Magic Mondays: Stew Explains Commander

Hey Magic Geeks,

I’ve been out of the MTG loop for a while but the new Kaladesh set has me back in a big way. I checked out just after Time Spiral (How you so old, Szpirs? Shut up, Szpirs) so a lot has changed, including the play formats. I keep hearing about this new style of play called “Commander”. I asked our resident (possibly) MTG expert, Stew to explain it.

Stew: To start with, you build your deck with 99 individual cards and one legendary creature as your general. Spells in the 99 can only be the colours of the general.

Szpirs: So, basically, everything has to match the colours of your general and you can only have one of each card?

Stew:  Everything is restricted to one card except basic lands and cards that state otherwise.

 

 Szpirs: Cool. Any other changes to the rules?
magic table.png
Stew: There is also a banned list but it’s pretty common-sense. Other than that,  all other MTG rules apply. Oh, there’s an alternate win condition: 21 points of general damage.
 Szpirs: That’s damage done to the opponent by your general?
Stew: Yeah. 21 points from any one general, and you’re done. The general has it’s own area on the table called the ‘command zone’. If your commander would go to the grave yard, you can remove him from it and move him to this zone. The creature gains +2 colourless to its’ converted mana cost each time they die. Otherwise, it’s like any other creature.

Szpirs: Wait, doesn’t 20 points of damage kill a player anyways?

Stew: Not in Commander. You start with 40 life.

Szpirs: Okay, I’m in. How do you build one of these decks?

Stew: You base everything mostly around your generals colours then decide if you’re going pvp – against one player- or pve – aka group battle. Obviously, you need different strategies to handle one opponent compared to four or five of them.

Szpirs: What are the main building strategies? I mean, you’ll have to find different cards with similar effects no matter what…but which decks win?

Stew: That’s the fun of Commander. There are tier decks and literally infinite alterations to what you can change.

Szpirs: Tier decks?

Stew: So there are several decks that sit higher than others as they have a higher chance of winning than the average “oh I threw this together”… like playing Mindslaver with goblin welder in standard against Mono white weenie soldiers.

Szpirs: What’s the best thing about Commander compared to Standard?

Stew: Commander allows you to play with any card that isn’t banned. In Standard you have to stay current which can be a drain on the wallet…and unlike Legacy and Vintage, Commander has more of a fun group appeal.

 Szpirs: Group appeal like politicking and alliances?

Stew: Yeah. It’s everyone for themselves but alliances can be formed to take on a common enemy.

Szpirs: Have you been playing commander at a local comic store?

Stew: Oh yeah. I have played at most shops in Hamilton (Ontario) at one time or another, some in Toronto, Montreal, and surrounding areas of the GTA.

Szpirs: Noticed any changes since the release of Khaladesh?

Stew: Not a great deal. The new dual lands help with mana fixing for some, osol ring.jpgthers are trying to break energy tokens, and then red guys are always trying to burn the place down with the new Chandra planeswalker card. She seems to be the most broken card in the set aside from inventions.  A lot more people with good, older cards as they’ve been reprinted lately.

Szpirs: Sol ring, for instance…

 

Stew: Just got my invention version of it. So pretty.

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