What is Commander?
Commander is one of the most popular formats for Magic the Gathering and, like most good things in Magic, it started because of bored judges.
That’s not entirely true, but it’s an amusing thought.
Commander – or Elder Dragon Highlander, named after the early ‘Commanders’ being creatures with the “Elder Dragon” type – is a format thought up of within the Magic community. It quickly spread to being played by judges after officiating a Grand Prix or Pro Tour, which soon spread to staff at Wizards of the Coast (WotC) themselves.
Despite this popularity, official Commander pre-built products weren’t created until 2011, and it wasn’t until 2013 where these pre-built decks became an annual fixture in the release schedule.
How is Commander played?
Commander follows specific deck building rules compared to regular constructed play:
- Your deck must have a Commander/General, which has to be a Legendary Creature (2 Legendary Creatures if both cards have the “Partner” ability) or a Planeswalker containing the specific line of text “*this Planeswalker* can be your commander”
- All the cards in your deck must be within the colour identity of the Commander (colour identity is determined by the colours in the card’s mana cost and rules text)
- The deck can only have one copy of each card (besides basic lands)
- The deck must be 100 cards total, which includes your Commander card(s)
- The only non-specific rule is that cards from all of Magic’s history can be used, aside from the ban list
Commander is traditionally a multiplayer format, with games between 3-4 people, though 1v1 Commander is popular in some circles. Players start on 40 life (30 for 1v1 games) and if a player is dealt 21 damage by a single commander, they lose automatically.
The commander card(s) themselves are kept in a separate zone of play called the “command zone”, which can be cast anytime you could cast a creature. Each time a commander is cast from this zone, the next time it is cast from the command zone it costs 2 colourless mana more (an effect often referred to as “commander tax”.)
Why do I like Commander?
I started playing Magic seriously about a year ago, but never started playing constructed formats until the start of this year, where Rivals of Ixalan ignited my passion for Standard Merfolk and Commander Dinosaurs. Due to time and motivation the Commander deck didn’t get taken out that much and was eventually de-sleeved.
However, a few months passed. I had grown tired of Standard and had more cards at my disposal with which to build a deck (thanks past Murray!). So I invested in some Eclipse sleeves with which to start this project, and my Dinosaur deck was revived alongside a completely new creation, taking after my Standard deck: the Axolotl Paradox (named after a card which I didn’t have at time of construction).
Playing with these decks with friends and at my Local Game Shop (LGS) managed to revitalise my spirit for playing Magic, as well as igniting my spark for wanting to build for Commander more often. I have kept a full list of deck ideas hidden amongst .txt files on my laptop and my brain seeing cards thinking “That could work really well in Muldrotha/Asmadi/Shu Yun”
I will admit as well…
I kinda like playing politics in Commander?
A large aspect of a multiplayer format, like Commander, is being able to make deals/pacts with people in exchange for immunity from effects, or attacks. This can sometimes draw scathing looks from the rest of table if you side with someone already in a good position.
Personally, I like making a deal with someone not to attack them… and then just cast burn spells and removal on them! Because that’s not attacking them, I never said anything about casting stuff.
How easy is it to get into Commander?
As mentioned in the intro paragraph, WoTC offer pre-constructed commander decks on a yearly basis. Debates about quality aside, these are the easiest way to get into the format. Just unbox, sleeve, shuffle and you’re ready to go.
If you’re a pre-existing Magic player, it’s likely you already have the components to build a pretty good deck, so you could go down the pre-built route, or you could make your own custom creation.
Struggling to make choices? EDHREC has your back. In my opinion this is the best resource for anything relating to Commander, from card choices to theme ideas and in some cases finding out about cards you never realised existed, but would be perfect for your deck.
If your LGS has singles for sale and a Commander community, go pay a visit. Not only will you be doing an important service by supporting the store, you’re also going to find out more about potential deck ideas, possibly from someone who plays a similar deck to your concept.
A huge thanks to Murray for his contribution today – And if you’re a fan of EDH/Commander, or if you’d like to share your experiences, then let us know in the comments. Are you a fan of the format, or do you prefer a different Magic format? Share yur thoughts and opinions below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.
Last week, Wizards of the Coast were looking for people to stress test their latest video game endeavour. Many people were granted access to a closed beta, to which Wizards gave out keys to the beta testers, which they can hand to 5 other people. I was fortunate enough to have Jake give me a key, so I was able to take part in the stress test. Before that though, I got to know the game a bit – So, here are my first thoughts of Magic: the Gathering Arena.
Rarely does a block in Magic: the Gathering cause me to think twice about it – Pirates vs Dinosaurs in Ixalan? I’m way on board. Vehicles in Kaladesh? Sounds exciting! Oh, a new Un-Set? Even better. However, this is one of the few rare moments when Wizards of the Coast have caught me off guard – and for once, I don’t know whether I like it or not. Naturally, I’m on about the newest block, Dominaria.
Drafting is a great format for entry level play and veterans alike, it gives all players a functioning deck without the advantages of having spent a fortune on their collection. It’s also a great way to try out a new set, grab some great new cards and get more from your average pack of random boosters.
The “buy-in” for a draft is usually three booster packs of fifteen random cards, average price of about £10. Everyone sits around a table, everyone opens one of the boosters they brought, picks a card from it and passes the rest to the left. This continues until the pack is depleted, then everyone moves onto their second pack, passing in the opposite direction, and again with the third, at which point everyone should have a collection of forty-five cards, from which you build a deck of forty or more cards which includes the basic land cards you’ll need to add. (more…)
We’re big fans of Magic: The Gathering here on GeekOut South-West. We play it ’til there’s nothing left of it to play. From a casual game with friends to full blown lore facts, this game has it all and we love it. It frequently appears in our Top 10 articles and makes for a good article too.
But how do you get to the position of building many random decks in the first place? How do people end up with so many cards? Well you may (or may not) be surprised that I myself have over 1,500 MTG cards that I keep in a massive box. Why do I have so many of them and what do I do with them all? I have them thanks to booster boxes and I use them to make casual decks.
Sometimes the decks turn out great, with a lot of character behind them. But more often than not, they become a curiosity for a few games – Something to throw friends off with. I am best known for my white enchantment deck, which I call Keyword Ascension, but lately that’s felt like it’s too much to play with. So, I have built a good number of casual decks. From my Red/Green Werewolves to my Blue/Green ‘Kitchen Sink’, there’s a deck for all play styles.
With this said, there’s a lot of decks that just don’t work out. However, one booster box can turn that deck that just didn’t work into a real thoroughbred. For instance, when I was building my Keyword Ascension deck, I had a Zendikar block booster box. I believe it was Worldwake, which then introduced me to the Kor Spiritdancer – Who I immediately threw into my deck. Not only was she a perfect complement to my deck, she’s one of my main creatures!
This month, we bought another booster box. As a disclaimer, this is not cheap, but it is certainly cheaper than buying individual booster packs. The booster boxes can set you back typically between £70-£90 and you can probably get a better deal from a local games shop. It’s worth looking around, but a booster box contains 36 booster packs. Due to the sheer size and cost of this, I always like to buy a booster box with someone else – In my case, recently I have been buying booster boxes with my partner.
It’s a satisfying experience, opening all of those boosters and finding the rarest cards in there. This month’s booster box was from the Eldritch Moon set, which quickly revealed a card called Lilianna, the Last Hope. Just a couple of days before the box arrived, Jake and I discussed how he needed Lilianna in his zombie deck. As well as the power of the new zombies he got in the new box, he now has a pretty competitive zombie deck. There’s always a flip side to this kind of purchase though…
See, next month, a new block comes out. A block in Magic: the Gathering terms is a group of card sets which make up a theme/story. When I first got into MTG, the block was the Zendikar block, where these monstrous creatures were suddenly appearing. They were called the Eldrazi – and now, 4 years later, they’re back. They’re a lot more manageable now…
… and what about next month? I guess we wait and see what Kaladesh holds for us. Maybe we could do one more booster box..? So what do you think about booster boxes? Are they a waste of money, or is it the real way to collect Magic: the Gathering cards? What about building decks from them? As always, share your thoughts in the comments below or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
So, you’ve decided to finally take the financial plunge that is Magic: the Gathering and you want to know what to look out for when making your first deck. Recently, I invested in my third ever booster box which doesn’t come cheap – So join me as I look at building decks in Magic: the Gathering and some hints and tips I like to share with people.
You voted for it, you’ve got it. This week, we’re looking at some of the most blood thirsty creatures ever known to sci-fi/fantasy. No, we’re not on about a leech, nor a parasite, but they certainly could fall under these categories. We can only be talking about Vampires, a type of undead that likes to nom on your blood, essentially draining you of your very life force. What a horrible way to go.
Have you ever looked outside at the dark night (not to be confused with the film that scores better than 5/7), then romanticised about someone nibbling on your neck? These guys will be a literal pain in your neck when they clamp down on your flesh and drain you of your fluids (That doesn’t sound healthy). Join us as we count down our Top 10 Vampires. (more…)
Did we ever tell you guys we really like Magic?
Okay, it’s addictive, there’s no two ways about it, but out of a fairly simple premise there are just so many different ways to play, and we’re not just talking about different tactics, or all of the different deck types you can build. Officially and unofficially there are so many formats of play that can alter the way you think and how you play the deck that you know so well, and it can keep the same old one-on-one slug-fest from getting a little dull. (more…)
A good hero needs a good villain. Whilst there are many well known male villains, some of the greatest villains are female. From double-crossing, murder and outright chaos, to cerebral assassinations and even toe-the-line villainy, female villains can be as vicious if not more than their male counterparts. In this weeks Top 10, we count down our ten favourite female villains of all.
We’re not focusing on any one medium in this list – Instead, all mediums are welcome. From video games, through to comics and films, we focus on ten of the greatest female villains to ever come into existence… I didn’t want to use this line but here we go: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Urgh, cliché done.
After all of this time, I’ve put my money where my mouth is and I’ve found the perfect little geek figurine to go with my Chibi Qubeley.