MARCH 2021 RULES - BANNED/RESTRICTED UPDATE
Hello, dear Duel Commander players around the world! Along with 2021, many new challenges are coming to us all. We must first of all face the current crisis, which doesn’t really help playing Magic The Gathering (on paper at least). But many new cool things are coming our way, and it seems like we can still play online, all waiting for this now long lasting situation to resolve and fade away. Having observed the evolution of the latest additions to Magic The Gathering and how the metagame situation changes, we decided the following:
👉 Rules changes:
👉 Individual card changes:
Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist is banned as a commander only.
Keleth, Sunmane Familiar is banned as a commander only.
Krark, the Thumbless is banned as a commander only.
Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist is banned as a commander only.
Reyhan, Last of the Abzan is banned as a commander only.
Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh is banned as a commander only.
👉 Other changes:
👉 Don’t forget to check out our Current Lists page for a recap of all the currently banned cards.
These changes apply immediately. Of course, you can still contact us on our Facebook Page and our Discord server. The next announcement will be published on May 31, 2021.
Until then, we wish you all many good games! :)
Further individual explanations:
About metagame “partner”-based decks and Commander Legends impacts.
There used to be a time when Commander was based on Magic The Gathering. Since 2011, some Magic The Gathering cards that are printed are now based on Commander. This reversal of rules hierarchy leads to some strange, yet really interesting mechanics and cards. “Partner” is one of them. This mechanic, though being quite fair and totally fine in multiplayer (meaning 3+ players games), needs to be interpreted and considered differently in duel. We decided back in 2013, 2016 and 2020 to restrict the use of such cards that take advantage of the command zone with a “multiplayer buffer” instead of just making use of it.
Since the addition of Commander Legends, the number of those cards rose up. Some of them quickly became dominant in all meta deck types that they overshadowed half of the rest. The representativeness of those decks (combined with their win rates) is to be considered a non-healthy metagame invasion.
Partner, since its emergence in 2016 has been a major subject of debate in the community. This ability definitely brought a lot of creative options to the format, opening new color pairs/strategies that didn’t get a chance to shine before, but it also quickly occupied a lot of space, proving more efficient and easier to use than most regular single commanders. Since 2018, the committee intensely debated solutions and possible fixes about Partner.
First of all, please note we do not ban keywords. If we had to ban any, we could have banned Hexproof before Partner, by the way. We still don’t want to “erase” what Wizards Of The Coast creates merely because we don’t like it nor consider it problematic. Banning a keyword would be absurd because weak cards bearing that keyword are not a problem at all (like Silumgar, the Drifting Death or The Prismatic Piper).
Then, we do not change how a keyword works (e.g. forcing a mulligan, sharing tax, etc.) for it is Wizards of The Coast’s job to do that, not ours. It would also be very unproductive as it mostly removes the main interest of Partner (i.e. creativity) by cancelling the weaker ones more than the stronger ones.
If not perfect, things were looking okay-ish until last fall. Partner decks then covered between 15% and 25% of metagame share, which still gave a lot of visibility and breathing room to single commanders. However, since Commander Legends, partners now represent more than 40% of performing decks (and increasing). That large increase has changed the format up to a point the players community is not accepting anymore. So we chose to ban the strongest ones (even if they are individually worse than every commander banned in the past, so not individually worth banning for many players) but to keep the keyword alive. Greatly reducing partner dominance by removing borderline-but-not-broken partner cards. This is an unusual move as this announcement now forbids cards that are not strictly consensually too strong but only close to it. This announcement is willing to change the format for what the majority of the community expressed. A format with one commander, with some rare cases of two commanders in the hopes that partners' representation will go down to an acceptable and manageable level. Which, ideally, would be: less than what it was before Commander Legends was released.
Being free is a major interaction with all the commander-specific cards that were printed in the recent years. Partner is also usually about less tempo for more card advantage, and this little guy is a huge tempo boost. While a 0-mana 0/1 commander might look innocent enough at first glance, Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh quickly rose to the top of the format. Its ability to produce fast, aggressive starts while enabling many other commanders, cards or strategies currently made it the most played partner by a wide margin, and one of the easiest to pair with another.
Keleth, Sunmane Familiar is another partner that seems underwhelming but plays out better than expected. Allowing regular, aggressive starts for a low resource investment when paired with any partner that costs 3 mana or less. It overshadows most aggressive single commanders and other partner combinations.
Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist is used to build super fast, aggressive decks. But it also brings another excessive call for an answer on tempo, when getting equipped with... Pretty much anything. Seeing the amount of overcosted and powerful equipments WotC keeps printing over and over, most partner pairs involving Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist and other low-cost commanders have the potential to hit harder and faster than traditional aggressive builds.
Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist looked like a fine commander until now, but keeps proving more and more efficient.
It has never been among the most-hated partners, but it has gained a lot of popularity in the last two years, and is probably one of the easiest to pair with almost anything (making him a great go-to commander every time only one or two other partner commanders are banned).
Though Krark, the Thumbless is a lot of fun (and lore!), this commander allows excessive damage and control to any game it gets into. When it was spoiled, Krark, the Thumbless got a lot of players worried. So far, it failed to live up to the hype, but we do believe that there’s a big chance we might be seeing a lot more games crushed by random Krark-value if we keep it legal after banning other low-cost partners.
Reyhan, Last of the Abzan is definitely one of the fairest and most interesting partners to build with, so it might seem weird to see it alongside other partners that got axed because of their power level. But it is also one of the partners that gets paired very often and proves being good with a lot of different other commanders, even when players don’t really try to benefit from everything it has to offer.