FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – THE SLIPPERY SLOPE

Hello, readers! This week’s article will focus on something even I’m still learning – getting your friends into the EDH / Commander format.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I by no means haven’t clued into the fact that Commander isn’t a format for everyone (The word “casual” being synonymous with it definitely doesn’t help its cause when looking at players who play Magic as a means to an end). However, I will shamelessly admit my bias towards the format since I started playing it more than 3 years ago. It has its ups and downs, but when you get down to it, it really is a healthy, layered format that has elements that attract casual and competitive card sharks alike.

Before I go any further, I want to highlight my benefactors not once, but twice! For any of you looking for a place to play EDH, the CG Realm hosts a weekly EDH league on Wednesdays at 6:00. Entry is $2, and for those who have heard our reputation – no, the days of Charlotte and I tag-team counterspelling tables out is long over. (The allure of permission-based control hasn’t been lost on Char, but I’m moving to tapout-style and favoring decks with less linear decision-making; though I am building a deck with some permission elements that I’d like to try out) We’re starting to lose out on participants with school back in full swing and the parallel Modern event drawing a couple of our players, so come and play EDH with me. New players are always a refreshing sight for any playgroup.

Secondly, it’s that time of the year again, folks, so please come join me at CG Realm for the Theros prerelease events! Hosted at 3147 Techumseh Road East, play for prize while getting a sneak peek at what the newest Magic set has to offer us. Event scheduling is as follows:

Saturday, September 21st, 12:00 a.m. (with 1st prize guaranteed 2 booster boxes in prize)
Saturday, September 21st, 10:00 a.m.
Saturday, September 21st, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, September 21st, 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 22nd, 10:00 a.m.
Sunday, September 22nd, 1:30 p.m.

Entry is $25 for the Saturday events and $20 for the Sunday events. I hope to see many of you there! A door prize of over $100 is being given out at the midnight event, so if 1st place prize of 2 booster boxes isn’t enough incentive to come out and play, perhaps that might be.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of the article. EDH, at a distance, can be a daunting format to enter, and there are a lot of myths and hoopla surrounding the format that I sincerely hope to shed some light on. One of my goals while writing this article series is to help cultivate our community by encouraging players to go out, find a place to play EDH with friends, and have an enjoyable experience overall.

There’s a lot to tackle on why you may or may not want to play the format, though, so let’s dive straight into it.

WHY YOU MAY WANT TO PLAY EDH

EDH is a format home to the flashiest effects in Magic’s history. There are a plethora of spells and effects that have multiplayer or Limited focus in mind, effects that are so large and in charge that green players around the world think to themselves “how do I cast this card as fast as possible?” EDH is home to also some of the most powerful effects in Magic’s history, from fast mana to insane card draw, and there are a number of key cards that will single-handedly pull players into the format.

1) That one awesome legendary creature

Let’s face it – EDH is a popular format. Players recognize this, and Wizards recognizes this. Wizards prints cards that are targeted directly for the format, players look at these cards and say “Yeah, this card is really cool for EDH.” (Grave Betrayal, the Primordial cycle, Progenitor Mimic, Rise of the Dark Realms, and most recently, Prophet of Kruphix.)

But no creature in Magic evokes the attraction to Commander quite like the legend.

A lot of players know about EDH and how it works. A lot of players have that spare legendary creature sitting in their binder, the flashy Mythic they pulled in their Sealed pool, from a draft, or maybe just a random booster. They’ll either want to move it to make a profit off of it, or hold onto it and think of how good of an EDH deck they can build with it. “How good of an EDH deck can I make with this card?”, they’ll ask themselves. And really, that’s just it – it either rots in your binder until some casual wanders around and snipes it from you, or you cave and play the format yourself.

Legendary creatures are awesome. A large portion of the legendary creatures printed in recent history have been printed with EDH in mind. So, if you’ve got one sitting around, why not build something around it and make use out of it?

2) A powerhouse of Standard rotates and you still want to play it

Sometimes, there’s that one fringe card in Standard you enjoyed playing, like a Genesis Wave, a Sword of Feast and Famine, or a Stoneforge Mystic, and you enjoyed playing these cards in 60-card formats, so the transition to EDH feels seamless.

There’s a subset of cards in Magic that function well in both competitive and casual formats. The number one example of this is by far dual lands, which are almost always going to translate to being good in EDH (Archangel of Thune, Kalonian Hydra), but a high price tag because of how much Standard play these powerhouses see may have people shying away from these sorts of cards. However, players playing EDH aiming to win will bypass the price tag issues anyway. More on that later.

3) You enjoy playing Magic casually with friends

Kitchen table Magic is extremely popular, especially since the boon in popularity of EDH itself. A lot of people have trouble making the jump from casual 60-card formats to EDH because of reasons I’ll highlight later, but the flow of the transition usually goes as follows:

-Look up cards for that sweet G/W lifegain deck you play
-Find a card that’s really old that you want
-Find other cards you like, but are too expensive mana-wise
-Realize the list of things you want is long and has way too many cards for a 60-card deck
-Google EDH / Commander
-???
-PROFIT!

I fully recommend any player who hasn’t gone through the motions to look up cards in certain colors you enjoy. It’s the first and most important step to realizing the best kitchen table format that’s out there, so if you’re looking to make a deck with flashy and interesting effects, EDH is most certainly the place for you!

4) You only have one of the card

Sometimes, what gets people on board the EDH train is how thin your collection spreads in the way of building a deck. You want to play that one mythic Planeswalker you opened in your 60-card deck, but you only have one, and don’t want to invest in more copies of it, so you consider building an EDH deck around it.

Once you realize that, you also realize you have a copy of multiple sweet rares in the colors you want to build sitting around in your binder, and the deck begins to build itself.

5) You want variety in your Constructed formats

I have a personal gripe with 60-card formats that goes back to the days of Zendikar/SoM Standard, when the legendary Caw-Blade deck made up over half of the competitive Standard field, and over three-quarters of the top 8 in almost all Standard events. It was mind-numbingly dull, and I’m not going to lie, if not for EDH, I probably would have stopped playing Magic altogether.

That’s just the problem – sometimes, 60-card formats can just get dull. You sit across from your opponent, shuffle up, and by the first turn, a good player can literally predict the entire decklist just by their first land. (In this particular Standard environment, your opponent can play Stomping Ground and you know without a shadow of a doubt a turn 2 Burning-Tree Emissary will be his or her play.) [Editors note.  They could be jund as well liam :) ]

EDH almost never does that. I mean, sure, once you face opponents who play the same deck over and over, you’ll predict the long-term lines of play, but the routes they take to accomplish their goals is usually wildly varied and sometimes they never even get to make their plays. The lines of play, while still predictable (Edric, Spymaster of Trest, for example, will usually spam a bunch of one-mana evasive threats.), are by far a lot more vague to predict, whereas with Standard, Modern and to an extent Legacy, you can predict in between 1-5 cards your opponent is playing just by their first land.

WHY YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO PLAY COMMANDER

Whereas there are a lot of benefactors of the format, there are also a lot of reasons why some people may not want to play the format. I want to help dispel a lot of rumors and myths about the format with these points, so without further ado, let’s take a look:

1) The format’s too expensive

This point is most prominent with manabases, which I’m not going to lie, can be very expensive if you look just at the biggest players. The format allows everything from dual lands to Gaea’s Cradle to Cabal Coffers, and due to play in other formats, can push their prices up to levels that turn people off the format.

However, I think people too often look at the offenders and say to themselves, “This is way outside my budget, I can’t make a deck!” rather than take a look at the bigger picture. There are multiple dual lands in all color combinations that you can find for under $3, if you know where to look.

Another benefactor to the price factor of EDH is Modern Masters, who reprinted some power players (Tooth and Nail, Adarkar Valkyrie, Blood Moon, Elspeth, Knight-Errant, etc.), helping to push their prices down (some more than others). Overall, for anyone who says the format is too expensive, I retort with, “You’re just looking in all the wrong places.” You don’t need that dual land, that super-expensive staple, or that Sword. If you have it, you have it, but it’s not the bar you need to meet to play the format.

2) The format is casual in nature and offers little incentive in the way of prize

There’s really not much I can debunk this theory with, because it’s for the most part very true – without sanctioning and in general enough support for the format from Wizards, the format doesn’t offer the prize that 60-card formats do.

1v1 EDH exists for the sake of making the format more competitive, and the city of Windsor runs periodical 1v1 tournaments to help cultivate some competition for the format, but for the most part, the incentive to play for something other than the joy of the experience just doesn’t really exist, which can turn some Spikes off the format, and that’s understandable – certain aspects of Magic just aren’t for everyone.

3) Playing one of a card is too little

Sometimes, a card is so good you want to play 4 copies of them. (The amount of times I’ve cast Primeval Titan in both Standard and EDH is absolutely staggering) For everything else, there’s Clones.

A card is good no matter how many copies you have of it in play. The aforementioned method of Cloning it is the best way to evoke playing multiple copies of it. If it’s an ETB, using blink/flicker effects such as Deadeye Navigator and Venser, the Sojourner are really helpful for getting the most out of their effects, giving them the feel that you’re playing more than one copy.

4) Restriction to your colors is a pain

This is something even I struggle with. This is a huge pain to deal with. I want to shove a certain card in just about every deck I play just to get the effects the color lacks in my decks.

Every color has their inherent weaknesses; or rather, there are effects that are short in stock for certain color combinations:
-I want my Aurelia, the Warleader deck to tutor.
-I want a board wipe in my Prime Speaker Zegana deck.
-I want to draw cards in my Krenko, Mob Boss deck.
-I want my Lavinia of the Tenth deck to ramp.

There’s always going to be a compromise players have to make between the general they want to run and the colors they’re forced to play as a result. If you want to play the general, you’re limited to your colors. If you want to play more colors, you have a choice – go out of your way to play artifacts that give you the effects you can’t get due to color restriction (Wayfarer’s Bauble, Staff of Nin, Nevinnyral’s Disk), or play more colors.

5) You’re not good at the politics game

Sometimes, you’re like me – you’re that guy, the guy who wants to win. You’re the guy who sits down at a table, look at one of your opponents and say “you die first“.

Or maybe you’re that guy who plays spells like Ruination, Counterbalance, or your general is Grand Arbiter Augustin IV.

I think the trick to improving your politics game is to act like you’re not nearly as threatening as you actually are. Stay quiet, spread the love, and try to hold the effects you’re slowing the game down with until you’re winning the game.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Well, that’s my thoughts on some points about the format that may attract or repel people. I hope I’ve alleviated some of the pressure the format inherently puts on people, and I hope I’ve dispelled some of the myths about the format for people who are looking from the outside in.

Next week will likely be my next Let’s Build, either on Purphoros or Triad of Fates! Stay tuned!

-L

Check out my previous articles here:

Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454

Building on a Budget:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1522

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2264

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341 

Let’s Talk M14:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2228

Let’s Talk Theros:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2362
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2378

Planeswalking and You:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184 

Resource Management:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200

Trial & Error:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

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