Despite being a stalwart staple of the fantasy genre for the entirety of its existence, the mighty Dwarven race took a while to properly establish itself in the world of Magic: The Gathering. A few early outliers aside, the type didn’t see much real support until Kaladesh, where their knack for artifice made them an ideal fit for the set’s whirring world of gears and levers.
Since then things have been looking up for the humble Dwarf, with many standout creatures printed across a variety of interesting archetypes. These dynamic Dwarves defy the traditional trappings of their race, resulting in a series of legendary creatures that are fascinating both flavourfully and mechanically. Come down into the caves and see for yourself.
10 Depala, Pilot Exemplar
One of the many pies the Dwarves of Kaladesh had their fingers in was the world of Vehicle racing, and Depala was their main representative in that sphere. For just three mana, she serves as a well-statted Lord for other Dwarves and active Vehicles, pushing you towards a hybrid build that can leverage both of those buffs well.
In addition, she also offers an extremely flexible card draw effect whenever she becomes tapped, which can be via combat, convoke, or any other effect. One of the best Commanders for Dwarves and Vehicles alike, Depala is a card-carrying Kaladesh classic.
9 Bruenor Battlehammer
While many of Magic’s Dwarves buck convention, Bruenor leans into it full-tilt. It’s hard to think of a better representation of the classic Dwarf in the game than him, roaring into play with a braided beard, aggressive stats, and an ability that makes excellent use of Equipment cards.
Your equipped creatures getting +2/+0 is a nice, if minor, boost, pairing well with any source of double strike or a Voltron build, but it’s the second ability here that really gets things going. Reducing your first equip cost each turn to zero gets around the prohibitive costs of Colossus Hammer, Argentum Armor and the like, letting you make use of their immense power much earlier in the game than other decks.
8 Sram, Senior Edificer
Long-time fans of Commander have started to lament the sheer number of ‘generically good’ legendary creatures printed in recent years; those that simply allow specific archetypes to draw extra cards without meaningfully changing their game plan. Sram strays dangerously close to this category, but manages to avoid it by virtue of his low cost and high flexibility.
Thanks to these attributes, Sram can be played in a variety of ways, from a generic value engine for a Vehicles deck, to a one-card Combo enabler in a Cheerios or Eggs shell. While he looks simple on the surface, Sram is actually a deckbuilder’s dream, packing enough potential to set your mind spinning with a single glance.
7 Cadric, Soul Kindler
Legendary as a supertype has gone from liability to luxury in recent times, with so many support cards that you’d prefer a given creature be legendary in the majority of cases. Cadric is one of these support cards, letting you double dip on any legendary that enters play, for one turn only, for just one mana.
The potential for shenanigans here is as obvious as it is endless, with everything from enters-the-battlefield effects to dies triggers getting doubled up with an extra instance of the creature in question. The fact that the tokens Cadric conjures gain haste makes him great at applying Aggro pressure too, if you don’t want to go down the Combo route.
6 The Lady Of Otaria
The only non-Dwarf on this list, The Lady of Otaria is nevertheless one of the best support cards the type has ever seen. Not only can she come down for ‘free’ once you amass a critical mass of Dwarves in play, she can also draw you more of them every time a land is put into your graveyard from the battlefield.
The first ability makes her easy to get out early and lets you evade commander tax later on as well, while the second lets you get extra value out of fetch and creature lands, both staples of the Commander format. If you want to draw more Dwarves and make great use of them once you do, then this is the Lady for the job.
5 Rankle And Torbran
One of the many unlikely alliances formed during the Phyrexian invasion, Rankle and Torbran combines the former’s symmetrical trickery with the latter’s aggressive edge. The fact that all three of their triggered abilities affect each player in the game makes them incredibly useful in Commander.
You’ll probably want to avoid giving all of your opponents a Treasure token if you can, but the Edict effect is great against Voltron and Reanimator decks that centre on a single creature, and the damage-boosting third ability can allow for explosive kills with a wide board. To top it off, Rankle and Torbran have haste, meaning they can get started on their antics as soon as they hit play.
4 Balthor The Defiled
An outlier, both in terms of mechanics and colour, among Magic’s Dwarves, Balthor is one of the most interesting commander options the type has available. He serves as a Lord for the seldom-seen Minion creature type, as well as a mass reanimation effect for every black and red creature across all graveyards.
This ability has very real potential to backfire, given that any opponent playing black and/or red also gets to benefit from it, but it can also make you game-long friends if you use it to save an opponent from a lethal strike. Load up your graveyard with huge threats, throw in a few Minions for good measure, and Balthor can easily Defile your entire Commander Pod.
3 Hofri Ghostforge
Strixhaven introduced an interesting Spirit sub-theme for its Dwarves, and Hofri was the strong central pillar of that strategy. That power translates beautifully into Commander, where Hofri lets all of your creatures live on as hasty, trampling Spirits after their untimely deaths on the battlefield.
This lets you maintain board presence in the face of removal and board clears, provided you can keep Hofri safe, and you even get the exiled creatures back in your graveyard when their Spirit versions die, meaning you can make use of white’s ample Reanimation spells if you’d like.
Hofri is particularly powerful in a deck full of Dwarves and Spirits, but his ability is so generically useful that you can build him in any direction you choose.
2 Glóin, Dwarf Emissary
While not as famous as his kill-counting son Gimli, Glóin is still one of the most iconic Dwarves in fantasy, and his Magic incarnation more than lives up to the hype. He creates Treasure tokens when you play historic spells, and can then use said tokens to bribe opposing creatures into attacking anyone but you.
His first ability is sadly limited to one trigger per turn, but you can still generate multiple Treasures per turn cycle if you make use of historic spells with flash. These can fuel his ability, but they can also be used to ramp out some of red’s bigger threats, from ghastly Giants to deadly Dragons.
1 Magda, Brazen Outlaw
All of the commanders on this list can reliably lead a band of Dwarves to victory, but Magda can do so cheaper and more effectively than the rest. For just two mana, she provides a power boost for all of your Dwarves, free Treasure whenever any of them become tapped, and, most notably, an outlet that lets you convert Treasures in play to threats from your deck.
Her second ability will trigger most often via attacks, but you can also tap Dwarves for convoke or other effects if you don’t want to send them in. Once you’ve amassed a solid Treasure hoard, through this ability or other generators, you can sacrifice five to bring out any Dragon or artifact.
There’s no shortage of game-ending options to choose from across those two card types, and Magda can easily get one out per turn with enough Dwarves by her side.
NEXT: Magic: The Gathering – The Best Commanders In Commander Masters