The War Report: Discovering Commander


House rules are a thing when playing any game. Magic: The Gathering is no exception. Back in the early days, we used to play by our own sets of rules, and would usually determine those rules at the beginning of our play session. Friends and I would set higher life totals, play with larger than 60 card decks, or play 4-person team battles. Game types like these were eventually sanctioned, and game modes like Two-Headed Giant and Commander were born. The folks over at Wizards of the Coast have also introduced sets like Conspiracy, or smaller starter decks that can fight against each other, for beginners and more advanced players alike.

Knowing that there are various different standards for play, my current group of players elected to stick with the Standard format, which is a limited number of card sets that are the most recent. This excluded ultra powerful and exploitable cards from the past, and also shuffles old mechanics out while ushering new mechanics in. Essentially, it’s like a season of the game, and in the next season the meta will switch up given these ever changing mechanics. This also meant I had less cards to collect during my initial investment, which I appreciated. However, some of the guys I’m playing with have some older cards, and have insisted on playing with some of there decks that “just barely rotated out of Standard” but still seem to be kind of over powered. It’s been fine, we’ve let it slide and that’s the great part about house rules, is that there isn’t a judge pointing out the illegality of things.

Some of the other games modes have always seemed interesting, and despite having had Aether Revolt release recently, my group has been craving more variety. The problem is that we all have bought some packs, but none of us have amazing decks from what we’ve put together. Orders of singles have been made, and we are working on getting our Standard decks back up to par, but we still have had the urge to try something different. I brought up the fact that we should try Commander, and everyone was in agreement. Apparently it’s a very popular mode, and it will be first real foray for the most part, excluding the similar game type that friends and I used to play back under house rules. We’ve also talked about dipping into Modern, which gives you about ten years worth of cards to play with, but that is going to be a huge deck building project in and of itself!

This past weekend the group got together to test some of our newly minted decks that have been augmented by Aether Revolt. I had some success with the decks that I put together but recognized some weaknesses and I have some singles on the way to flesh out the decks on hand. I tore into one of my decks to put together another deck, but I still have 5 decks to work with. I also built a deck around one of the new planeswalkers, but I was underwhelmed by its performance. I think it’s either back to the drawing board for that one or perhaps I’ll just move on. Part of the fun is collecting, so I don’t mind the purchase. When we were done playing for the evening, I asked them what they had planned for next weekend, and they were both free, so I proposed a move to Commander, and that we would have something ready by next weekend. All in agreement, we set about thinking about what we were going to build.

It turns out that just like the normal sets that are released regularly, there are sets for Commander that are released once a year. Turns out that the Commander 2016 decks came out back in October, so the set only recently saw an expansion. We toyed with the idea of building our own Commander decks from our existing collections, but after taking a look at my options I was less than impressed. I decided to take a look at the pre built decks that came out in 2016, and nothing really struck my fancy, but looking over the 2015 packs, I found a deck that I couldn’t live without. It’s called Call The Spirits, and centers around this Commander:


You can see the full deck list (and individual cards) by clicking the link above. It’s a really strong looking set, and I see cards that don’t exist in Standard magic that should be a blast to play with. I know one of my friends bought a different Commander 2015 deck, and I think the others are building their own. Either way, it should be fun seeing how much different things end up. So what makes Commander so much different you might ask? Well, I’ll try to keep it simple.

  • Decks consist of 100 cards instead of 60.
  • Only one copy of each card can be put into the deck (minus lands). AKA Singleton.
  • May play with any card ever created, minus a few banned cards.
  • Commander dictates the colors  your deck may consist of.
  • Commander sits in command zone, can be cast any time you can cast creatures. When it dies it goes back to command zone. May be cast again for (2) extra mana.

That’s really all there is to it. It should be interesting to see how this deck works out, and if I can potentially make some of my own for this new game mode. I’ll report back when I know more!

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