Removing the ability to tuck commanders was a fundamental mistake the format has been paying for ever since.

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Post by NGW » 2 days ago

I have long, long felt this way and the years have only ever strengthened my resolve in regards to this issue.

First and foremost, what changed in regards to tucking commanders (this is mostly for the newer players)?

Well back in my day you could cast spells like Hinder or even the printed for Commander Spell Crumple and instead of your opponent's commander magically appearing back in their command zone they would be tucked away in their owner's library.

So why the change? It's mostly one of those "spirit of the format" things. I mean, we can't have a format called Commander if there's a chance that someone may not get to play with their commander, right? *sweeps Drannith Magistrate, Nevermore and the like safely under the rug out of sight*

It was about avoiding the feelbads. People are attracted to this format, at least in part and depending on the person, because building around a specific legendary creature is kind of a cool gimmick. It was definitely part of the attraction to me.

Then why am I so vocal against this now years old change?

Because it's been nothing but bad for the format. It has impacted everything from how people build their decks to the power level of certain commanders going unchecked.

I am a subscriber to the "if your deck completely falls apart without access to your commander then it is a bad deck and you need to fix it" school of thought. That isn't to say I believe you shouldn't build your deck around your commander, oh far from it. What it means is that if your deck is suddenly a useless stack of 99 cards just because you don't have constant access to that special 100th card then you screwed up somewhere along the deck building process and it is time to reevaluate said pile of 99 cards and figure out what you can do to make it function as a deck if one piece happens to be missing.

Put more simply, it has made people into worse, lazier deck builders. It is absolutely possible to build a deck to synergize with a specific legendary creature and it still work as a deck if that creature is no longer on the board. It may not be the most optimal state and some cards may not be as flashy or as good as they could be, but you can still do something with it unless you're on some heavy, all-in gimmick like Ashling + 99 Mountains. Over-reliance on your commander is bad, be better than that. Afterall, there are going to be games where your commander is going to be taxed into oblivion, countered every cast, or maybe *lifts the rug* Drannith Magistrate or Nevermore are going to come out to play.

More importantly is the impact losing the ability to actually, semi-permanently deal with problematic commanders has had on the format.

Look at commanders like Derevi, Yuriko, Golos for example. These are cards that just straight up give the middle finger to commander tax. Hell, in the case of Golos recasting it over and over not only gives the finger to commander tax, it pushes you way ahead of the rest of the board.

Or how about the eminence mechanic? Something I think we can all agree was a bit of a mistake, especially when looking at cards like Edgar Markov. Wouldn't it be great if you could just turn that off? Maybe even make it somewhat balanced?

There are a lot of commanders that are just near busted levels of absurdity, many, most of which came about after we lost the ability to say bye bye to them for a while. I think these powerhouses would cause far fewer headaches if tucking a commander was once again a thing.

As for the "it means only certain colors can still get their commander back after it's tucked" argument. Every color has ways to get creatures from their deck (including colorless options), some may do it better than others, but that goes for any element of the game.

I think bringing back tucking would do far more to improve the health of the format than any supposed good removing it ever did.

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Post by Vertain » 2 days ago

the tuck rule should stay in forgotten obscurity, where it belongs. My reasons for this are the following, in no particular order:

- From a flavor perspective: How come the exile, the "gone-for-good" zone is less of a deterrent to a commander than the library, a zone you are supposed to have access to?

- Color Pie. Hinder and Spell Crumple are the cheapest, least conditional and most versatile cards to achieve this and aside from the rare Condemn the only ones played to fulfill this role, making the removal of tuck a mostly blue issue. Back when tuck was a thing, the old legend rule was too. So if the blue player didn't draw one of those spells on time or didn't have mana up, he had access to Phantasmal Image, the single best commander removal spell by a long shot (doesn't target and bypasses indestructible as well as regeneration). Blue is already the only color with meaningful stack interaction for no apparent reason, it doesn't need that as well.

- Quality of Life. It makes perfect sense to have your commander in a different sleeve than the rest of your deck, for comfort's sake. Tuck says no to that.

Also, since the absence of tuck, the typical commander has been power-crept from a cool, legendary creature into a grossly efficient engine that pumps our board presence, card advantage, tempo, and in several cases two or even all three of those combined. That is the real issue imo and bringing back tuck would do a poor job at trying to fix it.

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Post by pokken » 2 days ago

I think there needs to be an alternative rule to delay commander return. the problem with tuck was that it was not distributed to the color pie primarily useful in blue and to a lesser extent white. This made blue even more overpowered.

I've been thinking that it might be cool to require paying commander tax a turn ahead, so if you want to cast your commander again you are delayed a turn. Or just make it so the effect that puts your commander in the zone delays until the beginning of your next end step or something..

The constant recasting of generals who storm off is an obnoxious side effect and spam recasting generals like golos is also gross.

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Post by onering » 2 days ago

Make exile effects always exile the commander, but you can send commanders back to the command zone from exile by paying their commander tax. There, now exile helps slow down some of these annoying commanders AND is better that destroy effects against commanders.

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Post by pokken » 2 days ago

onering wrote:
2 days ago
Make exile effects always exile the commander, but you can send commanders back to the command zone from exile by paying their commander tax. There, now exile helps slow down some of these annoying commanders AND is better that destroy effects against commanders.
Doesn't fix Golos or Maelstrom wanderer but does fix Derevi, so kinda moving in the right direction but not quite all the way there. Maybe if you made paying tax a special action you could take up to once a turn (e.g. like Morph so it can't be stifled)?

I do kinda love how it shuts down Food Chain combos with your commander as a side effect because boy that's stupid.

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Post by Dunharrow » 2 days ago

Oh great, let me take out 8 cards from each deck so I can play sac outlets and "creature spells can't be countered" effects so that my commanders don't randomly get hosed out of the game.

Tuck warped deckbuilding, not in a good way.

The only reason to play tuck was to deal with pesky commanders like Derevi that couldn't just get wrathed and StPlowshared repeatedly and made uncastable.

Rather than bring tuck back, I would prefer:
1. More Song of the Dryads, Imprisoned in the Moon... heck even Frogify effects to lock down commanders (until their controllers can bounce them or destroy the enchantment). There should be answers in each color, as long as there are answers to the answers.
2. The RC returns the Banned as a Commander list and gets a lot more aggressive banning things like Derevi as commanders. Derevi, specifically, circumvents the rules baked into the format & is a really strong commander.

Drannith Magistrate, Nevermore, etc are annoying cards, but they are terrible if you don't have them early in the game. Also, if the owner of the card is eliminated, you can cast your commander again. There are ways to deal with it.
But Terminus would mean you would not see your commander again outside of a lot of luck with shuffle effects or with tutors.

That being said, I know I am more in favour or bannings in this format than most people, and that bannings make other people feel bad. If it were up to me, I would ban the top tutors, dual lands, and Sol Ring, Mana Crypt and Mana Vault.
I understand how you see tuck as a way to deal with problems, but I see Banned as a Commander as being the solution to those problems.

If Derevi is so feels bad that you need tuck to be alive in the format, then Derevi should just not be in the format.

No reason why my Arjun, the Shifting Flame needs to be tucked. I would just scoop. It's a durdle deck - obviously not strong, but also doesn't work if I can't wheel every turn.
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Post by Mookie » 2 days ago

I definitely miss the ability to tuck problematic commanders. There are a lot of problematic ones out there, whether that be Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Maelstrom Wanderer's ability to out-ramp commander tax or Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow and Derevi, Empyrial Tactician's ability to bypass it entirely.

That said, I also understand why they got rid of it - losing your commander is a pretty big feel-bad, and I can understand why the RC doesn't want it to be a normal part of gameplay. If you do want to shut down your opponents' commanders entirely, there are still effects like Song of the Dryads and Nevermore that do so reasonably efficiently, although they're also significantly easier to negate than tuck is.

Hypothesizing about an alternate reality in which tuck were still a thing...
  • Although blue has historically had the most tuck effects, I would actually expect them to have ramped up the number of tuck effects in white over time, since it's one of the things white is actually good at in commander
  • Black and green would be slightly buffed as a result of their ability to tutor up creatures. White is also slightly helped by its ability to tutor up legends.
  • Decks would need to be designed to be more resilient to disruption, and less based around riding their commander to victory
  • More decks would be running sac outlets to prevent their commander from being tucked
  • Tunnel Vision becomes way better
....it's hard to say whether bringing tuck back would actually stop the value-train-commander problem though. I'd compare it to why they don't reprint Swords to Plowshares or Lightning Bolt in Standard - more efficient removal significantly raises the bar for how strong a creature needs to be to see play. Similarly, if you expect your commander to be tucked a significant percentage of the time, the bar for how strong a commander needs to be to be playable would also rise. That said, tuck means that you're strongly incentivized to run commanders like Maelstrom Wanderer and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth that generate value even if tucked... or just commanders that have ETB effects like Demonlord Belzenlok and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim.

....I would massively prefer ETB value commanders being the norm over snowbally value engine commanders being the norm though. Hmmm....

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Post by Hermes_ » 1 day ago

Mookie wrote:
2 days ago

Hypothesizing about an alternate reality in which tuck were still a thing...
  • Although blue has historically had the most tuck effects, I would actually expect them to have ramped up the number of tuck effects in white over time, since it's one of the things white is actually good at in commander
  • Black and green would be slightly buffed as a result of their ability to tutor up creatures. White is also slightly helped by its ability to tutor up legends.
  • Decks would need to be designed to be more resilient to disruption, and less based around riding their commander to victory
  • More decks would be running sac outlets to prevent their commander from being tucked
  • Tunnel Vision becomes way better
Voltron decks would need buffs or be even more risky than it already it is.
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Post by RxPhantom » 23 hours ago

I was actually very, very opposed to them changing the rules around tuck. I think it would have been a reasonable safety valve against this recent crop of self-contained powerhouse commanders. For me, tuck was in integral part of the format's good old days, completely entwined with that Wild West feeling of endless possibility and discovery. Most importantly, it was when WotC wasn't actively involved.

Frankly, I don't know how to feel about it now. I've kind of always wanted it back, but the community would never accept it. I file it with Banned As Commander; it's been too long and the genie can't be put back in the bottle. I do agree with @NGW that it rewards lazy deck building and that a deck shouldn't fall apart without its commander, but...it's just too late for it to matter anymore.
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Post by pokken » 23 hours ago

RxPhantom wrote:
23 hours ago
Frankly, I don't know how to feel about it now. I've kind of always wanted it back, but the community would never accept it. I file it with Banned As Commander; it's been too long and the genie can't be put back in the bottle. I do agree with @NGW that it rewards lazy deck building and that a deck shouldn't fall apart without its commander, but...it's just too late for it to matter anymore.
I am actually liking more and more the idea of changing the way commanders move to the command zone, at the minimum for exiling effects, but possibly in general. Something like:


(current rule)
If a commander is in a graveyard or in exile and that card was put into that zone since the last time state-based actions were checked, its owner may put it into the command zone. If a commander would be put into its owner's hand or library from anywhere, its owner may put it into the command zone instead.
(new rule, first draft of wording)
If a commander is in a graveyard or in exile and that card was put into that zone since the last time state-based actions were checked, its owner may put it into the command zone. If a commander would be put into its owner's hand or library from anywhere, its owner may put it into the command zone instead.

If a commander is in exile and that card was in that zone at the beginning of this turn, you may return it to the command zone at the beginning of the untap step as a special action.
Making Exile effects get rid of commanders for longer - if you Food Chain it or it gets eaten by Rest in Peace it doesn't return to the zone until the next turn.

It doesn't hose Flash commanders, who if you exile them come back the next player turn. But you can't ever recast your commander more than once in a turn -- which is an awful quirk of the current system.

It does crap on Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Maelstrom Wanderer and other huge mana commanders. It lets you stop Thrasios, Triton Hero a full turn by exiling him if someone will land an infinite mana combo and you do it in response.

I could definitely see the argument for making it work for all command zone changes and I see minimal downside in my first thinks through the idea.

The way commanders interact with infinite mana and sac outlets is really a lame side-effect of the game the way it is, being able to pay for infinite commander tax and win that turn is dumb.

It even kinda patches the 'i wrath the board then recast my commander' thing that kinda juices up how good wraths are in the format a bit unnecessarily, if you apply it to all zone changes.

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Post by onering » 21 hours ago

pokken wrote:
2 days ago
onering wrote:
2 days ago
Make exile effects always exile the commander, but you can send commanders back to the command zone from exile by paying their commander tax. There, now exile helps slow down some of these annoying commanders AND is better that destroy effects against commanders.
Doesn't fix Golos or Maelstrom wanderer but does fix Derevi, so kinda moving in the right direction but not quite all the way there. Maybe if you made paying tax a special action you could take up to once a turn (e.g. like Morph so it can't be stifled)?

I do kinda love how it shuts down Food Chain combos with your commander as a side effect because boy that's stupid.
Well, what it would do is like this: You play Golos and fetch a land to the battlefield. If he gets destroyed, you simply play your land drop next turn and you can cast him again. If he gets exiled, now you have to pay an extra 2 to put him back in the command zone, then 7 to cast him, so you can't get him right back out and tutor another land. Instead, you have to spend 2 this turn then 7 next. Then if he gets exiled again, your up to 4 to get him back to the CZ and 9 to cast. It slows him down by a turn each time he's exiled as opposed to destroyed. That might not completely fix him, but it gives the table more breathing room to find answers before he starts getting activated and running away with the game.

And thanks for pointing out hosing food chain, that little bonus I didn't notice.

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Post by pokken » 21 hours ago

Ahh, you were suggesting an additional tax. I think that might be too much for fair commanders tbh.

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Post by DirkGently » 13 hours ago

While I get the desire to hate on commanders like Golos and Derevi, I don't think any of these solutions are a good idea. The unfortunate truth is that the format is as broken as the players want it to be. Trying to "fix" it would be an exercise in frustration. The number of problematic commanders is enormous and constitutes options that a lot of players really enjoy (even if those people are degenerates). Trying to ban the format fixed would be a disaster. Changing the tax rules to make commanders less available would also likely have an adverse effect on games. And the cited examples of "things that need fixing" are the sorts of things that could easily be replaced by even more powerful options. So I'm just not sure what the point would be, realistically. So long as there's broken stuff to do, people are going to want to do broken stuff. And there's always going to be broken stuff, and WotC is going to keep printing more of it.

I did want to highlight a few bits of logic I felt were particularly erroneous:
I mean, we can't have a format called Commander if there's a chance that someone may not get to play with their commander, right? *sweeps Drannith Magistrate, Nevermore and the like safely under the rug out of sight*

[...]

Afterall, there are going to be games where your commander is going to be taxed into oblivion, countered every cast, or maybe *lifts the rug* Drannith Magistrate or Nevermore are going to come out to play.
To me, drannith magistrate, as well as cards like Frogify, Deep Freeze etc - an effect which used to be very rare - is a signal towards what wotc wants commander removal to look like. And I, for one, think it's a pretty reasonable direction. I think you could make the reasonable argument that WotC seems to agree that commanders need a more permanent means of removal in lieu of tuck, and they're providing those means. So there's no need to reinstitute tuck, because WotC is providing alternatives, except with more care than "whatever tuck happened to exist in 2009".

Tuck - especially counter-tuck - is pretty hard to play around for a lot of colors. Whereas enchantments can be removed by 3 colors (or any color, with some of the expensive colorless options like Karn), and the creature can be sacked by any color (and doesn't need to be at the moment the removal is played, as in the case of tuck). So it's more play-around-able, and it's more balanced in how colors can answer it. Back in the early days, I remember running cavern as well as expo map in order to prevent Zirilan from getting tucked by hinder, because that was basically the only way to stop it in mono-red. Once Zirilan got tucked, it was pure luck if I'd ever see him again. With neutralizing removal, I've got way more reasonable methods to answer it, and it's way less frustrating.

Also, it's worth pointing out that white has gotten some of the best answers to commanders recently. If anyone should get a significant boost into that space, white seems like the best choice to me.
Or how about the eminence mechanic? Something I think we can all agree was a bit of a mistake, especially when looking at cards like Edgar Markov. Wouldn't it be great if you could just turn that off?
Yeah idk why tuck would do that, though.

Afaik, there is currently no way to block eminence if they don't cast it. I guess you could pull some mindslaver tricks, or ult Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools?
Over-reliance on your commander is bad, be better than that.
I really hate it when people say this sort of stuff. This isn't a competitive format, there aren't rules for how one "ought" to build a deck because everyone is working towards their own goals. Commander is whatever you want it to be. And thank god it is, or we'd all be playing cEDH and I would have quit ten years ago. If someone wants to rely on their commander because they like that commander, who cares? Build what you want to build. Maybe be aware that some games are going to go badly because of that reliance, but as long as you're ok with that then it's really no one's business unless you're looking for advice.

While we're on the subject, I don't think tuck is a desirable solution for problem commanders anyway. I always go back to this conversation I overheard at an LGS back in the UK - talking about his commander, The Gitrog Monster, a guy said something like "He's so great, if I ever get to untap with him I always win." Tuck "solves" the problem of commanders like the gitfrog by permanently(ish) removing them - but does it actually make the game better? Now instead of a boring game of "kill the gitfrog over and over" it's a boring game of "kill the gitfrog once, and now that guy's deck does nothing and he durdles until he hits his demonic tutor or whatever and then tries to win again." The problem isn't the interaction, here, the problem is that entire outlook. If someone wants to play a commander that "wins if it untaps", if they think it's great, then no amount of structural changes are going to make those games actually fun, I'm sorry. You can try to change that sort of person's mind or you can stop playing with them, but those are realistically your options. You aren't going to rule your way into making some people play the way you want them to play. It's just not going to happen.
I see Banned as a Commander as being the solution to those problems.

If Derevi is so feels bad that you need tuck to be alive in the format, then Derevi should just not be in the format.
Not to belabor this point from the other thread, but if the RC felt Derevi was a problem they could just ban him entirely. BaaC really makes no difference in that case (or most cases if we're being honest). Hardly anyone is playing him in the 99. The simple answer is that Derevi really isn't a problem - he's kinda broken with stax effects, but he's still (afaik) not breaking cEDH or anything. And outside of a high-powered meta playing nasty stax cards, his ability just isn't that scary. Is he annoying? Sure. Is his design questionable? Definitely. Should he be banned? Not seeing it. If Derevi is the bar, there are a LOT of commanders over that bar. Banning half the format might make the format more fun for us Old Fogeys, but not for the new players who make up the majority of it.
The way commanders interact with infinite mana and sac outlets is really a lame side-effect of the game the way it is, being able to pay for infinite commander tax and win that turn is dumb.
I mean, I think it's dumb too, but that's cEDH for you. There are so many dumb things there, the interaction with commander tax and infinite mana is just the tip of the iceberg imo. I would never advocate for a large-scale rules change on the basis of it being annoying in cEDH.

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Post by Legend » 12 hours ago

Replace current Rule 11 with:

11. Players can't cast their commanders more than once per turn.
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Post by pokken » 11 hours ago

Legend wrote:
12 hours ago
Replace current Rule 11 with:

11. Players can't cast their commanders more than once per turn.
Some definite advantages to this one. Especially in its elegant simplicity. It doesn't really hate on the worst golos play patterns because it doesn't give you a turn off as consistently but it is way simpler and would be a huge first step and reducing some of the more obscene things done w commanders.

Derevi and command beacon loops are a small loophole so you could reword as "commanders may leave the commandzone only once per turn" or something like that.

I'd also add a small rider of "from the command zone" as I think bouncing and reusing your commander is legitimate.
Last edited by pokken 11 hours ago, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by BeneTleilax » 11 hours ago

Tuck also strongly incentivized tutors, which are a greater detriment to the format than any general, in my view. Right now, I only run tutors in one of my decks, and those are just to get Zada. Prior to the removal of the tuck rule, I ran a tutor package in every deck, because I like build-around generals and want to play every game I sit down to. This in turn meant tutors were no longer a reliable tell for combo players; whereas now if someone tutors the whole table scrutinizes them rather intently, in the age of tuck casual players would just use a tutor for some useful piece of interaction whenever they had a spare in hand. I feel like you have forgotten that tuck didn't kneecap synergistic generals, it kneecapped decks that didn't run tutor packages and ways to interact with blue on the stack.

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Post by pokken » 10 hours ago

DirkGently wrote:
13 hours ago
Over-reliance on your commander is bad, be better than that.
This isn't a competitive format, there aren't rules for how one "ought" to build a deck because everyone is working towards their own goals. Commander is whatever you want it to be. And thank god it is, or we'd all be playing cEDH and I would have quit ten years ago. If someone wants to rely on their commander because they like that commander, who cares? Build what you want to build. Maybe be aware that some games are going to go badly because of that reliance, but as long as you're ok with that then it's really no one's business unless you're looking for advice.
I generally agree with your sentiment here. Most of what makes commander decks interesting to me is the commander and I remember the days when commanders were often so bad that decks were just heaping piles of goodstuff, in much the same way as CEDH decks are nowadays only much more naive of course.

That sentiment of "deck has to be good without the commander" was one of the three responses to Tuck being ever-present. Otherwise people responded by playing tons of tutors or by playing sac outlets and never playing into Hinder or Spell Crumple mana.

None of those things were any fun, so I'm with you.

That said, I think reducing the ability to spam cast your commander is a simple and effective thing that could be done within the current rules that is not really opening the doors to other kinds of brokenness.

Finding some kind of patch that reduces the ability to recast your commander infinitely - I can't figure out who that hurts. It's basically combo players and whack-a-mole commanders.

Can you think of anything anyone actually enjoys that involves multiple casts of your commander in the same turn? I tried and I can't. I'm not in favor of increasing the tax but finding a small way to let people keep a commander off the field for just a little while seems possible to me.

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Post by DirkGently » 10 hours ago

I guess it's a meta variable but I've basically never seen that happen except in cEDH games locally (and even then it's pretty rare since their "cEDH" usually isn't top tier meta decks). So I just don't see it as a problem in need of a solution personally, and I could see it tripping up commanders being played "fairly" - i.e. someone has ramped a fair bit, tries to play commander and it gets countered, and has the mana to try again.

But YMMV, I don't pretend to know what every meta is like. I could see it being annoying but, again, I think there are basically infinite annoying things possible in commander and WotC keeps inventing new ones every day :shrug:

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Post by onering » 7 hours ago

I think there is some truth to over reliance on the commander not being good, but it should come with caveats. Like, if you want to build a deck like that its fine so long as you understand that's a major vulnerability, and don't whine if it gets exploited. I also think that the rules shouldn't support over reliance on commanders. Its fine when its a clunky build or you're trying to do something cute, but WotC has been printing too many bs commanders lately that promote over reliance on them. Some way to rein those in is needed, even if it hurts more goofy builds (of which many of my decks fall under, so let me be clear that I stand to lose from this). Tuck seems too extreme to me, but something like making exile matter more, would help without hurting the weaker decks too much.

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Post by pokken » 6 hours ago

onering wrote:
7 hours ago
I think there is some truth to over reliance on the commander not being good, but it should come with caveats
I think there're so many caveats that it's not even a useful general rule or idea anymore. "Think about the consequences of how commander-reliant you choose to make your deck" is maybe a decent guideline?

There're so many ways to overcome people trying to focus-fire your commander engine these days that it's not even worth saying "You shouldn't do that unless..."

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