So here it is again, yet another suggestion for Modern Commander that seems to crop up every few years. Well, hopefully by the end of this post I may have at least piqued your curiosity in some way in regards to why this suggested Modern EDH Format will be different for the others. As you read on though, I implore you to keep an open mind as these rules and guidelines are merely an Alpha Test for what I hope will one day become a legitimate variant of EDH. So without further delay, I present to you Modern Commander/mEDH:
The Philosophy of Modern Commander
Commander as a whole is undoubtedly a very popular format that a lot of us have been playing for well over a decade now and in that time a particular style of Commander has emerged that's proven to be popular in its own right among members of this community. That is the style we've all come to know as a cEDH. So why, you may ask, is Modern Commander being structured as a competitive orientated variant when cEDH exists? Because, to put it frankly, cEDH is not only exceptionally expensive to get into but it is also unregulated by the Rules Committee.
The Rules Committee for Commander have made it clear since Commander was introduced that it was intended first and foremost to be a casual, social orientated format. Because of this cEDH as a format will never see a proper banlist that's designed to regulate the long term health of theformat and instead will have to cope with a banlist that's orientated more towards fostering a friendly casual environment over regulating anything that is genuinely problematic. This is more perfectly illustrated with the April 2020 banlist update; in the announcement the rules committee made the following statement:
"We believe Commander is still best as a social-focused format and will not be making any changes to accommodate tournament play. Taking responsibility for your and your opponents’ fun, including setting expectations with your group, is a fundamental part of the Commander philosophy. Organizers who want to move towards more untrusted games should consider adding additional rules or guidance to create the Commander experience they want to offer."
I want to stress that there is nothing wrong with this statement, but at the same time people value and appreciate structure which is why despite their insistence that the rules are suggestions (which is why Rule 0 exists) not many playgroups deviate from their rules and banlist by any degree or even at all. It is because of this that from our point of view cEDH is on a ticking clock in terms of format health. Flash warped the format and was banned, but how long will it be before something else comes out that does the same thing? And when that happens, the Rules Committee has already made it clear they won't intervene again. What will happen then?
That is where Modern Commander comes in. We want Modern Commander to be competitive, we want you to take your deck and break it, we want you to come up with the stupidest combos and strategies imaginable. Through Modern Commander the competitive side of Commander will finally have a set of rules properly tuned to a competitive format and won't face the impending inevitability of the format becoming stale when the next problematic card is printed.
So why Modern? Well with the idea that this variant format is geared towards the competitive mindset that also came with its own issues. The biggest one being cost, as has been brought up countless times in the past. If you want a format to maintain health for a competitive community then it should be as accessible as possible. With Standard being far too restricting and Pioneer being too new, the clear solution fell towards making it a Modern format.
With Modern, coupled with the few exceptions, the format slows down a little bit but becomes vastly more accessible to people wanting to play in a competitive EDH format. Once the rules and banlist are properly tuned, the idea is that play groups from all over could use them to foster their own cEDH community knowing their format will be properly maintained and balanced when things become too problematic. This has the added benefit of taking some annoyances away from the EDH Rules Committee such as the mounting pressure they faced in regards to Flash. The expectations would be that EDH is strictly casual but mEDH will always be competitive and both can coexist because of it.
Rules for Modern EDH
Deck Construction Rules 1. Players choose a legendary creature or legendary planeswalker as the commander for their deck.
2. A card’s color identity is its color plus the color of any mana symbols in the card’s rules text. A card’s color identity is established before the game begins, and cannot be changed by game effects. The cards in a deck may not have any colors in their color identity which are not in the color identity of the deck’s commander.
2A. A card's color identity also determines interactions with cards that interact with specific colors. (Ex. White Knight cannot be blocked by creatures that have black as part of their color identity. (Currently being tested)
3. A Modern Commander deck must contain exactly 100 cards, including the commander.
4. A Modern Commander deck may have a sideboard. The sideboard may contain no more than 10 cards and are swapped out for cards in your Modern Commander deck on a 1-for-1 basis. If you choose to use a companion card, that card must go here and adhere to color identity.
5. With the exception of basic lands, no two cards in the deck or sideboard may have the same English name. Some cards (e.g. Relentless Rats) may have rules text that overrides this restriction.
Play Rules 6. Players begin the game with 40 life.
7. Before a game is started all players reveal their Commanders simultaneously, afterwards players may choose to swap cards out of their deck for cards in their sideboard.
8. Commanders begin the game in the Command Zone. While a commander is in the command zone, it may be cast, subject to the normal timing restrictions for casting cards of your commander's supertype. Its owner must pay 2 for each time it was previously cast from the command zone; this is an additional cost.
9. If a commander would be put into a library, hand, graveyard or exile from anywhere, its owner may choose to move it to the command zone instead.
10. Being a commander is not a characteristic [MTG CR109.3], it is a property of the card and tied directly to the physical card. As such, “commander-ness” cannot be copied or overwritten by continuous effects. The card retains it’s commander-ness through any status changes, and is still a commander even when controlled by another player.
11. If a player has been dealt 21 points of damage by a particular Commander during the game, that player loses a game.
12. Commanders are subject to the Legend rule; a player cannot control more than one legend with the same name.
13. Abilities which bring other card(s) you own from outside the game into the game (such as Living Wish; Spawnsire of Ulamog; Karn, the Great Creator) can only interact with cards in your sideboard.
The Modern Commander cardpool consists of all regulation-sized black- and white-bordered Magic cards publicly released by Wizards of the Coast from the following sets in addition to all cards first printed in any WOTC Commander & Brawl Decks (such as Chaos Warp, Command Tower, Tempt With Discovery, & Arcane Signet). Cards are legal to play with as of their sets’ prerelease.
The following card sets are permitted in Modern Commander:
Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths
Throne of Eldraine
Core Set 2020
War of the Spark
Guilds of Ravnica
Core Set 2019
Rivals of Ixalan
Hour of Devastation
Shadows over Innistrad
Oath of the Gatewatch
Battle for Zendikar
Dragons of Tarkir
Khans of Tarkir
Journey into Nyx
Born of the Gods
Return to Ravnica
Scars of Mirrodin
Rise of the Eldrazi
Shards of Alara
Ravnica: City of Guilds
Saviors of Kamigawa
Betrayers of Kamigawa
Champions of Kamigawa
This is likely where some controversy will arise and I completely understand that. For now (I can't stress that enough) there is no banlist. I know how crazy that sounds, but since I intend to treat this as a serious variant format in the vain of 1v1 and Oathbreaker I feel it's best to go in with no banlist and thoroughly test everything to see what rises to top to become format warping cards. At which point they will be evaluated and judgment will be passed on each card on a case by case basis.
My original intent before making this post was to put this through serious testing so I can at least present it with a proper banlist, but I ended up settling on doing it now to get some proper feedback on the idea. Even if it doesn't take off like I'd like, it'll still be something that my particular group will enjoy and maybe in time this might end up becoming something.
On that, I'll close with a foil to the ending line for Commander's Philosophy;
The format can be broken; we believe games are more fun if you do so.
Added Rule 2A for testing; the belief here is that this change will create more interesting interactions and expand deck building possibilities within the format. If during testing the change proves to be too broken, then the rule will be scrapped before the format is finalized.