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Magic Commander Format

Updated on February 22, 2011

Commander is a very popular multi-player casual format of Magic:The Gathering. Originally called Elder Dragon Highlander, or EDH for short, it was a grassroots player run format that was managed and organized strictly by it's fans. The name EDH was due to the fact each deck originally featured and Elder Dragon from the Legends expansion and Highlander because there could only be one.

In December 2010 Wizards of the Coast announced that they would be officially supporting the format with preconstructed decks containing all new cards printed specifically for the format. At the same time they announced the name would be changed from EDH to Commander.

Elder Dragon Nicol Bolas
Elder Dragon Nicol Bolas | Source

Commander Deck Construction

  1. Players must choose a legendary creature as the "Commander" for their deck.
  2. Players may choose any legendary creature as their Commander. Two players in the same game may choose the same Commander, and other players may include that card in their deck even if it's not their General.Commanders  are subject to the Legend rule just like any other legendary creature; multiple copies of the same creature (whether General and non-General) will all be put into the graveyard (or command zone) as a state based effect.
  3. Your deck should focus on your Commander. It is more easily available than other cards in the deck, and decks will usually want to leverage their Commander's strengths in their plans. It is not, however, guaranteed to be available at every point in the game so decks should be able to function without it for a time.
  4. The General's mana cost determines what color of mana symbols may appear on cards in the deck.
  5. Colored mana symbols which may appear in an Commander deck are restricted to the colors appearing in the Commander's mana cost. Lands whose type includes swamp, island, plains, forest and/or mountain (e.g.: basic lands, shocklands, dual lands, .etc) DO contain the corresponding mana symbol(s) as per CR 305.6. As such, they may not appear in a deck unless the Commanderis of the corresponding color(s).
  6. While Hybrid mana symbols may be played with either color mana, they count as both colors. As such, they may only be played with a general which is ALL of the hybrid mana symbols' colors.
  7. Basic land words (swamp, forest, etc) in the text box of a card do NOT represent a colored mana symbol. They are not restricted to Commanders of the same color.
  8. A deck may not generate mana outside its colors. If an effect would generate mana of an illegal color, it generates colorless mana instead.
  9. A deck must contain exactly 100 cards, including the Commander.
  10. With the exception of basic lands, no two cards in the deck may have the same name.
  11. Commander is played with vintage legal cards, with two exceptions:
    • cards are legal as of their set's prerelease
    • Shahrazad is legal for play

Plating Commander
Plating Commander | Source

Commander Play Rules

  1. The start of game procedure for Commander is as follows:
    1. Players announce their choice of Commander and move that card to the command zone.
    2. Each player draws a hand of seven cards.
  2. Being a Commander is not a characteristic[MTG CR109.3], it is a property of the card. As such, "Commanderness" cannot be copied or overwritten by continuous effects, and does not change with control of the card.
  3. If a player has been dealt 21 points of combat damage by a particular Commander during the game, that player loses a game
  4. While a Commanderl is in the command zone, it may be cast. As an additional cost to cast a Commanderl from the command zone, its owner must pay for each time it was previously cast from the command zone.
  5. If a Commanderl would be put into a graveyard or exile from anywhere, its owner may choose to move it to the command zone instead.
  6. Players begin the game with 40 life.
  7. Commanders are subject to the Legend rule; they will be put into the graveyard or command zone at the same time as any other Legendary creatures with the same name.

The cards too broken even for when you can play with anything
The cards too broken even for when you can play with anything

Commander Banned List

Although the main selling point of Commander is you can play with any card you want as long as it is your colors, a few cards are going to be degenerative enough to warrant the ban hammer.

  • Amulet of Quoz
  • Ancestral Recall
  • Black Lotus
  • Balance
  • Biorhythm
  • Bronze Tablet
  • Channel
  • Chaos Orb
  • Coalition Victory
  • Contract From Below
  • Darkpact
  • Demonic Attorney
  • Emrakul, The Aeons Torn
  • Falling Star
  • Fastbond
  • Gifts Ungiven
  • Jeweled Bird
  • Karakas
  • Kokusho, The Evening Star
  • Library of Alexandria
  • Lion's Eye Diamond
  • Limited Resources
  • Metalworker
  • Mox Emerald
  • Mox Jet
  • Mox Pearl
  • Mox Ruby
  • Mox Saphire
  • Painter's Servant
  • Panoptic Mirror
  • Protean Hulk
  • Rebirth
  • Recurring Nightmare
  • Riftsweeper
  • Staff of Domination
  • Sway of the Stars
  • Tempest Efreet
  • Time Vault
  • Time Walk
  • Timmerian Fiends
  • Tinker
  • Tolarian Academy
  • Upheaval
  • Worldgorger Dragon
  • Yawgmoth's Bargain

Banned Generals

  • Braids, Cabal Minion
  • Refellos, Llanowar Emmisary


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