5 Devastating Commander and Background Pairings to Trample the Opponent!

5 of the best Commander and Background pairings from Commander Legends

5 Devastating Commander and Background Pairings to Trample the Opponent!

The Battle at Baldur’s Gate is upon us! The new Commander Legends set, for release on 10 June, promises more fun in the Commander Draft format. To shake things up, Wizards of the Coast has introduced the new Background card type. Backgrounds are special Legendary Enchantments that can serve as a second Commander! (It’s kinda like the Partner mechanic)

If you remember how strong certain Partner combinations were, then it’s not a stretch to imagine the potential Backgrounds can bring. Now we’re excited to pick 5 of the most deadly Commander + Background combinations we could find!

Take note though: only Commanders with the phrase “Choose a Background” will let you have a Background as an additional Commander in the Command Zone. Our selection only takes into account those Commanders since it is more difficult to get your Background into play if it’s part of your main deck.

In no particular order, here are the 5 Commander + Background combos that will surely make your opponents tremble!

Sacrifice Combo: Gut, True Soul Zealot (Commander) + Guild Artisan (Background)

This is mono red doing what it does best, creating Treasures, and creating more Creature tokens to form an offensive army. Gut, True Soul Zealot creates a 4/1 Skeleton with Menace if you Sacrifice an Artifact, while Guild Artisan creates 2 Artifact Treasures also on attack. See the connection?

The way to make this work is to order both attack triggers in the most beneficial way, so that Guild Artisan’s trigger resolves first and you create 2 Treasure tokens. Next up is Gut’s trigger, where you can then Sacrifice 1 of those Treasures to create the 4/1 token. That’s a respectable 4 damage and 1 Treasure free from each attack.

Couple of drawbacks with this combo: Gut, True Soul Zealot has to be the one to attack (thanks to the Background’s wording), and you effectively have to attack the opponent with the highest life total in order to get free Treasures.

However, since you are netting an extra Treasure each turn, you could still attack someone without the highest life total and still get the 4/1 Creature. Remember that Gut is only a 2/2, so you won’t necessarily be able to attack all the time without sustaining collateral damage.

Dungeon Combo: Safana, Calimport Cutthroat (Commander) + Dungeon Delver (Background)

It wouldn’t be Battle at Baldur’s Gate if there weren’t some Dungeons involves. Venture into the Dungeon makes a return, and there’s the perfect Commander + Background pair that can take the most advantage out of it.

As the entire set is filled with the new “take the Initiative” effect, this synergises very well with both Safana, Calimport Cutthroat and the Dungeon Delver Background. The latter lets you sprint through the Dungeon (or Undercity) at twice the pace. Once you’ve completed a Dungeon, Safana will generate 3 Treasure tokens for you at the end of your turn.

Advancing through Dungeon rooms already generate substantial benefits, and now with 3 extra Treasures on each of your turns, you’re going to have plenty of resources to deal with your opponents.

One possible drawback is you’re not drawing enough cards to fully utilise these extra resources. Thankfully you’re in blue, so look out for cards such as Ambition’s Cost and Compulsive Research that will help replenish your hand. It might still be a rather slow build for this pair of Commander and Background, but they’re cheap to cast, and if you can slowly build some value by going through Dungeons, this could turn dangerous very quickly.

Dragon Combo: Ganax or Renari (Commander) + Acoylyte of Bahamut (Background)

Dragons play such a big role in both D&D that they’re bound to stand out in Commander Legends 2. You even have options! In the Background slot, you have Acolyte of Bahamut that gives you a cost reduction of 2 Mana to cast a Dragon each turn. For your Commander, we recommend either Ganax, Astral Hunger[c] in red, or [c]Renari, Merchant of Marvels for blue.

Let’s look at Ganax, Astral Hunter first. Many dragons are already in red, and even though Ganax costs 5, it does create a Treasure token whenever it or any of your other Dragons enter the Battlefield. It’s a great Mana generator that can help you not only cast bigger spells, but more frequently too if you are utilising the 2 Mana reduction in Acolyte of Bahamut. Imagine a Drakuseth, Maw of Flames out on turn 5 or earlier!

The other option is Renari, Merchant of Marvels, that essentially lets you cast Dragons as though they had Flash. Because Acolyte of Bahamut gives you a cost reduction each turn, this means you can potentially cast a Dragon on your opponent’s turn (as a surprise blocker), and also on your own turn, with both enjoying the 2 Mana cost reduction.

The downsides for both of these pairings is that they don’t do much else on their own, and you’ll be relying on the ability to cast Dragons early and quickly to gain the upper hand on the Battlefield. It’s a linear form of gameplay, but you get to play with Dragons – isn’t that enough?

Token Army Combo: Jaheira (Commander) + Inspiring Leader (Background)

If green-white tokens are your things, then Commander Legends 2 has the right Commander and Background combo for you. Jaheira, Freind of the Forest gives all your tokens, including Clues, Blood, and other generic 1/1s, the ability to tap for green Mana. Inspiring Leader will then give any Creature tokens +2/+2, a nice buff that turns 1/1s into 3/3s.

To make the most use of this combo, we do recommend generating Creature tokens, instead of just non-Creature tokens, to enjoy the +2/+2 buff. Cards such as Nimblewright Schematic, Recruitment Drive, and Horn of Valhalla will help to generate those Creature tokens. With a nice battalion of 3/3s, you have the option of either attacking or using them as Mana sources.

While cool to pull, such a strategy can be vulnerable to any kind of spell that does mass damage or destruction to Creatures. If you’re playing within the Commander Legends 2 Draft setting, there are many mass removal spells. But in the wide open sea of Commander, do watch out for those board wipes.

Voltron Combo: Wilson, Refined Grizzly (Commander) + Flaming Fist (Background)

Wilson might be the nicest sounding name on a bear that is nothing but fierce. Wilson, Refined Grizzly is a 2/2 for 2 Mana that comes with Vigilance, Reach, Trample.. and Ward! Oh, and it can’t be countered. Flaming Fist rounds off the package by giving Wilson Double Strike. With so many keyword abilities, you can easily have Wilson be on offence and defence.

One great thing going for this Commander + Background pairing is you can cast Wilson on turn 2, cast Flaming Fist on turn 3 and immediately attack for an effective 4 Commander damage. You’ll want to eventually buff Wilson with some Auras in the set, though unfortunately there are very few of those in Commander Legends. Even a Knight’s Pledge will turn this Grizzly into something even more ferocious.

The Ward 2 ability on Wilson also makes it a good candidate as a “Voltron” Commander. Any opponent that wants to remove Wilson will have to pay an additional 2 Mana – it doesn’t like much but it can actually slow the opponent down quite a bit.

Again, mass removal board wipes are often the nemesis of “Voltron” Commanders, so be sure to pack some Instants that can perhaps temporarily Blink Wilson out for some respite.

End Step

We hope this provides some ammunition for you as you take on the prerelease week for Commander Legends 2: Battle at Baldur’s Gate – we’ll definitely be looking out for these cards as we draft! If you come across any other powerful Commander and Background combos, do give us a shout!

After playing from Tempest to Urza's Saga block, Ted took a 20 year break from the game before returning to the classic Plane of Dominaria in 2018. His favourite formats are Commander, Draft, and, grudgingly, Standard.

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