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Popular House Rules and Bans In MTG Commander

Demonic Tutor

Commander, the home of Rule 0, gives plenty of opportunity for you to customize your play experience. Many commander players are open to changing the rules of the game to meet the needs of their play group, and this includes a lot of house rules and bans designed to increase the “fun” provided by their pod. While this requires having a regular play group to be optimal (you can’t expect to roll up with your illegal commander at an LGS and just have a free pass play, sadly), having such flexibility in the format is one of its highlights. Here, I’m going to highlight some of the most common house rules and bannings, the majority of which I would recommend experimenting with.

Hybrid Mana Color Identity

Let’s start with one of the more contentious options that many players enjoy. In Commander, a Hybrid mana card has a color identity of all its potential colors. Kitchen Finks is therefore a White and Green card, as opposed to the one or the other that hybrid allows you to actually play the card as. For many, this doesn’t feel right, with players preferring to play the mechanic to its fullest potential. As a proponent of aesthetics, I personally feel weird having even half of an off-color pip in my deck, but more mechanically-minded playgroups should absolutely try freeing hybrid mana.

Kitchen FinksMurderous RedcapMurkfiend Liege

Goodbye Infinites

Less contentious is the popular banning of infinite combos. A lot of groups, especially those that lean hard into the “casual” side of commander, want to win through swingy combats, big spells, and commander damage. Infinite combos, especially “easy” two card combos (like my old favorite Mike and Trike, below), are frowned upon by a large number of players. This is understandable, as it really feels like the game flops sourly to an end sometimes when a player just suddenly gets to press the “I Win” button without feeling like they “earned” it. Removing the option of infinite combos keeps everyone honest, though it may discourage running more interaction (which many decks are in desperate need of).

Mikaeus, the UnhallowedTriskelion

Say No to Fast Mana

Fast mana is exceptionally popular in commander. Ever preconstructed deck comes with a Sol Ring, showing you just how ubiquitous early, explosive mana generation really is. Many players choose to buck this trend, banning “fast mana” generating artifacts such as Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, Grim Monolith and more. This is a ban that’s definitely worth trying, especially if you feel like games are going too fast, but it’s worth noting that this has the potentially negative side effect of strengthening other forms of ramp. If only a player with access to Rampant Growth and Kodama’s Reach is getting ahead in mana, that player can potentially run away with the game.

Sol RingMana VaultMana CryptGrim Monolith

Banning Tutors

Inconsistency is part of the “fun” of 100 card decks. The added randomness of running only single copies of every card is one of the highlights of the commander format, so anything that reduces that variance takes away part of that fun. This is the logic employed by groups that choose to ban tutors- cards like Demonic Tutor and friends that search up a specific card. This kind of ban may have stipulations, for example banning low mana value tutors but letting something like a Diabolic Tutor slide, but if a playgroup wants to add variance they often opt to ban these effects outright. Like banning fast mana empowering green decks, its worth noting that removing tutors makes card draw effects even better.

Demonic TutorIdyllic TutorMystical TutorDiabolic Tutor

Planeswalker Commanders

Planeswalkers feel legendary, and there are a growing number of planeswalkers with the text “this card can be your commander” tacked on, so many players feel comfortable allowing walkers in the command zone. Similarly, the popular MtG Arena format, Brawl, allows walkers as commanders so it feels strange to jump from one format to the other. While there are a few planeswalkers that I could see being problematic (Ugin exiling boards just seems annoying and the original Tezzerett can tutor out some nonsense with ease), as a whole the impact of planeswalkers as commanders is innocuous at best. Though, it does feel a bit bad to take away the option of commander damage as a win condition.

Ugin, the Spirit DragonTezzeret the SeekerOko, Thief of CrownsLiliana of the Veil

Non-Legendary Leaders

Finally, my favorite house rule has to be allowing the option of certain non-legendary creatures as commanders. A number of interesting cards have been printed with unique effects that really “feel” legendary, but they were not printed with the relevant typing. Some popular non-legendary creatures you might expect include Chromanticore, Brutal Hordechief, and Havengul Lich– all cards that do something unique that you may want to try in the command zone. This should always be judged on a commander by commander basis, but this is the safest “Rule 0” build that you can try even with a less established group- just make sure you have a backup legal commander ready to slot into the command zone instead!

ChromanticoreBrutal HordechiefHavengul Lich

 

2 thoughts on “Popular House Rules and Bans In MTG Commander”

  1. Fascinating those bans are sorta so popular im surprised mld isnt in this article also. personally i dont agree with either of those rule 0 ban moves . Comes down to git gud”from a non elitist perespective- losing or dying = learning ,a dark soulsesque like philoso9hy .Basically legacy and vintage speed wins and getting one shotted by someone on turn 2 in edh semi consistently 50%chance is very acceptable for commander format from my perespective, the ones who cant deal with it well they gotta git gud and those that are fine with it usually stay ,great filtering system for getting a nice table going. New players absolutley welcome they just gotta remember ” git gud when they lose comes down to their attitude when they lose a game ,no catering or accomidating to anyones lack of deck power or skill level co.pared others at the table . This way ya learn pretty much faster overall eg losing = learning .Best way to learn mtg is face a food chain goblins deck w/goblin recruiter in it and getting smashed to death on turn 2 lol

    1. I can definitely understand this mindset, though personally I like all the decks to be as close to the same power level as possible for a more enjoyable experience. Thoroughly stomping someone isn’t much more fun than getting crushed yourself, in my experience, but the school of hard knocks can get results. Funnily enough, MLD seems to be increasingly rare- the “social contract” of the game has people avoiding it as early as deck building, so it doesn’t come up in house ban discussions.

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