août

24

AUGUST 2020 RULES – BANNED/RESTRICTED UPDATE

By The Duel Commander rules committee

Hello, everyone! 2020 goes on, and it’s hell of an extraordinary year, in all the good and bad meanings this word bears. Since the last update, it seems like the current metagame adjusted quite accordingly to the defaults that were addressed beforehand. New commanders entered the arena and demonstrated quite an impressive series of results, which shows how much innovation is always possible in Duel Commander. Despite those great news, one little change had to be done this time, which aims at correcting a small unbalance in what was observed since may.

Please stay safe.

Changes:

👉 Rules changes:No changes.

👉 Individual card changes:

Genesis Storm is now banned.

👉 Other changes:

No changes.

These changes apply on August 28, 2020. The next announcement will be published on November 30, 2020 (applying on December 4, 2020).

Until then, we wish you all many good games! 🙂

Further individual explanations:

Genesis Storm

Over the last year, control decks had been struggling to stay in shape, and were most of the time smothered by a very aggressive metagame and overpowered combos, all of these with such good tempos that they couldn’t keep up with the pace and were most of the time forced to kill with random combos themselves.

Last update was among other purposes about balancing the overall playability and performance of control, combo and aggressive strategies. Since then, more blue-and-green-based decks started focusing on new combo kills backed up by control shells, like Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, or even the older Thrasios, Triton Hero, for instance.

Those decks focus on a new way of structurally over-optimizing control decks, playing around Genesis Storm, a card from 2018 that has a very high affinity with “permanent-type-less“ builds. Genesis Storm becomes a one-card instant kill that dodges most common interactions, including counters and removal, provided the chosen combo only includes two permanents as pieces (such as Thought Lash + Jace, Wielder of Mysteries or Rest in Peace + Helm of Obedience).
Although removing the named commanders could be slowing the take of this card on the format, it would still be used in the future should a new commander or combo be printed. Therefore, Genesis Storm is now banned.

mai

25

MAY 2020 RULES – BANNED/RESTRICTED UPDATE

By The Duel Commander rules committee

This last quarter was full of complicated times and events, sadly, around the world. It’s hard not to mention the COVID-19 situation, which has shut down most physical tournaments, favoring online games a little more, which makes most analysis sources go under the radar. Our first thoughts go to everyone still in isolation and everyone who lost people during this crisis.
Yet, in those strange times, Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths and Ikoria Commander (2020 Edition) were finally out with a little delay, and, among their new additions, new series of very interesting cards, sometimes threatening the format balance, were born.In addition to structural updates we thought were required, some other changes became necessary, after carefully observing the latest updates and changes to tournaments, metagame, and gathering some locally-focused feedback.

Changes:

👉 Rules changes:No changes.

👉 Individual card changes:

Lutri, The Spellchaser is now banned.
Deflecting Swat is now banned.
Fierce Guardianship is now banned.
High Tide is now banned.
Capture of Jingzhou is now banned.
Temporal Manipulation is now banned.
Time Warp is now banned.
Cavern of Souls is now banned.
Field of the Dead is now banned.
Wasteland is now banned.
Lion’s Eye Diamond is now banned.

Gifts Ungiven is now legal.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is now legal.

👉 Other changes:No changes.

These changes apply on May 29, 2020. The next announcement will be published on August 24, 2020 (applying on August 28, 2020).

Until then, we wish you all many good games! :)

Further individual explanations:

One word to introduce those changes: except the Ikoria cards, all other changes are structurally linked. They aim at trying to reduce the impact of combo-oriented blue-based decks and aim at shifting to more control-oriented blue decks. This includes weakening combos, reducing the inexorability of land strategies, and allowing some iconic blue cards that were vaulted long time ago.

Lutri, The Spellchaser
Even though Lutri, The Spellchaser is merely a worse Dualcaster Mage (a card that barely sees play in Duel Commander), the lack of deck building restriction makes it a free and automatic inclusion that will always provide useful value to any deck that has access to both colors and cheap spells to copy. The rupture of equity is the real reason to make the card stay out of the format, rather than its power level, though. But as each player must get the same building options, Lutri, The Spellchaser won’t be allowed anymore.

Deflecting Swat and Fierce Guardianship
Some other new cards recently appeared in the latest editions that were released in April. Among those additions came a new set of five cards that each have a special effect, linked to its color, and all have in common a regular cost and an alternative cost, that removes their casting costs if the controller of the spell controls a commander. There is a long history of cards designed to be fair or interesting in multiplayer that ended up being weirdly efficient in duel, like Vial Smasher The Fierce, for example. It is true that those cards are interesting in multiplayer variants, but they remain overly easy to cast in duel. We decided that giving a free non-creature counter effect and a target-changing effect for free would be too much, favoring commander-centric strategies even more than they needed to be.

High Tide
High Tide was probably one of the most hated combo cards still allowed in the format. While it is true the card is a great balancing tool against land-based or removal-based attrition strategies, it is also a card that generates a lot of frustration whenever players happen to draw the deck namesake card by turns 4 or 5. Now that land-based strategies have been nerfed, the need for High Tide to regulate the format is no more. Therefore, it is now time to say goodbye to it.

Capture of Jingzhou, Temporal Manipulation and Time Warp
Similar and functional copies/clones in Magic The Gathering cards are always a source of worries in singleton formats, for too many of them could wreak diversity and the random effect that it relies on. Some are very famous, like direct damage spells, mana-generating creatures, creature-sweepers,land-fetching lands, etc. Though this is still acceptable -especially now that Magic The Gathering has reached over 21 000 unique cards-, some redundancies in lists can sometimes lead to annoying consequences. So was it for extra turns strategies, where players could chain those spells, replay them a sufficient amount of times up to a point where they could monopolize the game state until they eventually won with attritional effects, sometimes kick-started with High Tide, sometimes cheap/free-casted with very specific mechanics. This combo-oriented win condition is not what we want players to experience anymore, therefore those three cards are now banned in Duel Commander.

Cavern of Souls, Field of the Dead and Wasteland
Field of the Dead is a land that has proven problematic in several formats ever since it was printed due to the amount of cards that can search for it in libraries, ramp spells and Regrowth-like effects available (some of them playable in the command zone, such as Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath or Golos, Tireless Pilgrim). It brings inevitability over any form of slow deck (midrange / control) while also providing protection against aggressive decks through a constant stream of free creatures. That makes it a strong incentive for players to lean towards combo strategies, and a major threat to the format’s balance. Thus, Field of the Dead is now banned.Cavern of Souls greatly favors commander-centric game plans. Especially when it comes to green decks that could easily find the card in libraries. Reducing interactions -yes, Counterspell is an interactive spell- is not what we think is good for a competitive format. Commander-centric strategies reduce the strategic problems encountered in the format. Our efforts to finally structure blue as a more controlling color and a less combo color would be denied if Cavern of Souls remained legal.Wasteland is used 3 ways :

  1. Solving very problematic lands. Most extreme lands are banned. Against strong, but not critical lands one can play slower cards like Field Of Ruin or even spells to tackle that problem. No land can solve a Winter Orb or a Blood Moon, for instance. If one’s commander-centric deck loses on Maze of Ith, is it really a problem for the format?
  2. Recursion with Life From The Loam / Crucible Of Worlds / etc. This is inexorability. Blue can’t be shifted from combo to control under high inexorability. In this case, players will still choose combo over control.
  3. Randomly mana-screwing an opponent. Which is not a great addition to the format.

These 3 problems being evaluated as “not valuable” for the format, Wasteland now joins its mentor Strip Mine in the list of forbidden cards.

Lion’s Eye Diamond
Lion’s Eye Diamond is a key card in two of the fastest and most popular combo decks in the format at least. It was already singled out as a problematic card by many players when it was only played in Tymna The Weaver + Thrasios, Triton Hero decks, and the printing of Underworld Breach added another shell in which it permits “going infinite” a bit too easy. Lion’s Eye Diamond-based combos are also harder to interact with than other creatures-based combos (such as Devoted Druid + Vizier of Remedies or Aluren + Recruiter of the Guard, for instance). So, in an effort to tone down the strength of combo archetypes, Lion’s Eye Diamond is now banned.

Gifts Ungiven
Gifts Ungiven has a very short history in Duel Commander: it was banned since day 0. For as long as the Duel Commander Rules Committee existed, the card remained illegal. It was a prior-to-preventive ban (prior to defining the format for the first time) to prevent easy access to any combos, including multiple ones in one shot or those that could share common cards to activate. It was also banned because of the time it takes to resolve when players are given too many opportunities, or on the opposite when winning becomes harder and requires different choices than straight, regular ones, pretty much in a way Sensei’s Divining Top does. But now things have changed, and in an effort to remove overly easy-access combos, we believe Gifts Ungiven is worth a try, even though a whole new mass of cards got printed since 2007 (over 14 000, actually!), which could lead to really fast victories, having most of the most dangerous ones out of the format.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Last time it was legal, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy was mostly used as a combo engine with High Tide and extra turns. With High Tide and the cheapest extra turns banned, we feel confident that it might not be as powerful and dominant as it used to be. Therefore, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is now legal as a commander again.

févr.

24

FEBRUARY 2020 RULES – BANNED/RESTRICTED UPDATE

By The Duel Commander rules committee

Hey folks, with an exciting year 2019 under our belly, there was the time between years for closely inspecting our beloved format. It is more than a pleasure to see rising numbers in events and players attending those events. This data and global feedback on tournaments gave the impression that some changes were needed, though.Also, Wizards of the Coast did release new sets with lots of exciting cards, some of them, however seemed a bit too strong to maintain a balance in Duel Commander. This leads to the following changes:

Changes:

👉 Rules changes:

No changes.

👉 Individual card changes:

Thassa’s Oracle is now banned.
Ancient Tomb is now banned.
Mox Opal is now banned.

Sulfuric Vortex is now legal.

👉 Other changes:

No changes.

These changes apply on February 28, 2020. The next announcement will be published on May 25, 2020 (applying on May 29, 2020).

Until then, we wish you all many good games! 🙂

Further individual explanations:

Thassa’s Oracle

With Theros Beyond Death, Thassa’s Oracle made its entrance into a lot of formats. It is always exciting to see a ability that states “you win the game” on a new card, except this time the excitement did not last long. While similar to already existing cards like Laboratory Maniac or Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, Thassa’s Oracle does not need to stay on the board for its magic to happen and decks that can’t interact with it -or with its triggered ability- while it’s on the stack have very little ways of beating the combo, when set up correctly.
In addition to this, Thassa’s Oracle only has a converted mana cost of 2, which makes it not only easy to cast along with cards that empty the library on the same turn but also, due to its card types, make it very easy to search out of the deck by a wide variety cards. All these reasons let us believe that Thassa’s Oracle stay in our format should be a rather short one.

Ancient Tomb

Ancient Tomb was made legal again one year after the format was changed to start with 20 life points for players under the assumption that the card would be kept in check by the lower life total and the viability of aggressive decks. While it is true that this land is somewhat painful versus aggressive decks, it is also a fact, that those precise decks are using the card themselves.
Trading life for resources has always been a dangerous mechanic and it is even more dangerous when being done while being the aggressive deck. Ancient Tomb makes no exception to this and allows for explosive starts. By providing permanent extra mana on the turn it is played, it is a huge tempo gain – especially when it’s used to cast and recast commanders. Whether being used to cast commanders or expensive spells like Damnation, Fiery Confluence or Thought-Knot Seer, the result often easily mitigates the damage done by Ancient Tomb most of the time. In order to keep games more interesting and fair Ancient Tomb has to go.

Mox Opal

Similar to Ancient Tomb, Mox Opal is played in every artifact-centric deck. The main difference between Mox Opal on one side and Mox Sapphire and its siblings on the other side is the keyword Metalcraft.
While it’s hard for most decks to have three artifacts on the board, it really isn’t when your whole deck -or in the case of Silas Renn, Seeker Adept even one of your commanders- has this card type. In decks with Sai, Master Thopterist or Akiri, Line-Slinger as commanders Mox Opal does not only help casting the commanders ahead on time but also gives an advantage when arriving late to the party.
Furthermore, Mox Opal provides the same benefits as Ancient Tomb in those decks without being painful at all, and on top of that, can generate mana of any color. Its banning in Modern for the same reasons, made it even more clear, that Mox Opal should also be banned in Duel Commander.

Sulfuric Vortex

With the printing of Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Klothys, God of Destiny or Heliod, Sun-Crowned we believe that Sulfuric Vortex will have a meaningful and healthy role in the format again.
It does not add explosiveness to red tempo / aggressive decks and gives them outs to combat repeatable lifegain from the command zone, as well as providing in a steady tempo damage that is not affected by most board wipes or usual spot removal cards.
Welcome back Sulfuric Vortex!