Battle For Zendikar / September 2015 banlist / update

By The Duel Commander rules committee



During the last three months, the format kept growing. We have been in contact with more and more communities, and we hope this will continue in the future.

The card was creating a lot of fuss because of its power and its impact on the games’ durations. During those 6 months without restrictions, Top didn’t seem to have any positive impact on the format, powering up decks that were already dominant. That’s why Sensei’s divining top is now banned.

  • The Vancouver mulligan (the same as for sanctionned tournaments) is now the legal mulligan in Dual Commander.

103.4. Each player draws a number of cards equal to his or her starting hand size, which is normally seven. (Some effects can modify a player’s starting hand size.) A player who is dissatisfied with his or her initial hand may take a mulligan. First, the starting player declares whether or not he or she will take a mulligan. Then each other player in turn order does the same. Once each player has made a declaration, all players who decided to take mulligans do so at the same time. To take a mulligan, a player shuffles his or her hand back into his or her library, then draws a new hand of one fewer cards than he or she had before. If a player kept his or her hand of cards, those cards become the player’s opening hand, and that player may not take any further mulligans. This process is then repeated until no player takes a mulligan. (Note that if a player’s hand size reaches zero cards, that player must keep that hand.) Then, beginning with the starting player and proceeding in turn order, any player whose opening hand has fewer cards than his or her starting hand size may scry 1.

Over the years, the partial mulligan has switched from a tool used to have less games lost on the starting hand to a powerful engine used in some strategies to take an early lead. During the last 3 months, we decided to test the Vancouver mulligan. It appears it still allows players to play real magic games while not threatening the balance between decks and strategies. It seemed like the optimal solution for the Dual Commander.

These changes take effect on October 2nd, 2015

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

The next announcement is expected to be on January 18th, 2016 (effective January 22nd, 2016).


The Duel Commander rules committee.

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More information, step by step :


The Vancouver mulligan

The transition to a new mulligan, as announced by Wizards of the Coast has given us the opportunity to question the partial mulligan and its usage in Duel Commander.
Historically, the partial mulligan was established to provide additional stability to Duel Commander decks and so as to compensate the high variance that was inherent to the format.

However, over the years, our team has noted several issues with this mulligan:

1) The transition between Commander and other formats is difficult. Learning how to mulligan is a challenge for players who are accustomed to the classic mulligan.

2) The risk / reward ratio, when related to the inclusion of situational cards, or a large number of high-cost cards, was unbalanced. In Magic The Gathering, this kind of bet is risky because it often gives poor to even unplayable hands. By allowing the removal of all non-suited cards at the starting hand in the early game, the partial mulligan removed most of the downsides of “ramp” archetypes and decks that had huge situational cards toolboxes to tutor for.

3) Instead of keeping a hand as soon as it is sufficiently playable, the Paris Normandy mulligan strongly encouraged carving your hand so as to make ideal early games, such as turn 1 Elves into turn 2 Marath or Birthing pod. Not all decks are equal in terms of ideal output, yet the mulligan was again a source of imbalance.

4) The partial mulligan encouraged players to have a risky cards proportion balance. For example, some decks are allowed to include a relatively small number of lands, heavily relying on the mulligan to get what was missing (lands, or even combo pieces).

5) This same tutor option allowed combo decks to easily find key pieces of their decks. Overall unstable decks still managed to get perfect hands, that contained everything needed to win games early.

6) Players easily played 3 or more colors with many colorless or monocolored lands, using the partial mulligan to find their colors. We even saw three or more colors decks using Blood moon / Ruination.

To sum things up, over time, the partial mulligan has switched from a mechanism that was originally designed to minimize the number of uninteresting games (which is the very principle of the mulligan) to a tool that was now used to reinforce some strategies and build.

being aware of this, we investigated on the relevance of the Vancouver mulligan for Duel Commander and deeply tested its impact. The results within the team are positive and it is actually possible to adapt the decklists to the new mulligan rule. In addition, subsequently obtained hands are much more representative of players’ construction choices. A deck with a poor matchup against an archetype had less chances to still open a perfect hand. We must now make real choices based on the expected metagame. Finally, switching to the same mulligan that every competitive format uses is a formal step towards extending the competitiveness and the reputation of Duel Commander.

We believe the main issues of the partial mulligan are compensated without disfiguring the current game format. The number of explored playable hands drastically increases, allowing a better games diversity. The Vancouver mulligan finally allows the Duel Commander to come back to a mulligan method that minimizes the number of unplayable hands without being an undesired strategic tool.

Following this change, we remain very attentive to your feedback, impressions and comments. Do not hesitate, especially if you want to let us know your feelings about the consequences of the mulligan change regarding the power of tutor cards, or cards with a strong impact in the early game state.


The Duel Commander rules committee.