Printed in the Commander 2014 preconstructed decks, each of the five have seen some play as commanders. But just how good have they proven to be? Can they give us some idea how other planeswalkers may prove to be as field generals?
Commander in in 140+ decks (EDHREC)
Key cards: Goblin Welder, Scrap Mastery, Myr Battlesphere, Kuldotha Forgemaster
In the 99: Seen in 400+ decks. Staple in Feldon of the Third Path, Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer, and Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Daretti is far and away the best of the five commander 2014 planeswalkers when it comes to being a boss. Not only are Daretti decks extremely competitive with about 80-90 percent of lists being similar, but he's very strong in a lot of other artifact commander decks as one of the 99 as well. He will not stay 3 or 4 dollars for long as he will only get better with each passing set.
Grade: A (Commander), A (in the 99). He’s solid through and through.
Commander in 70+ decks (EDHREC)
Key cards: Puresteel Paladin, Stonehewer Giant, Argentum Armor, Masterwork of Ingenuity, Kemba Kha Regent
In the 99: Seen in 400+ decks. Staple in Kytheon Hero of Akros. Key contributor in Kemba and Eight and a Half Tails
Like Daretti, Nahiri has a strong identity as a Commander. Whereas Daretti is a savant of scraps, Nahiri is a master of equipment. It's actually a wonder that she hasn't been adopted by more Kemba players, actually. Perhaps the strongest point against her as a Commander is she needs one of her 99 to dole out the damage most of the time, although the Kor tokens she creates can do a lot of work.
She probably isn't seeing all of the 99 play she should and is probably being overlooked as a commander. There are just so many good white commanders but she should get more attention.
Grade: B (Commander), B (in the 99). She’s a really good planeswalker as long as you use plenty of equipment, which narrows her playability, but she’s really good at what she does.
Commander in 50+ decks
Key Cards: Priest of Titania, Elvish Archdruid, Ezuri Renegade Leader, Imperious Perfect, Joraga Warcaller
In the 99: Seen in about 500 decks. Staple in Dwynen, Gilt-Leaf Daen and Nissa Vastwood Seer. Key contributor in Yeva, Ezuri, Yisan, Titania and Seton
Somewhat predictably, Elf Tribal is pretty much what to expect from Freyalise. She's really strong as a key contributor to a wide variety of mono green decks, as well. Yes, she makes elf mana dorks, but she can pick off annoying artifacts or enchantments and also draw you a ton of cards. She may be the best balanced of the Commander 2014 five based on the fact that her abilities don't force you to play one specific deck, although Elves are convenient. If you play mono green, most likely you can use her. Like Nahiri, she probably could stand to see even more play in the future as more players realize just how much card advantage she can create for you.
Grade: A- (Commander), A- (In the 99). One of the better mono-green planeswalkers you can run in the format.
Commander in ~40 decks
Key cards: Thran Dynamo, Tezzeret the Seeker, Tamiyo the Moon Sage, The Chain Veil
In the 99: Seen in 500+ decks. Key contributor in Stitcher Geralf, Teferi Mage of Zhalfir, and Lorthos the Tidemaker
Having an ultimate that provides loyalty abilities on an opponent’s turn seems really broken. This is a great ability to stack with The Chain Veil; the Magic 2015 artifact actually lets you play them twice in a turn. In a four player game, that means 4 loyalty abilities played before you untap again. However. it seems that Tezzeret the Seeker and Tamiyo are the only two walkers that really take full advantage of Teferi’s extra activation. As a commander, he pretty much allows for a mono blue control deck that can do some fun things late game with his two best planeswalker buddies. Obviously, he gets better the more planeswalkers that get printed but The Chain Veil seems better suited on average to get that job done. He's much better as a member of the 99.
Grade: C (Commander), B- (In the 99). He’s passable as a Commander, and a bit better in the 99 where he can help activate many other walkers.
Commander in 25+ decks
Key cards: Bloodgift Demon, Archfiend of Depravity, Ob Nixilis Unshackled, Ghoulcaller Gisa
In the 99: Seen in about 400 decks. Key contributor in Liliana Heretical Healer, Ob Nixilis Unshackled, and Kothophed Soul Hoarder
The recent influx of awesome mono black commanders has made Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath the least adopted of the 5 mono colored commander 2014 walkers as a leader. His ultimate is pretty awesome, though. Still, he seems better suited as one of the 99. He'll have 99 competition with his Battle for Zendikar counterpart, Ob Nixilis Reignited, though. I still like the Black Oath incarnation long term, though. But if you don't build up to his sacrifice for value emblem, his true potential is difficult to realize. Most Commander players turned to his friend the Ghoulcaller Gisa as the more formidable commander and it seems they chose correctly. Still a good walker, though, who can offer great utility.
Grade: C (Commander), B (in the 99). A balanced walker with a cool emblem that doesn’t scream build around me but complements a great many other Commander strategies.
Overall, it seems Wizards went four for five in creating planeswalkers that have become key contributors in the format. Only Teferi appears to have been a miss, but he has his spots where he can make cool things happen. Two became really strong archetypal commanders with one becoming a format mainstay. Then, Freyalise was just really well balanced and is currently the most valuable of the five.
What looking at these five would seem to suggest is that the power level of walkers in the command zone could prove to be fairly high. It's fun to build around loyalty abilities and properly protected the ultimates can definitely happen.
Next time we'll take a look at the Magic Origins flip walkers, who while they are technically legendary creatures on the surface, can give us further insight into planeswalkers as commanders. Spoiler: they are already really popular.