#1 Does the reminder/lore text count when defining the color identity of a card?

Nope. As defined by Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at sections 903.4c and 207.2, reminder text is ignored when determining the color identity of a card.

For example, Blind Obedience has a color identity which is white (only).

As taken from Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules:

903.4c Reminder text is ignored when determining a card’s color identity. See rule 207.2.

#2 Does the back face of a double-faced card count when defining a Commander’s color identity?

Yes. Absolutely. As defined by Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules at sections 903.4c and 711, the back face of a double-faced card is included when determining a card’s color identity.

For example, Garruk Relentless is green and black.

As taken from Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules:

903.4. The Commander variant uses color identity to determine what cards can be in a deck with a certain commander. The color identity of a card is the color or colors of any mana symbols in that card’s mana cost or rules text, plus any colors defined by its characteristic-defining abilities (see rule 604.3) or color indicator (see rule 204).

Example: Bosh, Iron Golem is a legendary artifact creature with mana cost {8} and the ability “{3}{R}, Sacrifice an artifact: Bosh, Iron Golem deals damage equal to the sacrificed artifact’s mana value to any target.” Bosh’s color identity is red.

#3 Certain cards state that a deck can contain as many of them as I wish. Is that true for Duel Commander?

Sure. You can have as many Relentless Rats, Rat Colony, Persistent Petitioners, Dragon's Approach or Shadowborn Apostle in your deck, or up to seven copies of Seven Dwarves. Which could be fun (except for judges validating your decklists).

Look here:[%22a%20deck%20can%20have%20any%20number%20of%20cards%22

A Duel Commander deck can have any number of these.

A Duel Commander deck can have any number of these.

A Duel Commander deck can have any number of these.

A Duel Commander deck can have any number of these.

A Duel Commander deck can have any number of these.

A Duel Commander deck can have seven of these.

#4 How does the “Commander” designation work?

Easy! It works everywhere, it’s not part of the card, and it only applies to the card that is your commander, and never to any other card.

And only as long as the commander is revealed and the information has been publicly trackable. Like casting your commander from being exiled face down with Jacob Hauken, Inspector will have you pay the commander tax, as it is reveald when put on the stack and the information of its commander nature is public from game start to all players.

Hidden information prevents this: for instance being a morph, a manifest, or being exiled face-down is OK and will work (using rule 903.3 of Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules), except when players are unable to track the information, like using abilities from Shared Fate or Gonti, Lord of Luxury, for instance, but also via Thief Of Sanity after a library being shuffled without choosing to apply rule 903.9b of Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules, letting the commander card(s) into its owner's library). In that case, the card loses its commander nature (which means background cards won't affect it, for instance, as opponents may not be able to track that they are a commander).

This applies regardless of the type and number of commander cards (backgrounds, partners, friends forever, etc.), and even when moving the mentioned cards to private yet known location, like bottom or top (like choosing one of them using Worldly Tutor, for instance).

If a commander subject to hidden information would go to exile (being revealed as normal), to hand (being drawn), to library again (like when resolving cards like Brainstorm) or to the graveyard (through abilities such as surveil), its owner may apply rule 903.9a or 903.9b from the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules by revealing the card before taking the action. For instance, a player having a commander among their top 3 cards may resolve Brainstorm choosing to draw two cards, putting their commander back to the command zone, then putting two cards from their hand on top of their library.

See rule 903.3 in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules:

“Each deck has a legendary creature card designated as its commander. This designation is not a characteristic of the object represented by the card; rather, it is an attribute of the card itself. The card retains this designation even when it changes zones.


A commander that’s been turned face down (due to Ixidron’s effect, for example) is still a commander. A commander that’s copying another card (due to Cytoshape’s effect, for example) is still a commander. A permanent that’s copying a commander (such as a Body Double, for example, copying a commander in a player’s graveyard) is not a commander.”

#5 If I choose to put my commander back to the command zone instead of any other zone, is it a normal replacement effect?

Not really, but it is a special effect that happens throughout games. Note that this changed in 2020, as opposed to how it used to work previously.

It basically means now you draw with Skullclamp equipped on your dying commander. Fool’s demise still won’t let you take control of a commander that died when attached with it, though (their owner will choose to put it back to the command zone).

See rule 903.9a in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules:

903.9a If a commander is in a graveyard or in exile and that card was put into that zone since the last time state-based actions were checked, its owner may put it into the command zone. This is a state-based action. See rule 704.

#6 What do cards that refer “outside” the game cards do?

The "wish" cards don't do anything in Duel Commander.

Cards with text such as Karn, The Great Creator third ability won't do anything in Duel Commander.

Companion keyword works in Duel Commander.

In short: nothing. With the exception of cards that have the "Companion" keyword.

If such cards try to bring cards from outside the game (like the "wishes" and cards with the Learn keyword), they will resolve but do nothing (you can still choose to discard and draw a card instead with the latter).

Commander rules state everything, have a look at:

10. Parts of abilities which bring other traditional card(s) you own from outside the game into the game (such as Living Wish; Spawnsire of Ulamog; Karn, the Great Creator; Wish) do not function in Commander.

Taken from the Duel Commander Comprehensive Rules:

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.

Companions will refer to your starting deck as "the deck as seen before you set aside your commander". This is in the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules:

702.139b If a companion ability refers to your starting deck, it refers to your deck after you’ve set aside any sideboard cards. In a Commander game, this is also before you’ve set aside your commander.

Which means your companion will be subject to the color identity rules and your commander card will check your companion card color identity (commander swapping won't change a thing as those cards will always consider the same card pool). Both constraints have to be checked for a deck to be legal. Removing the companion from the list if only it is illegal should be the chosen procedure.

#7 Can I control a copy of a commander AND the original commander at the same time, since the copy doesn’t have the “commander” designation?

So far, you can’t. All commanders are either Legendary Creatures, Planeswalkers, Artifact or Enchantments that explicitly state they can be a commander (like Teferi, Temporal Archmage). The “legend rule” applies in all Duel Commander games, as in other Magic The Gathering games, though cards like Mirror Gallery still remove that constraint.

Looking at the Duel Commander Comprehensive rules:

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.


Mirror Box allows you to have multiple copies of your commander on the battlefield (like a Clone card entered the battlefield choosing your commander)

Mirror Gallery allows you to have multiple copies of your commander on the battlefield (like a Clone card entered the battlefield choosing your commander)

Helm of the Host allows you to have multiple copies of your commander on the battlefield, as the copies it creates won't be legendary.

Spark Double allows you to have multiple copies of your commander on the battlefield, as it removes the legendary supertype from the object it's copying.

#8 Someone plays Karn Liberated. Can we really restart the game according to its third ability?

Yup, and it’s still the same game in the same round.

If there are commanders previously exiled by Karn Liberated when its third ability resolves, you will have them on the battlefield as well after it resolves. They won’t start the game in their respective command zones, but they will still be commanders. Have fun!

Be careful, though: if commanders are exiled by Karn Liberated first or second ability -meaning: if the remplacement effect wasn’t applied to put them back in their command zone-, they will remain in the exile zone once the ability resolves.

Also, players can’t change their commanders when restarting a game, they can only do so when a new game starts.

#9 My commander’s color identity is red. Can I add non-red, non-colorless mana to my mana pool?

Indeed. If anyone controls Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, for example, you can tap a mountain you would control to add {B} (one black mana) to your mana pool. And cast Radiant Flames for X=2 different colors! Cool, ain’t it?

#10 What happens to the cost modifiers in the game when I cast my commander?

Well, they all apply normally. According to the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules:

903.8. A player may cast a commander they own from the command zone. A commander cast from the command zone costs an additional {2} for each previous time the player casting it has cast it from the command zone that game. This additional cost is informally known as the “commander tax.”

That means, for example (assuming no other game effect):


Now let's take a deep example. Imagine you're playing and you control all these cards (they're on the battlefield and it's your main phase, empty stack, you have priority).

And your commander is Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger. You have cast it once in this game and chose to have it return to the command zone.

On the battlefield

On the battlefield

On the battlefield

On the battlefield

On the battlefield

On the battlefield

Your commander, it's in your command zone.

Official Magic The Gathering comprehensive rules state the following:

601.2f The player determines the total cost of the spell. Usually this is just the mana cost. Some spells have additional or alternative costs. Some effects may increase or reduce the cost to pay, or may provide other alternative costs. Costs may include paying mana, tapping permanents, sacrificing permanents, discarding cards, and so on. The total cost is the mana cost or alternative cost (as determined in rule 601.2b), plus all additional costs and cost increases, and minus all cost reductions. If multiple cost reductions apply, the player may apply them in any order. If the mana component of the total cost is reduced to nothing by cost reduction effects, it is considered to be {0}. It can’t be reduced to less than {0}. Once the total cost is determined, any effects that directly affect the total cost are applied. Then the resulting total cost becomes “locked in.” If effects would change the total cost after this time, they have no effect.

  • You have cast your commander once this game. Its initial cost is {B}{R} (one black mana and one red mana).

  • First you add the costs increases in any order. Let's then add {1} from Sphere of Resistance, add {1} from Lodestone Golem, and add {2} from the "Commander tax" rule (this is the second time you're casting your commander from your command zone). This means the cost is now {4}{B}{R}. Easy!

  • Now, let's add costs reductions, in any order. Let's then substract {2} from Urza's Incubator, substract {2} from Heartless Summoning. This means the cost is now {B}{R}. Still good?

  • Finally, we have Trinisphere setting up minimal paid costs to {3} (regular cost calculated so far, increased if necessary). Which means we have to raise the cost to {1}{B}{R}.

  • This is your final cost! And since you have Mycosynth Lattice on the battlefield, you can tap three Swamp cards to pay the cost!

  • Finally, what if you let Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger in the graveyard the first time you casted it and it was still there instead of being in your command zone (along with five or more other cards)? Well, the final alternative (Escape) casting cost would still be {B}{B}{R}{R} (cost increased by {1} from Sphere of Resistance, {1} from Lodestone Golem, then reduced by {2} from Urza's Incubator, {2} from Heartless Summoning), plus exiling 5 cards from your graveyard as an additional cost!

#11 What zones are affected by the “return to the command zone choice” (903.9 in the Magic The Gathering comprehensive rules) rule?

All the “obvious” destination ones, which means:

  • Graveyard ✔

  • Exile ✔

  • Library ✔

  • Hand ✔

But not these destination ones:

  • Battlefield ✘

  • Stack ✘

  • Ante ✘

  • Command zone ✘

Whatever the zone your commander comes from, what matter is the zone it goes to: if your commander dies, and you choose to let it in the graveyard, then someone exiles all graveyards for any reason (let’s say someone has Rest in Peace entering the battlefield), you can still choose another time to put it back to the command zone.

Then, again, if someone plays Pull from Eternity on your commander while it’s in the exile zone, you can choose to put it back in the command zone instead of letting it go the the graveyard.

But if someone then plays Animate Dead on it, you can’t choose to put it back to the command zone, whereas once it resolves and you get your commander back on the battlefield, if someone then plays Boomerang on it, you can choose to put it back in the command zone!

#12 Then, what is the cost of commander cards if they’re not in the command zone? How much mana should I pay?

Assuming there’s no other effect, the cost is then the printed cost. The “commander tax” defined in section 903.8 of the Magic The Gathering Comprehensive Rules only applies to the commanders cast from the command zone.

903.8. A player may cast a commander they own from the command zone. A commander cast from the command zone costs an additional {2} for each previous time the player casting it has cast it from the command zone that game. This additional cost is informally known as the “commander tax.”

#13 Do you have recommendations regarding tournament organization?

In the case you’d like to organize a DC tournament, we could only give you a few advice (please take this only as a starting advice):

    1. Turn to the Magic The Gathering judges, they have basic or advanced knowledge for handling out tournaments (depending on their level).

    2. Turn to the DC Committee if you need contacts, ideas, precision, or further information.

    3. Follow the Tournament Rules and other Wizards of The Coast / DCI guidelines (found here).

    4. Make sure you have access to the Duel Commander comprehensive rules.

    5. Try to find a certified DCI Judge who could accept to be your Head Judge.

    6. Find additional DCI Judges if you think you need more or if the Head Judge tells you you need more.

    7. Try to stick to the Regular REL (Rules Enforcement Level) and rating for your tournaments. If your tournament exceeds a very large number of players (and a lot of prizes), consider using Competitive REL, with precaution, though.

    8. Go to Wizards of The Coast official websites (corporate, WPN, DCI, etc.), which are full of resources regarding tournament organization.

#14 My opponent takes control of my current turn. And makes my commander die. Who chooses what zone it goes to?

According to rule 903.9. in the Magic the Gathering comprehensive rules, this is a replacement effect. The owner chooses, but the controller of the effect is the player. Since the effect is controlled by the player, they choose what replacement effects apply. Therefore the opponent controlling your turn gets to choose for you.

#15 Can I “swap” with the same Commander after game one?




Yes, according to rule 507.1, you can choose any legal commander for swapping... Including the same one as for game one!

This rule was added in the May 2018 annoucement.

🔗Check it out here.

🔗Check out the rules here.

#16 I want to promote a Duel Commander tournament I’m organizing, can you help?

Sure! Just send us a basic Facebook page, Discord people can ping, or a website they can use, and a promotion material, such as an image or a video file or Facebook post we can share. Please make sure your tournament attendance is known and over ~30 players, for we probably won’t have the time to share hundreds of tournaments on this page on a monthly basis, unfortunately.

Just make sure that:

  • You are the tournament organizer in person, not anyone else.

  • The material is easy to share (a picture, Facebook post or event, a video). No plain text.

  • The material describes your tournament well enough.

  • Everything in your material is in English at least.

NOTE: we also now have a dedicated Discord (head up to the #tournament-general channel) and a dedicated directory on this very website! Just send us a message to be added to it! Everyone is a valid candidate!

NOTE: we now also add any 120+ tournaments worldwide and/or digital to our Discord events, just contact an admin!

#17 How do cards that alter the number of cards as commanders work in Duel Commander?

Best thing to do is probably to read our February 2022 announcement, and then head up to the Comprehensive Rules.

Duel Commander uses special rulings for those types of cards. Basically, they are all legal, but there are some rules limiting how you play them.

#18 Can I have the same card as a Companion AND as a Commander?

Unfortunately, you can't.

When building your deck, you have to follow all constraints, and the Commander constraint applies to cards chosen with the Companion keyword (see Commander rule 3:

#19 Is a mutated/melded Commander still a commander?

Absolutely. If your Commander has the mutate keyword ability, or it has been mutated with another card with this keyword, it will still be your commander.

For instance when activating Sanctum of Eternity, you would return both cards to your hand...

In any of those cases, the resulting object on the battlefield is your Commander, as long as it's under this state.

#20 What happens if a Commander card was not returned to the Command zone while changing zone but can't be cast anymore from that new zone?

Well, unfortunately, it will remain there until the end of the game, or until an effect moves it from that zone or allows you to cast it again from that zone.

Imagine a game effect would instruct you to move your commander to, let's say, the exile zone. If you choose not to put it back to the command zone, it will probably stay there until the end of the game. Like if an opponent plays Induced Amnesia, targeting you with its ability, and then someone resolves Erase, targeting it, your whole hand, including your Commander, if it was in your hand, would remain there.

#21 How do dungeons work in Duel Commander?

So far, we have at least two abilities that enable using dungeons in Magic The Gathering:

Those abilities will make you play with dungeons, symbolized with special Magic The Gathering cards that are not tokens, but will start outside a game and be put in a command zone upon their first use. They can't be cast, and they're not one of your commanders.

They begin games outside of them, but not in a sideboard. Therefore you can use dungeons and have them outside games when starting, even if you don't play cards that can put them in use. All of them. Just remember that some dungeons might have decidated rule sets (like The Undercity).

#22 Do background cards work like cards with the "partner", "friends forever" or "partner with" keywords?

Absolutely, each of them with their specificities.

When a card uses the "choose a background" keyword, the matching background you will choose will normaly do nothing in a game while added to your list, even though it can increase the deck color identity (like adding a white background to a green commander, for instance) and reduce by 1 the size of your library, as you will either chose your non-background commander or your background commander and "freeze" the other one until the end of the game.

#23 Can I use multiple companions? Can I do a "companion swap"?

The first question is explicitely forbidden by Magic The Gathering comprehensive rules:

702.139a Companion is a keyword ability that functions outside the game. It’s written as “Companion—[Condition].” Before the game begins, you may reveal one card you own from outside the game with a companion ability whose condition is fulfilled by your starting deck. (See rule 103.2b.) Once during the game, any time you have priority and the stack is empty, but only during a main phase of your turn, you may pay {3} and put that card into your hand. This is a special action that doesn’t use the stack (see rule 116.2g). This is a change from previous rules.

The answer to the second question is no, you can't swap companion cards between your starting (main) deck and your "outside the game" space. Additionnally, you can only list one companion.

This is tackled in Commander rule 3:

3. A Commander deck must contain exactly 100 cards, including the commander. If you’re playing a companion, it must adhere to color identity and singleton rules. While it is not part of the deck, it is effectively a 101st card.