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Just a silly question, can you run 99 Relentless Rats in commander? Maybe that and Sphinx of the Chimes and some juicy commander that plays off creature types.

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    You may note that there are those who would argue that playing relentless rats in this way, is against the spirt of EDH.
    – Pow-Ian
    Jun 6, 2013 at 20:02
  • I don't think it's a very effective strategy anyways. I've heard playing Iona is against the spirit of playing EDH :p. It would be more of a gag deck than anything else.
    – Mitch D
    Jun 6, 2013 at 20:08
  • @MitchD It depends entirely who you play with, but I could see people not really liking it even as an ineffective gag deck - either you'll sit there and waste time in a predictable way, or (depending on what you're planning) you'll pull out your silly combo and end the game in an unfun way.
    – Cascabel
    Jun 6, 2013 at 20:17
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    @Pow-Ian Those who argue that are against the spirit of Relentless Rats.
    – ghoppe
    Jun 7, 2013 at 16:07
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    Also, good luck casting one if your deck is 99 rats :)
    – Ivar
    Jan 10, 2014 at 19:36

5 Answers 5

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Yes, you can, for the same reason you can in other formats.

The first Golden Rule:

101.1. Whenever a card’s text directly contradicts these rules, the card takes precedence. The card overrides only the rule that applies to that specific situation. The only exception is that a player can concede the game at any time (see rule 104.3a).

They'd have to ban or restrict the card to limit its use, but it's legal in that format.

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Sheldon (EDH Rules Committee) has answered this question directly.

The RC has discussed it and for the time being thinks that multiple Rats is OK. We reserve the right to change our minds down the road.

Although some rules differ from the official MtG rules (i.e. "outside the game" ,Living Wish, is handled differently than other casual formats), Relentless Rats' ability is covered in CR 112.6m. If Relentless Rats were banned in EDH, you couldn't use any copies, but since it isn't you may use any amount from 0-99 copies because [CR 112.6m] specifically allows you to ignore [CR 903.5b].

112.6m An ability that modifies the rules for deck construction functions before the game begins. Such an ability modifies not just the Comprehensive Rules, but also the Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules and any other documents that set the deck construction rules for a specific Constructed format. However, such an ability can’t affect the format legality of a card, including whether it’s banned or restricted.

Also:

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 http://mtgcommander.net. The Commander variant uses all the normal rules for a Magic game, with the following additions.

903.5b Other than basic lands, each card in a Commander deck must have a different English name.

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    Props for finding that. mtgcommander.net forums are really, really annoying to search.
    – Alex P
    Jun 7, 2013 at 3:21
  • As a long term fan of Sheldon articles at SCG, I must say to that man I will play whatever I feel like in my casual decks. If my playgroup gets its jollies from having a bunch of degenerate combo commanders racing to see who goes of first, who the hell is he to tell me we cannot do it? Having a banlist for a casual format has always been a bit tosh.
    – Neil Meyer
    Aug 3, 2021 at 18:08
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There's two answers to that question, depending on how you read it.

  1. Can you put 99 cards named Relentless Rats into a commander deck.

Yes you can, Relentless rats is one of the 18 cards that you can have more than one copy of in your deck (the 11 different basic lands, Relentless Rats, Shadowborn Apostle, Rat Colony, Persistent Petitioners, Seven Dwarves, Dragon's Approach, Nazgûl). The rules specify you can have any number of copies of basic lands, and the cards themselves specify you can have any number (or specifically 7 for the dwarves, and 9 for the Nazgûl) of the other 6. The very first rule in magic, Rule 101.1, specifies that you follow the card's oracle text when it conflicts with the rules (after all most abilities add to or remove effects of other rules, like Haste removing the effect of summoning sickness).

  1. Can you play a deck with 99 Relentless Rats.

Nope, the deck is legal, but with 99 Relentless Rats in it, that means you have nothing in the deck except Relentless Rats, there's no way to actually play the deck. If you want to build a deck like that, you probably want to top out at 70 Relentless Rats, if you play nothing but the rats and land.

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    "there's no way to actually play the deck" Of course there is. Not sure what definition of "play" includes "will have a realistic chance to win with". You still draw a card every turn, etc. There was even a time in MTGs history when a deck consisting of 1000 lands and nothing else was actually competitive!
    – GendoIkari
    Jul 23, 2021 at 17:15
  • @GendoIkari You can use the definition Magic uses for the word "play". None of the cards in the deck would be able to be played (unless by some chance an opponent uses something like show and tell, but analysis like this needs to be done in a vacuum) Since none of the components of the deck can be played by that definition, the deck as a whole could be said to be unplayable. A deck of nothing but land would be playable by that definition, you can still play the land, one per turn.
    – Andrew
    Jul 23, 2021 at 17:24
  • I think there's a clear distinction between asking "can you play a deck with Relentless Rats" and "is there a way to play a Relentless Rats if your deck is just 99 Relentless Rats"? Nothing in the OP suggests the later question.
    – GendoIkari
    Jul 23, 2021 at 20:31
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    Note that the "deck of all lands" that was "played' historically could have just as easily been a deck of all Relentless Rats for the exact same effect. Playing a land wasn't relevant to the strategy.
    – GendoIkari
    Jul 23, 2021 at 20:34
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    @Accumulation It’s talked about here. Quick summary is that a lot of people were running a Stroke of Genius combo that could force you to mill hundreds of cards; but not infinite cards. It had no other win condition; so it was self-defeated by any deck with a huge number of cards.
    – GendoIkari
    Jul 25, 2021 at 15:31
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Yes, you can have as many of the relentless rats as you want. Whether your format generally allows one copy of a card or four does not change this. You playgroup may have a house rule that says differently. Generally house rules are worth following if you value your playgroup.

Now a next level question would be if relentless rats got restricted in the Vintage format how many copies could you play then?

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You absolutely cannot have 99 Relentless Rats in Commander. It's madness. The card costs 3 mana. How are you even going to cast one the whole game with no lands? Commander is a 100 card deck no more no less.

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    There is no rule in Magic that your deck needs to be playable. You absolutely can build a deck with nothing but a commander and relentless rats. You'll just lose with it. Jul 23, 2021 at 13:17
  • "Can" and "should" are two different questions.
    – ryanyuyu
    Jul 23, 2021 at 15:59
  • @ArcanistLupus to be fair the question does use the word play, and depending on which definition of the word you use, a deck with no lands and no moxes is unplayable.
    – Andrew
    Jul 23, 2021 at 17:04

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