Mastering the Art of Commander: Unleashing the Power of Commander Cards

August 22, 2023 · Usair Arshad
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Hello there, planeswalkers! Do you want to improve your Magic: The Gathering skills? So pay attention, because we're going to lay down all you need to know about the insanely popular Commander format. Commander, with its quirky rules, massive decks, and huge multiplayer lunacy, is the ideal way to take your kitchen table clashes to the next level. After reading this, whether you're a first-time 'walker or an expert spell slinger, you're going to become a Commander master. We'll go through deck construction, fundamental gameplay, critical strategies, house rules, and everything else. So buckle up and prepare to have your mind blown as we explore Commander's unfamiliar world!



What is Commander?

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 Basic Rules of Commander


Get ready for some funky rules, homies! Commander is always multiplayer, usually 4 players goin' head to head. You get 40 starting life instead of 20 too - gotta survive the free-for-all! Turn order is clockwise, taking turns to pop off spells and sick combos. Games end when only 1 player remains standing - defeat everyone else to win! Commander lets you get wild with huge splashy spells and battles across multiple opponents. Anything goes in these wacky games.



Deck Construction Rules


Deckbuilding in Commander is part of the fun. Decks are 100 cards total, and you can only have 1 copy of each card except for basic lands. Gotta get creative! Then you pick any legendary creature or planeswalker to be your commander and lead your squad into battle. Their colors determine what colors your deck can use. Choose wisely to set your strategy! Build focused themes with ramp, card draw, removal, etc. The mana base is super important with all the colors and big spells too!


Key Elements


If your commander deals 21 combat damage to someone, you win no matter your life total or board state! This is called commander damage, and it keeps games spicy. With 4 players, things get crazy quickly - you can swing out or cast spells at anyone so watch your back! Politics and table reading become important. Make temporary alliances and frenemies to take down common foes, but don't let your guard down! Commander games are unpredictable rides. Show off your commander flair with a custom mousepad featuring your favorite art and colors. Our mousepads make a stylish accent to any gaming setup.


Building Your First Deck

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Guidelines for Choosing Commander


Choosing the right commander is crucial in this format, since it determines your deck's colors, strategies, and often win conditions. Take some time to review all the possible legendary options in your favorite colors and think about how you want to win. Do you like combat damage? Combo finishes? Value engines? Pick a commander that supports your preferred playstyle and wincon. Read the card closely - some legends have hidden synergies or offer utility you may overlook at first glance. Don't just default to the most popular generals. There are tons of unique, open-ended commanders to build around if you get creative.


Focus on Theme, Colors, Abilities


Once you've selected your commander, it's time to focus on their themes, abilities, and color identity. Carefully review what the card does and what it wants you to be doing. Build out strategies that maximize those abilities and support that game plan. Include cards that cover weaknesses or enhance the strengths of the commander. You're largely limited to their colors, but that allows you to deeply explore synergies and combinations within that slice of the Magic card pool. Commander decks require laser focus to execute their game plan efficiently.


Commander Staples


While you want your deck to be focused on a cohesive strategy, every EDH list needs staples like a ramp, card draw, and removal. The exact mix and flavor of these categories can vary based on colors and strategy. Green offers the best land ramp while red and black lean on rituals and rocks. Blue card draw differs from white. Have an underlying plan but use staples tailored to your strategy, commander, and colors. These pillars provide the raw resources for you to then leverage creatively.


Mana Base Construction


Managing your mana base is critical in Commander since you'll likely be running 3+ colors in your deck. You'll need a solid number of basic lands, ideally fetching lands like the Onslaught fetches, and duals/shocks to fix your colors consistently. Include utility lands like Cabal Coffers if they synergize with your strategy. Have enough sources to reliably cast your commander by turn 4-5 and hit early land drops. In addition, mana rocks and dorks also smooth out your curve. It's a balancing act across many types of mana sources. Take time to properly build and test your mana base until you reach the optimal configuration. Don't neglect this, or inconsistency will tank your games!


Budget Considerations


With its sprawling card pool and blinged-out staples, Commander can become an expensive hobby. But you can still build focused, powerful decks on a tight budget. Talk with your playgroup about acceptable power levels beforehand. Scour EDH budget lists online for inspiration on where to allocate funds vs save money. Prioritize spending on your mana base, card draw, and commander tax reduction. For win conditions and synergy pieces, seek out lesser-known budget options that still work. Sleeving up a budget brew that pops off feels great. You don't need every original dual land in the world to craft a sweet, optimized Commander deck. Get creative and maximize your dollars. Personalize your gameplay with a custom playmat featuring your favorite art and colors. Our playmats make the perfect surface for your next Commander game.


Gameplay Basics 

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Let's break down how these wacky Commander games actually flow. From your commander to combat tricks and board wipes, in this section we'll cover what you need to know to start poppin' off.


Playing the Commander


Your commander is the VIP of your squad and the key to your game plan, so use them wisely! You can cast your commander from the command zone if they get knocked out, but it costs more each time so keep them safe, ya dig? Get your commander out early to turn on synergies and start poppin' off. But don't just run them out blind into removal or they'll get got! Protect your commander with counterspells, hexproof equipment, and whatever you need to keep the value train going. They're your ticket to pop off, so handle your commander with care!


Turn Structure


Turns to go clockwise around the table in Commander. You get priority to cast spells and activate abilities during different phases and steps. Learn when you can respond to things versus when you gotta just let spells resolve! Use instant speed interaction carefully, and try not to tap out all willy-nilly with opponents ready to pop off. Play around with their potential responses if you can. The stack gets complicated with 4 players, so get your bluffs and timing down to play mind games!


Attacking and Blocking


Combat gets extra spicy with all the players! You can swing out and smash anyone, so attack the most vulnerable or threatening opponent. But watch out for crackback if you spread damage around all willy-nilly! Use politics to convince other players to target mutual threats instead of you. Leave up blockers when possible - sometimes baiting attacks set up good trades. Use combat tricks and first strike to keep foes guessing. Combat takes finesse!


Key Things to Watch


Board wipes reset the game and buy you time, but nonstop mass removal stalls out the game. Use wipes judiciously, only when needed to claw back or regain control after someone pops off. Then rebuild your own board quickly before anyone else. Watch for opponents signaling a wipe with certain plays beforehand. Try to bait out their sweeper, then reload faster after it resolves! Careful wipe timing creates blowouts. Keep your deck protected in style with our wide selection of custom sleeves. Choose from various colors and designs to give your cards a customized look and feel.



Common Strategies 

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Commander lets you ball out and build any type of deck your heart desires! From lightning-fast aggro to unfair combos, in this section, we'll break down some of the most common approaches.


Common Deck Archetypes


The classics like control, combo, and aggro are still bombs in Commander, homie! For control, rock a commander like Grand Arbiter Augustin IV to lock opponents down with counterspells and removal. Clear their boards and shut down their gas. Combo exploits commanders like Niv-Mizzet Firemind to assemble game-ending synergies. Storm, reanimate, go infinite - so many options! Aggro kills fast with commanders like Ruhan of the Fomori quickly smashing face. The format has optimized, tuned versions of traditional archetypes ready for you.




Some commanders enable unique strategies you won't see anywhere else! Reanimator is wild with Meren of Clan Nel Toth recurring giant fatties from the yard every turn. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice makes +1/+1 counters and proliferates super nasty. Artifact storm pops off hard casting tons of artifacts with Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain. Group hug supports everyone with card drawing via Phelddagrif. The possibilities are endless for commander-specific synergies, I kid you not.


Mix of competitive and casual approaches


You can tune Commander lists for competitive or more casual feels. cEDH goes hard optimizing at any cost, using free counterspells and fast mana to win fast on turns 3-4. More casual builds go bigger and splashier at a slower pace. Lower-powered games are great for friendly banter and back-and-forth board states. Mix it up to match your playgroup's preferences and vibes! Keep your deck safe and organized with our selection of custom deck boxes. Choose from various sizes, colors, and designs to store your cards in style.


House Rules and Variants

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Playgroups often tweak things to suit their style. Some go hard enforcing commander damage as an alternate wincon. Others allow certain banned cards or house bans to shape the meta. Mulligan rules get changed up too - partial Paris style helps avoid non-games. The bottom line is Commander rules are flexible, so chat with your pod to determine guidelines. Part of the fun is tailoring the format to maximize your squad's enjoyment. Rules should enhance the play experience, not restrict it. Get crazy with variants if it keeps things fresh and friendly!


Finding Your Playgroup


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Local game stores are go-to places to jam games in person. Post on community boards to rally pod members. If your friends play, convert them to Commander - it's more fun with homies. MTGO lets you play online at any time. SpellTable is great for webcams and remote paper Magic with visuals. Discord servers unite Commander fans worldwide.


Lots of avenues to find fellow fans, from kitchen tables to the internet. Get out there and connect - having a regular playgroup makes Commander even more epic. The social aspect takes these wacky games to the next level.


Final Thoughts


And that's a wrap, planeswalkers! We've covered all things Commander - the ins and outs of deckbuilding, gameplay, strategies, and finding friends. This wacky format offers endless fun. Now you've got the skills to start brewing and battling. 


One last critical piece of the puzzle is pimping out your board state with style. That's where Your Playmat comes in. We make the sickest custom playmats featuring your favorite Commanders, art, and colors. Show your dedication by repping your deck on an oversized mat built to last.


Your Playmat also has custom sleeves, deck boxes, tokens, and more, so you can fully customize and protect your deck. Our gear not only looks slick, but it's also durable and high quality too. Level up your accessories and board presence with YourPlaymat's commander-focused offerings.


That's all for now. Get out there and start slinging spells in style! This is just the beginning of your Commander journey. May your games be epic, your decks be focused, and your friendships over spells lifelong. I'll catch you on the Battlefields of Valor my friends - let the jank commence!