How Background works in Magic: The Gathering Commander

Here's a guide to the mechanic Background within the Commander format.

Image via WotC

Partner in Magic: The Gathering Commander has a new look in Battle for Baldur’s Gate via Background, placing legendary creatures and Enchantments within the command zone.

The Background mechanic, first introduced via Commander Legends: Battle or Baldur’s Gate (CLB), is a variation of the Partner mechanic. First seen in the Commander 2016 set, Partner allowed for two legendary creatures to get placed in the command zone if each had the Partner mechanic. Both commanders were treated individually and the total deck size was 98 cards plus the two legendary commanders with Partner. 

Why MTG Partner and Background were designed for Commander

Commander Legends sets are designed to get Drafted, similar to Standard-legal Magic sets while keeping Commander rules. Drafting in Commander can cause color identity problems when building a deck since the deck can’t contain any colors that aren’t represented by your commander. 

Partner in the first Commander Legends set alleviated some of the color issues via 40 monocolored legendary creatures and planeswalkers with the Partner mechanic. The Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate has the MTG mechanic Background, pairing monocolored legendary creatures with monocolored legendary Enchantments to alleviate color identity issues in Draft and Sealed. 

How Background Enchantment cards work

Similar to Partner, both the legendary creature and Enchantment with Background take up a spot in the command zone and are treated independently. Both legendary creatures and Enchantments are monocolored, allowing a player in CLB Draft to build a deck around two possible colors despite having a monocolored legendary creature as the commander. Unlike Partner, the legendary Enchantments with Background were designed to directly support a commander. 

Master Chef, for example, is a legendary Enchantment with Background that buffs the commander by having it enter the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter while also granting your commander the ability to have all other creatures you control that enter the battlefield gain a +1/+1 counter as well. 

Legendary Enchantment Backgrounds can only get paired with a legendary creature in the command zone if that creature has Background. But the Background Enchantments can support any commander within the Commander format as a normal Enchantment that is included in the deck, allowing players to have multiple legendary Enchantment Backgrounds in a deck, along with one in the command zone if the commander has Background.

How does Faceless One work in Baulder’s Gate Draft?

Faceless One is a colorless legendary creature and an Enchantment that has Background. The legendary has a cost of five colorless mana to cast and can act as either a legendary creature that is a commander or a legendary Enchantment Background that supports the commander. 

Faceless One

Other than its 3/3 baseline stats, Faceless One offers players a choice of color before the start of a game. Unlike all the other cards within the CLB set, players do not need to Draft Faceless One to add it to their deck. It can only get paired in the command zone, however, with another Background eligible card. 

Faceless One is essentially a fail-safe legendary creature and Enchantment Background that can provide a color needed to craft your Limited deck. If a player has chosen Lulu, Loyal Hollyphant as their commander during a Baulder’s Gate Draft and wants to run Black as their second color, they will need a legendary Enchantment Background. 

But what if that player never sees a Black legendary Enchantment Background in their Draft? That player can add Faceless One instead and choose the color Black, allowing them to craft a deck in the colors White and Black. 

All images via WotC.