Hello everyone! I hope you are enjoying the coverage of Grand Prix Las Vegas!! By the time you are reading this I will be entrenched on the battlefield, mashing my foes in Modern with Affinity and smashing my adversaries in Legacy with Lands. But alas, today I will be discussing another of my favorite formats—can you guess it? If you guessed 1v1 Competitive EDH, you guessed right!
1v1 Commander has been live on Magic Online for over a month now, and many people have gotten their feet wet already with this super intense format. With a month's worth of data, we can examine what are now the top contenders in the format. Which are the best generals? Read on as I discuss what you need to watch out for and what you should sleeve up yourself and bring to battle.
To make my list, I will be using data collected by various websites for some raw numbers. The decks that are putting up impressive amounts of 5-0 finishes will weigh in here heavily. In addition, I will be giving some insight as to what I find ideal about these generals and the best decks to employ them. Where are we now, and where are we going? It's the classic question when it comes to examining the metagame and I hope to answer some of them here.
5. Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Nissa is the premier ramp creature in the format. A common flaw with ramp decks is that they can run out of gas in the late game, especially in a format as riddled with counterspells as 1v1 EDH. Nissa provides card advantage first with her enters-the-battlefield ability and then again with her planeswalker side.
This deck naturally hits its land drops consistently, giving it the ability to go toe-to-toe with control decks. Playing multiple spells a turn makes it difficult on even the most removal and counterspell-heavy draws from the opponent. This is what gives Nissa decks the leg up on decks like Omnath, Locus of Mana and Selvala, Heart of the Wilds.
You may enjoy Nissa, Vastwood Seer if:
- You like having a pseudo-planeswalker as your general.
- You want to play with the beautiful and lovely Primeval Titan again.
- You love green more than an herbivore.
- You like always having something proactive to do with your mana.
- You like large, splashy spells that remind you of traditional EDH, but remain competitive.
You may not enjoy Nissa, Vastwood Seer if:
- You can't Seer yourself not playing blue for counterspells or black for removal.
- You dislike having your mana Elves and friends swept away by sweepers.
- You dislike large, splashy spells occasionally making your early game awkward.
Key Cards in the Deck
Primeval Titan. This is a green tutor. Banned from casual EDH, getting to play with this powerful, mean, green fighting machine again feels amazingly eval.
World Breaker. The most powerful recursive threat in the deck, this powerful Eldrazi spell lets you repeatedly destroy troublesome permanents (mostly lands) and provide pressure without worry of removal.
Eye of Ugin. Similar to its function in Modern before being banned for another deck's sins, this tutor stapled to a land provides a hard-to-remove source of Eldrazi to bury the opponent. With Strip Mine's banning, Eye can see this card being hard to remove efficiently.
4. Breya, Etherium Shaper
Breya is by a wide margin the strongest non-partner general released in 2016. Giving you access to 4 colors of mana, including the 2 best colors, it's the best you can ask for from your general. Tack on a value-generating ETB ability and flexible activated ability, and you have the recipe for a real powerhouse.
Breya decks tend to play like control decks with access to fast mana in the form of Signets and Talismans. They also make use of all the most powerful removal, sweepers, and counterspells. Occasionally, you can also see her function as a combo enabler as well, allowing you to kill the opponent once infinite mana is obtained.
You may enjoy Breya, Etherium Shaper if:
- You like playing with artifacts like Signets, Talismans, and Winter Orb.
- You like having powerful options from control to beat down out of nowhere.
- You want to try a 4-color deck that is tier 1 with no awful matchups.
- Planeswalkers, removal, counterspells galore is your cup of tea.
You may not enjoy Breya, Etherium Shaper if:
- You dislike expensive mana bases.
- Want a deck with a single focus.
- Green is calling your name.
Key Cards in the Deck
Signets and Talismans. These provide ramp and fixing in the early game and can be sacrificed for Breya's activated ability when the time is right.
Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast. This super powerful 3-drop planeswalker rarely sees play due to its color requirements and lack of synergy with many decks. Here though, it is a powerhouse and can steal a game on its own.
Winter Orb. A powerful lock piece the likes of which we haven't seen in decades, Winter Orb is perfect in a deck full of mana rocks. Additionally, the Breya pilot can sacrifice it at the end of the opponent's turn to have a full untap on their own turn.
3. Tasigur, the Golden Fang
My go-to deck when I started playing 1v1 Commander online, Tasigur has a place near and dear to my heart. Though he was recently supplanted from his top spot in the first weeks of the format, Tasigur still holds the crown as the most powerful late-game control general. Not to mention that it only takes a few hits to kill the opponent with general damage.
Being in Sultai colors means that Tasigur has access to the most powerful tutors, card drawing spells, counterspells, discard, and removal in the format. It is hard to find room in this deck for all the amazing cards this color combination provides, but cheap, interactive cards are the best way to go. His activated ability always gives you options when passing the turn with mana up and his cheap casting cost scales well late-game. Tasigur is still my favorite pure control deck of the format and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
You may enjoy Tasigur, the Golden Fang if:
- You love back and forth games full of interaction.
- You appreciate having mana sinks to mitigate flooding.
- You want to try a tier 1 graveyard strategy.
- You appreciate putting the “salt” in “Saltai.”
You may not enjoy Tasigur, the Golden Fang if:
- You prefer winning the game quickly.
- You dislike tutors and recurring the spell over again.
- You are a fool... err you dislike 3-color decks.
Key Cards in the Deck
Fetchlands. These provide important delve fuel for your general as well as the utility and fixing you've come to know them for. I would not suggest Tasigur for players looking to build on a budget.
Upheaval. This broken spell 100% deserves its spot on the casual EDH ban list. While not as insane in 1v1 Commander, the effect is still unreal and can pull you out of games you had no business otherwise winning. Tasigur himself takes great advantage of this spell, as he often costs 1 mana to cast on a now empty board.
2. Baral, Chief of Compliance
Baral, Chief of Complaints is more like it. This mono-blue deck has numerous advantages going for it and could easily be the number 1 on this list. Baral decks are some of the cheaper alternatives on Magic Online, which contributes to its popularity. This is overshadowed only by its total brutality and free wins.
Baral only costs 2 mana, allowing it to resolve underneath most counterspells. Additionally, once you resolve Baral, the opponent must immediately go on the offensive to combat the mana advantage you now have over them. This plays perfectly into Baral's game plan as it maximizes the value gained from cards like Daze and Force of Will all the way to cards like Thwart and Commandeer. The finishing blow comes from one of its various Polymorph effects, finding a giant flying spaghetti monster.
You may enjoy Baral, Chief of Compliance if:
- You like counterspells.
- You like blue.
- You like crushing victories.
- You like your opponent's suffering.
- You like winning the same way each game.
- You prefer playing a tier 1 deck at a fraction of the cost of others.
You may not enjoy Baral, Chief of Compliance if:
- You don't like playing reactively.
- Think Twice bores you.
- You dislike winning with Emrakul each game.
- You prefer multicolor generals in EDH.
- You love creatures.
Key Cards in the Deck
Islands. A stable and consistent mana base is enviable. 30+ Islands ensure you're on curve and free of color issues.
Creatures (lack thereof). Something to note is that Baral decks making use of the Polymorph package shouldn't be playing creatures besides Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. As much as the deck would love Snapcaster Mage or Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, these are spells that won't be making most decks.
1. Vial Smasher the Fierce (With his crony, Kraum, Ludevic's Opus)
I mentioned this powerful duo in detail in my last article here. Vial Smasher continues to impress me and I quite enjoy how games with this partner general play out. Shifting away from traditional control, Vial Smasher plays an interesting role of part control, part aggro. The deck plays aggressively in the sense that it pressures your opponent's life total, and the chunks of life also provide midrange-like value. The deck plays like a control deck with all the various counterspells and removal, and the two generals provide a tempo advantage.
All these advantages wrapped into one neat little package let this general combination easily take the number 1 spot on my list. The deck has a slight weakness to hardcore, fast combo, but those decks have been largely pushed out of the metagame by heavy control decks like Tasigur and Baral. Without its natural predator lurking around, it is hard to see a reason not to pick up this adorable Goblin/Zombie duo.
- You like your already potent spells packing extra punch.
- You like counter-burn-style decks in other formats.
- You like shifting from control to aggro to tempo depending on which of your 98 cards you draw.
- You want to try the partner mechanic.
- You prefer playing tier 1 decks with gameplay that varies.
- You want to have a firm game plan each time you pick up your deck.
- You want to play something that is not the most played deck.
- You enjoy having one powerful general rather than two slightly less powerful options.
Key Cards in the Deck
RIP, may you never return.
Treachery. Yeah, when I play against Vial/Kraum and they play a Treachery, I usually die in quick fashion.
Well there you have it. These are my picks for the most powerful generals in the format. They fall in line pretty well with which generals are popular and are putting up the 5-0 results. You will often see the same player win multiple Leagues with the same general over and over again. This demonstrates that much like other Constructed formats, picking a deck and immersing yourself with all aspects can generally be a great path to victory. Pick a general, try it out a few times, and if you like it, jam with it a bunch.
I hope this article provided you with some insight into the Commander format and perhaps will inspire you to pick one of these top tier generals to march to battle with. If under-the-radar generals are more your cup of tea, come back for my article next week where I discuss underrated and underused generals and decks for 1v1 Commander. Thanks for reading! Until next time, may your opponent always fail to find.