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I expect that the answer to the question in the title is "yes", but I'm not sure where the official rules for Commander deck construction are.

Is a chosen Commander a property of the deck, or is it possible for a single Commander deck to contain multiple possible Commanders and to choose before each game (as long as each meets the general requirements such as colour identity)?

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Are you talking about single games, or multiple games in a match, e.g. best of 3? – Hackworth Mar 2 at 13:53
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magic.wizards.com | Game Info | Gameplay | Rules & Format | Comprehensive Rules; also on the EDH site. You can obviously change the Commander in a casual setting (as you can change your entire deck), but the CR is silent as to what you can do in a tournament. It says "Each deck has a legendary creature card designated as its commander", which make it sound like it's a property of the deck, but this is not explicitly stated. Are there even Commander tournaments? – ikegami Mar 2 at 14:00
    
@ikegami the Commander homepage house rules do mention Commander league play, where people keep the same deck for the duration of the league. – Hackworth Mar 2 at 14:02
    
@ikegami It's interesting to hear that it's not really mentioned. I suppose a tournament-style setting (multiple games with a particular deck) is what I'm really asking about. From what I looked at, in general the official descriptions of deckbuilding suggested that a Commander is picked during deck construction, but the relevant rules posted in answers so far are vague and don't mention when you designate the Commander. – Samthere Mar 2 at 14:03
    
@Hackworth, The league's page says "Players may change commander decks if they choose for the second game", so that doesn't help. If you can change your deck, you can obviously pick a deck that's identical except for the swap of a Commander and another card. – ikegami Mar 2 at 14:04
up vote 18 down vote accepted

It doesn't matter. Since you can change decks between games, you can change to a deck that's identical except for the choice of Commander.


Everyone talks about the Commander as if it's a property of the deck, including the Comprehensive Rules and the EDH site.

CR: In the Commander variant, each deck is led by a legendary creature designated as that deck’s commander.

EDH: Players choose a legendary creature as the "Commander" for their deck.

But that's not necessarily significant. It's simply the obvious and simple way to explain Commander. There's no explicit mention in the rules that the Commander is a property of the deck.

Does it matter?

In a casual setting, one may change decks between games as often as one desires, so you can obviously play two games with decks that vary only by your choice of Commander. The answer to your question is therefore irrelevant in a casual setting.

The answer is only potentially meaningful in a tournament setting, but I can't find anything suggestion that DCI hosts Commander tournaments. That means the the answer to your question is irrelevant as far as Wizard-sanctioned tournaments go.

That leaves non-sanctioned tournaments. Since they're non-sanctioned, there's no way to predict their deck registration policy. The answer is unanswerable for those in general.

The only tournament I was able to find is this league. But since they allow you to change deck between games, the answer to your question is irrelevant there too.


Given all of the above, my answer to your question is as follows:

If you enter a situation where you must reuse a deck for more than one game, consult with those with which you enter into this situation on this matter. Otherwise, it doesn't matter. Since you can change decks between games, you can change to a deck that's identical except for the choice of Commander.

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This is a pretty solid exploration of rules that are left somewhat vague due to the nature of the game format. I didn't expect this question to need more than pointing towards the correct rules! – Samthere Mar 2 at 16:55
    
You can sanction commander FNMs. I think they added it in last year. I think it should be like side-boarding when decks are registered, your commander should be the same in game one but can be changed between games. But that is my opinion and most FMNs don't require a deck list anyway. – Progenitor Mimic Mar 4 at 11:55

Although there is no explicit rule for it, treating decks with different assigned commanders as different makes the most sense.

The choice of commander is certainly a property of a commander deck because its legality depends on it, but it is a matter of individual tournament rules whether that matters as far as switching commanders between games is concerned.

Ultimately, it is most important to adhere to the core philosophy of the game mode:

Commander is designed to promote social games of magic.

It is played in a variety of ways, depending on player preference, but a common vision ties together the global community to help them enjoy a different kind of magic. That vision is predicated on a social contract: a gentleman's agreement which goes beyond these rules to includes a degree of interactivity between players. Players should aim to interact both during the game and before it begins, discussing with other players what they expect/want from the game.

House rules or "fair play" exceptions are always encouraged if they result in more fun for the local community.

So whenever there is uncertainty about a certain rules question specific to the Commander mode, talk to the people in your play group and reach an agreement.

That being said, there are hints on how to resolve the question with rules. A Commander-legal deck is required to assign a certain card as its Commander, and if any rules are not covered by the Commander section, the regular rules apply:

  1. Commander

903.1. In the Commander variant, each deck is led by a legendary creature designated as that deck’s commander. The Commander variant was created and popularized by fans; an independent rules committee maintains additional resources at MTGCommander.net. The Commander variant uses all the normal rules for a Magic game, with the following additions.

903.3. Each deck has a legendary creature card designated as its commander. This designation is not a characteristic of the object represented by the card; rather, it is an attribute of the card itself.

A card that is defined as the commander of a deck is different from another card with the same name that isn't a commander. Therefore, two decks containing otherwise identical cards but different commanders are overall different decks.

For single-game matches, this doesn't matter. You simply declare another card as the new commander between games and play accordingly.

For "Best of N" matches, or during tournament play, modifications of the deck are not allowed except as outlined in the Sideboard rules or if a card like Burning Wish allows you to. In those situations you could not swap out the commander between games.

Another thing to consider are the remarks from the maintainers of the Commander mode, section "House Rules":

D. League Play

A League is a regular group of players who maintain the same decks across multiple play sessions. Within a given league, Commander are allocated first-come, first-serve and are preserved between meetings/games. No player may have, in his or her deck, the Commander of any other player in the game; it should be replaced with some other card before the game begins.

The spirit of this rule seems to be that decks, including Commanders, remain unchanged.

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When you start the game, the card chosen as your commander must meet the color identity of the deck (well, vice versa, but the point is similar).

This is pretty much a given from wizards if you look at the Commander 2013 products. In those decks, there are 3 commander oversized cards for the commanders you could choose, with the other potential commanders staying in the deck.

Given all that, if you change your commander in your deck, it is a new deck, for all intents and purposes. Now, in a tournament setting or a Best-of-X setting, is that kind of deck change allowed? I dunno, ask the host.

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In most commander sets released the last couple of years there were multiple legendary creatures in the same colour identity as the commander. those creatures could be used as an replacement for the initial commander if you didn't like the initial commander.

But to use an example of my own aurelia commander deck. It is build around the premise that aurelia is the commander and that I have angels as theme in the deck. But i could use my Iroas in the deck as a commander because it has the same colour identity.

As example of the commander decks released by wizards. In commander 2013, each deck had three oversized commander cards which are creatures you can use as a commander.

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There isn't a universal rule about choosing to change your commander in between games, that I can identify. As long as the card you designate as your commander at the start of the game, per rule 903.6, meets the requirements of matching the color identity of your Commander Deck, it is a valid selection.

903.6. At the start of the game, each player puts his or her commander from his or her deck face up into the command zone. Then each player shuffles the remaining 99 cards of his or her deck so that the cards are in a random order. Those cards become the player’s library.

Tournaments out in the world could place a restriction upon your deck that the Commander always be the same card. They could also permit changing your commander in between games.

Presumably, any legendary creature you put in your Commander Deck that has the same color identity as your designated Commander would be a legal choice to designate as the commander. The next question becomes, why would you want to?

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The rules governing commanders are as follows:

903.1. In the Commander variant, each deck is led by a legendary creature designated as that deck’s commander.

903.3. Each deck has a legendary creature card designated as its commander. This designation is not a characteristic of the object represented by the card; rather, it is an attribute of the card itself. The card retains this designation even when it changes zones.

903.6. At the start of the game, each player puts his or her commander from his or her deck face up into the command zone. Then each player shuffles the remaining 99 cards of his or her deck so that the cards are in a random order. Those cards become the player’s library.

As you can see there isn't anything about a deck only having a single commander. Also as has been mentioned the Commander decks put out by Wizards usually have 3 options to use for the commander.

Tournaments or leagues can changes these rules, but as Commander is not a format that can be sanctioned the MTR doesn't apply. Thus they are allowed to create their own rules for changing commanders between games.

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So you're saying it's not a property of the deck even though it says "Each deck has a legendary creature card designated as its commander"? Do you have anything corroborate this? (e.g. Tournament deck signup form?) – ikegami Mar 2 at 14:01
    
In the course of a game, the restrictions of 903.3 apply. Each deck can only have one Commander. The designated Card is the only Commander. At the start of any game, the player could designate a different eligible Card as the commander, as long as the colour identity of that Card and the deck agree. – Drunk Cynic Mar 2 at 14:17
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@ikegami A deck has a designated commander, but there is no rule saying that designation can't change between games. Tournament rules can change that, the MTR doesn't list Commander as a sanctionable format so individual tournaments can create their own rules for it. – diego Mar 2 at 14:24
    
These rules could be written a little bit clearer. 903.1 is not even a rule, it carries 0 bits of information. (Everything 903.1 states is contained in 903.3) – tsuma534 Mar 2 at 14:26
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@tsuma534 Magic has plenty of rules that are either not really rules (100.6b) or are redundant with other rules (the rules for losing when you try to draw from an empty deck occur 3 times) so that isn't an unusual occurance. – diego Mar 2 at 14:41

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