Planeswalkers as commanders

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With the release of Commander 2014, we now have ten new generals to play with in EDH, five of which are Planeswalkers. This fact shouldn’t have eluded anyone even remotely interested in the format, but it begs the question: why aren’t all Planeswalkers eligible to become commanders? They are certainly legendary enough, which suffices for creatures, they’re flavourful and they’re quite popular. In fact, many EDH groups are already playing with Planeswalkers as commanders, so why shouldn’t all? Why is the “[…]can be your commander” text needed on the cards?

I honestly believe there are several reasons for this matter. The most obvious one is the historical precedence legendary creatures has – but then again, the rule was changed from “Elder Dragons can be your general” to “any legendary creature can be your commander” – changing it again doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. On the other hand, the format has grown a lot since that particular rule was changed. Secondly, I think that Wizards of the Coast has too much respect for the format and its fans to just change a thing like that. The Commander 2014 products were designed together with the Commander rules committee, i.e. not employees of Wizards, meaning they already take in the fans’ opinions on the format a lot. To simply up and change something that fundamental to the format might be something Wizards is frankly scared to do.

That said, I’d love to see any Planeswalker legal as a commander. Theyjace,themindsculptor.hq‘re generally more durable than most creature commanders available, in som ways, simply because EDH is a format of sweepers and removal in all shapes and sizes. On the other hand, they can be attacked, and since the format is also quite heavy on creatures, they probably won’t live too long. Further, some Planeswalkers, most notably Jace, the Mind Sculptor tend to take over regular games of Magic if they hit a stalled or empty board, but since EDH is a multiplayer format at heart, many of these Planeswalkers become much more balanced. I know that some play the format heads-up, especially with the French Commander banlist, but to me, the format is supposed to be played with 3-5 players. Though on the other hand, cards like Tezzeret the Seeker or Liliana Vess comes with built-in tutoring, which is really powerful in the format, and a commander like Tezzeret might be very problematic. Even cards like Sorin Markov are hailed as really powerful in the format, and thus might be too oppressive as commanders.

The latest episode of Five Commanders deals with this issue, and I feel I’ve been hive-minded, since I started writing this draft before the episode went live. It has a lot of interesting takes on the subject at hand.

What do you think, dear reader? Is your group playing with Planeswalkers as commanders?

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3 Comments

  1. Grim Lavamancer

     /  December 11, 2014

    I’m really torn on this one. On one hand, sure. Planeswalkers even use the Legendary rule and all. On the other hand, it doesn’t really feel right, and I’m not quite sure about the new planeswalker generals either (I mean, their cool cards and all, but I don’t really like that they can be your commander), the balance issue isn’t really a problem for me, sure they’re harder to kill but they’re not likely to kill you with commander damage.

    My main issue with planeswalker generals is in fact the flavor of it. Sure, it may be a weak point, but you’re supposed to on equal footing with the other planeswalkers, and their cards sort of represents Jace or someone else owing you a favor, showing up for a few rounds, casting some spells and then heading out to do his own stuff. Having someone like Freyalice as the commander of your forces is a bit like writing a fan fiction about Lord of the Rings, and having your author avatar be Gandalf’s mentor – It’s just not cool. I know, I know there’s a lot of things that doesn’t make sense flavor wise, but you gotta draw the line somewhere, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • “Where does it all end?!” and “Won’t somebody *please* think of the children?” where two of my main counter-points that I didn’t cover. 🙂

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  2. psykopatmullvad

     /  December 14, 2014

    We need to be allowed to have Tibalt as a commander, so he can do something more than collect dust in a corner.

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