Magic: The Gathering Designer Talks About Potential Changes in The Commander Format

Author Thumbnail
By Jake Vyper | More Articles MTG Writer/Streamer
February 08, 2020  02:37 PM


The Commander format of Magic: The Gathering is now more popular than ever. It's clearly a fan-favorite format perfect for casual players and players who want to get together for a chaotic multiplayer fun of Magic. But some players believe that certain rules need to be changed to balance the format, and improve the overall gameplay experience, and now Magic head designer Mark Rosewater has addressed those possible changes to Commander during his recent episode of Drive to Work podcast (#711).

Rosewater's latest episode was the first of the two-part series focusing on the possible changes of Commander from a game design perspective rather than from a player perspective. His thoughts were based on a Head-to-Head Commander he did back in December, but he clarified that Wizards of the Coast doesn't run the Commander format. There's a whole team that runs the Commander format, and that he has "zero input" in the changes. 

Here's a summary (thanks to Redditor Letterswords) of possible changes Rosewater discussed in his latest podcast: 

Hybrid Mana as it relates to commander color identity: Definitely needs to change. He points to one of the biggest complaints he often gets is that red and white are weak in commander. Mark says one of the purposes of hybrid cards is to bend the color pie a little to give mono-colored decks access to some effects they may not otherwise get in mono-colored very often, and that making hybrid work like it does in every other format would allow them to help these colors out more without breaking the color pie.

Deck size limit (can't play over 99 cards): Shouldn't change (makes explaining deckbuilding simple and elegant and that is better than the few niche scenarios where it would open new deckbuilding strategies).

number of poison needed to win the game: Shouldn't change (he says straight up he would've originally said the opposite but was convinced otherwise; aggro decks are very weak and poison being only 10 somewhat helps some bad aggro decks).

Sol Ring legality: shouldn't change (helps speed up a very slow format)

Tuck rule: shouldn't change (mostly because, from a design perspective, there is no difference in how Wizards balances putting something in graveyard vs bottom of library, but tuck rule makes one much more powerful than the other)

4th player advantage: only change if adequate data is gathered to find a solution that is easily implementable at the beginning of the game (I presume this means something like draw an extra card or start at higher life total?)

Commander damage: Leans towards eliminating it, but suggests to collect a lot of data figuring how often it actually matters. He feels it requires a lot of tracking (essentially twice as many "life totals") for something that he feels probably doesn't matter too often--points to the fact that when people defend it to him, they basically only ever use 1 deck to demonstrate why it should stay.

Non-creature, non-planeswalker legendary commanders: shouldn't be allowed.

I'm looking forward to the second part of Rosewater's discussion about the potential changes to the rules of Commander format. For the most part, I agree with Rosewater's views about how should Hybrid color rules should be changed, and how Commander damage should be removed from the format.  

Which of these changes do you think they should make for the Commander format? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Related: MTG Arena is Getting A New Workshop Series

What Others Are Reading

Author Name
Jake Vyper is a Fantasy & Sci-Fi Author, Social Media Manager, and Founder of
@Jake Vyper |