With the release of the new 2016 Commander Decks by Wizards of the coast, I feel like now is the time to speak what needs to be spoken. Dear Wizards, stop ruining the Commander format. Okay, let me explain where I’m coming from.
In case you don’t know, Commander started as a format known as Elder Dragon Highlander, and it was a bit different. For one, you can only use one of the original five elder dragons as your commander; those being Arcades Sabboth, Chromium, Nicol Bolas (The non-planeswalker version), Vaevictis Asmadi, and Palladia Mors. This was an extremely casual format, as Wizards of the Coast didn’t really support it and make cards specifically for it. However, as that group grew and started asking for DCI sanctioned tournaments, Wizards responded, and made it and official format. However, they changed the rules so that there was a ban list, and your commander could be any legendary creature. With this, they also released a set of five three colored commander decks to accompany this change.
These decks however included new cards that specifically were only made to be commanders, and Command Tower. Command Tower is a card that allows commander players to play any color of mana with no drawbacks. This card is now the most used card in all of commander, and with a price tag of two dollars for a common that keeps getting reprinted, it’s easy to find, but ruins the format. While some people rejoiced that Wizards released a product that specifically benefitted Commander players, many more were hesitant that this would be too radical of a change, and that Wizards would in fact make these new cards must haves in any commander deck.
In newer commander decks (cough cough Commander 2014 and 2016) Wizards has begun to mess with the original idea of Commander; having one legendary creature who you think has a fun ability that you like, and build a deck for it. However, in the second Commander Deck product made by Wizards of the Coast, they printed three planeswalkers who could be your commander. This was an outrage to many people, as commander players didn’t want anything besides one legendary creature commander to be played as a commander. With this though, you can now have a planeswalker be your commander. Despite these being legal commanders to use, they are banned in many playgroups as they specifically are changing the rules of commander. The real question though was what will come next for these decks. Personally, I hoped that Wizards would take a step back and never make this mistake of allowing non-legendary creatures to be commanders ever again. So far, only legendary creatures have been commanders, for now.
In these newest Commander decks though, Wizards has messed with Commanders once again. Now, you can have two commanders, as long as both have the new ability, Partner. Some of these creatures include Vial Smasher the Fierce, Ludevic, Necro-Alchemist, and Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker. All of these commanders can partner up with someone else who has this ability, and is able to somehow work together, even if they don’t share the same color identity. In all honesty though, allowing two creatures to be your commander is a bit awkward. While it does make some sense that Ludevic and his creation can command the deck together, I do think that it would be weird if Ludevic’s creation were to work with Ishai, a bird who translates Draconic for the monks of Ojutai. Ignoring the fact that this commander situation doesn’t make much sense flavor wise, I personally think that the idea that Wizards of the Coast can change such basic rules of the game is quite ridiculous and should not be done.
However, despite the commanders not following some of the format’s main principles, I do like the commander decks as a product. At least most of them are easy to play, and can hold their own against most decks that have a big name in the format. In addition, they are quite affordable at an MSRP of $34.99 and are highly customizable. In addition, they all have many needed reprints that help make more cards accessible. In addition, many of these decks can be upgraded to extremely competitive decks. I personally try to buy one of each from the different years. From the commander 2016 line, I have already ordered the Stalwarts Unity deck, and can’t wait to unbox it and play with it. These are fun decks, and I don’t want to see them be discontinued. I think that overall, they are among the best products that Wizards of the Coast makes, but I would like to see less Commander Specific cards, and more cards that can be played in modern 60 card decks with 4 cards of each copy.