MTG Players Debate Commander’s Philosophy


On 16 March Sheldon Menery, a founding member of the Commander Rules Committee, published his annual article on the state of the format. This piece sparked a discussion among the MTG gamebase about exactly what Commander should be and whether the format is currently in a healthy place. Many players have very different views on what Commander “should be” as it is the game’s most popular format. It is the job of the Commander Rules Committee to ensure that the needs of all these different types of players are met and that Commander remains open and enjoyable for all.

The State of Commander 2023

In his article State Of The Format 2023, Menery articulated his views on the continued development of the format and outlined the priorities of the Rules Committee going forward. One of the most notable parts of the article was Menery’s announcement that a new document outlining the format’s philosophy is currently being written. Currently, a page describing Commander’s philosophy can be found on the Rules Committee website. This page provides a definition of the Commander’s philosophy in just under 600 words. The purpose of the new philosophical document, currently under construction, is to offer a more thorough description of the ideology of the Commander format, as envisioned by Menery and his colleagues.

Although the new philosophy document is not currently ready for the public to view, Menery outlines its three fundamental principles in his piece. He writes that the Rules Committee aims to maintain a commander social, creative, and stable. He then defines each of these keywords, with a description and some bullet points.


  • Encourage positive, communal experiences where people can bond over the shared experience of gaming
  • Help players communicate their preferences and arrive at a set of shared expectations


  • Encourage positive, communal experiences where people can bond over the shared experience of gaming
  • Help players communicate their preferences and arrive at a set of shared expectations


  • Minimize interruptions except when absolutely necessary
  • Minimize changes that require players to actively maintain their decks

As well as outlining these three philosophical pillars, Menery also described the motivation behind making these changes. He summarized these with another set of three key words, which he stated should guide the Rules Committee in their decision-making. Continuity, Communication, Focus and Accountability. He defines these in his piece…

Continuity: “Planning for the future of the format involves discussing and documenting the things we agree and disagree on as a leadership team. We don’t like morbid hypothetical scenarios like ‘What if all the leaders were hit by a meteor’. However, it is extremely important to us, for the next generation of leaders to fully understand where we’ve come from so they can make the best decisions about where we go next. Our goal is to do that proactively rather than struggling to do it reactively.”

Communication: “We know that many well-intentioned players sometimes feel like a leaf in the wind, as it can be relatively difficult to research and understand the rationale behind format management decisions. With these changes, we intend to create both a centralized means of researching the format, and also a roadmap for communicating and discussing form changes as they occur. This also extends to our interactions with Wizards of the Coast. By communicating in a way that focuses on the things we care most about, we are able to give them better feedback when they ask .”

Focus and Accountability: “There are external benefits to communication, but being able to correctly articulate a problem and the strategies to attack it are also important for us internally. This structure will allow us to set and prioritize goals and evaluate our own performance.”

The majority of the article was dedicated to outlining these principles. Although there were also some appeals for funds and support from the MTG community.

The Discussion

Commander Commander

Shortly after the article was published, it was shared on Reddit. The community had a varied mix of reactions, reflecting the diverse views of the commanding player base.

Some players received the article negatively. The highest-rated comment on the main Reddit thread linking to the article disapproved of it.

Expensive-Document 41 wrote: “I guess personally, I don’t feel that the RC in its current iteration is responsive, transparent, or nimble enough to respond to the health of the format, as WOTC forces new power stolen into it with each new set..”

SAjoats explained that they don’t feel the article addresses the concerns of all EDH players: “There are 2 groups of people in EDH.

People who want everything off limits.

And people who want bans to shape a curated experience.

What is the rules committee doing to satisfy these 2 groups?”

Users on the EDH Subreddit, in general, gave the article a more positive reception.

In response to a comment made by Jim LaPage, a member of the Rules Committee, Reddit user Wazeltov wrote: “Just wanted to say thanks. Being on the RC seems like a thankless job; Redditors both hate the status quo and any changes.

I’ve personally really enjoyed reading through justifications for decisions here and on the RC site forum for years now.

Carry on!”

MdaveCS wrote: “I’ll join the minority voice. I liked this. It was very long and a bit self-indulgent. But seeing beyond that it said: we’ll have a clear heading for stuff (good), and we’re putting a signpost in the ground saying that social interaction, inclusiveness and creativity is the value point from which all their decisions will be made.


The question of just what a Commander should be cannot be easily resolved. Different players enjoy different gaming experiences. Some players enjoy competitive games that end in a few turns, having cards like Jeweled Lotus and The Oracle of Thassa. Other players enjoy long-running battleship games where they have the opportunity to cast theirs Impenetrable Greatwurms and Apex Devastators. A commander must be able to accommodate both of these different types of gameplay and everything in between.

It is worth noting that these new principles are not set in stone. Several calls were made throughout the article, inviting players to share their feedback on the Commander Rules Committee Discord server.

Read more: MTG New Nostalgic Commander Sub-Format Gains Popularity

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