Floor and Ceiling

Many commander players find a card they think is powerful and could be fun in their decks. Most times, they usually find that the card doesn’t live up to their expectations. This is a common problem among casuals, having trouble evaluating a card.

This article will be talking about an advanced technique to help you evaluate cards: Floor & Ceiling.

What is Floor & Ceiling?

Floor & Ceiling is a quick description of a technique on how to evaluate cards. It takes quite a while to understand and difficult to master because of one’s own biased opinion.

It is is more focused on evaluating a card based on common and favorable game states.

What is the Floor?

The Floor is the most common thing a card can do by itself. Such as a creature with an effect at the beginning of your upkeep. At it’s core, the most common thing it can do is attack and block as there is no guarantee that it will survive until your next turn..

It is important to consider the most common game state the card will be put into. Not all cards survive a round of the table, or work in every situation.

What is the Ceiling?

The Ceiling is the best thing a card can do in the best case scenario. Sometimes it requires a lot of effort, sometimes not much at all.

Let’s say a card requires you to have cards in hand to increase the effect. It may be a crazy effect when there are more than 7 cards in your hand. This is where you can use your imagination to see what is the best possible scenario you can give the card.

Putting it into Practice

After we have evaluated Floor and Ceiling separately, we need to then check how easy is it to get the Floor to its Ceiling. The closer a Ceiling is to its Floor, the better a card is as you can achieve the best possible outcome more often.

Let’s put this to the test with a few examples.

Example 1 – Bone Splinters


  • Require creature to sacrifice
  • Needs a creature to target
  • Needs a creature to sacrifice


  • Destroy a creature

As you can see, even though the Ceiling is easy to fulfil, a lot is still needed to able to reach the Ceiling. This spell does one thing and one thing well, killing a creature for a low mana cost. If that’s what your after in a card, then this could be a good choice for your deck, even better if you want to sacrifice a creature.

Example 2 – Dockside Extortionist


  • Can block and attack


  • Can generate large amounts of mana to abuse

This card seems to be very hard to reach the Ceiling, but because Commander is a multiplayer format, this lowers the Ceiling immensely for the card as it gets stronger with the more opponents there are, allowing it to easily reach it’s Ceiling most games.

Example 3 – Jeska’s Will


  • Add less than 7 mana OR,
  • Ability to play 3 cards from the top of your deck until the end of the turn.
  • Sorcery speed


  • Add more than 7 mana AND ability to play the top 3 cards of your library until the end of the turn.

This one is tricky to evaluate, as the effect seems easy to get to it’s Ceiling. The problem behind the card is you need your commander in order to enable the Ceiling and have an opponent with large number of cards in hand. Your commander may not be out on the battlefield when you go to play this card or your opponents’ hands may be quite low.

However, if your only after 1 of the effects on the card, you may not need your commander out on the battlefield to get both effects. It all depends on what side/s of the card you want to use.

Final Thoughts

Evaluating cards is a tough process when you go in depth, but it is a necessary evil when we are refining our deck.

The next time you try evaluating a card, try using the Floor & Ceiling technique to define a card’s capabilities and see if it will be a good fit for what you need.


The Commander Skeleton

Commander is one of, if not, the most fun way to play Magic the Gathering these days. Although it can be very daunting for a player to build a commander deck.

Many players trying to break into the format have trouble building their own decks, getting flustered and stressed when going through the process. There is no simple strategy online on how to build a functioning Commander deck, until now.

For years, I’ve been working on a commander skeleton that players can start with as a playable deck. This skeleton follows a simple rule:

35 – 35 – 10 – 10 – 10

I’ve drilled these numbers into my head for years, helping me build new commander decks for both my friends and myself. This rule relates to the 5 sections you should split your commander deck skeleton into:

  • Lands – 35
  • Ramp spells – 10
  • Removal spells -10
  • Draw spells – 10
  • Strategy – 35

Total: 100 cards. Very simple list to follow. This skeleton allows you to play your custom commander deck straight away.

Using this method, you can get in some great games and tune the list to your liking. You may find you need more ramp, or need less removal, and this is what the skeleton is for, to give you a general deck to start playing with.

I will go further into detail about the 5 skeleton points.

Lands – 35

Every deck needs lands to run. Some need a lot, some need very few. A lot of players skimp on their lands as they are usually the most boring part of your deck. The reason why we start off with 35 lands is so we can see how often we get stuck or flooded on land as we test the deck.

Try to use as few lands that come into play tapped. It’s just as bad as missing a land drop in most cases.

Note: A land that does not tap for mana cannot be considered as part of this 35.

Ramp Spells – 10

Commander is a unique format where ramp usually reigns supreme and increases your chances of winning greatly. Because of this, every commander deck needs ways to increase the amount of mana they can produce each turn.

Mana rocks, mana dorks, rampant growth effects and rituals are all powerful ramp effects in the format. Be sure you look into ramp effects under 4 mana so you don’t fall to far behind your opponents.

Removal Spells – 10

A lot of strong decks in commander usually focus a few cards, that when combined, provide a large advantage and win the game, most of the time into a game ending combo. The best way to stop your opponents from achieving this is through removal. Removal counts as any spell or effect that can remove or delay a problem. This can be anything from counter spells, exiling, destroying, or even bouncing.

It is usually best to find removal spells that can hit more than 1 type of card so you can react to a wider range of strategies.

Draw Spells – 10

With all the spells you’ll be playing a game, you will find you are running out of cards in your hand really quick. Keeping a constant flow of cards coming to your hand helps you find answers and ways to progress your board state. You want to look for spells such as cantrips or spells that draw you more than 1 card.

The best kind of draw spells are permanents that can draw you cards constantly over time.

Strategy – 35

This is where you start making your commander deck do it’s thing. You have an idea of what you want your deck to do, so you have 35 cards to work with. Your commander/s are included in this 35.

You can fill in this space with tutors, combos, game changing cards or anything you want your deck to do.

You may also find that cards you are adding may fall into one of the other categories. This is alright because the more consistent your deck, the smoother it will run.

Putting It All Together

This method helps turn complex deck building into a simple practice.

Remember though, this is the start of a deck, not the final result. You can now playtest your own custom commander deck idea and make adjustments as you see fit.

Now that you understand the concept, how easy does this method look to you? Does it make you want to build a deck right now?