(Methodically tapping the keyboard while gazing at MTGCommander.net Forum) F5. Nothing. F5. Nothing. F5. Nothing. Come on now. Wizards has already released their banlist updates. Where you at EDH Committee? Just want to see what the changes are. Ah, no biggie, I’ll check later.
Afternoon. Nothing. F5. Nothing. Uh-oh. I am getting the feeling that something big is about to go down. The past few banlist changes have been out right away, no waiting. Something’s up. A major watch list candidate finally getting the axe? Prophet of Kruphix? DeadEye Navigator? Maybe?
Later this evening I receive a text from my buddy Tony.
What? No joke? Whoah. I was not expecting that.
I am going to start this article off with stating that the new commander tuck ruling doesn’t bother me. I do not think it was necessary to make a change, but I am fine either way. Tucking was quite prevalent at my local game store, true, but not as much in my playgroup. Either way, I look at new rules, bannings, and changes to my favorite Magic format as a way to challenge myself. It opens up my deck building and gameplay to new ideas and strategies. With that being said, here is the Commander Rules Committee’s explanation of the rule change. Let’s break it down with my full opinion.
COMMITTEE: If your commander would go into the library or your hand, you may choose to put it into the command zone. It’s as simple as that. Just like with the graveyard, if you want it to go into the library/hand, you’re more than welcome to let it. Note that this is a replacement effect, but it can apply multiple times to the same event.
And… library? Okay. Simple enough. If your commander leaves the battlefield for any reason you have the option to put it in the command zone. If your commander is switching zones, you may move it to the command zone. This simplifies the rules and makes it easier for new players I guess.
COMMITTEE: 1) We want to engender as positive an experience as we can for players. Nothing runs the feel-bads worse than having your commander unavailable to you for the whole game.
Well okay. Yes, I can sort of understand this. A lot of players build their decks around their commander and not having access to their commander may be like playing baseball without a glove. Gotcha. Let me offer my thoughts from being a player on both sides of this effect.
From the “tucker” side of things, I have done my fair share of sending an opposing general deep within the depths of their own deck. I also remember the face on the player of our casual games as they take one last look at their legendary buddy before the shuffle process. In my casual games I tried not to do this unless absolutely necessary. In more competitive atmospheres this was just part of the game and opponents realized they were wrong trying to call my bluff.
From the “tuckee” side of things, I have had Purphoros, Sigarda, Kaalia, and most of all Uril find their way into deck oblivion. However, a huge part of my play and deck building strategy has always been to play around tuck effects. Having my commander shuffled into my library never gave me a case of the “feel-bads” but rather an okay, it’s time to incorporate the back-up plan. Again, tucking was just a part of the game.
Just for fun, let’s think about this for a second. Would you rather have your commander stolen or tucked? I think having my commander stolen and getting smacked in the face by my own card would give me a worse case of the “feel-bads”. In most cases I would rather have my commander tucked safely in my library rather than the treachery of it turning against me. Treachery. Haha. See what I did there?
COMMITTEE: 2) The presence of tuck encourages players to play more tutors so that in case their commander gets sent to the library, they can get it back—exactly the opposite of what we want (namely, discouraging the over-representation of tutors).
When Purphoros is swimming in the Dragon Sleeves, top decking a Gamble makes me feel like a deck building champion. While I can’t speak for anyone but myself, I cannot think of one tutor effect that I will take out of my decks now that the rule has changed. Not one. I am not a spike by any means. Johnny likes tutors too. We build our decks to do something cool and tutors increase the probability of us being able to dig for the piece that makes cool things happen.
COMMITTEE: 3) While we are keenly aware that tuck is a great weapon against problematic commanders, the tools to do so are available only in blue and white, potentially forcing players into feeling like they need to play those colors in order to survive. We prefer as diverse a field as possible.
No respect for red. Poor Chaos Warp. I have never felt like I needed to play Blue/White so that I have an option to tuck commanders. I embrace all colors. I have 18 EDH decks with an immense diversity of themes, strategies and ideas. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t feel that there is an overwhelming majority of players out there that are playing blue or white simply to tuck opposing commanders. This reason seems a bit absurd to me, but please comment below if you feel otherwise.
COMMITTEE: 4) It clears up some corner case rules awkwardness, mostly dealing with knowing the commander’s location in the library (since highly unlikely to actually end up there). When FRF came out, manifest led us to talking about what it meant to be a commander—which is what got us talking about tuck in the first place. After a long discussion, we decided the best course regarding commander-ness was no change. Your commander is always your commander regardless of where it is or its status. That means enough hits from a face-down commander can kill you.
Wow, I can’t even decipher this one. I’m going to chalk this reason for the change up to some corner-case niche scenario and move-on. My brain will thank me for letting this one go.
Almost all of my EDH decks house it’s commander in a different color sleeve. In the past when my commander was tucked, I didn’t care, I just shuffled it in. Different color sleeve and all. So, I guess I don’t need to worry about that anymore.
Arguably, Spell Crumple, Hinder, Oblation, Terminus and Chaos Warp were the hardest hit by the rule change. I have seen a lot of talk in cyber world that these cards are worthless now. I would really have to disagree whole-heartedly with folks that feel this way. A lot of players will be running combos, Eldrazi, Indestructible and things of that nature so tucking is still a very solid strategy and answer to deal with troublesome permanents.
Those in favor of the rule change can argue that having your commander on vacation in the depths of your library is un-fun. After all, the game is “Commander” and having him or her available to you is what makes the game fun.
Those opposed to the rule change can argue that tuck is needed to save the table from Prossh, Maelstorm, Sigarda, Purphoros or any other commander that can wreak havoc on the game. They feel that tuck was a form of checks and balances to keep powerful commanders in check. Without this answer, a different form of “un-fun” can develop.
So there you have it folks. My take on the EDH Tuck Ruling. I’m sure by now you have bloodied your fingertips responding on Twitter, Redditt, MTGSalvation, Facebook and where-ever else in full support of whichever side you are on. But, if you have anything left to say, feel free to express your opinion in the comments below.
On to the Next!
For further reading and reference:
OFFICIAL MARCH 2015 BANLIST – RULE TUCK CHANGE ANNOUNCEMENT
For additional reading, I highly recommend Cassidy’s article on General Damage Control. It is very well written:
Examining the “Tuck Rule” Announcement by Cassidy at General Damage Control