The Beginning of Commander MTG
Commander is a series of gameplay-enhancing Magic: the Gathering card game products. It's been around for many years and has become hugely popular. EDH is the most popular variant in Commander, where players are only allowed to have one legendary creature and up to 99 other cards in their deck. The official Commander format, which Wizards of the Coast developed, is available online and throughout retail stores nationwide.
The original fan-created format, Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH), is based on an idea that came from Adam Staley in the late 1990s. He was quoted in an article saying "The original name for it was a tribute to the line 'there can be only one' spoken repeatedly in the 1986 film Highlander" and that the original name referenced Elder Dragons from Magic's storyline. Polygon published that there is some contention on creative origins of the format due to another dueling deck called "Elder Legend Dragon Wars" coming out before EDH. When asked about this, Staley said "I do not remember reading that article. Some things are similar to my version and some are very different".
Sheldon Menery, who was introduced to EDH while stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, then developed the format further culminating in his 2004 article outlining the format on the Magic fan site Star City Games. He found particular success with this version of the game among judges in his circle of friends. Scott Larabee, Wizards of the Coast's Pro Tour Manager, began to play the format for the first time in 2005 with one of Menery's decks at a tournament. Menery and other Pro Tour judges created a rules committee to make sure that all players were following correct procedures.
Larabee initially advocated for the format with Wizards of the Coast which led to its commercial launch in 2011. However, it was given the name “Commander” as they started to face intellectual property concerns. Wizards of the Coast has also been continuously releasing preconstructed Commander decks and has maintained an independent committee in order to uphold their culture of entertainment and competitive play since 2011. In 2020, Wizards of the Coast released data from their store's customers through a survey which included what customers call Tickets (an organizer term). According to ICv2's industry trade, "the number of unique players attending Commander events per week at WPN stores went from 9,000 in 2018 to 28,000 in 2020. In February 2020, all stores that ran events were averaging 1846 Tickets per year. Stores running Commander events averaged about 111% more tickets than ones that did not-- 11201 Tickets per year." Commander is a growing format and is driving organized play numbers upward; retail locations are seeing increased value with Reserved List Commander cards on the rise.
Wizards of the Coast created a webcam version of Magic: The Gathering that is playable online during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. In 2021, Dot eSports reported that "Commander has become one of the biggest formats in Magic over the past five years, even leading to Wizards of the Coast dubbing 2020 as 'The Year of Commander.' The format provides opportunities for novice and experienced deckbuilders to craft thematic decks around the game's over 1,200 Legendary creatures."
Games of Magic: the Gathering, one of few examples of the card game genre
Commander is a format with 100+ cards that can be put in decks, each card appearing no more than once. It is played with four players and someone who is chosen as the "Commander" or "General". The Commander starts the game in the Command Zone and can cast to the battlefield immediately after being tapped. If it leaves the battlefield, it returns to Command Zone and can be tapped for a higher mana cost. Commander helps players play cards of their color commander's color.
The format consists of a normal game of Magic with a few changes. Players start with 40 life points instead of 20 and also have to deal with additional consequences should one player be dealt 21 or more combat damage by a single commander throughout the game. The format supports two to six players, sometimes more.
Commander also has its own "banned list". This list of cards is separate from any other formats. The Commander Rules Committee maintains the rules for this format as well. For additional insight, you can also find a list of recommended banned cards on the Wizards of the Coast website.
Commander is often played in conjunction with other existing formats such as Two-Headed Giant, Planechase, and Archenemy.
Duel Commander, also known as French Commander, is the result of a cross between EDH and Magic. The game is played by two combatants, each starting with 20 life points. It follows the same rules as regular Magic and has one commander (or commanders who have Partners ability) plus 99 cards. There are also other special rules. Some of the differences include a different banned list and more competitiveness compared to traditional Commander.
Magic Online 1v1 Commander is a variant of the Magic: The Gathering Online format, created by Wizards of the Coast. In this format, the ban list differs from that which is used in tournaments run by the Rules Committee.
In 2018, Wizards of the Coast released their new Commander variant called Brawl. This variant utilizes all cards that are currently legal in Standard and has a rotation schedule similar to that of Standard. While not too different from traditional Commander, deck size is limited to 60 cards and each player starts with 30 life. The format is commonly played on Magic: The Gathering Online and MTG Arena but has found more success in MTG Arena due to its introduction as a Constructed event at the end of June 2018.
Pauper Commander is a variant in which the deck must be stocked with cards that were available at Common rarity during the original printing or release. The Commander can be any creature, whether Legendary or not, so long as it was at one point printed or released at Uncommon rarity. As a result, Commander damage is 16 to 18 and starting life is 30 points.