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New Mechanics from Commander 2016

Updated on November 14, 2016

When I was playing Magic: the Gathering back in the day, Commander (also known as EDH [Elder Dragon Highlander]) didn't exist. It was created in 2011 and has become a very popular, very social way to play Magic the Gathering. If you're unfamiliar with this format and are interested in exploring it more, visit MTG Commander.

Commander 2016 releases November 11th, 2016. There are five decks, each with a unique four-color Commander.

Entropic Uprising led by Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder

Open Hostility led by Saskia the Unyielding

Stalwart Unity led by Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis

Breed Lethality led by Atraxa, Praetors' Voice

Invent Superiority led by Breya, Etherium Shaper

What deck are you most excited for?

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Hands down, the most exciting mechanic to be introduced with Commander 2016 is Partner. Traditionally the Commander format allows you to have one Commander in the Command Zone, however with Partner, you can have two. This allows you to use two other Legendary Creatures instead of a single Legendary Creature. Let's take for example the pre-constructed deck Breed Lethality. Since this deck is designed as a Green-White-Blue-Black deck, you could use Reyhan, Last of the Abzan and Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker instead of Atraxa, Praetors' Voice.

The same Commander rules will apply though based on the casting color of the Commander cards as well as the rules text. So if you choose two Commander cards whom only share three colors instead of four, this will alter your entire deck and the cards chosen within it. The Commander rules apply to each Commander individually, most importantly for the "commander tax" rule of adding two colorless to the casting cost when cast more than once. The damage dealing rule also applies to each Commander individually, not combined in any way. Any card which calls for a commander to be selected or identified for action purposes, targets one of the two Commander cards at a time. For example, Command Beacon allows you to move your Commander card from the command zone to your hand, this would apply then to one of the two commanders, not both at the same time.


Official Rules for Partner

702.123 Partner

702.123a Partner is an ability that modifies the rules for deck construction in the Commander format (see rule 903), and it functions before the game begins. Rather than a single legendary creature card, you may designate two legendary creature cards as your commander if each has partner.

702.123b Your deck must contain exactly 100 cards, including its two commanders. Both commanders begin the game in the command zone.

702.123c A rule or effect that refers to your commander’s color identity refers to the combined color identities of your two commanders. See rule 903.4.

702.123d Except for determining the color identity of your deck, the two commanders function independently. When casting a commander with partner, ignore how many times your other commander has been cast. When determining whether a player has been dealt 21 or more combat damage by the same commander, consider damage from each of your two commanders separately. See rule 903.11a.

702.123e If an effect refers to your commander while you have two commanders, it refers to either one. If an effect causes you to perform an action on your commander and it could affect both, you choose which it refers to at the time the effect is applied.


Undaunted is a pretty simple mechanic in that a spell with this mechanic costs 1 colorless less to cast for each opponent you have. Typically the Commander game format is intended to be played with several people, usually four players total. As a result, undaunted can be pretty useful if you bomb of a spell is 2, 3 or more colorless less to cast.

In the below example of Seeds of Renewal, if you were playing against 3 other players, you could return two creatures from your graveyard to your hand for just 1 Forest and 3 colorless mana. That's pretty outstanding, now imagine if you had 6 other opponents, you could do the same thing for just 1 Forest.


Official Rules for Undaunted

702.124 Undaunted

702.124a Undaunted is a static ability that functions while the spell with undaunted is on the stack. Undaunted means “This spell costs 1 less to cast for each opponent you have.”

702.124b Players who have left the game are not counted when determining how many opponents you have.

702.124c If a spell has multiple instances of undaunted, each of them applies.

Basic Landcycling

Cycling is a mechanic that has been around since Urza's Saga and is represented here in the form of Basic Landcycling. The Commander 2016 decks are all designed to be four color decks. Accordingly, finding that one color of mana that you need could be the difference between winning or loosing in a clutch moment.

Below is Absorb Vis, which is from Conflux, but is perfectly usable in Commander. In this instance, you could cast it as the spell for 1 Swamp and 6 colorless mana in order to drain 4 life from an opponent while gaining 4 life. Or you could landcycle it for 1 Swamp and 1 colorless mana to go fetch any basic land that could help you out greatly.


Official Rules for Cycling

702.28. Cycling

702.28a Cycling is an activated ability that functions only while the card with cycling is in a player’s hand. “Cycling [cost]” means “[Cost], Discard this card: Draw a card.”

702.28b Although the cycling ability can be activated only if the card is in a player’s hand, it continues to exist while the object is on the battlefield and in all other zones. Therefore objects with cycling will be affected by effects that depend on objects having one or more activated abilities.

702.28c Some cards with cycling have abilities that trigger when they’re cycled. “When you cycle [this card]” means “When you discard [this card] to pay a cycling cost.” These abilities trigger from whatever zone the card winds up in after it’s cycled.

702.28d Typecycling is a variant of the cycling ability. “[Type]cycling [cost]” means “[Cost], Discard this card: Search your library for a [type] card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then shuffle your library.” This type is usually a subtype (as in “mountaincycling”) but can be any card type, subtype, supertype, or combination thereof (as in “basic landcycling”).

702.28e Typecycling abilities are cycling abilities, and typecycling costs are cycling costs. Any cards that trigger when a player cycles a card will trigger when a card is discarded to pay a typecycling cost. Any effect that stops players from cycling cards will stop players from activating cards’ typecycling abilities. Any effect that increases or reduces a cycling cost will increase or reduce a typecycling cost.

Commander is a very social game format that is meant to be more casual. The 100-card decks are pretty big, the rules are pretty specific and the fun is pretty bountiful. This new Commander 2016 introduces 56 brand new cards to Magic the Gathering and each deck should cost about $35. The new Commanders in these decks are pretty interesting and each has fascinating stories behind them. All of these Commander cards are legal for play in the Commander, Vintage, and Legacy formats. They aren’t legal for play in the Standard or Modern formats.


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