Commander 2013 banlist update

By The Duel Commander rules committee

Hello everybody,

Commander 2013 is about to be out and hasn’t failed to deliver. Several new commanders are playable in the Duel format. Some cards in the extension are bound to become format staples, but none are worringly powerful or unadapted to one-on-one play. While some new commanders are very strong and might shift the format significantly, as we promised we aren’t banning any of them and will watch how the format evolves and shapes around newcomers. In short, nothing needs to be addressed urgently from the new extension and any changes to the format will wait until at least January 27th, 2014.

Now for some news about the committee. The format is undergoing significant growth this year which we’re very happy about. This growth in numbers has encouraged tournaments with bigger prizes. The more competitive players are very keen deckbuilders and will find many ways to break the format. While we are fortunate that the format stays diverse and that it’s uncommon that a single commander takes three spots or more in the top 8 of a tournament, it’s increasingly common that a group of players will find a particularly strong build that several of those will pilot to a great finish. While this phenomenon is not new, it shows that the rewards of building correctly are very high in Duel Commander. In particular, we’ve noticed that a player who’s playing a deck they’re familiar with and know well will almost invariably do better than if they were given a netdecked copy of a deck they don’t know. As a result, even if top 8 spots are often taken by a small group of decks, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those are the only ones that are viable and that one can do well with. Many times dedicated tuning of a “weaker” commander has given great results and rewarded their pilots.

This is however where we need your help. In order to develop the best banlist we can, there’s a few principles we can follow and that are rather easy to follow, but also a component of format balance that is harder to figure out without loads of data. In order to evaluate which cards enable regular early combo kills, a small amount of data is usually required, namely building a couple variants of a deck and playing a couple dozen games. But when it comes to determining whether a particular commander is too strong in the metagame, or whether banning a certain card tips the scales enough to restore the balance we’d like to see, a much bigger set of data is required, ranging from top 8s, field reports, interviews, test games, deck building, and so on. This process is both very time-consuming and linger on the availability of a very limited number of people.

As you may have heard recently, the committee is currently composed of four people. While we do our best to test a lot and to be present on as many large tournaments as our personal schedules enable us, days have only 24 hours. That’s why, in order to improve our visiblity and understanding of the format, we’d like to invite a small number of chosen players (builders above all), all regulars and recognized by the community, to our discussions (on our private forum), who would help us determine whether any potential future changes or newly-printed cards have the impact we think they have. Furthermore, some people more involved in tournament organization are likely to be contacted as well. As we have determined in the past couple of years, when the committee suddenly grew in numbers and then shrunk again, taking decisions with lots of people is not easy at all. As such, we probably won’t be growing the numbers of the committee itself, but we are going to involve some people as special consultants about the format. The names of these consultants will be publicized when they are known and if they wish so.

As always we welcome your feedback. While we read most of the forums out there, the best way to make yourself heard is by writing us HERE.

The Duel Commander rules committee.