This document represents the complete rules regarding Duel Commander rules. It is not designed to be read in one shot, especially for new players. Please turn to the Duel Commander quick start Guide for this.

Should one ever want to ask precise questions regarding playing, special questions, or concerns, please have a look at the document named “Frequently Asked Questions”, which is excluded from this document and serves as a complementary source of information for common mistakes, questions, and information.

This document is based on many other ones and represents an exhaustive and comprehensive guide and rules reference for any player, judge, and tournament organizer in the world who would like to follow official Duel Commander rules. This document may be updated as time goes on, without any warning (even though changes might be broadly announced to the community), and will be maintained by the Duel Commander Committee only.

The document you’re reading is based on the work of the Duel Commander Committee, which has changed over time, but the people who helped this existing and made this be brought to light remain. Please note that Duel Commander format is not affiliated to, maintained by, nor having any support from Wizards of The Coast.

Magic: The Gathering – Commander and their logos, the distinctive look of characters and of the symbols are the property of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. U.S. Pat. No. RE 37,957.

We would like to thank everyone who made Magic The Gathering possible (because without Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro, we would certainly not be here today), but also the makers, maintainers and communities of Singleton formats, Elder Dragon Highlander and Multiplayer Commander teams, as well as some people who made this format possible, such as Kevin Desprez, Damien Guillemard, Claire Dupré and Daniel Kitachewski for their advice, their initial support and involvement. Though they’re not part of the committee anymore, people might remember the time they all spent in making this format be known. We also want to thank all the other people who got involved once into the Duel Commander Committee, those who are still involved in it, advisors and regional coordinators, and everyone who helps building the community. We would also like to thank Martin Cuchet and Jordane Lacombe for their time invested working on these rules.

1. - Generic considerations

100. Abbreviating

  • 100.1. Please note that every time the “Duel Commander" format will be mentioned further in this document or in official sources, it might be noted as “DC” so as to reduce the number of word to read. "DC" is also a common way to refer to “Duel Commander”, that is tolerable from anyone, players, judges, tournament organizers, etc.

101. Numbering the rules

  • 101.1. We tried to follow Wizards of the Coast’s way of writing rules so as players and judges can refer faster to them while in a tournament or while discussing. Rules number follow the number of this document’s section as the hundreds digit, the unit/tenths digits are to be incremented as rules definitions go on, and some specific and divided rules might be iterated with letters in addition to numbers (example: 210.1a).

102. Referencing this document

  • 102.1. Please be aware that this document on our website (MTG Duel Commander) is the only official source of information and real-time maintained reference. Anything else one may find on the internet is to be considered as possibly edited, outdated or a scam, even if its contents look the same. If one is to make references to the DC Rules, please refer to this document. The URL of this document is public and accessible to anyone and is the following: https://www.mtgdc.info/comprehensive-rules.

► 2. - Tournaments

200. Extending Magic The Gathering comprehensive rules

  • 200.1. First of all things, DC is a Magic The Gathering-based casual game. Which means it follows all the generic rules defined by Wizards of The Coast (that one can find here), and thus, is to be considered as an extension of these rules. For any question regarding generic Magic The Gathering rules, please refer to those official documents above all things should any concern one faces would not find an answer in this present document.

201. Following Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules

  • 201.1. Note that the official rules of Magic The Gathering are by default followed by all certified judges, as it would happen to be in any other Magic The Gathering-based game. Should anything not be ruled explicitly by the present document, please refer to the official comprehensive rules by default.

202. Following Magic The Gathering Tournament Rules

  • 202.1. Please note that all DC tournaments should be ruled like any other Magic The Gathering tournaments: which means the only source of authority is the one one would expect on any kind of tournament. That means: Judges, Head Judges, and in certain cases and Tournament Organizers. Therefore, all the official procedures of Magic The Gathering should apply, including Magic The Gathering Tournament Rules, which take precedence over the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules (people may find documents regarding those procedures here).

203. Keeping in mind the spirit of the format

  • 203.1. Regarding tournament organization, please note that there are no absolute rules to organizing a Duel Commander tournament. What makes this format so interesting is its originality. The main goal is therefore to propose to the players something attractive in terms of fun and/or challenge. Please don’t hesitate to contact any member of the committee in case of having a question or being in need for help to organize a Duel Commander event. We are available on Magic The Gathering forums, social networks, live chats, at tournaments, by e-mail and using this Facebook Page. We’ll do our best to assist the community. We’re also interested in hearing any feedback one may have.

204. DC-specific tournament timings and time management

  • 204.1. Defining round timings

    • 204.1a A few specific additions may be done to the generic Magic The Gathering Tournament Rules, though. Organizers should generally use Swiss rounds like in any other Magic The Gathering tournament (which also allows the use the official tournaments tools provided by Wizards of The Coast), and should stick to 50 minutes rounds. But if needed, this time can be lengthened, up to 55 or 60 minutes for regular rounds, and also extended up to 90 minutes or unlimited time for possible “Top X” rounds or finals if desired.

  • 204.2. Additional turns

    • 204.2a As in any Magic The Gathering game, Duel Commander games should follow the generic rules regarding time management. This means, since DC is a two-player game, that players should be allowed 5 additional turns after the current turn when time is called by tournament organizers/judges, along with the regular obligations regarding playing pace. Please note Magic The Gathering judges are well used to handling such situations.

  • 204.3. Extra time

    • 204.3a As in any Magic The Gathering, some particular internal or external events may happen during tournaments, which may affect game playing time. Organizers should take decisions along with judges to allow some players to have a time extension between the official round ending time and the start of additional turns. Again, please note Magic The Gathering judges are well used to handling such situations, such as warning players at the beginning of their first game.

  • 204.4. Expliciting timings and prizes

    • 204.4a Timings and prizes have to be stated explicitly before the tournament begins to all players and Judges. This should be announced prior to players registrations.

  • 204.5. Tournament rules and getting the latest information

  • 204.5a Any tournament that started before or during the publishing of a new announcement from the DC Rules Committee has to follow the rules as they were before the tournament started.

205. DC players

  • 205.1. DC player definition

    • 205.1a As opposed to common multiplayer formats like Commander (as promoted by the Commander community and Wizards of The Coast's Commander), and as stated in its name, Duel Commander is made for 1 versus 1, individual player games (referred as “two-player games” in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at section 100.1a). One player being a physical person, playing alone without any external interaction with the game (this is a change from official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined in section 903.).

206. Organizing multiplayer tournaments

  • 206.1. If one wishes to organize Two-Headed Giant variant tournaments (referred in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at section 810.) or other multiplayer tournaments (such as Free-For-All tournaments), please refer to the Commander rules instead. None of this document will apply to multiplayer tournaments (i.e. tournaments that don’t follow rule 205.1a in this document).

207. Duel Commander format is a non-sanctioned, casual format

  • 207.1. Duel Commander is not a sanctioned Magic The Gathering format, and is considerer as casual play (in the sense of what Wizards Of The Coast defines in the Tournament Rules). Therefore, it cannot count as so (and for anything that results from this statement). On the other side, it is possible to find out DC tournaments (as side events, for example) on Magic The Gathering Premium and non-Premium sanctioned tournaments. Please note that in all cases, Tournament Organizers are responsible for establishing, promoting and handling tournaments, and these organizers could be Wizards of The Coast or its partners as well.

  • 207.2. On the other side, DC is built upon the promise of being a competitive game by design. In the sense that it is thought, developed and maintained as a support for competition. This clearly defines what one can find in announcements, in this document and in tournaments.

208. Listing deck lists in DC

  • 208.1. Because of the complexity of singleton lists of 100 cards, when organizing a Duel Commander tournament, it is normally required for players to list their decks before tournaments start and present them. Decklists should be presented as 99 cards in the deck plus one card as the commander on those lists, modulated by cards that explicitely change these numbers (see official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined in section 702.).

  • 208.2. Player decklists should be readable and never lead to doubts while being checked, if provided by physical means. Failure to comply to this could trigger infractions issued from the judges during tournaments. Integrity hashes or any other modern way of validating decklists contents could also be provided in order to quickly check the decklists.

  • 208.3. Players can list an additional 101th card as a companion, provided their decklists remain valid regarding the commander construction rules and provided the whole deck is valid regarding to additional building constraints, as some cards with additional keywords require.

► 3. - Defining the format

300. Duel Commander starting life points

  • 300.1. Each player begins the game with a starting life total of 20 (twenty). (this is a change from older rules, but follows official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined in section 103.3 and 903.7)

301. Command zone

  • 301.1. Additional zone: the command zone

    • 301.1a In addition to other zones, Duel Commander games use the command zone, which exists in all Magic The Gathering formats (including the sanctioned ones). See official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined in section 408..

  • 301.2. Reminders

    • 301.2a All players have their own command zone. The command zones are public zones. See official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined in section 400.2..

  • 301.3. Interactions with other objects

    • 301.3a Although commanders share the command zone along with Planechase planes, Archenemy Schemes, Vanguard, Phenomenon, Conspiracies and emblems, they do not share rules with those objects. Commander’s rules apply only to commanders. Same goes for the other ones.

  • 301.4. Starting a game

    • 301.4a As stated in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined in section 103.2:
      103.2c In a Commander game, each player puts their commander from their deck face up into the command zone after having the opportunity to reveal a card with a companion ability and before shuffling. See rule 903.6.
      Thus, players have to reveal their own commanders before that moment in the game (this should not be considered as an infraction), but not after that moment (this is considered as an infraction).

  • 301.5. Casting commanders

  • 301.5a Players can only cast the same commander from their command zones after choosing which one they cast for the first time during each game. This is a change from previous rules defined in section 903.8 of the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules.

  • 301.5b There is no such choice to be announced by a player prior the first cast of one of their commanders.

  • 301.5c During a game, once a player has cast one of their commanders from their command zone, the other ones, if any, can’t be cast from this command zone.

  • 301.5d The other commanders in that player's command zone are still subject to the rules defined in section 903.9 of the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules and can be cast from anywhere else.

► 4. - Building decks

400. Generic considerations

  • 400.1. If not stated in this section of the present document, any rule has to follow the official rules defined in section “903. Commander” in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules.

401. Precedence

  • 401.1. When explicitly stated in the present document, if any rule specification differs from the ones you find in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules, this document contents take precedence over the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules.

402. Duel Commander decks structure

  • 402.1. A Duel Commander deck has to follow the construction rules defined in the official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at section 903.5. Which means each deck must contain exactly 100 cards, one of them being the Commander and the 99 other ones being the player’s starting library, among other considerations (possibly modulated differently by specific keywords), with one possible companion as a card that starts outside games.

403. Commanders

  • 403.1. Choosing a commander

    • 403.1a Choosing a Commander in a Duel Commander deck requires the owner of the deck to follow the construction rules defined in the official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at section 903.3 and the rules that follow.

    • 403.1b Rule 301.5. in this document does not affect the deck building process.

  • 403.2. Banned commanders

    • 403.2a Players can’t choose a card that’s banned in Duel Commander or simply banned as a commander in Duel Commander as their commanders. See rules 404. in this document.

404. Banned cards

  • 404.1. Some cards are banned from Duel Commander. The only reference to know which cards are authorized or banned is the document named “Banned and Restricted” on the Duel Commander official website, that one can find at this URL: https://www.mtgdc.info/banned-restricted.
    This list comes in addition to the rules 404.6. and 404.7. in this document.
    Though this list is usually edited on every major set release (following Wizards of The Coast’s periodicity), it might be changed at any moment if any card threatens the diversity and stability of the Duel Commander format.

  • 404.2. Banned in Duel Commander as a Commander only

    • 404.2a When a card is stated as “Banned as a Commander only”, this means the card can’t be the Commander of any deck, but can still be part of the cards constituting the starting library.

  • 404.3. Banned in Duel Commander in the deck only

    • 404.3a When a card is stated as “Banned in the deck only”, this means the card can be the Commander of any deck, but can’t be part of the cards constituting the starting library. Please note there has never been any reason for this case to exist so far.

  • 404.4. Banned in Duel Commander

    • 404.4a When a card is stated as “Banned” with no further precision, this both means the card can’t be the Commander of any deck (provided it could be an eligible one) and can’t be part of the cards constituting the starting library, nor can it be as a companion or any other card of your deck. Players can’t have any of these cards in a Duel Commander game in any zone of the game, and can't list them. They're simply not legal.

  • 404.5. Banned card candidates

    • 404.5a Any Magic The Gathering card can be banned or authorized.

  • 404.6. Format-generic banned cards

    • 404.6a Only cards that are playable in sanctioned Magic The Gathering formats are legal in Commander, and, therefore, in Duel Commander.
      That excludes special border cards like:

      • Gold-bordered cards (World Events promo cards / ...)

  • Silver-bordered cards (found in "Un"-sets / Holiday cards / ...)

  • Scroll-looking cards like Conspiracies.

  • Square-cornered cards (Collector’s Edition / ...)

  • Cards with a special acorn-looking holofoil or acorn-looking printed stamp

  • Oversized and other miscellaneous cards such as Planechase Planes, Archenemy Schemes, Vanguard cards, Helvault cards, Minigames, etc.

  • Cards marked offensive by Wizards of the Coast. Click here for the list. This list is a work in progress.

  • Any other card that will be explicited as not legal in sanctioned play by Wizards of The Coast.

  • 404.7. Format-specific banned cards

    • 404.7a Cards that use the “Ante” word are excluded.

    • 404.7b That also excludes physical abilities cards that are Falling Star and Chaos Orb.

    • 404.7c The fast subgame card Shahrazad is also excluded for structural reasons.

  • 404.8. Special mana symbols

    • 404.8a As in any other game, phyrexian mana and hybrid mana are considered the color(s) they are, including for the cards color identity.

  • 404.9. Sideboards

    • 404.9a Duel Commander doesn’t use sideboards. Players can’t have sideboard cards. The only cards of a Duel Commander deck are the 100 cards from the main (and only) deck, possibly modulated by cards like companion ability does. The only time allowed to players between rounds is for swapping commanders (see section 507. of this document).

► 5. - Specific gameplay considerations

500. Generic considerations

  • 500.1. If not stated in this section of the present document, any rule has to follow the official rules defined in section “903. Commander” in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules.

501. Precedence

  • 501.1. When explicitly stated in the present document, if any rules specification differs from the ones you find in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules, this document’s contents take precedence over the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules.

502. Taking mulligans and opening hands

  • 502.1. While Duel Commander used to follow a different rule for opening hands than the original one (called Paris-Normandy), then adopting another rule starting October 2nd, 2015, the game now uses the “London Mulligan”, widely adopted by Wizards of the Coast between June and July 2019. All Duel Commander games starting July 5th, 2019 should follow the rule 103.4. as defined in the official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules regarding starting hands and mulligans.

503. Cards referring other objects from outside the game

  • 503.1. Spell and abilities which refer to other cards owned outside the game do not function in Commander. If an effect would bring another card from outside the game, it will do nothing upon resolving. Cards with the companion keyword are not affected by this as they refer to themselves, and therefore will work, on condition that but their restrictions and the Commander building restrictions will both be valid.

504. Commander designation

  • 504.1. The commander designation does not change anything to the state-based actions, as specified. It is not a super-type, and does not appear on the card, as defined in sections 704. in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules.

505. Colored mana in pools

  • 505.1. While Duel Commander 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 their commander’s color identity, the players effectively adds the mana to their mana pool, like in any other game, and may spend it like in any other game.

506. Commander Damage victory condition

  • 506.1. While this used to be a rule (and still is in some game formats), there is no commander damage win condition in DC, neither for 21 damage nor for any other amount. All the regular Magic The Gathering ways of winning or losing a game apply to Duel Commander. This is an exception to rules 104.3, 704.5 and 903.10 to the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules.

507. Playing with more than one commander

  • 507.1. If more than one commander is put in the command zone at the start of a game, refer to rule 301.5 in this document.

  • 507.2. A commander cast from any other zone than the command zone does not count in regard to rule 301.5 of this document.
    Example : Command Beacon is a card that reads “{T}, Sacrifice Command Beacon: put your commander into your hand from the command zone.” A player put one of their commanders in their hand using this ability and didn’t cast the other commander previously. They can still cast any commander from their command zone.
    Example : Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools is a card that reads “{−10}: gain control of all commanders. Put all commanders from the command zone onto the battlefield under your control.” A player that did not cast any commander from their command zone before the resolution of this ability can still cast one of their commanders from that zone.

508. Swapping commanders

  • 508.1. Players are allowed to swap commander(s) after each game of the same round. This means that only after the first game is played each round, each player may shuffle their commander(s) into their decks and present either the same one(s) or new commander(s) from the same deck before each following game begins during each round.

  • 508.2. For the first game each round, each player puts their commander(s) from their deck face up into the command zone before shuffling (see Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at section 103.1).

  • 508.3. After the first game each round, each player reveals their commander(s) simultaneously by putting them willingly face up in the command zone after making choices, or by putting them face down in the command zone, then having both players turning them face up at the same time before shuffling (see Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at section 101.4). This action can only be done once per game, for each game of a round.

  • 508.4. Commanders must remain legal before each game begins. Players can’t change color identity in between games (see Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at section 903.4a), and the choice of commander(s) has to follow other construction rules defined in section 403. of this document (for example: players can’t choose a banned commander).

  • 508.5. Only commanders that are part of the original deck are legal. If the tournament uses registration deck lists, the commanders must be listed within the deck.

  • 508.6. Players are expected to take a decent and short time to choose commanders in between games then refer to rule 301.4 in this document.

  • 508.7. Players may change the number of commanders by swapping commanders altering the number of commanders in their command zone and library or not (see Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at section 702.).

  • 508.8. Each subgame is a subpart of the current game. Therefore, players can’t swap commanders for subgames. If a subgame would start, all players use the same commander than the current one(s) from the main game that triggered a subgame.

► 6. – Judging / Complementary notes

600. Specificities of Duel Commander

  • 600.1. Duel Commander games shall be judged and approached with the same philosophy as any Magic The Gathering game. Therefore, judges should apply the usual Magic Infraction Procedure Guide by default.

  • 600.2. Commander swapping shall be judged and sanctioned like sideboarding (mostly Tournament Error — Deck Problem).

  • 600.3. Choosing commanders between games (as potential swaps) can trigger Unsporting Conduct — Stalling or Tournament Error — Slow Play.

  • 600.4. A player refusing to reveal at the proper time their commander(s) before or after swapping commanders falls under Tournament Error — Communication Policy Violation, or any relevant misinformation conduct.

  • 600.5. Players misusing game rules from other formats (e,g, from Commander) shall be concerned mostly by those infractions, depending on the mistakes made (pretty much like confusing rules from Legacy and Vintage formats, for example):
    Tournament Error — Decklist Problem
    Tournament Error — Deck Problem
    Game Play Error — Game Rule Violation.