While Commander’s grassroots origins make it different from many other Magic formats, it still has a ban list like the rest of them. However, since Commander is not a format with tons of tournament data to back up banning certain cards, some players are unsure why certain offenders end up on the list. Today, we’re going to take a look at Coalition Victory and examine its history, why it’s banned in Commander and whether it would be safe to take it off the list.
Coalition Victory only has a single effect — it wins you the game! Obviously that’s the strongest effect in Magic, but to get there you have to jump through some pretty serious hoops. Not only do you have to pay eight total mana (including one mana of each color), you also have to control a land with every basic land type and a creature of each color. This means the card is effectively blank until you meet those requirements.
Why is Coalition Victory Banned in Commander?
Coalition Victory was banned in Commander way back in 2007, only a few years after the format’s ban list was born. In these very early days for the format, the rationale was that an “instant win” card was anticlimactic. The progenitors of the format wanted games to end the traditional way — with players going to 0 life as a result of damage.
It makes sense that Coalition Victory got banned when it did. After all, winning with Coalition Victory in Commander is far easier than it is in other formats. After all, you can only play it in a deck with a five-color Commander.
This means you can fulfill the “Creature of each color” condition by simply casting your Commander, which you have access to in virtually every game. Generating a ton of mana and getting the right lands in play is also achievable, though it does take some time and effort.
Should Coalition Victory be Unbanned?
I think it should be. While it made sense to ban it in 2007, its presence on the banlist is a relic of a bygone era. The game has changed significantly over the last sixteen years. While achieving the win condition is easier in Commander than in most formats, you do have to generate a ton of mana and build out your board correctly.
That isn’t something other Commander players are going to sit around and allow. Today, the combo is also very easy to disrupt — and it isn’t just blue decks that can deal with it on the stack, either. If one of the players at the table can respond to Coalition Victory by removing one of the permanents that is helping you meet the conditions, Coalition Victory doesn’t do anything when it resolves.
With all that in mind, Coalition Victory is now an acceptable win condition for Commander. The argument that Coalition Victory is banned because it can end the game out of nowhere doesn’t stand up to very much scrutiny. Every other alternate win condition is legal in Commander. If Approach of the Second Sun, Revel in Riches and Test of Endurance are legal, why not Coalition Victory?
Today, Commander also features a ton of prominent two-card combos that can win the game out of nowhere. If we’re going to say instant-win effects aren’t fun in the format and shouldn’t be allowed, those shouldn’t be allowed either.
Some of these even feel like one card combos, like casting Tooth and Nail to grab a couple of creatures that win the game on the spot. Interacting with and disrupting these combos is certainly possible, but the same is true of Coalition Victory.
I don’t think any of these things should be removed from Commander. They all take enough effort and time that they don’t feel too powerful or anticlimactic. Personally, I think Commander is a far better format when there are multiple paths to victory. Including Coalition Victory.
What do you think? Am I wrong? Should Coalition Victory remain banned? You can hit me up on Twitter with your take, along with suggestions for cards you’d like to see me address in the future.
Jacob has been playing Magic for the better part of 24 years, and he especially loves playing Magic’s Limited formats. He also holds a PhD in history from the University of Oklahoma. In 2015, he started his YouTube channel, “Nizzahon Magic,” where he combines his interests with many videos covering Magic’s competitive history. When he’s not playing Magic or making Magic content, he can be found teaching college-level history courses or caring for a menagerie of pets with his wife.