EDITOR’S NOTE: We couldn’t be any happier to have Sean return to his Black Sheep form with this rant. Bask in it.
Spike players are terrible at commander. Usually this is because they simple have no concept of how to have fun and spend too much energy trying to win every game, missing the predominant dynamic of the group environment. The irony of it, they work so hard and emphasize winning over relaxing so much that they don’t have as much fun (fail number one) and they still end up not winning much (fail number two). Terrible all around.
One of the primary reasons for this is that spikes players are largely uncreative and want good tactics and decks spoon fed to them online-“Net Decks.” As David discovered in a recent twitter poll, most players interested in tech for Commander depend on forums. Luckily for true Commander players, forums are one of the worst places to get anything resembling good advice (Not just on Commander, this is a life lesson).
Forums breed an environment where argumentative personalities and fights can flourish. If you don’t believe me, Google “Goku v Superman” and see how many forum threads have needed to be closed due to this insane question. (If there was ever a crossover battle between the two where one absolutely had to win, it would be Goku. It’s not a power question. It’s an importance to brand question. DC can handle having Superman get punked every now and then because Batman is their most profitable character. DBZ needs their main guy to meet fan expectations.)
Commander tech works about the same way. The civility in a thread lasts all the way to the first disagreement. As soon as someone says, “Sensei’s Divining Top should go in every deck,” the thread descends into useless bickering.
Forums also have the very unfortunate mechanic of posting comments chronologically. The first comments to any particular post are the least thought out. I generally consider advice that has been pondered over and given a lot of time and thought to be better advice than what just happens to be on the top of someone’s mind. This is also why you see so many similar lists on forums. The advice people give are for the cards or gut feeling on the top of their mind, not the best advice they could give.
I grabbed a recent thread at random to test this. Sure enough, the first response to ‘Help me’ is ‘Don’t Play’. Super-fantastic advice…. If you read more into the thread you can see what an echo-chamber it becomes. Everyone should make their avatars into parrot variants.
SQUAK Talk to them SQUAK Spikes are people too SQUAK!! Read further and it becomes people arguing. (That link was only posted a few hours before I started writing this and currently contained no suggestions that would really help. If anyone is having the same problem as the first person to post let me know and I’ll give you some advice that worked for me.)
Forums are simply too long to be useful. Look at the strategy section of mtgcommander.net’s forums and choose any random thread. Even the short threads are over 2,000 words long with longer threads being five to ten times that. Since the average person reads about 180 words per minute on a monitor with good comprehension, you are looking at investing from 10 minutes to two hours on a single thread. If someone wrote a 20,000 word article on graveyard hate in commander, would you get anywhere near it?
Forums are filled with people you have never met before and have little to no idea what kind of player they are. You don’t get to select who responds to your messages either, so unless you plan on starting your own rating system of users, you are basically being taught by a chorus of random strangers. Can you imagine if that is how schools worked? The administration grabs a random number of random people off the street to teach you history and they take turns spouting off what they think you need to know. What a glorious education would that be?
Now look, if you have fun in forums, by all means enjoy yourself. Just don’t delude yourself into thinking you are becoming a better deck builder or player. If you really want to get better at playing Commander, play it more and be open to change. If you really want to be a better deck builder, build more. If you do go out and seek advice, go to one person at a time. Listen to what they have to say, analyze their advice, and then adapt your style according to what you learn.
As long as you critically analyze the information people are presenting you will get something out of articles and one on one discussion. It’s not about blindly following advice, it’s about thinking of new ways to approach decks. Learning that bad advice is bad is just as useful as learning to follow good advice. When learning you want to choose areas where the information is laid out in front of you and you can absorb it as quickly as possible so that you can analyze it and form an opinion.
If you disagree with me, post about it in a forum and I’ll give it all the attention it deserves.