Duel Commander

The official website and your best resource for MTG duel Commander games. Rules, French banlists, news, blog posts and announcements from the committee.


Past updates

Fate Reforged
Khans of Tarkir
Magic 2015
Journey into Nyx
Born of the Gods
Magic 2014
Dragon’s Maze
Return to Ravnica
Magic 2013
Avacyn Restored
Dark Ascension
June 2011

Fate Reforged

First published on January 19th, 2015.

No changes.

Khans of Tarkir

First published on September 22nd, 2014.

No changes.

Magic 2015

First published on July 13th, 2014.

  • Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is banned as a Commander.
  • Oloro, Ageless Ascetic was a slow starter from Commander 2013, not getting much popularity until a few months after the set came out. An isolated performer at first, it has become the centerpoint of the format, placing quite well in tournament after tournament, often taking the top spot despite not being the most popular commander.

    The main distinguishing point compared to most other commanders is that this one is at its best without even being cast. It shapes the game from turn 1, giving it a completely different character right from the start. The life cushion given by Oloro lets deckbuilders play much less spot removal and early defense than they usually would, giving more room for a variety of game plans.

    It can play control with a much more solid plan than Esper can usually get – instead of praying to get the right mix of answers, it can sit back behind hard counterspells and just cast a sweeper at the right moment. It can play combo by using the extra 2-3 turns afforded by the life gain to find the combo pieces.

    In addition, by having such an impact on a fundamental resource of the game, it shuts out a primary strategy completely – you can’t win against Oloro by simple attacking. You either need to use commander damage, which Oloro can focus on stopping as it can ignore other sources of damage, or to out-resource Oloro in an attrition game – a challenging task given the large control toolbox that the Esper colors give. Since individual cards don’t enter into this, the only thing we can do to diminish Oloro’s dominance is to ban it.

  • Cataclysm is banned.
  • A few reasons make Cataclysm stand out:

    • in a board state where you’re behind, Cataclysm almost always resets the game in your favor. As you know it’s coming, it’s easy to keep a removal for the one threat your opponent will keep. Armageddon is no help here.
    • in a board state where you’re ahead, it almost always seals the win.
    • it attacks the opponent’s resources on every front. If your opponent’s strategy is based around creature swarm, Cataclysm is good. If it’s based on ramp (lands or artifacts) it’s good. If it’s based on planeswalkers, it’s good. In fact, it’s only bad against permanent-poor control decks, which can probably counter it anyway.
    • it’s difficult to play around. Because Cataclysm is unique in its effect, playing around it is often a losing proposition – the opponent might not have it but still gains an advantage thanks to it.
    • it’s the only card with this kind of effect for so cheap, the closest equivalents being the 6-mana Wildfire-type effects, which still remain more conditional.

    All in all, we believe Cataclysm is acting against format diversity, by encouraging counterspell decks and blue-based aggro-control, and discouraging everything else.

    Journey into Nyx

    First published on April 28th, 2014.

    No changes.

    Born of the Gods

    First published on January 27th, 2014.

  • Zur the Enchanter is banned as a Commander
  • Zur the Enchanter has been one of the mainstays of the format for quite a while. After a first burst of domination at the end of 2012, we decided to ban Vanishing to give many decks a chance of coming back after Zur had attacked once. But several innovations brought Zur back to the top. First of all, Nevermore was included as a way to shore up many of Zur’s weaker matchups. Then, more controllish builds of the deck emerged, where the pilot could choose to delay playing the Commander as much as needed in order to protect it, but would still be able to punish the opponent if they ever tapped out. Finally, Helm of Obedience combined with the tutorable Rest in Peace made for an instant kill that permitted comfortable play of the Commander in timed rounds. All this made it into arguably the best deck of the format, with players choosing to learn the deck performing quite consistently, much more than would be explained by simple knowledge of the deck’s intricacies. Rather than try to weaken Zur further, we decided to stop the problem at the source and ban the Commander.

  • Derevi, Empyrial Tactician is banned as a Commander
  • Derevi, Empyrial Tactician is one of the more innovative Commanders to come out of the Commander 2013 set. It started out rather slow, placing only three copies in the top 8s of the three biggest tournaments this season, but then quickly rose to the top of statistics, taking multiple spots in the top 8s of later tournaments.

    This led us to scrutinize quite deeply how Derevi decks function and what could explain their sudden rise to dominance. On the surface the Commander looks rather harmless, its triggered ability comparing quite unfavorably to Edric, Spymaster of Trest‘s. Its reduced cost didn’t seem much of a problem as the body is weak and it’s a good strategy to leave Derevi on the battlefield and concentrate your removal on the other threats.

    However, a closer analysis revealed that Derevi combines with many cards to create an enormous advantage very quickly. Combined with Hokori, Dust Drinker, you can lock your opponent while not suffering the effects yourself. Combined with Bloom Tender, you can create 6 mana on turn three, for exampling letting you cast Frost Titan and completely lock your opponent out of the game. Combined with Birthing Pod you can tutor multiple creatures into play every turn, crushing the opponent under value. And these are only a few examples.

    As a result, when playing against Derevi, you’re torn apart between trying to stop various threats which are quite good on their own, and trying to deal with a Commander that can come back very cheaply again and again. Not many decks are able to do that and still remain competitive against the rest of the field. Some specialized answers exist (Lignify, Darksteel Mutation, Gilded Drake) however we don’t want to turn matchups against Derevi into a lottery of whether you can find and resolve one of those scarce answers. So rather than try and ban any number of those otherwise interesting cards, we prefer banning the engine.

    After these two Commanders are gone, the format is expected to shift towards ramp, a style of deck that had a hard time against these two. That’s why we think it’s a good moment to remove some of its weapons as well in order to give creature-based and counterless strategies a better chance, while avoiding games that are decided by turn 3.

  • Grim Monolith is banned
  • Grim Monolith is one of the last sources of fast mana available. You can cast 6-drops on turn 3 with nothing else but Grim Monolith, creating some hard-to-recover from board states. Griselbrand and Maelstrom Wanderer are much more dangerous when they can cast their Commander on turn 4, usually before the opponent has a decent chance of creating a strong enough board. Prossh, Skyraider of Kher landing on turn 3 will often threaten to end the game on the very next turn.

  • Natural Order is banned
  • Natural Order has a similar issue: it’s very easy to cast on turn 3. It’s usually not the right play to use removal on an Elf on turn 2, making the play hard to anticipate. And there is a choice of green creatures that are just too strong on turn 3. Primeval Titan can create an insurmountable incremental advantage, while Terastodon can lock certain opponents out entirely.

  • Oath of Druids is banned
  • Finally, Oath of Druids has been a long-standing boogeyman against anything creature-centric. While not played much, any game where one deck relied on creatures could see its plan crumble as early as turn 2. The fact that one needs to have only a small amount of creatures to play Oath of Druids in their deck is easily circumvented. It fits naturally into Maelstrom Wanderer whose plan is to reach 8 mana unscathed.

    All this leads us to banning Grim Monolith, Natural Order, and Oath of Druids.

  • Vanishing is unbanned
  • And last, Vanishing’s only reason to be banned was in order to weaken Zur the Enchanter. With Zur gone, no reason to leave it banned.

    You can find the full banlist on the banlist page, and the principles underlying it in this article.


    First published on September 16th, 2013.

    Loyal Retainers is banned

    First of all, let it be clear that this ban does not depend only on the latest tournament result. Yes, three copies of Karador, Ghost Chieftain made top 9 at the Saint-Nazaire tournament (79 players), including the winner. But Loyal Retainers has been in observation for over a year and has been considered for banning for other reasons than purely its role in Karador.

    Loyal Retainers has been a major role player in Duel Commander ever since Griselbrand was printed over a year ago. Indeed, we reached a critical mass of quality creatures to reanimate as well as unprecedented power rewarding early reanimation. Even if Griselbrand was handled, you could easily draw a great number of cards due to the starting life total of 30. This would put you so far ahead in the game that it was often impossible for the opponent to come back. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Iona, Shield of Emeria are the other prime targets which can completely negate certain strategies if they land early. Very few aggro decks can survive an Elesh Norn, while most mono-colored decks can’t win against Iona unless they can find and resolve one of the rare colorless solutions.

    Why not play graveyard removal? The most-often seen way of using Loyal Retainers is by means of Survival of the Fittest, which helps tutoring for both the big threat and Loyal Retainers, all for very cheap. This basically forces one to have instant-speed graveyard removal or a proactive solution like Rest in Peace. Not only are these conditions hard to achieve, they also put great stress on decks. If you want to reliably be able to remove a graveyard by turn 3, you will need several copies of your solution, all just to stop one threat from the opponent. Trying to handle the reanimated creature is no good as their effect is already felt as soon as they hit the board. In short, it’s a much better strategy to just accept losing to Loyal Retainers than trying to stop it and worsening all your other matchups.

    Why not ban Survival of the Fittest? While it’s the other enabler card in this combo (Fauna Shaman also does the job but over two turns and is much more fragile), we think that Survival of the Fittest enables interesting strategies on its own. It requires adequate deck building and sacrifices, you can’t just include it in any green deck and expect it to work. On the other hand, if your deck plays white and green and already has Survival of the Fittest, including Loyal Retainers and a reanimation target is a no-brainer and will enable you to crush aggro decks.

    All in all, as with many combos, the best answer to Loyal Retainers is to run counterspells. This is not a strategy we’re trying to foster as it already has lots of advantages. In order to give a chance to decks that run other types of answers or that try to race, we decided to ban Loyal Retainers.

    But what about Zur the Enchanter?

    We are conscious that Zur is currently one of the strongest decks around. Its colors enable playing versatile, efficient answers to most of the format, while some specialized answers can be run as one-offs to be fetched with Zur. Inherent card advantage and the best colors in Duel Commander make for a fearsome deck. All this is true and it can certainly be argued that Zur is one of the best decks in a competitive environment and has been for a long time.

    Banning a commander is a huge decision to take and we don’t treat this lightly. It would impact many players who would have to switch decks entirely, perhaps having to acquire many cards to be able to build something else. As a result, we consider banning a commander only when no other choice is left. We’d like to continue observing Zur for a few months before deciding if we go further.

    You can find the full banlist on the banlist page.

    Magic 2014

    First published on July 15th, 2013.

    Protean Hulk is banned

    When we unbanned Protean Hulk in the last update, we had a couple deck shells that this card would easily fit into. While we correctly predicted that The Mimeoplasm couldn’t use it easily, Karador, Ghost Chieftain tournament results surpassed anything we imagined. A five-color Hulk deck emerged as well, consisting of Flash, Protean Hulk, lots of tutors and reanimation of spells, and some disruption.

    In Karador, having an instant kill at your disposal in this grind-centered deck is quite powerful. It means that opposing decks have to maneuver for a favorable endgame while under the threat of just losing on any turn. We compared resolving or tutoring Protean Hulk to Iona, Shield of Emeria, Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, and Griselbrand, but those actually give lots of chances to opposing decks to come back, while being uneffective against some decks. Moreover, sacrificing outlets are plentiful in Karador and contribute to the strategy of the deck. Academy Rector can be sacrificed to search for Pattern of Rebirth which in turn enables tutoring Protean Hulk, which wins since you already have a sacrifice outlet. To summarize, including Protean Hulk in Karador is almost free and gives a huge competitive advantage to the deck. This deck won two tournaments last month, with 41 and 47 players respectively.

    The Flash-Hulk five-color deck doesn’t use its commander, but has extensive tutoring capabilities making it able to assemble the two namesake cards quite comfortably. This deck often wins on turn 4 unhindered, which is about a turn too fast than we’re comfortable with in Duel Commander. It has free wins against a lot of decks. Running graveyard hate is both uneffective (because Flash-Hulk has a variety of disruption tools to deal with it) and expensive (because it’s as many cards that are almost useless in other matchups). The only real chance to fight against this deck is running lots of counterspells. As the latter is a style of deck we’d like to discourage, but can’t really trim with bannings (unless we banned many cards), it’s better to get rid of decks you can only with against with counterspells.

    Winter Orb is banned

    This is a continuation of our efforts to weaken white/blue decks. These the most popular decks by far, sometimes making up to 40% of the metagame in certain areas. Grand Arbiter Augustin IV is the most played control deck and rightly so if you look at its results, placing one or two in the top 8 of a majority of tournaments. The other extremely popular straight blue/white deck is Geist of Saint Traft. While Geist can be naturally controlled by encouraging creature-based strategies (the best way to deal with Geist is having a 2/2 creature!), Grand Arbiter doesn’t have such a natural regulating factor.

    Now, from the cards played by this deck, we picked one that is played by most Grand Arbiters, that is a central and unreplaceable part of the strategy, and that is the most frustrating to play against. Winter Orb is all of the above.

    In addition to being a very cheap way of locking the game, which is true in most decks that run it (some aggressive decks use Winter Orb as well), Grand Arbiter is the deck that makes the most of it. It can easily protect the Orb thanks to the many cheap counterspells it runs. It typically has a number of mana stones which make the Orb’s effect asymmetrical. It has ways of maintaining the lock forever (Tezzeret the Seeker) or bouncing it end of turn to be able to untap all its lands. In fact, Winter Orb is so good in the deck that many Grand Arbiter builds go out of their way to tutor it (in addition to Tezzeret and Enlightened Tutor, they run Fabricate, Muddle the Mixture, or the duplicate Rising Waters).

    While having good control decks is a nice way to balance a format where combo decks exist (which makes Duel Commander very different from, say, Standard), there are plenty of options out there that we would like to see more.

    You can find the full banlist on the banlist page.

    Dragon’s Maze

    First published on April 22nd, 2013.

    While we already acknowledged the large proportion of white and blue in January, it appears that the number of such decks is rising, and even more so in large tournaments. Saint-Nazaire’s tournament in March, with 77 players, had more than 30% of decks playing white-blue. It’s clear that while players enjoy playing diverse decks, many are coming back to the tried-and-true combination of disruption and game-breakers that these colors offer when it’s time to play a big tournament with significant prizes. The powerful commanders available in these colors add to their appeal.

    Another large feedback has been the lack of aggressive options. While the relatively small number of such decks is explained by rules inherent to the format, 30 life being a big hurdle for very aggressive decks to overcome, we do believe that their small numbers are also explained by the fact that many experienced and successful players choose more controlling strategies.

    Nonetheless, we are trying with these bannings and unbannings to push a little bit towards aggro and open up other possiblities as well. We are keeping an eye on the number of blue-white decks and if these continue dominating further measures will be taken.

    Vanishing is banned

    This is a central piece of Zur the Enchanter and a primary reason of its success. Zur’s strategy is to attack relentlessly, locking the game up bit by bit. As long as it can protect its commander, its game plan is basically bullet-proof, since Zur’s tutoring can handle any incoming threat. Vanishing is a key part of that strategy since it protects the commander from everything, up to and including Clone effects and mass removal.

    While the continued success of Zur in large tournaments can be attributed in big part to its experienced pilots, it is by itself an extremely potent commander with a strategy that’s quite difficult to stop. The prospect of facing Zur forces many players to include specialized measures, such as split second removal. We believe that the pressure on the format is too strong, but not strong enough to ban the entire deck. Therefore we are choosing to ban Vanishing, so that other decks can fight it on more equal grounds.

    Humility is banned

    While not a central piece of any top deck, Humility has a very profound effect on the game. As soon as it’s on the board, every creature is a 1/1 with no ability, including commanders. This nullifies a variety of creature-based and commander-based strategies, and makes the game quite unfun for the unprepared player. Moreover, it prevents the vast majority of commanders from functioning, which breaks the spirit of Commander somewhat. It forces players to run specialized cards (Disenchant, Nature’s Claim) to answer it, as it gets around more versatile enchantment removal like Qasali Pridemage or Acidic Slime. Aggressive decks are wrecked by Humility since they either lose to it, or run answers and thus dilute their primary game plan. For these reasons, and since it has influence on decks even when it’s not played a lot, we are banning Humility.

    Protean Hulk is unbanned

    For years, this card has been banned from the multiplayer format, because as soon as it dies, there’s plenty of ways of winning the game on the spot. Moreover, getting a creature to die isn’t hard at all, given the many sacrifice effects available in the format.

    When we transitioned from a common banlist to a separate one, Protean Hulk was left banned as precaution, since the format is full of ways to cheat it into play. However, after closer inspection, it appears that there already are plenty of huge creatures which can win the game as soon as they hit the board – Iona, Shield of Emeria, Elesh Norn, Griselbrand. These aren’t oppressive and most decks can either fight through or counter those reanimation strategies. Protean Hulk requires additional setup: a few dedicated slots in the deck, as well as a way to sacrifice it in order to win. Instant wins are also possible using Flash, but this requires four colors to work. Given that you have to make compromises for this unreliable combo, we believe it’s safe enough to have it in the format.

    Bitterblossom is unbanned

    This card has been banned 15 months ago amidst a lot of controversy. Many games were won on turn 2 just by resolving this innocuous enchantment. What the opponent did by this point mattered little – either they would lose to the incessant stream of fliers, or they would spend too many resources fighting them and would lose to anything else you played. And let’s face it, 1 life a turn is completely negligible in a 30-life format.

    What has made us change our minds then? First of all, the format has accelerated quite a bit and most decks can win before Bitterblossom can make a real difference. Second, many decks now pack more enchantment removal in order to face the diverse threats found in the format – what stops Oath of Druids, Sylvan Library, or Survival of the Fittest can also stop Bitterblossom, not to speak of Disenchant-likes which many people run to stop Swords. Third, a few decks in the format can ignore Bitterblossom – ramp decks like Maelstrom Wanderer or combo like Zur. Last but not least, black is the most unpopular color at the moment (tied with red), so it could benefit from an additional weapon.

    We are unbanning it for now to give these decks a little boost, but the effect on the game is so big that it will be closely watched.

    Staff of Domination is unbanned

    This card’s only use is as a combo engine combined with any creature that produces 5 or more mana. Since artifact-based decks with Metalworker aren’t competitive, this leaves only Elves able to exploit it effectively. Ezuri is played to a certain success but is far from dominating. Giving it an extra weapon that it can’t tutor shouldn’t make a big difference.

    You can find the full banlist on the banlist page.


    First published on January 28th, 2013.

    I – Banlist update

    For the first time since more than a year, there is no change in the banlist this time. The rules committee is watching closely tournament results and the metagame evolution since the ban of Edric last September. The Duel Commander French Cup has been a good occasion to get complete and competitive decklists, and to gather precise statistics on the metagame. We are well aware that white and blue are currently over-represented in top 8s compared to the three other colors. Today, it is still too early to get a good overview of the long-term evolution: certain decks have started to adapt to the fact that the format’s new slower speed but there remains some room for adjustments. We will keep gathering data from all tournaments in the next three months.

    The format is currently oriented towards white and blue (Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, Geist of Saint Traft and Zur the Enchanter being the most common decks in top 8), but decks with other colors are far from being wiped out and we had numerous good feedback from players who currently find the format more diverse and open than it had been before Edric’s ban.

    We keep working on the metagame evolution, but for this time the banlist remains unchanged.

    II – Resources for Duel Commander

    After several months of work on two documents, we are proud to present you some resources on Duel Commander.

    The first document is for players. It is a complete guide that includes all the rules for playing Duel Commander. If you have doubts or a question regarding Duel Commander rules, you will find the answer there. This “Bible” for Duel Commander has been written with the goal if being the ultimate reference for Duel Commander rules. Don’t hesitate to download and to share it, it is available for free. We also recommend tournament organizers to have it printed at their tournaments in addition to the Comprehensive Rules from the DCI.

    The second document is specific to tournament organizers. It gathers recommendations about how to organize, hold and communicate on Duel Commander tournaments.

    Duel Commander Rules

    Tournament Good Practices

    III – Rules clarification

    The rules document mentioned above has been written and validated way before Gatecrash previews, and one rules question is often asked about Gatecrash, that hasn’t been answered in the previous rules document (it shall be updated later). That question is about the Orzhov new keyword ability : Extort. The card’s text box is written like this :

    Extort (Whenever you cast a spell, you may pay {W/B}. If you do, each opponent loses 1 life and you gain that much life.)

    The reminder text for Extort shows a black and white hybrid mana symbol on the card. Hybrid mana symbols are considered as being of both colors identities.

    But this text in italics and between parenthesis is just a reminder text and, like Trinisphere that is playable with a commander whose color identity isn’t black, this reminder text doesn’t affect the card’s color identity.

    Example: The card Blind Obedience has a white color identity, not black. This card is legal in a deck with Gaddock Teeg as commander.

    The Duel Commander rules committee.

    Return to Ravnica

    First published on September 20th, 2012.

    Edric, Spymaster of Trest is banned as a commander

    This is a decision that we made a lot of time to take, because banning a commander means banning a whole deck and it should always be done carefully. We have been discussing this card for months, analyzing tournament results with care and checking how the metagame evolved.

    First, we saw that Edric decks left no space for decks that aren’t built to specifically answer very quick starts. This dismissed many kind of decks to be played and was bad for the metagame, where you had to choose between playing a (net-)deck built to destroy Edric (thus having a reasonable chance to get a 50-50 matchup against it), and playing the deck you wanted to craft yourself (thus having little to no chance of beating Edric at all). Edric can be beaten, but it requires a huge changing to most decks which doesn’t benefit to the game’s diversity.

    Second, Edric decks create a very bad feeling for players, who feel overwhelmed by a deck that is so powerful they can’t even do anything. Edric’s Strength relies in the fact it stays hidden in the command zone, being unreachable. Either you play normally and when you get full tapped Edric appears and ensures massive free cards for his player. Or you play carefully and Edric still plays his threats and grinds your life totals with fast threats while staying behind his counterspells. With Edric, the more you draw, the more you draw : once it connects it sends you so far ahead in the game your opponent is likely to be unable to recover. Aggro-control strategies are very strong in Commander, and for example Geist of Saint Traft is a very strong deck. But while you can battle to recover from a good Geist start, recovering after the moment Edric has started to draw several cards is unlikely to happen.

    Last, Edric doesn’t have a specific card in the deck that makes it so strong. So we can’t just ban one or two cards to get this deck weaker while staying fine to be played.

    For those reasons, and after massive playtestings and tournament results analyzis, we finally decided to ban Edric, Spymaster of Trest, as a commander. We hope that it will grant the metagame a new breath, allowing other decks to exist.

    Note that you can still play Edric, Spymaster of Trest as a normal card in your deck.

    Ancient Tomb is banned

    Ancient Tomb has always been a very powerful card, but Commander is also about playing powerful cards. The problem is due to the specific rules of the format. Starting with 30 life, Ancient Tomb has almost no downside to playing it. Coupled with the many “signets” available, it often leads to explosive starts (like Jace TMS on turn two) with absolutely no restrictions. Where Chrome Mox trades cards in hand for speed, where Lotus Petal and City of Traitors make your late game vulnerable, Ancient Tomb is extremely strong while being almost painless to play. We believe that extreme speed enablers can be good, provided you take a risk by playing them.

    Fastbond is unbanned

    This card has a potential of big acceleration coupled to a potential of combo-abuse. But the situations in which you can abuse it are extremely narrow, and today we think that those situations are likely to never happen, and building a specific deck to abuse this card wouldn’t be competitive.

    As usual, you can dind the full banlist on the “Rules” page.

    Magic 2013

    First published on June 20th, 2012.

    Changes in the Duel Commander banlist :

    Here are the banlist changes for June 20th 2012. They are effective on July 1st.

    Here are the details about those changes.

    Intuition has been banned a long time ago because of its ability to assemble powerful combinations, notably with Life from the Loam. Considering the global acceleration of the format, this type of setup has become much harder to assemble. Intuition can be useful for several minor archetypes, which will promote this format’s diversity.

    Iconic Magic card, Recurring Nightmare has suffered a lot from its legendary past. Today, Recurring Nightmare remains a very powerful card in many decks, but it has a power level that seems acceptable as not being a threat to the format. Indeed, black already has efficient ways to bring creatures back from the graveyard, without getting degenerate.

    Avacyn Restored

    First published on March 20th, 2012.

    Changes in the Duel Commander banlist :

    Here are the banlist changes for March 20th 2012.

    – Grindstone is banned.

    – Biorhythm is unbanned.
    – Coalition Victory is unbanned.
    – Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is unbanned.
    – Kokusho, the Evening Star is unbanned.
    – Limited Resources is unbanned.
    – Metalworker is unbanned.
    – Painter’s Servant is unbanned.
    – Panoptic Mirror is unbanned.
    – Sway of the Stars is unbanned.
    – Upheaval is unbanned.

    Here are the details about those changes.

    Considering Multiplayer Commander and Duel Commander are different formats with different metagames and different patterns of play, we decided to unban most of the cards that were banned only because they were on the official Multiplayer Commander banlist.

    This let us reintroduce cards that were not a threat to the format, like Coalition Victory, Limited Resources, Sway of the Stars or Kokusho, the Evening Star.

    Painter’s Servant is clearly abusable with Grindstone. Instead of banning Painter’s Servant, we decided to ban Grindstone, because this card will never be used without Painter’s Servant, and Painter’s Servant has interesting interactions with many commanders like Teysa or Jaya Ballard.

    Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is a very narrow card. Its use as a commander leads to unique deck builds, but none of them ended being broken. Unbanning both Emrakul and Metalworker allows players to try some new artifacts-based archetypes and promotes decks diversity.

    Biorhythm is another very narrow card that requires a lot of setup to shine at its full power. It gives another good finisher to elfeball-type decks like Ezuri, and with a casting cost of eight mana it is not likely to unbalance the metagame since Rofellos is banned as a commander.

    Panoptic Mirror can make exceptional combos with all Time Warp-like cards. But setting this up requires two turns and ten mana, possibly being destroyed by any artifact removal. Abusing Panoptic Mirror is extremely hard and most decks have plenty of ways to fight this strategy.

    Upheaval proved to be extremely powerful years ago, when cards like Mana Vault or Mana Crypt were legal. Now it has become difficult to generate a huge amount of mana in early turns except with monogreen decks. Upheaval may remain useful to certain deck builds, but is not as gamebreaking as it may have been in the past.

    Dark Ascension

    First published on December 20th, 2011.

    Changes in the Duel Commander banlist :

    The last changes (December 20th) on banned cards in Duel Commander format are the ones that follow :

    Lion’s Eye Diamond is unbanned.

    Back to Basics is banned.
    Bitterblossom is banned.
    Mana Drain is banned.
    The Tabernacle at the Pendrell Vale is banned.

    The rest of the list remains unchanged.

    Note that we plan to make those banlist announcements every three months, on December 20th, March 20th, June 20th and September 20th. This is the same time the DCI makes its announcement about banned and restricted cards in sanctioned Magic® formats. This new way of working ensures the banlist is checked on a regular basis, and players know when to expect changes.

    Explanations about the changes

    • Lion’s Eye Diamond is unbanned.

    This decision is rather logical. The current banlist is derived from the official banlist you can find at http://www.mtgcommander.net. Multiplayer Commander’s rules committee has decided to unban Lion’s Eye Diamond and we never saw it lead to degenerated combos when it had been played in Duel Commander, so it is unbanned here too.

    • Back to Basics is banned.

    The Duel Commander format has evolved a lot since its start, especially since the release of the Commander packs last summer. Blue remains by far the strongest color in Commander and has many tools to deal with any kind of spells. Lands aren’t spells and can’t be countered, they are blue’s natural weakness. Dealing with nonbasic lands is red’s natural strength, and red is by far the weakest color in Commander. Allowing blue to get one of red’s most powerful tools can only keep colors unbalanced. Banning Back to basics doesn’t remove all blue tools against nonbasic lands because there are plenty of lands that deal with those threats, it keeps the global solutions against nonbasic lands in their natural color : red.

    • Bitterblossom is banned.

    Bitterblossom has long been regarded as a development mistake. Before Eventide, the faeries tribe didn’t shine much in constructed, Bitterblossom was designed to give it a powerful tool to rely on. This card is the best token producer in the game, with an extremely low cost and the creation of flying tokens for free. It led Wizards to design cards specifically to deal with it at the time it was legal in standard. In Duel Commander, the life loss is irrelevant in a game where players start with 30 life, especially considering the amount of blockers will save much more life. A turn two Bitterblossom often seals the fate of the game, it is good against aggressive decks as well as against control decks. This card leads to less strategic games and more random starts, the fate of the game should not be decided on turn two.

    • Mana Drain is banned.

    Arguably the most powerful counterspell of all Magic® history, Mana Drain has always led to incredibly powerful plays at any stage of the game. Countering a spell for two mana is not a problem in itself. Neither is creating mana in the next main phase. But it does both with one card and in the same play. The fact that it denies an opponent’s spell without any restriction and gets the mana after having untapped leads most of the time to “double time walk” plays. The opponent has lost a turn and a threat, while the Mana Drain player has doubled his mana to spend for one turn. The loss of the “mana burn” rule made Mana Drain even better, negating even the small risk it could have been for its player. While meeting a Counterspell is a risk when facing blue, meeting a Mana Drain breaks any tempo in the game.

    • The Tabernacle at the Pendrell Vale is banned.

    The Tabernacle at the Pendrell Vale is an extremely powerful board control tool. There aren’t many ways to destroy a land, apart from playing red. This card has been reprinted at the fair cost of four mana (Pendrell Mists, Magus of the Tabernacle). A general rule of thumb of Magic® design is that a fair land can be turned into a fair artifact that costs two mana, for example Shadowblood Ridge and Rakdos Signet (see Card of the Day, 4th January 2011, Daily MTG). The Tabernacle at the Pendrell Vale is an extremely unbalanced card that costs only a land drop to play. It stops any aggressive deck much better than any Propaganda-like card and only asks to miss a land drop when the opponent will have either to stop casting spells or to sacrifice his creatures.

    June 2011

    This change predates this website and didn’t have an announcement besides by tournament organizers.

    On June 29th, 2011, it was decided to merge the Duel Commander banlist into the international multiplayer one, hoping to make the format more easily understandable to players coming from the multiplayer version.

    The banlist was thus established as all cards in the multiplayer banlist, plus:
    Crucible of Worlds
    Hermit Druid
    Imperial Seal
    Mana Crypt
    Mana Vault
    Mind Twist
    Mishra’s Workshop
    Serra’s Ascendant
    Sol Ring
    Strip Mine
    Vampiric Tutor
    Erayo, Soratami Ascendant as a Commander


    In summer, the command zone rule is changed so that if a Commander would be put into a library, its owner can choose to put it into the command zone instead. This change was introduced to counteract dominance of Vendilion Clique.

    In May, Braids, Cabal Minion, Erayo, Soratami Ascendant, and Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary are banned as Commanders.