Reviews - Updated on April 6, 2022

The word “magic” gives rise to a lot of associations in my head. Someone will first of all remember Harry Potter, Hogwarts and magic wands, someone will remember magicians getting rabbits out of a cylinder, and someone will remember the song of the Scottish band Pilot. There are also those who have “magic” firmly fixed in their minds for the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game.

MTG was invented back in the early nineties and even after almost 30 years it continues to develop actively. This year, Magic decided to focus on one of its most unusual formats – Multiplayer Commander, or, as it is also called, EDH (short for Elder Dragon Highlander).

Only magic can defeat magic

It is worth starting the story about the Commander format by explaining what game modes in MTG are in principle. All of them differ in deck building features, allowed cards and, of course, rules.

For example, there is the “Standard” format – this is one of the most popular basic modes, from which most beginners begin their acquaintance with “Magic”. Only cards from the last few editions are allowed in this format, which are usually released four to five times a year. In the “Standard” you can relatively inexpensively assemble a deck for playing with friends, and for participating in tournaments.

In contrast, there is the Vintage format, which is popular among true connoisseurs of old Magic cards. There are no prohibitions in it and almost all cards published in the history of MTG are legal.

What is the Commander format in Magic: The Gathering?

My black and green Lorwyn deck is already considered vintage. Eh, give me back my 2007!

These formats are united by several general rules: players always fight one on one, like real duelists, and each of them has 20 health points (whoever demolishes everything to the opponent first wins); There can be at least 60 cards in a deck and no more than four copies of one card. Last but not least, these modes have a so-called Sideboard, a “bench” – a small deck from which you can take cards between games and replace cards in the main deck with them to adapt to the opponent.

Learn, soldier – you will be the commander

However, rules are there to be broken. And the “Commander” format is just one of such violators. Take the word Multiplayer, which comes before the name of the mode. It means that three or more people can participate in a game at the same time (usually four people play). In addition to the fact that the “Commander” wanted to sneeze at your duels, it also differs from everything that players in other formats are used to in that it is allowed to play only one copy of each card (not including basic lands), and all cards in deck should be exactly one hundred. Plus, almost all cards that have been released in Magic over the years are allowed in Commander. And in this mode, there is not and cannot be a “bench” – the same additional deck that is in other formats.

And, perhaps, the most important – in the “Commander” there is, in fact, a commander, a military leader who leads troops and casts powerful spells. It is around him that the whole deck is built. There is a special zone for the commander on the table – instead of lying in your hand or in the deck, he is always placed in front of everyone, next to the battlefield. From there, you can play him and put him into the game so that he personally leads your troops.

What is the Commander format in Magic: The Gathering?

Typically, a legendary creature becomes the commander, such as the Slivers Swarm Queen or the cunning and dangerous goblin leader.

Resilient and Courageous Commander

An analogue of the modern Commander format appeared back in the mid-nineties and was then called Elder Dragon Highlander. Thus, the commander could be one of the Elder Dragons released in the editions of that time.

The “Commander” mode itself was invented by the “Magic” tournament judges, who then spread and popularized it around the world. Many years have passed since then, but interest in the format has not waned, and now the game developers themselves drew attention to it – in 2009, Commander, as it began to be called, was added to the online version of Magic, and from 2011 it began release and paper products created specifically for this format.

Although Wizards of the Coast supports this mode, recognizing it as one of the official ones, its development is controlled by the very judges who invented it. At the head is Sheldon Menery – it was he who founded the committee that establishes the rules of the format, and he also maintains a ban list of cards prohibited for the regime, and also writes the philosophy of the “Commander” and is engaged in educational activities.

What is the Commander format in Magic: The Gathering?

One of the first legendary dragon commanders. The descriptions and appearance of the cards at that time were very different from the current ones.

For exploration!

Commander was gaining popularity, so Wizards of the Coast did not waste time on trifles and announced 2020 as the year of this format. This means that new issues of Magic will feature more Commander-specific content this year. If since 2011 four “precons” have been released annually (these are ready-made decks for playing Multiplayer Commander), then in 2020, according to rumors, up to nine await us. Five of them will start on May 15th.

These packs contain unique Magic: The Gathering cards not found in any other edition. The decks are thematically linked to the new set of Ikoria: Lair of Giants, one of the main sets that are printed in Magic several times a year. The world of Ikoria is a land of huge monsters and an eternal struggle for survival. The Commander decks intersect with this world in a plot: three of the new warlords are terrifying mutant monsters. In addition, two more ready-made decks will be released in 2020 as part of the upcoming release of Zendikar Rising.

But Wizards of the Coast does not think to stop there either – players in Multiplayer Commander are waiting for a separate issue of Commander Legends. It will feature cards exclusively designed for the Commander, including 70 new legendary creatures to lead your army. This is a “draft” set for the format, that is, not a finished deck, but a set of cards that you collect into your own, unique deck. And for those who are not yet ready to build a deck on their own, Wizards of the Coast has promised two more ready-made sets for Commander.

What is the Commander format in Magic: The Gathering?

This is how ready-made decks for playing Multiplayer Commander look like. In the foreground is the commander, who determines the strategy of the game.


Multiplayer Commander is a mode in which those fans of collectible card games who just want to fight for fun will find themselves, spending an hour or two fighting with friends in the kitchen, and competitive players who want to participate in tournaments and win. Access to all possible Magic cards released over a quarter of a century makes this format very flexible and interesting. New cards and decks will be released for Commander throughout the year, so you can choose any deck you like (or even try your hand at building everything from scratch) and start playing right away – it’s easier than it sounds.

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