As a Limited fanatic and decade-long Commander player, Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate Draft is right up my alley! It’s an odd halfway between two formats and if you’re a drafter looking to dip your toe in, it’s bound to throw you a few curveballs if you haven’t played much Commander before.
Today, I want to get you, the Limited player, up to speed with how to draft this format and what’s different about it compared to normal draft. I hope this guide can also be of service to any Commander players looking to brush up on their draft skills in preparation for this set!
You Have to Draft a Commander
At some point during the draft, you’ll have to pick up a legendary creature (or planeswalker if you’re lucky) to helm your deck . This can be a commander you pick up at any point in the draft, so don’t feel tied down to the commander you open and don’t entirely ignore draft signals based on your first pick.
A few rules notes on commanders for the uninitiated:
You can cast your commander at any time from the command zone. If your commander moves zones, you can choose to put it in your command zone as a replacement effect. You can then cast it from the command zone again with a tax of two mana for each time you’ve cast it before.
For example Mahadi, Emporium Master will cost three the first time you cast it, then five, then seven and so on.
Here’s a big one that’s a departure from normal draft: your commander ties your deck down to a commander color identity. This means that you can only play, for example, red and black cards in your Mahadi deck. Even though you’re making a bunch of Treasures, you can’t use them like you may have in Adventures in the Forgotten Realms to draft and play every powerful card you see.
This means that in a lot of ways, picking up a three-color commander is an advantage over a two-color one as you’ll be able to play more of the cards you see in the draft than a two-color drafter will. There’s ample fixing in this set too so your mana base should be able to support three colors.
A mechanic you’ll see on all of the monocolored commanders in this set is “choose a Background. The idea here is that instead of only getting to play one color if you want a card like Volo, Itinerant Scholar to be your commander, you get to pick up a Background for Volo at some point in the draft so you can add a second color to your deck. There’s a background in every pack and they all give your commander a buff in some way.
Backgrounds act just like commanders. They live in the command zone and are subject to the same commander tax on subsequent castings. Commanders with this mechanic should really appeal to players who draft frequently as they allow you to apply the “stay open to the draft and delay the decision on picking your second color” principles that we’re so used to in normal draft.
If you don’t pick up a Background that matches the colors of all the sweet cards you drafted, you can choose to use Faceless One either as your commander creature or your Background. This card works just like a basic land; you don’t have to draft it to use it and any player can make use of it at the end of the draft.