Posted by Brian (@ChaosMTG).

ohlookapictureNole did his 90 minutes on Why We Play Commander last week. So, since I also have 90 minutes, I think I’ll do my own take on it.

As much as I love Magic, there are almost as many things about it that I hate (with every new product release the question of “why do we keep playing this game?” is inevitable among my playgroup… Maybe we’re just pessimistic). Today I’ll talk about the things I hate about this format. So, prepare for 90 (now 80) minutes of ranting and/or complaining about this format that I both hate and love.

If you don’t want to see my completely biased complaints about the format, you might want to pass on this one.

Color Identity Restrictions

Oh, color identity, how much I loathe you and your application to cards other than the commander. (Though I certainly applaud the fact that we’ve come away from the days where Thelon of Havenwood was unable to be used as a commander because he has a black mana symbol in his text box but not his casting cost.) My real problem with color identity comes from the fact that there are already restrictions that prevent decks from being able to use things they would otherwise be unable to; given the restriction that a deck is unable to produce mana outside of its color identity, the restriction of hybrid cards to only decks containing both colors seems ridiculous, especially since hybrid was meant to be able to be played with one color OR the other. Similarly, Phyrexian mana involves no colored mana investment to be used and should logically be able to be used by any deck. The worst offender by far though is the ruling regarding double faced cards. Garruk Relentless is unable to be used outside of a Black/Green deck because his back side happens to become part black. The problem here is that there is no black mana involved in this card in any way other than it happens to have the implied text “Garruk Relentless is Black and Green.”

Oh, there’s also that Quenchable Fire/Mtenda Lion issue.

(65 minutes)

Commander Damage

While I understand the intent behind commander damage, I’ve never played a game involving it where anyone but the person using a deck specifically meant to kill via commander damage enjoyed it. Quite possibly the worst offense it commits, though, is the fact that it becomes exponentially more difficult to keep track of as the number of players increases. How do people usually keep track of damage? For most people I’ve met, it’s either a phone or some spindowns. Adding another bookkeeping element to the game just makes things clunky. In the games I have played with it, it rarely seems to end up mattering. Once, I actually won with it… It was the most disappointing win I’ve ever had, because I was just getting started with the fun things I could do when I accidentally killed the other two players while trying to gain incidental value. Oh, and people always seem to think it applies to any damage (which, given the name makes perfect sense, but noooo…)

(57 minutes)

Casting from the Command Zone

This is a relatively minor issue, but one that really bugs me. Haakon, Stromgald Scourge can never be cast, Phage the Untouchable kills itself if it doesn’t have a Torpor Orb, the Myojin are overcosted vanillas without That Which Was Taken, and my beloved Iname as One is a 12 mana 8/8 that reanimates something when it dies. I believe the command zone should be a safe haven for all legends, allowing them to be considered cast from wherever their abilities want them to be cast from, giving all legends their maximum potential as commanders.

(52 minutes)

Commander Death Replacement

Death effects are nice. Being able to recast your commander is nice. Having to choose between a death trigger and being able to recast your commander is the epitome of unfun. The fact that this rule exists is also what confounds me about Kokusho, the Evening Star still being banned as a commander.

(49 minutes)

Mana Production Restrictions

This goes hand in hand with my problem with color identity restrictions, if you can’t use cards outside of your color identity, what is the problem with being able to cast a full-powered Solarion or being able to actually cast things you steal with Praetor’s Grasp or Sen Triplets? Only one of these rules is necessary… I’m inclined to say that this one is the better of the two.

(44 minutes)

The Social Contract (Sorry Nole…)

The social contract is the bane of my deckbuilding… Apparently everything I think is fun violates it. I try to balance it out by not being overtly interested in winning the game. If I’m playing just to mess with the game, I don’t feel nearly as bad about crushing people’s dreams with Stasis or flipping over my entire deck with Primal Surge.

(40 minutes)

The Banlist

I’m not going to get into all of my issues with the banlist right now *coughcoughprimevaltitan*, but I will say that having the Vintage banlist be implied is probably going to raise some issues with people with the release of Conspiracy, which will include cards that aren’t Vintage legal.

(37 minutes)


Ok, this isn’t really something I hate, it’s just something I need to get used to (especially given this site’s title) but will put on my list of things I hate because I can and feel like I’m missing something. Commander will always be EDH to me, it still feels unnatural calling it commander.


I’m sure I have more complaints, but I can’t think of them at the moment… So it looks like I’m done with exactly 30 minutes to spare.

So, let me know what you hate about the format in the comments below, or just your opinions on my opinions.

Since we’re heading toward the end of the season, for the last two weeks I’ll be swapping Unexpected Results and EDH (Evey Development Here) so I can cover the most news possible before the break.