The Rules Committee has banned Flash in Magic: the Gathering’s Commander format, as well as Lutri, the Spellchaser. The Flash ban is an important olive branch to the cEDH community, while the Lutri ban was announced previously as a Day 1 ban that would be coming in today’s announcement. Rule 11 has also been updated to enable the Companion mechanic.

Flash Banned

The RC states that banning Flash was an “exceptional decision.” Until recently, the official stance was that the competitive EDH community were a small fraction of the playerbase that shouldn’t factor into any banlist discussion. This position has evolved now, mainly thanks to the constructive communication and visibility of prominent cEDH players in the community.

“Enough cEDH players who we trust have convinced us that it is the only change they need for the environment they seek to cultivate,” the Rules Committee said. “Though they represent a small fraction of the Commander playerbase, we are willing to make this effort for them. It should not be taken as a signal that we are considering any kind of change in how we intend to manage the format; this is an extraordinary step, and one we are unlikely to repeat.”

The emphasis in this case is that this is a rare exception to their philosophy, which remains strongly centered around Commander being a social format. “We believe Commander is still best as a social-focused format and will not be making any changes to accommodate tournament play,” the Rules Committee continued. “Taking responsibility for your and your opponents’ fun, including setting expectations with your group, is a fundamental part of the Commander philosophy.” They summarize with the advice that any organizers who wish to run “untrusted” tournament games consider providing “additional rules or guidance to create the Commander experience they want to offer.”

Lutri, the Spellchaser Banned

When Lutri, the Spellchaser was previewed during Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths preview season, the discourse surrounding its potential to unbalance the Commander format was tense. For this reason, the Rules Committee preemptively banned Lutri on April 2, 2020, citing concerns that they did not want players to go out of their way to pick up the card knowing that it would be banned in today’s update.

The Rules Committee “hated the idea of banning a card prior to release,” and gave “serious consideration to announcing that the card would almost certainly be banned with Core 2021, letting it be legal rather than break [their] stance that all cards should be given a chance.” Ultimately, the Rules Committee decided that banning it immediately was the correct course of action: “Many people would buy a legal Lutri as it goes alongside every deck with red and blue in it,” they said. “Knowing that it would certainly be banned, we were uncomfortable setting up those folks, who are in many ways our primary audience, for far greater disappointment. Better to bend our stance.”

They go on to discuss their approach to future “novel” mechanics that might upset the format, stating that “If another card comes along that also does something novel that is incompatible with the format, we’ll ban it immediately,” but noted that “‘stupidly powerful’ is not novel; those cards will get their chance to prove themselves.”

Rule 11 Update

Of course, for Companion to work at all in Commander, an update to Rule 11 is necessary:

11: Abilities which bring other card(s) you own from outside the game into the game (such as Living Wish; Spawnsire of Ulamog; Karn, the Great Creator) do not function in Commander.

By changing the wording to specify other, the rule now lets you play a Companion while restricting everything else, as “it’s bringing itself in,” not another card. The rules change comes mainly because “if the companion started in the Command Zone or Exile, it would have been fine.” The feeling was “that’s clearly an arbitrary mechanical distinction,” and then the question became “how could we adjust the rules to reflect this?”

The overall feeling about Companion seems positive, with the RC stating that though they initially didn’t think it would work, “It was actually the kind of thing we really like to encourage. Brew with restrictions! Since we want the rules of Commander to match up to Magic where possible and healthy for the format, we took a second look.”

The main takeaway for many players here will be the impact this has on the 100-card rule central to the Commander format. The Rules Committee’s thoughts are that the “single extra card you have to jump through serious hoops to get is philosophically okay in the same way that a tiny number of cards (like Relentless Rats) are able to violate the even-more-important singleton rule.”

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