Duel Commander kept looking the same over the last months. That is: a barren confrontation between two main archetypes: blue decks, which are mostly based on “counterspell”-like cards and effects as a defensive barrier, and green decks, filled with “mana dorks” (cheap mana-producing creatures) and commander interactions in order to generate a resource gap between players.

We’ve let the format go that way for a long time, hoping for it to regulate naturally. Unfortunately, over the last months, that phenomenon intensified, crystallizing the format and revolving it around those two basic archetypes.

(stats based on the last months, according to major events results)

Such a freeze of the metagame could be linked to several factors. The quality of the most played cards that belong to those colors, the important redundancy of their core effects, or even the game format rules are often blamed. On the other side, we noted that the duality of the current format is significantly stressed by an element that we cherish within the format: the disparity of commander cards.

Indeed, those two archetypes dominate the format thanks to a bunch of overpowered commanders that threaten the diversity of the format.

The reasons behind this hegemony often cumulate:

They make use of some abilities that provide an unbalanced advantage over several strategies or threat-handling means.

Their abilities abuse structural benefits and overpowered cards that their colors give access to.

Their raw statistics make them better than most other substitutes within the same archetypes.

The changes from today’s rules and bans updates aim at partially correcting this problem, so as to reverse the “immobilism trend” that our favourite format is now going through.


👉 Individual card changes:


The watchlist is made for dangerous cards that could end up being banned (this is a change from previous listing systems, see below).
Before this update, Cataclysm was on the watchlist.
Necrotic Ooze and Dig through time remain on the watchlist.

Regarding lists

We chose to unify the previously existing Orange and Red watchlists. The information they provided was complex and was all in all irrelevant. This double watchlist system didn’t bring a lot of positive things to us, although it never got annoying when we had to take decisions. A commander should still, except in some cases, end up on the watchlist before it gets eventually banned.

👉 Rules changes:

  • A note regarding colored mana and mana pools
    Previously, the rule regarding the producing of colored mana was as follows: “If a player would add colored mana to his or her mana pool that is outside the color identity of his or her commander, that player adds colorless mana instead.”.
    This rule is now removed, as stated in the (upcoming) Duel Commander comprehensive rules:

500.5. Colored mana in pools

While DC used to follow a different rule for colored mana into mana pools, no additional rule modifies the official Magic The Gathering rules when regarding colored mana. Please note this is not the case anymore since April 8th, 2016. All the texts that are printed on cards apply. If a player would add colored mana to his or her mana pool that is not in his or her commander’s color identity, the players effectively adds the mana to his or her mana pool, like in any other game, and may spend it like in any other game.

👉 Other changes:

  • No changes

👉 Don’t forget to check out our Current Lists page for a recap of all the currently banned cards.

Thanks again to the community for your fantastic feedback. We hope that you continue to enjoy Duel Commander in the future!

These changes apply on April 8, 2016. Of course, you can still contact us via our Facebook page.
The next announcements will be published on July 18, 2016 (applying on July 22, 2016).

Until then, we wish you all many good games! :)

Further individual explanations:

Tasigur, the Golden Fang makes all other control commanders look ridiculous, when compared to it, mostly thanks to its ridiculous casting cost ({B} + delve casting cost payment mechanic). Such a quality allows it to exhaust all possible answers from opponents, as well as to winning a “counterspell battle”, even though being the card that settles such battles. The rest of the decks can solely be made of “reaction” cards (spot/mass removals, for example), for Tasigur, the Golden Fang is an oppressive threat whatsoever. Last but not the least, this card interacts strongly with other cards like Life from the loam or Upheaval. For all those reasons, Tasigur, the Golden Fang is now banned as a commander only.

Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is a green commander that has a huge impact on the battlefield, that only costs three mana and that can therefore enter the battlefield on turn two very often, via a turn one/two accelerator. We are deeply persuaded that such commanders harm the format. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is de facto a quick card advantage source that grows quickly, and that therefore produces fantastically responsive and explosive games. It is so dangerous for the format that its mere presence forces opponents to make very costly adaptations. Yisan, the Wanderer Bard is therefore banned as a commander only, so as to maintain more balance in the format.

Gaea’s Cradle allows players to develop their deck strategies roughly and suddenly. Being particularly hard to stop when playing active decklists, its presence in the metagame reinforces control decks, which end up being the only decks that are able to handle a wide number of opponent creatures. It also amplifies the existing cleavage between active, green-based decks and other non-explosive decks. For having a very negative impact on the format, Gaea’s Cradle is now banned.

If Tasigur, the Golden Fang is clearly the best commander for a “draw-go” strategy, Narset, Enlightened Master is the best commander for a “tapped out” strategy. Having considered this major strategic alternative, that Narset/Tasigur duet also covers the whole spectrum of colors and outmatches all other legendary blue creatures. In order to maintain the format balance and its diversity, we chose to add Narset, Enlightened Master to the watchlist.

As a commander that takes some advantage from the commander casting tax, Marath, Will of the Wild is a commander that scales its power as the games go on. It is very hostile to all creature-based decks and therefore cleans up the format for blue control decks.

Since its metagame presence remains a leash to all agressive strategies, we are adding Marath, Will of the Wild to the watchlist.

Animar, Soul of Elements is a green commander with a very high impact, that only costs three mana and can therefore enter the battlefield on turn two for the same reasons we already mentionned regarding other cards alike. We have long waited before adding Animar, Soul of Elements to a watchlist, for decklists built around it remain very original and unique. Despite all that waiting time, the explosiveness of the deck and the lack of interactions with opponents (mostly due to its protection effects) forced us to add this card to the watchlist.

Jenara, Asura of War is another green commander with a high impact on games, that costs three mana, and can also enter the battlefield on turn two for the same reasons we already mentionned regarding other cards alike. Jenara, Asura of War is another case of commander that is very well adapted to play a large amount of counterspell-like cards. It belongs therefore to the two categories we described up above: blue decks and green decks. We decided to add this card to the watchlist for those reasons.

Cataclysm is a spectacular card that allows a player who is being strangled in an adapted situation to annihilate almost any opposing force. Yet, its impact depends a lot on the situation and alternates between a risky move (most of the time) and a determining move (rarely). Such a card is not truly unbalanced and accessing it is quite limited. White is the fourth most played color in Duel Commander. We think it would be a mistake from us to deprive this color of such an attractive card. Plus, it is already integrated in most of the decks that need it. For all those reasons, we removed Cataclysm from the watchlist.

The following two cards remain in the watchlist:

Dig through time remains watched, yet still legal, for all the reasons we described earlier when it was added to the watchlist.

Regarding Necrotic Ooze, we keep an eye on this card, which is the core of an extremely non-interactive combo. We chose to balance the format using commander cards rather than specific, individual, non-commander cards (which would require an overly high amount of banned cards).