MTG players debate Commander’s philosophy


On March 16, Sheldon Menery, founding member of the Commander Rules Committee, published his annual article on the state of the format. This article sparked a discussion in the MTG playerbase about what Commander should be and if the format is in a healthy place right now. Many players have very different views on what Commander “should” be, given that it’s the game’s most popular format. It is the job of the Commander Rules Committee to ensure that the needs of all these different types of players are met and that Commander remains open and fun for all.

The state of the commander 2023

In his article on the state of the 2023 format, Menery offered his views on the ongoing development of the format and outlined the rules committee’s priorities for the future. One of the most notable parts of the article was Menery’s announcement that a new document outlining the format’s philosophy is in the process of being written. Currently, the Rules Committee’s website has a page outlining the Commander philosophy. This page contains a nearly 600-word definition of the Commander philosophy. The goal of the new philosophy document, currently under construction, is a more thorough description of the ideology of the Commander format as envisioned by Menery and his colleagues.

Although the new philosophy document is not yet publicly available, Menery outlines its three core principles in his article. He writes that the Rules Committee aims to remain in command Social, creative, And stable. He then defines each of these keywords with a description and a few bullet points.


Foster positive, collaborative experiences where people can connect through the shared gaming experience
Help players communicate their preferences and arrive at a set of shared expectations


Foster positive, collaborative experiences where people can connect through the shared gaming experience
Help players communicate their preferences and arrive at a set of shared expectations


Minimize interruptions except when absolutely necessary
Minimize changes that require players to actively maintain their decks

In addition to outlining these three philosophical pillars, Menery also described the motivation behind these changes. He summarized these with another set of three keywords that he explained guide the Rules Committee in its decision-making. continuity, communication, focus and accountability. He defines this in his piece…

continuity: “Planning for the future of the format involves discussing and documenting the things that we as a leadership team agree on and disagree on. We don’t like morbid hypothetical scenarios like “What if all executives got hit by a meteor”. However, it is extremely important to us that the next generation of leaders fully understand where we come from so they can make the best decisions about where we should go next. Our goal is to do this proactively, rather than doing it reactively.”

communication: “We know that many well-intentioned players sometimes feel stunned because it can be relatively difficult to research and understand the rationale behind format management decisions. Through these changes, we intend to create both a centralized resource for researching the format and a roadmap for communicating and discussing format changes as they occur. This extends to our interactions with Wizards of the Coast. By communicating in a way that focuses on the things that matter most to us, we can give them better feedback when they ask for it.”

focus and accountability: “Communication has advantages externally, but internally it is also important for us to be able to articulate a problem correctly and the strategies for tackling it. This structure allows us to set and prioritize goals and evaluate our own performance.”

Most of the article was devoted to outlining these principles. However, there was also some appeal for donations and support from the MTG community.

The discussion

Shortly after the article was published, it was shared on Reddit. Community reactions were diverse, reflecting the diverse views of the Commander player base.

Some players took the article negatively. The highest rated comment on the primary Reddit thread linking the article downvoted it.

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

SAjoats stated that they felt the article did not address the concerns of all EDH players: “There are two groups of people in EDH.

People who want everything unbanned.

And people who want prohibitions to form a curated experience.

What is the Rules Committee doing to keep these two groups happy?”

On the whole, users of the EDH subreddit 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.

Personally, I’ve really enjoyed reading through the justifications here and on the RC website forums for years.

Keep it up!”

MdaveCS wrote: “I will join the minority voice. I liked that. It was Sheldonically long-winded and a little self-satisfied. But aside from that, it said: We’re going to have a clear rubric for things (good), and we put a signpost in the floor saying that social interaction, inclusivity, and creativity are the value point from which all their decisions are made .”


The question of what exactly Commander is supposed to be is not easy to solve. Different players enjoy different gaming experiences. Some players enjoy competitive games that end in a handful of turns and include cards like Jewel Lotus and Thassa’s Oracle. Other players enjoy long-running Battlecruiser games where they have the opportunity to cast their Impervious Greatwurms and Apex Devastators. Commander needs to be able to accommodate these two different types of gameplay and everything in between.

It is worth noting that these new principles are not set in stone. During the article, several calls were made to invite players to share their feedback on the Commander Rules Committee’s Discord server.

Continue reading: MTG New Nostalgic Commander subformat gaining popularity


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