Masters and Commanders

Its sometimes easy to forget that Magic the Gathering, isn’t just a for the competitively minded out there. For every one of us trying to battle our way through PPTQ’s and Grand Prix, in the hope of making it to the Pro Tour, there are many more for whom Magic is just a fun, casual experience. This is truly exemplified by the ever-growing Commander community.

This one hundred card singleton format has a solid following, with player groups from your local hobby centre, all the way to the kitchen table. Supported with some of the best supplemental products Wizards of the Coast provides, if you are after a fun filled evening of Magic with your friends, then you can’t go to for wrong with Commander. That is of course, if your so called ‘friends’ don’t go ahead and run out a reanimator deck, Entombing and Exhumeing his Iona, Shield of Emeria in the same turn! I mean, it’s bad enough as it is, but when he knows I was bringing my mono black deck, then draws out the game why’ll he looks for his combo, knowing full well I must get the last train home! But he HAS to play it out, because you just have to see it in action. COME ON, LIKE HE CAN’T JUST SAY HE WINS, HE DOES THIS EVERY SINGLE WEEK, AND WE JUST HAVE TO SIT THERE AND TAKE IT LIKE SOME………

‘Master of Magics is experiencing some technical difficulties’

Sorry about that, I may have some things to work through. Anyway, there is a reason I wanted to bring up commander. Awhile ago I was playing some competitive modern, and I noticed some people playing a game of commander. The only thing was, they weren’t playing any old game of commander, they were playing Archenemy Commander. After talking with these fine fellows for a bit, I came to understand that this group of players had come up with many different ways to play this format. So, I did some research, and found some other fun and interesting ways for you to spice up your own games with your play groups. Let us being with the above-mentioned variant.


Released back in 2010, Archenemy was a one vs many multiplayer format. One player takes on the role of the Archenemy, trying to achieve their nefarious goals, why’ll the other players represents a noble  band of heroes, seeking to put an end to these evil plans. So, in a 3 vs 1 game, the heroes should have it in the bag, right? Well who said the Archenemy plays fair. Starting out at double the starting life total of the plucky heroes, the villain of these games also has access to a deck of Scheme cards. These over-sized cards can give you some major advantages, why’ll hindering your opponent’s efforts to take you down, such as the impressive Behold the Power of Destruction. It is easy then, to see how these two casual formats can gel well together. The Archenemy can take the role of one of magics greatest, such as Oona, Queen of the Fae or Memnarch, and see if your play group can stop your blind for power. Soon, you may just find your games feeling more like a role-playing adventure, adding a greater sense of story and stakes to your Friday nights.


When the Commander 2014 preconstructed decks where released, players got the chance to not only use legendary creatures as their commander, but five unique planeswalkers. This added a whole new element to your games of commander, allowing you to play in a whole new way. The only issue? There was only these five to choose from. But why be so limiting. That is the attitude some players took, deciding to forgo that pesky rule about your commander been a creature, and instead use any planeswalker you want. Want to ruin your opponent’s day with a mono black aggro shell, lead it with Sorin Markov. Or maybe you fancy milling you enemies into submission, well Jace, Memory Adept is right up your alley. The only thing to consider, is that you may want to veto everyone’s choices before you start, just to avoid ‘that guy’ from ruining everyone’s fun.


For those of you not in the know, Pauper is a magic format where players are restricted to using only cards printed at the common rarity. Now I know what you are thinking, ‘are they’re any common legendary creatures out there?’. The answer, yes. If you go back far enough, you will find characters like Joven, who were printed at the common level. But don’t worry, we don’t want to you to start looking for Homeland cards, no we have something far more fun in mind. In pauper commander, you construct a deck with only common card, and you select one uncommon creature to represent your commander. This doesn’t have to be a legendary character either, but any uncommon creature ever printed. Want to lead the Abzan to victory, try building a +1/+1 counter deck with Armament Corps. How about going for the throat and winning via commander damage, Stormchaser Mage is at you command. This variant can be a real challenge to deck builders, taking them out of their comfort zone. But for those willing to accept the change, you may just find yourself with a new, favourite way to enjoy your number one format.

But you don’t have to stop with these variants on the commander format. Why not try adding your own stipulations to your games, such as two headed giant, or even adding the Partner mechanic to all legendary creatures. You could even go ahead and combine different elements together, for a truly unique gaming experience. Imagine taking on the role of the Gatewatch, trying to defeat Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, telling your own tales of the multiverse. Go ahead and try something new today, you may be glad did.


Liked it? Take a second to support Master of Magics on Patreon!

In response...