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  1. Rule 0
    The Rules Committee added what they call 'Rule 0' in July, 2019 to help clarify and solidify the format's core philosophy:
    "These are the official rules of Commander. Local groups are welcome to modify them as they see fit. If you’d like an exception to these rules, especially in an unfamiliar environment, please get the approval of the other players before the game begins."
  2. Commander is designed to promote social games of magic.
    It is played in a variety of ways, depending on player preference, but a common vision ties together the global community to help them enjoy a different kind of magic. That vision is predicated on a social contract: an agreement which goes beyond these rules to includes a degree of interactivity between players. Players should aim to interact both during the game and before it begins, discussing with other players what they expect/want from the game.
    House rules or "fair play" exceptions are always encouraged if they result in more fun for the local community.
  3. Players choose a legendary creature as the "Commander" for their deck.
  4. A card's color identity is its color plus the color of any mana symbols in the card's rules text.
    A card's color identity is established before the game begins, and cannot be changed by game effects.
      • Lands whose type includes swamp, island, plains, forest and/or mountain (e.g.: basic lands, shocklands, dual lands, Shadowmoor special-basics, etc) also have the corresponding color identity. As such, they may not appear in a deck unless the Commander is also of the appropriate identity.
      • While hybrid mana symbols may be played with either color mana, they contribute both colors to the card's color identity. Therefore they may only be played with a Commander whose identity includes ALL of the hybrid symbols' colors.
      • Basic land words (swamp, forest, etc) in the text box of a card do NOT represent a colored mana symbol. They are not restricted to a Commander of the same color identity.
      • Reminder text is not included in the color identity of a card.
      • The back face of a double-faced card is included when determining a card's color identity.

    Cards in a deck may not have any colors in their color identity which are not shared with the commander of the deck. (The identity of each card in the deck must be a subset of the Commander's)

  5. A Commander deck must contain exactly 100 cards, including the Commander.
  6. With the exception of basic lands, no two cards in the deck may have the same english name.
    Some cards (e.g. Relentless Rats) may have rules text that overrides this restriction.
  7. Commander is played with vintage legal cards.
    Cards are legal to play with as of their sets' prerelease.
    The following is the official banned list for commander games. These cards should not be played without prior agreement from the other players in the game, and may steer your playgroup to avoid other, similar cards.
      • Ancestral Recall
      • Balance
      • Biorhythm
      • Black Lotus
      • Braids, Cabal Minion
      • Coalition Victory
      • Channel
      • Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
      • Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
      • Fastbond
      • Gifts Ungiven
      • Griselbrand
      • Iona, Shield of Emeria
      • Karakas
      • Leovold, Emissary of Trest
      • Library of Alexandria
      • Limited Resources
      • Mox Sapphire, Ruby, Pearl, Emerald and Jet
      • Panoptic Mirror
      • Paradox Engine
      • Primeval Titan
      • Prophet of Kruphix
      • Recurring Nightmare
      • Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
      • Sway of the Stars
      • Sundering Titan
      • Sylvan Primordial
      • Time Vault
      • Time Walk
      • Tinker
      • Tolarian Academy
      • Trade Secrets
      • Upheaval
      • Worldfire
      • Yawgmoth's Bargain
  8. Players begin the game with 40 life.
  9. Commanders begin the game in the Command Zone.
    While a Commander is in the command zone, it may be cast, subject to the normal timing restrictions for casting creatures. Its owner must pay {2} for each time it was previously cast from the command zone; this is an additional cost.
  10. If a Commander would be put into a library, hand, graveyard or exile from anywhere, its owner may choose to move it to the command zone instead.
  11. Being a Commander is not a characteristic [MTG CR109.3], it is a property of the card and tied directly to the physical card.
    As such, "Commander-ness" cannot be copied or overwritten by continuous effects. The card retains it's commanderness through any status changes, and is still a commander even when controlled by another player.
  12. If a player has been dealt 21 points of combat damage by a particular Commander during the game, that player loses a game.
  13. Commanders are subject to the Legend rule; a player cannot control more than one legend with the same name.
  14. Abilities which bring card(s) you own from outside the game into the game (such as Wishes; Spawnsire of Ulamog; Karn, the Great Creator) do not function in Commander.