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Why Is Commander the Most Popular MTG Format? (+ 5 Reasons to Play)

As the only official singleton format, Commander is a great jumping-off point for new Magic players and those returning to the game. By philosophy, Commander is casual. This makes Commander easier to approach than other constructed formats, which are often highly competitive. 

It’s also relatively easy to build a Commander deck, even if it doesn’t function exactly the way the player hoped it would. Tweaking the deck is as easy as swapping out one card for another—there’s no need to go out and buy four copies. 

Finally, the customizability of Commander is a welcome change for players. In other formats, the best decks become predictable. But the chaotic nature of Commander makes it an ideal format for players of all levels. Here are five reasons to play Magic’s most popular format. 

5. Powerful Card Interactions, aka Wild Magic

Commander players begin the game with 40 life and face up to three opponents at the table. Not only does this add to the casual nature of the game, it provides players with the ability to pull off insane card combinations and massively powerful interactions – often without ending the game. 

This adds a lot of fun, because you’re able to build a deck with awesome plays in mind then see them come to life regularly. Since everyone has large life totals (and life gain is common), multiple players are able to pull off big plays within a single game. Even if you don’t win, what you learn about piloting the deck is often immensely satisfying. 

4. An Afternoon with Friends (2-4 Players)

Commander is the ideal format for a relaxing afternoon demolishing your friends. Instead of trying to craft a deck that will beat randos at your local game store, Commander allows groups of friends to form playgroups.

Aside from the opportunity to simply have snacks and drinks while enjoying a casual game with friends, there are many benefits of a playgroup. Players can discuss desired power levels, special rules or allow otherwise banned cards. As long as the playgroup agrees, it’s fair game. This discussion is often referred to as “Rule 0” in Magic. 

3. The Lack of Meta + Infinite Building Possibilities 

Other official constructed formats each have their own metagame – which is essentially what everyone else is playing. The metagame determines what decks are competitive. This limits player building possibilities and drives up the buy-in cost to play with competitive decks. 

Outside of the informal competitive EDH (cEDH), there is a complete absence of any metagame in the Commander format. This means the building possibilities are infinite, and there are thousands of commanders to choose from – not to mention wild interactions you can include just for funsies. 

2. Expansive Card Pool with Nostalgic Favorites

The banned list are the only cards from the entire history of Magic: The Gathering that can’t be played in Commander. Otherwise, players can include any card, from any set. This creates infinite possibilities and makes it easy to get started building decks as a new player. 

Seasoned players, or those returning to the game, enjoy this because it allows them to include nostalgic favorites. They can build around cards that mean something to their experiences and preferences in Magic. This expansive card pool is what provides players with unlimited building possibilities as well.

1. Diverse Skill Sets for Every MTG Fan

Depending on the meta at any point in time, constructed formats often favor certain types of players. Commander, on the other hand, encourages players to build a deck around their skills and favored strategies. Control players can build wicked-annoying control decks. Aggro players can stuff their decks with “deal two damage to any player” cards. Folks who love Merfolk creatures or stompy green monsters can find the ideal commander to craft a strategy around. 

There is no wrong way to approach building a Commander deck, as long as you have a strategy for winning. Including proper synergy, draw cards and a solid land base will go a long way in creating a successful Commander deck. There’s no better format to test out ridiculous combinations and long-shot win-cons. 

The Casual Constructed to Rule Them All

When I started playing Magic, I immediately gravitated toward Commander. As a big fan of opening packs, I wasn’t ready to buy singles when I started. Yet it was easy to build a Commander deck with the small collection I had already amassed. 

Was it mega powerful? No way! But I still managed to win a few games as I learned how to improve both my deck-building skills and piloting strategy. For whatever reason, Standard felt too complicated to begin with. But I knew I wanted to learn the game and start playing right away. 

More than anything, I think this is why Commander has become the most popular MTG format. Not only is it casual and fun, it is accessible and enjoyable for both long-time players and newbies. 

What’s your favorite part of the Commander format? Let us know in the comments below!

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