Defending the Commander Social Contract

Author: David Schreiner (Page 2 of 11)

Happy Just Be with Your Family Day (and Give Thanks)

We have a lot to be thankful for at GDC.


To get in that spirit, here’s a list of some of the greatest hits from Pappa Cassidy, the cardfather of General Damage Control.

Thanks for bringing this motley umlaut of misfits together, Cass.

1. Post number 2 in the entire history of GDC is Cassidy plugging himself guest-posting in Sheldon Menery’s old Star City Games column, Embracing the Chaos. OMG This fills me with Lols. Go read some wisdom from “DJ Catchem.”

2. In which three bogies that have persisted for five years all rear their well-loved heads: Poor threat assessment, Cassidy being the victim of said, and “The Mr. P effect.” Serendipity

3. Oh Man these old bits are SO GOOD. Cass tells us which is his favorite card of each type, if he were marooned on a desert island. Weird premise, shockingly revealing selections.

4. The appearance of Mr. P, in the ink.

5. The Sharuum Community project holds a close place in my heart because participating as a reader is how I got to know and eventually join GDC. There are lots of parts. One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight

This is really just a dip of the toe in the water, and you can find more here (in reverse chono).

Sometimes, a walk down memory lane and a bit of gratitude is all we need.


@MdaveCS and the rest of team GDC

You Must Learn These 5 Lessons from EDH, Durdling, and Life

Here are my top five totally random lessons I want to write about right now and a baby buzzfeed panda will get punched if you don’t read them.

5. Having a website/blog is tough. When both the editors, as well as four of the writers go through massive life changes, keeping the content flowing is really difficult.

4. If you have an inexpensive general (go you. great choice!) and you plan to cast it asap, you should also plan to recast it quickly. People often have a removal spell in their opener that they’re happy to burn to be a speed bump for your fast deck.

3. No matter how many times you explain it to the Internet, everyone still believes that their experience is the average. This goes for EDH metas (ie Mr. why-run-that-spell-the-game-is-decided-by-turn-six-anyway – a real person I argued with on Reddit), your personal sense of social injustices or lack thereof, parenting, and the best slice of pizza in New York (you’re all wrong, it’s DiFaras). Be understanding of others when they step into this hole, and avoid it yourself when you can.

2. You can’t please very many people at once, in fact only a very few. So stick to playgroups and EDH groups where you know you can navigate preferences in order to have a good time yourself without crushing others’ fun; or come with a thick skin for the jerks you piss off, and some humility for the good-dudes you accidentally stomp.

1. When it comes down to it, EDH is often (at its best? usually?) about connecting with people through a shared love for gaming, but with a little bit of the competitive edge worn away in favor of a setting where you don’t create or suffer any negative emotions like frustration if you accidentally spend 45 minutes arguing about the best container to cold-brew coffee or discussing who has the best state fair. So focus on the connections. Sometimes your website will take a back seat. The relationships never should.

hash tag dem feels I love team GDC.

If you think there are some actually central lessons people should learn for EDH/Commander, let me know @MdaveCS on twitter, and tag #KeyDHLessons. 🔑 Let’s have some learnin’


Another Mea Culpa- Pardons on the Silence

man, 2016 has been a real kick in the spirit.

Not just amazing, famous, inspirational types dying or the challenges of navigating this country’s social politics without wanting to fly off into a fit of rage: also like all the tough real life we are all facing. (See Sean’s article)

So thanks to everyone who has pitched in to support us and help out.

And sorry for the silence. We’ll be back Friday and keep hitting it as regular as we can.

❤️ Team Gdc






Is It Commander Enough? (A Guest Article)

Hello everyone. I’m Kyle Carson, or Cowboy Kyle at events, and this is my first EDH piece. By day I’m a lover of metadata and dedicated family man. By night, well I’m exactly the same. I play commander generally once a week at my LGS on the Space Coast of Florida, but think about the game more than I would like to admit. I recently attended Gen Con 2016 and had an absolute blast. After bumping into a lot of the GDC crew at Gen Con, this guest article happened.

Most people who attend Gen Con play a large diversity of games, try demos, cosplay, and compete in events. That’s not me. I come with my cowboy hat on and I play commander. I do this for four days from 9AM-Midnight, only getting up to eat and drink if/when I remember. Some days I even forget to go in the vendor hall. I play with anyone who I can find, or find my cowboy hat as is often the case, and enjoy the diversity of the format. This year I brought eight decks. One, Maelstrom Wanderer dragons, I built for and gave to my brother who plays once or twice a year. The other seven I rotated daily, carrying 3-4 each day. I had a ton of fun, but left the weekend with a problem. Only two of my seven felt commander enough.


What Is “Commander” Enough?

Commander is often called battlecruiser Magic–A format where you can play big, splashy cards, create crazy board states, and have ridiculous amounts of synergy throughout your deck. You can also explore crazy areas of deck building; see KaKa’s Philosophical Commander series or JamesD’s No-Black Dimir. Decks should be able do epic things or feel epically silly. I’m looking at you S tribal.

Only two of my seven felt that way. Lorthos went big and controlling like he is supposed to do. Sedris, with my Lich King alter, got to do his cheat mode shenanigans. These two felt great. I always felt like I was in the game, made big plays, and even occasionally won.

sedris alter small

Alter by Jaclyn Foglia @JaclynFoglia


The rest felt some combination of flat, uninteresting, and completely out of the game. My Jori En, Ruin Diver list is supposed to be a blue moon/mill style deck, but almost never had anything relevant on the board and regularly got run over. Glissa, the Traitor recurred less than five artifacts all weekend and felt like it was just missing something. Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper is filled with synergy like a Jund cockroach deck should be, but took so long to get his feat set that he was always 1-3 turns behind. Dragonlord Ojutai didn’t even make it out of the hotel room. One game on Wednesday night with my roommates and the deck just did nothing. I couldn’t justify carrying it around all day.

The biggest disappointment was my Oros deck. The deck plays efficient threats, a lot of removal, and is often incredibly resilient to whatever my opponents are doing. This year Oros just didn’t feel epic enough. It was still gaining life. It was still attacking. There were even small flashes of brilliance. Thanks Gisela. But the deck just didn’t feel good. My creatures, Gisela aside, weren’t powerful enough to tangle with opponents. My removal and recursion didn’t line up right.


Am I Just Bummed I Lost So Often?

To be honest, that’s entirely possible. My old LGS in the western burbs of Chicago had a solid group, but my decks were something to be reckoned with there. This weekend I won five games that I’ll count, out of about 30 to 40 games. Four with Lorthos and one with Sedris. Erik Tiernan paid me the compliment that my decks were some of the better he saw. Austin, a Gen Con attendee, said they were strong and often forced some form of allied effort to take down. But I’m not used to a win rate below 40%-50%.


Are You Saying My Deck Isn’t Commander Enough?

No. I’m not saying that your deck needs to come apart. I’m not saying you need to stuff your deck full of commander staples like Tooth and Nail, Bribery, Rise of the Dark Realms, Insurrection, and some big white card. What I am saying is that I wasn’t having fun. This site is about defending the Social Contract so that everyone walks away happy with the game, win or not. I regularly ask what kind of games people are here for, but I try to go one step further. I like to ask if my deck was fun to play against. Did I go too far? This is especially true in Lorthos, who can lock up a game if left to his own devices.

This weekend I only had to ask that question three times… Instead I kept asking myself if I went far enough.


So What Next?

First thing is I’m shelving the five for a week or more. Beyond that I’m honestly not sure. I’ve started a running list on my phone of decks I have and those I would like to build. My Magic time is limited and relatively precious to me. I want to feel like I’m a real player in every game, and, If I’m being honest, I want to be at least close to winning. I also don’t like to have more than six decks. I just don’t have time to play them, and tweaking and tuning is a lot of fun for me.

Maybe it’s time for a massive rebuild. I hear that’s a popular choice here on GDC. Maybe I just sit on them and start trying them again at my LGS to tune the problems out or grow the sample size. Right now, I can say I want to build, but it’ll be days or weeks before I can do any real deck building.

So I don’t have a lot more to say about that question – did I go far enough – yet… But I have been thinking about two other questions to help me figure it out:

  1. Is what I’m trying to do worth talking about later? I play EDH because of the stories.
  2. Does “this card” make me smile? Would I enjoy seeing it across the table from me? Those are my goals.


I’d love to hear what you think here or you can find me on Twitter @KyleCCarson.

P.S. Wasn’t There An Eighth Deck?

My brother’s Maelstrom Wanderer deck was definitely ”Commander” enough. The deck is devoid of combos and contains simply ramp, dragons, and Warstorm Surge. He ramped, smashed face, and always felt like he was in the game. He did comment that while it was fun, it felt a bit cheesy.

Cowboy Kyle

You’re Just Playing Him for the Colors, Right?

When I hear someone say “I don’t play Blue. I’m a Green player,” or whatever, and I openly scoff, I usually feel bad about the massive open head wounds they suffer as a result of my scorn. (Because everyone should play blue. #TeamMystic ForLYFE).

A few weeks ago Team GDC was arguing on Slack about their best and worst colors. It all started with Cass’s well-documented problem building Boros decks. He can’t do it. So we all started talking about the color combos that are tough for us – that we can’t seem to make work; and from that, also the colors we’re best at. I wanted to see if I was right to be dismissive of the “I won’t play blue” people or if a lot of people have mental blocks (or whatever) about specific colors.

So we got six people from team GDC to answer. Here are the results. Note that the questions are phrased to be totally vague – ideal for a small group where you share context, but SUPER unscientific to a larger group.

On the One Hand

team gdc challenge colors


The thing to note here is that white-red, white-green, blue-black, red-green, Bant, and Temur are tied. Chalk the last two up to people complaining about “goodstuff.” The others all either have red in them or are Dimir, which has a lack of good generals. I’m so sad that we all have a hard time building red decks that we like.

On the Other Hand

team gdc strong colors


There are only two outliers here – Black-red and Grixis. Note that both of these have red and black. Nothing else really stands out, but this probably basically reflects our collective obsession with Mishra, Artificer Prodigy.

To the Public

So I opened this up to the public and tweeted about it. Thus, truth is born.

56 people responded about what colors give them pause.


public challenge


Note that everybody who answered struggles with or dislikes (there’s that ambiguous language in the question popping up to make this data not data) red-white. Second to that is mono red (which actually blows my mind since mono-red is AMAZING), followed by mono white, black-green, and white-black-red.

I don’t really have a conclusion here, except that red is realllllly unloved. Whether that’s because of people feeding back what they read about it being the weakest color, or because it actually sucks… who knows. But I found this interesting.

Until I come back to ramble more.



PS form’s still open if you want to answer.

Pardon the Delays

Either Gleemax or RoboRosewater got a hold of all our content so…. you don’t even want to look.

But seriously, some of us are moving states, others still wrestling with new jobs, and other similar things. So we’re working to get back on track.

In the meantime, if you haven’t taken this survey about which colors are the “worst” in EDH, please do so. Tell us which colors you dislike and/or struggle with, as well as the opposite.




MLD Me: Sympathy For The Devil

I don’t mind Mass Land Destruction (MLD) in EDH. No qualifiers. No restrictions. Full Stop.

In fact, I kinda like it.

Read More

Groups, Getting Lucky, and Ghave

My Ghave deck is perfectly fair and reasonable. It is also the bees’ knees amazing. You should all agree.

Read More

How To Travel Magic

In surfing, tee the word “quiver” is used to describe the bag with all the different boards that someone brings on a trip, to a comp, or wherever they’re headed.

Designing my Magical quiver is SUPER hard for me. Mr. P is notorious for having a quiver that weighs in the neighborhood of 75 pounds, because he never takes apart a deck, and brings all of them with him, always.

I’m going back to NYC later this month for work, and will not miss the opportunity to get some games in with the guys.  But I have space for three, or maybe four decks in my never-check-a-bag-ever quiver.

Read More

EDH = Format Solved. (You’re Welcome.)

I did it. I solved the format. Throw in the towel, nerds. Get ready for endless Affinity mirrors, because Commander is solved. We can all go home.
FYI – I’m Dave. I manage some stuff for GDC – mainly prodding our team of miscreants to write stuff on deadline. Two weeks in since the relaunch, and it’s going gangbusters. Hooray for us.

So… let me let you in on a little secret.

Read More

Page 2 of 11

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén