Magic Online 1v1 Commander Update

Posted in Magic Online on July 20, 2018

By Bryan Hawley

Bryan Hawley is a game designer for Magic R&D.

Since the inception of the Magic Online 1v1 Commander format, it has undergone a large number of changes relative to our usual banning cadence. While many of these actions had temporary positive impact as players explored new possibilities, it has become increasingly clear that there are fundamental problems with the way the format is currently constructed. At its current power level, the combination of high consistency from your commander and low consistency from your deck pushes the metagame toward finding a high density of cards with similar effects. Because many of the raw power outliers from Magic's history have been removed from the format as we've attempted to correct the format in our usual way by trimming the strongest decks, it's also challenging to make large strides in games that are not easily undone by your opponent.

It's clear by now that the partner mechanic is dominant; providing access to both four colors and an extra card in your starting hand is too powerful relative to the other options. However, it is also becoming clear that they are not the root of the format's current problems. Attritive mana-advantage strategies trying to interact on tight margins and pull ahead incrementally over the course of the game have been dominant in this format since its inception, and we don't believe that simply removing partners from the format will solve this.

So, we're trying something more radical. This update is essentially a reimagining of the format at a significantly higher power level. As it's become clear that our usual banning strategy of trimming powerful outliers until a diverse format emerges isn't working, we'll try a different vision for the format.

This update significantly raises the power level of the format. Our hope with this suite of changes is that access to additional artifact mana and lands may allow bigger mana strategies to function that can go over the top of these attritive tempo decks, or for more standard strategies to outpace getting incrementally chipped out. In conjunction with the extra mana, tutors have more options than simply finding the most efficient card to shut down the game. In allowing a stronger suite of interactions to occur sooner in the game, there's additional reward to finding very powerful things to do in line with Legacy or even Vintage interactions. We'll be keeping an eye on the consistency of decks in this new world, as core to this format is the idea that wild things can happen and neither player is sure what will come up next.

We've never undergone such a large-scale change to a format before, so it's somewhat unclear how the future will unfold, but I hope you're as excited as we are to find out!

The following changes take effect on Magic Online on July 25:

Rules change: You may only have one commander. Creatures with a partner ability function as if they did not have that ability.

The following cards are no longer banned in 1v1 Commander:

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