Why You Too Should Give Commander a Try
- Brent Terean
For a long time people always used to tell me about Commander. But I never got into it. Today, I'd like to walk you through a few of the reasons why, after so many years of denial, I finally caved and fell in love with the format. Some of these factors may also be apply to you. Let's get to it!
In my time playing Magic: The Gathering I, like many players, have experienced most formats the game has to offer. Starting with kitchen table casual back in 2012 I worked my way through every Constructed format — sans Vintage — and even built my own cube. Despite this progression, one format never really captured my interest: Elder Dragon Highlander, nowadays better known as Commander. That is, until recently. In this article I'm going to break down four reasons I turned to EDH as my primary Magic format as of late and why you should give it a try too.
Reason 1: Price
The price of Magic has always been a factor for a lot of people in regards to what formats they play. Modern used to be my safe haven. But with the price of fetch lands climbing year after year and a new bunch of staples coming from Modern Horizons and the recently powered-up Standard sets, it has been difficult to stay up to date.
After getting into Commander, I found that it was a far more approachable way to play Magic from a financial perspective. Here are a few points that sold me on the idea:
One of the cheapest competitive Modern options is Monored Prowess at over €200, depending on the exact version. That's almost enough money to buy all five Commander 2021 preconstructed decks! If you don't want all five, then it's more than enough to upgrade a single one into a really strong deck.
If you're a long-time player, you may have boxes of old "Draft chaff rares" lying around in storage. After getting into EDH, a lot of those cards suddenly became relevant for me. I made three decks by cobbling together cards from my collection and spending maybe an additional €20 on each.
If you're not a long-time player, a lot of the rares and mythics needed for Commander decks are cheap because niche EDH cards don't pull the same price as format staples do. Obviously there are some outliers, but for the most part you can make pretty well-tuned decks on a budget.
The final thing that sold me on EDH is that being a budget player does not mean you're less likely to win. The web of table politics and the intricate assortment of play patterns brought on by the sheer number of commanders that exist in the game really helps even the playing field.
With all this in mind, my shift to playing Commander came rather quickly. However, price alone was not the harbinger of this change.
Reason 2: The Year of Commander
Wizards of the Coast seem to have sniffed out the fact that many people are turning to EDH for their paper Magic experience and have declared 2020 the year of Commander. We've seen cards such as Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy and Heliod, Sun-Crowned come out of Standard sets and this new design direction heavily impact the format. Additionally, the Commander 2021 preconstructed series was chock-full of super powerful cards and eminently playable new commanders.
However, these things are merely what we've gotten so far. This summer Jumpstart takes the reins as one of most important reprint sets in the game's history. As mentioned before, price is a huge facet of the community's willingness and ability to play certain formats, and Jumpstart has addressed that concern for EDH very well. Cards that are in high demand such as Craterhoof Behemoth and Oracle of Mul Daya — and many, many more — are finally seeing reprints which should make the price of these staples a little more reasonable.
Then, this fall, we head to Zendikar for the third time where we'll get to experience two additional preconstructed decks. There's a "Commander Collection" coming too, and finally Commander Legends will provide a brand-new experience, merging Draft and Commander.
So, with things so, with all these reprints and high value products coming out, now is an excellent time to hop into the format and get a foothold in it. EDH has a huge card pool and the coming sets offer ample opportunity to snatch a few format staples at decent price points.
Reason 3: A Customizable Experience
EDH, like most formats, has its own ban list and rule set. On a wide scale, most every Commander player follows these guidelines. But some playgroups may decide to flex the rules a bit. For example, my playgroup has a ban on two-card combos — three-card combos are fine — and limits tutors to three per deck. These rules were decided on by the group and allow us to keep our decks at a power level where everyone is happy. Such things are commonplace and even allowed by the rules of the format under Rule Zero. It essentially permits the implementation of new rules or the removal of other rules in a playgroup in the name of creating fun, healthy environments.
So if you're hesitant to play Commander because you don't feel like dealing with a certain strategy or power level, remember that the format is exceedingly customizable. By communicating with your group you can address those concerns and strive to craft a rules framework that works for you.
Reason 4: Commander Is for Everyone
As mentioned above, Commander is an incredibly versatile way to play Magic. This game we all love is home to competitive players, casual players, players who love the story of the game, people who prefer to watch rather than play, and everything in between. Whatever your playstyle, whatever your goals, EDH has a place for you.
This was particularly meaningful to me because I tend to have a competitive drive that many players in my area don't take kindly to. Of course I follow the guidelines my group has agreed on to play at a lower power level when we play together. But it's nice to know that if I do want to experience the more competitive side of EDH, I don't have to go far. I can go to the cEDH subreddit, join the cEDH discords, and find cEDH players to play with via Magic Online, webcams, or even in person.
This goes for every flavor of EDH too. I've seen people coordinating artist tribal groups, purely preconstructed-playing groups, and pretty much everything else online. The format is just this big wide-open world that can be anything you want it to be and that's magical.
All in all, these four reasons were enough to pull me into the creative expanse of EDH. I've found it to be a cheaper, more accessible, and more malleable way to play Magic and I recommend trying it out to everyone! Seriously, as someone who used to despise the idea of singleton formats and decks so large you can barely shuffle them, you may be surprised at how much you'll find yourself enjoying EDH and the awesome community around it.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.