Vanishing is banned
This is a central piece of Zur the Enchanter and a primary reason of its success. Zur’s strategy is to attack relentlessly, locking the game up bit by bit. As long as it can protect its commander, its game plan is basically bullet-proof, since Zur’s tutoring can handle any incoming threat. Vanishing is a key part of that strategy since it protects the commander from everything, up to and including Clone effects and mass removal.
While the continued success of Zur in large tournaments can be attributed in big part to its experienced pilots, it is by itself an extremely potent commander with a strategy that’s quite difficult to stop. The prospect of facing Zur forces many players to include specialized measures, such as split second removal. We believe that the pressure on the format is too strong, but not strong enough to ban the entire deck. Therefore we are choosing to ban Vanishing, so that other decks can fight it on more equal grounds.
Humility is banned
While not a central piece of any top deck, Humility has a very profound effect on the game. As soon as it’s on the board, every creature is a 1/1 with no ability, including commanders. This nullifies a variety of creature-based and commander-based strategies, and makes the game quite unfun for the unprepared player. Moreover, it prevents the vast majority of commanders from functioning, which breaks the spirit of Commander somewhat. It forces players to run specialized cards (Disenchant, Nature’s Claim) to answer it, as it gets around more versatile enchantment removal like Qasali Pridemage or Acidic Slime. Aggressive decks are wrecked by Humility since they either lose to it, or run answers and thus dilute their primary game plan. For these reasons, and since it has influence on decks even when it’s not played a lot, we are banning Humility.
Protean Hulk is unbanned
For years, this card has been banned from the multiplayer format, because as soon as it dies, there’s plenty of ways of winning the game on the spot. Moreover, getting a creature to die isn’t hard at all, given the many sacrifice effects available in the format.
When we transitioned from a common banlist to a separate one, Protean Hulk was left banned as precaution, since the format is full of ways to cheat it into play. However, after closer inspection, it appears that there already are plenty of huge creatures which can win the game as soon as they hit the board – Iona, Shield of Emeria, Elesh Norn, Griselbrand. These aren’t oppressive and most decks can either fight through or counter those reanimation strategies. Protean Hulk requires additional setup: a few dedicated slots in the deck, as well as a way to sacrifice it in order to win. Instant wins are also possible using Flash, but this requires four colors to work. Given that you have to make compromises for this unreliable combo, we believe it’s safe enough to have it in the format.
Bitterblossom is unbanned
This card has been banned 15 months ago amidst a lot of controversy. Many games were won on turn 2 just by resolving this innocuous enchantment. What the opponent did by this point mattered little – either they would lose to the incessant stream of fliers, or they would spend too many resources fighting them and would lose to anything else you played. And let’s face it, 1 life a turn is completely negligible in a 30-life format.
What has made us change our minds then? First of all, the format has accelerated quite a bit and most decks can win before Bitterblossom can make a real difference. Second, many decks now pack more enchantment removal in order to face the diverse threats found in the format – what stops Oath of Druids, Sylvan Library, or Survival of the Fittest can also stop Bitterblossom, not to speak of Disenchant-likes which many people run to stop Swords. Third, a few decks in the format can ignore Bitterblossom – ramp decks like Maelstrom Wanderer or combo like Zur. Last but not least, black is the most unpopular color at the moment (tied with red), so it could benefit from an additional weapon.
We are unbanning it for now to give these decks a little boost, but the effect on the game is so big that it will be closely watched.
Staff of Domination is unbanned
This card’s only use is as a combo engine combined with any creature that produces 5 or more mana. Since artifact-based decks with Metalworker aren’t competitive, this leaves only Elves able to exploit it effectively. Ezuri is played to a certain success but is far from dominating. Giving it an extra weapon that it can’t tutor shouldn’t make a big difference.
As usual, you can find the full banlist on the “Rules” page.
We’re a group of Commander players and/or TOs. We’re often names “the Committee” and are working on the subject since 2007, when the Duel variant of Commander (at the time names EDH) arose thanks to the input of a couple players who have been part or are still part of the Committee.
Amongst these players, there is Kevin Desprez, DCI Judge level 4, who has brought the format to France after having seen players playing EDH in the US. He has then been invited to join the Committee of http://mtgcommander.net (the website of the founders of the EDH format who are the reference for the multiplayer ban-list) et has been given freedom to create a group that would handle the Duel-variant ban-list. Kevin Desprez is no longer a member of the committee today.
Going from multiplayer to duel prove to require numerous adjustments (like the starting life totals or the way to mulligan) that were done thanks to infinite hours of playtesting, to which Benoît Verwaerde, restless player and deckbuilder, Claire Dupré, DCI Judge level 3 and Antoine Fruscio, TO in Lille, France, greatly contributed.
The latter is actually the one who raised the idea of a series of EDH tournaments, the first one being held in Lille end of 2007, when he deemed that the rules and ban-list were strong enough to allow organizing a tournament to be safe. The very first tournament has been a success and many followed, creating what is commonly called the Northern Commander League.
The Committee went on with:
- Periodically updating the ban-list along with the evolution of the format
- Promoting the format on message boards as well as irl
- Organized and helped others to organize EDH tournaments in France
The organization of an EDH Event during the Public Events of the French Nationals ’09 has greatly recognized these efforts.
In 2010, a new ambitious project started: Writing a rulebook for Duel-EDH. After several months of an intensive work from several members of the Committee, the Commander Rulebook (to reflect the fact the format changes name) is born. Amongst the most involved contributors, we can name Claire Dupré and Benoît Verwaerde, but many other judges contributed, especially to make sure the verbiage was coherent with the Magic rules, among which Daniel Kitachewsky, level 3 judge and regular player.
A couple duel-specific rules were born at that time, among which returning to the Command Zone a shuffled-to-the-library Commander or the Duel-specific Legend Rule to handle the mirror-match of Commanders.
In 2011, considering the impressive growth in the number of Commander tournaments, we decide to create an even-more professional structure and to give TOs and players an easy-to-use resource. That’s how this website got created and the reason why we will announce our updates to the ban-list at the same time Wizards of the Coast does (March, June, September and December, 20th, effective the 1st of the following month)
The Committee nowadays aims at developing this website, making sure the format rules are still coherent and comprehensive and through updating the ban-list based on the way the format evolves (metagame, tournament results, new releases) and eventually through publishing articles, tournament reports and decklists.
To achieve these goals, it seems mandatory to clarify that the Committee isn’t locked in, and aims at gathering members from various horizons:
Indeed, we’re not made of a fixed number of members. Many individuals have joined and left through the ages. Some left forever, others temporarily as they could find some time again. If the Committee doesn’t actively recruit, he has always made a point of contacting individuals who showed great and relevant implication into the format, outside of the existence of the Committee. This means we contact players involved in the format to join, but that we don’t contact players to join so that they get involved.
This is how several people joined the Committee:
- Olivier Arnold, tournament organizer and competitive player.
- “Moondust”, competitive player active on the internet.
- Emmanuel Bernuau, level 2 judge and competitive player.
Then, the Committee is geographically spread, since its members have always been spread in 4 French major cities (amongst which Paris, Lille and Lyon), not mentioning the frequent travels by their members. Of course, the Committee is right now 100% French, but opening to the international for a more global approach is something we have in mind.
Finally, the Committee is eager on general information on the format. Primarily, we pay great attention to tournament results and read as many boards as we can, including English ones. To a lesser extent, we gather personal opinions from anywhere, in order to try to have the most global possible vision to allow the best possible play experience for Commander players. To that extent, we’d be very happy to gather data about the format, such as Commander Breakdown, Standings (mentioning Commanders) and, why not, top8 decklists, at: b (dot) verwaerde at gmail _dot_ com.
Additionally, we want to be as flexible as possible and do not believe that any of our choices are forever. Depending on the context, a banned card can become unbanned.
Before concluding, we would like to draw your attention on one thing: What’s important isn’t who we are nor what we do but why we do it. We have spent and still spend time doing this because we would like to promote a format (the Duel variant) we contributed to create and develop and to allow the worldwide thousands of adepts to play with common rules.
This is the primary motivation for the creation and involvement of this group who’s doing his best to make this increasing format as best as possible!
The DuelCommander.com Team
- Olivier Arnold
- Emmanuel Bernuau
- Claire Dupré
- Daniel Kitachewsky
- Benoît Verwaerde
Duel Commander follows the exact same rules as classic multiplayer Commander, except for the following.
First, players start the game with 30 life.
Also, the following cards are banned :
- Ancestral Recall
- Ancient Tomb
- Back to Basics
- Black Lotus
- Crucible of Worlds
- Gifts Ungiven
- Hermit Druid
- Imperial Seal
- Library of Alexandria
- Mana Crypt
- Mana Drain
- Mana Vault
- Mind Twist
- Mishra’s Workshop
- Mox Emerald
- Mox Jet
- Mox Pearl
- Mox Ruby
- Mox Sapphire
- Sensei’s Divining Top
- Serra Ascendant
- Sol Ring
- Strip Mine
- The Tabernacle at the Pendrell Vale
- Time Vault
- Time Walk
- Tolarian Academy
- Vampiric Tutor
- Yawgmoth’s Bargain
Ante cards and manual dexterity cards are also banned.
The following cards are also banned from being played as a commander :
- Braids, Cabal Minion
- Edric, Spymaster of Trest
- Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
- Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Also, the legends rule doesn’t apply to commanders as long as both creatures with the same name on the battlefield are commanders. If a creature with the same name is on the battlefield but is not a commander (either because it is played as a “normal” creature or because of a card like Clone), the legend rule applies and all those creatures are put into their owners’ graveyards as the result of a state-based effect.
Finally, 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.
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 between 50 and 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.
Apart from the points mentioned above, all the rules of Duel Commander obey the rules of classic multiplayer Commander.
You can find more complete explanations in the Duel Commander Rules Summary.