Commander is the modern name for EDH, a Magic:The Gathering variant format which emphasises social interactions, interesting games, and creative deckbuilding. It can be played 1-on-1 but is usually multiplayer.

This page details the rules common to most play groups. Locally players often play with house rules, and are encouraged to, but this consensus version exists so that players know what to expect if they join a game outside their local play area.

Commander is designed to promote social games of magic.

It is played in a variety of ways, depending on player preference, but a common vision ties together the global community to help them enjoy a different kind of magic. That vision is predicated on a social contract: a gentleman’s agreement which goes beyond these rules to includes a degree of interactivity between players. Players should aim to interact both during the game and before it begins, discussing with other players what they expect/want from the game.

House rules or “fair play” exceptions are always encouraged if they result in more fun for the local community.

Deck Construction Rules

  1. Players must choose a legendary creature as the “Commander” for their deck. Details
  2. A card’s colour identity is its colour plus the colour of any mana symbols in the card’s rules text. A card’s colour identity is established before the game begins, and cannot be changed by game effects.
    The Commander’s colour identity restricts what cards may appear in the deck. DetailsAn Example of what cards are/aren’t allowed in a three colour deck.
  3. A deck may not generate mana outside its colours. If an effect would generate mana of an illegal colour, it generates colourless mana instead.
  4. A Commander deck must contain exactly 100 cards, including the Commander.
  5. With the exception of basic lands, no two cards in the deck may have the same english name.
  6. Commander is played with vintage legal cards, with some exceptions:

Play rules

  1. The start of game procedure for Commander is as follows:
  2. Players announce their choice of Commander and move that card to the command zone.
    1. Players may then sideboard if the optional rules for sideboards are being used.
    2. Each player draws a hand of seven cards.
    3. Players may mulligan, using the modified “Partial Paris” method.
  3. Being a Commander is not a characteristic[MTG CR109.3], it is a property of the card. As such, “Commander-ness” cannot be copied or overwritten by continuous effects, and does not change with control of the card. Examples
  4. If a player has been dealt 21 points of combat damage by a particular Commander during the game, that player loses a game. Details
  5. While a Commander is in the command zone, it may be cast. As an additional cost to cast a Commander from the command zone, its owner must pay {2} for each time it was previously cast from the command zone. (ie: it costs 6WW to cast for the third time.) Details
  6. If a Commander would be put into a graveyard or exile from anywhere, its owner may choose to move it to the command zone instead.A commander which is face down in exile must be moved by any player to the command zone, face up. Details
  7. Players begin the game with 40 life.
  8. Commander are subject to the Legend rule; they will be put into the graveyard or command zone at the same time as any other Legendary creatures with the same name.
  9. Abilities which refer to other cards owned outside the game (Wishes, Spawnsire, Research, Ring of Ma’ruf) do not function in Commander unless the optional sideboard rule is in use. If sideboards are used, wishes and similar cards may retrieve sideboard cards
  10. Commander is designed first and foremost for social players. It cannot be all things to all people.Nevertheless, many people like to play for prizes or other non-social incentives. Those incentives can help build communities and playgroups, but they can also undermine the social contract which keeps the format balanced.

    When running a competitive commander event, the recommended list of cards to avoid (under the primary deckbuilding rules) is one place to start. It is not however, nor is it intended to be, comprehensive. There are a great many uninteresting uses for the cards not listed there, and additional structure is required to keep degeneracy 1 in check. To that end, a selection of optional rules are provided here for prospective TOs or players who find their playgroup can’t find a balance.

    Optional rules for Commander

    1. Sideboards
    2. Victory Points
    3. Democratic Victory

    In addition, some commonly used but more fun-oriented optional rules are presented here for players to consider.

    The League Rule