Commander Rules and Frequently Asked Questions

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COMMANDER RULES AND FAQ

RULES OF COMMANDER



Deckbuilding


1. Each player has a Legendary Creature as their Commander.
2. A deck consists of the Commander and 99 more cards.
3. Each card must be unique, with the exception of basic lands.

A card's color identity is its color plus the color of any mana symbols in the card's rules text. Cards in a deck may not have any colors in their identity which are not shared with the commander of the deck.

There are four banned Commanders:

Braids, Cabal Minion
Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary

The following cards are banned:

All cards banned in Vintage (Ante, Dexterity, Subgame)
Ancestral Recall
Balance
Biorhythm
Black Lotus
Channel
Coalition Victory
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Fastbond
Gifts Ungiven
Griselbrand
Karakas
Library of Alexandria
Limited Resources
Metalworker
Mox Emerald, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl, Mox Ruby and Mox Sapphire
Painter's Servant
Panoptic Mirror
Primeval Titan
Protean Hulk
Recurring Nightmare
Staff of Domination
Sway of the Stars
Time Vault
Time Walk
Tinker
Tolarian Academy
Upheaval
Worldfire
Yawgmoth's Bargain


Gameplay


Commander is a game designed for 3 or more players. Duels of Commander are also very popular, especially online.

1. Your Commander starts every game in the Command zone.
2. You can cast your Commander from the Command zone. This costs 2 generic mana more each time you cast from the Command zone.
3. If a Commander would be put into a graveyard or exile from anywhere, its owner may choose to move it to the command zone instead.
4. You start with 40 life.
5. You can die to 21 points of combat damage from a particular Commander.

Players should decide on their mulligan rule and stick to it. There are two common mulligans in Commander.

1. First mulligan is free, then proceed as standard.
2. Put aside any number of cards and draw one less than that, and continue if still unsatisfied. After you keep, shuffle all the cards put aside back into your deck.

Note: You can also combine 1 and 2 if your group likes.


Advice to those new to the game


1. Commander is a 100 card singleton format, decks don't tend to get copied. Make sure you enjoy what you run.

2. Commander is a well evolved format. You need to devote at least a quarter of your deck to card choices that are required to help it function. There are no correct card choices as they are going to be different for each Commander and theme, and each card has a great number of substitutes.

3. The key ingredients to a Commander deck are endurance, disruption, and win conditions.

4. To endure a game of Commander, you will need card advantage, mana advantage, and recursion. Players will devote up to half their spells to this alone. As well as this, tutors prove themselves very powerful, and life gain without loss of card advantage is effective.

5. The required disruption elements of Commander decks are targeted land destruction, enchantment removal, artifact removal, graveyard removal, and mass creature removal. Targeted creature destruction is recommended in low quantities. Targeted creature exiling is good if you have access to it. Hand and library disruption will be useful for some decks. Counterspells will be useful for blue decks.

6. Win conditions will be dealt with over and over again. Your games of Commander will involve you casting them and opponents stopping you from killing them as best they can. You will want between seven and twenty cards or combos that kill people if not disrupted.

7. Commander is a social game popularly played by groups that know each other well. These groups each see the game differently, the Commander world online smashes them together; hence you will notice different approaches to the game.

8. If your playgroup disapproves of your strategy, ask for advice online. It is popular for groups to ban combo decks and mass land destruction.

9. There exists 1v1 Commander players and multiplayer Commander players, and players that play whatever is available to them. Consider the two formats to be different.

10. Commanders are important, most decks are built around them.

The rules for Commander do not describe the format well to veterans of constructed and limited magic. Even those familiar with Eternal formats will often incorrectly value certain cards. Those who play a lot of 60 card multiplayer tend to have a better understanding of what will work. The multiplayer aspect is more dominant of gameplay than 100 card decks and 40 life, yet new players will usually form strategies around the latter.


Advice to current players


Current players don't need a top 10 list summarizing aspects of the game. They are more likely to recall situations where the top 10 list is wrong. In fact, as a current player, you should know that there can be no correct top 10 list, and that Commander is a wide open format that can be taken any way you and your friends like.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Who is in charge of the Commander rules and ban list?
The Commander rules committee consists of a few DCI judges of the highest levels.

How many poison counters do you need to lose the game?
It is 10 poison counters as the poison rules are unchanged in Commander. After extensive playtesting there was no evidence the poison counter limit needed to be increased.

Can I put my Commander in the Command Zone instead of my hand or library?
No, the replacement effect only works for graveyard or exile.

Do I still have to pay the additional Commander recast cost if I have something that lets me cast my Commander for free?
Rooftop Storm and Aluren do not help you with regards to the Commander recast cost. However, cost reduction cards such as Helm of Awakening do help reduce the Commander recast cost. The difference is that the cards that replace the cost don't replace additional costs, while the cards that reduce the cost can reduce additional costs.

Do Commander abilities work when the Commander is in the Command Zone?
Not unless they would normally work outside of the battlefield. Karador, Ghost Chieftain's first ability works in the Command zone but his second ability does not.

I've heard card X is banned, why doesn't it appear on the banned list here?
There is a 1v1 banned list for Commander, that card is probably on that list instead.

Can I have as many relentless rats as I want in my deck?
Yes you can, the relentless rats rule works.

I see lots of people taking their first paris mulligan free, is that in the rules?
The rules specifically say no free mulligans using a paris mulligan method. People do popularly use the paris mulligan with one free mulligan instead though.

Does Commander have sideboards? Do wishes work with them?
Commander decks are not allowed a sideboard unless the group agrees. In general, if you don't have a sideboard: wishes, research (part of research/development), and spawnsire of ulamog do not work. If the group agrees to use sideboards, only 10 cards are allowed, and the decks are changed at the start of each game.
It's not until you learn something you realize how little you know. DCI Level 1 Judge.
Just noticed this was stickied! Hurray for updated rules!

3DH4LIF3

Cheers, I have a FAQ coming out by the end of the month.
It's not until you learn something you realize how little you know. DCI Level 1 Judge.
can you still lose the game if you have 10 posion counters or you need 20 or poison cant be played?
In Commander you still die to 10 poison counters.

In the current metagame, poison is more popular than it ever will be. It will become less of an issue as time goes by. Killing someone with poison is a gimmick. It's a fresh way to win over the tiring insurrection, recursion, and infinite turns win conditions. As the spikes and johnnys stop playing it when the next large set comes out Tainted Strike will become interesting and not the target of internet rage.
It's not until you learn something you realize how little you know. DCI Level 1 Judge.
In Commander you still die to 10 poison counters.

In the current metagame, poison is more popular than it ever will be. It will become less of an issue as time goes by. Killing someone with poison is a gimmick. It's a fresh way to win over the tiring insurrection, recursion, and infinite turns win conditions. As the spikes and johnnys stop playing it when the next large set comes out Tainted Strike will become interesting and not the target of internet rage.



no i think poisons here to stay, because of the fact that skittles exists and is stupidly awesome as a general XD
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With the new updated rules can we now use the following creatures as generals?
Rhys the Exiled
Thelon of Havenwood
Memnarch
Bosh, Iron Golem

I think there are a couple more.
STEP 1: Find your cousin STEP 2: Get your cousin in the cannon STEP: 3 Find another cousin
With the new updated rules can we now use the following creatures as generals?
Rhys the Exiled
Thelon of Havenwood
Memnarch
Bosh, Iron Golem

I think there are a couple more.



Just onemore. Daughter of Autumn

3DH4LIF3

With the new updated rules can we now use the following creatures as generals?
Rhys the Exiled
Thelon of Havenwood
Memnarch
Bosh, Iron Golem

I think there are a couple more.



Just onemore. Daughter of Autumn



Ah ha, thanks!

STEP 1: Find your cousin STEP 2: Get your cousin in the cannon STEP: 3 Find another cousin
I am not sure if we have been playing this correctly in my group or not, but here it goes.

If a player discards their general (say someone bounces the general up, and then plays a spell forcing them to discard it), we always said that a player does not have control over whether their general goes to the GY in this type of situation... that players only get to choose where their generals go if they are leaving the battlefield. Is this correct via the official rules?

and if so, what happens to a general if it gets bounced up and then someone plays Identity Crisis?
I am not sure if we have been playing this correctly in my group or not, but here it goes.

If a player discards their general (say someone bounces the general up, and then plays a spell forcing them to discard it), we always said that a player does not have control over whether their general goes to the GY in this type of situation... that players only get to choose where their generals go if they are leaving the battlefield. Is this correct via the official rules?

and if so, what happens to a general if it gets bounced up and then someone plays Identity Crisis?

You can replace any instance of the general going to the graveyard from anywhere to command zone. Same with being exiled.
With Memnarch now as a legit general, that means you can create a blue and colorless only deck with Memnarch as the general correct?
right. you can now use cards that have mana symbols which appear on your general's card. They dont necessarily have to be in the generals converted mana cost like they used to be.
I have found several sets of "rules" for this variant, including a non-magic site.  Is there a DEFINITIVE list of banned commanders and banned cards?  The list at the top of this list seems to have changed, since it started with two commanders, and other posts talk about adding commanders that were not on that initial list.
I believe that the list on this site is up to date, since the last banning was Emrakul, and he is on the list. If you want the official rules, you can go to mtgcommander.net/rules.php. There are several variations that lots of people use, and lots of playgroups have adopted their own rules.
OK, so there are only two legends listed on that site that are banned.  Is that the current state of affairs, here?
Hey Akuvar.

There are two banned generals. Hope that helps.
It's not until you learn something you realize how little you know. DCI Level 1 Judge.
Hello

Wondering...
Why are these generals banned? Braids gives everybody trouble, including the controller. And Rofellos can't use it's own mana to summon himself more quickly.
Banned because they are so cheap then?

I hope this will not cause disaprovals then amongst my friends, but I was thinking about a fun blue Kamigawa-deck with Erayo as my commander. It's not a killer, but in a multi-EDH-game he might lock the table.....a lot...Surprised.(or is this not in the spirit of an EDH-game?)
I asume that when he is flipped upsidedown, turned into an enchantment, and is dissed, he will still go to the commander-zone to be resummoned?
Both banned generals are due to power level. Play some Commander and you will understand why.

Erayo is not in the spirit of Commander. 
It's not until you learn something you realize how little you know. DCI Level 1 Judge.
I would love Brainds to be unbanned. However, when you build a deck around getting her out quickly and making her ability lopsided. Sadly, Shirei is the closest I can get to black stax.
ok. so a bigger casting cost creature than 2. and more of a beatstick I guess...
still got a few choices in the kamigawa blues...
I am not sure if we have been playing this correctly in my group or not, but here it goes.

If a player discards their general (say someone bounces the general up, and then plays a spell forcing them to discard it), we always said that a player does not have control over whether their general goes to the GY in this type of situation... that players only get to choose where their generals go if they are leaving the battlefield. Is this correct via the official rules?

and if so, what happens to a general if it gets bounced up and then someone plays Identity Crisis?







  1. If a Commander would be put into a graveyard or exile from anywhere, its owner may choose to move it to the command zone instead. Details



    • This is a replacement effect; the creature never goes to the graveyard and will not trigger such abilities.

    • Commander will move to the library or hand as normal; only transitions to Exile or the Graveyard may be replaced.






Straight from the Commander website. Note the "anywhere" clause.
yes, we have covered that already. thanks for making a completely unnecessary post to correct me.
Ok.. Here comes a stupid Noob question about 1 of the rules..

5. You can die to 21 points of combat damage from a particular Commander.


Does that mean that you have to do EXACTLY 21 combat points via your Commander, or 21+..

Have only played 1 Commander (EDH) game - 6 way multiplayer and 2 of the guys thought it was 21+, and another 2 said had to be exactly 21..

So can someone tell me which?..

Playing Rafiq, so my commander damage will usually be in blocks of 8 (4/4 double strike), which means its very difficult for me to do exactly 21 points with him

Thanks
It's 21 damage or more.
It's not until you learn something you realize how little you know. DCI Level 1 Judge.
It's 21 damage or more.

Many Thanks.. Thats what I thought, but wanted to double check.. makes life easier Laughing
ok. so a bigger casting cost creature than 2. and more of a beatstick I guess...
still got a few choices in the kamigawa blues...

Me and my friends prefer the german highlander mulligan rule, ie. You can set x cards from your opening hand aside, draw x cards, and then shuffle the cards set aside into your deck. That is, its the same as one listed in the topic post, except the -1 part (you draw one less than you set aside). If -1 rule is used, then nobody in my playgroup usually wants to mulligan at all. At least I don't.

The following mulligans after the special mulligan are standard paris mulligans (shuffle your hand into deck, draw a new opening hand -1)





"And the word my father taught me that evening, the word meaning 'the strongest', was mage." - Tezzeret the seeker, Test of Metal
ok. so a bigger casting cost creature than 2. and more of a beatstick I guess...
still got a few choices in the kamigawa blues...

Me and my friends prefer the german highlander mulligan rule, ie. You can set x cards from your opening hand aside, draw x cards, and then shuffle the cards set aside into your deck. That is, its the same as one listed in the topic post, except the -1 part (you draw one less than you set aside). If -1 rule is used, then nobody in my playgroup usually wants to mulligan at all. At least I don't.

The following mulligans after the special mulligan are standard paris mulligans (shuffle your hand into deck, draw a new opening hand -1)






I like draw an opening hand of 7 and set aside X cards (X can be 7) and draw X cards. Shuffle your library. Then you may repeat the process each time drawing one less (X -1, X -2 and so forth). Most players may not choose to repeat the process, but if you have drawn a Necropotence (or similar card) you may choose to keep drawing at least till you have 3 swamps and the Necropotence left to see what you may add to it. Each deck would be different. Seems fair to me.
 I like draw an opening hand of 7 and set aside X cards (X can be 7) and draw X cards. Shuffle your library. Then you may repeat the process each time drawing one less (X -1, X -2 and so forth). Most players may not choose to repeat the process, but if you have drawn a Necropotence (or similar card) you may choose to keep drawing at least till you have 3 swamps and the Necropotence left to see what you may add to it. Each deck would be different. Seems fair to me.



Egads!  That sounds like a combo player's wet-dream.  What ever works for you guys, but we do what Manjimaru does.  It sometimes means tough decisions when you have to choose between a hand with awesome spells but few lands, or a hand with good ammount of lands, but slower spells; but I think tough decisions like that are part of the skill of playing.


The other day someone told me that Crucible of Words was either semi-bannet or going to be put on the ban-list. Is that something that can be confirmed? And does anyone have some information whether-or-not Wizards are going to put out a "official" ban-list for EDH?

Thanks.

My friends and I decided to try commander out and I had two questions about how commander worked.

First can you have other legendary creatures in your deck that are not your commander? For example my commander is Glissa, the Traitor and I have Skittles in my deck.

Second, can you counter a general when it is cast from the command zone?

Thanks.



The other day someone told me that Crucible of Words was either semi-bannet or going to be put on the ban-list. Is that something that can be confirmed? And does anyone have some information whether-or-not Wizards are going to put out a "official" ban-list for EDH?

Thanks.




I have heared nothing about it being banned, and frankly would probably stop playing if it was.  Not because I need the card or anything, but because it would reflect such a restrictive attitude towards banning that the format would soon be soo full of rstricted cards that it would be unplayable.  

Wizards has said that they do not intend to take over the job of creating a banned list, but they have gone back on their word many times before.

My friends and I decided to try commander out and I had two questions about how commander worked.

First can you have other legendary creatures in your deck that are not your commander? For example my commander is Glissa, the Traitor and I have Skittles in my deck.

Second, can you counter a general when it is cast from the command zone?

Thanks.




1. Yes, in fact in some cases it is a good idea.  If you are playing a general that another player is playing you may have a heck of a time keeping them in play due to the legend rule.  It combat this you can put another legendary creature in your deck that has a similar enough feel that if you find out ahead of time that your opponent has the same general as you, you can switch it out easily.

Of course you acn also have as many legends in your deck that you want, as long as they meet color requirements.

2. Yes.  you can do to a general anything you could do to any other creature.  Once countered you can use the General replacement rule have them go to the command zone rather than graveyard or exiled.

Thanks. I was also wondering are mill cards allowed in Commander? I was thinking about it and having every card be a 1 of it seems like this would make mill much more powerful of a tool to get rid of specific threats.

Also having 99 card decks it seems like Traumatize would be really dangerous.

I am just trying to understand the whole concept right now. I built a blue/artifact deck around Lorthos, the Tidemaker and I haven't played it yet so I have no idea how it will do but it is a generous mix between card draw, counter spells, and other control like Mindslaver.

I also included Traumatize and Archive Trap.
Thanks. I was also wondering are mill cards allowed in Commander? I was thinking about it and having every card be a 1 of it seems like this would make mill much more powerful of a tool to get rid of specific threats.

Also having 99 card decks it seems like Traumatize would be really dangerous.

I am just trying to understand the whole concept right now. I built a blue/artifact deck around Lorthos, the Tidemaker and I haven't played it yet so I have no idea how it will do but it is a generous mix between card draw, counter spells, and other control like Mindslaver.

I also included Traumatize and Archive Trap.



I do not have the energy at the moment to find my classic 'traumatize' story, but suffice it to say the card is not a great idea.  On turn 3 or so I got traumatized, and then in the next turn managed to get a good 30% of my library in to play from the graveyard.  Putting cards in your opponents graveyard is the next best thing to handing them to your opponent, and in a way better than allowing your opponent ot draw, unless you have a way to take the card first ( ala ) cards are so much more nuperous and less costly, the graveyard is the pool of choice for getting cards you want from your deck.  If I want a specific card from my deck and it is in my graveyard I can play a $.50 card to get whatever I want.  If I want a card and it is in my deck there are less ways to get it, and many are somewhat on the spendy side.  As a result of the use of the graveyard it is also advisable that you run 2-4 cards that exile cards from an opponent's graveyard. 

Mill, as a win style, is not a great idea in EDH.  Heck, it is barely a good idea in a more traditional deck.  Unless you have a way win by mill quickly, which is tough in EDH, then all you are doing is handing cards to anyone that can take them.  I used to run many mill cards in my Dredge EDH deck and mill myself.


Its far better to exile cards from a library than to put them into the graveyard- Oona, Queen of the Fae

That being said, Mill can be useful if you're playing cards like Memory Plunder, Wrexial, the Risen Deep, Geth, Lord of the Vault, Beacon of Unrest and friends. Stuff like that.

Not so much a wincondition as a way to facilitate your own win condition.

3DH4LIF3

Yeah mill is not in any way a wincon in my deck I just included those two cards because I thought it would be a good way to get rid of cards in someones deck but you have a great point. I will take them out for better cards. My main wincons are big beatdown creatures like Lorthos, Blightsteel collosus (do 10 poison counters still end the game in commander?) and creatures that copy other creatures like cryptoplasm and vesuvian doppleganger.
Yup, you still die to 10 poison counters. Its kinda scarey.

3DH4LIF3

The other day someone told me that Crucible of Words was either semi-bannet or going to be put on the ban-list.



The only place I've seen Crucible banned is for some 1v1 French EDH. In the official list I don't think it will ever get banned.
Thanks for the answers. Regarding the bannet list, when, how and who decides to put a card on that banned list? And what are peoples thoughts on Blightsteel Colossus?
It's 12 mana-casting cost is huge in Standard but not a lot in EDH, where it's 12/12 trample indestructable poison counters only becomes more of a factor, because you aren't going to have 4x Jace to bounch it, or 4x Journey to Nowhere - so is that a card that should or could be bannet?

Also what are peoples opinion on Iona, Shield of Emeria?

Once again, Thanks.
I was also going to ask the question about Blightsteel Colossus because it seems that for a card like that it becomes infinitely more powerful in a format where 12 mana is not a huge deal and hardcasting it becomes much more possible. If in Commander it took 20 poison counters instead of 10 it might not be too bad but as it stands it is tough to deal with.
As it stands there are no plans to change poison, or to bann the Colossus. That may or may not change with the release of NPH.
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