Skip to main content

The Official™ Commander Spellbook Style Guide

By The Commander Spellbook Mod Team

(Don't ask why I decided to format this vaguely like a lab report. I felt like it, okay?)

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about this document, ask one of the mods on the Commander Spellbook Discord server.

This document should be considered a constant work-in-progress, and while things that are in the document should be considered accurate, they can be changed at any time as our policies change.

If there is something you feel should be covered by the document that isn't, please let us know so that we at the spellbook can implement whatever needs to be implemented.


General Formatting Rules

Card Names

  • All card names should be written out in full. No abbreviations, nicknames, etc
    • The exception to this rule is legendary card names, where you can truncate everything after the comma. If the legendary card name does not have a comma in it, if the card's most recent printing has the legendary name abbreviated, you can abbreviate it. If it fits neither of those criteria, if it has its whole name spelled out on it, tough luck, spell it out anyway. Otherwise, feel free to ask the mods on discord.

Mana Symbol Order in Prerequisites and Steps

  • When writing costs, always write generic mana symbols first (The exception is the x symbol, which comes before generic symbols).
  • Colorless and mono-colored mana symbols always are listed at the end on a cost, with colorless coming before the colors.
    • For 2 allied colors, the one that comes first in WUBRG order is written first, with G being considered to come before W. (If you do not feel like figuring it out yourself, check how EDHREC has the symbols listed under "Color ID")
    • For 2 enemy colors, the one that would only have to advance 2 positions forward in WUBRG order (rather than 3) comes first (If you do not feel like figuring it out yourself, check how EDHREC has the symbols listed under "Color ID").
    • For 3 colors, the primary color of the wedge/shard (the enemy of both in the wedge, the ally of both in the shard) goes in the middle, and the two colors on the left and right are placed based on where they are positioned in the color pie relative to the primary color. (If you do not feel like figuring it out yourself, check how EDHREC has the symbols listed under "Color ID")
    • For 4 colors, they are listed in WUBRG order starting with the one after the missing color. (If you do not feel like figuring it out yourself, check how EDHREC has the symbols listed under "Color ID")
  • Phyrexian mana symbols are treated the same way as colored mana symbols are, but should be placed before normal colored mana symbols. The notation for it is:
    • (wp magic symbol)   {wp}
    • (up magic symbol)   {up}
    • (bp magic symbol)   {bp}
    • (rp magic symbol)   {rp}
    • (gp magic symbol)   {gp}
  • Energy is not a mana symbol and should not be grouped with mana symbols.
  • All other unmentioned mana symbols should go between the generic and colored mana symbols

Attached, Equipped, Fortified, and Enchanted

  • Attach is the verb, and should be used when an equipment, aura, or fortification is being attached to something
    • An example for an equipment would be "Activate the ~1 equip ability, attaching it to ~2"
    • The verbs equip, enchant, and fortify should not be used to describe attaching something to a permanent or card.
  • Equipped, enchanted, and fortified describe the permanent that has an equipment, aura, or fortification attached to them, respectively.
    • Attached should never be used in these cases

Capitalization

  • Proper nouns (names of people, places, and things) and beginnings of sentences need to be capitalized.
  • Card subtypes must be capitalized, meaning stuff like Aura, Treasure, Locus, and Elf.
    • Note that this does not apply to card types or supertypes. Why? Good question. But if you look at Magic cards, that's how they do things. Presumably, it is because something like "enchantment" is just a word or "basic" is just an adjective, which subtypes are treated as names.

Numbers vs. Numerals

  • Numbers that could be written with a singular English word (like one, or twenty) should be spelled out, while multi-word numbers (like 24) should be written as numerals
    • If it is in a context where a Magic card would use a numeral, such as with +1/+1 counters, disregard the previous rule and write the numerals anyway. If you are not sure, try and find a recently printed Magic card that uses the terminology.

Contractions

  • Don't [sic] use contractions. Like, ever.
  • Cannot [sic] is a contraction. Don't [sic] use it.

Card Names

General

  • All card names should be written out in full. No abbreviations, nicknames, etc.
    • Note that this is different from how they are handled in other sections of the combo, where abbreviations or shortenings are permitted in some cases.
  • Adventure cards should only be listed as the front half of the hard
  • Split cards should be written as "Side 1 // Side 2"
  • Flip Cards (the ones you rotate from Kamigawa) should only be listed as the unflipped "side" of the card
  • Modal DFCs and Transforming DFCs should only be listed as the front face of the card.

Card Name Ordering

  • The least replaceable piece of a combo should be the farthest to the left, becoming more replaceable as you move to the right

Prerequisites

Cards and Zones

  • If all cards are in the same zone, it should be written as "All cards in [zone name]." or in the case of the battlefield "All permanents on the battlefield."
  • If there is one card in a specific zone, it should be written as "[card name] in [zone name]." or in the case of the battlefield "[card name] on the battlefield."
    • For multiple cards in the same zone, it should be written as "[card name], and [card name] in [zone name]." Additional cards can be added to that clause as needed.
  • No cards may begin a combo on the stack.

Prerequisite Ordering

  • What zones the cards you require begin in always comes first.
  • The mana required for the combo always comes last
  • Miscellaneous results go in between; a more defined hierarchy may eventually be defined.

Summoning Sickness

  • When you have a creature on the battlefield that must either attack or use an activated ability, one should say "~ does not have summoning sickness."
  • Noncreature permanents do not suffer from summoning sickness and therefore do not need to mention summoning sickness
    • The exception being when it transitions between the two, in which case, if it becomes a creature, it will need to not have summoning sickness
  • When only using the front side of a card, the back side of the card can be ignored entirely

Steps

Dividing up Steps

  • Each individual action taken by the player should be its own step.
  • Each individual trigger occurring and resolving should also be its own step.
    • When there are multiple triggers triggering at the same time, there should be a step listing all of the triggers that occurred, followed by each trigger being resolved in its own step.

Costs and Effects

  • Steps involving casting spells or activating abilities can be broken into two parts: cost and effect, and the parts should generally be separated by a comma.
    • Activating an ability where the only cost is tapping that permanent works a bit differently. In that case, you merge the cost and effect, saying; "Tap ~1 for {~2}:" or "Tap ~ to …"
  • Some cases may cause things to take place between an effect going onto the stack and the resolution of said effects. See the Delayed Resolution section for more info.
  • Mana payments generally do not need to be written out as part of costs (See the Spending Mana section for more info)

Delayed Resolution

  • Sometimes, you will need to delay the resolution of a trigger, activated ability, or spell that has been cast due to casting spell(s) or activating ability(ies) in response, or trigger(s) going onto the stack.
  • This can be broken down into multiple steps: how to handle referring to the item being put onto the stack, how to handle intervening triggers/actions, and how to handle the resolution of the original effect.
    • When referring to the item being put onto the stack
      • For a trigger, say "~ triggers."
      • For casting a spell, say "Cast ~." Make sure to include any costs that need mentioning.
      • For activating an ability, say "Activate ~." Make sure to include any costs that need mentioning.
    • When referring to the step immediately afterwards
      • For an intervening trigger, nothing special is needed. Just use the standard "~ triggers" and deal with the trigger as normal.
      • For an intervening spell cast or ability activation, say "In response, " then continue resolving the spell or ability activation as normal.
    • When resolving the original effect
      • For a trigger, say "Resolve the ~ trigger, " then continue with the effect of said trigger (If the card name starts with the word "the", instead say "Resolve ~'s trigger")
  • For resolving a spell, say "Resolve ~, " then continue with the effects of the spell as needed.
  • For resolving an activated ability, say "Resolve the ~ ability, " then continue with the effect of said trigger
    • If the card name starts with the word "the", instead say "Resolve ~'s ability"

Adding, Spending, and Not Spending Mana

  • All combos need to say how much mana and what kinds of mana are added when mana is added.
  • Combos that involve the creation of infinite mana via a loop of some kind should state what kinds of mana is being spent and in what quantities said types of mana are being spent.
    • The amount of unspent mana should only be referenced when directly pertinent to the cards involved, such as with Doubling Cube.
  • Combos that spend a finite amount of mana a singular time do not need to say how much mana is being spent, just that the spell is being cast or that the ability is being activated.
  • Mana that is left unspent should be referred to as unspent mana. For example, a step that leaves two black mana unspent should end with "leaving {b}{b} unspent."
    • The mana pool no longer exists and should not be referenced
    • "Floating" mana is a slang term that refers to the same thing, and should not be used.

Repeats

  • When every step within a combo makes up an infinite loop, the last step of the combo should read "repeat".
  • When all but the first number of steps make up an infinite loop, the last step of the combo should read "repeat from step ~"
  • When a certain group of steps need to be repeated that do not fit into either category, the step following the last step in the loop should read "repeat steps ~1 through ~2.

Results

General Results

  • Results should be formatted as they are in the search tips of the website.
    • There are two current exceptions: infinite copies (which we do not do at all) and infinite loot (which we use infinite looting for). Note that at the time you are reading this, these mistakes may have already been corrected.
  • If the result you're looking at is not in the search tips of the website, search the website for another combo that has a similar result and see what was done in that case. Note that there is no guarantee that said combo will be formatted or worded correctly.

Extra Turns

  • Extra turns are considered infinite despite the fact that you eventually deck yourself due to card draw
  • Effects that occur once or twice per extra turn are not considered infinite.
    • For example, playing a land on each of your extra turns is not infinite landfall.

Glossary

Zone Names

  • Battlefield
  • Graveyard
  • Library
  • Hand
  • Exile
  • The command zone
  • The stack
  • The ante zone

Unofficial MTG Terms Used

  • ETB: Enters the battlefield
  • LTB: Leaves the battlefield
  • Loot/ing: Draw a card, then discard a card
  • Rummage/ing: Discard a card, then draw a card