Hello and welcome to our Commander Legends Draft Guide. This is a special set, so you can expect a special draft guide as well. Today we’ll discuss how to enjoy Commander Legends draft to its fullest.
First things first, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should have fun with this draft format. So if some of our suggestions don’t seem as fun as something you’d do feel free to ignore them.
What we’ll try to do is to help you get a better understanding of the format. That can be crucial, since you might not get many chances to draft Commander Legends. This way you’ll have a better experience – both drafting and playing.
We’ll talk about:
- how Commander Legends draft actually works
- how should your pick order change
- what are the major archetypes
As you can see there’s plenty to talk about, so let’s get right to it!
UPDATE: If you’re looking forward to drafting the newest set, you should read our Dominaria United Draft Guide.
How Does Commander Legends Draft Work?
Even when you sit down to draft, you’ll notice some changes. The packs will be thicker than usual. Why’s that? Because they contain 20 cards each:
- 1 non-legendary rare or mythic
- 2 legendary creatures (2U / U+R / U+M / 2R / R+M)
- 1 foil (of any rarity)
- 3 uncommons
- 13 commons
Each Commander Legends Booster Box contains exactly 24 packs. That’s perfect for 8 players draft, since each player gets 3 packs per draft.
So with three 20-card packs, each player will draft 60 cards instead of the usual 45. Drafting that many cards in addition to playing Commander-like games, could take quite a while. So to make everything run faster, each player picks two cards with each pick.
Also since, you get so many cards and to get at least some variety of the Commander format, your deck size is 60. Yet, the singleton rule DOES NOT apply here. You can have as many of the same card, as you managed to get during a draft.
How do Commanders Work in Commander Legends Draft?
Commanders will work the same way as they do in the Commander format. Your Commander will start in the Command Zone and all cards in your deck will have to follow your Commander’s color identity.
Since there’s a partner mechanic in this set, you can have two commanders if they both have partner.
What if I didn’t Draft a Commander?
There will be over 48 commanders opened in an 8-player draft pod. So it would be pretty unlikely that you’d end up without a Commander for your deck.
Although unlikely, it could still happen. That’s why Wizards introduced Prismatic Piper.
You know, how you can add any numbers of basic lands to your draft deck, even if you didn’t draft them. Well, Piper works kinda the same. You can use it as one of your partner commanders, even if you didn’t draft it. You can also use two of them as both of your partner commanders.
The idea is that you should never have to worry that you’ll stay without your commander. Let’s say you drafted a blue-green deck, but only got a blue partner legend. In that case you can use Piper as a green partner legend.
The Prismatic Piper appears roughly in one per six packs. So that means you’ll usually get around 6 of them in one booster box. This should be enough for everyone, since you don’t need to actually spend picks on them. However, if you’ll need more you can just use proxies during the draft.
Note, that Piper is a very weak card, so playing it should be your last resort and not something you’re actively looking to do.
How Many Players for a Commander Draft?
The ideal number for a draft is 8 players. The format is optimized for a 4 player game, so you can make two four player pods and then switch.
However, there’s no wrong way to play. You can also play 1 versus 1, like you would in a regular draft. You can also go crazy with an eight player free-for-all. In that case, prepare for a long game, that can be quite boring for the players who get knocked out early on.
Finally, your starting life total is 40, and Commander damage rule does apply. (If a player is dealt 21 or more points of damage by a single Commander, that player loses the game.) Once again, if you’re playing at home you can change those rules to fit your playgroup.
How to Draft Commander Legends – Recap
So let’s quickly recap everything you need to know about how to draft this set:
- You draft 3 booster packs of 20 cards each.
- You pick two cards with each pick.
- Your deck size is 60.
- One of the legendary creatures that you draft is your Commander and will start in the Command Zone. (You can have two Commanders if both have partner).
- All cards in your deck have to follow your Commander’s color identity.
- You can have multiples of the same card in your deck.
- If you don’t have appropriate Commander you can use The Prismatic Piper.
- Usually you’ll play a game in a 4-person pod.
- Staring life is 40.
- Commander damage rule does apply.
How Many Lands to Play?
Finally, let’s talk about how many lands you should play in this format. In a regular, 40-card draft deck you’d usually play 17 lands. If you’d like to keep the same ration, that would give you 25.5 lands.
However, in the Commander Legends draft you’ll always have access to your commanders, which gives you something to do with your mana. That means you really don’t want to be mana screwed, so you’ll probably want to play 26-27 lands plus some additional mana fixing.
There are four main mechanics in the Commander Legends draft format:
Let’s take a look at them, what they do and how they affect the format.
When you cast a spell with cascade, you reveal cards from the top of your library until you reveal a nonland card that costs less. You can then cast it without paying its mana costs.
Cascade appears in blue, red and green and on some colorless artifacts. Besides the annoyed dinosaur you saw above, there are four other common cascade cards:
As you can see, all of them are pretty much over-costed for their stats, so you’ll usually need to ramp towards them. This makes a tension, as you usually don’t want to hit a ramp spell with cascade. However, in this format you’ll always have access to your commander. So this makes extra lands useful.
With that in mind, cascade cards will almost always provide you with some nice value.
If a creature with encore is in your graveyard, you can pay its encore cost and exile it. When you do, you create one token copy of it per opponent. Each token gets haste and it has to attack a different opponent if able. At the end of the turn you have to sacrifice those tokens.
Most of the encore creatures will provide some kind of effect when they attack or die. This mechanic can also support a self mill strategy, as you can use encore cards from your graveyard.
Various cards can make a player become the monarch. Monarch gets the ability: “At the beginning of the monarch’s end step, draw a card.”
Whenever a creature deals combat damage to the monarch its controller becomes the monarch. Only one player at the time can be the monarch.
There are 18 cards in this set that make a player the monarch. Seven of them are commons, and there’s at least one for each color. All of them are at least playable.
Monarch can be quite a snow-ball mechanic. Once someone is the monarch for several turns, they’ll accumulate so much card advantage that it’ll be hard to attack them. This will draw them even more cards, etc.
That’s why it’s very important that you have a plan against monarch, even if you aren’t playing any monarch cards yourself. One of the simplest things you could do is to play evasive (hard to block) or cards that enable attack such as:
Of course, you could simply play cards that make you the monarch, or cards that fit both criteria like Azure Fleet Admiral.
Partner is an ability that allows you to have two commanders, if both of them have partner. You can find more about partner in Commander here.
Even though partner commanders can be weaker, they might be a better option than non-partner commanders in the Commander Legends draft. The reason for this is pretty simple. You get two additional cards to work with, instead of just one.
So keep that in mind when deciding which commander to draft and play.
Commander Legends Draft – Pick Order
As we said, this is not your regular draft format, so this won’t be your regular pick order. A usual pick order would be useless here, as card strength will mostly vary depending on what your chosen commander is doing.
So, we’ll talk about some general pick decision and when you should pick certain cards.
1. Pick Commanders Highly
Commander will be incredibly important here, as one would expect. You will get to play your commander every single game. (Unless you’re stuck on lands, of course.) That’s why it’s incredibly important that you get access to as many of them as you can.
By picking Commanders early, you can easily move into different colors, depending on what’s getting passed to you.
Still, there are some cards that you’d pick over a good Commander, something like Jeweled Lotus, that’s very powerful in just about any deck you’ll play.
2. Force or Stay Open?
This step already depends on the previous one. Which kind of commander did you get in your first pick? Something insanely strong? In that case you should try and force that color.
Forcing the Color
Let’s say in your first pick you got something powerful like Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools. At this point you basically want to lock in black color.
What that means is, that you’ll play black no matter what kind of black cards are getting passed to you. You only need to find one color that your neighbors aren’t drafting and you’ll do fine, as you’ll get the access to a very powerful planeswalker every game.
However, if your Commander is strong, but in two or three colors, you can still force those colors, but maybe less so and try to remain more open.
But if your Commander is of medium power level, you should just stay open.
So if you’re newer to the game, and don’t know all the jargon, let me explain. In draft you’re staying open, when you don’t commit to your color immediately after your first few picks. Instead, you pick the best cards in each booster regardless of their color.
You can usually do this until picks 8-12 in the first booster. The risk is that you might end up with some cards that you won’t get to play. The reward is that you can get good cards (in the colors your opponents aren’t drafting) pretty late.
3. Pick Good Fixing and Mana Smoothing
In this draft format, you’ll always be able to count on your Commander (or two of them, if they have partner). This means you’ll always have something to do with your mana. So you want to avoid being unable to cast your Commander because of your mana issues.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of mana fixing available for every deck.
Uncommon Mana Fixing
Arcane Signet is an amazing card and it won’t be any different in the Commander Legends Draft. It certainly deserves to be a very high pick, as you’ll play it in every deck you draft.
Even though it’s slower, Burnished Hart is still a great card to have. Not only does it ramp you, it’s also a creature, which offers you various uses in this format.
Common Mana Fixing
The best thing for non-land mana fixing at common is probably Commander’s Sphere, followed very closely by the Diamonds:
There’s also various other cards, Spectral Searchlight is a bad Sphere, but it might be useful. Prophetic Prism replaces itself and fixes your mana, so you’d happily play it in almost every deck.
Armillarly Sphere might be clunky, but it’s still a two for one. Getting lots of lands will be relevant in this format.
As one would expect, there’s also plenty of ramp and fixing in green. Just at common and uncommon you have:
- Gift of Paradise
- Farhaven Elf
- Fydhorn Elves
- Gilnara, Caller of Wirewood
- Ordeal of Nylea
- Three Visits
All of this suggests that green will be very strong in this format. That’s quite fitting for a draft format based on Commander.
Since we’re speaking about fixing, we should mention some common lands:
- Command Tower is obviously the best option, especially at common.
- Opal Palace ranges from fine to good, depending on your commander.
- If you’re playing tribal, Path of Ancestry can really do some work.
- Rupture Spire is weaker, but might be necessary when playing more than two colors.
4. Round Out Your Deck With Good Cards
Now you should have good commanders, mana fixing and know your colors. There’s pretty much only smooth sailing from here on. Just pick up some interaction and cards that fit well in your chosen archetype.
Speaking of archetypes…
Commander Legends Draft Archetypes
Now moving on – to the archetypes you can expect in the Commander Legends draft. Each color pair has its own theme, but most of them also combine well when you build a three color deck.
For example, blue-white flyers can “borrow” cards that make 1/1 flying Spirits from black-white tokens. We’ll also mention how archetypes pair with other colors when appropriate.
Blue – White: Flying
Probably the most often used draft archetype returns with blue-white flyers. Flying is always good in limited and there’s no reason for that to change.
Quite the contrary, with the presence of the monarch mechanic, evasive creatures become even more important. Either to steal the crown from the opponent or to protect yours from opposing flyers.
There are 10 flyers in white, as well as 10 in blue. Besides, there are also three artifact flyers, plus there’s plenty of cards that can gain or grant flying. For example, Angelic Gift and Angelic Armaments. This will give you plenty of options to work with.
If you’re looking for a safe option in the Commander Legends draft, blue-white flyers seem like the way to go.
Black – White: Tokens
Black-White features tokens. Getting multiple creatures from one card is always great, even if those creatures aren’t that big.
However, you can easily make your tokens bigger with cards like Intangible Virtue, or with some +1/+1 counters cards that you get from white (and green if you decide to splash a color).
Thalisse, Reverent Medium can be an insanely powerful payoff for the strategy, just try to draft as many token makers as you can – and there are quite a few. Another great commander, that also works fine in your deck is Prava of the Steel Legion. It buffs your tokens, and gives you the ability to make more tokens every turn.
This archetype looks both powerful and fun to play.
Red – White: Equipment & Auras
As you can see, red-white archetype cares about auras and equipment. There are plenty of those across all rarities. Even if we dismiss the rares, there’s plenty of useful stuff that you can use:
|Angelic Gift||Ancestral Blade|
|Benevolent Blessing||Meteoric Mace|
|Cage of Hands||Angelic Armaments|
|Faith's Fetters||Grafted Wargear|
|Burning Anger||Hero's Blade|
|Dragon Mantle||Mask of Memory|
You can also search for the one you need with Open the Armory.
In general, you’ll prefer equipment over auras, as they can be used even after the creature dies. On the other hand, auras that give you an immediate effect, when they come into play (like drawing a card, giving your creature protection, etc.) are pretty good – even if your creature gets removed, you already got some value back.
If you like Voltron strategies, you should try drafting this archetype.
Green – White: +1/+1 Counters
Making your creatures bigger with +1/+1 counters is almost always useful in draft formats. That’s especially true once you have some payoffs for doing that. All three cards shown above are great for this mechanic.
Another great payoff, and a great partner for Alharu, is Slurrk, All Ingesting.
Small, Yet Strong
Some mediocre creatures can become pretty strong in a deck like this. You’ll want to get some cheap creatures with relevant combat abilities to put +1/+1 counters on. Something like Fencing Ace for example.
Doomed Traveler is also nice, since it makes a flying token. Just put one or two counters on the token and you built a real threat. In general token makers are all pretty good, since they usually give you multiple bodies. This way you’ll always be able to put your +1/+1 counter somewhere. You get access to more token makers, if you’re able to splash black.
All in all, green-white archetype looks like it could be pretty strong in the Commander Legends draft.
Blue – Black: Self Mill / Encore
Do you want to play an unusual deck? If so, you should try the blue-black archetype. You’ll want to mill your own cards and then utilize your graveyard for value.
Deranged Assistant is a perfect card for this deck. It fuels your graveyards, plus it ramps you to activate expensive Encore cards like Trove Tracker.
Araumi is a very fun commander to build around. There are so many powerful creatures in Commander Legends draft format, that there’s surely something busted to with it. Just imagine giving encore to Gilt-Leaf Winnower. That’s gotta be pretty sweet, right?
So if you’re looking forward to making interesting plays, this archetype can certainly provide them.
Blue – Red: Pirates
There are two tribal archetypes in Commander Legends draft. First one, red-blue Pirates. There are:
- 13 blue Pirates
- 13 red Pirates
- 2 red-blue Pirates
However, apart from the payoffs you see above, there are five more Pirate-matters cards:
As usual, the more payoffs you have, the more pirates you want to include in your deck. You can really try and draft as many Pirates as you can, if you get Captain Vargus Wrath as your commander.
Another great thing about Pirates is that six of them make Treasure tokens. That means you’ll easily splash whichever bomb you’ll get in another color. Don’t forget, that it’ll still have to follow your Commander color identity, though.
Black – Green: Elves
The other tribal deck is black-green Elves. There are:
- 11 black Elves
- 15 green Elves
- 2 black-green Elves
There are plenty of different Elf synergies to work with. Four Elves also make more Elf tokens. In addition to Imperious Perfect, there are also:
If you’ll decide to draft Elves, you’ll probably want both Miara, Thorn of the Glade and Numa, Joraga Chieftain as your commanders. They are a great representation for what the Elves archetype is trying to do – get many incremental advantages during the course of the game, that will lead to you winning the game.
So this is a great archetype if you like grindy tribal decks.
Blue – Green: Ramp (Cascade / 6+ CMC)
The main characteristic of this archetype is ramp.
Of course, there are cards that care about spells cost of 6 or higher. There are cascade cards as well. However, they are all pretty expensive and if you want to make them work, you’ll want to ramp.
Thankfully, there are a lot of ramp options when you’re playing green. Additionally, there are colorless ramp cards like Sisay’s Ring and Dreamstone Hedron at your disposal.
When you get enough ramp cards, just pick whichever expensive cards you want for your deck and you’ll probably do fine. In games when every player starts at 40 life, you’ll have enough time to deploy your big threats. This probably makes green-blue one of the best archetypes in Commander Legends draft.
Black – Red: Sacrifice
This archetype quite often appears in various draft formats. As usual you’ll want to get three types of cards:
- Fodder (worthless creatures, that didn’t cost you a whole card, like Impulsive Pilferer)
- Outlets (cards that let you sacrifice stuff for value, like Keskit, the Flesh Sculptor)
- Payoffs (cards that give you additional value, when you sacrifice stuff, like Furnace Celebration)
You want to get a right mix of them. Once you do, you can make some pretty fun mini combos and interactions.
If you add white to the mix, you get access to many token generators, which are great sacrifice fodder.
Steal and Sac
Steal effects can also significantly improve this deck. You have Coercive Recruiter at rare and it can be a real powerhouse in this deck. If you manage to get some other Pirates alongside it, it can totally take the game over.
Maybe you aren’t so lucky to get this specific rare, but you can count on some copies of Portent of Betrayal, as this archetype is probably the only one to want it.
The idea is that you steal the best opponent’s creature, use it to either attack or activate its ability and then sacrifice it with a sacrifice outlet for value. This way your steal effects turn into removal spells with some additional value tacked onto them.
Red – Green: Power Matters
Red-green archetype looks to be focused on power. How high? The higher, the better.
However, apart from the three legendary creatures you saw above, there aren’t many dedicated payoffs. The only cards worth mentioning are Burning Anger and Monstrous Onslaught.
So this archetype will mostly consist of good red and green cards and that will be it. If you’ll have Alena and Halana as your commander pair, you’ll probably want more creatures with higher power, but that’s about it.
If you enjoy big creatures, this is the archetype for you.
That’s the end of our Commander Legends Draft Guide! If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to let us know in the comments below.
In case you’re planning a draft with your playgroup, or if you just want to open some packs of Commander Legends, you can get a booster box on Amazon.
Do you want to know more about this set? Check the following articles:
- Commander Legends Spoilers (all cards from the set)
- New Commander Decks from Commander Legends
- Commander Legends Collector Booster Contents
Until next time, have fun drafting Commander Legends, and may you open your favorite commander pack 1, pick 1.
14 thoughts on “Commander Legends Draft Guide”
Hello, good article thanks!
My question is how to do (optimal) for play with 6 players. Mayby 2 tables 3 players and 3 rounds?
Yeah, splitting into two tables with 3 players is optimal in that case. The number of rounds depends on how much time you have.
Hey I was wondering about an 8 man draft but, we’re going to be playing 1v1 games so what’s a good life total to start the game with
Whatever it feels right to you. If you want quicker games and aggressive strategies viable, go with 20. If you want longer, Commander-like games, start with 40 and you can keep the Commander damage rule.
and if we play with 20 life what’s a good amount of commander damage.
11 would be in the same flavor (half your life total + 1). Although, that’s a bit low, especially if one has a big flyer for a Commander. Going to 15 could work, although that’s such a big chunk that it’s almost irelevant and just gives you another thing to track. So the best option is to just get rid of Commander damage altogether.
We are doing a 8 man draft in a few weeks.
If we do 2 x 4 groups, I was thinking that the 2 that gets killed first in both groups can play the next game and the 2 “winners” from each game can also meet.
What do you think?
Also should we put a time limit per game? Like in a normal draft where you usually get 50 mins to complete a BO3 match.
I need to come to a conlclusion on how to play after we draftet.
Great article btw
Yeah that could work, as in theory you’d get two more balanced pods in the second round.
That depends, if there aren’t any prizes, I’d really recommend to get rid of the time limit, as those games can drag out. How do you decide who wins if you go by time in a multiplayer game? It can create weird wins and some feel bad situations. If you’re playing for prizes, and you really want to have a time limit, you could try 60 minutes per game, perhaps?
Anyways, I’d recommend a flat prize structure (everyone gets the same) and getting rid of the time limit. When you’re playing free for all games, it’s probably to play just for fun. On the other hand you could just play 1v1 like a regular draft, as this would work great with timed rounds and such. Hope this was of some help to you.
Awesome article! You break down the archetypes really well. Any tips for playing sealed vs. draft? With the pandemic, this can be a popular way to play limited remotely.
Well, the archetypes will still be mostly the same in Sealed as well, but you can expect more unfocused decks than in draft, and maybe a higher chance of actually needing to use a Prismatic Piper.
One interesting thing you could do if you’re playing Sealed with two players is to allow trading. So each player opens six packs, and builds a first version of the deck. Then players can trade the cards they won’t be using betweem themselves to try and improve both of their decks. This can also be done after you play a couple of games with the first build.
Is it possible to do a 4 person draft on this format?
It is. I did some it it works well enough, although the commons quickly start repeating.
Do you have any insight how to organize rare/foil pick after playing Commander Legends? Just let people pick in order with the last player standing going first or do you have any other ideas?
Yeah, that would probably work best – The player who was last standing gets to pick first. You can also decide to do it in another way, just make sure that the whole play group agrees with it.