Building a Commander deck in Magic: the Gathering can be intimidating. A 100-card deck consisting of almost entirely unique cards takes time and effort to figure out.
One of the trickiest things is figuring out your ratio. How many lands should you have? What about creatures, sorceries, instants, or enchantments?
In this brief MTG Commander deck ratio guide, we’ll be discussing that in addition to a few other basic Commander-related questions. Let’s jump right into it…
A Basic MTG Commander Deck Ratio
Any deck in MTG, including Commander decks, can be broken down into two halves: your mana base and all other cards. In Commander, you also have your Commander card, but that’s a given. We won’t be discussing that aspect – just how the rest of your deck should look.
Lands and Mana Base
Building a solid mana base is one of the hardest parts of constructing a Commander deck. The more colors you add to the deck, the harder it gets.
As a rule of thumb, though, start with aiming for around 37 lands. Of course, this can vary from deck to deck, as some require more mana than others to play.
For example, a card with a high mana curve, such as a dragon tribal deck, will need more mana. On the other hand, a white weenie deck (one that uses lots of small white creatures), often can run on less mana.
What if you’re playing a multi-color deck? How many of each land type should you put in?
The best way to figure that out is to divide all your colored cards and lay them out into separate piles where you can see them. This will show you which colors dominate. If you notice, for instance, that you have twice as many red cards as you have green cards, you can safely assume you need more red than green mana.
Once you’ve gotten a basic mana base put together, you’re still not done. You’ll need to play test the deck a few times to see if you’re consistently drawing as much mana as you need to play. You may even discover that you draw too much mana. After a couple test runs, adjust your lands accordingly, whether it’s adding more or subtracting some.
All Other Cards
The other part of your deck is going to be non-land cards. Assuming you’re starting with 37 lands, you’ll want 63 other cards including your Commander.
This is even trickier than building a mana base. Determining how many creatures, enchantments, sorceries, instants, artifacts, or planeswalkers you should have depends entirely on the strategy you’re going for.
You should have a Commander picked by now. With a Commander in mind, you can check out how other people build their decks around that same Commander for a general idea of how you’re going to build yours. One of the best resources out there for this is EDHREC, which is a Commander website with tons of decks for you to view sorted into various categories.
Even when you have a working idea of your deck, including lands and other cards, though, you need to play test it. Playing a few practice games will tell you if you need to add carts of a specific kind or if other cards aren’t seeming necessary and need to be removed.
Read Also: Best MTG Commander Board Wipes
Commander Deck Ratio FAQs
What Commanders are banned?
Commander is an eternal format, which means that most sets from Magic’s history are eligible for play. It would be unfair, however, for every single card to be playable in a Commander deck for a number of reasons, whether they’re overly powerful or they use outdated mechanics.
Here is the current list of legendary cards that cannot be Commanders:
- Braids, Cabal Minion
- Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
- Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
- Iona, Shield of Emeria
- Leovald, Emissary of Trest
- Lutri, the Spellchaser
- Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
This list is liable to change with time. Keep track of it on the official Wizards of the Coast banned list.
Can you have two Commanders?
Generally, you can’t have two commanders. One thing to keep in mind with Magic: the Gathering, though, is that there is almost always an exception to the rule, and that includes this one.
If you have a Commander with the Partner trait, it can be Commander alongside of another Commander with the Partner trait. Thus, you can effectively have two Commanders, provided both have Partner. Be sure to read the text carefully, though, as some Commanders can only be partnered with a specific creature as opposed to just any other card that says Partner.
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How many planeswalkers are allowed in a commander deck?
You can technically have as many planeswalker cards as you want in a Commander deck. The only real stipulation here is that you only have one of each planeswalker; you typically can’t have multiples of a particular card unless there’s text on the card saying otherwise.
In fact, there’s a whole archetype built around having as many planeswalkers as possible in a deck. This type of deck is called a “superfriends” deck. A popular Commander for such a deck is Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice, pictured above.
You can dive deeper into the topic of planeswalkers in our list of MTG sets that have planeswalkers.
Building a Commander deck can seem incredibly daunting at first. Given the size of the decks, it’s natural to be a little nervous, but trust us when we say it only seems that way at the beginning. Once you get going, it gets easier as you progress in the construction.
If you ever get lost, there are tons of resources online for you to access.