New Commander format idea: Best Friends

The Kitchen Table forum

Posted on Jan. 16, 2018, 3:58 p.m. by chadsansing

Best Friends


In this friendly tournament format, each pod settles in for 3 games and uses a points system (to be decided locally, but like Commander Vs.) to determine the winner (and places) after all 3 games.

Deck construction

Each deck has 2 Commanders that must share the same color identity. One is a Legendary Creature. The other is a Planeswalker. Unless they are partnered, they replace one another in the deck.

Each Commander must be otherwise legal in the format and allowed by the playgroup. Apart from allowing Planeswalker Commanders, the format uses normal Commander rules and the Rule Committee's banned list.

Tournament Structure

Game 1 is played with the Legendary Creature Commander.

Game 2 is played with the Planeswalker Commander.

Game 3 is played with both as if they were partnered Commanders.

Naming convention

Each deck is named using the following convention: "[Creature's given name] & [Walker's given name], Best Friends."



What seems cool or fun about the format? What seems broken or not fun? Are there Commanders or combinations that you would definitely play or definitely ban from your playgroup? How would you change the format to improve it?

All feedback warmly welcomed.

Boza says... #2

  1. If your legendary and your planeswalker have different ways to bolster your 99, you have will have an inefficient deck. If they do similar things, why would you want to have basically duplicate commanders?

  2. Layering 3 commander games, which is already a lot, with a points system and changing commanders is too much. Game 2 and 3 are played with the exact same 99 cards and you switch out 1 each. Game 3 sounds especially tiring.

  3. Multiplayer, almost-winners and tournaments in general do not mix. Tournament structures that Magic has are binary - one winner, all others are losers.

  4. Planeswalkers as commanders are unexciting at best.

January 17, 2018 7:35 a.m.

Epidilius says... #3

Ultimately, I don't think swapping commanders for a deck will impact its play style. If I am running a mono blue control/combo deck, switching between Kaho, Minamo Historian and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage commanders doesn't change how I play.

I also agree with the time duration Boza brings up. I regularly play 4 player games, and they usually go for an hour or two each. Playing for 3-6 hours with the same deck just doesn't sound fun.

January 17, 2018 8:22 a.m.

chadsansing says... #4

I think part of the idea is to look for complements, not identical or near-identical effects, and the structure is meant to be for a low-stakes tournament style of play, like a day-long mini-league. I wouldn't sit down to play this every night, but it would be a cool way to kill a day or to play commander with more structure than pods alongside a tournament in another format.

The challenge is to find complementary, exciting creature-walker combos that inflect decks differently, but in mutually beneficial ways.

I agree that this is bad for duplicating commander effects and every-day play, but I think it could be fun way to engage with EDH at, say, a Modern tournament, with some mindful exploration of the format and synergies - finding some unintended partnered commanders, if you will.

Thanks for the feedback!

January 17, 2018 9:02 a.m.

Epidilius says... #5

If you are looking to spice things up, one thing my group is randomize decks. We take everyone's generals, shuffle them, and lay them out in a grid, then roll two dice (usually two d8, we have a lot of decks) to determine who gets what deck.

Unless someone wants to test out a new deck, this is how we always play.

January 17, 2018 9:37 a.m.

Boza says... #6

Ok, but I do not get it - the USP here is that you have a Creature/Walker combo at the helm. Yet it is only in the third game that you get to experience it. What is the point of games 1 and 2?

Also, it does not add up at all - the point system has absolutely nothing to do with the main idea of commander combos and is actively stifling it - either commanders are important for points you get, making the system too dependant on deckbuilding, or the commanders do not take part in the points system and are not-so-major factor of the main game, which is points.

Final issue - planeswalkers in commander are rarely impactful. I would always rather have any other legendary instead of a walker. They are incredibly inefficient with commander tax and after they die for the first or second time, it is not worth it to bring them back ever again, as their impact is negligable in multiplayer.

Final final issue - making up a new format and seeing how people approach it is not an exclusive feature to this creation. It is a thing that happens in every new format, so I would not list it as a benefit.

January 17, 2018 9:49 a.m.

chadsansing says... #7

Boza, thanks for the thoughtful reply. I appreciate your many points and criticisms.

I hope there's a flexibility in local groups deciding their own point structures that makes both commanders relevant. The point system is a way to highlight what the group values here while rewarding play decisions that come from players other than the winner of a single game. Maybe it would be good to share a method for developing a local points system on GitHub or something.

There's room in my local scene - and I suspect in the entire format - for play that isn't as binary as what seems to be of concern here. I'm not sure the points system, as described, is specific enough to encourage or discourage specific kinds of deck-building or specific play decisions. A feature of the format is that local groups or TOs create the system that incentivizes what they'd like to see in this format or Commander in general.

I think the order of the games and the commanders used in each are certainly wide open for criticism and experimentation. The idea behind this progression was to play 1 game with each Commander in case some players' creatures are just better than others' walkers, or visa versa, and to limit any broken partnered combos to 1 game.

I'm not sure walkers are rarely impactful in multiplayer. In my experience, when played intentionally, they work as well as any other impactful card. They draw cards, pump creatures, untap permanents, eat removal, and tempo players just like anything else, but they also have several modes and the possibility of recurring. They suck just as bad as anything else when you're tapped out and just playing on-curve to play on-curve right into a counter spell or removal. Commander is context; walkers can't be bad, in general, any more than any other card type.

The point here is the point of Commander: take joy in finding those connections and synergies you didn't expect to find, and add walkers to the pool of allowed commanders to experience this feeling more. Someone might disagree with my assessment of Commander here, but that doesn't provide evidence for or against this format.

To put it another way: Exploring a new format is a feature of every new format, so why not list it as a benefit of all new formats?

I'm just not sure the absolute nature of your arguments plays out across the common Commander experience and I would warmly invite you to suggest specific improvements to the format, to test it, or to test one of those decks provided as examples.

Epidilius, that is a righteous suggestion, and one I've wanted to build a Modern league around for a few years now. I think that kind of randomization encourages brewing in decks and kindness in games. I love it. Nice call. We'll have to try it after we see what happens with our own decks (just so we don't hand people the bad kind of jank right off the bat).

January 17, 2018 10:43 a.m.

Epidilius says... #8

Random works better than you'd think. We have a pretty varied power level (everything from werewolf tribal to a Kalia deck), and found that the multiplayer aspect helps balance everything out. I highly recommend it.

Getting an untested random Rare tribal deck is tons of fun.

January 17, 2018 12:34 p.m.

chadsansing says... #9

+1, @Epidilius.

January 17, 2018 1:17 p.m.

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