[Updated September 19th, 2017]
Hello Internet, I’m Phil Feichtner, and today I’m here to walk you through some of the do’s and do-not’s of the Commander format! But first, a little bit about myself. I’ve personally been playing this game since the format was called EDH. So yeah, pretty much an expert at it.
Commander is a unique format, where you can play just about anything you want. Unless your playgroup doesn’t like combo, then you shouldn’t play that. Control is a problem for a lot of groups too, so don’t play that either since we’re on the subject. Don’t forget about mass creature and land destruction, fog strategies, prison decks, or the color red – all of those options are guaranteed to put someone on tilt. Playing big, dumb creatures is OK though, and generally what one should strive for when playing this format.
These are the keys to success
The first thing you need to do when building a Commander deck is to pick a legendary creature. This creature will determine what colors you can play in your deck, and every color has certain benefits and cons that come along with it.
Green is very popular, as it has the biggest, and dumbest creatures around. Black has kill spells, which are usually quite good at stopping big and/or dumb creatures. White, on the other hand, has ways to stop your opponent’s big, dumb creatures from attacking in the first place. Finally, blue is quite good at “bouncing” your opponent’s big, dumb creatures back to their hands, while red has ca- just kidding. Red has nothing, don’t play it.
Unfortunately, none of these cards can be used as a commander.
Once you’ve picked your legendary Commander, you need 99 other cards. You’ll want big dumb creatures, of course. Most people play artifacts, so don’t forget to stick some of them in there too. I highly recommend Black Lotus, it’s a deece card. There are other types of spells that you may want in your deck too, but I’m not interested in those today.
Oh, and lands. Don’t forget lands. An ideal Commander manabase should be made up of a variety of different arts with different borders, preferably with a number of white colored options included.
This is the perfect manabase, more or less.
Now that you’ve built your deck, you just need to find people to play against. Your best bet is to head towards your local game store, and look for the group in the corner arguing about how Humility works. Approach them slowly, and ask if you can play in the next game. Commander players frighten easily, so you may want to bring a peace offering, such as a handful of food or some copies of Craw Wurm to show you mean no harm. If the group accepts your offering, then you’re in.
Commander games are similar to regular Magic games, except for two Commander-specific rules.
- 1. No one knows who’s turn it is.
- 2. Blue players get ganged up on.
However, apart from these rules, there are some “tricks and tips” that will help you along.
1. If someone attacks you, you two are enemies for the rest of the game. You should focus all your efforts on beating them, mercilessly, into submission. If you shy away for any reason, the others will recognize you as weak which can be a problem if you’re with a new playgroup. It’s best to establish dominance immediately.
2. Whenever anyone plays Sol Ring, you should complain loudly about how broken the card is, and how it should be banned. This way, the others will know you’re cool.
3. Don’t worry if the board becomes cluttered. Much like Magic at the Competitive REL level, you don’t need to know what your opponent’s stuff does, only what your stuff does.
4. As a continuation of that last point, other player’s turns are a good time to send some text messages, look through someone else’s binder, or go next door to get some food. Disregarding what your opponents are doing is a good way to show dominance, which again, must be established immediately.
5. Don’t play red.
By following this advice, you too can have a long, fruitful career as the premier Commander player at your local game store! At least until you play Humility, and everyone decides it’s easier to just ban you than figure out what that card does.