How To Build A Commander Deck: MTG Commander Deck Guide

February 18, 2023 · Your Playmat
commander deck

Magic: The Gathering is a collectible card game created by mathematician Richard Garfield and published by Wizards of the Coast in 1993. The game has evolved over the years. It has many expansions and updates to its rules. But its core mechanics remain the same. Players build decks of cards representing spells, creatures, and artifacts. Then they take turns playing those cards to reduce their opponent's life total to zero.

One of the most popular ways to play is the Commander MTG format. It's also known as EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander). This mode has become hugely popular among MTG players. It focuses on creativity, customization, and social play.

Beyond the game, the format also created a huge community and content creators. Podcasts, websites, and YouTube channels focus on Commander deck breakdown.

In our article, we will tell you about this setup. In our Commander deck guide, we’ll also show you the basics of building a deck in this format. Thus, read the article to the end. Now you’ll be in the trend of the latest events of lands and monsters in a Commander deck.

Understanding MTG Commander Format

This is a casual multiplayer format of MTG that has gained widespread popularity. But before looking at Commander deck composition, here are the key rules of the format:

1. Deck Construction

  • Decks consist of 100 cards, with no more than one copy of any card except basic lands in a Commander deck;
  • Players must choose a legendary creature or planeswalker as their main card. It starts the game in the command zone;
  • The color includes any mana symbols and their activated or triggered abilities. It determines the colors of the cards that can be in the deck;
  • Players may only include cards from the color identity of their main card. And the player can also include colorless cards;
  • The Commander is the only legendary card.

2. Gameplay

  • According to Commander deck guides, each player starts the game with 40 life;
  • Players draw a hand of seven cards at the beginning of the game;
  • Players take turns in a clockwise order, each consisting of several phases;
  • If a single legendary deals a player 21 or more combat damage, that player loses the game.

3. Replacement Of A Legendary Card

  • The player may choose to move it to the command zone. It's needed in case a player's main card is put into a library, hand, graveyard, or exile;
  • The player may then cast their leading card from the command zone. The player can do it by paying its mana cost. Also, they should pay plus an extra two mana for each time it has been cast from the command zone.

4. Secondary Commander Deck Composition Rules

  • The format is casual and social, so players are having fun and being respectful of each other;
  • Certain cards are illegal in format. They are those that enable infinite combos or are too powerful for the format;
  • The Rules Committee manages the rules of the format. It periodically updates the banned list and clarifies rules as necessary.

How To Choose The Right Commander For Your MTG Deck

Building a successful deck in MTG requires careful consideration of many factors. And one of the most crucial is selecting the right card leading card. It will influence your deck's colors, playstyle, and strategy. So, choosing one that fits your goals and preferences is essential. There’re Commander deck breakdown tips for choosing the legendary right card.

1. Consider Color Identity

The first step in building a Commander deck is to consider its color identity. Those decks are built around a commander. And its color identity determines the colors of spells and abilities. Choosing the right color identity is essential. They help build a cohesive and effective deck that can compete with other decks.

When building a Commander deck, consider what kind of strategy you want to pursue. Consider a card with red in its color identity for a fast and aggressive strategy. Red spells are popular for their direct damage, haste, and combat tricks. Consider a blue or black color for controlling and disrupting your opponents' plans. Blue spells are great for countering spells and drawing cards. But black spells can destroy creatures and manipulate hands and graveyard resources.

When building a versatile Commander deck, consider a card with a three or more color identities. Multicolor cards offer access to a broader range of spells and abilities. But they need careful mana management and can be more challenging to play.

2. Consider Mana Cost When Building A Commander Deck

The mana cost of your main card is also important to consider when building a deck. A low-cost card can be played earlier in the game. It allows you to establish a board presence and start executing your strategy. But low-cost legendary cards may not impact the game as much as expensive ones.

A high-cost card can be a game-changer if you can get it onto the battlefield. High-cost leading cards often have more powerful abilities and synergies. They can help you control the game and emerge victorious. But if you can't play your main card until late in the game, you may be at a disadvantage against faster and more aggressive decks.

3. Consider Abilities While Building A Commander Deck

The abilities of your legendary card are another crucial factor in your deck. Your abilities can:

  • Influence the board state;
  • Provide card advantage;
  • Disrupt your opponent's plans.

You should choose a card with abilities that fit your desired playstyle. But it also should complement your deck's theme.

For a graveyard-focused deck, a card that interacts with the graveyard is good.

If you're building a token-based deck, a card that creates tokens or pumps them up might be a better fit. When choosing a commander, consider how its abilities interact with the rest of your deck. The not synergizing commander may create a disjointed and ineffective deck.

4. Consider The Popularity And Availability Of Cards

According to Commander deck breakdown, when selecting a card, it's worth considering its popularity. Popular cards are likely to be in high demand. It can drive up their price and make them harder to get. Likewise, you may have trouble finding the necessary cards if you choose a too-obscure leading card.

It's also essential to consider the availability of the legendary card itself. Some older or rarer cards may be difficult to find. It can limit your options when building your deck. Be sure to research the availability and price of potential leading cards. Do it before committing to a specific strategy.

Building Your Deck’s Strategy

According to the Commander deck breakdown, several things must be considered. These include your win condition, card advantage, and interaction with other players. Let's look at them closer:

  1. Win condition. Your win condition is how you plan to win the game. This could be through dealing a certain amount of damage. It mills your opponent's deck or assembles a particular combo. Your win condition will inform the rest of your deck-building choices;
  2. Card advantage. A card advantage is an ability to draw more cards than your opponent. Or it's to use each card more efficiently than your opponents do. This is a critical component of any Commander deck composition. Including cards that draw you extra cards or allow you to reuse cards from your graveyard is important. It's also vital to consider the balance between card advantage and card selection. It allows you to find the right card for the right situation;
  3. Interaction with other players. Commander is a multiplayer format. It means you need to be able to interact with other players effectively. This includes being able to:
  • Disrupt your opponents' strategies;
  • Protect your own;
  • Manage the board state. 

Some common types of interaction include removal spells, counterspells, and cards that make it difficult for opponents to attack you. Be careful with your Commander deck composition, so it has everything you need for an interactive game.

Selecting The Right Cards For Commander Deck

mtg cards on black surface

There are several other key considerations when building an MTG Commander deck's strategy:

1. Balance

It's vital to balance the power level of your deck according to our Commander deck guide. It ensures it's competitive without being too overwhelming for your playgroup. Avoiding overly powerful or unfun cards helps ensure everyone has an enjoyable experience;

2. Flexibility

Having a flexible deck to adapt to different situations is crucial in this MTG format. It includes cards that can serve many purposes or that have modal abilities. It can help you respond to different threats and opportunities;

3. Theme

According to Commander deck breakdown, it is not strictly necessary. But having a clear theme or aesthetic for your deck can make playing more enjoyable. And it creates a more cohesive experience. This could involve focusing on a particular creature type. Or you can use a specific art style or build around a particular concept.

Playtesting Your Deck

Playing this format is a lot of fun. But ensuring your deck is well-tuned and optimized for the format is important. Our Commander deck guide provides you with some tips on how to playtest your deck and refine it over time:

1. Start With A Clear Strategy

Before you build your deck, ensure you clearly know what you want your deck to do. This will help you choose the right cards and create a cohesive game plan. For example, you might build a deck around a specific theme or mechanic. It can be tribal creatures or graveyard recursion.

2. Test Your Lands And Other Cards In A Commander Deck Against A Variety Of Opponents

Playtesting against various opponents gives a better sense of how the deck performs in different situations. Try playing against different colors, archetypes, and strategies. This gives you a sense of your deck's strengths and weaknesses;

3. Keep Track Of Your Results

Keep a log of your games and the results. Note what lands and monsters in a Commander deck worked well and what didn't. This will help you identify patterns. And you will make more informed decisions about which cards to add or remove.

4. Ask For Feedback

Ask other players for feedback on your deck. They might notice things you missed or suggest new cards you hadn't considered. Be open to their feedback and use it to improve your deck.

5. Experiment With Different Card Choices

Don't be afraid to experiment with different card choices. Try out new cards and see how they perform in your deck. You might find that some cards work better than others in your specific meta.

6. Keep Refining Your Deck Over Time

A deck is never truly finished. Keep refining your deck. It’s because you play more games and better understand what works and what doesn't. Remember that the goal is to create a deck that is both fun to play and competitive.

    Playtesting is a crucial part of refining your deck. Keep track of your results, ask for feedback, and experiment with different cards. This way, you can create a well-tuned and optimized deck that can hold its own in any playgroup.

    Summing Up

    As a result, the Commander format is a popular casual format of Magic: The Gathering. It requires players to build a 100-card deck. And only one copy of any card is allowed except basic lands in a Commander deck. Players must choose a legendary creature or planeswalker as their main card. And it determines the color identity of their deck.

    Each player starts the game with 40 life. And if a single Commander deals a player 21 or more combat damage, they lose the game. Players can replace their leading card in the command zone. And they can cast it again for an extra two mana cost. The Rules Committee manages the format. It updates the banned list and clarifies rules as necessary.

    Choosing the right leader is an essential aspect of building a successful deck. Players should consider their leading cards':

    • Color identity;
    • Mana cost;
    • Abilities that complement the deck's theme.

    Popular Commanders may be in high demand, driving up prices and making them harder to get. The availability of the legendary card should also be considered.

    When composing lands and monsters in a Commander deck, players must consider their:

    • Win condition;
    • Card advantage;
    • Interaction with other players;

    Players must also think about the balance of their deck and avoid relying on a single strategy. Finally, it's recommended to playtest the deck to fine-tune it before competing.


    What Are Some Key Elements To Consider When Building A Commander Deck?

    When building a Commander deck, consider the format's unique characteristics. It can be the importance of your commander and the need to have a balanced mix of cards. You should also consider your deck's mana curve, win conditions, and strategy.

    What Should Be My Starting Point For Building A Commander Deck?

    When building a Commander deck, your starting point should be choosing a Commander. Your commander is the legendary creature leading your deck. And it determines its color identity. Choose a commander that you like and that fits your preferred play style.

    What Are MTG Cards And How Do They Work In The Game?

    MTG cards are the physical cards that players use to play Magic: The Gathering. Each card represents a different type of spell, creature, or item. Players can use them to attack, defend, or manipulate the game in various ways. Players use a deck of 60 cards to play against each other. They take turns casting spells and using abilities. The final of the game is when one player loses all life points.

    What Are The Different Formats Of MTG Gameplay?

    There are several different formats of MTG gameplay. Each has its rules and restrictions. Some of the most popular formats include Standard, Modern, Legacy, and Commander.

    What Makes A Card Valuable In MTG?

    The value of an MTG card can depend on a variety of factors, such as its rarity, age, and power level within the game. Some cards may be valuable simply because they are difficult to get. And others may be sought after for their strategic importance. In general, rare cards from older sets are often more valuable than newer cards.

    How Can I Get Started Playing MTG And Collecting Cards?

    If you're new to MTG, the best way to get started is by purchasing a pre-made deck or a starter kit. It will come with everything you need to start playing. You can also attend local events or play online. It will get a feel for the game and learn more about different formats and strategies.