Magic the Gathering is probably the most popular TCG or Trading Card Game in the world. There are many different ways to play it with your friends, at the local card shop, or in a tournament. Though, Magic as it is usually referred to, also comes in many flavors such as Legacy, Modern, Standard, and Commander/EDH formats. I could talk for days about any one of the formats but this article is about Commander/EDH so assuming you know a little bit about Magic, that’s what we’re going to talk about.
Commander/EDH originally was called EDH which stood for Elder Dragon Highlander and was often called Highlander or just EDH. So when Wizards of the Coast (the company that created Magic) decided to do a real campaign and support the EDH format they named it Commander. In the Magic lore and story, Elder Dragon Highlander didn’t make much sense so the format officially became Commander. Commander makes a lot of sense when you understand the format and the idea behind it. EDH is its older name but many people still know about it as this and think commander is something else so I have both names here.
Now to explain how the format works and what makes it special. Commander is a 100 card singleton format with a 40 life total and each deck has a commander and is color restricted to that commander. What this means to people who have no idea what the last sentence says. First, 100 card singleton means you may only have 1 copy of any given card aside from basic lands in your deck and that your deck must have exactly 100 cards no more, no less. Your commander is one special creature you choose and it must be a legendary creature that will sit in the commander zone a special zone only really used in the Commander format that is similar to exile. Your commander starts in this special zone, not in your deck and can be cast from here as if it were in your hand. When your commander falls in combat, would go to exile, or the graveyard for any reason you may choose to send it to the commander zone instead.
Your commander also has special rules applied to casting it. When you cast your commander the first time in a game it is its normal mana cost but to cast it from the commander zone again will cost you 2 colorless mana more for each time you try to cast it so if it cost 2 mana originally then next time it would be 4 mana and after that 6 mana. Your deck is also color restricted by your Commander. Every card has a color identity, usually you can tell what it is just by looking at a cards mana cost. If a card Costs Double green blue then it costs 3 mana and its color identity is Green/Blue. If your Commander is Green/Blue then your deck may only run cards that are green or blue or colorless. You may not run off-color cards in your deck making just building your deck a challenge. One of the best parts of the commander format is that you may use almost any card ever made regardless of what set it came in, though there is a small banned list it is just that small.
Lastly Commander is more often than not a multiplayer format. You can play multiplayer or 1v1, but Commander is meant to be a multiplayer format and tournaments are usually done in multiplayer. Wizards encourages the use of house rules when you play Commander Casually. House rules are just rules you and your buddies put in place like not cards in your deck that are over 100 dollars. In multiplayer formats everybody draws on their first turn and gets one free mulligan. In the Commander format you start with 40 life instead of 20 as in most other formats. Commander also has an alternate win strategy called commander damage. If your commander deals 21 damage to an opponent then they die, so you may want to keep track of who you deal damage to with your commander. Now commander also has one aspect people argue about endlessly which is how to mulligan. There are 2 methods partial and full. Partial mulligan is when you draw you initial 7 and choose which you want to mulligan and only mulligan those chosen cards and keep the others in your hand. Partial mulligan is considered cheating by many play groups because you sculpt your hand, you get to take some of the randomness and fairness out of the game by sculpting your hand. The full mulligan is considered fairer and you simply have to mulligan all 7 cards or none.
That is basically what the Commander format is and I plan to do many more articles on it like deck building or staples for it. Thank you for reading my article and I really hope it helped you in some way and most of all I hope you enjoy a good game of Commander.