Defending the Commander Social Contract

Category: bad life choices

Black Sheep – Life After Tuck


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Ranking Threat Assessment: The Five Most Important Factors To Consider (And One To Ignore, Clearly…)

Before we dive into the resurrection of my beloved erstwhile sphinx, we’re going to take a detour into the realm of threat assessment.  Let’s begin with a statement that I believe is one of the fundamental truths of EDH players as a whole:

(Mental note: start compiling a “Fundamental Truths Of EDH” list…)
Now, I fully admit that I’m making a sweeping generalization here, and that this statement does not apply to everyone, but after several years of playing the format, I’ve seen more than enough evidence to support this position for the majority of all players.  I think it comes from the core design of EDH; unlike all other Magic formats, this one in particular inspires a powerful sense of identity.
Let me explain.
Players who delve into creating a deck tend to transcend the simple process of putting a pile of cards into sleeves.  Once you choose a general, spend time theory-crafting and coming up with a theme or design constraint, search your favorite search engine for the perfect cards to round out your list, and dive head-first into trading or buying the cards to complete your masterpiece, it most likely has taken on a life of its own.  Players are proud to display the general they’ve chosen as they shuffle up for the game.  They’re proud to talk in detail about what led to the construction, and what cards were and were not included.  There’s a tangible amount of empathy that is developed, and for that reason, we reach the first corollary of the afore-mentioned truth:

Understand these two statements, and you’ll know all you need to know about surviving the format intact.  
With that, let’s dive right in to the list.  Disclaimer: This list is in no way a comprehensive list, and is certainly a living, breathing, and growing entity.  Expect to see additional entries in the future.  (Read: I’m going to complain again soon after someone else does something new to piss me off.  Okay!) 
Also, I’m in an incredibly punchy mood today (stupid Super Bowl), so read accordingly.

.   .   .   .   .


Every shop has one.  He’s the guy that everyone can’t stop talking crap about behind his back.  The topic of discussion always revolves around the annoying/stupid/douchbag-esque things he did at the last game, or that obnoxious deck he plays that just combos the table out.  Maybe it’s his crappy attitude or annoying antics.  When he shows up, a pall sets in; people stop talking and start studying their binders like they’re preparing for their SATs.  Players that were heated and firing off obscenities minutes before suddenly remember they need to step outside and call home.  Whatever allows people to avoid talking to this person will become the driving priority for the whole place. 
No one really likes this guy, but he can’t take a hint and keeps showing up anyway.  The chance that this player is going to be the first person “randomly” attacked in the beginning of the game is nearly 100%.  His permanents and spells will always be slightly more threatening than what anyone else plays, no matter the actual card selection.  All things equal, this player is going to eliminated first every time.  People will frequently over-extend to the detriment of their own board-state to make this happen.
Fortunately, it’s a guarantee that this person will do at least half a dozen things that got him the reputation he has to begin with during the course of this interaction, and the cycle will continue to blissfully propagate.  Rest assured in the knowledge that all is well in the universe.

This probably happened two years ago.  Maybe it was last game.  It doesn’t matter.  The guy to your right just played his general (Azusa), and the guy before him opened with land, Sol Ring, Skullclamp, Top…but this player is aiming his Putrefy at your Signet anyway.  Too bad you kept a two-lander because you had Yavimaya Elder in your hand.  Of course, he’d have hit that with Swords To Plowshares too, instead of the Blightsteel Colossus that the Sharuum player just cheated in on turn five…


You sunk all that time and effort into your totally awesome Myr tribal deck.  Unfortunately, there’s no legendary Myr, so you searched for “legendary creature” with the word “artifact” in the rules text.  Arcum was the first one to pop up.  Good luck pulling together that totally awesome Myr Battlesphere/Myr Incubator/Coat Of Arms/Akroma’s Memorial combo before the table gang-piles you into oblivion in about four turns flat. 
Hey – at least the special at the pizza place across the street is two slices and a medium Coke for $3.50. 
Hope you brought a book.

4.      “BLOOD FEUD!”

The guy on the end of the table has been turbo-recurring Kagemaro with Phyrexian Reclamation, and you finally found Fracturing Gust and Tormod’s Crypt.  What a relief.  Everyone can, you know, actually play the game again. 
Congratulations.  It doesn’t matter if you saved the day, or that was the only correct play.  You just earned a sworn enemy for the rest of the game.  (Or maybe longer, if Hunted Wumpus was also in his graveyard.)


It’s clearly your own damn fault for playing Ice Cauldron, Takklemaggot, Glyph Of Reincarnation, or anything foreign older than Ravnica block.  Someone is going to kill it, because…well, it’s probably going to do something, right? 
To add insult to injury, once it hits your graveyard, someone else at the table will ask you to see it so he can read it.  Once that person is done, the player who just destroyed it will then say, “Wait…let me see it too.”

A player has the Cryptic Command to answer Tooth And Nail. 
The guy at the end of the table targets Cabal Coffers with his Strip Mine.
Consecrated Sphinx gets destroyed on the end-step that it is played.
The kid across from you rips Lightning Helix on turn two, and saves it for when the Omnath player finds Rofellos instead of tossing it at your face immediately.
You’ve got Phyrexian Arena out, but the Rhys the Redeemed player sends both halves of Return To Dust at the guy with Sylvan Library, Abundance, Survival Of The Fittest, and Mana Reflection out instead.
Don’t worry.  You’re completely safe.  These are called “good choices”.

None of those will ever happen…   




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