(Command) Zoning Ordinance

August 13, 2014

By Mark Mahler

mahler, mark - headshot





Now that we’ve gotten the first taste of the Commander 2014 spoilers out of SDCC, it’s time to grab the lowest of the low-hanging fruit and baselessly speculate about what’s in store for us this fall. For obvious reasons, a lot of the recent hype has been focused on “walker generals” and the new legends, but I’m mostly interested in seeing what our WotC overlords will be doing to interact with the part of our format found nowhere else in Magic universe: the command zone.

Call me kooky, but it still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside that Wizards prints cards specifically for our format of choice and if they’re willing to bend the rules on who or what gets to be your general, then I can’t wait to see what kind of shenanigans they’ve got in store for the zone that guy or gal resides in.

Last year’s product gave us exactly three cards that specifically reference the command zone, bringing the total number of “command zone cards” to …three.  Two of these, Derevi & Oloro, have already been banned in 1v1 (yeah, I’m that guy who plays mostly 1v1–you may begin heaping your internet scorn upon me now), and they’re pretty powerful in multiplayer, as well, though nowhere near as oppressive.

And then there’s Opal Palace.

Opal Palace Also ran


I play it in decks that like counters. And in my Isamaru deck, ‘cause people like to kill my dog. A lot. Shame on you people.

Yup, that’s about all there is to say about Opal Palace, but I still think it’s neat that R&D is thinking about ways to specifically interact with commanders and printing them on lands, which brings me to my first–and safest–prediction for Commander 2014’s new “zoning” cards:


1) We’ll get a new “Command Zone” land.

Instructions to Art Dept: Epic house, complete with rainbows. Probably on a hill. Could you do at least one of these a year? Thanx--

Instructions to Art Dept: Epic house, complete with rainbows. Probably on a hill. Could you do at least one of these a year? Thanx–


I think I’ve officially underwhelmed myself with the blandness of that prediction, but I think it’s as safe a bet as there is, given the commander product’s track record. My guess is that we’re getting a land that reduces the general tax in one way or another. Nothing too crazy; say, “[insert land name] reduces the cost of your commander by 2 colorless mana” to give you a one-time “get out of the command zone free” card and it probably produces mana in all your commander’s colors.

This won’t set the world on fire, but it’ll be useful for every deck and be in every precon set.


2) We’ll get a command zone “burn” or “destroy” effect on one of the new commanders.


It’s hard to improve on a classic.


My bet is that they staple a Lightning Bolt onto a commander’s rules text as follows: “Whenever [insert commander’s name] is cast from the command zone, [commander X] deals 3 damage to target creature or player for each time [commander X] was cast from the command zone.”  Yeah, the cumulative bit at the end of that statement is pretty iffy, but if Marath, Prossh, and Derevi are any indication, I think it’s pretty safe to say that R&D is bullish on you playing and replaying your commander in this format, as well as giving you ample incentives to do so. (Side note: now that I think about it, “Commander X” is a pretty bitchin’ name for a general. Or maybe I’ve just been reading too many comic books lately…)

Plus, can you think of a more appropriate ability for the mono-red commander?


3) We’ll get a command zone replacement effect


Yes, I know that the command zone itself is a replacement effect, but when have little things like redundancy ever stopped R&D before?  Besides, opening up new options for commanders seems like it’s right in Wizard’s wheelhouse lately, so I’d bet we get a card (my money is on an artifact) that says something like “If a spell or ability would cause your commander to be placed in your command zone, you may choose to place your commander in your graveyard or your hand instead.”

I guess this means I’m doubling-down on my “ways to get around the general tax” hypothesis, but I have a strong feeling that this is the direction that Wizards is headed in, so if I’m going to be wrong I might as well be twice as wrong.

Yup, that’s me in two months.

Yup, that’s me in two months.


Well, that’s enough unfounded forecasting for one article. If you guys & gals have your own predictions for the kind of chicanery we’re likely to see in our favorite zone this fall, I’d love to see them in the comments section below or you can email me at mahlerma@gmail.com.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I look forward to eating these words when the final spoilers come out in a few months.