Last changes

By Benoit

Published on July 13th, 2013.

  • Oloro, Ageless Ascetic is banned as a Commander.
  • Oloro, Ageless Ascetic was a slow starter from Commander 2013, not getting much popularity until a few months after the set came out. An isolated performer at first, it has become the centerpoint of the format, placing quite well in tournament after tournament, often taking the top spot despite not being the most popular commander.

    The main distinguishing point compared to most other commanders is that this one is at its best without even being cast. It shapes the game from turn 1, giving it a completely different character right from the start. The life cushion given by Oloro lets deckbuilders play much less spot removal and early defense than they usually would, giving more room for a variety of game plans.

    It can play control with a much more solid plan than Esper can usually get – instead of praying to get the right mix of answers, it can sit back behind hard counterspells and just cast a sweeper at the right moment. It can play combo by using the extra 2-3 turns afforded by the life gain to find the combo pieces.

    In addition, by having such an impact on a fundamental resource of the game, it shuts out a primary strategy completely – you can’t win against Oloro by simple attacking. You either need to use commander damage, which Oloro can focus on stopping as it can ignore other sources of damage, or to out-resource Oloro in an attrition game – a challenging task given the large control toolbox that the Esper colors give. Since individual cards don’t enter into this, the only thing we can do to diminish Oloro’s dominance is to ban it.

  • Cataclysm is banned.
  • A few reasons make Cataclysm stand out:

    • in a board state where you’re behind, Cataclysm almost always resets the game in your favor. As you know it’s coming, it’s easy to keep a removal for the one threat your opponent will keep. Armageddon is no help here.
    • in a board state where you’re ahead, it almost always seals the win.
    • it attacks the opponent’s resources on every front. If your opponent’s strategy is based around creature swarm, Cataclysm is good. If it’s based on ramp (lands or artifacts) it’s good. If it’s based on planeswalkers, it’s good. In fact, it’s only bad against permanent-poor control decks, which can probably counter it anyway.
    • it’s difficult to play around. Because Cataclysm is unique in its effect, playing around it is often a losing proposition – the opponent might not have it but still gains an advantage thanks to it.
    • it’s the only card with this kind of effect for so cheap, the closest equivalents being the 6-mana Wildfire-type effects, which still remain more conditional.

    All in all, we believe Cataclysm is acting against format diversity, by encouraging counterspell decks and blue-based aggro-control, and discouraging everything else.

    You can find the full banlist on the banlist page, and the principles underlying it in this article.




    By Benoit


    Duel Commander follows the exact same rules as classic multiplayer Commander, except for the following.

    First, players start the game with 30 life.

    Second, in addition to the ability to put the Commander back into the Command Zone if it would go to the graveyard or be exiled, you may do so also if it would be put into your library.

    Third, new cards are legal on release day (Friday following the pre-release).

    Finally, there is a specific banlist.

    For tournaments:

    • Matches are best-of-three.
    • Since games can take more time than smaller formats, we recommend a time limit of at least 55 minutes.
    • No sideboards are used.

    Apart from the points mentioned above, all the rules of Duel Commander obey the rules of classic multiplayer Commander. This includes the mulligan rule (put aside X cards, draw X-1, repeat until satisfied, then shuffle all cards put aside into the library) and poison (10 counters needed to kill a player).

    Why specific rules for Duel Commander ?

    When you play a game with more than two players, social interactions, diplomacy and negotiations usually prevent a player from taking a huge advantage at the start of the game. Indeed, if a players becomes the main threat at the table, it is likely that he will become the top priority target for other players. Such a player should have to face several opponents at the same time, which brings balance in the game. Multiplayer games tend to be balanced by diplomacy.

    When only two players are facing each other, this cannot be done. If a player takes a great advantage early in the game (example : turn one Island, Lotus Petal, Mana Crypt, Jace the Mind Sculptor), his opponent won’t be able to get back in the game. That is why we banned certain cards which lead to extraordinary early game advantages from which an opponent cannot recover (Mana Crypt, Sol Ring…). Some cards are banned as commanders for this purpose : those cards can still be played in your deck, but can’t be chosen as a commander. We also removed certain cards which can easily lead to degenerated combos, such as Hermit Druid.

    Sometimes a tournament is organized for Duel Commander. Such events need to put a time limit in rounds, generally 55 or 60 minutes per round. Considering the time restrictions, we banned Sensei’s Divining Top and Shahrazad, because they tend to make games last considerably longer, leading to numerous unfinished games at the end of the round.

    You can find more complete explanations in the Duel Commander Rules Summary.

    Reasoning behind the banlist can be found in this article.