Are Sideboards Allowed in Commander? Exploring the Rules and Regulations

Are sideboards allowed in Commander? If you’re a fan of the popular Magic: The Gathering format, you might be asking this question. For those who don’t know, Commander is a multiplayer singleton format where players build 100-card decks around a legendary creature, or “commander”, who is also part of the deck. The format has a unique set of rules, including a restricted list and a ban list for certain cards. But what about sideboards? Are they allowed in Commander, or are they against the rules?

This is a hotly debated topic among Magic players. On one hand, players argue that sideboards are a key component of any competitive format. They allow players to adjust their decks based on their opponents’ strategies, giving them a better chance of winning. On the other hand, some argue that the singleton nature of Commander makes sideboards unnecessary. Because players can only have a single copy of any card, they have to build their decks to be flexible enough to handle a variety of situations. So, are sideboards allowed in Commander? The answer might surprise you.

If you’re a Commander player, you may have already formed an opinion on the matter. Some players swear by sideboards, while others think they’re unnecessary. But the truth is, the official rules of the format don’t actually mention sideboards at all. That’s right – there is no specific rule that says sideboards are allowed or prohibited in Commander. This has led to a lot of confusion and debate among players, with some arguing that sideboards are allowed by default, while others believe they’re prohibited. So, what should you do if you want to play with a sideboard in Commander? The answer is up to you.

Rules and Restrictions in Commander Format

Commander, also known as EDH (Elder Dragon Highlander), is a popular multiplayer Magic: The Gathering format that encourages creativity and emphasizes social interactions. The format has its own set of rules and restrictions that make it distinct from other Magic: The Gathering formats. Sideboards, in particular, are a topic of discussion in the Commander community – are they allowed or not?

  • Commander decks must contain exactly 100 cards, including the commander.
  • Players start with a life total of 40.
  • Decks can only include cards that are legal in the Commander format.
  • Each deck must have a legendary creature as its commander.
  • Players can only have one copy of each non-basic land card in their deck.

The official rules of Commander state that sideboards are not allowed in the format. The reason for this is that the social aspect of the format is a key component, and sideboards can disrupt that social experience. Sideboards are often used in competitive formats to help players adjust their decks to deal with specific strategies or matchups. In Commander, however, the focus is on fun and creativity, not on winning at all costs.

Format Deck Size Starting Life Total Restricted Cards
Commander 100 cards 40 None
Standard 60 cards 20 Not applicable
Modern 60 cards 20 Not applicable

While sideboards are not allowed in Commander, some playgroups might choose to allow them as a house rule. As always, communication is key when playing Commander – it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the rules and restrictions of the format.

Understanding banned and restricted cards in Commander

If you’re new to Commander, you may be wondering what the fuzz is about banned and restricted cards. Commander draws its card pool from all of Magic’s history, which naturally means some cards can be unfun to play against or problematic in the format. The banned and restricted list is to keep cards from warping the format, and it’s crucial to understanding the Commander meta.

  • Banlist:
  • A card on the banlist means it cannot be included in your Commander deck at all. Some of the most notable cards on the Commander banlist include:

    Card Name Reason for Ban
    Emrakul, the Aeons Torn Too powerful as a commander and tends to end the game too quickly.
    Worldfire Leads to uninteractive and unfun gameplay.
    Braids, Cabal Minion Creates an asymmetrical effect that punishes players with creature-light decks.
  • Restriction:
  • Unlike the banlist, a restricted card means you can still include it in your deck, but you can only have one copy. This rule helps balance the power level of some cards that would otherwise be too dominant in the format. Some notable cards on the Commander restriction list include:

    Card Name Reason for Restriction
    Sol Ring A two-mana artifact that can produce two colorless mana on the first turn is too powerful.
    Mana Crypt Too powerful in the early game. The life loss can also be prohibitive for players with more than one copy.
    Demonic Tutor One of the strongest tutors in Magic, it can find any card in your deck. Restricting it brings balance to the format.

Deck construction and the B&R list

The Commander banlist and restriction list should factor into your deck building. While it’s tempting to pack your deck with the most powerful and unrestricted cards available, some cards can lead to an unbalanced and unfun game. Keep in mind that the Commander format is a social format, and your goal should be to have a good time with friends while playing Magic.

Also, be mindful of the local rules and power level of your playgroup. Some groups may have self-imposed restrictions or allow cards that are banned in the wider format due to personal preference or the playstyle. Communication is key, so talk with your playgroup about your deck and the cards you’d like to include.

The Strategic Importance of Sideboards in Magic: The Gathering

If you’re a fan of Magic: The Gathering, you know that sideboards are an essential component of deckbuilding in the competitive scene. In fact, the strategic importance of sideboards cannot be overstated in the context of competitive play. Essentially, sideboards allow players to adapt their deck to better counter their opponent’s specific strategy. Here are three key reasons why sideboards are so important in competitive Magic.

1. Sideboards Allow You to Address Weaknesses in Your Deck

  • Every deck has weaknesses, whether it’s a lack of answers to certain types of threats or a vulnerability to specific game plans. Sideboards allow you to address those weaknesses by swapping out cards that aren’t effective against your opponent’s strategy for ones that are.
  • For example, if you’re running a control deck and you’re facing an aggressive deck that relies on cheap, efficient creatures, you might swap out some of your more expensive removal spells for cheaper ones to better deal with those creatures. Or, if you’re running a creature-based deck and you’re facing a deck with a lot of board wipes, you might bring in some cards that protect your creatures from being destroyed.

2. Sideboards Allow You to Disrupt Your Opponent’s Plan

  • Not only do sideboards allow you to strengthen your own strategy, they also allow you to disrupt your opponent’s plan. By bringing in cards that are particularly effective against your opponent’s game plan, you can throw a wrench in their strategy and force them to adjust on the fly.
  • For example, if you’re facing a combo deck that relies on a specific card or sequence of cards to win, you might bring in cards that disrupt that combo or prevent your opponent from searching for those key pieces. Similarly, if you’re facing a control deck that relies on countermagic and removal spells to win, you might bring in cards that are immune to those effects or that punish your opponent for using them.

3. Sideboards Allow You to Adapt to Your Opponent’s Adjustments

Finally, sideboards are important because they allow you to adapt to your opponent’s own sideboard adjustments. If your opponent brings in cards to counter your strategy, you can respond by bringing in cards that counter theirs. This can lead to a sort of “arms race” where each player tries to out-maneuver the other with their sideboard choices.

Example: Sideboard Card: Target Strategy:
Your Opponent: Rest in Peace A graveyard-based deck
Your Response: Disenchant Rest in Peace
Your Opponent: Damping Sphere A storm-based deck
Your Response: Abrupt Decay Damping Sphere

Ultimately, sideboards add an additional layer of strategy to competitive Magic: The Gathering. By allowing players to adapt their deck to better counter their opponent’s specific strategy, sideboards increase the depth and complexity of the game, making it all the more rewarding for those who dedicate the time and effort to master it.

The Debate on Whether Sideboards Should be Allowed in Commander

Sideboards are an essential aspect of competitive Magic: The Gathering, allowing players to adjust their deck to counter specific strategies or weaknesses of their opponents. However, the use of sideboards in the vibrant and diverse Commander format has been a topic of heated debate within the MTG community.

Here are some of the arguments for and against sideboards in Commander:

  • Pro-Sideboard: For many players, sideboards are an integral part of the strategy and skill-testing aspects of Magic. Removing the ability to sideboard in Commander simplifies the format and could lead to uninteresting and one-dimensional games.
  • Against Sideboard: The casual nature of Commander means that players are often playing fun and thematic decks that are not optimized for competitive play. Adding a sideboard can allow players to include powerful hate cards that can disrupt these decks and spoil the fun for everyone involved.
  • Pro-Sideboard: Sideboards can help balance the format and address problematic cards or strategies. With Commander having such a vast pool of cards to choose from, certain strategies can easily become overpowered and dominant. The addition of a sideboard allows players to prepare for and counter these strategies without having to overhaul their entire deck.

Ultimately, the decision to allow or disallow sideboards in Commander is up to the playgroup. Some groups may enjoy the added strategic depth that sideboards provide, while others may prefer to keep the format focused on fun and creativity. It’s important for players to communicate their preferences and expectations before the game begins to ensure an enjoyable and fair experience for all involved.

Pros Cons
Allows for strategic depth and skill-testing gameplay Can lead to unbalanced and unfun gameplay for casual players
Provides options to counter problematic cards and strategies Can be viewed as too competitive and against the casual nature of Commander

Ultimately, the use of sideboards in Commander is a highly debated topic that likely won’t have a clear answer anytime soon. However, by understanding the arguments for and against sideboards, players can make informed decisions when constructing their decks and engaging in the Commander format.

Adapting your Commander deck to sideboard strategies

Sideboarding isn’t a common practice in Commander, but some playgroups do allow it. Sideboards can be used to adapt your deck to specific matchups or weaknesses. Here are five strategies for adapting your Commander deck to sideboarding:

  • Removal options: Include extra removal spells in your sideboard to deal with specific threats that your deck may struggle against. For example, if your deck has a hard time dealing with enchantments, include some extra enchantment removal in your sideboard.
  • Hate cards: Hate cards are cards that are specifically designed to punish certain strategies or card types. For example, Torpor Orb shuts down enter the battlefield triggers, which can be devastating for decks that rely heavily on these effects. Consider including some hate cards in your sideboard to deal with problematic decks.
  • Alternate win conditions: Include alternate win conditions in your sideboard to catch your opponents off guard. For example, if your deck is primarily focused on creature combat, consider including a few cards that can win the game through other means, such as mill or burn.
  • Counterspells: If your opponent’s deck is heavy on spells, include some counterspells in your sideboard to disrupt their game plan. Just be careful not to dilute your own deck’s strategy too much by including too many counterspells.
  • Mana sources: If your deck is having trouble with mana, consider including some extra mana sources in your sideboard. This could be anything from ramp spells to mana rocks.

Examples of effective sideboards

Here is an example of a sideboard for a green/blue Simic deck:

Card Name Sideboard Reason
Beast Within Extra removal option for troublesome permanents.
Torpor Orb Hate card against decks that rely on enter the battlefield triggers.
Laboratory Maniac Alternate win condition through milling.
Negate Counterspell against opponents’ spells.
Cultivate Extra ramp to fix mana issues.

Remember, not all playgroups allow sideboards in Commander, so be sure to check with your group before you start building one. But if they do, sideboarding can be a powerful tool to help you adapt your deck to specific matchups and overcome weaknesses.

Common sideboard choices in Commander tournaments

Sideboards in Commander tournaments are a bit different compared to other formats like Standard or Modern. In Commander, players have a 100-card singleton deck, and sideboards are allowed with a recommended size of 10 cards. The sideboard is commonly used to switch out cards that are not effective against certain strategies and replace them with more suited cards.

Popular sideboard choices in Commander tournaments

  • Artifact and enchantment removal: Popular choices include cards like Naturalize, Krosan Grip, and Return to Nature. These cards are crucial for dealing with problematic permanents like Sol Ring or Rhystic Study.
  • Board wipes: Cards like Wrath of God, Damnation, and Blasphemous Act can help deal with opponents’ armies and clear the field for your own board presence.
  • Counter spells: Blue decks often include counterspells in their sideboard for additional protection against targeted spells or to prevent game-winning combos.

Sideboarding strategy in Commander tournaments

When deciding what to put in your sideboard for a Commander tournament, it’s important to consider the different archetypes you might face. Aggro, control, and combo decks can present different challenges that require different sideboard choices.

It’s also important to consider the decks and strategies popular in the local meta. For example, if there are a lot of graveyard-focused decks in your meta, it may be wise to include graveyard hate like Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void in your sideboard.

Sample sideboard for a Commander tournament

A sample sideboard for a Commander deck might look like:

Card Name Purpose
Naturalize Artifact and enchantment removal
Anger of the Gods Board wipe
Negate Counter spell
Dispel Counter spell
Rest in Peace Graveyard hate
Bribery Threat theft
Pyroblast Red Elemental Blast
Pithing Needle Ability or planeswalker shut down
Damping Sphere Artifact and spell hate
Beast Within Permanent removal

Of course, the specific cards you choose for your sideboard can vary depending on your commander and playstyle. Experiment with different cards and see what works best for you and your deck!

Alternative ways to approach a Commander deck without sideboards.

Commander is a format of Magic the Gathering where, unlike other formats, players have 100 cards in their deck and only one copy of each card (excluding basic lands). One of the unique rules of Commander is that sideboards are not allowed. A sideboard is a collection of 15 cards that a player can use to swap out in between games in a traditional Magic the Gathering match. However, in Commander, players must build their decks with the understanding that they will not have access to a sideboard. This can be a challenge for some players, so here are some alternative ways to approach a Commander deck without sideboards:

  • Focus on versitility: Building a Commander deck that has enough answers to a variety of threats is key. Without a sideboard, it’s important to have cards in your main deck that can handle different types of strategies that you may face. Cards that have multiple modes or can answer different types of cards are great choices for a Commander deck.
  • Include hate cards: Hate cards are cards that specifically target certain strategies. For example, a card like “Stony Silence” shuts down artifact-based strategies. By including hate cards in your main deck, you can give yourself an advantage against certain types of decks without needing a sideboard.
  • Play card draw: Card draw is essential in any Commander deck, but it can be especially important without access to a sideboard. Card draw allows you to dig for answers to any threats you may face and can help you recover from board wipes or removal spells.

Include versatile cards

One way to build a Commander deck without a sideboard is to focus on versatile cards. Cards that have multiple modes or can answer different types of strategies are great choices. Cards like “Abrupt Decay” and “Krosan Grip” are excellent choices for a Commander deck because they can destroy both artifacts and enchantments. These types of cards are especially valuable because they can help you deal with a variety of different threats and don’t require you to dedicate slots in your deck to specific answers.

Build a well-rounded deck

Another way to approach a Commander deck without a sideboard is to build a well-rounded deck. This means including a variety of answers to different types of threats. For example, if you’re playing against an aggressive deck, you’ll want cards that can deal with small creatures. If you’re playing against a control deck, you’ll want cards that can destroy enchantments and artifacts.

Threats Answers
Creatures Removal spells, board wipes
Artifacts and Enchantments Artifact and enchantment removal spells, counterspells
Combo decks Counterspells, disruption

By building a well-rounded deck, you can increase your chances of having the right answers to different threats.

Include hate cards in your main deck

Hate cards are cards that specifically target certain strategies. By including hate cards in your main deck, you can give yourself an advantage against certain types of decks without needing a sideboard. For example, if you’re playing against a graveyard-based strategy, you can include cards like “Rest in Peace” or “Tormod’s Crypt” to shut down that strategy. Similarly, if you’re playing against a deck that relies heavily on creatures, you can include cards like “Cursed Totem” or “Linvala, Keeper of Silence” to shut down their activated abilities.

FAQs about Are Sideboards Allowed in Commander:

1. What is a sideboard in Magic: The Gathering?
– A sideboard is a collection of additional cards that a player can swap in or out of their deck in between games in a tournament.

2. Is sideboarding allowed in Commander format?
– No, sideboarding is not allowed in Commander format. Players cannot change their deck composition after the first game of a match.

3. Why is sideboarding not allowed in Commander?
– Commander is designed to be a casual and social format, where players can have fun playing with their favorite cards and commander. Allowing sideboarding would make the format too competitive and may discourage new players from joining in.

4. What are some potential problems with allowed sideboarding in Commander?
– Sideboarding would encourage players to include specific cards in their decks that are only useful in certain matchups, which would make the format more homogenous and less diverse. It may also extend games longer, increasing the time needed for a match to finish.

5. Can I still change my deck in between Commander games?
– Yes, players are still allowed to swap out cards in their main deck in between games of a Commander match. However, they cannot use a sideboard to do so.

6. What should I do if my opponent is sideboarding during a Commander match?
– If your opponent is sideboarding during a Commander match, they are breaking the rules of the format. You should remind them that sideboarding is not allowed in Commander and ask them to remove the extra cards from their deck.

7. What other formats allow sideboarding?
– Sideboarding is a common feature of most competitive Magic: The Gathering formats, including Standard, Modern, Legacy, and Vintage.

Closing Thoughts:

Thanks for reading these frequently asked questions about sideboarding in Commander format. Remember, Commander is a fun and casual format designed for players to enjoy their favorite cards and decks without worrying about maximizing their chances of winning. If you have any more questions about Commander or Magic: The Gathering, be sure to come back later for more articles and resources.