Defending the Commander Social Contract

Category: Douchebags

Tilting Point – My Road to Gen Con 2015

Meta-game breakers – You’ve already seen Cass’s super tuned three-year-labor-of-love, and Sean’s takes on turning the GenCon table running jerks’ plans on their head. When I signed on, sent digital high-fives to team GDC as we planned our amazing trip to Indianapolis for 2015, and realized that meant I needed a deck that did something, I knew two things:

I wanted to play color hate to prey on the weird inbreeding that affects building “good” EDH decks

And I wanted to put dem guys on tilt. Big time.

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The Duality Of Douchebaggery

I’ve been doing some soul-searching as of late, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been looking at this format all wrong.  I’m ready to admit that I’m a big hypocrite, and that what defines “douchebag” is just as likely to be staring back at me in the mirror as it is to be sitting across the table from me.
I’m a terrible person, and I’m ready to repent fully.  Forgive me, everyone.  I’ve been living a lie.  
But first, let’s take a breath and do some book-keeping, shall we?
The people have seriously spoken on this one.  Here are the final results are in on the “How do you take your general?” poll:

70% – Altered.
10% – Foreign Foil.
7% – Old-School.
7% – White Border…?
3% – Foil – Normal Set
3% – Foil – Promo
0% – Foreign Non-Foil
Yeah…I guess you guys really like your alterations.  (To be fair, I voted here myself…)  Also, for those of you who replied “white border” – your pitch was a little flat on that last one.  Once more with feeling, please!  (Although to be fair, I’d take a white border over a foreign card myself, so maybe you’re not lying here after all…)


Bad news is the pay sucks.  What can you do?
In all seriousness, folks, I’m considering expanding a bit.  I never imagined that this little corner of the internet would be seeing nearly as many daily hits as it has in such a short amount of time, but I’m continually amazed when I check the “stats” page every day.  I couldn’t be happier, everyone – you guys are fantastic.  Thanks for making this a great experience.  
Anyway, I’m looking to make the GDC experience a little more robust, so there are a couple of things I’d like to run up the digital flagpole-

1. What type of content or topics would you like to see covered? 

I’m all for requests here.  Do you have something that you’d really like to see discussed?  Any particular features that you think would be cool?  More “Other People’s Decks” or “Single card Strategy’?  Are you just plain sick of hearing me complain about threat assessment?  You’re in luck!  Shoot me your suggestions.
No “Freebird”, though.  I don’t do Freebird.

2. I’m interested in adding a writer or writers (plural!) to the GDC staff.

One thing I’ve seen in running these contests is that there are a ton of you out there that know your stuff and can write really well to boot.  I’m interested in adding to the regular schedule with some additional columns and additional perspectives on EDH.  Weekly, bi-weekly, whenever-I-feel-like-writing…I’m all ears.  I think it’d be great to put together daily content if possible.  
Incidentally, there are a few of you that have contacted me in the past on this already.  Let me know if you’re still interested!    

Shoot me an E-mail here with the title “You Should Write About This!” or alternately “I’ve Got Nothing Better To Do And Would Love To Write Something…”

I’m all ears.

.   .   .   .   .


I think I may have broken through a wall a few weeks back.  Well, if nothing else, I hit it head-first and broke something…either way, I’ve been rethinking my position on “The Spirit Of EDH”, and I’ve discovered I have it all wrong. 
To preface, I realized that my personal take on this concept was fatally flawed. In my mind, it’s actually described in real-world terms as “Quit Doing Things That I Don’t Like!”  Frankly, I’m ready to put that to bed.  Let me explain…
After the Wednesday-night experience a few weeks back that led to me complaining about things that I don’t like, I realized that my list was getting rapidly out of hand, and I decided to step back and really look at the types of things that I don’t like experiencing in EDH games…and it was kind of an eye-opener.  
The list started like this:

-Mass land destruction
-Mass discard
-Infinite combos
-“Prison”-style cards

But it kept going from there:

At this point I started to frown.  I was in full stride and not slowing down:

-In-Game Politics
-People Making “Deals” With Other People
-Randomly Determining Attacks

And then it got really out of control:

-People Who “Snap” The Cards In Their Hand
-People Who Sing At The Table
-People Who Sing Near The Table
-Invoking Internet Memes Of Any Kind Mid-Game
-Gum Chewing
-People Who Look At Me
-Bathroom Breaks

At that point, I hit the brakes and tossed the list out at this point in disgust.  There was literally no possible way for me to have any fun at all playing EDH with these “rules” in place.


The truest statement about EDH (and really Magic in general…maybe life too, and certainly people brave enough to eat at T.G.I Friday’s) is that you don’t ever trust the salad bar enjoyment is a personal thing.  I was absolutely shocked to see a new player enter our microcosm at Worlds Apart on Wednesday and happily play Armageddon. I was floored when he was surprised that people nearly rioted after he played it.  I grew more and more uncomfortable as the night progressed – Did he just counter my spell? – until I fell into full-on vengeance mode and constructed a “retribution” hand that dealt a few-dozen lethal damage on the back of Kaalia, Dragon Tyrant, and about 15 extra red mana out of nowhere.

The trick is that the aftermath didn’t feel all that good.  This guy was a really nice guy overall.  His only crime was not being a party to the preconceived notions that our playgroup has created.  I think I may have offended him with that attack (If you’re reading, I really do apologize…), and I left that night feeling like I’d been in a fistfight instead of enjoying a night of playing a game and a format that I love.  (He didn’t return the following week, and I wonder if our subset of rules and the attitudes we conveyed didn’t somehow sour him on the experience and cause him to re-think coming back.)
I think I subconsciously decided that things needed to change right then and there.


The title of this post is a direct allusion to the fact that there are two sides to the douchebag coin, and no-one is any more guilty than the next person.  I’m sure there are those of you that have read the EDH League rules that I posted a while back and thought, “Man…it’d suck to play there.  Those guys are tools.  No general damage?  No combos?  Go back to drafting!” 
And you’d be right.  That’s no different than me being irritated that someone would play Identity Crisis or Spell Burst with buyback.  Why should I be irritated if someone Hinders my general?  Chances are that I was going to use it to do something that would have hurt my opponents’ game plan.  It was probably a reasonable play.  Why do my rules and beliefs supercede anyone else’s?
On that Wednseday night, I spent an entire game crafting a way to punish someone simply because they didn’t adhere to my exact brand of EDH belief.    
I’m as much a douchebag as anyone else.  I think we’re ALL douchebags.

.   .   .   .   .

Magic is a game with a set of rules attached to it.  EDH is a format with a set of rules created for it.  In choosing to play the game and the format, I’m choosing to abide by those rules at their core, with the ability to branch out from there and create the experience that I want to create based on the cards that I play and the cards my opponents do as well.  I’ve decided that going forward, I’m going to trust in those guidelines and the resulting games and plays that come with them.  
Do I really want to throw out every card or strategy that I disagree with?  The end result there is a very sterile game environment with nothing but a reduced threat density.  It’s still EDH, but less “Let’s bring what we’ve got to the table and tear each-other apart!” and more “EDH Tickle Fight!”.  Shouldn’t I instead be trying to build better decks and make better plays?  If I don’t like mass land-destruction, isn’t it far more fulfilling to overcome it, rather than complain about it?  If this is a social game, why am I getting bent out of shape when people make social plays?    
If I’m going to remain connected to this game in a meaningful way that doesn’t tire me out, I need to change it up and take things back to their roots.
Am I going to start playing combos or Mind Twist effects?  No…absolutely not.  I’m not going to change the way that I relate to certain strategies, and I’m certainly not going to play something that I don’t fundamentally agree with.  But I’m going to endeavor to not lose my cool when I witness them being played.  I’m going to try to do a better job of understanding and appreciating when someone counters my Insurrection by looking at why they did.  I’m going to build my decks in a stronger fashion to try to make them more resilient to land and hand destruction.  I’m running ways to stop combos.  I’m going to actually pay attention to the board state and make the play that lets me stay in the game and protect myself, rather than getting angry that I went all-in and lost everything to a resolved Oblivion Stone. 
I’m going to play this game for the enjoyment of the game, no matter what it brings.  No more blame, folks.  No more anger.  Enjoyment for the sake of enjoyment.
Ahh.  That feels good.
…Still not doing “Freebird”, though.


P.S. – Don’t worry, folks.  I’ll still complain about threat assessment.  I’d hate to disappoint my faithful readers, after all…

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