I've heard mention that the MTGCommander rules committee maintain the rules for Commander, not Wizards. The comprehensive rules simply mentions that they maintain "additional resources", not that they maintain the rules.

There is an inconsistency between the two's rules defining color identity. MTGCommander states:

3. A card's colour identity is its colour plus the colour of any mana symbols in the card's rules text. A card's colour identity is established before the game begins, and cannot be changed by game effects.

The comprehensive rules say:

903.4. The Commander variant uses color identity to determine what cards can be in a deck with a certain commander. The color identity of a card is the color or colors of any mana symbols in that card’s mana cost or rules text, plus any colors defined by its characteristic-defining abilities (see rule 604.3) or color indicator (see rule 204).

According to the former, Blisterpod has a colorless color identity, because it has no colored symbols in its rules text to add to its color (which is none, due to devoid). According to the latter, the color identity is green, because you check each section for color, not the card as a whole.

The fact that there's a difference means we need to decide which one takes precedence. The comprehensive rules refer to the "independent rules committee" of MTGCommander, giving them some rules credibility. MTGCommander says "These are the official rules for Commander."

How should such inconsistencies be resolved/who actually controls the Commander rules?

  • Isn't the mana cost part of the rules text?
    – xornob
    Mar 20, 2017 at 13:15
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    @xornob The rules text is the text frame beneath the image. The mana cost of the card itself is not part of that area. Mar 20, 2017 at 13:38
  • @doppelgreener Ok, I didn't know and it seemed possible
    – xornob
    Mar 20, 2017 at 21:14
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    Tabak, the MtG rules manager said devoid doesn't change color identity for Commander, siding with the comprehensive rules wording.
    – CyberClaw
    Mar 23, 2017 at 13:01
  • @CyberClaw Yes, but Tabak is the WotC rules manager, so he's tied to the comprehensive rules, rather than providing evidence that WotC maintains more authority over the rules than the Commander committee.
    – Samthere
    Mar 23, 2017 at 13:18

2 Answers 2


How to Resolve Inconsistencies

First, try to determine whether there are actually any inconsitancies. For example, the mtgcommander.net forums have their very own thread discussing the matter of Devoid specifically. The most concise explanation seems to be the one from Carthain:

(...) Colour Identity is the culmination of colours + colours of mana symbols on the card. It's a purely additive situation, you can't "lose" or "undo" adding a colour to a card's colour identity.

Devoid says that a card is colourless. It it's a characteristic defining ability that sets a colour (colourless is not a colour); it's not any of the mana symbols that define a colour; it's not a colour indicator on the card; Therefore, it doesn't have any impact on the colour identity of the card.

Sheldon Menery writes:

Color and color identity are two different (but related) things. Colorless-ness is not part of either.

Therefore, Blisterpod is colorless and has a green color identity, according to both sets of rules.

This being only a single case, it raises the question whether one set of rules does generally take precedence over the other, and which one does. So...

Which Rules are the "Official" Rules?

In an effort to solve this question better than with a guess, I decided to take the time and write something up that explains the historical events as well as their implications as best as I'm able to. Because there's no set-in-stone answer to be found anywhere, I encourage you to read through all of it, even though I have my own conclusion all the way on the bottom.

The EDH Era

Without going too much into historical matters here, this article will tell you a whole lot about the history of the format. In any case, the format has existed under the name EDH long before WotC took it up as Commander, and dragonhighlander.net (now mtgcommander.net) is the original web page where the rules were first made available online in order to reach a greater audience.

This doesn't really help answering the question directly, however it disproves the first paragraph in CyberClaw's answer, which states that mtgcommander.net is meant merely as a "short quick explanation without any kind of deep rule (or care on their wording)."

The Commander Era

WotC eventually incorporated the format into their franchise by announcing the first Commander set along with the name change from EDH to Commander, and the respective WotC announcement mentions several important factors to the question at hand:

(...) we recognize the importance of keeping the format as player-run, even after we produce products that officially endorse it. To that end, we worked closely with Sheldon Menery and the rest of the EDH Rules Committee (we're lucky to have one of them, Scott Larabee, in house) to make sure our product adhered to their rules and stayed true to their spirit.

And further down in the article (emphasis theirs):

And finally ...

Wizards of the Coast and the DCI are not "taking over" the format! We will not be managing the rules or the banned list of the Commander format, instead leaving it in the capable hands of Sheldon Menery and his rules team. They deserve all the credit for this format's popularity and we don't want to mess with a good thing!

Conclusion & Implications

WotC still considers the Commander Rules Commitee as the maintainers of the rules, as evidenced rather clearly in the aforementioned sources directly from WotC. I haven't been able to find any evidence disputing what was said in those articles, or a change of mind at a later point in time.

The Commander Rules Commitee is in charge of maintaining the rules and the ban list and therefore the technically official source for rules, while WotC is incorporating those rules into the CR in a way suiting the style of the rest of the document, and likely being more precise as a result of that, making the CR the source probably best suited to resolve rule questions.
They aren't meant to be functionally different though, and if there were differences, they would likely be mistakes and the Commander Rules Commitee rules would have to take precedence (which has happened before, as acknowledged in an announcement about former rule 903.4 about color identity).

Knowing all of the above, keep in mind that Commander is a social format - in the end, what your player group wants to play should decide which cards you're allowed to include in your deck, whether it's a Blisterpod in an otherwise colorless deck, or a Spell Counter (just maybe keep some alternative cards around, should you meet a group who does not like the idea).

This means that ultimately, your playgroup is the final authority on each and every rule.

  • 1
    Another possibly relevant quote from Carthain in that forum thread: "This site is the "front lines" & main/direct source for all things Commander (other than offshoots such as 1v1) -- but that doesn't mean that the rules presented on the front page are written in rules-legalese". This implies that the site is in fact not intended to be the comprehensive reference for precise rulings.
    – murgatroid99
    Mar 22, 2017 at 19:17
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    Ah! Quite a thorough discussion of the issue, with the kind of references I was hoping to find - WotC announcing that MTGCommander is in charge of the rules. Interesting to see the relevant comments over time.
    – Samthere
    Mar 23, 2017 at 11:22
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    @Samthere: Yep, I knew most of the rough circumstances before, but reading about it in detail and collecting reliable sources was most interesting, even if it took a few hours getting everything together... glad you apprechiate it :) Mar 23, 2017 at 11:48
  • @TheThirdMan You did not really answer the question btw. If there is a Commander tournament, the source of rules must be either one or the other, and house owner chooses doesn't fly there. EDH is a social "house rules" game mode. But when Wizards brought EDH to MTG (and the digital games) with Commander they specified the jargon and rules, as now it was an endorsed mode. If the rules predate and are maintained by that website, then, there is no reason for Wizards to include different but more specific wording with slightly different meaning in the comprehensive rules and then link the website.
    – CyberClaw
    Mar 23, 2017 at 12:38
  • @murgatroid99, that's the definite feel I got from all the years I played EDH and Commander. Heck, the source for rulings is the Gatherer, maintained by Wizards as well. This includes cards that have Commander specific abilities, like Akiri, Line-Slinger. If Wizards is not the final word for commander rules, what would that make of their gatherer rulings pertaining commander?
    – CyberClaw
    Mar 23, 2017 at 12:45

The rules are set by the comprehensive rules. MTGCommander website is meant as a short quick explanation without any kind of deep rule (or care on their wording). They only maintain the ban-list.

The example you provided Blisterpod is not colorless, because devoid doesn't affect the color identity. It only affects the card color which is a separate element. Tabak, the rules manager, said so himself on 2 occasions:

Devoid makes a card colorless, but it doesn't change its color identity for Commander. Black card with devoid = black decks only.


So, just to make it clear, Tabak, MtG rules manager, said devoid doesn't affect the color identity, siding with the comprehensive rules.

  • 1
    The "in any case" is wrong. Given the rule wording from MTGCommander, Blisterpod's color identity would be colorless.
    – GendoIkari
    Mar 20, 2017 at 14:05
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    Yeah I just edited it to make it sound better. Color identity is not based on card color, the MTGCommander just uses it as a shorthand explanation I guess.
    – CyberClaw
    Mar 20, 2017 at 14:17
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    They also mention that "a rules committee maintains additional resources at MTGCommander.net" in rule 903.1. Why would they mention that if those rules were intended to be ignored?
    – Rainbolt
    Mar 20, 2017 at 15:13
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    @Rainbolt I'm pretty sure rule 900.1 just means that the rules in section 900 are not a "comprehensive" description of all casual game variants and that it should not be interpreted as restricting the variants players can apply in casual games.
    – murgatroid99
    Mar 20, 2017 at 16:12
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    It doesn't make sense to handle discrepancies between the comp rules and MTGCommander on a "case by case basis". There's no logical reason to say "for this rule, the comp rules win, and for that rule, MTGCommander wins". For any reasonable consistency in rulings, you have to choose one that consistently overrides the other.
    – murgatroid99
    Mar 20, 2017 at 18:32

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