Why You Too Should Give Commander a Try

BrentT

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


ultimate 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


baron

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


flavor judge

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


mobilized district

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.

Conclusion

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.



14 Comments

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sluggy10(03.08.2020 14:01)

I can see a lot of "games are too long", and "it's very expensive too"
Well, for the first argument, CEDH tend to be very fast (15-20min), so it's not much longer than other formats.
My opinion : I Don't like cEDH, and play only casual edh with custom rules i've made, and it works dam' well. I have an "association" (dont know the English word) which i run in a shop for the last 5 years, and more and more players join us by the time.
I'm answering to an other thing i saw here : Don't wanna do a 1h game with other people.
Well, EDH is a playgroup/Community/social format. The dynamic isn't the same, and no, you Don't lose because they were 3vs1.
You lost because you deck were overpowered, or you Don't do strategy (Don't play every card you can, but study the field), or you're just playing a non-interractive stax-combo whatever deck, and the table chose to exit you first.
I'm playing EDH only for the last 8 years, have almost 40 decks, alsways building more, and i can tell you, this is the best format of all IF your first goal in Magic isn't :
I WANNA BE THE VERY BEST PLAYER ALIVE AND CRUSH MY OPPONENTS.

Closed-Cardmarket-Account-1593858(21.07.2020 10:17)

I have a lot of people trying to get me into commander (I am a modern player) but it just doesn't work for me.

1. It's all about diplomacy. You are winning? We team up against you. You on last game, we'll make sure you don't win this one. Really, If I want to play a game of diplomacy there is a game called diplomacy that does the job better.

2. It's slow. If you are used to turn 3 snoop kills and Karns, turn 2 titan, Dredging 3/4 of your deck by turn 4 or blood mooning turn 1 than waiting till you play your titan on turn 9 or whatever is kind of boring.

3. The reserved list is a problem. Yes, I like prison decks. No I won't spend a 1000 bucks on tabernacle. I also like blue red decks but I'll pass on volcanic Island.

lordbold(22.12.2020 14:07)

Pascal85 well, you should only try winning when you cannot be stopped. If you make yourself the threat early, you are shooting yourself in the foot unless your deck is grossly overpowered compared to the other ones. You must always have reasons or excuses to build yourself up. If you are getting focused is because you are either winning or you suck big time at politics an general social interactions. Talking is free, and there's nothing more rewarding that seeing your plans , schemes and predictions come to fruition, while you carefully act a master puppeteer of the table.

2) It's slow because you need to be slow in order to have a political envorinment. If not, it would only consist on hit-retribution, something extremely lame and boring.

3) Edh is an unofficial format, driven by the player, for the players. It's ok to proxy if you need something and your playgroup is ok with it. You aim to fight someone, not another player's wallet. You should also consider the power levels you want to play. Tabernacle is not required neither is volcanic island unless you want the most hardcore cedh, something completetly different from what I'm speaking about.

Shrapnel(18.07.2020 20:35)

Commander is one of the few formats where you want to play so many powerful cards and have so little chance to draw them. That Mana Drain is awesome, but instead of 1/60 it is now 1/99 to draw it.

So, it's possibly the most expensive format after Vintage (due to some cards being banned in Commander; otherwise it would probably cost more than Vintage).

BastienTA(14.07.2020 15:43)

"Reason 1: Price" just like any magic experience between friends or reasonable people.
On the other hand, the price becomes a counter argument as soon as you decide to turn yourself toward "hard competition" or that your environment devolves into one's emulating competitive magic "because the internet said so".

"Reason 3: A Customizable Experience" just like any magic experience between friends or reasonable people.
The limit of official formats are only relevant locally if one's playgroup suddenly decides to follow them or if one decides to take part in sanctioned games. That's all.
Also, this reason disappears as soon as it is about being fiercely competitive, just like the first one.

Commander, like any other variant, is a nice way to offer a change, be it competitive or as a game. (The only problem would be that a variant becomes recognized by the makers who would go creating around it. Oh, wait...)

There are also at least two reasons not to give it a try:
- not being into summons,
- not wanting to spend almost an hour on a single encounter.

To the people discussing those Onslaught lands: just like the Ravnica ones, they're not mandatory for any good game in Magic be it Commander or 60cards stacks formats, it's just expensive comfort. It becomes mandatory only in competitive Magic among serious people spending a lot on cards.

M3lk0r(13.07.2020 23:11)

Year is 2012-2013, my best friends introduce me to this new format, "cheaper" than Modern and Legacy, "we can have fun together and decks can be under 60€". Fast forward to 2020, built 9 decks, and spent literally thousands of euros. The price argument is the typical fallacy that we tell ourselves when jumping from an expensive hobby to another (or different version). Is Magic cheaper than Warhammer? No. Is Commander cheaper than Modern? No. Is cocaine cheaper than Magic? At this point I would says it's pretty even

Vayra86(13.01.2022 14:53)(Edited: 13.01.2022 14:55)

M3lk0r The price argument doesn't apply the way you think it does :) Its not a fallacy. We spend on a hobby, that hasn't changed. The difference in EDH is that you spend it on cards that individually cost a lot less, so you get a lot more value out of your money. Or, you spend it on known staples with reasonable price and they're usable in most EDH decks you might build.

So its really 'more value out of cards', which translates into a price argument whenever you like to do something other than what you've done so far. 'Adding another deck' is definitely cheaper in EDH than it is in most other formats, and you even get more than 60 cards for it. Try that in Modern - even just the painlands are going to cost as much as a full EDH deck, and if you need a playset of Ragavan, you could be building 3-5 EDH decks... And then you've got a deck that is a likely to play out the exact same. Every. Single. Time. EDH decks don't feel samey that quickly.

Right now I'm starting to notice that the cost of EDH goes down substantially, but I can still keep making new decks: just add new commander. Maybe you'll buy a handful of new commander-oriented cards, the rest is stuff you've already collected because its good in EDH.

(Also, yes, I know this is a massive topic necro :))

mistercakes(13.07.2020 20:53)

The major drawback of commander is the pace of the game.

UnserVater(13.07.2020 17:22)

I don't think fetchies, og duals or even shock duals are mandatory for a nice commander experience, but this depends on your playgroup of course. We play mostly upgraded precons or homebrews on the same power level.
However the price of commander is increasing from month to month :(
Btw: Commander 2021 is not released yet ;-)

GobboDealer(13.07.2020 15:30)

I don't agree that Commander is cheaper than other formats. Actually, Commander is the most price-driving format of all, and many Commander staples have spiked enormously over the last few years. Do Commander players actually notice that? In fact, you can play a preconstructed deck or throw some bulk rares together and have fun. But if you want to be competitive, you have to play expensive staple cards. Technically you can play a budget deck against more competitive decks and not lose right away (because you're not a big threat to them), but different power levels at a table will always lead to discussions and frustrating experiences for some players.

Northstar1978(13.07.2020 11:57)

Nice text, but I don't agree with the statement that Commander is cheaper than other formats, unless you play decks where your face falls asleep. A well thought-out commander deck costs between € 200-600 and the price is simply due to the unwillingness to reprint Fetch and Shocklands. And it is not a solution to bring the Fetch countries on the market in a greatly reduced version, in which the prices explode immediately and this Secretlair is even more expensive than the normal Fetchlands. It would be perfect if WotC also reprinted the duallands.

BrentT
Avinan(14.07.2020 00:41)

Northstar1978 Fetches certainly need a reprint and will absolutely raise the price of any deck running them. Most of my decks don't run more than a couple if they run them at all. I've found a mix of Shocks, Temples, Painlands, Checklands, and Battlelands do a decent job at providing a solid manabase without spending a ton on multiple sets of fetches for all your decks.

I really wish they'd reprint the fetches till they were 5 euros each but I doubt that'll happen

DarkCornflake(13.07.2020 09:21)

Nice article! I love Commander, even building budget decks are a good way to get back to the way we used to play when we first started Magic!

BrentT
Avinan(14.07.2020 00:37)

DarkCornflake Thanks! I agree 100%, my friend group feels more like what we used to be back in the kitchen table days than we have in years. EDH has been a breath of fresh air for us!

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