Topic: Commander (also known as EDH) Intro and List of Staples

For those of you who are newcomers to the Commander format, here is a new, improved sticky that will give you a brief overview of the format, lists of generals, and a short list of some staples that are frequently found in Commander decks.  More information on the format can also be found at  You can also find additional details on Wizards' site at … -commander

General Overview:

Commander (or EDH as it is sometimes called) is an alternative way of playing Magic the Gathering that is designed to promote social play while utilizing a variety of cards and combos that otherwise do not see any sort of competitive play.  The rules depart from standard competitive magic in a number of ways.  Most notably, each player must identify a legendary creature to serve as their "General" or "Commander."  This creature is then set aside in The Command Zone to be cast at any point by the player (once they have the sufficient mana to do so).  Players' decks then consist of 99 cards that are limited to the colors included in the casting cost of their General, with all cards other than non-basic lands being limited to only one copy per deck.  Thus, a Commander deck can have 20 mountains, but can only contain one Fireball.  Every player starts with a total of 40 life points, as opposed to the usual 20, and is considered dead when that total has been reduced to zero.  An alternative way to kill an opponent is to deal 21 points of combat damage from your General.  In addition to these methods, other alternative win conditions are treated as in a normal game of Magic (milling, Epic Struggle, Felidar Sovereign, etc.).  More specifics regarding the rules can be found at

Typically Commander is played in group settings with three or four players but can include even higher numbers.  The primary goal of Commander, as a social format, is for people to HAVE FUN.  As such, Commander players will often make sub-optimal plays or otherwise act in a political fashion so as not to upset or annoy the other players until a clear path to victory emerges (it's also not a good idea to tick people off unless you want to turn the entire table and all the other players against you).  This opens the door for longer games, high CMC creatures and spells, and many strange interactions that, under normal circumstances, would not be possible.  For instance, cards like Avacyn, Angel of Hope or Enter the Infinite will commonly see play despite the fact they will rarely ever see any competitive play in normal Magic.

Deck Construction:

Commander does not limit players to any particular subset of sets or blocks for play.  A player's choice of commander and the subsequent 99 cards can be drawn from any set and can include just about any card, with some notable exceptions.  The current list of banned cards includes:

Ancestral Recall
Black Lotus
Braids, Cabal Minion
Chaos Orb
Coalition Victory
Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Erayo, Soratami Ascendant
Gifts Ungiven
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
Library of Alexandria
Limited Resources
Lutri, the Spellchaser
Mox Emerald
Mox Jet
Mox Pearl
Mox Ruby
Mox Sapphire
Panoptic Mirror
Paradox Engine
Primeval Titan
Prophet of Kruphix
Recurring Nightmare
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Sundering Titan
Sway of the Stars
Sylvan Primordial
Time Vault
Time Walk
Tolarian Academy
Trade Secrets
Yawgmoth's Bargain

Beyond these lists, players are free to choose whatever cards they like for their decks, so long as they adhere to the color restrictions imposed by their generals.  This restriction requires that any/all mana symbols on a given card must be within the colors in the casting cost of the general.  For example, if your general is Kemba, Kha Regent, your deck CANNOT use Lingering Souls as it has a black mana symbol on the card for the flashback cost.  However, if the deck uses Teysa, Orzhov Scion as its general, then Lingering Souls is fair game.  Colorless cards may be included in any deck, regardless of the general's color designations; however, if a colorless general is selected, the player may not use colored cards in their deck.  If in doubt, ask about the legality of a card's use.

When beginning to build an Commander deck the best place to start is usually to identify your preferred general and then build around the general's abilities.  However, some players will identify particular combinations of cards and then simply pick the general that allows the use of the necessary colors.  In either event, the selection of a general is critical to the success of the deck.  As such, I provide links to Deckbox searches for generals for each color combination.

Monocolored Generals

White -!47bGVnZW5k!7a1
Blue -!47bGVnZW5k!7a2
Black -!47bGVnZW5k!7a3
Red -!47bGVnZW5k!7a4
Green -!47bGVnZW5k!7a5
Colorless -!47bGVnZW5k!7a6

Two-Colored Generals

White - Blue (aka Azorius) - … ZW5k!7a1.2
White - Black (aka Orzhov) - … ZW5k!7a1.3
White - Red (aka Boros) - … ZW5k!7a1.4
White - Green (aka Selesnya) - … ZW5k!7a1.5
Blue - Black (aka Dimir) - … ZW5k!7a2.3
Blue - Red (aka Izzet) - … ZW5k!7a2.4
Blue - Green (aka Simic) - … ZW5k!7a2.5
Black - Red (aka Rakdos) - … ZW5k!7a3.4
Black - Green (aka Golgari) - … ZW5k!7a3.5
Green - Red (aka Gruul) - … ZW5k!7a4.5

Three-Colored Generals

I will leave these out for the time being but can upload links if necessary.  For interested parties, search using Deckbox's Card Database and use the following filters:

Type: Creature
Subtype: Legend
Color: (exclusively all of) and the colors you like.

Staple Cards:

The previous sticky on this topic included a lengthy list of "staple" cards that really broke down into just a lengthy list of cards that one might want to consider for their deck; hardly staple cards that most EDH decks use.  In reality, there are only a few cards that are really staples.  The following is a list of cards that one should seriously consider when building an Commander deck - but keep in mind that they are by no means required or even recommended, if they don't fit the deck or if you don't have them, so what?  Remember, the idea is to HAVE FUN with this format.

Command Tower
Reliquary Tower
Shock lands
Duals (in any form from Revised Duals to Innistrad or Mirrodin Duals)
Original Ravnica Bouncelands
Really any sort of fixing or utility land

Sol Ring
Arcane Signet

Beyond these few cards, there really aren't "staple" cards that need to be included in an Commander deck.  Each case will be different and the cards you include will be dependent on your general, preferred play-style, other combos in the deck, or even the other people you will be playing with (if you choose to play politics).


I am aware this has been a lengthy post, but if you're new to the format, every little bit helps.  For curious parties, I cannot urge you enough to please visit for more specifics regarding the rules of the game.  We will also answer questions that arise with this sticky.  Otherwise, pick a general, and get building!  Remember, the most important part of this format is to HAVE FUN!

Re: Commander (also known as EDH) Intro and List of Staples

Sylvan Primordial is now also banned in EDH.

Last edited by Chaim (2014-05-15 22:27:50)

In general, I am blunt and to the point. I apologize in advance if I appear mean or rude.

I am the Community Admin for the CSUN Magic Players Community. I also sometimes help people with technical issues.
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Re: Commander (also known as EDH) Intro and List of Staples

Found a very thorough guide for EDH lands thought it looks like it hasn't been updated for a while.

This list is good for utility lands specifically.

Re: Commander (also known as EDH) Intro and List of Staples

Banlist has been updated, it's now one list, and Metalworker and Kokusho aren't on it.

Re: Commander (also known as EDH) Intro and List of Staples

HI, Protean Hulk is now unbanned from EDH

Re: Commander (also known as EDH) Intro and List of Staples

Can you or someone guide me to where i can trade with people that belong to Deckbox? Thank you!!!

Re: Commander (also known as EDH) Intro and List of Staples

Can you or someone guide me to where i can trade with people that belong to Deckbox? Thank you!!!