By The Duel Commander rules committee

Over the past few months, the format has been shifting from a battle of polarizing commanders (such as Edgar Markov vs anti-Edgar games, for example) to a battle of strategies (aggressive vs. burn vs. control vs. combo decks). While it is true that burn is still one major form of aggression in the format, Saskia the Unyielding or Akiri, Line-Slinger have been putting up better results lately. Fast, tempo-oriented or disruptive partner-ability commander lists are also growing in terms of popularity. Looking at the most recent metagame, the results show quite a balance among top performing decks, with many different strategies, despite one adjustment that nevertheless has to be done.
👉 Individual card changes:

Fastbond is now banned.

These changes apply on December 1, 2017. The next announcements will be published on February 26, 2018 (applying on March 2nd, 2018).

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

Further individual explanations:

Fastbond is a very strong card, but not a broken card in singleton, as you need to build around it and assemble a particular sequence of cards to make it great. This is why we chose to unban it. Nevertheless Fastbond has two major flaws.
It can make broken things too early. Despite the fact that such events are statistically very rare, sometimes do they happen. When an opponent casts Titania, Protector of Argoth (or The Gitrog Monster) on turn 1, saying that it is a statistically rare event will not solve frustration.
Fastbond’s impact on the metagame wasn’t positive. It is a weak card against strong strategies and a strong card against “tier 2 or less” decks.
Unfortunately, for all those reasons, the field testing of Fastbond did not prove the card worth staying out of the banned/restricted list.




By The Duel Commander rules committee

Sorry for the delay !

Since our last announcement, the major concern regarding Duel Commander was the addition of Commander 2017. This great edition, along with its quite unique abilities, challenged how people build their decks.
Despite all this, the metagame is currently unfair. The first problem, which is easy to solve, is that Edgar Markov has no place in competitive Duel Commander. The second one is more subtle: burn decks bypass the singleton rule and must be weakened for that reason. We chose to weaken them by banning irreplaceable, unconventional and singular cards rather than core cards.
👉 Individual card changes:

Edgar Markov is now banned as as commander only.
Fireblast is now banned.
Eidolon of the Great Revel is now banned.
Sulfuric Vortex is now banned.
Price of Progress is now banned.

These changes apply on September 29, 2017. The next announcements will be published on November 27, 2017 (applying on December 1st, 2017).

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

Further individual explanations:

Edgar Markov
Before “Eminence” got released in Commander 2017, two commanders got abilities that somehow worked from the command zone: Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and, to a lesser extend, Derevi, Empyrial Tactician. Both of them are banned in Duel Commander. Having abilities on cards that actually work from the command zone negates the concept of casting commanders, and are very easily overpowered when played in duel.
Edgar Markov clearly offers the ability to build a very solid, overly intense tribal deck revolving around vampires. The flavor is cool, but the taste is not. For 4 weeks already the card dominated most tournaments it got in, polarizing the next ones to “Edgar VS anti-Edgar” strategies only. Which is the very definition of “going against diversity”. Which also demonstrates the expected and found power of the card. Which easily explains why Edgar Markov is now banned as a commander.

Once most burn decks reach a certain amount of lands, they don’t require any further use of them. As there’s usually no way to excel at drawing cards and refilling their owners’ hands. So, additional lands aren’t needed and therefore Fireblast becomes totally free, without any drawback. The tempo of the card is also obviously very good.
If Fireblast has a very rich past in this archetype in other formats it is even stronger in singleton. As a singleton card your opponent cannot “play around” it as you play only one with no tutor. In a singleton game one will never draw two of them and two Fireblast is not that great as you play nonbasic lands and as you don’t always reach 4 mountains. Too many reasons why, actually, Fireblast needs to be banned in Duel Commander.

Eidolon of the Great Revel
Close to Pyrostatic Pillar as a creature, which makes it easier to handle in exchange for having it do more damage by attacking. Eidolon of the Great Revel is included in 100% red/burn decklists and usually does between 6 and 10 damage by itself on a regular basis.
Eidolon of the Great Revel is also an “always win” card. If it survives it deals massive damage. If it dies it will have dealt at least two damage to the opponent (and made him/her spend a card and mana).
Now, Duel Commander the average converted mana cost of spells is lower as the format is getting more and more competitive. Needless to say how much of a pressure this card is for opponents, this card, a key one in burn decks, is not authorized anymore in Duel Commander.

Sulfuric Vortex
Sulfuric Vortex creates a specific problem in Duel Commander as it totally wrecks some strategies. Lots of decks cannot handle it and cannot win because of it. This is a major problem for the concept of the format.
Sulfuric Vortex is also a great card against other decks, as it’s an enchantment (therefore harder to remove), it generates a great clock (quicker than most control decks) and prevents gaining life (burn archetypes’ nemesis). Sulfuric Vortex is also widely played in burn decks in all formats.
Another worrying issue is that Sulfuric Vortex punishes people who build against burn decks as it makes their metagame cards almost useless. Negating deckbuilding and adaptation is not what we want to see. For all these reasons, Sulfuric Vortex is not allowed in Duel Commander anymore.

Price of Progress
Price of Progress is also enhanced by the singleton aspect of Duel Commander. As you cannot play as many fetchlands (that can protect you from Price of Progress) you have to play more dual/nonbasic lands than you usually would in regular formats. This is especially true for two-colored decks.
The singleton aspect also strengthens Price of Progress as a “not worth building or playing to prepare against it” card, as it is played in decks with no tutoring effects.
Among the key “burn” cards that exist and that get played a lot in Duel Commander, this one is really unique in terms of damage range. For allowing many cheap, immediate ends in too many games, Price of Progress is now banned in Duel Commander.




By The Duel Commander rules committee

The last 3 months were quite interesting for our beloved format, with lots of great tournaments and a large affluence at those tournaments. With such a large data and a careful study of the Magic Online 1vs1 Commander updates, we found that the following changes would improve Duel Commander tournaments.
👉 Individual card changes:

Geist of Saint Traft is now banned as a commander only.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is now banned as a commander only.
Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder is now banned as a commander only.

Polymorph is now banned.
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is now banned.

Ancient Tomb is now legal.
Mind Twist is now legal.
Fastbond is now legal.

👉 Don’t forget to check out our Current Lists for a recap of all the currently banned cards.

These changes apply on July 21, 2017. The next announcements will be published on September 25, 2017 (applying on September 29, 2017).

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

Further individual explanations:

Geist of Saint Traft
It’s always hard to remove a historical commander. The true, recurring, solid outs that Geist of Saint Traft provides were already a strong problem when facing a higher starting life total, which they proved to be even more efficient at blowing up now, several months after they even got lowered back to normal.

Geist of Saint Traft is one of the rare handfuls of commanders which have the evil hexproof ability, and the cheapest of them. The absolute lack of interactions it offers, the immediate pressure it gives -despite the absence of moxen- and the killing clock it gives, as much as its position in the format, forbidding many building strategies to exist or annihilating them makes Geist of Saint Traft too toxic to remain in the command zone.

Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
Among all the available commanders for control decks, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is without a doubt the most proactive one. It enters the battlefield very early, it sculpts its owner’s hand efficiently, up to the point that player can compose his or her deck with very “metagame” cards, like Hydroblast, or Mind Harness. During the game, it favours blue’s favourite weapons, like instants and sorceries, abilities like flashback or delve, and generates card advantage easily. At some point, it allows setting up degenerate synergies that will quickly end games, with cards like Intuition, functional copycats of Time Walk, or High Tide.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy definitely has too many elements in its favor to remain eligible to the Command zone. In order to open the diversity of the format, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is now banned as a commander.

Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder
Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder is a strong card. But most problematically: it’s a toxic card. It shaped the metagame by removing all fair aggressive decks and most midrange decks. It is focusing the format by losing against mono-blue decks and beating mono-blue decks predators. Banning Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder also allows keeping the very interesting Partner keyword which favours original and exotic deckbuilding. So it’s unfortunately time for Bruse Tarl, Boorish Herder to leave us.

Having a gigantic creature entering the battlefield at a reduced cost is a dreadful strategy that should be subject to reasonable constraints. The interaction between Polymorph and the Command zone makes it unfair. Indeed, in Duel Commander, Polymorph is definitely freed from its initial constraint: producing a creature without playing creature cards. We’re reaching the breaking point of those reasonable constraints when Polymorph is paired with highly synergic commanders like Baral, Chief of Compliance (that allows it to happen on turn 3) or Vendilion Clique (which controls possible answers). Because of the danger it represents in Duel Commander, Polymorph is now banned.

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn is most of the time the end of any strategic approach of a game. Being nearly impossible to kill and having Annihilator 6 makes it overwhelming. If Emrakul, the Aeons Torn was only cast during the later parts of games, it wouldn’t be a problem. But with cards like Synthetic Destiny or even Through the Breach it can enter the battlefield way too early. The card is also very (very) rarely cast for {15}. Adding no value to format and causing some trouble, we choose to ban Emrakul, the Aeons Torn from Duel Commander.

Ancient Tomb
The ban of Ancient Tomb is mostly an archaism of the 30 starting life totals era. Without any playable aggressive strategy, it was a flawless 2-mana land. This is not true today anymore! Ancient Tomb is still a great card, but a very risky one. Bringing back Ancient Tomb also promotes strategic complexity of the format by offering more versatility in mana development. So… Welcome back Ancient Tomb! But beware: the world has changed…

Mind Twist
Mind Twist is one of the first cards to be banned in Magic, back in 1994. Even if there are many combinations one could dream of with Mind Twist (with fast mana elves or Dark Ritual, for example) most of the time it ends up being an expensive Hymn to Tourach. Also, fast mana is now getting harder to produce in Duel Commander. The pro-active metagame also means more active decks and Mind Twisting an opponent’s hand by turn 4 is not such a good deal now. The command zone also reduces the impact of mass discard. This is why we think it’s the right time to bring back this iconic card in Duel Commander.

Fastbond is explosive in most early games (with many more conditions than it looks, though) and often forsaken in the late game state, despite the presence of Crucible of Worlds or The Gitrog Monster, or Ramunap Excavator. Despite the fact that it has led to aberrant starts in the past, the drawback is now far more problematic. Fastbond still holds a high potential, yet it is tamed by the pace of the format we’ve had for a few months now. We also think Duel Commander is more spectacular with that kind of broken cards than when played with four copies. Therefore, Fastbond is worth a come back.




By The Duel Commander rules committee

Since our last update in January quite a lot of things have changed for Duel Commander. The metagame kept evolving and rotating slightly towards Partner commanders, playing all colours and deck types. Aggressive decks also became top tier strategies, with mono-red or red-white decks taking over. Control decks continue to be powerful as well. Wizards also recently announced support for 1v1 Commander games on MTGO. While it is not officially support as Duel Commander, everyone is excited for their future announcements to see how Duel games will be supported by WOTC going forward.

Individual card changes:

Breya, Etherium Shaper is now banned as as commander only.
Vial Smasher the Fierce is now banned as as commander only.
Yisan, The Wanderer Bard is now legal.
Chrome Mox is now banned.
Mox Diamond is now banned.

These changes apply on April 21, 2017. The next announcements will be published on July 17, 2017 (applying on July 21, 2017).

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

Further individual explanations:

Breya, Etherium Shaper
Among the control decks currently running in Duel Commander, the dominant archetypes rely on removal spells (UX) and archetypes that revolve around combos, backed up by counterspells (mostly mono-blue ones). The arrival of Breya, Etherium Shaper quickly shut down the first category as being an absolute better offer. Her colour identity offers little weakness, her abilities crush opposing board presence and she even has opportunities to integrate “instant-win” combinations. Breya, Etherium Shaper outclasses all other available commanders in terms of versatility and power.
Such a superiority is highly problematic: in order to prevent uniform control strategies that end up being particularly oppressive for aggressive decks, Breya, Etherium Shaper is now banned as a commander.

Vial Smasher the Fierce
The format which Vial Smasher the Fierce was made for (40 starting life totals, multiplayer games) is very different from Duel Commander. The current structure in Duel Commander favours her a lot, mostly by dodging the “random opponent” effect due to the fact that there is only one opponent.
This commander also abuses most cost reduction effects (“pitch cards”, delve ability, or any alternative cost). This could almost be acceptable if that card didn’t also have the “partner” keyword, that opens access for the decks that play it to too many other alternative cost cards, especially when using blue along with it.
Partner ability requires reasonable commanders, where Vial Smasher the Fierce is actually a brutal and resilient win condition. Not being adapted to Duel Commander, Vial Smasher the Fierce is now banned as a commander.

Yisan, The Wanderer Bard
When we banned Yisan, The Wanderer Bard, almost no quick spot removal spells were played as the 30 starting life totals format was an endless battle of Control Vs Combo with few competitive aggressive strategies at all. Within such a metagame, Yisan, The Wanderer Bard was quite problematic as he could create board presence from nothing if left unchecked. This is clearly not true nowadays with Lightning Bolt being the most played coloured card along with Swords to Plowshares, Go for the Throat, Fatal Push being widely played as well.
Therefore it’s time for our favorite Bard to come back to Duel Commander tables!

Chrome Mox / Mox Diamond
Obviously, those two cards differ and the construction constraints they require are not the same. However, their nuisance potential to Duel Commander is close to the same.
The balance of those two Moxen relies on the sacrifice of active resources at games starts. However, in Duel Commander, the fact that there is a commander highly raises the amount of available active resources. The constraints mentioned above are therefore reduced. The recent “partner” keyword ability stressed that reduction even more.
The combination of the unique characteristics of those two Moxen (the cheapest permanent mana accelerators still available on the first turn) along with Duel Commander specifics (singleton and Commander as a repeatable resource) creates a very undesirable variance.
Moreover, such a variance currently boosts up two major decks: Baral, Chief of Compliance and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, that can then be cast on turn one, or where they can be recycled later in the games.
For creating an lack of balance in the games and for determining the outcome of games too many times in Duel Commander, those two cards, Chrome Mox and Mox Diamond are now banned.