The yearly Core Set for Magic: The Gathering is just around the corner, so it’s time to evaluate the best cards you should pick up for Commander/EDH. For the unfamiliar, Core Set 2021 is not a theme-based set like Ikoria or Throne of Eldraine. This allows Wizards of the Coast to not only include key reprints but focus on cards that tie into the archetypal designs of each color. Normally, we wouldn’t include reprints in our list, but given their sheer quality, we will be adding a few that you should absolutely pick up.
I will not be including cards that specifically excel in cEDH (Competitive EDH) alone since this variation focuses on playing extremely fast and efficient decks. Instead, our selections offer flexibility and embrace the spirit of this chaotic, social game. Additionally, we won’t be considering cards for Brawl since those are typically different archetypes and limitations.
If you’re looking to pick up singles from Core Set 2021, here are our top 10 picks.
10 Best Core Set 2021 Commander Cards
Rin and Seri, Inseparable
Dog and cat tribal types have always been popular, but until now we’ve lacked a solid leader for both creature types. Rin and Seri, Inseparable revolves around creating cat and dog tokens, then using those creatures to either damage or boost your own life total. It’s a fairly straightforward strategy that offers some nice flexibility in how you construct your deck. Do you focus on an aggressive strategy to overwhelm your opponent or perhaps a combo to make use of Rin and Seri’s ability to make tokens? This card strikes the right balance for a commander, giving players enough room to dictate how they build their deck.
One of the best green cards in the format, Heroic Intervention’s power comes from its simplicity. Only costing two mana, the Heroic Intervention not only makes all your permanents indestructible but gives them hexproof status. This makes it a perfect card for protecting your board from virtually any type of targeted removal or wrath effect. Outside of cards like Merciless Eviction or Terminus, Heroic Intervention can save your board from almost every type of threat. This is a staple of every green deck, so make sure to try and pick up a few while their prices are lowered!
Spells that produce more than one effect have always been powerful in this format. When a boardstate is filled with different threats, having a spell that can help you deal with more than one can easily swing a game back in your favor. Enter Sublime Epiphany, a six mana instant spell that lets you use up to five effects at once. This can range from a simple counterspell to bouncing a permanent to copying one of your creatures. It’s a nice suite of abilities that makes this card extremely versatile and perfect for decks that can spare six mana at instant speed. Even though it probably won’t make its way into super competitive decks, this feels like an all-star blue card in the making.
This feels like a card that’s going to end up being broken somehow, someway. A seven mana artifact that lets your lands tap for any color, produces five colorless mana just for tapping it, and can draw you a ton of cards will certainly be in every five-color deck for the rest of time. Honestly, this card seems ready to be abused and that’s before you combine it with any untap or artifact-focused cards. Yet, the beauty of this card is that it is colorless, so you can just slot it into any deck with three to four colors and it will still be great. In fact, I’ve already made a nice spot for it in my Sen Triplets deck where it will live forever.
Azuza, Lost but Seeking
Azuza is simply incredible. For three mana, this legendary creature allows you to play up to two additional lands a turn. While that may not seem like a powerful effect for newcomers in the format, the sheer advantage and tempo Azuza offers is unmatched if you keep drawing lands. A staple in literally any big mana or land-focused deck, Azuza is a cheap, but highly effective creature that allows you to briskly speed ahead of your opponents. Plus, she was nearly $40 before this reprint. It’s great to see such a core card in green get reprinted.
Oh look, another expensive staple that got a much-needed reprint. Massacre Wurm is a very strong creature, as it not only removes your foe’s creatures but punishes them for dying. Perfect for weakening your foe’s board, while draining their life total in the process. Once it’s on the field, every time an opponent’s creature dies — regardless of the reason — it hurts them. Given that a lot of strategies revolve around sacrificing creatures or using them in combos, a well-timed Massacre Wurm can be back-breaking. There’s a reason this wurm is so popular in stax, graveyard, or reanimation decks!
Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge
There are a lot of mono-red dragons in Magic: The Gathering, so it takes a lot to really stand out. Gadrak may not be impressive at first glance, but this creature is absolutely bonkers in any deck with sacrifice mechanics. Whenever a nontoken creature dies, Gadrak will create a Treasure Token at your end step. This alone makes it a strong value card, but what pushes it over the edge is that there’re no limitations to the number of tokens you can create. So if you combo off and ten creatures die on your side of the field, Gadrak will make ten Treasure tokens. This gives you more mana to fuel your next turn, allowing you to potentially repeat the process over and over again. While he may not be the best leader, I see Gadrak becoming a staple of any aristocrat decks using the color red.
Counter decks are one of the most popular archetypes in the entire format. This is not only because of their synergy, but the staggering number of cards available for this type of deck. Conclave Mentor allows players to rapidly accumulate counters on their creatures, bolstering their army and opening up additional combos with other cards. Similar to the popular card Harden Scales, Conclave Mentor does not create +1/+1 counters, it simply increases the amount given. Thankfully, many cards create +1/+1 counters, so this shouldn’t be a problem during deck construction. Expect this to become a staple in any deck revolving around this strategy.
Some players just want to watch the table burn. Fiery Emancipation’s entire ability is it will deal triple the damage to opponents from any source you control. I shouldn’t need to explain why this is a terrific card for burn, aggro, or group slug decks. It’s a relatively cheap card to cast and will speed up your foe’s demise. That’s it. That’s the entire point of the card and I couldn’t be happier.
Sanctum of All
There are probably better choices for this list, but having a tribal shrine card is too good to pass up. Sanctum of All is a five-color enchantment that allows players to tutor for a Shrine card in their graveyard or deck and put it into play. Repeating this every turn is quite powerful, but the fact that it causes Shrine abilities to trigger twice if certain conditions are met is the icing on the cake. Sure, there’s not exactly a top tier Shrine deck floating around, but that doesn’t make this any less enjoyable.