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Mark Rosewater says MTG Commander is always political

MTG head designer Mark Rosewater says that Magic: The Gathering's Commander format is always political, as players can always influence each other.

magic the gathering commander mark rosewater: artwork of a face with blind eyes, covered in flowers.

Did you know that Magic: The Gathering head designer Mark Rosewater doesn’t like Commander? Wizards of the Coast is making more and more content for the multiplayer format these days, and its latest offering, D&D crossover set Battle for Baldur’s Gate, is right around the corner. But though EDH has captured the hearts of Magic fans worldwide, MTG’s head designer says it’s not for him.

The reason for this is simple: MTG Commander is too political. Rosewater often remarks that he’s not a fan of the wheeling and dealing diplomacy that’s always a part of EDH games. In a recent discussion with a fan, who said the head designer was “missing out” and that their playgroup ran the format “fairly”, without politicking, Rosewater was doubtful. He reasoned that diplomacy was fundamental to the gameplay of the format. The conversation was posted to Rosewater’s Tumblr blog on Tuesday.

“If your opponents are able to suggest what you should do, it’s political,” Rosewater argued. He claimed that the only way to run an EDH game without politics was to implement house rules which dictate exactly who each player must attack. But if “players have the ability to talk to each other to influence how their opponents choose to play”, by the head designer’s definition, that’s political.

In his post on Tuesday, Rosewater was keen to point out that Magic: The Gathering offers different strokes for different folks. He said that while it is not the format for him, he’s “super happy that Commander exists as it allows so many people to play Magic in a way that’s meaningful to them.”

magic the gathering commander mark rosewater, a tusked, ape like creature peering through branches.

So don’t worry, EDH players, the head designer’s probably not about to crush your precious format just yet. In his post Rosewater wrote, “I spend a lot of time, while creating Magic, making design decisions to make players happy that appreciate different aspects of the game, and that includes Commander.”

Are you just dipping your toes into MTG Commander? This guide will teach you how to build a Commander deck. If you’re an EDH aficionado already, consider taking your game to the next level with one of the best MTG commanders.