MTG Players Debate Commander’s Philosophy


On March 16, Sheldon Menery, founding member of the Commander Rules Committee, published his annual State of the Format article. This piece sparked a discussion among the MTG player base about what Commander should be and if the format is currently in a healthy place. Many players have very different opinions on what Commander “should be”, given that it is the most popular format in the game. It is the job of the Commander Rules Committee to ensure that needs of all these different types of gamers are met and that Commander remains open and enjoyable for everyone.

The State of Commander 2023

In his post on the state of the 2023 format, Menery expressed his views on the format’s ongoing development and outlined the Rules Committee’s priorities going forward. One of the most notable parts of the article was Menery’s announcement that a new document outlining the philosophy of the format is being written. Currently, a page outlining Commander’s philosophy is available on the Rules Committee website. This page provides a definition of the Commander philosophy in just under 600 words. The goal of the new philosophy document, currently under construction, is to offer a more in-depth description of the ideology of the Commander format, as envisioned by Menery and his colleagues.

Although the new philosophy document is not currently ready for public viewing, Menery outlines its three core tenets in his article. He writes that the rules committee aims to keep the commander social, creative, And stable. It then defines each of these keywords, with a description and some bullet points.


  • Encourage positive, shared experiences where people can bond around the shared gaming experience
  • Help players communicate their preferences and arrive at a set of shared expectations


  • Encourage positive, shared experiences where people can bond around the shared gaming experience
  • Help players communicate their preferences and arrive at a set of shared expectations


  • Minimize disruption unless absolutely necessary
  • Minimize changes that require players to actively maintain their decks

In addition to describing these three philosophical pillars, Menery also described the motivation behind these changes. He summed them up with another set of three key words that he says guide the Rules Committee in their decision-making. Continuity, Communication, Focus and responsibility. He defines them in his article…

Continuity“Planning for the future of the format involves discussing and documenting the things we agree and disagree on as a leadership team. We don’t like morbid hypothetical scenarios like ‘what if everyone in the direction was hit by a meteor.” However, it is extremely important to us that the next generation of leaders fully understand where we are coming from so that they can make the best decisions about which direction we should be heading. Our goal is to do it proactively rather than rushing to do it reactively.

Communication: “We know that many well-meaning players sometimes feel like a leaf in the wind, as it can be relatively difficult to research and understand the logic behind format management decisions. Thanks to these changes, we have the intention to create both a centralized resource for researching the format, as well as a roadmap for communicating and discussing format changes when they occur.This also extends to our interactions with Wizards of the Coast. communicating in a way focused on the things we care about most, we are able to provide them with better feedback when they ask for it.”

Focus and responsibility“There are external benefits to communication, but being able to properly articulate a problem and the strategies to attack it is also important for us internally. This structure will allow us to set and prioritize goals and assess our own performance.

Most of the article was devoted to the presentation of these principles. Although there have also been pleas for funds and support from the MTG community.

The discussion

Commander's Insight

Shortly after the article was published, it was shared on Reddit. The community had a mixed mix of reactions, reflecting the diverse views of Commander’s player base.

Some players received the item negatively. The top rated comment on the main Reddit thread linking the article disapproved of it.

Cher-Document 41 wrote, “I guess personally I don’t think RC in its current iteration is responsive, transparent, or nimble enough to respond to the health of the format as WOTC forces new stuff into it with each new set.”

SAjoats explained that he did not think the article addressed the concerns of all EDH actors: “There are 2 groups of people at EDH.

People who want everything banned.

And people who want bans form an organized experience.

What does the Rules Committee do to satisfy these 2 groups? »

Users on the HRE subreddit, on the whole, gave the article a more positive reception.

In response to a comment from Rules Committee member Jim LaPage, Reddit user Wazeltov wrote, “Just wanted to say thank you. Being on the RC seems like a thankless job; Redditors simultaneously hate the status quo and any change whatsoever.

Personally, I have really enjoyed reading rationales for decisions here and on the RC website forum for years now.

Keep on going!”

MdaveCS wrote: “I will join the voice of the minority. I liked that. It was quite long and a bit self-satisfied. But beyond that he said we will have a clear rubric for the (good) things, and we put a sign in the floor saying that social interaction, inclusivity and creativity is the point of value from which all their decisions will be made.


The question of what should be the commander cannot be easily answered. Different players enjoy different gaming experiences. Some players enjoy competitive games that are over in a few turns, with cards like Lotus adorned with jewels And Oracle of Thassa. Other players enjoy long-lasting battle cruiser games where they have the opportunity to launch their Great Impermeable Wurms And Apex Devastators. Commander needs to be able to accommodate these two different types of gameplay and everything in between.

It should be noted that these new principles are not set in stone. Several calls were made throughout the article, inviting players to share their comments on the Commander Rules Committee Discord server.

Learn more: MTG’s new Nostalgic Commander sub-format is gaining popularity

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