MTG players debate the commander’s philosophy


On March 16, Sheldon Menery, a founding member of the Commander’s Rules Committee, published his annual State of the Format article. This piece sparked a discussion among the MTG playerbase about what Commander should be and whether the format is currently in a healthy place. Many players have very different opinions on what Commander “should be” given that it is the most popular format in the game. 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 everyone.

Commander’s Status 2023

In his State Of The Format 2023 article, Menery articulated his views on the continued development of the format and outlined the Standards Committee’s priorities going forward. One of the highlights of the article was Menery’s announcement that a new document outlining the format’s philosophy is currently being drafted. For now, a page outlining Commander’s philosophy can be found on the Rules Committee website. This page provides a definition of Commander’s philosophy that is just under 600 words. The purpose of the new philosophy paper, currently under construction, is to provide a more comprehensive description of the ideology of the Commander format as envisioned by Menery and his colleagues.

While the new philosophy paper isn’t ready for the public, Menery lays out its three core principles in his piece. He writes that the Rules Committee aims to keep the commander social, creative, i stable. Then define each of these keywords, with a description and some bullet points.


  • Foster positive, community-based experiences where people can come together through the shared experience of gaming
  • It helps players communicate their preferences and arrive at a shared set of expectations


  • Foster positive, community-based experiences where people can come together through the shared experience of gaming
  • It helps players communicate their preferences and arrive at a shared set of expectations


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

In addition to outlining these three philosophical pillars, Menery also described the motivation behind making these changes. He summarized them with another set of three key words that he said guide the Rules Committee in its decision-making. Continuity, communication, Focus and responsibility. He defines them in his piece…

Continuity: “Planning 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 very important to us that the next generation of leaders fully understand where we are coming from so that they can make the best decisions about where to go next. Our goal is to do that proactively rather than scrambling to do it reactively.”

communication: “We know that many well-intentioned players sometimes feel like a leaf in the wind, because 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 resource for format research, as a roadmap for communicating and discussing format 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 that most we care, we can give them better feedback when they ask.”

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

Most of the article was devoted to describing these principles. Although there were also some calls for funds and support from the MTG community.

The discussion

Commander's Insight

Shortly after the article was published, it was shared on Reddit. The community had a diverse mix of reactions, reflecting the diverse opinions of Commander’s player base.

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

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

SAjoats explained that they do not believe the article addresses the concerns of all EDH players: “There are 2 groups of people in the EDH.

People who want everything to be off limits.

And people who want bans to form a curated experience.

What does the rules committee do to satisfy these 2 groups?”

Users of the EDH Subreddit generally 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 simultaneously hate the status quo and anyone whatever change

Personally, I have really enjoyed reading the justifications for the rulings here and on the RC website forum for years.

Keep going!”

MdaveCS wrote: “I will join the minority voice. I liked this. It was for a long time and a little satisfied. But seeing the past I said: we will have a clear rubric for the (good) things and put a signpost in the ground saying that social interaction, inclusion and creativity are the value point from which all their decisions will be made.”


The question of who should be the commander is not easily resolved. Different players enjoy different gaming experiences. Some players enjoy competitive games that end in a handful of turns, with cards like Lotus with jewels i Thassa’s oracle. Other players enjoy long-running battlecruiser games where they get a chance to launch their own Waterproof Greatwurms i Apex Devastators. The commander must be able to accommodate these two different types of play and everything in between.

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

Read more: The MTG New Nostalgic Commander sub-format gains popularity

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