- Golgari, the black and green color pair, offers strong graveyard abilities and strategies in Magic: The Gathering.
- Old Stickfingers is a Golgari commander that excels at utilizing the graveyard as a second hand.
- Yargle and Multani, despite being vanilla creatures, have massive stats and can be powerful Voltron commanders in the Golgari color pairing.
Few colour pairs in Magic: The Gathering synergise as nicely as black and green (also known as “Golgari”), especially when it comes to the graveyard. When together, the two have tons of strong abilities and strategies at their disposal.
Whether you want to yank things out of the graveyard, put things in there for your own profit, or want to slowly sap the lifeforce away from your opponents, Golgar is a colour pairing you should definitely consider. Here are the best Golgari commanders in the game.
Updated November 11, 2023: This year’s Magic: The Gathering releases have brought us a ton of new Golgari commanders. From Shelob to Yargle, there’s a lot to enjoy in the old colour pair these days.
21 Old Stickfingers
Old Stickfingers Loves A Bursting Graveyard
In the Golgari colours, your graveyard often acts as a second hand. With tons of ways to pull things out the graveyard, having a way to easily dump all your creatures there is powerful, and Old Stickfingers does it perfectly.
Old Stickfingers gets stronger the more creatures you have in your graveyard, but the ability to put creatures there just by playing your commander is the real draw here. You’ll need to get a lot of mana for it to be really explosive, but once you’re done, it can set up practically every graveyard effect. Ixalan’s descent, Theros’ escape, Innistrad’s disturb; all of them work nicely with Stickfingers. Just watch out for a Tormod’s Crypt.
20 Yargle And Multani
A Vanilla Creature? As A Commander?
Vanilla creatures often aren’t played in the 99 of a deck, let alone as its commander. Despite that, Yargle and Multani manages to overcome everything bad about vanilla creatures thanks to one thing: its absolutely massive stats.
At 18/6, you only need to hit twice with this to take someone out through Commander damage. It makes Yargle and Multani a surprisingly powerful Voltron commander – give it double-strike, or at least a +3/+0 boost through enchantments, Equipment, or combat tricks, and they’re a one-hit kill.
Voltron in Golgari is pretty unheard of, making Yargle and Multani a unique commander for if you want to try something outside of the usual black/green style.
He’s Just A Fungi
Slimefoot, the Stowaway is the perfect example of an effective Golgari commander whose abilities reflect both colors that make up its identity. Able to create a 1/1 saproling token for four mana, Silmefoot comes with an excellent mana sink that works well in conjunction with the copious mana green can produce.
Additionally, Slimefoot causes each opponent to lose one life and for you to gain one life whenever a creature you control dies, synergizing greatly with the sacrifice-heavy strategies that are sped up by the disposable tokens Slimefoot can produce.
18 Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest
Your Lives Are A Sacrifice I Am Willing To Make
In Magic: The Gathering, few things fit into black’s color identity as well as forcing opponents to sacrifice permanents. Meanwhile, green is fantastic at putting +1/+1 counters on your own creatures, building them up gradually.
The insect Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest is a Golgari commander who ties all of this together, putting a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control whenever an opponent sacrifices a permanent. Not only does this synergize well with “edicts” – ways to force your opponents to kill their own stuff – but Mazirek also capitalizes off of cards that sacrifice themselves — such as lands like Evolving Wilds, or Saga enchantments.
17 Carth, The Lion
Superfriends, But For Goths
A black/green Planeswalker-heavy deck might sound a bit limited, especially when you consider how many of Golgari’s strategies care more about creatures. However, Carth has two incredible abilities that make him a real powerhouse.
The first is his card-filtering ability. You don’t need to hit a Planeswalker card with it, and if you do you can just opt to put it on the bottom of your library along with the rest. Being able to get chaff off the top of your library is always a good move, and for four mana Carth does it excellently.
The second benefit does apply more specifically to Planeswalkers, but having loyalty abilities cost +1 loyalty extra is something a lot of unaware players might trip over, thanks to it being framed more like a negative. Every ability is effectively ‘cheaper’, with negative abilities taking less of a chunk out of your ‘walkers, and positive ones having more of a boost to your loyalty.
This is especially great for Planeswalkers with zero-cost abilities, like Tyvar Kjell; Garruk, Cursed Huntman; and Ugin, The Spirit Dragon. They’ll passively pick up loyalty by using these abilities, keeping them in play for a lot longer.
16 Glissa, The Traitor
For The Glory Of Phyrexia
Providing synergies with artifacts, Glissa, the Traitor is a Golgari commander unlike any other. Allowing artifacts to be returned from your graveyard following the demise of any of your opponents’ creatures, Glissa can even then bring artifacts to your hand from the graveyard using her activated ability
Additionally, Glissa comes packing two relevant combat keywords — first strike and deathtouch. This means that very few creatures are able to best her in direct combat without some kind of edge.
15 Gyome, Master Chef
It Looks Like Dinner’s Ready
In a colour pair full of death, corruption, and decomposition, you’d probably not expect to find a commander that cares about serving up ‘delicious’ Food tokens. And yet, Gyome does it with style.
Provided you can keep creatures entering the battlefield, such as by pulling them out of your graveyard, you could be making lots of Food tokens. Combine that with an Academy Manufactor or any other artifact-loving card, and it could be very tricky indeed.
Best of all, Gyome can even protect the creatures you do want in play by giving them indestructible until the end of the turn. All you need to do is pay some mana and sacrifice a Food token – potentially adding even more to your sacrifice theme.
14 Hogaak, Arisen Akropolis
Commander Tax? What’s That?
Oh, Hogaak. Only having a brief stint in Modern before a swift ban, Hogaak, Arisen Akropolis showed the power and value that come with a card that does not require lands to cast. While not as strong in commander as it is in other formats due to higher life totals and a lack of duplicate cards in decklists, Hogaak is still a very strong card that can be utilized as a powerful commander.
Hogaak cannot be cast by the utilization of lands or other mana sources. Instead, it can only be played with its convoke and delve keywords, giving Hogaak the flexibility to helm a creature-based deck, a graveyard deck, or a combination of the two, all without requiring the use of your lands. It’s also an 8/8 with trample, which is very nice no matter how you have to play it.
13 Nath Of The Gilt-Leaf
Turn Your Opponent’s Cards Into Elves
While Elves are traditionally a flagship creature type of green, Nath of the Gilt-Leaf is an Elf commander who brings a black twist. Keeping the appeal of power in numbers that Elves are known for, Nath creates 1/1 elf tokens, just like his mono-green contemporaries.
However, staying in line with black, Nath does so at his opponents’ expense, causing them to discard a card at random during your upkeep, and creating Elf tokens whenever your opponents discard a card. This is a perfect marriage of green and black’s abilities, resulting in an Elf commander that is authentically Golgari, and sure to throw a hammer into your opponents’ plans.
12 Shelob, Child Of Ungoliant
Itsy Bitsy Spider Turns All Your Stuff To Food
From Lord of the Rings: Tales Of Middle-earth, Shelob is a commander for everything eight-legged and creepy. This is a Spider typal commander who not only makes it trickier for your opponents to deal with through ward and deathtouch, it gives you a steady stream of food whenever your Spiders manage to take something out.
The big thing to remember is that the food Shelob makes isn’t your usual Treasure token. It’s a copy of the creature your Spiders killed, except only an artifact. If there are any enter-the-battlefield effects or abilities, they’ll remain on the resulting food copy, potentially giving you way more resources than you were anticipating.
11 Skullbriar, The Walking Grave
Counters From Beyond The Grave
Possessing an ability that warps the conventional rules of Magic and Commander, Skullbriar, the Walking Grave is a Zombie Elemental with haste that receives a +1/+1 counter each time it deals damage to a player.
While this may not seem to be out of the ordinary, Skullbriar keeps any and all counters on itself, even if it is put in a graveyard or returned to the command zone. This allows Skullbriar to become a constant threat over the course of a game that is incredibly hard to deal with. If it is ever killed, as soon as it returns, it will be just as powerful as it was when it left.
10 Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
The Classic Golgari Commander
One of the most straightforward commanders on this list, Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord is a commander who wants as many creatures to be in your graveyard as possible. A Zombie who gets +1/+1 for each creature in your grave at a given moment, Jarad has the potential to become a huge powerhouse with enough self-milling.
“Golgari” comes from the Golgari Swarm, a guild on the plane of Ravnica that Jarad once led long ago. He’s since been killed (again) and replaced by Vraska, who now is also missing in action. Who will rule the Golgari now?
Additionally, in the instance that you need to push any extra damage through to opponents or move a creature from the battlefield to your graveyard, Jarad can sacrifice creatures you control in order to deal damage to each opponent equal to the sacrificed creature’s power.
9 Hapatra, Vizier Of Poisons
The Venomous Bite Of -1/-1 Counters
While +1/+1 counters are a common sight across commander tables, the more uncommon -1/-1 counters are an effective means of slowing down and nerfing your opponents’ creatures.
For only two mana, Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons is one of the best options players have for a commander when building a deck around a -1/-1 counter theme. Supplying -1/-1 counters whenever she deals damage, Hapatra can create a huge amount of Snake tokens over the course of a game through her ability to create a snake token whenever -1/-1 counters are put on a creature.
Cheap to play early in a deck built around distributing -1/-1 counters, Hapatra can be a very effective engine of value.
8 Dina, Soul Steeper
Gain And Drain, Courtesy Of Witherbloom
Dina, Soul Steeper is an efficient commander option for those looking to build a Golgari life-gain deck. A 1/3 Dryad Druid for two mana, Dina causes each opponent to lose one life whenever its controller gains life.
This incentivizes Dina to be paired with several effects that can incrementally gain life several times within a turn, rather than a single larger life-gaining effect as you might build with commanders like Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose.
Dina is also capable of functioning quite well as an Aristocrats commander, and can even potentially take out players via commander damage. For one mana, Dina can be used to sacrifice a creature, providing Dina with +X/+0, where X is the sacrificed creature’s power – she can even do this at instant speed, letting you slip through damage unblocked if your opponents aren’t taking you seriously.
7 Belbe, Corrupted Observer
Group Hug’s Never Been This Mean
Printed in Commander Legends, Belbe, Corrupted Observer is a deceptively powerful Golgari commander that allows you to generate mana through effects that damage each player. The catch is you’ll only gain two mana for each opponent that lost life that turn on your second main phase, meaning you can’t use it to buff yourself up for combat.
Due to how this ability is worded, this means that yopu, controlling Belbe, are able to generate up to six mana each turn with this ability, while your opponents are limited to being able to produce just four.
Most notably, as there are several low-mana black cards, such as Vicious Conquistador, that can cause each opponent to lose one life, Belbe can allow its controller to play an eight-mana or nine-mana spell as early as turn three.
6 Grist, The Hunger Tide
Yes, It Can Be Your Commander
Grist is unique in that she is a Planeswalker who is legal as your commander, without needing that awkward “this card can be your commander” tacked on at the bottom. This is because, as long as she’s anywhere other than the battlefield, Grist is a creature. If she’s in your graveyard, in your library, or, critically, in your command zone, she’s a legendary creature, and therefore a valid commander.
If you want to play her ‘safely’, she makes an excellent Insect commander to throw creepy-crawlies at your opponents. If you want to go a tad harder, her ability to destroy creatures every turn is incredibly powerful, and it’s all in service of her ultimate ability to drain your opponents of a huge amount of life when your graveyard is nice and infested.
5 Beledros Witherbloom
A Real Pest To Deal With
While Beledros Witherbloom costs a hefty seven mana, it can offer incredible value if it goes unchecked. On each upkeep, you make a 1/1 Pest token, that does the usual Pest thing of letting you gain one life when it dies. As commander is a multiplayer format traditionally played with four players, that means Beledros can create four Pests per turn rotation.
Despite this useful effect, the appeal of Beledros can be found in its activated ability. At the cost of ten life, Beledros can untap each land you control. While this ability can only be used once per turn, it can allow for truly explosive turns with double the amount of mana you’d normally have. This is especially good in Commander, as you have much more life and more ways to gain it back than normal.
4 The Gitrog Monster
Bin Your Lands, Get A Big Frog
Seeing how black is a color that cares greatly about players sacrificing permanents, and how green is a color that cares greatly about lands, it was only a matter of time before the two colors came together to bring us a commander like The Gitrog Monster. A massive Frog Horror, The Gitrog Monster allows its controller to play two lands each turn at the cost of needing to sacrifice a land each turn.
While this may initially not sound the most appetizing, The Gitrog Monster also draws its controller a card each time a land is put in their graveyard. This frog is capable of drawing absurd amounts of cards and accelerating your plans. When paired with lands that sacrifice themselves and cards like Crucible of Worlds that allow for lands to be played from the graveyard, The Gitrog Monster is an engine of unparalleled value.
3 Lathril, Blade Of The Elves
Punt The Elfball Down The Pitch
Though Elf decks are traditionally a mono-green affair, Lathril, Blade of the Elves is an incredibly popular commander that makes a great case for Golgari Elf decks. For four mana, Lathril is a 2/3 elf noble with menace that, upon dealing combat damage to a player, creates that many 1/1 elf warrior tokens.
As Lathril’s menace makes it rather difficult to block, this allows it to serve as a reliable source of elf tokens while its controller continues to cast powerful Elf staples. Once you have a sizable army of elves in play, Lathril can be tapped, alongside ten other elves in order to cause each opponent to lose ten life, and give you ten life back in the process.
2 Chatterfang, Squirrel General
Squeak Squeaken Squeak Squeakidy
While Chatterfang, Squirrel General may look like a Squirrel commander, it’s a stellar option for a Golgari token deck. A 3/3 squirrel warrior with forestwalk for three mana, Chatterfang has an ability comparable to that of Parallel Lives.
Whenever Chatterfang’s controller would create any number of tokens, those tokens plus that many 1/1 squirrel tokens are created, allowing token generators to create massive numbers of creatures. While these 1/1 tokens may not seem like much, they are gained for very little cost.
Additionally, Chatterfang comes with an activated ability that provides a flexible alternative use for these Squirrel tokens, allowing any number of Squirrels to be sacrificed to provide a creature with +X/-X, where X is the number of sacrificed Squirrels.