Good news, everyone! There’s been a change to the Commander rules. If you want to read the breakdown, I’ve linked it here, but the gist is easy to understand:




Apparently, one of the impetuses for this change was the way that manifest interacts with Commander damage. The opinion of the rules committee is that even if the Commander is a hidden manifest, it should count as Commander damage.

Skeptical Pocohantas



I mention this because I think they missed an opportunity to make a better fix that I’ve personally been looking forward to for years: an end to Commander damage. And this might even prompt that, since tuck was a particularly important defense against combat commanders. The thinking goes that this is going to result in those decks becoming an unfun part of the meta, and the choice is going to be between banning a bunch of the most broken combat commanders, like [casthaven]Zur the Enchanter[/casthaven] or [casthaven]Rafiq of the Many[/casthaven], or else… what?

Gaga Side eye



There aren’t a ton of fixes for the problem of out-of-control combat commanders short of ending Commander damage. But that would be a boon for the format! Commander damage limits combat commanders; it’s a lead weight, not a luftballon.

Mike's Mind Blown

See, it’s the rare Commander player who wants to end the game as quickly as possible. Commander games, at least with people who make for enjoyable opponents, can be hard to set up if you’re busy with work or life or any other obsession beyond Magic. They’re at their best when multiple people are there, and each person increases the scheduling complexity by a factor of ten. It’s the rare person who wants to wade through all that and then win on turn six.

Legolas Game Over

But! Hitting your opponents with a bonkers commander can be tremendously fun. commander damage undermines this. Either you kill an opponent in three to four hits, which is way too fast for my tastes, or you hit one person a couple of times and then leave them lingering while you move on to play with your next meal, confident in your ability to kill your wounded prey should they ever do something other than what you say.

Marcy Fiending

Playing with your food is impolite, though, at least when it comes to Commander. Without commander damage, though, you can hit them as many times as you want, and so long as they have some life gain in the mix there’s no risk of suddenly hitting a weird threshold and ending the game while there’s still fight left in both parties.

Brush it off

“Aha!” a Straw Man might exclaim. “But now I’ve got you! Commander damage exists because otherwise people who gain infinite life could never lose the game.” This is a stupid comment, and I’ll tell you why: there are still ways to kill that opponent within the normal rules of Magic. Commander players regularly do infinite damage, mill people out whole libraries at a time, and even once in a while poison people. Infinite life stops none of these things.

Cookie Clasping

Of course, should infinite life combos prove problematic, just ban [casthaven]Melira, Sylvok Outcast[/casthaven]. She’s not the only infinite life combo enabler in the format, but she’s the most well known one. People would get the message.

Nicki Wink

On the plus side, you’d now be able to handle commander damage through something other than tuck… and just in time, since tucking has died! And let me tell you, as a Commander writer and a member of the trans community, tucking sucks but it’s there for a reason. Maybe if society was a better place no one would need to tuck, but it’s not, and eliminating the tuck as an option just increases the risk for everyone.

HBC Confused

That metaphor went on for longer than I had expected.


Anyway, any time the Commander Rules Committee breaches the surface to remind everyone of Commander’s weird status as an official format with rules set by an outside body, I think about representation. Specifically, the opaque nature of who is on the committee, how they were selected, what their terms are, and all that procedural jazz. This information may be buried somewhere in their forum, but none of it is on the front page of the utterly underwhelming web portal.

Scully whatever

“If you don’t like the rules committee, just play by your house rules,” our Straw Man might pop back in to say. Straw Man, you are an idiot. House rules don’t work when they’re build rules, because everyone builds at their own house. I sound flippant, and maybe I even am a little, but I remember back when the format was new and people would show up with decks that hadn’t been built standard to the rules everyone else was using. It was awkward, and unpleasant, and making an exception almost always resulted in someone ending the game far too quickly for the person in question, either because they comboed off or because they were underpowered relative to mean, and got et. Both directions sucked.

Shaw Razgovor Hug

There’s a better solution out there, and it might even be one that comes from our wonderful internet technology. Instead of the backroom advisors making decisions based on their clearly-not-representative playgroups (shit, I mean, Commander is a casual format run by hardcore players), use the internet. Make some polls, distribute widely, correct for any ballot stuffing, and then at least consider the results when you’re making a decision. It’s easier than ever to listen to people whose lives and contexts differ from your own. You just have to care enough to hear.

Edison Out

So, to recap: tucking is gone, but commander damage stays. The Rules Committee is weird, and should be overthrown by the proletariat. Commander is a casual format, which is why they keep making those sweet precons.




Jess Stirba Jess Stirbas Jess Stirba Jess Stirba.

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