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Most popular commanders--what links them?
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Author:  Skyknight [ 2017-Jan-09 9:10 am ]
Post subject:  Most popular commanders--what links them?

Somehow, I decided to take a look at which commanders broke the 600 limit on EDHRec (which reads every deck on TappedOut and Deckbox). I thought it might give me a glimpse into what commanders were in demand, and perhaps why.

I wasn't expecting to find forty commanders who fit the bill (my own commanders of choice--Jenara, Yasova, Vorel, and Rashmi--don't really break 400). Nor the sheer number of decks that are headed by the top of that list. Showing the top ten...

10. Marchesa, the Black Rose (951)
9. Kaalia of the Vast (954)
8. Narset, Enlightened Master (969)
7. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (986)
6. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher (1025)
5. Breya, Etherium Shaper (1113)
4. Nekusar, the Mindrazer (1150)
3. Meren of Clan Nel Toth (1415)
2. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (1451)
1. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice (1603)

I'll admit, I was boggled by Atraxa getting so popular in such a short span of time. What I'm wondering is what these commanders' secret is--particularly Atraxa's.

Author:  Spectrar Ghost [ 2017-Jan-09 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

Power and flexibility.

All three of the top commanders have strong abilities that go off each of your turns. Those abilities contribute to, but do not define, your game plan. Atraxa is equally at home leading infect, Superfriends, +1/+1 counters, Energy, or value counters. Most of those categories have multiple directions they can go, meaning further variety. I have a reasonably tuned Atraxa Superfriends deck and a fairly janky Atraxa Energy Deck myself. They don't share more than a handful of non-land cards aside from Atraxa (Edit: six - two mana rocks, three wraths, and Inexorable Tide), but both are strongly supported by her.

Author:  Sid the Chicken [ 2017-Jan-10 2:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

Spectrar Ghost wrote:
Power and flexibility.

All three of the top commanders have strong abilities that go off each of your turns. Those abilities contribute to, but do not define, your game plan. Atraxa is equally at home leading infect, Superfriends, +1/+1 counters, Energy, or value counters. Most of those categories have multiple directions they can go, meaning further variety. I have a reasonably tuned Atraxa Superfriends deck and a fairly janky Atraxa Energy Deck myself. They don't share more than a handful of non-land cards aside from Atraxa (Edit: six - two mana rocks, three wraths, and Inexorable Tide), but both are strongly supported by her.

This.

Also there's the "Oooo, shiny!" factor. People have been waiting for 4-color decks to be a thing for a long time, so it is to be expected that when they finally print 4-color commanders, people are gonna build with them.

Author:  Superstrength79 [ 2017-Jan-10 3:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

Skyknight wrote:
Somehow, I decided to take a look at which commanders broke the 600 limit on EDHRec (which reads every deck on TappedOut and Deckbox). I thought it might give me a glimpse into what commanders were in demand, and perhaps why.

I wasn't expecting to find forty commanders who fit the bill (my own commanders of choice--Jenara, Yasova, Vorel, and Rashmi--don't really break 400). Nor the sheer number of decks that are headed by the top of that list. Showing the top ten...

10. Marchesa, the Black Rose (951)
9. Kaalia of the Vast (954)
8. Narset, Enlightened Master (969)
7. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (986)
6. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher (1025)
5. Breya, Etherium Shaper (1113)
4. Nekusar, the Mindrazer (1150)
3. Meren of Clan Nel Toth (1415)
2. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic (1451)
1. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice (1603)

I'll admit, I was boggled by Atraxa getting so popular in such a short span of time. What I'm wondering is what these commanders' secret is--particularly Atraxa's.


Well, all but three of these cards had input from the creators of EDH, so that could be why they are great for the format. Marchesa was made for multiplayer, Narset is great for cheating (EDH players love to cheat), and Sidisi is probably just the most interesting one in Sultai wedge.

Atraxa is popular for infect and super friends (deck with nothing but planeswalkers), no mystery there.

Author:  kirkusjones [ 2017-Jan-10 4:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

I find it entertaining that Wizards wanted to avoid the whole "Mind Seize" deck issue and I can't seem to find Atraxa in my immediate area, except for my LGS, which is selling her deck for $50. Woo!

Author:  Jixar [ 2017-Jan-10 2:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

Also with Atraxa, once you get her on the board you don't have to do anything for her ability to work. Just protect her and she does the work for you. Most others, you have to pay a cost or attack with them to do anything special.

Author:  Sovarius [ 2017-Jan-10 4:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

I have an Atraxa, but didn't play it in one my weekly events. My first pod was Atraxa v. Atraxa v. Atraxa v. me.

Just throwing that out there.

Author:  Nigerian Prince [ 2017-Jan-10 6:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

I think that what makes a general popular, is that he/she/it actually does something interesting for the deck, instead of just being a support card. When you put Captain Sisay at the hem of an all Legendary deck, she makes the deck work. Gaddock Teeg doesn't make a deck work, it just bothers opponents. Atraxa obviously can do cool things for many strategies

What I don't understand, is that Oloro, ageless ascetic there. How is this guy popular? Seems to always do what the card shows, big guy in a lazy chair not really bothering to actually do something but pillowforting.

Author:  niheloim [ 2017-Jan-11 12:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

Sovarius wrote:
I have an Atraxa, but didn't play it in one my weekly events. My first pod was Atraxa v. Atraxa v. Atraxa v. me.

Just throwing that out there.

I don't think she's very exciting for a commander- I mean proliferate is cool, but her other abilites are just "good stuff" abilities that make her more playable.

For me its the colors. Red is the worst color in EDH and having a commander that lets me play the 4 other ones in a thematic deck is kinda neat.

I find it interesting that she is so much more popular than the rest... and by popular I mean better.

Author:  niheloim [ 2017-Jan-11 12:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

Nigerian Prince wrote:
I think that what makes a general popular, is that he/she/it actually does something interesting for the deck, instead of just being a support card. When you put Captain Sisay at the hem of an all Legendary deck, she makes the deck work. Gaddock Teeg doesn't make a deck work, it just bothers opponents. Atraxa obviously can do cool things for many strategies

What I don't understand, is that Oloro, ageless ascetic there. How is this guy popular? Seems to always do what the card shows, big guy in a lazy chair not really bothering to actually do something but pillowforting.

casual players love life gain. And Oloro is good at it. He's also the more interesting Esper commander that isn't stigmatized- who wants to play against Sharuum or Zur these days?

Author:  zimagic [ 2017-Jan-11 1:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

What links them?

10. Marchesa, the Black Rose uBr
9. Kaalia of the Vast wBr
8. Narset, Enlightened Master wur
7. Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (986) uBg
6. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher Brg
5. Breya, Etherium Shaper wuBr
4. Nekusar, the Mindrazer uBr
3. Meren of Clan Nel Toth Bg
2. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic wuB
1. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice wuBg

The exception being the Hexproof first striker that lets you cast spells for free.

Staying in stats for a second, each colour has a maximum of 10 possible instances in the top 10. Here's what it actually looks like
White 5
Blue 7
Black 9
Red 5
Green 4

Blue and Black retaining their dominance, though it's a small sample size. I wonder how those breakdowns would look for the top 100?

Author:  tarnar [ 2017-Jan-11 3:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

I wonder how much those colour stats change when you multiply by the number of decks instead of just the number of appearances in the top 10 ranking.

(a little spreadsheet time later)

Green remains in last place
Red slightly edges out White
Blue is still second
Black is still first

In other words, no real difference.

Also curious how that would change over a larger sample size. I feel like a lot of discussion is had on how overly popular and powerful U/G decks are. These numbers suggest otherwise.

Author:  RaiRai [ 2017-Jan-11 4:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

tarnar wrote:
I wonder how much those colour stats change when you multiply by the number of decks instead of just the number of appearances in the top 10 ranking.

(a little spreadsheet time later)

Green remains in last place
Red slightly edges out White
Blue is still second
Black is still first

In other words, no real difference.

Also curious how that would change over a larger sample size. I feel like a lot of discussion is had on how overly popular and powerful U/G decks are. These numbers suggest otherwise.


From my perspective, the Simic color combination allows for a lot of flexibility and the current commander roster for said colors is hard to deny like for example, Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix . Get an awesome draw engine going then tap her once to summon the bleeding titans such as Emrakul, Kozilek, and Ulamog, if not have Kruphix himself help seize the day.

Author:  Marit Lage [ 2017-Jan-12 12:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

RaiRai wrote:

From my perspective, the Simic color combination allows for a lot of flexibility and the current commander roster for said colors is hard to deny like for example, Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix . Get an awesome draw engine going then tap her once to summon the bleeding titans such as Emrakul, Kozilek, and Ulamog, if not have Kruphix himself help seize the day.


She's not even that good. Momir Vig or Ezuri are what you'd consider premier UG commanders.

Author:  Sinis [ 2017-Jan-12 3:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Most popular commanders--what links them?

I am unsurprised to find the 2013 commanders among them (Prossh, Nekusar, Oloro), as I consider them the most powerful block of Commander ever printed.

The rest... I think the common aspect is that nearly all of them allow you to cheat some rules in some way. Whether you get something (or many things) for free.

I'll be honest though; I'm not sure what Breya is doing there. I bet her popularity drops off precipitously.

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