Magic: The Gathering’s very popular Commander format allows players to build decks around specific legendary creatures that are chosen as the “commander” of a given deck. While Magic decks can be built around a wide variety of strategies, reliable access to its commander allows for a unique consistency not found in other formats like Modern or Historical.
While some players prefer to use more aggressive strategies, others aim to stay in the game for as long as possible, outliving their opponents through Life Gain. While life-saving ability is synonymous with white, other colors such as black and green also have access to life-saving effects. So today we’re going to take a look at the legendary creatures in Magic history and see which ones make up the best life-saving commanders.
ten Licia, Tribune Sanguine
An underrated Mardu option for a life-saving commander, Licia is a 4/4 vampire soldier with First Strike and Lifelink that costs eight mana to cast. However, Licia costs one less mana to cast for each hit point her caster gained that turn, allowing her to be cast for relatively little mana.
In addition to his keywords, Licia notably allows his controller to pay five life points once on each of his turns to put three + 1 / + 1 counters on Licia. As this commander grows larger and larger, this paid life can be immediately reclaimed by attacking through Lifelink.
9 Trostani, the voice of Selesnya
While Trostani, the voice of Selesnya is most often known for its symbolic synergies, it can be used to gain absurd amounts of health during a game. Dryad Selesnya 2/5 for four mana, Trostani can be tapped for the cost of three mana to populate, creating a copy of a token under its owner’s control.
However, Trostani can be a great source of constant life gain because his other ability indicates that whenever another creature enters the battlefield under its owner’s control, it gains an equal amount of life. to that creature’s toughness. Whether a Trostani deck produces countless tokens or just uses very tough creatures, it can easily make a player’s life a real headache for their opponents.
8 Lathiel, the generous dawn
Printed in Commander Legends, Lathiel is a great option for those looking to convert life gain into an impressive offensive plateau state. A 2/2 unicorn with Lifelink for four mana, at the end of its owner’s turn, that player may distribute a number of + 1 / + 1 counters equal to the number of life points he gained this turn from among n ‘ no matter how many creatures he controls.
When paired with a fair amount of life gain effects, it can make your creatures quite massive and terrifying. If a player places all of these markers on Lathiel, he can attempt to eliminate his opponents via Commander Damage.
seven Dina, the stiffer soul
For the low cost of two mana, Dina, Soul Steeper is a 1/3 dryad druid who can serve as the commander of a Golgari life-gain deck. Synergizing with the effects which can repeatedly cause her controller to gain life points each turn, whenever Dina’s controller gains life points, each of that player’s opponents loses one life.
This can still be used to drain other players of their life without needing to attack. Additionally, Dina can become an offensive threat, allowing a creature to be sacrificed for one mana, providing Dina with + X / + 0 where X is the sacrificed creature’s power.
6 Trelasarra, moon dancer
Newly printed in Adventures into the Forgotten Realms, Trelasarra, Moon Dancer is an efficient, low-mana Selesnya option for a life-gain commander. For the low cost of two mana, this 2/2 elf priest declares that whenever his controller gains life, he puts a + 1 / + 1 counter on Trelasarra and looks at one.
Since this ability doesn’t care how much health is gained, it prompts a player to use effects that can repeatedly provide small amounts of health each turn, causing Trelasarra to grow larger and larger while her controller is able. to better select its prints thanks to scrutinizing.
5 Karlov of the Phantom Council
Another effective two-mana life gain commander option is Karlov of the Phantom Council. Spirit of Orzhov for two mana, Karlov is quite similar to Trelasarra, although he trades access to card selection via divination for access to additional + 1 / + 1 counters and reliable suppression.
Whenever Karlov’s controller gains life, two markers are put on Karlov, rather than a single marker put on Trelasarra. Additionally, for the cost of two mana, five counters can be removed from Karlov to exile a creature at Instant Speed. This allows Karlov to function as a more aggressive and interactive Orzhov alternative to Trelasarra.
4 Heliod, crowned with the sun
The second iteration of Theros’ mono-white god, Heliod, crowned by the sun can reliably provide life gain while benefiting his controller for life gain. Indestructible 5/5 enchantment creature for only three mana, like the other gods of Theros, Heliod only counts as a creature if its controller has sufficient devotion to its color, making it incredibly difficult to remove.
With two great abilities, not only can Heliod provide any creature with lifelink for the cost of two mana, it also puts a + 1 / + 1 counter on target creature or enchantment under control. of its owner. Since this effect can target enchantments, it can be used to magnify Heliod, even if it isn’t currently a creature.
3 Vito, the thorn of the twilight rose
An affordable mono-black life gain option, while some life gain decks struggle to deal damage to other players, Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose can directly convert his controller’s life gain into damage. A 1/3 vampire priest for three mana, Vito states that whenever his controller gains life, target player loses that much.
Additionally, for the cost of an additional five mana, Vito can grant lifelink to every creature under its owner’s control. Not only does this allow creatures with Lifelink to deal twice as much damage to players, but it can also reliably allow its controller to hurt their opponents without needing to attack them; provided they have sufficient life saving effects.
2 Liesa, shroud of twilight
An Orzhov Commander for five mana, Liesa, Shroud of Dusk is a card that constantly drains each player’s health total, causing players to lose two life each time they play a spell. Like this 5/5 a Flying and Lifelink, it – along with other life gain effects – can compensate for this constant loss of life and make those effects more one-sided.
It’s also worth noting that if Liesa is suppressed, her controller is able to pay life rather than mana for her commander’s tax, which shouldn’t be a problem with enough life gain.
1 Oloro, ageless ascetic
A Commander option Esper for six mana, Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is a commander who can gain a player life even if he is not in play. A 4/5 for six mana, at the start of his controller’s turn, if Oloro is on the battlefield or in the Command Zone, that player gains two life. This means that no matter what, an Oloro player will always gain health from the start.
Once in play, Oloro is able to transform life gain into a card draw, draw a card, and cause each player to lose a life if their controller pays mana each time they gain life. From his constant access to life gain and his ability to provide a card advantage, it’s hard to argue with Oloro’s power.
Next: The Most Powerful Mono-Red Commanders In Magic: The Gathering
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