color combination, that adds one blue mana, and it's 5/4.
There is no need to comment too much about it, as it is quite literal and clear. And it's precisely because it doesn't do anything else that it doesn't offer too much flexibility, which is the most fun part of building decks in Commander.
At the same cost and colors we have creatures that can be much better exploited, such as a mill deck with Wrexial, the Risen Deep or even a Xanathar, Guild Kingpin for using spells from other players.
For some reason, there's another card just as weird as Princess Lucrezia, which is Riven Turnbull, doing the same thing, except it costs one mana more and the mana is black instead of blue. Toughness also changes slightly from 4 to 7, but nothing that makes him really worthwhile as a commander.
The vast majority of the cards mentioned here are old, and also from a time when the Commander format was not even thought of. We have already mentioned examples of seven-cost commanders in blue and black earlier, so that's why with Riven Turnbull we will not give an alternative.
Other Bad Commanders
The commanders who will be mentioned here don't necessarily have anything in common besides being legendary creatures, so that's why they were placed in this category.
Ramses Overdark was even remade as Ramses, Assassin Lord in Dominaria United Commander, providing an interesting choice for assassin decks focused on killing your opponents in one go.
However, in its first version, Ramses Overdark is a card that for six mana is a 4/3 that destroys creatures that have auras attached to it.
It might even be interesting the idea of a deck where you enchant your opponents' creatures to then kill with your commander, but it seems to be easier to use an Infernal Grasp, Terminate, Assassin's Trophy, or even simpler cards like Doom Blade or Murder to guarantee the removal than enchanting a creature with any aura and then use the commander, who also needs to be tapped for that, to kill it.
Ayesha Tanaka also got a new version in Dominaria United Commander as Ayesha Tanaka, Armorer in a really cool option of artifact or voltron deck. But the original Ayesha Tanaka contains one of, if not the worst possible ability in Magic, which is banding.
This ability is so old that in some cards that have it, there is no explanation of it in parentheses, which forced players to search the game's rulebook to understand what the ability does. Banding is basically having all creatures that have this ability make their attack or block together.
To make it even more confusing, there is still a way to include another creature that doesn't have the ability among the attackers, but only one. The only use of this ability would be in declaring blockers, where for example, a 5/5 attacker against five 1/1 blockers with banding would only kill one of those 5 creatures.
Due to the level of complexity and failure of this keyword, it has become obsolete in the game. In addition to having this ability, Ayesha Tanaka can counter an artifact's activated ability unless its controller pays one white mana. Nowadays, in Commander it is normal for every deck to have at least three to five or more artifacts depending on its theme, but having this legendary creature in the command zone just to try to stop your opponents one time or another doesn't seem to be advantageous.
In the combination of blue and white for four we have many options, such as Shorikai, Genesis Engine, Brago, King Eternal, Ranar the Ever-Watchful and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, each of these decks being very different from each other.
Chandler. Five mana into a 3/3 that destroys artifact creatures for 3 mana. Things like Liquimetal Torque and Liquimetal Coating seem to be good interactions with Chandler, but he runs into the same problem as Ramses Overdark: the job of needing one or more cards to make the commander actually work is tiring.
Although red doesn't specifically have the set of words "Destroy target creature" in most of its cards, but works only with direct damage, we have better alternatives for removals, such as Chaos Warp, or even those that offer more options such as Abrade.
In red at four mana, we have many options, like Krenko, Mob Boss, Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. Purphoros, God of the Forge and even a planeswalker: Daretti, Scrap Savant.
And here we have the most recent card to make the list of worst commanders: Dragonlord Kolaghan. Six mana on a 6/5 with flying and haste that also gives your creatures haste doesn't seem like a bad deal, but if you're going to have something with haste, we have more interesting options like Maelstrom Wanderer.
However, what makes Dragonlord Kolaghan stand out so that it is on this list is its second ability, which means that whoever casts creature or planeswalker cards with the same name as one that is already in that same player's graveyard, it makes them lose 10 life.
As the format is singleton, that is, only one card of each, we can see Dragonlord Kolaghan with only its first text box, although it is the incarnate nightmare of Relentless Rats, Shadowborn Apostle, Rat Colony, Persistent Petitioners, and Dragon's Approach decks.
But since decks that use more than one copy of each in Commander are rare nowadays, it can be said that the chance of them finding a Dragonlord Kolaghan is almost impossible. In similar cost alternatives, we can count on Olivia, Crimson Bride who also has flying and haste, and moreover, brings another creature attacking with her.
Of course, the list couldn't end without mentioning Magic's worst and most iconic legendary creature: Joven. In the Magic community, Joven has become an in-joke and a well-known meme, jokingly boasting of even having a Signature Spellbook of his own.
It only costs one mana more than Chandler and does an almost similar effect, only changing the text to "non-creature" compared to Chandler's. Even in the Joven flavor itself, there is a quote from Chandler.
If you're part of the Magic community, you've probably heard of Joven at least once. If not, this is your first time. His iconic appearance as well as looking like a metalhead with his arms crossed makes him one of a kind. And for these reasons, Joven was mentioned in this article!
And that's it, showing off some of the many legendary creatures that suck in Commander! Again, everything pointed out here is relative and also compared to many of the cards that are played today. Remember, the important thing in Magic, and especially in Commander, is to have fun with the deck you've built!
And you, do you know of any other legendary creatures that are bad on Commander as a commander? Leave it in the comments!