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:


👉 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!




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.