I built me a Commander deck for Athreos, God of Passage. I did some searching for ways to get card draw (because I was running out of cards) and one of the card I looked at was Yawgmoth's Bargain.

I am always careful to check to make sure that the card I want to play is legal. So I loaded the "Sets and Legality" tab for Yawgmoth's Bargain. Since it is listed as legal for Commander, I bought the card and have been happily playing it in my Commander games.

Well, tonight I was browsing around and got to the Commander banned list (MtgCommander and Wizards). To my surprise I saw Yawgmoth's Bargain on the banned list.

Frustrated that I had missed this I went back to the "Sets and Legality" page on Gatherer to double check. As you can guess, the card is listed as "Legal" for Commander.

So, which one wins? A ban list on a web page, or the Gatherer card database?

NOTE: I am happy to get opinions on this. But what I really want is a rule to says which one is the authoritative source of legality. (Without a rule, we are all just giving opinions right?)

  • 1
    I always thought it was common knowledge that Gatherer is not the authoritative reference for banned/restricted lists, but I've never actually seen an explicit statement indicating that. At least it's not in the comprehensive rules or the Magic tournament rules... beyond that, what sort of source would you consider authoritative? (see also this)
    – David Z
    Jun 10, 2014 at 8:02

3 Answers 3


MTGCommander.net is the authoritative reference for all things commander.

Says who?

First, a little history.

According to this article, Adam Staley created the format. He shared it with Sheldon Menery, a retired Level 5 Judge, who popularized the format by inviting judges at tournaments to play. Over the next few years, the format spread from judges to the common player.

Gavin Duggan, who is a member of the Commander Rules committee along with Sheldon Menery, is also the creator of MTGCommander.net. When the rules committee bans a card, it shows up there first.

Wizards of the Coast catches on

But they wanted to avoid using the trademarked "Highlander" in the name (which could lead to a lawsuit), and so Wizards changed the name to "Commander". Wizards maintains the Gatherer and their own banned list for MTGO. Their list links to MTGCommander in the opening paragraph!

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We like rules

If that wasn't convincing enough, there is actually a rule that acknowledges MTGCommander as the source of "additional resources" (emphasis mine):

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.

  • 6
    @ikegami; I find that to be a very unconvincing argument. I could go and put "This is the official page for MTG Commander rules" on my personal website right now; that wouldn't make it true. Also, Gatherer is the official webpage for MTG Oracle wording, which means that players will give a lot of weight to what it says on anything about MTG.
    – GendoIkari
    Jun 10, 2014 at 18:07
  • @Rusher - The addition of the rule is what tips it for me. Since the rules don't (to my knowledge) indicate anything about banned cards, a rule saying to go check that site and that site says it runs the ban list, well that is enough. Still I agree with Gndolkari. The oracle for card text is on the gather website. To have it be the source of truth for some card attributes and not for other card attributes seems ... odd at best.
    – Vaccano
    Jun 10, 2014 at 21:53
  • @Vaccano I think they fully intend for it to be authoritative by proxy (it's a copy of the authoritative list, not something they made up), they just failed to copy properly, and they'll fix it eventually.
    – Cascabel
    Jun 11, 2014 at 0:31
  • @ikegami How about we settle for this: Anyone who wants to "believe the page" can vote for your answer. Anyone who wants "circumstantial evidence" from a level 5 judge, a nod from the MTGO ban list, and the rule book can vote for mine.
    – Rainbolt
    Jun 11, 2014 at 14:01
  • You didn't mention any level 5 judge saying mtgcommander is official. There's no nod from the MTGO to the ban list. In fact, the MTGO ban list implies the MTGO list can be different than the EDH one. "Is based on" is very very different than "is a reflection of". The rule book doesn't mention anything about ban lists of any format. Why would they vote for your answer if they could vote for an answer that had these things you claim??? Unfortunately, they don't exist. If your answer was strong, you shouldn't have to lie about what's in it!
    – ikegami
    Jun 11, 2014 at 14:35

Neither. "The official banned list for commander games" is found on the EDH site, and it includes Yawgmoth's Bargain. Commander is just a reflection of EDH.

From the looks of it, DCI does not run Commander/EDH tournaments (since it doesn't have a ban list for it), but "Banned / Restricted Lists for DCI-Sanctioned Magic: The Gathering Tournaments" lists Yawgmoth's Bargain as banned in MTGO Commander games.

  • 2
    So what is listed on Gatherer is never authoritative? How can you know that? Is there a rule that says that the Gatherer page does not win when there is a conflict? I get you don't think it can be any more definitive, but to me I see two pages (both on the Wizards site). One says it is legal, and one says it is not. How am I to know which one to believe?
    – Vaccano
    Jun 10, 2014 at 4:00
  • Legal? Because the Gather site says it is: gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/…
    – Vaccano
    Jun 10, 2014 at 4:03
  • Well, It seems to me that the Gather is a web page purporting to show how the game works on the Wizards site. It seems it would be just as authoritative as the ban list unless there is a rule that lists one as more valid than the other.
    – Vaccano
    Jun 10, 2014 at 4:06
  • 5
    Surely the Commander legality on Gatherer is intended to mirror the official list though? Seems like it might just be an oversight - though Sway of the Stars and Sylvan Primordial have the same issue.
    – Cascabel
    Jun 10, 2014 at 4:59
  • 1
    @Jefromi, Of course it is suppose to be in sync. I have already reported the discrepancy.
    – ikegami
    Jun 10, 2014 at 12:51


Commander I see.

It depends on your play group then.

If you really wanna check the legality, I always look at magiccards.info. It's pretty reliable for me.

UPDATE : It seems that I need to make some clarification for these downvotes :

I also mentioned a site which is reliable for me to decide legality of cards in a certain format. Which I believe, refer to the gatherer itself.

mtgcommander rules is also made based on community / certain play group. Bear that in mind before downvoting.

And, to asker, isn't it obvious that you need to "obey" the rules of the house above anything since WotC is the maker of the game? Everything else is subjective and community-made rules.

  • 4
    He's obviously not asking about the rules used by his playgroup but the official ones.
    – ikegami
    Jun 10, 2014 at 15:40
  • You obviously didn't read the magiccards.info part of my post. Jun 10, 2014 at 19:10
  • No, I just didn't mention that it's wrong. And your update is making things worse. 1st para: Magiccards.info does not get its ban list from Gatherer, as you can see by looking at the very card being discussed. 2nd para: Doesn't seem to be saying anything. 3rd para: Actually, as obvious as you think it might be, it's wrong. WotC defers to mtgcommander.net for Commander.
    – ikegami
    Jun 10, 2014 at 19:26
  • 5
    The question is about authoritative lists, not house rules, and magiccards.info is not the authoritative list, though I assume it's a copy of it. (If it is it's out of date though. It says Sylvan Primordial is legal.) The downvotes are quite simply because people think you're wrong, and missing the point of the question.
    – Cascabel
    Jun 10, 2014 at 19:54

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