What knowledge about a Commander is public?
Asked by nobu_the_bard 5 years ago
A guy at my venue built a deck featuring Morph and Manifest. I haven't played it, but it generated some confusing discussion about some specifics with how these mechanics operate with regard to Commander.
1> He says, if you somehow end up with a Commander face-down (for example: Ixidron), then which face-down card it is becomes public knowledge. This is because, according to him, even as a face-down creature it deals Commander damage, so this knowledge is necessitated by the rules. I wasn't sure that was right, but I didn't know of anything that contradicted it, so I let it stand.
2> Related to the above: the knowledge of where the Commander is public because he's in a public zone. This knowledge isn't public if he's not in a public zone (hand or library for example). I'm not clear on what is public knowledge if he somehow gets exiled face-down (like with Ignorant Bliss I guess?), a can of worms opened by the above confusion. Also, if he's exiled face-down, does his owner get to choose to send him to the Command Zone?
As an aside, I want to be clear I was under the impression that if cards are put into the graveyard/exile while face down, they are placed in the appropriate zone face-up. Pretty sure this is right but I thought I'd mention it.
Thanks in advance guys!
1) Being designated the Commander of a deck isn't a characteristic, so it isn't overwritten by anything that changes characteristics (like being face-down on the battlefield). The card always has that designation no matter what, so you have to keep track of it when it matters.
2) A card being in a public vs. a private zone determines what kinds of questions a player is required to answer honestly if another player asks. If the card designated as a commander is in a public zone, then its owner can't lie about it. Whether or not this applies to a player exiling his own commander face-down is unclear. I know the EDH/Commander Rules Committee has had several discussions about this topic over the years, but not all of the results are documented in the Comprehensive Rules (which is what I'm most familiar with).
Aside: Cards in graveyards and exile are always face up, unless the effect putting them there specifically says otherwise (currently only possible for exile).
February 9, 2015 2:14 p.m.
I'm currently at work, but I'll pop in to offer that if a card is exiled face down and a player is allowed to look at it, that player must do so. If it's a commander, it must go to the command zone.
If a card is put into the exile zone face down from anywhere, and a player is allowed to look at that card in exile, the player must immediately do so. If it's a commander owned by another player, the player that looked at it turns it face up and puts it into the command zone.
Cards may not be face down in the graveyard. They can be face down in exile only if an effect specifies that they're exiled this way.
February 9, 2015 2:22 p.m.
That's not what the rule says. Notice it specifies "a commander owned by another player". This rule was introduced to soften the power of Praetor's Grasp and any other similar cards. If it's your own commander then you're not required to send it to the command zone if you don't want to.
February 9, 2015 2:37 p.m.
That's some interesting reading, with some direction for me to take for further reading. I appreciate it guys.
I'm going to leave it up a little longer, see if any more input accumulates before I flag an answer. Realistically I'm going to do some research of my own later though.
February 9, 2015 2:48 p.m.
You apply the replacement effect if you control the exile effect, yes, but nobody can apply it for you and it's automatically sent to the command zone if the player exiling it face down is not the one who owns it.
February 9, 2015 3:19 p.m.
Just trying to piggyback on a comment made in the question of still dealing Commander damage even if face down. If a Commander is Manifested in or turned face down (via Ixidron, doesn't it lose all characteristics, including name? I believe that the damage dealt in this state would not be Commander damage since it'd be a 2/2 Creature with no name, sub-type, color etc.?
February 10, 2015 3:59 p.m.
As Rhadamanthus mentioned earlier, being a commander is NOT a characteristic of a card. "Commanderness" can't be copied or overridden. It isn't dependent on the other characteristics of the card. It doesn't go away even if the commander loses some or all of its other characteristics. A morphed or manifested commander would still be identified as a commander and would still deal damage as one.