Defending the Commander Social Contract

Category: cool story bro (Page 1 of 2)

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’


The Road to GenCon: I Am Not a Road Warrior

Roughly infinity months ago (OK, 10), I wrote an ambitious thing with what I thought would be a fun, quirky control deck based around color hosers and color-changing spells–my take on the “Gen Con Metagame Breaker Deck” conversations Team GDC was having. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve made zero progress, but am still ready to crush GenCon.

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Returning to Grenzo

I ran Daretti, Scrap Savant last week in a four-man game including two people I had never played with before and an old friend of mine who I know well. Daretti did not perform well, mainly because I built him with my older playgroup in mind: grindy, swingy, big plays. Instead I got guys who just wanted to have fun and cast spells that made us laugh as kids.

Things like Jokulhaups. For no reason.

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Holiday Throwback #1 – Where It All Began

Thanks for tuning in!  While we regroup and gear up for the new year (and my god, do we have plans!), we’re going to dig into the vault and shine the spotlight on some hits from days past.  If you’ve never read them, these articles should be worth your time to dig in on.  If you have read them…well, read them again, dammit.

To get started, I decided to take y’all back to where it all began, three long years ago in Blogspot land (For reference, I was still referring to myself as “DJ”) –  The first real post to grace the pages of  If nothing else, it’s worth it so see how far we’ve come.  (Again, my god.  Thanks for sticking it out, everyone.  Really.)

Happy holidays, everyone.



Originally posted here – “If Anyone Was Wondering How To Grossly Mis-assess Threats In EDH…”

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Black Sheep – Pinups, Pornstars and Promos

Last night in the car driving home from playing Commander, the song “Rockstar” by Nickleback started playing on the radio. My head quickly filled with thoughts as the song played through the stock sound system of my subcompact beater. If memory serves, I think that we, as a people, had already all joined together and agreed that “Rockstar” received enough radio plays and we could retire it permanently.

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Grumpy Old Man – Part Infinity: The Culling and I Hate Conspiracy

Change is a powerful thing. I have the Japanese kanji for “change” tattooed on my right chest in black, with a red circle background. I like to think that it’s here as a guiding factor in my life, so that I always understand that change is a constant. Really, I got it tattooed there after a very recent ex-girlfriend got the same tattoo. I figured she’d never see it anyway, and it would just be my way of still staying connected to her or some crap like that.

Kids do dumb things sometimes.

It went on to be a focal point on one of my band’s albums. I’m not sure I remember the reason, but in my poor little twenty-something brain, it felt like some sort of spiritual confluence. It was “right” somehow.

God-bless youthful exuberance.

One of the secrets of growing older is that with age comes the development of a sense of simplification. There are lots of things that matter when you’re eighteen; when you’re thirty-seven, you can narrow that list waaaay down. I want to believe that it’s a matter of perspective, but I think it might actually be that old people are just tired of the BS.

I used to worry about opinions and great social injustices and the effects of climate change on indigenous plant life on Zimbabwe. Now, I worry about paying bills and having beer in the ‘fridge. I can’t wait to get old enough that I can get away with taking off my pants in public and crying during beer commercials.

(I may already do one of those things from time to time.)

Anyway, the point of all of this is partially to illustrate the joys of the middle-age wandering mind, and more importantly to talk about the fundamental reason EDH is awesome – care-free expectations.


The secret to EDH for me is the pace of the climate. Standard is cutthroat; Limited is frenetic. Vintage feels like getting dropped into Clash of the Titans, while Legacy feels angry that Modern is stepping on its toes all the damn time.

EDH is like sitting in an Adirondack chair in the backyard in late Fall, wearing your favorite sweater and enjoying a lovely cigar. It’s nice, relaxing, enjoyable, and most importantly, it sticks with you even after you gargle with Listerine a few times. It’s not rushed, and the entire point is to take it all in and enjoy it for what it’s worth. The good games are good, and even the bad games are still worth talking about.

No drama. Just fun.


I think I’m having a mid-life crisis. I did the unthinkable last week; the culling of the decks.


The truth of the matter is that I find my playtime limited these days, so I want my games to count. I discovered that I would be well served by really focusing on the decks that I enjoy and play all the time, which I made possible by weeding out the rest of the stuff that never quite gets there, or never even gets taken out of the bag to begin with.

Also, my back hurts when I drag the whole bag to and from the card shop to my car. Worth noting, I think.

The Ones That Made It:

Kresh the Bloodbraided – Good old Kresh. Everyone needs a screaming aggro blitzkrieg, so I took parts of Xenagos, God of Revels (Sheer Ridiculousness) and wedged it in there. Highlights: Xenagos himself. Berserk. Sneak Attack. Phyrexian Dreadnought.

Prime Speaker Zegana – I’m taking her back to well-documented GenCon Combo-Breaker status. The current count of missing foils: 13. (Five Zendikar full-art Islands and Forests each, a Misdirection, and Misty Rainforest. Oh yeah…also Force of Will.)

Angus Mackenzie/Roon of the Hidden Realm – These two continue to cohabitate the command zone like a proper played-out buddy-cop drama. Grizzled veteran, meet young blood. (And yeah…Roon is better. Sorry, Angus!) Sometimes, you just need to bust out Aluren and Man-O’-War.

Hazezon Tamar – On the one hand, I hate token decks, and I always take them apart. On the other hand, I love being able to slam my fist on the table and scream “Delayed trigger! DELAYED TRIGGER!” just to scare the younger players. Recently added – Ice Cauldron. Just to ensure that someone calls a judge every time I play this thing.

Eladamri, Lord of Leaves – I’ll be damned if this thing isn’t my most favorite deck right now. It’s elves…but then you get moments when Concordant Crossroads, Door of Destinies, and Coat of Arms is in play, and you’re drawing extra cards off of Font of Mythos. Three mana later, and someone is getting the business end of a 14/14 Llanowar Elves. Someday, I will live the Helix Pinnacle dream with this deck.

Zedruu the Greathearted – I dismissed this thing as an exercise in theorycrafting, and it has ended up being the most memorable of my decks in the past year. I can’t thank Sheldon Menery enough for the concept. I find myself price-shopping Beta Smoke because of this deck, and that’s pretty awesome.

Sharuum the Hegemon – She’s back…again. With all the new players in the shop, I look forward to having to explain to at least one person each time I play it that it doesn’t go infinite in any way shape or form, and that instead they need to fear my Guardian Beast and Mycosynth Golem. Here’s hoping it doesn’t suck this time around.

Hanna, Ship’s Navigator – I couldn’t very well tear everything down without building something new. Hanna makes the scene as the new enchantress deck in my quiver, because I’m dying to play Moat[card/], [card]Opalescence, and Archetype of Imagination.

No more Melek “all the spells”. No more Sigarda “the other Enchantress”. No Thraximundar, no Memnarch, no Ghost Council 1.0. All gone. I even killed off mono-white angels.

Here at GDC, boredom reigns supreme!


I live in rural New England. We’re an environmentally-conscious community who experiences some pretty brutal winter weather. Naturally, it is only logical that I trade in my dependable and sensible Subaru sedan for a 425-horsepower rear-wheel-drive muscle car with 20” wheels.

This seems like a good idea to me.

Outwardly, I’m reconciling the decision to the fact that my wife has an all-wheel drive minivan, and we commute together. I won’t miss work in bad weather, and I have a fun car for the weekend. Inwardly, I’m looking forward to 14 miles per gallon and flipping off Prius drivers with “Shop Local” bumper stickers on them while I do nice, smoky burnouts in second gear at highway speeds.

Note to self: tell the wife the first part, not the second one.


It’s official – I’m the only person on the planet who didn’t enjoy Conspiracy. And yeah, “hate” is a strong word. The official party line is that I do not enjoy the format at this juncture, and I look forward to further engagements with which to alter my opinion.

Quick story – My one and only experience was a home draft at Mr. P’s house. I drove an hour and fifteen minutes each way for it. I then totally forgot to keep in mind the fact that it is a multiplayer format, and drafted a monster of a R/G beats deck that would kill in a 1v1 environment. I opened a Reflecting Pool for value. Then, we sat down, and I was killed on the sixth turn by a player running triple Muzzio’s Preparations. Turns out it says “card”, not “creature,” and all of those 4/4 flying spirit tokens were much smaller, since you can’t name “spirit” and get the bonus.

So yeah…equal parts “I suck at drafting it” and “RTFC, everyone!” But I digress.

  • My big fear with this set is that people will bring to the table expectations in line with their particular gaming preferences, and that these will clash heavily and create some bad blood. In specific:
  • EDH players like casual multiplayer games. Conspiracy is touted as a fun casual multiplayer format.
  • Limited players like the skill of drafting a deck that will be the most efficient at defeating his/her opponents. Conspiracy is a draft format.
  • My empirical evidence sucks, but I know when I was eliminated, I was irritated that I was killed off on turn six. Aren’t multiplayer games supposed to be fun, not cutthroat?

If they’re EDH games, yes. The lesson? Don’t confuse the format for something it isn’t, and it’ll likely be fine. Or savagely rare-draft foil Misdirections and stuff.


…because this is getting a bit long, I’ll wrap it up for now. I know this is disjointed and all over the place, but that’s the point. If you’ve learned anything today, I hope it is one of the following things:

Man, people make no sense sometimes.

EDH is like smoking and drinking mouthwash.

Dodge Challengers have a backseat, so the car-seats still fit. Also, the terrible rear visibility will prevent the kids from seeing daddy flipping off nice old ladies.

Tattoos are forever. Teenage angst, thankfully, is quite temporary.

If you have opinions, base them on fleeting experiences that don’t actually resemble anything close to what they should. Defend them with fierce (and totally misguided) conviction.

Hope I’m passing to you in the next draft you’re in.


If you feel like it, answer one or more of the following below:

1. Because the deck-building bug bites quickly and symmetry is three decks to a fat pack box, what is my lucky ninth deck going to be?

2. What was your experience with Conspiracy? Did it meet and exceed your expectations, or fall a little flat?

3. Should your humble author actually go ahead with the musclecar purchase?

4. Is your humble author losing his mind?

5. In a single word, what is EDH to you?



Black Sheep – A Good Day


This last weekend, my gaming group, The Mercy Killers, needed to unwind from all the hard work we had put in getting ready for Kublacon. Conventions are a lot of fun, but we had just run through preparing armies and playing in back to back 40k tournaments. What we really needed was some casual gaming. This meant that we sat down around a table, had some good food (thanks to my friend Garye’s marvelous cooking), had a few beers, and played more than a little commander.

The funny thing about gaming groups is that even if you are supposedly focused on one game, everyone is still a gamer at heart. So this 40k squad has no problems branching out to Magic, Cards Against Humanity, Talisman, Pathfinder, or whatever. Only five of us were able to make it, which turned out to be a perfect size to play commander. Not everyone owns a deck, but luckily an addict like me always has a few extra decks sleeved and ready to go.

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Black Sheep – Top 10 Reasons WOTC is better than GW


When it comes to gaming relationships, I am a polygamist. My heart contains enough room for miniature gaming, computer gaming, board games, and card games. I won’t lie to you. I do have my favorites. As many of you have correctly guessed, I love Magic. My other love interest is a game called Warhammer 40k. I’ve actually played 40k for longer than I have played Magic. This is partially because 40k has been around longer and partially because the Warhammer 40k universe is fantastic, from a narrative perspective.

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Grumpy Old Man – Prerelease Lamentations

(Editor’s Note-

Grumpy Old Man is a new column that Cass will be breaking out from time to time to…well, complain about things.  It should not in any way be mistaken with the regular content Cass provides when he…well, complains about things. 

But hey…the man has roots to go back to once in a while.)

I didn’t go to the Journey Into Nyx Prerelease this past weekend.  What’s worse, I didn’t particularly care that I missed it.  I checked Twitter all of once all weekend, and just went on with my business – cleaning the house and riding bikes with my son and grocery shopping and sleeping in my armchair in front of the television.  

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Pardon Our Absence

The team GDC editorial and production staff are sicker ‘n dogs (and have their hands full of (sick) babies)(and cats probably).

So we’re bringing you zero fresh content tonight.


In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to go back and listen to the magic (puns!) of one of our older podcasts (which you can always find under the category and the tag “Podcast,” and while are all (or all soon will be) available via our feedburner link, to which you can subscribe in any number of ways, such as iTunes.)

#1 GenCon ’13 Week: Something About A Podcast?

#2 Win a Commander 2013 Pre-Con!

#3 A bit of what you fancy

#4 Things are getting serious

#5 Complainatron 5000 – Kaalia, Goodstuff, and Staples

Or perhaps you’d rather browse some of our archives. All Dave’s stuff from the Friday column is conveniently tagged “Three Cards Deep,” and all Sean’s evil can be found at “Black Sheep.”

Cass, Mr. P, and Imshan’s silliness is far more difficult to find. But browse away!


We hope to return Wednesday if not tomorrow with all the regular awesomess. In the meantime, Elder Dragon Highlander is neither played by elders, The Highlander, nor Dragons (as far as I’ve seen). Discuss amongst yourself in the comments.


Keep it fresh

Dave, Cass, Mr. P, Sean, Imshan, and all our minions

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