Chaos Warp and Commanders

Welcome back to Commander Week here at the Rules Tips Blog! Today’s our last day of Commander Week- first thing Monday morning, we’ll begin covering the new and returning Guild mechanics of Ravnica Allegiance to help everyone prepare for the Prerelease next weekend, so tune in for that! With that, let’s dive right into the Chaos.

Chaos Warp is a card from the original Commander decks that debuted in 2011, and is a classic Red solution to a problem: it might give you an entirely new problem, but it solved the first one! Chaos Warp forces a permanent’s controller to shuffle it into their library, then flip the top card of their library over. If it’s a permanent, that card is going straight onto the battlefield. You run the risk of turning their irritating enchantment into a back-breaking creature, sure- but you also might turn their huge rampaging Demon into a dinky little 2-mana utility creature. Or a land. Or nothing! If Chaos Warp flips over an Instant or Sorcery, it just stays on top of the library. So, how does this work with Commanders, specifically? It debuted alongside the change from “EDH” to “Commander”, so surely it was designed with the format in mind!

Well, spoilers: It was. Back in 2011, Chaos Warp was a very powerful answer for Commanders, because in 2011 the ‘tuck rule’ was still in effect. You could send your Commander off to the Command Zone if they would go to the graveyard or to exile from anywhere, but that option ONLY existed for those two zones. If someone threw your Commander into your library, that’s where it was going- you couldn’t shunt it off to the Command Zone instead. “Tucking” was the most long-term way to deal with a Commander, and Chaos Warp was a way for red decks to ‘tuck’ troubling Commanders. So you’d shuffle the Commander in and flip over the top card, same as anything else. But a while back, that rule was changed. Nowadays, you can use that little Command Zone detour for the library or hand as well as for exile and the graveyard, so if someone throws a Condemn or Spin into Myth at your Commander, you don’t have to lose them to the depths of your library unless you want to. But where does that leave Chaos Warp?

First off, flipping over the top card isn’t reliant on a card getting shuffled in. There’s no “if you do”, just “Then do this”, so you’ll still do the “flip over the top card and maybe cheat it into play” portion of the spell. But do you still shuffle? You do! Rule 701.19c from the Comprehensive Rules tells us that if an effect wants to shuffle a specific object into a library, but that card ends up somewhere else (because of, say, a replacement effect…) the card goes where it’s “supposed” to (in this case, the Command Zone), but the library is still shuffled. So you don’t get to goozle things by putting your best beater on top of your library and then Chaos Warping your Commander! The Chaos demands shuffles!

Thank you for sticking with us through Commander Week, and we hope to see you on Monday for the start of Ravnica Allegiance Prerelease Primer Week!

Today’s Rules Tip was written by Trevor Nunez

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