Commander 2016 is on the shelves, so it’s time to dig into the most exciting mechanic to come out of the release – Partner! Now, you don’t have to be locked into a single legendary creature when building your decks. With the Partner ability, you can mix and match to find your perfect color combination and combos.

Although the Partner mechanic is designed to allow players access to 4-color decks, it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, we are going to look at how to maximize partner synergies in 3-color decks. Get all the power and selection, without those annoying mana problems.

Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder + Tana, the Bloodsower = Army in a Can


Let’s start with the most obvious combo in the set. Both Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder and Tana, the Bloodsower are inherently powerful cards. Either one could helm a commander deck by themselves. But when you put them together, you get some chocolate and peanut butter magic.

At Level 1, with these two creatures in play, you can end up with an additional 4 life and 4 1/1 saprolings every combat. It doesn’t take long to build an insurmountable board, but with just a little bit of work, you can create an unstoppable engine of destruction. Every pump you play on Tana means double life and double tokens. A little bit of trample make sure she gets through.

Being in Naya colors, we can get benefits even without both leaders on the battlefield. If all you have is Bruse, at least you’ll get plenty of fat beaters that love double strike and lifelink. And if you are stuck with only Tana, you can leverage token and saproling synergies to bring the beats.

Cards to Consider: Rancor, Beastmaster Ascension, Parallel Lives, Doubling Season, Cathar’s Crusade, Artifact Mutation, Purphoros, God of the Forge, Rhys the Redeemed, Mentor of the Meek, Rith, the Awakener, Ogre Battledriver, Wayfaring Temple, Hour of Reckoning, Godo, Bandit Warlord, Goblin Bombardment.

Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa + Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper = Doran 2.0


Doran, the Siege Tower is a long-time Commander stalwart. But he’s also sort of a one-trick pony. With this combination, you still want to play a “toughness matters” strategy, but now you get more interesting lines of play.

Go deep with life-loss card like Necropotence and Painful Truths, knowing that you can easily gain that life back. Or go fast with high-toughness fliers like Blinding Angel and Commander Eesha.

Cards to Consider: Assault Formation, Doran, the Siege Tower, Ancient Spider, Sapling of Colfenor, Silklash Spider, Oathsworn Giant, Behind the Scenes, Nyx-Fleece Ram, Courser of Kruphix, Wave of Reckoning, Rhox Faithmender, Cliffhaven Vampire, Herald of Leshrac.

Silas Renn, Seeker Adept + Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix = Sultai Artifacts


So far, we’ve been looking at partner combos that make a good amount of sense. It’s easy to see how you can build a deck around combat bonuses or toughness. Now it’s time to get a little weirder. Let’s look at Sultai Artifacts!

Although there are plenty of combos to be had with Silas Renn, Seeker Adept and Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix, the most powerful is going to revolve around an all-time power player – Memory Jar! As long as Silas is getting through, you can pop Memory Jar to draw 7 new cards, get 7 mana to play it for free, and recur it again for next turn. After that, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out how you want to win.

Fill up your graveyard for a massive Living Death. Overpower your opponents with artifact monsters like Wurmcoil Engine. Or just set up engines with Gitrog Monster, Life from the Loam, and Vulturous Zombie.

Cards to Consider: Glissa, the Traitor, Noxious Gearhulk, Executioner’s Capsule, Trading Post, Kuldotha Forgemaster, Soul of New Phyrexia, Mind Stone, Commander’s Sphere, Genesis Wave, Life’s Finale, Krak-Clan Ironworks, Baleful Strix, Windfall, Sylvan Library, Sphinx Summoner, Thirst for Knowledge, Notion Thief, Lorescale Coatl.

Kraum, Ludevic’s Opus + Vial Smasher the Fierce = Look Mom, No Hands


Our final pairing of today is the most far out. At first glance, these two cards might not look like they have that much in common. Not so fast my friends! These two BFFs will put your opponents in no-win situations.

They key is in limiting your opponents windows to play their cards optimally. We’ll put them in a “use-it-or-lose-it” predicament, and then benefit when they try to advance their game plan. Ultimately, your opponents will be empty-handed, and you’ll still be slinging spells.

They keys are cards like Mindslicer, Myojin of Night’s Reach, Sire of Insanity, Cunning Lethomancer, and Bottomless Pit. Be warned, these cards will not make you new friends. But they will speed up your games. Add in some Howling Mine-style action, and cards will be flying. And at the center of it all, are Kraum and Vial Smasher, making sure you are flush with cards, and dealing damage indiscriminately.

Cards to Consider: Waste Not, Crosis, the Purger, Kaervek, the Merciless, Nicol Bolas, Breathstealer’s Crypt, Geth, Lord of the Vault, Syphon Mind, Bloochief Ascension, Guttersnipe, Rhystic Study, Leyline of Anticipation, Jori En, Ruin Diver, Bedlam Reveler, Bosium Strip, Chandra, AblazeDiluvian PrimordialDralnu, Lich LordGalvanoth, Memory Plunder, Wild Ricochet, Geth’s Grimoire.

Partner Up!

These four pairings only scratch the surface of the partner mechanic. Do you want to go full-on 4-color? How about pairing like with like, and getting extra flexibility in your Boros deck? What are your favorite combinations with these new commanders? Sound off in the comments below about how you plan on building your partner decks.