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

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.