Commander (designation)

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The commander (formerly general) is a designation to describe the central card of a Commander deck. It starts the game in, and is usually played from, the command zone. Being a commander is not a characteristic but a property of the card.

Description[edit | edit source]

A player's choice of commander determines which other cards can be played in the deck by determining that deck's color identity.[1] Players may choose either a legendary creature or a planeswalker that has an ability allowing it to be chosen as a commander. Players may choose a pair of them if each has the partner ability.[2][3] In Brawl, every planeswalker can be commander. The Mystery Booster test card You're in Command enables a player to change any of their creatures into their Commander (even if it is non-Legendary).

The commander's color identity restricts what cards may appear in the deck. If a player chooses to have two commanders, the color identity is the combined color identity of each.

While a commander is in the command zone, it may be cast. As an additional cost to cast a commander from the command zone, the player casting it must pay {2} for each time that player has previously cast it from the command zone. This is called the commander tax. If a player chooses to have two commanders, each is counted separately. If a commander would be put into its owner's graveyard, be exiled, or returned to a player's hand or library from anywhere, that player may choose to put it into the command zone instead.

If a player has been dealt 21 points of combat damage by a particular commander during a game, that player loses the game. If a player chooses to have two commanders, each is counted separately.

Rules[edit | edit source]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (July 3, 2020—Core Set 2021)

Commander
1. A casual variant in which each deck is led by a legendary creature. See rule 903, “Commander.”
2. A designation given to one legendary creature card in each player’s deck in the Commander casual variant.

From the Comprehensive Rules (July 3, 2020—Core Set 2021)

  • 903.1. In the Commander variant, each deck is led by a legendary creature designated as that deck’s commander. The Commander variant was created and popularized by fans; an independent rules committee maintains additional resources at MTGCommander.net. The Commander variant uses all the normal rules for a Magic game, with the following additions.

From the Comprehensive Rules (July 3, 2020—Core Set 2021)

  • 903.3. Each deck has a legendary creature card designated as its commander. This designation is not a characteristic of the object represented by the card; rather, it is an attribute of the card itself. The card retains this designation even when it changes zones.

    Example: A commander that’s been turned face down (due to Ixidron’s effect, for example) is still a commander. A commander that’s copying another card (due to Cytoshape’s effect, for example) is still a commander. A permanent that’s copying a commander (such as a Body Double, for example, copying a commander in a player’s graveyard) is not a commander.

    • 903.3a Some planeswalker cards have an ability that states the card can be your commander. This ability modifies the rules for deck construction, and it functions before the game begins. See also rule 113.6m.
    • 903.3b If a player’s commander is a meld card and it’s melded with the other member of its meld pair, the resulting melded permanent is that player’s commander.
    • 903.3c If a player’s commander is a component of a merged permanent, the resulting merged permanent is that player’s commander.
    • 903.3d If an effect refers to controlling a commander, it refers to a permanent on the battlefield that is a commander. If an effect refers to casting a commander, it refers to a spell that is a commander. If an effect refers to a commander in a specific zone, it refers to a card in that zone that is a commander.

Commander tax[edit | edit source]

From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (July 3, 2020—Core Set 2021)

Commander Tax
Informal term for the additional cost to cast a commander based on the number of times a player has cast it previously this game. See rule 903.8.

From the Comprehensive Rules (July 3, 2020—Core Set 2021)

  • 903.8. A player may cast a commander they own from the command zone. A commander cast from the command zone costs an additional {2} for each previous time the player casting it has cast it from the command zone that game. This additional cost is informally known as the “commander tax.”

Commander interaction cards[edit | edit source]

Some cards specifically interact with your commander. If a player has two commanders, then each is counted separately, except for abilities referring to color identity, in which case the color identity of the commander is the combined color identity of each of that player's commanders.

Commander Storm[edit | edit source]

Main article: Commander storm

Cards with the commander storm mechanic, introduced in Commander 2018, can copy itself for each time the commander was cast from the command zone.

Lieutenant[edit | edit source]

Main article: Lieutenant

Cards with the lieutenant ability word, introduced Commander 2014, have an effect if your commander is on the battlefield.

Interacting with other commanders[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Chas Andres (August 15, 2017). "How to Choose Your Commander". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  2. Matt Tabak (October 24, 2016). "Commander 2016 Mechanics". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
  3. Mark Rosewater (October 24, 2016). "Howdy Partner". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.