Opinion: Commander Hybrid Should Stay Limited – "Magic: The Gathering"

For years, Magic: The Gathering has been not just a card game, but a conversation. I'm all for using this analogy because it lends itself to discussion and in time, the big discussion. And, as it stands, this conversation has had a large handful of big-ticket controversies within the design of the game (not to mention discourse regarding other topics outside of design).

Opinion: Commander Hybrid Should Stay Limited - "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

The hot-button item for Magic: The Gathering's Commander format this past week was the debate over whether or not hybrid-costing cards should be allowed in decks that do not use one of the colors of the said hybrid card. I am of the opinion that hybrid costs ought to remain as they are – that is, stuck only within the colors the cards have.

Magic Head Designer Mark Rosewater recently devised a number of polls a few weeks ago asking players on Twitter about what their favorite proposed changes to Commander would be. The hybrid question did come up and seemed rather popular. Mark then recorded an episode of his "Drive to Work" podcast, a podcast where he speaks on design issues and inspirations. The debate re-sparked after this was released a few days ago, driving Commander players into a bit of a frenzy. Some feared that hybrid cards leaking into monocolored decks would not be good for the philosophy of the format, while others believe that as an inevitability there needs to be justification before that point.

Commander Advisory Group member Shivam Bhatt, for example, has firmly spoken on Twitter against Mark's stance on the subject. Shivam's own stance focuses on the philosophy of Commander, speaking towards mental and visual aesthetics.

This is valid. Playing a white/black hybrid card in a deck like Odric, Lunarch Marshal (a monowhite deck) is weird because of how Odric is a selfless hero and would never channel black magic to protect his plane of Innistrad, as Shivam used as a specific example in a later tweet.

Opinion: Commander Hybrid Should Stay Limited - "Magic: The Gathering"
Source: Wizards of the Coast

And I'm inclined to agree!

To elaborate on my tweet, mechanically Commander ought to allow hybrid mana in mono-color decks, but the thing is that something is lost on the aesthetic, "fun" factors of the game. It makes sense for a commander like Sygg, River Guide to run Sygg, River Cutthroat as a Merfolk in his deck, even considering they're the same character or for Chainer, Nightmare Adept to play Covetous Urge after having stolen the Mirari in the novels. But these are corner cases; most uses of hybrid (among such playable cards) will be more competitively-minded. And with an increase in consistency, there's generally a loss of gimmicks, or pet cards, or even flavor.

Opinion: Commander Hybrid Should Stay Limited - "Magic: The Gathering"
So shiny…! Source: Wizards of the Coast

What are your thoughts on hybrid mana in Commander? Would adding the rule to allow them in a mono-color deck be a mistake? Or would it be good for the format? Let us know!

About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.