All posts by Gavin Duggan

Gavin’s Format-of-the-Month – February 2020: Junior Dragon Highlander

I’m going to start this series with an easy one that I know works well… “JDH”. A common way to mix up Commander games is to restrict the cardpool to provide fewer “obviously correct” choices and more room for interesting deckbuilding. Brawl is one popular version of this, but tries to serve too many masters, and the rotating nature isn’t for everyone… to build in just 4-6 sets, it was necessary to loosen the restrictions drastically.

Whether you’re trying to keep yourself in check (vs a playgroup that maybe isn’t on your level, yet), or inviting an entire playgroup to build with the same rules, the easiest way to restrict your cardpool is based on the year a card was printed. Most cards list their year of printing at the bottom, and most deck building sites can filter by set easily.

Choosing a year is up to you, but three versions which work well are:

Mercadian Masques and later: Taking away Urza’s Block and earlier removes a lot of the most broken, degenerate cards in the format. There’s lots of goodies in later sets, but they’re usually not as obvious as [Sol Ring], [Demonic Tutor] and [Swords to Plowshares]. The year 2000 was arguably the point at which R&D really started to figure out how to balance magic card design.

Mirrodin or later: This cutoff is easy to identify because of the change in card frame, and rules out another four years with a lot of Commander staples which you sometimes feel you “have to” include.

Modern or Pioneer Commander: One downside to setting your “cutoff” somewhere in the recent past is that other constructed formats often have more impact on card availability. That said, if you’re more familiar with the more recent sets, there’s lots of goodies in the last 5-10 years of magic and building within those constraints can feel really good.

Finally, if you really want to be hardcore, you can take it even further and play Block-Commander. Think of it as Brawl-with-a-Tardis: you can build a commander deck with ANY legendary creature, but all the other cards have to come from a single 24-month period in Magic’s history.

Have you ever built a deck with a year-based restriction? What was it, and how did it work out?

January 2020 Rules Update

With a busy year in the books, we open 2020 all quiet on the B&R front.

The format continues to grow in all its forms, but there’s been a lot of good discussion about ways to improve and capitalize on opportunities. With the introduction of Commander-focused premier events, the number of games played outside local playgroups is rising. Similarly, more games are being played between friends, in stores and homes, than ever before.

In terms of cards, there were no consensus threats to players’ enjoyment and we’re not making any changes at this time. We continue to emphasize the importance of pre-game discussions as an important part of finding enjoyable games.

Oh, and we’re releasing a new website.

In addition to hosting the rules, banned list, and leadership contact information, members of the rules committee will be posting regular content here. The new site also aims to help players find interesting content about the format, from across the web.

The RC would like to thank Andrew “Shoe” Lee for his assistance with site construction and coding. To provide feedback on the site, message Gavin.