(Editor’s Note –
Hello everyone! I just wanted to drop a quick note to let you all know I’m not dead. With some other responsibilities encroaching on my time and my partner-in-crime Patrick upping the ante with his content lately, I’ve been just going with the flow. I’ll be getting back in action next week.
-Nostradamus Moment Of The Week:
Wednesday Night EDH last night. Playing Riku, I keep a slow hand with a Sol Ring in it. Sure enough, Skippy pops off a turn-two Tribute to the Wild to kill it, and I never really recover.
I hate it when I’m right.
For now, Patrick closes out the week with a look at the place where good EDH games go to die. Enjoy your weekend, folks.
Trade binders are the metric by which we can measure the quality of games of EDH.
Imagine this scenario. You’re playing your mono-green thing and it is your turn. Your last turn took fifteen minutes, which included tanking for five minutes and then spending nine minutes resolving Boundless Realms. You are now in the process of resolving a Genesis Wave for about three-quarters of your remaining deck.
Suddenly, you notice something; the other three players at the table are all looking at each other’s trade binders.
You’ve probably heard the expression “EDH is a social format” a few times before. While most people who say this actually believe it, this statement is more complicated that it suggests. Sure, EDH is “social” insofar as most of the games feel more casual than, say, your typical tournament game. But let’s be honest; most EDH games start casual and end…well…decidedly less so.
Eventually, someone stops plying and starts winning.
One of the enduring misconceptions about Type One (Vintage) is that all of the games are decided by the die roll. This is 41% untrue. The similar misconception about EDH is that it’s a format where people play terrible decks filled with awful cards that would be unplayable in a real format. This is 38% accurate. Sure, the list of cards that would be considered “format staples” include a bunch of things that are absolutely unplayable anywhere else (hi, Decree of Pain!), but it also includes a bunch of things that are banned in multiple formats for being too powerful (hey, Demonic Tutor!)
This is all a very roundabout way of saying that most EDH decks will eventually do something absurdly powerful, and absurdly powerful things (while good) tend to be boring.
The way to tell if you’ve reached the boring part of the game is to look around at what the other players are doing. Are people checking the cards in their hands when you play something, or surveying the board state with regularity? Congratulations! You are playing an interesting and interactive game. Are people instead checking their phones, or surveying each other’s trade binders?
Congratulations! You have reached the boring part of the game.
. . . . .
Without further ado, here’s how to bore people to death in EDH (in every color!)
White: Play mana denial
Nothing makes players check out of games faster than sitting there looking at a board that contains no mana producers. While several colors are capable of this, White is the king because it has Armageddon effects, Winter Orb effects, and “tax” effects, all of which say “Hey, you! Don’t do anything!”
Backup White Strategy: Play infinity Wrath effects
Almost as boring: instead of blowing up everyone’s lands, blow up their dudes every turn! If you want to play in games where everyone is still at over 40 life two hours in, try this approach.
Blue: Take extra turns
With the exception of a few terrible red cards that may or may not have the words “You lose the game” on them (and a single wonky black card), blue really corners the market on these effects, and boy, do they do serious work in getting people to look at each other’s trade binders. Taking a long turn followed by…taking another long turn (often followed by taking several more) is a nice way to make games suck.
Backup Blue strategy: Draw all the cards
Nothing quite says “fun” like watching the player who has just Stroked themself for twenty-nine cards endlessly shuffle through their hand in response to every single thing played for the rest of the game.
Slight mitigating factor: having forty cards in hand makes it much more difficult to “snap” your cards.
The flip side to having no mana with which to play your spells: having no spells on which to spend your mana. Maybe you have some spells I can play…in your trade binder!
Backup black strategy: Recursion!
Kagemaro? Sacrifice Kagemaro to give all creatures -7/-7? Activate Phyrexian Reclamation, targeting Kagemaro? Kagemaro? Sacrifice Kagemaro to give all creatures -7/-7? Activate Phyrexian Reclamation, targeting Kagemaro? Kagemaro? Sacrifice Kagemaro to give all creatures -7/-7? Activate Phyrexian Reclamation, targeting Kagemaro? Kagemaro? Sacrifice Kagemaro to give all creatures -7/-7? Activate Phyrexian Reclamation, targeting Kagemaro? Kagemaro? Sacrifice Kagemaro to give all creatures -7/-7? Activate Phyrexian Reclamation, targeting Kagemaro? Kagemaro? Sacrifice Kagemaro to give all creatures -7/-7? Activate Phyrexian Reclamation, targeting Kagemaro? Kagemaro? Sacrifice Kagemaro to give all creatures -7/-7? Activate Phyrexian Reclamation, targeting Kagemaro? Kagemaro? Sacrifice Kagemaro to give all creatures -7/-7? Activate Phyrexian Reclamation, targeting Kagemaro?
Red: Play Wacky! effects
This is slippery, because at first glance Thieves Auction seems like it should be hilarious. Then, you actually play Thieves Auction, spend 45 minutes resolving it, and everyone wants to punch you in the face.
Red is often derided as being the worst color in EDH by people who want to talk about what the worst color in EDH is. (This is likely followed by talk of refining their Hermit Druid combo deck. These people can go screw themselves). Red is NOT the worst color in EDH (that would be blue…suck it), but it does have an absolute stranglehold on irritating random stuff.
This also seems like a good place to point this out: Confusion in the Ranks/Norin the Wary stopped being amusing maybe three years ago.
And no – you didn’t think of it.
Backup Red Strategy: Mass-land destruction
This continues to be a point of contention, as everyone agrees that ‘ramp’ is also a massively boring strategy (foreshadowing!), but the ugly truth is that mass land destruction is far more punishing to players who are not playing ramp than to the ones who are. Also, playing mass-LD gives you the opportunity to spend the next ten turns playing draw, discard, and causing people to look at trade binders. Fascinating.
On turn two, you played Sakura-Tribe Elder. On turn three, you played Cultivate. On turn four, you played Skyshroud Claim into Ranger’s Path. Now you’re resolving Boundless Realms, setting up Eternal Witness for Boundless Realms again next turn.
You have searched your library nine times in five turns. You know what’s more interesting than watching someone search their library nine times in five turns?
Backup Green strategy: Genesis Wave/Primal Surge
Hey look, your deck! Hey look, my trade binder!
You put Darksteel Forge in your deck because you are playing a bunch of artifacts. You put Nevinyrral’s Disk in your deck because it is an artifact, and because sometime you need that effect. Then you got them both in play (Oops!) at the same time (Honestly, you didn’t mean to do that!) and then you ruined the game.
Backup Colorless Strategy: Annihilator 4
The inherent challenge of the annihilator mechanic is that it always makes sense to go after the person with the fewest permanents, because then you can get maximum value out of it. The challenge here is that nine times out of ten, the person with the fewest permanents is also the least-threatening player, meaning that those four lands they just sacrificed have effectively taken them out of the game. But hey, now they can start working on trading for a Bribery to steal your stupid Eldrazi and use them against you.
THE UGLY TRUTH
You know why I know this? Because there have been many times where I have been the one watching the rest of the table glaze over as I bored them to death.
Sorry about that…
Them that eats cakes that Mr. P bakes makes dreadful mistakes.