Commander Rules FAQ

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Titles & Recognition

Post by cryogen » 6 months ago

The Purpose of this FAQ


This thread is meant to provide quick and reliable answers to the more common questions that get asked about the Commander rules and ban list, as well as offer some insight to the way the Rules Committee manages the format. If you do not agree with anything contained within this thread, this is not the place to debate them. However, if you feel that something is outdated, missing, or incorrect, please tag a Commander moderator and leave a comment so that we can make the necessary correction. If you do have something to add, please include relevant rulings or information and provide a link.


The Official Commander Rules

Detailed rules can be found here.
  • Rule 0: These are the official rules of Commander. Local groups are welcome to modify them as they see fit. If you'd like an exception to these rules, especially in an unfamiliar environment, please get the approval of the other players before the game begins.
  • Rule 1: Commander is designed to promote social games of magic.

    It is played in a variety of ways, depending on player preference, but a common vision ties together the global community to help them enjoy a different kind of magic. That vision is predicated on a social contract: an agreement which goes beyond these rules to includes a degree of interactivity between players. Players should aim to interact both during the game and before it begins, discussing with other players what they expect/want from the game.

    House rules or "fair play" exceptions are always encouraged if they result in more fun for the local community.
  • Rule 2: Players must choose a legendary creature as the "Commander" for their deck.
  • Rule 3: A card's color identity is its colour plus the color of any mana symbols in the card's rules text. A card's color identity is established before the game begins, and cannot be changed by game effects.

    Cards in a deck may not have any colors in their color identity which are not shared with the Commander of the deck. (The identity of each card in the deck must be a subset of the Commander's)
  • Rule 4: A Commander deck must contain exactly 100 cards, including the Commander.
  • Rule 5: With the exception of basic lands, no two cards in the deck may have the same english name. Some cards (e.g. Relentless Rats) may have rules text that overrides this restriction.
  • Rule 6: Commander is played with Vintage legal cards, with some exceptions (see official ban list for complete list). Cards are legal as of their sets' prerelease.
  • Rule 7: Players begin the game with 40 life.
  • Rule 8: Commanders begin the game in the Command Zone. While a Commander is in the Command Zone, it may be cast, subject to the normal timing restrictions for casting creatures. Its owner must pay 2 for each time it was previously cast from the command zone; this is an additional cost.
  • Rule 9: If a Commander would be put into a library, hand, graveyard or exile from anywhere, its owner may choose to move it to the command zone instead.
  • Rule 10: Being a Commander is not a characteristic [MTG CR109.3], it is a property of the card and tied directly to the physical card. As such, "Commander-ness" cannot be copied or overwritten by continuous effects. The card retains its "Commander-ness" through any status changes, and is still a Commander even when controlled by another player.
  • Rule 11: If a player has been dealt 21 points of combat damage by a particular Commander during the game, that player loses a game.
  • Rule 12: Commanders are subject to the Legend rule; a player cannot control more than one legend with the same name.
  • Rule 13: Abilities which refer to other cards owned outside the game (Wishes, Spawnsire of Ulamog, Research, Ring of Ma'rûf) do not function in Commander.

The Commander Format Philosophy

Full discussion here
The Philosophy of Commander

Commander is for fun. It's a socially interactive, multiplayer Magic: the Gathering format full of wild interactions and epic plays, specifically designed as an alternative to tournament Magic. As is fitting for a format in which you choose an avatar to lead your forces into battle, Commander focuses on a resonant experience. Each game is a journey the players share, relying on a social contract in which each player is considerate of the experiences of everyone involved--this promotes player interaction, inter-game variance, a variety of play styles, and a positive communal atmosphere. At the end of an ideal Commander game, someone will have won, but all participants will have had the opportunity to express themselves through their deck building and game play.

The rules of Commander are designed to maximize these experiences within a game of Magic. The addition of a commander, larger life total, and deck building restrictions emphasize the format's flavor; they increase deck variance and add more opportunities for participation and expression.

The goal of the ban list is similar; it does not seek to regulate competitive play or power level, which are decisions best left to individual play groups. The ban list seeks to demonstrate which cards threaten the positive player experience at the core of the format or prevent players from reasonable self-expression. The primary focus of the list is on cards which are problematic because of their extreme consistency, ubiquity, and/or ability to restrict others' opportunities.

No single rule can establish criteria for a ban; there are many mitigating or exacerbating factors. Some cards will represent an extreme on a single axis; others are a confluence of multiple smaller issues. The following list isn't exhaustive, nor is it a checklist, but it represents ways in which cards challenge the positive experiences players look for in commander games. It includes cards which easily or excessively

• Cause severe resource imbalances
• Allow players to win out of nowhere
• Prevent players from contributing to the game in a meaningful way.
• Cause other players to feel they must play certain cards, even though they are also problematic.
• Are very difficult for other players to interact with, especially if doing so requires dedicated, narrow responses when deck-building.
• Interact poorly with the multiplayer nature of the format or the specific rules of Commander.
• Lead to repetitive game play.

Cards which are banned likely meet a few of these criteria in a significant way; not all cards which meet some of the criteria need to banned.

We prefer to be conservative with what goes on or comes off the ban list. Commander players often become emotionally attached to their decks through play and personalization, and we value that experience highly. We only want to disrupt that bond when necessary.

Commander is designed to be a malleable format. We encourage groups to use the rules and the ban list as a baseline to optimize their own experience. This is not license for an individual to force their vision onto a play group, but encouragement for players to discuss their goals and how the rules might be adjusted to suit those goals. The format can be broken; we believe games are more fun if you don't.


The Current Official Commander Ban List

Most Recent Banlist Update Announcement
Past Announcements
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The Official Banlist

Miscellanous Quotes From the Rules Committee

Sheldon wrote:I covered our process in an article a few years back. The short version is that you pretty much have it. "Okay, who has cards they want to talk about?" starts it off. Then there's a discussion and a decision if we need to put a card to a vote (either to bring off or put on), with each member voting on a +/- scale of how strongly they believe the card needs to be (un)banned. If it exceeds a certain threshold, the card gets (un)banned. We individually bring cards based on what we read online, see and hear in person at events, and experience in our local groups. We're relatively conservative about movement on a card in either direction. We want there to be a pretty good reason to put a card on or take it off, partially because we want to make sure we do the right thing and partially because messaging of any change is always difficult. The idea of test banning/unbanning cards is something we believe would create far more problems than it would solve.
Sheldon wrote:The RC officially meets quarterly. In reality, we talk all the time. Scott, Toby, Gavin, and I are all close friends. Scott makes multiple trips a year to stay with me in Florida and Toby makes the same trip at least annually. Toby and Gavin are in fact cousins. We are all (or have been at one time, I suppose in my case now that I'm 2.5 years retired from judging) significant people associated with professional Magic, so there is still a great deal of crossfeed there. Gavin and Alex are long-time friends. That leaves Devon as the only one without personal relationships that started outside the RC, but then again, he's the new guy.

I want to reiterate that there is no possible playtest data that we could reasonably gather and use. One, it would take an enormous amount of resources. Two, we don't think it's necessary. The format is more like an art form than a science problem. We are sculpting to our artistic vision. I know the metaphor breaks down at a certain point, but in the end, the idea is "here's what we've done, we hope you really like it."
papa_funk wrote:Way back in the early days, the idea of using the Legacy list as a baseline was floated a couple times, but quickly discarded. Taking inspiration from Legacy - arguably the format most antithetical to Commander - seems counterproductive. Any overlap is coincidental.
papa_funk wrote:I live 3000 miles from Armada. I think the closest non-Sheldon member is about 2000 miles away. We're very public about this and have said on multiple occasions that the RC are scattered around and don't share playgroups. And yet people who post to the most trafficked Commander board (and thus are in the top .0something1 percent of Commander players in terms of information exposure) don't know this simple well-publicized fact.

Getting out information is much, much harder than people think.
Sheldon wrote: As well as multiple websites, podcasts, and blogs, we all also go to our LGS, and I get feedback from SCG articles. We draw info and impressions from many sources. "Speaking for the community" isn't really possible, since Commander players aren't one broad-scope, singly-minded community. We're pretty confident that we're speaking for the community who wants us to speak for them--the folks with whom our vision resonates. And we don't really speak *for* anyone; it's not like we're congressmen or anything. We've always been clear about "this is our vision, hope you follow along."
papa_funk wrote:Our general stance is "a few tutors is good for finding answers and interesting threats. Lots of tutors to ensure repetitive deck performance is missing the point."

Frequently Asked Questions

What is "The Spirit of EDH"?
The Optional Sideboard Rule
Relentless Rats (and the One-Of Rule)
"Wish" Effects and Cards That Reference "Outside the Game"
The Mulligan Rule
Poison Counters
Commanders and the Legend Rule
Commanders and Hidden Information
Is there more than one Commander ban list?
Who exactly is in charge of the Commander ban lists?
What is the Commander Advisory Group?
What was the "Watch List"?
Why and when was Card X banned?
What happens when my general gets tucked?
Can I run off-color hybrid mana cards in my deck?
Can I run Extort cards in a mono-white/black deck?
What happens when I exile someones general face down?
When is the ban list updated?
What goes on at the quarterly Rules Committee meetings?
What is the official stance on gold bordered cards?



What is "The Spirit of EDH"?
Ban Ki-Moon wrote:I don't think that the spirit of EDH has much of anything to do with power level. The spirit of EDH only cares that you keep your opponents in mind as you're choosing your strategy. If your opponents can enjoy winning against you OR losing to you, it doesn't really matter how much sheer power you're packing. Similarly, it doesn't really matter if you only win 1/10 games, if all you ever do is try to gum up the board, restrict your opponents' options, or generally just say "no" a lot. In fact, decks that are too weak are just as bad as ones that are too strong. Your opponents are playing Magic because they want you to challenge them. Easy wins do not a game night make.

Source

The Optional Sideboard Rule (September 15, 2013)
Prior to 2014 there was an optional sideboard rule. However, this was discontinued as of the September 2013 ban list update. However, you are free to use them in unsanctioned Commander games with the prior approval from your play group.


Relentless Rats (and the One-Of Rule)
Currently, there are only a handful of cards which have specific rules that circumvent the normal limit to the number you may play in one deck, such as Relentless Rats. According to this thread, cards which follow these templates are not subject to the 1-of rule in Commander, and you may run up to 99 copies. (You probably don't want to run 99 copies though, you'll have a hard time casting them.)


"Wish" Effects and Cards That Reference "Outside the Game"
Abilities which refer to other cards owned outside the game (Wishes, Spawnsire of Ulamog, Research, Ring of Ma'rûf) do not function in Commander.

This ruling was officially posted after the printing of Spawnsire of Ulamog in the midst of a heated discussion. See this thread, page 7.
Unfortunately, it doesn't. There has to be a wish rule, regardless of what the rule actually says, because the CR doesn't provide enough structure for casual play to implement wishes. We don't need 4 people sitting down with 4 different beliefs as to how wishes should work and then having to have an argument in the middle of play.

We set the default at zero so that people who want to play wishes have to discuss it with their playgroup and set appropriate boundaries. As I said on MTGCommander, we're happy to reword the rule if there are better suggestions, but not if it lets a player bully their way into their interpretation.
April 2019 Update: The language of Rule 13 was edited to remove the language making this an optional rule with playgroup consent, due to continued confusion amongst players. Officially, abilities or spells that would attempt to pull a card from outside the game will do nothing upon resolution, but as with everything else in Commander, you are free to use these cards with prior agreement from your playgroup.


Mulligans
As of the July 2019 ban list update, Commander will follow Wizards and use the London mulligan as their official mulligan. That is, a player shuffles the cards in their hand back into their library, draws a new hand of cards equal to their starting hand size, then puts a number of those cards equal to the number of times that player has taken a mulligan on the bottom of their library in any order. Once a player chooses not to take a mulligan, the remaining cards become that player's opening hand, and that player may not take any further mulligans. As with before, because Commander is a multiplayer format, the first mulligan is "free".
Previously, Commander used the Vancouver mulligan as of the January 2016 ban list update.. That is, each player in turn may mulligan their full hand and draw a new hand of one less card, with the first mulligan being a "free" mulligan and redrawing 7 cards. Then once all mulligans have been performed, anyone with a hand of fewer than 7 cards may Scry 1.

Prior to that, Commander used a "Modified Partial Paris" aka "Brittany" mulligan rule. The way this worked was:
Commander Rule #8 wrote:A. In turn order, players may exile (face down) some or all of the cards in their hand.
B. Each player then draws one less card from their deck than the number they exiled.
C. Players who exiled at least one card may return to step 1 and repeat the process, drawing one less card each time.
D. Players shuffle all exiled cards into their deck.
The important thing to remember is that Commander is a social format. Just as when Partial Paris was the official mulligan, each playgroup should have a mulligan style which suits their needs and they can agree upon.


Poison Counters
Once a player has 10 or more poison counters, they loses the game. There has been no official statement by the Rules Committee regarding changing this total for Commander. However, they have discussed changing the rule from 10 with the release of Scars of Mirrodin.
Sheldon, February 24, 2011 wrote:We've talked about 20 poison, and we might revisit it at some point, but right now, it doesn't seem worth changing. We'd like to have as few rules differences as possible between the format and 'regular' Magic--just enough (40 life, Commander damage, Command Zone) to make it distinct without being too onerous.
On Season 2, Episode 4 of CommanderCast at 00:08:10, one of the members of the Rules Committee gives his thoughts on the subject:
Alex, March 7, 2011 wrote:In my opinion, it's a little too early at this point, especially because Action [the third set in Scars of Mirrodin block] hasn't been released yet, it's a little bit too early to conclude whether or not Poison needs to be dealt with in some way. I personally think it would be really awkward to have it be the only format to have a poison limit that's not 10, so that in itself kind of makes me not want to change it...


Commanders and the Legend Rule
No exception is made here. Commanders are subject to the legend rule just like any other Legendary creature or planeswalker. With the release of M14, the legend rule only checks legends/planeswalkers controlled by each player, not the entire table.
Matt Tabak wrote:Under the new rules, any time two or more legendary permanents with the same name are controlled by a player, that player chooses one of them and the rest are put into their owners' graveyards as a state-based action.


Commanders and Hidden Information
From this thread:
Ban Ki-moon wrote:In Your Library:The location of each commander is open information (everyone should always know what zone each commander is in), but you don't get to know where in your library your commander is. If you prefer to keep your commander in a differently-coloured sleeve (I do), you should swap it for a regular one before putting it in your library.

On the Battlefield: Since the card itself is designated as the commander, face down commanders still deal commander damage. Your opponents are also allowed to know which morph creature is your commander.


Is there more than one Commander ban list?

Yes and no. There are actually two accepted ban lists, one for multiplayer, and one for Duel Commander.

The official list (multiplayer) is the only list used by the Rules Committee, although they encourage social play and adopting house rules when doing so increases the enjoyment of the individual group.

The Duel Commander list was created by an independent group which fostered the competitive 1v1 Commander environment. They manage their own ban list which is geared towards balancing a 1v1 competitive environment. Their website along with the most up-to-date ban list can be found here.


Who exactly is in charge of the Commander ban lists?
A group of individuals known as the Rules Committee calls the shots when it comes to Commander. Even when Wizards officially adopted the EDH format, they left all control of such things in the hands of the Rules Committee. Currently, the Rules Committee consists of: Sheldon Menery, Toby Elliot (aka papa_funk), Scott Larabee, and Gavan Duggan (aka Genomancer).

The Duel Commander 1v1 list is maintained by Claire Dupré (Level 3 DCI Judge), Antoine Fruscio (Commander TO), Ivan Morel (Level 2 DCI Judge), Alexis Rassel (aka smc, Level 3 DCI Judge), and Benoît Verwaerd (player) (link). Kevin Desprez, the Level 4 Judge formerly on the Rules committee, has not been actively involved in the French 1v1 scene for several years now (link).

For the most up to date information about Duel Commander, please visit the official website.


What is the Commander Advisory Group?
In January 2019 the Rules Committee introduced the Commander Advisory Group (CAG). Their purpose is to use their already large presence in the community to spread the message of Commander and receive more feedback from the overall community, which they can then distill and summarize to the Rules Committee. The CAG consists of: Adam Styborski, Charlotte Sable, Josh Lee Kwai, Olivia Gobert-Hicks, Rachel Agnes, Ron Foster, Shivam Bhatt.

For more information, please see the formation announcement as well as the CAG charter.


What is the "Watch List?"
The Watch List used to be a database of cards the Rules Committee considered to be possible candidates for banning. The watch list was discontinued on June 20, 2009. For information's sake, here is an extremely outdated example. During the older ban announcements, the Rules Committee would announce cards on the Watch List at the same time as the banned/unbanned cards. The RC eventually discontinued the Watch List for a variety of reasons, namely because it was considered to be more work managing for little reward.


Why and when was card X banned?

Thankful for the Ban List, by Sheldon (Star City Games, November 2014)
The Power 8
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Balance
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Balance - Essentially, this card has an effect that is too powerful for its mana cost, and it was ironically never used in a balanced manner. (Official Explanation Pending)
Biorhythm
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Biorhythm
Biorhythm was the very first card Sheldon considered for banning. (Official Explanation Pending)

Source: Star City Games, November 10, 2010
Braids, Cabal Minion (previously banned as a Commander only, fully banned September 2014)
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Braids, Cabal Minion (as a Commander only June 2009, fully banned September 2014)
Sheldon wrote:If you''re not absolutely prepared for it and capable of doing something about it on the first few turns, a Braids lock is nearly inevitable. We also don't want games to devolve into being about a single card every time that card hits the table (see Kokusho). Braids as a General defines unfun.
Source: Official site, June 18, 2009
Channel
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Channel (June 20, 2010)
Sheldon wrote:First- or second-turn Channel into Emrakul or similar things are simply negatively format-warping.
Source: Official site, June 18, 2010
Chaos Orb
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From: Leave Chaos Orb Alone!
Papa Funk wrote: Three reasons:

1) Making exceptions to the Vintage banlist is not worth the gain. Yes, we did it with Shaharazad for a while. It was a bad idea.

2) We strive to be inclusive. Physical dexterity cards are not inclusive and endorsing them is not a message we want to send.

3) We had enough people posting on here demanding rulings on how wishes work. I don't want to be the one who has to set parameters on Chaos Orb and answer all the insane questions that come down the line.

If your playgroup wants to use the card, sounds like a great plan.
Coalition Victory
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Coalition Victory (March 8, 2007)
Genomancer wrote:Banning of a card continues to be based on one of three principles...
  • When a card's power level in multiplayer EDH is signficantly in excess of both it's mana cost AND power level in other formats (due to different rules or game sizes). [Examples include Panoptic Mirror and Biorythm]
  • A card's dollar cost is prohibitive for most players and the card usually detracts from the playing experience of everyone in the game [The Power 8]
  • A card or class of cards can not be consistently interpreted by all players [Silver bordered cards]
Coalition Victory is a strong candidate for the first principle.. it is a single card which can suddenly end interesting games with little difficulty, due to the presence of 5 color generals which the player is guaranteed to have access to. As such, opinion was unanimously in favor of banning it.
Source: Official site, March 9, 2007
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
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Emrakul, the Aeons Torn (December 14, 2010)
Sheldon wrote:This is one on which we listened heavily to what the community was saying, and nearly without exception, everyone hates Emrakul. It's a card that makes the game devolve into a war over a single card whenever it hits the table. Add to that the fact that its combination of abilities made is seriously unfun to play against. We had already had our eye on it, and when the community spoke, we listened.
Source: Official site, December 14, 2010
This is one on which we listened heavily to what the community was saying and nearly without exception everyone hates Emrakul. It's a card much like Kokusho that makes the game devolve into a war over a single card whenever it hits the table. We had already had our eye on it and when the community wailed and gnashed its teeth we listened.

Personally I loved and hated Emrakul both when playing him (fortunately I never had to sit down with anyone running him as a General although I stared down his tentacles a few times). I mean as a player who wouldn't want a nearly uncounterable take-an-extra-turn kind of impossible-to-deal-with "I win" card at their disposal? But that was also the real downside. You just drop him on the board and win (don't get me started about Intet/Djinn of Wishes shenanigans) and while that might be fine in competitive formats it's not the EDH/Commander I want. While there might be a great rare story of how a few ragtag heroes ganged up to defeat the evil creature of the elder days for the most part it's "Emrakul—game's over."

I did find amusing the post that said something like "If you're losing to too much Emrakul you're not playing enough Bribery" but that very post illustrated the point. If not just individual games but entire environments (note the avoidance of the over- and misused term 'metagame') are devolving into the battle over Cthulhu then we've made the right decision.
Source: Star City Games, December 15, 2010
Erayo, Soratami Ascendant (previously as a general only, fully banned September 2014)
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Erayo, Sortami Ascendant (banned as a Commander September 2011, fully banned September 2014)
Genomancer wrote:Listing Erayo as the third example of a legendary creature unwelcome in the commander role is likely to raise more questions. Some people will argue that other legends are more deserving of hate, but we feel that Erayo is a flagship example of a general whose sole purpose is to decrease interactivity. We don't think she's ever used to make games more interesting: the deck (and Erayo decks are pretty much identical) plays the same every game, requires fairly narrow answers to disrupt, and when it wins does so very early in the game.

Worse, it's not always obvious to newer players that the game is over when Erayo flips, and they suffer through many turns of waiting to "actually die". Strategies like this, which win in confounding and non-obvious ways, often cause poor play experiences because they exacerbate the difference between players' understanding of the game.

Is Erayo the most powerful early game mono-blue commander? It doesn't really matter.. what matters is that adding her to the banned list sends the clearest message that generals *like this* shouldn't be played... they make for boring games.
Source: Official site, September 20, 2011
Fastbond
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Fastbond (June 20, 2009)
Sheldon wrote:The overwhelming reason Fastbond gets played is to fuel a degenerate combo. The EDH life total makes Fastbond easy and safe to use for an inconsiderable cost. Couple that with the land destruction combo with Crucible of Worlds (which we're still very happy we unbanned), and Fastbond becomes even worse. We're not opposed to land destruction or even mass land destruction, but asymmetrical mass land destruction that's nearly uncounterable worries us a great deal.
Source: Official site, June 18, 2009
Gifts Ungiven
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Gifts Ungiven (June 20, 2009)
Sheldon wrote:We know that this will raise a great cry from some players, but as we previously noted, Gifts is simply broken (especially at the 3U cost and the fact that it's an Instant). The ability to tutor for two combo pieces and two ways to recur them generally makes this a one-card game-ender, which we feel is completely contrary to the EDH vision.
Source Official site, June 18, 2009
Griselbrand
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Griselbrand (June 19, 2012)
Sheldon wrote:Griselbrand was relatively simple choice. We knew all along it was pretty busted. While we had a glimmer of hope that the batch-of-7 card draw would help mitigate the obvious problem of a player being able to draw so many cards immediately (like Yawgmoth's Bargain, unlike Necropotence), it simply didn't. Griselbrand's Lifelink ability, allowing you more resources to draw cards with, coupled with being a creature and therefore easier to get into play (not to mention repeatedly) for far less than his mana cost, led to quite degenerate game states.
Source: Official site, June 19, 2012
Iona, Shield of Emeria
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Iona, Shield of Emeria
Sheldon wrote:Iona, Shield of Emeria creates a negative experience for many players without the benefit of a positive application. We had previously considered its high mana cost sufficient to keep it from getting played, but deeper investigation demonstrated many ways of getting it onto the battlefield without paying that cost. Iona, Shield of Emeria is also an exemplar as the type of card which creates an experience we wish to discourage, namely shutting players out of games.
Source:Official site, July 8, 2019
Karakas
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Karakas
Genomancer wrote:I think it's sufficiently obvious that without errata, Karakas is extremely overpowered in EDH because of its interdicting effect on opposing generals.

We decided that EDH would be better served without format-specific errata; they make the format harder to learn and play, and the gains are minimal. Further, having some cards errata'd leads to the argument that other "borderlne" cards can be fixed via errata, and how/when to do so is an ugly, poorly defined problem.

Karakas was an unfortunate casualty of that decision, but its loss is acceptable. While it was fun, and useful, it is not pivotal to the format.
Source: Official site, September 23, 2008 (Post #3)
Kokusho, the Evening Star (unbanned in the 99 September 2012, fully unbanned September 2014)
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Kokusho, the Evening Star (Originally banned on February 29, 2008, it was unbanned in the 99 September 2012, fully unbanned September 2014)
RobRoy (ban announcement) wrote:[Kokusho] was less of a slam-dunk, as there was some discussion that with [Recurring Nightmare] gone it was at a tolerable power level. However, even without Recur, the first time Kokusho goes to the graveyard represents a twenty point life swing in a four-player game, and there are many, many ways to get multiple uses out of him. Too many games were being swung by Kokusho, and he was far too often an automatic tutor target. In the end we decided that his power level in EDH is too far above both what his mana cost would indicate and his power level in normal games of Magic, and so he is getting banned as well.
Source: Official site, February 28, 2008
Sheldon (unban announcement) wrote:It's appropriate that Kokusho comes off at the same time as Prime Time goes on, as Kokusho was originally banned along the same lines. His presence had a similar warping effect on the format in the early days, with too many decks reusing the Dragon over and over (even if it didn't start in their deck!). However, in the intervening time, graveyard hate has become stronger and the overall level of creature power has risen to the point where we're comfortable - moreso after some testing - that it won't have the same impact.

He remains banned as a Commander because the mechanics of being a Commander allow him to circumvent the best method of dealing with him - the aforementioned graveyard hate. Getting him into exile as a creature is the end of it. As a Commander, it's license to start again.
Source: Official site, September 18, 2012
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
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Leovold, Emissary of Trest
Sheldon wrote:We had hopes for Leovold and gave him every opportunity to prove that he would be strong but safe in the format. He simply wasn't. Leovold violates the tenet of creating undesirable game states by easily locking other players out of the game. We prefer to encourage situations in which everyone gets to play, and it's too easy for Leovold to create the opposite, even unintentionally.
Source: Official site, April 24, 2017
Library of Alexandria
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Library of Alexandria
Sheldon wrote:Despite a great deal of discussion mostly I believe attributed to the idea that it will be available online Library of Alexandria isn't getting unbanned any time soon either. Its combined power level (which is extreme) and cost (48 auctions this week average $165.11; SCG $174.99 for SP) make it bad for the format.
Source: Star City Games, December 15, 2010
papa_funk wrote: LoA is a stupidly powerful card. That is not under debate. It might not be broken in the format. *Might* (frankly, the couple people who have tried it out think it probably is). Even if it isn't, it's still going to go into the vast majority of decks. And there's no card that comes close to doing what it does.

Which means that your average Commander table is going that have a lot of LoAs in play. Seeing an expensive card every once in a while is fine ("neat, you can play old cards"). Seeing an expensive card all the time is not ("that's not the format for me, I need the expensive cards to get in"). That perception is why Library is banned, along with Moxes and Lotus. The other expensive cards are either niche-y, not all that broken, or easily replaced without losing much, if any, power, so they don't represent that kind of barrier.
Source: Official Site, October 2, 2012
Limited Resources
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Limited Resources (June 4, 2008)
Genomancer wrote:With near-universal approval among the playerbase, and unanimous approval within the EDH rules folks, Limited Resources is getting the axe immediately.
Source: Official site, June 4, 2008
Lion's Eye Diamond (unbanned as of September 20, 2011)
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Lion's Eye Diamond (Originally banned September 1, 2008, unbanned as of September 20, 2011)
Genomancer (ban announcement) wrote:While not as problematic as hulk, neither of these is nearly as big of a loss for casual players. Many other two-card combos fall within the realm of "fair game", but the LED/Salvagers and Grindstone/Painters Servant combos are made up of cheap components which are easy to tutor up and quick to hit play. Because they come down so soon, they can be online before opponents can be expected to have disruption available... and make up the top tier of combo options.

While we don't want to make the banned list longer than necessary, these were felt to be acceptable additions. The complementary combo parts (Salvagers and Painters Servant) were felt to have more "legitimate EDH uses."
Source: Official site, September 1, 2008
Genomancer (unban announcement) wrote:Unbanning Lion's Eye Diamond is also likely to cause some hue and cry. There is a small but vocal segment of the commander player base who say that all fast mana like Sol Ring and Mana Crypt should be banned to balance the format... a complaint which rather misses the point. Our aim is not to make commander an unbreakable tournament format... it continues to be (and hopefully always will be) chock full of crazy powerful plays which you, the players, are trusted to explore rather than exploit. The rules page and list of unwelcome cards is there to help players avoid *accidentally* ruining games... and LED's presence on the list wasn't accomplishing that.

LED was originally banned as an example of a two-card infinite mana combo (with Auriok Salvagers), but like Worldgorger Dragon its presence on the list is increasingly incongruous. There are many two-card combos which actually kill multiple players in a single turn, and most players new to the format don't see LED and think "Ah, infinite mana combos are kind scummy." Additionally, there are interesting ways to use LED and, consistent with our philosophy on blacklisting cards, most of the boring uses of LED are easy to distinguish from its interesting applications. It enables commanders late in the game, and expensive commanders in particular because they tend to be played later when hands are smaller.

One possible source of problems with LED is its synergy with various tutors, which may be a good or bad thing. As with any change to the list, we'll keep a weather eye out and if it turns out to be a significant force for degeneracy or repetitive games, we have no problems admitting we're wrong and sending it back into exile. Honestly, we don't think taking it off the list will have much impact other than makes the list one card shorter.
Soure: Official site, September 20, 2011
Metalworker
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Metalworker (Banned March 2009, unbanned September 2014)
Sheldon wrote:Cards that easily and cheaply produce great deals of mana are inherently dangerous to the health of the format. Metalworker is clearly one of those cards, and had to go.
Source: Official site, March 20, 2009
Papa Funk wrote:We've been discussing the possibility of unbanning Metalworker for a while now. It's capable of making some truly ridiculous amounts of mana, and having 12+ mana available on turn 4 or 5 is not something that casual games should have to deal with. We like to encourage battlecruiser-style decks, but over the later stages of a game, where players have had a chance to build up to combat it. However, the all-in nature of Metalworker leaves it vulnerable to mass artifact removal, and when it isn't performing optimally it's a pretty weak card (though still part of several combo engines). Aside from Sharuum - a deck that can already be built to a competitive extreme - the decks that most look to use Metalworker already have a lot of disadvantages to overcome, so allowing them the occasional early explosion should be acceptable risk.
Source: Official site, September 12, 2014
Painter's Servant (Unbanned July, 2019
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Painter's Servant (December 20, 2009)
Sheldon wrote:Painter's Servant has been the fuel for unpleasant combos, most notably with Grindstone and Iona, Shield of Emeria. The latter two cards occupy some interesting design/deckbuilding space, so we'd like to see them in the format. Swapping Grindstone/Painter's Servant seemed like a natural fit to bring back a decent card and get rid of the true offender.
Source: Official site, December 3, 2009
Sheldon wrote:I've said before that [Ugin, the Spirit Dragon] probably provided the final nail in the coffin making sure that Painter's Servant never comes off the banned list. I have no reason to move off that stance.
Source: Star City Games
Sheldon wrote:Painter's Servant is a card that's been discussed for a long time and it's time to take off the shackles. We feel as though there are now more weird and fun uses for the card than there are dangerous ones. The card will provide deck builders with some additional paths to explore in expressing their creativity.
Panoptic Mirror
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Panoptic Mirror
obsidiandice wrote:I'm pretty sure it was originally banned for its interaction with extra turn effects.

More recently, Sheldon requested that people test it and see if it could be a fun card in circles not trying to abuse it. The general consensus was that it was even worse that people thought it would be, ruining games pretty much regardless of what was imprinted on it.
Source: Official site, September 12, 2011
Ban Ki-moon wrote:Wrath every turn is about as stagnant as it gets. Draw spells on Panoptic Mirror are fun, Rite of Replication would be overpowered but kinda awesome, but any type of sweeper would blow.
Source: Official site, March 6, 2012
Paradox Engine
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Paradox Engine
Sheldon wrote:Paradox Engine is a card that has proven to be intensely problematic. Not only does it provide easy wins seemingly out of nowhere, it has demonstrated the potential to unintentionally wreck games. Easily inserted into any deck, it combines with cards which players already have heavy incentives to play, generating a great deal of mana with virtually no deck building cost. While we don't ban cards which are only problematic if you build around them, Paradox Engine has clearly demonstrated that it doesn't need to be built around to be broken.
Source:Official site, July 8, 2019
Primeval Titan
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Primeval Titan (September 18, 2012)
Sheldon wrote:One of the concerns that we've had recently is the overrepresentation of heavy ramp strategies, to the point where it makes up a large proportion of the aggregate decks out there. While we think ramp should be good - this is battlecruiser Magic, after all - it's probably a little too prevalent and needs reining in a bit. With that in mind, we're banning the most egregious offender, Primeval Titan.

This decision won't be universally popular. Primeval Titan is dripping with awesomeness, and we ourselves are big fans of the card. But its ubiquity and effect on games couldn't be ignored and sad though we are to see it go, we think it will make for a more interesting and diverse format.
Source: Official site, September 18, 2012
Prophet of Kruphix
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Prophet of Kruphix January 18, 2016)
papa_funk wrote:This was challenging. Prophet is not a traditionally obvious problem card for Commander, so we chose to take a conservative approach and see if casual groups could adapt. In the past, we've seen unpopular cards generate a lot of outcry, but be handled reasonably well. Powerful cards existing is OK and exploring them responsibly is an essential part of Commander.

This didn't happen with Prophet. Casual groups haven't been able to work around it and problematic play has not dropped off in hoped-for ways. Instead, the primary approach has been to steal it, clone it, run it yourself, or get run over. Ultimately, it seems the card is too perfect - it does everything U/G Commander players want to be doing and it does it in a way that makes counterplay difficult. With traditional boogeymen such as Consecrated Sphinx, you're forced to expend a lot of your mana to cast it and will have a challenge protecting it as the turn goes around the table. With Prophet, it has virtual protection built in, negating that disadvantage almost immediately.

Prophet becomes only the second multicolored card on the banlist (after the structurally-problematic Coalition Victory). It's telling just how pervasive Prophet is despite such a restriction. Yes, U/G is the most popular color combination in Commander, but we've reached the point where Prophet is driving U/G deck choice, rather than vice-versa. That's centralizing in ways we can't ignore, so it's time for Prophet to take a break.
Source: Official site, January 18, 2016
Protean Hulk (Unbanned April 2017)
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Protean Hulk (September 1, 2008)
Genomancer wrote:This one really hurt, and I expect a lot of playgroups will still allow the Hulk to see play in games between trusted friends. Hulk is one of the most prototypical EDH cards... high cost for a huge effect, which is well suited to the highlander nature of the format. Unfortunately, it's proven too good. It's a one-card combo which is too easy to tutor up, and once it resolves there are several ways to kill every opponent, instantly. Hulk combo has cropped up multiple times, in different places, and has been the most problematic element in competitive environments.

The key here is that the kinds of cards required to answer Protean Hulk combo (cheap permission, hand disruption, or RFG-creature removal) aren't the kinds of cards we feel people should have to fill their EDH decks with. As such, the hulk needed to go.
Source: September 1, 2008
Local Armada Games group.
That quote is like 8 years old at this point, and pretty outdated. Hulk was a problem everywhere, so we banned it.

When we revamped the criteria and pulled off Staff and Worldgorger, I advocated for pulling Hulk off too. We tested it in a lot of groups and the results were pretty universal - it made casual games miserable, even when folks weren't trying to abuse it. Which is sad, because it's a cool card.
Sheldon, out of curiosity, what sorts of feedback did you get from Hulk? Were there particular interactions that people cited? Was it an overall too-good toolbox card?
Yeah, green has so many great utility creatures, but it wasn't necessarily the utility, but the ability to go with other colors. We found it worse in the white decks, since Karmic Guide, Saffi, and Reveillark already provide a strong base for recursion. It just became too much for free, especially with all the ways there are to recur the Hulk.
Sheldon wrote:[W]e feel as though it's time to let Protean Hulk off the leash. A number of factors led to this decision. Support within the community has been tilting toward Protean Hulk for quite some time. Inside the Rules Committee, we have been leaning in that direction for a while as well, but didn't have enough of a consensus. Now we do. We acknowledge that the card will be strong, but are of the opinion that it won't be the centralizing factor it once would have been. Back when Protean Hulk was banned, both creatures and graveyard control were nowhere near as strong as they are today. We know combo possibilities exist with the card, but they need to be specifically built around, so to us it becomes a great value card instead of a dangerous combo piece in casual environments. We suspect that Protean Hulk will be much like Kokusho, the Evening Star when it was unbanned: powerful but not broken in the current Commander landscape.
Source: Official site, April 24, 2017
Recurring Nightmare
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Recurring Nightmare (February 29, 2008)
RobRoy wrote:This card is extremely powerful for its mana cost. It has a reusable effect that cannot be stopped with enchantment removal, and lets you abuse comes-into-play abilities repeatedly. More, if your graveyard is sufficiently stocked, it's entirely possible that once you draw Recur it is the only spell you'll want to play for the rest of the game. This makes for degenerate games, so we're giving it the axe.
Source: Official site, February 28, 2008
Riftsweeper (unbanned as of September 10, 2009)
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Riftsweeper (originally banned September 1, 2008, unbanned September 10, 2009)
Genomancer wrote:Card specific errata have proven to be a significant deterrent to adoption by new players. Since the rules are getting more complex in other ways, removing them is a positive for the format.
Source: Official site, September 1, 2008

(Author's input) Essentially, for those that may be unaware, before the Command Zone was an official game zone, Commanders were actually just in exile. This led to a quirky interaction with Riftsweeper where a player could actually tuck a General with Riftsweeper's ETB ability. As this was obviously an unintended interaction due to the unique rules of the format, Riftsweeper got the axe, until....
Sheldon wrote:Riftsweeper is unbanned due to it no longer interacting with Generals.
Source: Official site, September 10, 2009

(Author's input) There was a lot more to this announcement, but what it boils down to is that the Command Zone was created and since Riftsweeper no longer interacts with Generals who haven't been played yet, there's no need for him to be banned anymore.
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (Previously banned as a Commander only, fully banned September 2014)
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Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (as a Commander only June 2010, fully banned September 2014)
Sheldon wrote: Unbanning Rofellos as a General was a year-long experiment that didn't pan out. We had hoped it would lead to a spate of fun-and-full-of-fat decks, but that wasn't the case.
Source: Official site, June 18, 2010
Shahrazad
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Shahrazad (September 20, 2011)
Genomancer wrote:Historically, the {W}{W} sorcery was allowed as an example of an interesting, crazy card. It provided a potent tool for aggressive decks such as white-weenie, but most importantly it highlighted the fact that the Commander games (and rules) can differ significantly from "tournament stable" formats.

Unfortunately, Shahrazad was instead used almost exclusively to troll other players by forking it, recurring it, and otherwise drawing out the game in byzantine ways. While there are lots of cards which can be used to do the same thing, Shahrazad was only allowed because of a special exemption to the rules. Since one of our aims is to keep the rules lean, and this extra rule was a net negative for most groups, it has been removed. We don't think many tears will be spread for its loss but, as always, if your group doesn't mind the occasional subgame, feel free to keep playing it!
Source: Official site, September 20, 2011
Staff of Domination (unbanned as of April 22, 2013)
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Staff of Domination (Originally banned June 20, 2010, unbanned as of April 22, 2013)
Sheldon wrote:We've had our eyes on Staff of Domination for a long, long time, and were hoping that someone would find uses for it that didn't include the term 'degenerate.' That hope proved fruitless. Strangely enough, it's the first and cheapest activation that has proved the most troublesome.
Official site, June 18, 2010
obsidiandice wrote:When Staff of Domination was banned, it was one of the most widespread and iconic combo cards in the format. Banning it sent a clear message that turn four wins weren't the gameplay we wanted to see. These days there are plenty of scarier combo cards out there, and Staff of Domination has a valid role as a cool utility card. Neither of these would be enough their own, but together they provide solid reasons to unban the do-anything stick. Please enjoy Staff of Domination responsibly.
Source: Official site, April 22, 2013
Sundering Titan
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Sundering Titan (June 19, 2012)
Sheldon wrote:Sundering Titan has long been a card on the edge. The decision to get rid of it came from the combination of two points. One, it simply created undesirable game states. It was too easily both intentionally abused and unintentionally game-warping, especially since its ability triggers on both entering and leaving the battlefield. Two, there has been a fair amount of community distaste for the card, and we agreed that the card overwhelmingly creates a negative experience for players. Listening to the ever-growing and ever more-involved community is important to us.
Source: Official site, June 19, 2012
Sway of the Stars
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Sway of the Stars
obsidiandice wrote:You could do some semi-degenerate stuff with this - suspend things with Jhoira, or Ghostway out your creatures at end of turn. However, I believe this card should be banned because of how stupid and unfun it is when you're *not* trying to break it. It basically reduces the game to a coin flip, restarting the game with seven life and no mulligans. I would counsel anyone considering unbanning this card to actually try playing against it and see if they have any fun.
Source: Official site, April 20, 2012
Sylvan Primordial
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Sylvan Primordial (February 9, 2014)
Genomancer wrote:... there is one card which has drawn an increasing amount of ire over the past year. We feel Sylvan Primordial is causing far more problems than its contributions justify, and that the format will be better off without it. It meets many of the heuristic markers for a banned card, insofar as it invalidates many other creatures as search targets and causes arguments about whether its use is degenerate or reasonable. It can be easily accelerated into on turn 4 or 5 (before players are expected to have extensive defenses or threats online), at which point it turns a reasonable ramp deck into uninteresting games.

If the card was just a big ramp, or just utility destruction, or just spot land destruction, it would likely be fine but by combining both factors it becomes ubiquitous, frequently overwhelming, and repetitive. After some debate in previous seasons, the committee members all voted in favor of removing it from the format.
Source: Official site, February 9, 2014
Time Vault
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Time Vault (December 21, 2008)
Genomancer wrote:This shouldn't surprise anyone. When Time Vault was unerrata'd to be Twiddle-effect friendly, it became one of the most ridiculous cards in the format. Plenty of community members have commented on how game-wrecking it is, and a little extra last minute testing at Worlds showed it's just as broken as expected.
Source: Official site, December 21, 2008
Tinker
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Tinker (March 20, 2009)
Sheldon wrote:The subject of much debate, this should come as no real surprise. We decided that the low cost ability of Tinker to get high cost artifacts (such as Sundering Titan, Mindslaver, or Darksteel Colossus) into play early in games and significantly impact their outcome easily warranted its banning.
Source: Official site, March 20, 2009
Tolarian Academy
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Tolarian Academy (June 20, 2010)
Sheldon wrote:Tolarian Academy, while not quite as explosive as the Rofellos and Channel, fuels easy early-game super-production of mana.
Source: Official site, June 18, 2010
Trade Secrets
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Trade Secrets (April 22, 2013)
obsidiandice wrote:Trade Secrets is much like Limited Resources in that has some issues in a multiplayer environment. It isn't a problem when one player draws four cards and another draws eight. Trade Secrets is a problem when both players decide to draw 80 cards and effectively turn a four-player game into a two-player game. It just doesn't add enough to the format to justify the games that it single-handedly ruins.
Source: Official site, April 22, 2013
Upheaval
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Upheaval (?)
papa_funk wrote:Cast Upheaval. Float a bunch of mana. Use that mana to replay the things you just returned to your hand. Restart game with 3-4 mana in play plus a threat. Watch your opponents discard a bunch of cards at the end of their turn.

The fact that it returns all those resources to your hand to be replayed makes it one of the more ridiculous cards ever printed.

(And that's setting aside how annoying it is used as a game reset)

Official forums, January 29 2013
Sheldon wrote:The major sin of Upheaval is the returning of the cards to hand, giving you the opportunity to play the stuff again. Obliterate *might* have stuff to cast, but it's not a given like with Upheaval. Additionally, we saw Upheaval actually warping the format, where there hasn't been such evidence with Obliterate--quite possibly, as a few folks have pointed out, because of the strength of Blue and the weakness of Red in the format.

Official forums, June 7 2011
Worldfire
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Worldfire (September 18, 2012)
Sheldon wrote:This banning was largely expected. Though the card itself isn't overpowered, it does have unfortunate interactions with the format, namely that the Commander is available to be cast even after the spell has resolved, and our philosophy is to avoid cards like that. Since, outside of this one quirk, there aren't a lot of interesting applications to the card, we don't anticipate it'll be missed much.
Source: Official site, September 18, 2012
Worldgorger Dragon (unbanned as of June 17, 2011)
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Worldgorger Dragon (Originally banned ?, unbanned June 17, 2011)
Sheldon wrote:We don't unban cards lightly, but it's time for Worldgorger Dragon to get out of the penalty box. It is no longer a particularly strong example of unwelcome, format-warping, combo-play style, but simply another infinite-combo piece. Those applications are narrow enough that it should not cause problems for social players, and the type of player who wants to play this kind of infinite combo isn't going to play a more fun deck because Worldgorger Dragon is available. Thus, since it's a goal to keep the list as short as possible and focused on more fun-oriented games, we believe it can come off the list.
Source: Official site, June 14, 2011
Yawgmoth's Bargain
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Yawgmoth's Bargain (?)
(Official Explanation Pending)


What happens when my general gets tucked?
When a general gets "tucked" (put into your library due to any number of interactions or card effects), the optional replacement effect takes place. As a free action you may choose to instead place your general back into the Command Zone. Note that the player in control determines this, not the owner (so in the corner case scenario of a Player A having their turn controlled by Player B's Mindslaver, Player B can choose to keep Player A's general in the library in the event something like Terminus is cast).


Can I run off-color hybrid cards in my deck?
The short answer is no, you can't. Color identity (Rule #3) determines which cards are legal in your deck, and hybrid cards have a color identity of all mana symbol colors on them, even if you are not required to spend all of those colors to cast or activate them. Hybrid cards have had a long contentious history in the format, mainly due to Mark Rosewater's very public stance that because of the design intent, hybrid cards should be allowed in any deck where you would normally be able to use half of the card. So for example, MaRo feels that Spitting Image should be legal in a mono-blue or mono-green deck. Regarding MaRo's stance, Toby Elliot had this to say:
papa funk wrote:Mark's completely wrong, and I've had extensive emails with him about this explaining the reasons why it's the way it is. He just doesn't like it. He also fails to see it for what it really is - a deckbuilding restriction that has roots in aesthetics designed to make people be more creative.

Inertia has nothing to do with it. We've spent a whole lot of time discussing it and believe that the rule we have is the correct one.
Beyond the aesthetic considerations, from a rules standpoint you have to consider the following and craft a rule to cover things like:
- How do you handle Beseech the Queen?
- How do you handle mono color cards with hybrid activations, such as Deathrite Shaman?
- With the removal of Rule #4 (if you would generate mana outside your color identity it is instead generated as colorless mana), creating off-color mana is very easy so there is no longer a natural check against using the off-color portion of hybrid cards
- What about other mechanics that had a design intent of using something else as a mana payment, most famously Phyrexian mana (e.g. Birthing Pod
These questions and others like them make it necessary to create a rule which has many hoops to jump through simply to add a few more cards to your deck-building options.


Can I run Extort cards in a mono-white/black deck?
Yes, you can. Color identity is determined by the color of the card as well as the mana symbols in the rules text. The w/b on Extort cards is in the reminder text, so it does not count towards determining color identity.


What happens when I exile someone's general face down?
There used to be a rules requirement that you were obligated to return the general to the Command Zone as soon as it was revealed, but with the removal of the tuck rule this scenario became so unlikely to occur that the rule was removed altogether. To quote papa_funk_, "In the unlikely situation that you do find yourself with your opponent's commander face-down in exile under your control, the removal of the old mana production rule makes it clearly correct to play it and beat them down with it anyway."

Source


When is the ban list updated?

At the end of 2012, the Rules Committee decided to change their announcement dates to coincide with Wizards set releases (and subsequent ban announcements). The Commander Ban List announcement is now the Monday after prerelease weekend.


What goes on at the quarterly Rules Committee meetings?
Sheldon wrote:Meetings tend to last around 2 hours, they've gone as many as 4 (assuming you don't count the time that we once talked about stuff nearly the whole time while Scott and Toby were visiting). There are indeed records of the meetings, which are recorded by the forum in which we have them. They're extremely informal. The order in which we talk about stuff goes according to mood or if someone feels strongly about a particular topic--or it has bearing on another topic. "We can't talk about that until we talk about this" has happened. If there are rules/topics to talk about, we generally discuss them before individual cards. When it comes to potential bannings, someone (generally me, but not always) opens up with something like "Okay, what cards do we want to talk about?" Sometimes that leads to a bunch of discussion, sometimes it leads to no one having any cards of concern. When it leads to discussion, someone will at some point call for the vote (which I described in a SCG article a while back). There is no time set aside to discuss a watch list, since it doesn't exist. The unbanning exercise usually happens later in the meeting.

The lack of formality works because we know each other so well, have been doing this together for quite some time (in the case of me and Gavin, nearly a decade), and most importantly, have a great deal of trust in each other. No one games the votes; I trust that what everyone says or votes regarding a card is their honest opinion. No one comes to the meeting hoping to forward a personal agenda over the group's goals. I imagine that's quite a rare thing.
Sheldon wrote: That's not quite right. We've never claimed that we look at all of the cards each time. Although sometimes we do it with more than one, each time we meet, we look at a SINGLE card and do the mental exercise of considering unbanning it (which doesn't count the running joke of Scott and me repeating "Recurring Nightmare???"). Yes, community voices can be a catalyst to us thinking about an things, although I'll caution you in thinking that the opinion of a vocal minority is the tipping point. If the next poll comes up and 100% of respondents say Balance should be unbanned, that thing is still staying on the list. We would definitely talk about it. Our discussion wouldn't be about the card, it would be wondering how everyone lost their mind at the same time.

What is the official stance on gold border cards?
Genomancer wrote:They're disallowed by virtue of being illegal in Vintage... World Championship and Collector's edition cards aren't printed for playing with, so much as learning or collecting. Some groups may allow them, but most consider them somewhat rude, so best to ask around; they're really no better than proxies, and the collectable nature of the game is one of it's driving forces.

Official forums, April 5 2007
Matt Tabak via Tumblr wrote:Q: Hoping you can settle a dispute over on the mtgcommander forums; there's a debate going on atm around gold bordered cards being legal/not legal in the format since the Comp Rules on define a "real" magic card as per it's dimensions and nothing else; can you real quick give a legal/not legal decision for gold borders in non-sanctioned Commander games?

A: Gold-bordered cards don't have a Magic back, if memory serves. That's what would make them illegal, not their border color.
papa_funk wrote:[T]he default, as the post from Genomancer notes, is that gold-bordered cards are not legal due to the requirement of "Vintage-legal cards", which is defined in the MTR.

They're certainly not legal in any sanctioned play (and yes, all sanctioned play is covered by the MTR - the cited reference to "competitive" is not to the REL, but the English meaning of the term - and 100% of MTR rules are in effect in all sanctioned events, despite claims here. It's been carefully constructed to work that way).

In casual play, you can do whatever you want. Charizard is a legal card if you're willing to put in the time to make rules for it. As with Charizard, forcing it onto a playgroup without discussing it first is impolite and not supported by the RC.

Official forums, June 6 2016




This is still a work in progress, and it will probably always be. However, if in the future you get the urge to make speculations regarding a certain Commander ruling, make sure to check this thread first! Someone may have already answered your question.

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