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.

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