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In a Commander game, if my commander would be exiled, I can put it in the command zone instead. And Release to the Wind has the effect

Exile target nonland permanent. For as long as that card remains exiled, its owner may cast it without paying its mana cost.

So, if that spell hits my commander, and I choose to put it into the command zone instead of exile, then if I later cast it without paying its mana cost, do I still have to pay the commander tax?

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    I'm quite confused... how can you cast it from the command zone without paying its mana cost? The card states that you can only do this "as long as that card remains exiled". If it's in the command zone, it isn't exiled is it? – GendoIkari Feb 16 '18 at 6:49
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"Exiled", when used as a state, means "in the exile zone", so the continuous effect created by Release to the Wind only last for as long as the card it exiled is in the exile zone. Since the commander never even entered the exile zone in this case, the continuous effect doesn't do anything at all.

611.2b Some continuous effects generated by the resolution of a spell or ability have durations worded “for as long as . . . .” If the “for as long as” duration never starts, or it ends before the moment the effect would first be applied, the effect does nothing. It doesn’t start and immediately stop again, and it doesn’t last forever.

If something did allow your commander to be cast from the command zone for an alternative cost, you would still have to pay the "commander tax" because the tax is an additional cost, and additional costs must still be payed when using an alternative cost instead of the mana cost.

total cost to cast
= mana cost or alternative cost
+ cost increases and additional costs
- cost decreases

The casting will also count towards the "commander tax" in future castings because the tax simply counts how many times it was cast from the command zone. For what cost it was cast is irrelevant.

903.8. A player may cast a commander he or she owns from the command zone. A commander cast from the command zone costs an additional {2} for each previous time the player casting it has cast it from the command zone that game.

I would take something that moves the commander out of the zone (such as Command Beacon) to avoid the the "commander tax".

  • Note that effects that take the commander from the command zone without casting it (like command beacon) doesn't increase the tax for next time. – Arthur Feb 16 '18 at 9:25
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    The fact that the question was asked by murgatroid99 made me doubt myself; thinking that I must be missing something... had it been another user asking; I would have posted this answer myself! – GendoIkari Feb 16 '18 at 14:32

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