This weekend, in preparation of another Head-to-Head bracket, Mark Rosewater tweeted out sixteen possible changes to Commander to be voted on by the community. (It should be clarified up front that Wizards does not control the Commander Rules Committee, though they can create data to help inform the Committee’s decisions.) While this bracket does not directly influence changes to the rules, it will probably infuence the process to some extent.

Of these sixteen options, I don’t believe that a number of them are realistic changes to consider; but as a Commander writer, I do think putting a spotlight on them is valuable for the greater discussion. Let’s briefly look at all of them.

No Changes

I moved this to the top simply because I believe it to be the least interesting topic. No changes to Commander is no fun in the context of this discussion. I also don’t want to bury my position, in case the rules committee or advisory group gets wind of this. I think no changes would be a bad choice. Even if I think some of these options would be detrimental to the format, I think we should be open to having Commander work differently a year from now compared to how it plays today.

Change Hybrid Mana Rules

This might be the one change I have been on board with since I started playing Commander and have never wavered on. Understanding that allowing a red/white hybrid card to be legal in a mono white deck creates the problem of more staples, I think seeing a card like Unmake or Boros Reckoner more often would improve the format.

No Max Deck Size

This is not something I would be in favor of. While the prospect of being able to win a game with Battle of Wits in Commander has its charm; I am of the belief that Commander is defined by the general, color identity, and its rigid deck size. With no upper limit on the size of a deck, card choices begin to lose all meaning, and I don’t think games are improved by tool box decks having access to everything their hearts desire.

Sol Ring Ban

A Sol Ring ban has been a topic of discussion since I started playing Commander nearly a decade ago. I’m always fascinated when the community unites against the mana rock. It’s entirely possible that the format would improve if Sol Ring didn’t exist in it, but I stopped using it years ago in most of my decks and I rarely feel like games are disproportionately skewed away from me simply because another player casts it in the early turns of the game.

I would be fine with this change. Alternatively I would simply advise players talk about having it be house-rule banned if they are so passionate about it.

Non-Creature Legendaries as Commanders

Normally I am open to anything that could help support deck diversity, but I don’t think this change would have the effect people are hoping for. I could be overlooking something, but the idea of lands having commander tax or enchantments leading my army of creatures sounds pointless.

No Commander Damage

Commander damage is a fun feature of Commander, but it’s not a pillar of the format to me. It is rare that a game is decided by commander damage—to the point that I hardly ever track it unless a player brings it up on their first or second attack with their general. Commander damage provides a fail-safe against some decks and promotes aggressive general-focused decks. But if it were removed, I believe players could find other ways to leverage aggressive decks.

Fourth Player Advantage

This one is the most murky to me, and it’s possible that I missed out on a discussion that fleshes out what this was meant to be exactly. That said, if the discussion is boiled down to simply trying to create a small catch up feature that allows the last player at a table of four or more to get something, I am open to hearing ideas.

Off the top of my head, this could be as simple as having them start with an opening hand of eight or allowing a second land drop, to be used once at any time over the course of the game. This has the possibility to be very benign or a complete game changer.

Poison Total Change

The amount of poison needed to remove a player from the game should not be changed until we have another set that supports poison; then we can have a discussion. The tools available to an Infect player are very limited at present. The only reasonable ways a deck not dedicated to this strategy could use poison to their benefit is with Triumph of the Hordes or in corner case situations with Tainted Strike. Let’s talk when we return to New Phyrexia.

Return Tuck Rule

In a world where commanders could be shuffled away into a library with no direct way for players to get them back, I think it disenfranchised new players from getting invested in their generals. At the time, the removal of the “Tuck Rule” felt like it was going to change Commander forever. But honestly, it just changed some of the removal people played. Tuck was a fun feature in my opinion, but I don’t really see the benefit of going back to the old rule anymore.

Wish Boards

I wish there was an established ruling on outside-of-the-game cards that allowed players to have a select number of cards—the magic number may be fifteen—in the wings to acquire with cards like Coax from the Blind Eternities or Mastermind’s Acquisition. This change could be monumental in how people construct decks, admittedly even in negative ways.

I am open to a discussion on this one. While I would love to see something allowing for “wish” cards to have a use in Commander, it should not come at the expense of healthy gameplay.

Change Mulligan Rule

At present, I don’t believe there is a problem with Commander being synced up with the rest of Magic when it comes to mulliganing. That said, I never had issues with it being different in the past. If there is a strong desire to have mulliganing changed in Commander, I would be open to seeing it changed.

Life Total Change

The argument to lower the starting life total in Commander comes up from time to time, often just being anecdotal. I never see anyone fighting for forty being the perfect starting life total, and it was probably simply chosen because it’s doubling the life total of a standard game of Magic. I like forty, because it allows for players to stumble a little out of the gate and not be penalized for being too open right away. But I don’t think this is a serious concern of the Rules Committee.

Planeswalkers as Commanders

Allowing Planeswalkers to act as Commanders is maybe the most discussed topic from this entire list, if my Twitter feed has been at all accurate to the makeup of the community. The desire likely stems from wanting planeswalkers to be more relevant to Commander in the first place. I for one don’t believe it would make a change to how most people play Commander. Even recognizing that Tezzeret the Seeker as a general could be possibly game breaking, we already have legal generals that pull the momentum if left unchecked and they are fine. An informed table is not going to idly allow them to get out of hand twice in one night. Any problem child could be banned just like any other general.

Change to Partner Tax

Currently, if a deck has multiple generals though the partner mechanic, they accumulate commander tax separately. This is another topic that I believe doesn’t require a change at the moment. Since the partner mechanic is still in a relative infancy, I believe this could require examination once the landscape changes as more cards become brought into the available card pool.

While I didn’t agree with the changes made to partner in Battlebond when the set was being previewed, I now see it as a beneficial tweak for the future development of the mechanic. At present, I see nothing wrong with how commander tax interacts with partners.

Commander Death Triggers

By my understanding, this proposed change would allow death triggers to activate, even when a general was sent to the command zone after dying. This would allow a general like Elenda, the Dusk Rose to work in a more desirable and intuitive way. This rules change, while possibly hard to write in a way that doesn’t loop in unintended cards, would promote some diversity, which I am all for.

I don’t see this as being something the average Commander player thinks about, but for those who want to see a change, it’s worth consideration.

Allow Silver Bordered Cards

Finally, we have a huge can of worms with silver bordered cards. This is one where a real discussion needs to be had, before Unsanctioned is released in a few months. I have a feeling that silver bordered cards starting with the release of Unstable are meant to be more conducive to Commander than the cards created before the existence of Commander. This is why decisions about the legality of Earl of Squirrel still rumble around on Mark Rosewater’s Tumblr.

I would not allow all silver bordered cards into my games, but I don’t think a lot of people would want to play with a majority of the available cards anyway. This should be seriously considered.

Final Thoughts

There is no reason to believe that this poll will result in massive changes to Commander, though I imagine some ripple effects will be felt in the next six months. Commander is a great format, but as today demonstrated, it’s not without some possible blindspots. And as I said before, I think we ought to be open to Commander changing from time to time to better suit its player base.

With that in mind, go forth and vote for the bracket results you desire, if you desire.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH and the EDH community. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.