Why is Commander More Popular Than Standard?

Magic: The Gathering, also known as MTG, is a famous card game that lots of people enjoy. There are different ways to play this game, but we want to talk about two of them: Commander and Standard. These are special ways to play MTG, and people like them. However, recently, Commander has become more popular than Standard. Let’s find out why!


Why is Commander More Popular Than Standard?

Definition of Commander

First, let’s quickly explain what Commander and Standard are. Commander is a fun and social way to play MTG. In Commander, you make a deck of 100 cards, and you choose one special card called the “Commander.” This Commander card decides the colours and style of your deck. On the other hand, Standard is a more serious way to play. In Standard, you can only use the newest cards in the game, and these cards change over time.

History of Commander and Standard

Now, let’s talk about the history of Commander and Standard. Commander started in the early 2000s when fans wanted a relaxed and social way to play MTG. It wasn’t something official, but people loved it. They made special rules and decks for it. Standard, on the other hand, has been around since the beginning of MTG. It’s the main way to play the game in big tournaments.

Key Differences Between Commander and Standard

Let’s look at the main differences between Commander and Standard in Magic: The Gathering:

Deck Size:

    • Commander: Your Commander deck must have 100 cards, including your Commander. You can only have one copy of each card, except for basic lands.
    • Standard: In Standard, your deck should have 60 cards, and you can have no more than four copies of each card, except for basic lands.

Commander (Leader) Card:

    • Commander: In Commander, you pick a legendary creature card as your Commander. It stays in a special zone at the beginning of the game. You can cast it from there during the game, and it decides the colours you can use in your deck.
    • Standard: Standard doesn’t have Commander cards. Decks are built around themes or strategies without a special Commander.

Colour Identity:

    • Commander: Every Commander has specific colours based on the symbols in its cost and rules. This limits the colours of mana symbols in your deck.
    • Standard: In Standard, you can use any combination of colors, as long as the cards are legal in the format and follow the four-copy rule (except for basic lands).

Legal Card Sets:

    • Commander: Commander includes cards from all sets in Vintage (except for some banned ones). This gives you lots of choices for building your deck.
    • Standard: Standard only includes the most recent sets from Wizards of the Coast. Older sets rotate out, and new ones come in, making the game change over time.

Banned and Restricted Cards:

    • Commander: The Commander has its list of banned cards. Some cards are banned or restricted because they’re too powerful.
    • Standard: Standard also has a list of banned cards. These are cards that could make the game unfair or unbalanced.

Multiplayer vs. 1-vs-1:

    • Commander: Commander games are usually played with three to four players, making it a multiplayer game.
    • Standard: Standard games are often played one-on-one, where one player competes against another.

Game Duration:

    • Commander: Commander games can be long and big because you start with 40 lives and play with multiple people.
    • Standard: Standard games are quicker and more focused, starting with 20 life.

In a nutshell, Commander is all about multiplayer fun, big card choices, and unique Commanders. Standard is more about changing sets, focused deck-building, and intense one-on-one competition. You can choose the format that suits your style best!

Also Read: What is the best way to shuffle a Commander deck?

Why Commander Format Is So Cool

Commander is a super fun way to play Magic: The Gathering, and here’s why people love it:

  1. Creative Deck Building: In Commander, you get to make a big deck with 100 cards, and you can only have one copy of each card (except for basic lands). This means you can be super creative and try out all kinds of cards, making your deck unique.
  2. Multiplayer Fun: Commander games usually have three or four players. That means you can make alliances, talk strategy, and even make deals with your friends during the game. It’s not just about the cards; it’s also about the social fun!
  3. Never the Same Game Twice: Because of the one-copy rule, you hardly ever see the same decks in Commander. Each game feels fresh and exciting as you discover new combos and strategies. It’s like an ever-changing adventure.

Why Standard Format Has Its Perks

Standard is pretty cool too, and here’s why:

  1. Balanced and Ever-Changing: Standard keeps things balanced by rotating cards out regularly. That means no one deck can be super overpowered for too long. If you like adapting your strategies and facing new challenges, Standard is the way to go.
  2. Always Something New: With cards coming in and out of Standard all the time, you’re constantly exploring new cards and ways to build your decks. It’s like a puzzle that keeps changing, so you never get bored.

Comparing Players and Tournaments

Commander is getting more and more popular, and you can see it by how many people are playing. Lots of folks are joining in at game stores, casual groups, and online communities. It’s a friendly and lively community. Standard is still popular too, but some events have fewer players because more folks are loving the social fun of Commander.

Favorite Commanders and Top Standard Decks

The best Commanders and top Standard decks can change over time with new cards and strategies. But here are some examples of what people liked:

  • In Commander, it’s all about those unique commanders that catch people’s attention.
  • In Standard, the top decks can change as new cards are released, the meta shifts and the game gets balanced.

Here’s a summary of popular Commanders in the Commander format and top Standard decks as of August 2023:

Popular Commanders in Commander Format:

  1. Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice: Atraxa is well-liked for her ability to add counters to various things like creatures and planeswalkers.
  2. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim: Golos is favoured for his free card to play from the top of the library.
  3. The First Sliver: This Commander leads Sliver tribal decks and can cast multiple Slivers in one turn.
  4. Muldrotha, the Gravetide: Muldrotha lets you play cards from your graveyard, creating cool graveyard-based strategies.
  5. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King: Korvold thrives on sacrificing stuff and drawing cards.

Top Standard Decks (as of August 2023):

  1. Sultai Ultimatum: A control deck with “Emergent Ultimatum” as a key card.
  2. Mono-White Aggro: A fast deck with low-cost creatures to rush opponents.
  3. Temur Adventures: A deck centred around creatures with instant and sorcery adventures.
  4. Jeskai Cycling: A deck that uses cycling cards to control the game.
  5. Rakdos Sacrifice: A deck built around sacrificing creatures for benefits.

Both Commander and Standard have their critics. Some people think Commander games can be shorter because of multiplayer, while others find Standard’s constant card rotations expensive. But Commander’s social and creative play is making it more popular, and Standard remains a competitive option for those who like structured tournaments and a changing game.

Criticisms of Both Formats

Both Commander and Standard formats have some criticisms:

Commander Criticisms:

  • Short Games: Some players think Commander games can be short because of lots of players.

Standard Criticisms:

  • Cards Change Too Much: Standard changes cards a lot, which can be expensive and hard to keep up with.


In the end, Commander is getting more popular because it’s fun to play with friends, lets you be creative, and has cool Commander cards. Standard is still good for competitive players who like tournaments and want the game to change often. Both formats are great for different reasons, and it’s up to you which one you like more!


Q: Is Commander a beginner-friendly format?

A: Commander can be enjoyed by players of all experience levels, but it may require some familiarity with the game’s mechanics.

Q: How often does Standard rotate its card sets?

A: Standard rotates once a year, usually coinciding with the release of the fall expansion set.

Q: Are there any banned cards in Commander?

A: The Commander format lists banned cards to maintain balance and fairness.

Q: Can I use my Commander deck in Standard tournaments?

A: No, Commander decks are not legal in Standard tournaments due to deck size and card legality differences.

Q: Which format has a more competitive scene – Commander or Standard?

A: While both formats have competitive scenes, Standard focuses more on structured tournaments. Commander is known for its casual and social gameplay.