RULES OF COMMANDER
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)
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Library of Alexandria
Mox Emerald, Mox Jet, Mox Pearl, Mox Ruby and Mox Sapphire
Staff of Domination
Sway of the Stars
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
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.