DUEL COMMANDER COMPREHENSIVE RULES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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.
►1 - Generic considerations
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 hundred 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, even people without a Facebook account, 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 casual format. Which means it follows all the generic rules as 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 if any concern one faces does not have 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 format. Should anything not be ruled explicitly by this 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 in need 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 piece of feedback one may have.
204. DC-specific tournament timings and time management
204.1. Defining round timings
204.1.1. 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
204.2.1. 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, 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 speed. Please note Magic The Gathering judges are well used to handling such situations.
204.3. Extra time
204.3.1. As in any Magic The Gathering, some particular 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. Explicating timings and prizes
204.4.1 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 latest information
204.5.1 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
205.1.1. As opposed to common multiplayer formats like Commander (as promoted by the Commander community and Wizards of The Coast Commander), and as stated in its name, Duel Commander is made from 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 interference with the game (this is a change from official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined at section 903.2.).
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 205.1.1.).
207. Duel Commander format is a non-sanctioned, casual format
207.1. Duel Commander is not a sanctioned format, intended for casual play. Therefore, it cannot count as such (and for everything 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 they could sometimes be Wizards of The Coast or its partners.
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 on tournaments. Decklists should be presented as 99 cards in the deck plus one card as the commander on those lists or 98 cards in the deck plus two cards as commanders using the partner mechanic (see official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined at section 702.123.).
208.2. Players lists 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 on site during tournaments.
208.2. 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, like some cards with the companion keyword 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 at section 103.3, 103.3c and 903.7)
301. Command zone
301.1. Additional zone: the command zone
301.1.1. In addition to other zones, Duel Commander games use the command zone, which is now present in all Magic The Gathering formats (including the sanctioned ones). See official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined at section 408..
301.2.1. All players have their own command zone. The command zones are public zones. See official Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined at section 400.2..
301.3.1. 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
301.4.1. As stated in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules defined at section 103.1b:
103.1c 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 the right 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 could be considered as an infraction). For any game further than game one during each round, please refer to 404.10.
►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.
401.1. 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.
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 (or 2 commander cards both with partner mechanic and 98 other ones), with one possible companion as a card that starts outside games.
403.1. Choosing a commander
403.1.1. 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.
403.2. Banned commanders
403.2.1. 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 400.5b and 400.5c 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 as “Current Lists” on this Facebook Page (presented as a Facebook Note), that one can find at this URL: https://www.mtgdc.info/banned-restricted.
This list comes in addition to the rules 400.5e and 400.5f 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 of the Duel Commander format.
404.2. Banned in Duel Commander as a Commander only
404.2.1. 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 be part of the 98/99 cards of the starting library.
404.3. Banned in Duel Commander in the deck only
404.3.1. 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 98/99 cards of the starting library. Please not there has never been any reason for this case to exist so far.
404.4. Banned in Duel Commander
404.4.1. When a card is stated as “Banned” with no further precision, this means the card can’t be the Commander of any deck (provided it could be one), and can’t be part of the 98/99 cards of the starting library, nor can it be as a companion. Players can’t have any of these cards in a Duel Commander game, in any zone of the game.
404.5. Banned card candidates
404.5.1. Any Magic The Gathering card can be banned or authorized.
404.6. Format-generic banned cards
404.6.1. 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 (Unhinged / Unglued / Holiday cards / ...)
Scroll-looking cards like Conspiracies.
Square-cornered cards (Collector’s Edition / ...)
Oversized and other miscellaneous cards such as Planechase Planes, Archenemy Schemes, Vanguard cards, Helvault cards, etc.
404.7. Format-specific banned cards
404.7.1. Cards that use the “Ante” word are excluded.
404.8. Special mana symbols
404.8.1. As in any other game, phyrexian mana and hybrid mana are considered the color(s) they are, including for the cards color identity.
404.9.1. 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, with the addition of one valid card used with companion ability. 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.
501.1. 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.
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 704.5j, 704.5k and 704.5m 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 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.
506. Commander Damage victory condition
506.1. While this used to be a rule (and still is in other game formats), there is no more commander damage win condition in the format, 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 104.3j, 704.5v and 903.10a to the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules.
507. Swapping commanders
507.1. Players are allowed to swap commander(s) after each game of the same round. This means that after the first game is played each round only, each player may shuffle his or her commander(s) into his or her deck and present either the same one(s) or new commander(s) from the same deck before each following game begins during each round.
507.2. 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 103.1b).
507.3. After the first game each round, each player reveals their commanders 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 101.4a). This action can only be done once per game, for each game of a round.
507.4. 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).
507.5. 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.
507.6. Players are expected to take a decent and short time to choose Commanders in between games.
507.7. Players may change the number of Commanders by swapping Commanders with Partner ability and a single Commander without this ability (see Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at section 702.123).
507.8. 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 by 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, for example):
Tournament Error — Decklist Problem
Tournament Error — Deck Problem
Game Play Error — Game Rule Violation