Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Commander 2020: Ranking the Decks

Commander 2020: Ranking the Decks

We got the full spoiler and complete decklists for Commander 2020 last week, and the lists are overflowing with sweet new cards and spicy legends to use in the command zone. In some ways, Commander 2020 is the most unique Commander release yet, being the first group of Commander precons tied to a specific set (in this case, Ikoria) and having five decks when last year only had four. Commander 2020's uniqueness, however, is a story for another time. Today, we're trying to figure out one thing: which Commander 2020 deck is best!

While everyone could just buy every Commander 2020 deck in Magical Christmas Land, considering that the decks are selling for around $40, not everyone has the extra money lying around to spend on cardboard, no matter how sweet the decks may be. If you only have $40 in your Magic budget, which deck should you buy? For this, we'll try to be as objective as possible—while the cycling deck is my personal favorite since it draws a lot oWf cards, drawing a lot of cards isn't a very good criterion for ranking the decks. Instead, we'll turn to 10 categories and rank each Commander 2020 deck from first to worst. A first-place ranking gives a deck five points, with second in a category being worth four, third three, fourth two, and last just a single point. Then, after going through all 10 categories, we can tally up the scores and see which Commander 2020 deck really is the best! Oh yeah, one last thing: for the rest of the article, rather than calling the decks by their proper names, we'll be going with their themes and color combinations, which are shorter and easier to type (as a refresher, Sultai Mutate is the Enhanced Evolution deck, headed by Otrimi, the Ever-Playful; Abzan Keywords is Symbiotic Swarm, with Kathril, Aspect Warper as its leader; Jeskai Cycling refers to Timeless Wisdom and Gavi, Nest Warden; Temur Spells is the Arcane Maelstrom deck, with Kalamax, the Stormsire at the helm; and finally, Mardu Humans is Ruthless Regiment, with Jirina Kudro as the face commander). Take a gander at the decklists, and then we'll jump into the rankings!

Loading Indicator

Loading Indicator

Loading Indicator




Loading Indicator


Loading Indicator

#10: Most Value

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C20—Most Value
Rank Deck Value
#5 Abzan Keywords $156
#4 Temur Spells $169
#3 Mardu Humans $182
#2 Sultai Mutate $184
#1 Jeskai Cycling $206

First off, don't pay too much attention to the actual numbers lists—thanks to the pandemic messing with preorders and the supply of Commander 2020, the numbers are still very inflated and will drop a lot once the set finally hits the market en masse. More important is how the decks compare to each other. As you can see, there is about a $50 range in prices, with Abzan Keywords at the bottom (mostly because it has the least valuable of the new "free if you have your Commander" cycle), while Jeskai Cycling is at the top for the exact opposite reason: Fierce Guardianship is currently around $40 on TCGplayer.

#9: Best Face Commanders

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C20—Best Face Commanders
Rank Card Deck Number of Decks
#5 Otrimi, the Ever-Playful Sultai Mutate 84
#4 Kathril, Aspect Warper Abzan Keywords 100
#3 Jirina Kudro Mardu Humans 134
#2 Gavi, Nest Warden Jeskai Cycling 198
#1 Kalamax, the Stormsire Temur Spells 207

To try to keep our rankings as objective as possible, the way we are ranking the face commander from Commander 2020 is based on how many decks MTGGoldfish users have submitted featuring each commander since the set was fully previewed. Here, Kalamax, the Stormsire and Gavi, Nest Warden top the list, with Otrimi, the Ever-Playful lagging far behind.

#8: Best Land Value

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C20—Land Value
Rank Deck Value
#5 Sultai Mutate $5.50
#4 (t) Temur Spells $12.23
#4 (t) Jeskai Cycling $12.23
#2 Abzan Keywords $13.24
#1 Mardu Humans $18.80

Lands are some of the most important cards in a Commander collection because they form the foundation of every Commander deck you'll build and play. As such, even if you tear apart your Commander 2020 precon to build other decks, if the deck came with decent lands, you'll find a place to put them to use. Sadly, the lands in Commander 2020 aren't all that inspiring. Only lands worth at least $1 are shown in the price calculation above, which leaves the Sultai Mutate deck with very close to no value from the land slot. While it is nice that every deck comes with Command Tower and Exotic Orchard, they have been reprinted so many times that they aren't that hard for players to obtain at this point. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

In terms of land value, Mardu Humans is the clear winner, mostly because along with a bunch of random dual lands in the $1–2 range, it also got the $5 Path of Ancestry (which is a solid reprint and a very playable land in Commander). Meanwhile, the value of the Abzan Keyword land slot is inflated by Nesting Grounds—the only new land of note in Commander 2020—which is currently close to $7. If we looked at just the value of reprinted lands, the Abzan Keyword deck would move from second place in our ranking to down near Sultai Mutate at the bottom of the list.

While expecting a mana base of fetch lands and shock lands in a $40 precon deck isn't reasonable, the current mana bases don't really offer very much value to players picking up the decks. This is an area where Commander precons could use a future boost in terms of both power and value.

#7: Best Backup (New) Commanders

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C20—Best Backup Commanders
Rank Deck Cards Number of Decks
$5 Abzan Keywords Tayam, Luminous Enigma, Yannik, Scavenging Sentinel / Nikara, Lair Scavenger 166
#4 Jeskai Cycling Akim, the Soaring Wind, Shabraz, the Skyshark / Brallin, Skyshark Rider 218
#3 Mardu Humans Kelsien, the Plague, Trynn, Champion of Freedom / Silvar, Devourer of the Free 219
#2 Sultai Mutate Zaxara, the Exemplary, Cazur, Ruthless Stalker / Ukkima, Stalking Shadow 260
#1 Temur Spells Xyris, the Writhing Storm, Haldan, Avid Arcanist / Pako, Arcane Retriever 278

Each Commander 2020 deck features four new legendary creatures to be used as commanders: a "face" commander, a backup commander, and then a partner pair designed to be played together in your commander zone. Much like the face commander, the backup commanders are scored by how many decks people have submitted to MTGGoldfish featuring these cards. A couple of quick notes: the two big winners are Xyris, the Writing Storm (187 decks) and Zaxara, the Exemplary (182 decks), making these two legends more popular than most of the "face" commanders from Commander 2020. On the other hand, in general, the partner pairings score low, with one exception: the Shark / Human combo of Shabraz, the Skyshark / Brallin, Skyshark Rider has 141 decks (which is especially surprising since Shark wasn't a creature type in Magic before Ikoria and Commander 2020), making it the most popular partner pair by a significant margin. 

#6: Best Colorless Artifact Cards

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00


C20—Best Colorless Artifact Cards
Rank Deck Cards
#5 Abzan Keywords Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Swiftfoot Boots
#4 Jeskai Cycling Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Fluctuator
#3 Sultai Mutate Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Manascape Refractor
#2 Mardu Humans Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Skullclamp, Sanctuary Blade
#1 Temur Spells Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, Lightning Greaves, Twinning Staff

Colorless cards are like lands—they fit into so many Commander decks that they form the backbone of a good Commander collection. In Commander 2020, colorless artifacts have a nice floor: every deck comes with a Sol Ring and, more importantly, an Arcane Signet, which are two of the most played cards in the entire Commander format. Otherwise, it seems like the idea was to give each deck at least one additional "good" artifact, ranging from Lightning Greaves to Skullclamp to new cards like Manascape Refractor. Temur Spells and Mardu Humans come out on top in our artifact ranking since rather than just three good artifacts, both decks got four, although Temur Spells edges out Humans for the top spot since Lightning Greaves and Twinning Staff are much more valuable than Skullclamp and Sanctuary Blade

#5: Best New Nonlegendary Cards

C20—New Non-Legendary Cards
Rank Deck Cards Total Value
#4 Abzan Keywords Cartographer's Hawk ($3.59), Daring Fiendbonder ($2.07), Slippery Bogbonder ($4.58), Obscuring Haze ($3.94), Predatory Impetus ($2.67), Netherborn Altar ($4.07) $20.92
#4  Mardu Humans Verge Rangers ($7.54), Fireflux Squad ($2.67), Call the Coppercoats ($2.30), Flawless Maneuver ($10.09), Molten Echoes ($3.87) $26.47
#3 Temur Spells Eon Frolicker ($3.67), Deflecting Swat ($17.33), Twinning Staff ($8.81), Predatory Impetus ($2.67) $32.48
#2 Sultai Mutate Tidal Barracuda ($9.99), Sawtusk Demolisher ($2.12), Deadly Rollick ($18.16), Manascape Refractor ($9.98), Predatory Impetus ($2.67) $42.92
#1 Jeskai Cycling Cryptic Trilobite ($5.99), Agitator Ant ($2.01), Surly Badgersaur ($3.56), Ethereal Forager ($5.00), Dismantling Wave ($5.09), Fierce Guardianship ($32.33) $53.98

Note: prices are from Wednesday April 15. While things likely haven't shifted too much in the past few days, they have potentially shifted a bit. Regardless, current prices are for comparison only, since Commander 2020 prices in general are inflated due to lack of supply.

Much like total deck prices, I wouldn't put too much weight in individual card prices at the moment—the Magic economy is really messed up right now. However, we can compare the value of one Commander 2020 deck to another since the market is equally messed up for each deck. The biggest determining factor in which deck has the most valuable new nonlegendary cards is the "free if you have your commander" cycle. Jeskai Cycling wins the category simply because Fierce Guardianship is worth significantly more than the rest of the cycle. Meanwhile, Abzan Keywords comes in last because it gets a $3 souped-up Fog when all of the rest of the decks have free spells in the $10–20 range. If we removed the "free if you have your commander" cycle from our calculations, all of the decks would be within a few dollars of each other in terms of new nonlegendary card value, in the $20 price range.

#4: Best Reprint Commanders

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C20—Best Reprint Commanders
Rank Deck Cards
#5 Sultai Mutate Wydwen, the Biting Gale (#590) 
#4 Abzan Keywords Odric, Lunarch Marshal (#234), Karametra, God of Harvests (#90), Akroma, Angel of Wrath (#711), Zetalpa, Primal Dawn (#657)
#3 Mardu Humans Alesha, Who Smiles at Death (#43), Fumiko the Lowblood (#674), Odric, Master Tactician (#234), Garna, the Bloodflame (#420), Adriana, Captain of the Guard (#489)
#2 Jeskai Cycling Isperia, Supreme Judge (#457), Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (#240), The Locust God (#46)
#1 Temur Spells Rashmi, Eternities Crafter (#103), Talrand, Sky Summoner (#89), Etali, Primal Storm (#206), Melek, Izzet Paragon (#188), Wort, the Raidmother (#149)

While building around new legends is great, one of the upsides of buying a Commander precon is that you (hopefully) get some old legends to build around as your commander as well. This year, every deck gets a least one reprinted legend, and some decks got a bunch! The rank next to each commander is how popular they are as a commander according to EDHREC. For example, Wydwen, the Biting Gale is the 590th most popular Commander in the game, which means that not only did the Sultai Mutate deck get the short end of the stick in terms of the number of reprinted Commanders, but the one it did get was pretty lackluster (although Wydwen, the Biting Gale is cute with mutate, allowing you to pick up your entire mutate pile to save several creatures from removal). 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

In the middle of the pack are Mardu Humans and Abzan Keywords, which both got a lot of reprinted legends but not ones that are especially playable as commanders, with Alesha, Who Smiles at Death being the most popular of the bunch at #43 and Karametra, God of Harvests being the only other legend from the decks to break the top 100. There's probably an argument that Mardu Humans should slot into the number-two slot ahead of Jeskai Cycling (which is highlighted by The Locust God and Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind), but the fact that The Locust God costs about $10 while Alesha, Who Smiles at death is less than $1 after a bunch of reprintings keeps Jeskai Cycling ahead, but just barely. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

The clear winner here, though, is Temur Spells. Not only did it get five reprinted legends, but all five are solid and fairly popular commanders. Talrand, Sky Summoner is in the top 100, while Rashmi, Eternities Crafter just misses the top 100 cutoff, and the other three are in the top 200 range. If part of your plan for your Commander 2020 deck is to pull out the commanders and use them to make additional decks, Temur Spells is the deck for you, and it isn't especially close.

#3: Best Reprints

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

C20—Best Reprints
Rank Deck Cards Value
#5 Sultai Mutate Silent Arbiter ($3), Nissa, Steward of Elements ($2.29), Propaganda ($6.25), Arcane Signet ($6.01), Sol Ring ($3.68), Krosan Grip ($2.90) $24.13
#4 Abzan Keywords Karametra, God of Harvests ($6.90), Akroma, Angel of Wrath ($3.32), Canopy Vista ($2.45), Sol Ring ($3.68), Arcane Signet ($6.01), Swiftfoot Boots ($2.40) $24.76
#3 Temur Spells Solemn Simulacrum (3.87), Etali, Primal Storm ($3.40), Crop Rotation ($2.10), Sol Ring ($3.68), Arcane Signet ($6.01), Lightning Greaves ($6.05), Kessig Wolf Run ($2.07) $27.18
#2 Mardu Humans Knight of the White Orchid ($4.30), Nahiri, the Harbinger ($2.98), Skullclamp ($4.50), Sol Ring ($3.68), Arcane Signet ($6.01), Shared Animosity ($3.99), Path of Ancestry ($5.00), Shadowblood Ridge ($2.20).  $32.66
#1 Jeskai Cycling The Locust God ($9.49), Windfall ($3.30), Sol Ring ($3.68), Arcane Signet ($6.01), Fluctuator ($5.70), Reliquary Tower ($2.65), Shivan Reef ($2.70), Skycloud Expanse ($3.51) $37.04

Every year, reprint value is a major criticism of the Commander release, but in reality, the average value of reprints (only counting cards worth at least $2) has increased yet again this year. Commander 2018—perhaps the worst Commander release of all time—has an average reprint value of just $16. With Commander 2019, this increased to $25, while this year, for Commander 2020, the average reprint value is up to $29. This means that the amount of value in the reprint slot has essentially doubled in two years' time, which is pretty impressive and a pretty clear sign that things are heading in the right direction in terms of Commander reprints as Wizards loosens the purse strings a bit. That said, all of the increase between this year and last year can be attributed to a single card: Arcane Signet, which adds about $6 to each deck. 

#2: Best Out-of-the-Box Deck

C20—Best Out-of-the-Box Deck
Rank Deck
#5 Sultai Mutate
#4 Temur Spells
#3 Abzan Keywords
#2 Jeskai Cycling
#1 Mardu Humans

This category is basically "when we do Commander Clash featuring Commander 2020 decks, which deck do I think will win?" This is one of the most subjective categories on our list, and it's very possible that you'll disagree. Regardless, here's a brief justification of my rankings.

Sultai Mutate: The Sultai Mutate deck is at a natural disadvantage for out-of-the-box play simply because its face commander—Otrimi, the Ever-Playful—needs a bunch of mutate cards to be powerful, and since mutate is a new mechanic in Ikoria, there aren't that many mutate cards in an absolute sense (especially compared to other Commander 2020 themes like Humans or cycling). And some of the best mutate cards are off-limits for the preconstructed deck since they are in Ikoria itself. Making matters worse, to support backup commander Zaxara, the Exemplary, the deck also has some random X-spells that are not especially playable as well as creatures like Hungering Hydra and Vastwood Hydra, which don't do much to support the primary mutate theme (other than possibly add a creature with some +1/+1 counters to the battlefield to mutate on). Add in that Otrimi, the Ever-Playful might be the least exciting and playable of the face commanders, and Sultai Mutate comes in at the very bottom of our list.

Temur Spells: While Kalamax, the Stormsire is a potentially powerful commander, it needs to be tapped to do anything cool, and the precon is lacking in noncombat ways to make it happen. While this is fine as long as it least one opponent doesn't have anything that can block a 4/4, as the game goes along and the board gets cluttered, it's going to be harder and harder to make Kalamax, the Stormsire into anything but an underpowered creature. While probably an intentional choice to make precon-vs.-precon gameplay more fun for newer Commander players, the deck is also shockingly low on counterspells for a deck that is looking to play primarily at instant speed. While the deck doesn't need a ton of counters since they aren't the most exciting spells to copy with Kalamax, the Stormsire, having more than just Temur Charm would help the deck quite a bit. While the deck looks super fun to play and Kalamax, the Stormsire is a potentially powerful commander, the precon doesn't go far enough to harness its power.

Abzan Keywords: While the Abzan Keyword deck feels like it should have some very powerful draws—in some games, you'll just randomly build an almost unbeatable creature and ride it to a fast victory—consistency is a concern. My biggest issue with the straight-out-of-the-box precon is that it feels light on ways to dump creatures into the graveyard, especially early in the game. If you don't have Satyr Wayfinder or Grisly Salvage in your opening hand you're probably going to be waiting a long time for Kathril, Aspect Warper to get enough fodder in the graveyard to do anything powerful. The deck also feels a bit ramp-light (although this is a theme across the Commander 2020 decks, with most having around seven ramp spells), especially considering the average converted mana cost of the deck is a massive 4.26. In the end, the straight-out-of-the-box Abzan Keyword deck feels like it should have some really powerful games when it draws the right cards early but will also have some really bad games where it is unable to fill the graveyard for Kathril, Aspect Warper or gets stuck with a bunch of 8-drops in hand with no ramp.

Jeskai Cycling: Due to the nature of cycling itself, and thanks to the power of Gavi, Nest Warden with cycling cards, the Jeskai Cycling deck should be one of the most consistent Commander 2020 decks for straight-out-of-the-box play. While its ceiling is probably lower than that of a deck like Abzan Keywords, its floor is much higher. So if you like consistency, Jeskai Cycling seems like an obvious choice.

Mardu Humans: Normally, I'm not a big fan of aggro decks in Commander—killing three opponents with a combined 120 life is a lot to ask. But in a precon-vs.-precon meta, a deck like Mardu Humans has a couple of advantages. First, Commander precons are typically much lighter on wraths and sweepers than other Commander decks (this is true again with Commander 2020, where some decks have a wrath or maybe two but far less than the 6+ sweepers you often see in a non-precon Commander deck), which is a big boost in power for a deck like Mardu Humans that is looking to go wide with small creatures. Secondly, being aggressive with a commander like Jirina Kudro is a good way to punish players for clunky precon mana bases or inconsistent starts, both of which are issues for some of the other precon decks. While Mardu Humans wouldn't win every game in the precon-vs.-precon meta, I think that its combination of being fast, efficient, and consistent would give it a leg up on the rest of the field over a sample size of several to many matches. Other decks like Abzan Keywords or Temur Spells can have better draws than Mardu Humans, but they won't have them all that consistently. Mardu Humans should be reasonably powerful in most games thanks to its low curve, fast clock, and consistency. 


#1: Most Upgradable

C20—Most Upgradable
Rank Deck
#5 Sultai Mutate
#4 Jeskai Cycling
#3 Abzan Keywords
#2 Mardu Humans
#1 Temur Spells

Finally, our last category is most upgradable. As we've talked about before, you don't just buy a Commander deck to play it out of the box; you want to be able to use those cards to make other decks as well. Here, the focus is on directly upgrading the Commander 2020 decks with their face commander as the leader of the deck, rather than building an entirely new deck around one of the backup commanders from the deck. As far as being upgradable, here are my basic thoughts on the decks.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Sultai Mutate: While Zaxara, the Exemplary is one of the most fun legends in all of Commander 2020 and is certainly worth pulling out of the precon to build around, directly upgrading the Sultai Mutate deck is problematic. First, as we talked about before, Ikoria is the only set featuring the mutate mechanic, so there just aren't that many good upgrade options. Second, even fully upgraded, Otrimi, the Ever-Playful isn't a very powerful commander. How I'd handle upgrading with the Sultai Mutate Commander 2020 deck is by pulling out Zaxara, the Exemplary and the X-spells to build an X-spell-based Hydra deck and then using the mutate cards from the deck to build around some of the most powerful mutating legends from Ikoria itself. Upgrading the precon directly doesn't seem like it would result is a very powerful deck.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Jeskai Cycling: The Jeskai Cycling deck already has a lot of the best cycling cards and cycling payoffs, but a few big additions can be made, especially Decree of Silence and Decree of Annihilation (if you are feeling especially mean), which are the most powerful cards in all of Magic that you can cycle for free with Gavi, Nest Warden. You can easily cut the Human / Shark subtheme (and use the partners to build another deck), which mostly feels forced in with the primary Gavi cycling plan to give the deck more new legendary creatures. Other possible upgrades include things that trigger when you draw or discard a card, like Glint-Horn Buccaneer, Rielle, the Everwise, and Chasm Skulker

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Abzan Keywords: The Abzan Keyword deck already does a pretty good job of having creatures with a bunch of keywords to support Kathril, Aspect Warper (although there are a few good ones missing, like various Gods, Sigarda, Host of Herons, Questing Beast, and Sylvan Caryatid). It really needs two things: more ramp (along with possibly a lower average converted mana cost) and more ways to fill the graveyard for Kathril. Cards like Fauna Shaman and Survival of the Fittest offer ways to get the exact creature you want into your graveyard, while cards like Stinkweed Imp, Underrealm Lich, Golgari Grave-Troll, and Hermit Druid can help with the graveyard filling. After going harder into the graveyard-stocking plan, adding better reanimation (Reanimate, Living Death, and Animate Dead) is another good way to up the power. In general, I'm pretty happy with the keyword payoffs offered in the precon, but the support cards could use a big boost of power to increase both consistency and power.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Mardu Humans: Humans rank highly on our upgradability scale for two reasons. First, there are a ton of Humans in Magic, so there are endless on-tribe upgrade options. Second, Humans are a theme from Ikoria itself, so there are a bunch more brand-new cards to be considered for the Jirina Kudro deck (General Kudro of Drannith is a good example). As you are searching for upgrades, don't forget to look for non-Humans that support the Human theme, with Angel of Glory's Rise, Purphoros, God of the Forge, and Blood Artist being good examples. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Temur Spells: First and foremost, add some ways to make sure that Kalamax, the Stormsire can always be tapped, even if you don't have any good attacks, with vehicles like Smuggler's Copter and equipment like Whispersilk Cloak being some of the easiest options. Second, add some counterspells. Even though they aren't the most exciting spells to copy with Kalamax, the Stormsire, they are important for policing the table in multiplayer Commander games. Third, play whatever instants you want! Part of what makes Kalamax, the Stormsire and the Temur Spells deck so upgradable is that as long as it is an instant, it's probably decent in your deck, so you have tons of options and flexibility since instants have been around as long as the game of Magic has. There are also a bunch more good spell copiers to consider, ranging from Fork to Ral, Storm Conduit

Final Score

#5: Abzan Keywords (20 points). Firsts: None. Worsts: Value, Backup Commanders, Artifacts, Nonlegendary New Cards.

#4: Sultai Mutate: (21 points): Firsts: None. Worsts: Face Commander, Land Value, Reprint Commanders, Reprints, Out-of-the-Box, Upgradable.

#2 (tie): Mardu Humans (36 points): Firsts: Land Value, Out-of-the-Box. Worsts: None.

#2 (tie): Jeskai Cycling (36 points): Firsts: Value, Non-Legendary New Cards, Reprints. Worsts: None.

#1: Temur Spells (38 points): Firsts: Face Commanders, Backup Commanders, Artifacts, Reprints, Upgradable. Worsts: None.

What a weird run of Commander decks. Basically, the end result of our ranking is that we have two decks that rank among the worst Commander decks of all time (Sultai Mutate and Abzan Keywords) and three decks bunched together at the top of our rankings (Mardu Humans, Jeskai Cycling, and Temur Spells), with just two points separating the top three decks and Temur Spells edging out the field for the best Commander 2020 deck award. 

In all my years of ranking Commander decks, we've never had a more polarized field. The two worst decks—Sultai Mutate and Abzan Keywords—didn't get first in a single category. Meanwhile, the three top decks didn't finish last in a single category. Basically, Sultai Mutate and Abzan Keywords were consistently bad, with Sultai Mutate taking last place in a massive six categories but somehow beating out Abzan Keywords by a point since Abzan Keywords ranked at or near the bottom so consistently, while Sultai Mutate managed to finish second in some of the commander-based categories. 

Abzan Keywords and Sultai Mutate ranked so poorly that they might be the worst Commander decks of all time. Previously, the Lord Windgrace deck from Commander 2018 held the record with just 17 points, but that was back when Commander releases only had four decks. Commander 2020 has five decks, so the total number of points given out increased from 100 to 150. If we discount the point total of Abzan Keywords or Sultai Mutate by 1/3 for an apples-to-apples comparison, they would have somewhere around 14 points, beating out Lord Windgrace by a full three points!

From a more meta perspective, I think the low scores of Abzan Keywords and Sultai Mutate show some of the dangers of tying Commander precons to set releases. One of the big reasons why Sultai Mutate scored so low in so many categories is that the deck is built around a brand new mechanic that doesn't have any support from the past 25 years of Magic, which limits the number of good on-theme reprints and even keeps many of the most powerful mutate cards out of the deck since Wizards presumably wanted to save them for Ikoria proper. As such, it's probably not a surprise that the decks built around more evergreen themes like instants, Humans, or cycling crushed the decks that are basically Ikoria-block Commander decks without the best Ikoria cards.  

In the future, I think Wizards should try really hard to avoid tying Commander decks to set-specific mechanics. Being related to the newest set is great, but being exclusively tied to the newest set dooms decks like Sultai Mutate to fail. Sultai Mutate likely would have scored much better if it were Sultai X-Matters instead, with Zaxara, the Exemplary as the face Commander and the underpowered and unexciting Otrimi, the Ever-Playful as a backup commander along with a light mutate sub-theme for players who want to build a mutate Commander deck with new Ikoria cards. 


Anyway, that's all for today. Which Commander 2020 deck are you most excited for? Which new cards are you most looking to play with or build around? Let me know in the comments! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

More on MTGGoldfish ...

Image for Strixhaven: Top 10 Standard Card video
Strixhaven: Top 10 Standard Card

Seth and Crim count down their top ten Strixhaven cards for Standard!

Apr 14 | by SaffronOlive
Image for Commander Clash Podcast 005: The Commander Ban List Debate! commander clash podcast
Commander Clash Podcast 005: The Commander Ban List Debate!

The crew gives their takes on the official Commander ban list, including the RC's reasonings behind them.

Apr 13 | by mtggoldfish
Image for Modern Mayhem: Lorehold Land Destruction modern mayhem
Modern Mayhem: Lorehold Land Destruction

What do we want? Land destruction! When do we want it? Now!

Apr 13 | by TheAsianAvenger
Image for This Week in Legacy: Collegiate Commander this week in legacy
This Week in Legacy: Collegiate Commander

Joe Dyer reviews Commander 2021 for Legacy!

Apr 13 | by Joe Dyer

Layout Footer

Never miss important MTG news again!

All emails include an unsubscribe link. You may opt-out at any time. See our privacy policy.

Follow Us

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Twitch
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • Email
  • Discord
  • YouTube

Price Preference

Default Price Switcher