Commander Rules Committee member Sheldon Menery provides the logic, the discussions, and the acceptance of dissent all centered around the latest major Commander rules update.

First of all, thanks for all the support. Special thanks to those who disagreed but did so in a civil fashion. We knew this one was going to generate a
great deal of chatter on social media. We didn’t expect the traffic would temporarily crash the official forums. I guess it’s good to know people are so
passionate about the format.

We changed the tuck rule in Commander. Now, just like with graveyard or exile, if your commander would go into your library or hand, you may put it into
the command zone instead. I know that some folks would like to understand why we made this change, so I’ll endeavor to explain it. The most important part
here is that any one factor is not the part and parcel of the change. Like the lion’s share of things we do, it’s because we believe it to be a net
positive, understanding that there is a subset of players who won’t like it (and who are more likely to be vocal about it than the folks who like it or are
ambivalent). For those of you who this upsets, we’re sad; it’s not like we intentionally want to anger people. The very nature of change, however, is that
some people don’t like it. There are perfectly valid arguments on both sides of the fence, and despite what the internet might have you believe, very
little is black and white or cut and dried. We simply feel as though this change will improve the play experience for the majority of fans of the format.
Will everyone love it? Like with everything, the answer is of course not. As with anything of this scope, there will be dissenting opinions. We hope that
those who disagree will at least understand our reasoning or what we’re trying to accomplish; if you still disagree, I hope that you’ll at least do so
politely. I’ll arrange and expand upon the points as we did in the official announcement (which was “in no particular order”) and reiterate that it was the
confluence of factors, not any single one, which got us to where we are.

Play Experience

We want to engender as positive an experience as we can for players. Nothing runs the feel-bads worse than having your commander unavailable to you for the
whole game. In a format called Commander, we want the commander to be more significant than just determining colors. This is a further step in that
direction. Will some commanders become more difficult to deal with? Sure. Will they become impossible to deal with? Not by a long shot. Magic players are
very smart and creative at answering threats in new and creative ways. I don’t believe this will lead to a surge in particular decks getting played just to
answer the lack of commander-tuck. We recognize that this may change how people approach the format or how particular cards impact it. The bottom line is
that if certain commanders become problematic, we’ll deal with them.

In the end, we want players thinking about having fun with the format from the top down. That’s not just having fun yourself but at least a nod toward
everyone else having fun as well. One of our hopes is that the change will re-engage players’ thought process from the beginning of deck construction
through play of the game and beyond.

Play experience is a huge thing for us, and part of what we take seriously is helping new players find ways into the format. I’ll close this section from
our friend Nathan Holt of Walk the Planes fame (you can find him on Twitter @WalkthePlanes): “asking experienced players to get creative with
answers is better than dream-crushing new players out of the format.”


We like to discourage the over-representation of tutors, believing that the singleton nature of the format is best enjoyed when you don’t have the same
kind of repeatability and regularity that you have in other Constructed formats. The whole idea of this format is to be different, not just a
variant version of the same. I never wanted this format to be alt-Vintage, and as long as I’m part of the decision-making process, I’ll try to keep that
from happening. I get that some folks simply can’t wrap their heads around that, that the only way they see things is to optimize their efficiency. That’s
just not the direction we want to head. We think the presence of tuck encourages players to play more tutors than they might otherwise so that in case
their commander gets sent to the library, they can get it back-exactly the opposite of what we want. Some people have misinterpreted this as us thinking
that the primary reason people play tutors is tuck. That’s not the case at all. We considered it an additive/contributing factor, and a little
extra discouragement is worth the effort.

Some folks have responded with “well, if you’re so worried about tutors, then ban them all.” This isn’t sawing the board, this is sanding the cut. We’re
not panicky about tutors; this explanation was a nudge in the direction of getting players thinking about running them in great numbers. Discrete use of
tutors is generally fine, but there definitely isn’t a method of being objective about it. I can’t tell you “two tutors is okay, but three isn’t.” My
general rule, which is confessedly pretty broad, is don’t tutor to just win, tutor to do something cool, deal with a threat, or to survive. I swear to you
that I’m having more fun with the format the fewer tutors I play. I get that your mileage is certain to vary.


While we are keenly aware that tuck is a great weapon against problematic commanders, the tools to do so are mostly available only in blue and white
(apologies for the original oversight, Chaos Warp), potentially forcing players into feeling like they need to play those colors in order to survive. We
prefer as diverse a field as possible. While we didn’t make this change in order to specifically nerf certain cards (and I’ll disagree with you if you
think “Terminus is now worthless”), sometimes little shakeups bring unexpected changes. If the change exposes commanders which are more problematic than we
believed, as I said above, then we’ll deal with them. Again, we’re focusing on the idea of net positives. Yes, there are a few commanders, like Derevi and
Purphoros, which we’ll pay attention to. Although we don’t like the idea of an official Watch List, it would be disingenuous of us to say that we don’t
keep our eyes open for danger spots and/or cards that we know folks are talking about.

We believe this change will open opportunities for deckbuilders and players, not shut them down. I’ve been very happy to read over last several days folks
saying things like “Now I feel like I can dust off that janky deck I’ve been wanting to play.” I find they’re more representative of our target player base
than those who predict gloom and doom because of commander-tuck’s disappearance. A few players have threatened that they’re going to go out and build
oppressive decks just to demonstrate how bad they think this change is. Although I suspect that’s mostly wind, I’ll argue that it’s not the change or any
card which makes oppression in this case, it’s the player making a conscious choice to be oppressive. I’ve long said that it’s not difficult to break this
format. The secret is in not breaking it.


One of the significant arguments for this change was that tuck (and bounce, although that’s kind of a non-factor here since it’s generally better for you
for your commander to go into your hand instead of the command zone because then you won’t have to pay the command tax) wasn’t in line with going to exile
and graveyard. Tuck and bounce worked one way; exile and graveyard worked differently. We thought it was worthwhile to provide consistency across the
board. This also clears up some corner case rules awkwardness, mostly dealing with knowing the commander’s location in the library (since it’s highly
unlikely to actually end up there).

A few folks have asked about a simple rule that says that any time the commander would change zones, you can put it in the command zone instead of
specifically pointing out which zones apply. That came up during our discussions, and we realized that stack to battlefield is a zone change. Toby and Matt
Tabak had some chats about it and we realized that we just didn’t want to mess with that. This means that Gather Specimens still works on someone else’s
commander. What’s important to remember is the destination zone: graveyard, exile, library, hand. Again, I can’t see too many cases where you’d want to go
to the command zone instead of hand (I suppose if there’s Black Vise on the battlefield you might need to save the damage), but the option is all yours.

With this announcement, we also discussed what it means to be a commander, a conversation which started back when we first found out about manifest. On
this, after exploring multiple possibilities, we decided to stay the current course. Your commander is always your commander, regardless of where it is or
its status. This means that if your commander is face down and you’re dealing damage with it, you have to tell the other player that it’s commander damage.
You can’t hit them twelve times then go “surprise! You’re dead!”

Toby is currently working with Rules Manager Matt Tabak to hone the exact wording for the rule change. I promise you’ll see it as soon as it’s available.


There aren’t actually that many tuck cards commonly used in the format. Hinder and Spell Crumple are the obvious ones at the top of the list, with Condemn,
Proteus Staff, Chaos Warp, Terminus and Hallowed Burial, Oblation as other popular ones, and maybe Memory Lapse (and its weird cousin, Lapse of Certainty),
Spin Into Myth, Oust, Deglamer, Unravel the Aether (although I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of anyone playing it), Banishing, Submerge, Stroke, Azorius
Charm, Jeskai Charm, and Bant Charm. Aetherspouts applies, although I suspect that’s used more for swarms as opposed to commanders anyway. Brutalizer
Exarch and Primal Command for gods which aren’t currently creatures. I guess Warp World fits in there also. There are a few others, like Time Ebb,
Griptide, Quarry Colossus, and Unexpectedly Absent, which I don’t recall seeing mentioned more than once or twice. Of course, there are some conditional
ones, like Vendilion Clique, Wheel of Fortune, or Teferi’s Puzzle Box where something else has to happen first, but we can’t really consider them tuck
cards any more than we can consider Wrath of God a land destruction card because Living Plane might be on the battlefield. I suppose that it could affect
Sensei’s Divining Top, although you have all the control there. That actually probably opens up some strategic options (although still pretty much corner

My main point here is that this rules change impacts a small percentage of cards which actually get played with any frequency, and it doesn’t ruin the
playability of any of them. It might make you a little less likely to play Spell Crumple (although I, for one, am leaving it in the one deck in which I
play it because there are cards worth countering and keeping out of the graveyard-like Sepulchral Primordial), but the value is still there in cards like
Terminus and Chaos Warp. There are plenty of creatures which you’ll want to tuck other than commanders (Avacyn, Angel of Hope, for example). Yes, your
evaluation of running certain cards might change. In the trim, we don’t think that a small change in how you evaluate some cards is bad for the format; in
fact, we think that it keeps things from being static.

In the end, the sky is not falling. Yes, it’s a change, although I’ll disagree with those who say it’s a fundamental change that completely upsets how
people think about the format. We have a vision for Commander, and we believe this change is consistent with that vision. It’s a nudge, a degree or two
course correction which we trust will head us in the proper direction to keep the format happy, healthy, and ever adding to its player base over the long
term. Even if you disagree, here’s hoping you head in that direction with us.