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The Creator of One of Magic: The Gathering's Most Popular Formats Has Died

Sheldon Menery, the architect behind one of Magic's most successful modes of play, "Commander," has passed away after battling cancer.

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Sheldon Menery, former TCG journalist and the architect behind Magic: The Gathering’s multiplayer “Commander” format, has passed away after an extended battle with throat cancer.

Polygon reports that Menery’s wife, Gretchyn Melde, shared the news of his passing on Facebook this morning. An ardent Magic fan and former longtime judge on the game’s professional competition series, Magic Pro League, Menery created and popularized the multiplayer Commander format, growing it into one of Magic’s most widely played formats alongside official support from Wizards of the Coast. Magic was created as a strictly two-player game, but Commander—itself a variation and development of the casual “Elder Dragon Highlander” format—transformed the game with a way to have as many as six or more players play together, using oversized 100-card decks, led by a unique hero card that serves as the deck’s “commander.”


Menery eventually helped establish the Commander Rules Committee, which he remained a member of until his death, as well as the Commander Advisory Group, guiding the format and advising Wizards of the Coast on rules changes and ideas as Commander grew and grew in popularity—with Menery leading the vanguard on the groups’ aims to champion Commander as a casual, social experience to bring players into the world of Magic. But it wouldn’t be until 2021 that Menery actually worked on Magic in an official capacity, joining the Wizards R&D team for the series of Commander decks that released alongside the Strixhaven: School of Mages set.

“Sheldon’s loss will be deeply felt by all those who knew him, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and the entire Magic community,” Wizards of the Coast said in a statement provided to Polygon. “Sheldon is a legend who will be remembered for many years to come and whose legacy will live on through countless players.”


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