How the ‘Commander tax’ works in EDH/Commander.

Once more, I get the Commander question, and I’m fine with that. Commander is a popular format with Judges, largely because of the fact that it doesn’t rotate, and that the decks can be personalized a good deal. Many judges will haul a deck or five with them to a tournament, knowing that there’s likely to be quite a few judges to play with. So what is the “Commander Tax”, and how does it work?

One thing that sets Commander apart from other formats is, well, the Commander. A legendary creature that begins the game in an untouchable zone known as the Command Zone, from which you can summon it freely. But to keep the game somewhat sane, you have to pay a little more each time it gets sent back to the Command Zone thanks to being removed. This extra 2 mana per casting is called the “Commander Tax” by many players.

How the commander works is simple: Any time your Commander would be put into your graveyard or exile from anywhere, you may choose to instead put it back in the Command zone for future casting. But to balance this, we have the Commander Tax: each time you cast it from the Command Zone, it ticks up the little ‘tax counter’ one more time.

In short, the Commander Tax says that you must pay an additional 2 mana, of any color, for each time you’ve previously cast your commander from the command zone. This additional cost applies any time you cast your commander from the command zone, but not if you’re casting it from your hand.

So, say you’re playing Thraximundar. You drop Thrax for 4UBR. If he dies, you can play him again, but this time for 6UBR. A second death allows a third casting, for 8UBR. The ‘tax’ doesn’t increase the converted mana cost, it’s just an additional cost. So say you have a Thrax that’s died 5 times, and you play Rooftop Storm. You can pay 0 rather than the normal 4UBR for Thrax, but that doesn’t get you out of the tax. So if you want to cast Thrax for a sixth try, even with Rooftop Storm, it’ll cost you 10 colorless mana.

Today’s Rules Tip written by
Trevor Nuñez, Level 1 judge from Roswell, NM

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