GeneralDamageControl.Com

Defending the Commander Social Contract

Category: Format Staples

The Fun Box – Crawling Back From The Bleeding Edge Of Commander

I’m that guy.

It’s taken me a long time to really come to terms with this fact; to step up and really own it for the first time. I’ve made tons of excuses over the past year as to why I’m just trying to keep up with the overall power level of the shop, or why I needed to compensate for a particularly rough patch of game losses, but the reality is pretty simple:

My name is Cass, and I’m a blatant GoodStuff™ abuser.

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Dissecting “A Unified Theory Of Commander”

An article on Commander entitled “A Unified Theory of Commander” hit the interwebs over at Brainstorm Brewery this week, and it seems to have struck a chord with the community. I wanted to take some time to weigh in with my thoughts here; I think the author, Jason, came with a solid angle, but might have lost sight of the forest for the trees in the process.

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Next Level tech

Sometimes, when I’m playing with my friends at my dining room table, I get looks for “always having an answer” (even though, like most magic players, I have an answer roughly half the time). [Editor’s note: Welcome back Imshan!!!!!!! We haven’t heard from our swarthiest member in a while. Hope everyone enjoys his wisdom.)

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GDC #105 – (Guest Content) The Lies They Tell You (And You Tell Yourself)

(Morning, everyone!  Just a quick foreword here-

First off, thanks to everyone for the reception on the GenCon coverage and the ‘wrap-up’ article on Monday.  For a first attempt at bringing you guys the goods (and with no real battle plan to speak of), I’m pretty happy with what we came up with.  Hopefully, we can make it better next year, so please let me know if you have any questions/thoughts/comments/suggestions to add to the mix.

Next up, I want to give a quick shout-out to Gavin and Conley over at Daily MTG on the mothership.  Guys, thanks for continually featuring the decklists…I really appreciate it!

I know I have links up as well, but I need to give a holler to Andy, Imshan and the crew at Commandercast.com as well.  There’s simply no other EDH content on the ‘net this good, and Andy throws a link or two in our direction pretty regularly.  Great work, guys, and thanks again.

So that brings us to today.  Before GenCon, GDC was trying to speak back against the confluence of articles popping up regarding EDH staples and their use.  You guys all know where GDC stands on that issue by now, and while I won’t say that we’re putting it to bed today, Mr. P wrote up a fantastic piece that puts a pretty solid rebuttal in place on the subject.  I’m sure we’ll dive back in from time to time, but for now, give this a read.  I think it hits home really well.

Next up – Back to Xiahou Dun…I promise!  And Return To Ravnica is right around the corner, so we’ll dive in with some fresh content there.  Also – stay tuned for the results of the From The Vaults: Realms contest!

See you all next week!

àDJ)

Deception is part of life.  Everyone lies to themselves; it’s human nature.  Not every moment is improved by a full acknowledgement of the ugly truth, and the possibility of improving one’s life thru a series of little white lies is hard to resist.

It’s time to call BS.

Now, I don’t know you, and I don’t presume to be able to offer any insight whatsoever on any personal, social, romantic, or psychological problems you may be having.  However, I am extremely opinionated about the Magical cards, and today it’s time to call you out on the self-deception you’re practicing when you build and play your EDH decks.

Prepare to face yourself down.

First, let me stress that this is not your fault; you are telling yourself these lies because you yourself have been told these lies by others.  Why they are lying to you is up for speculation, but it is time to stop parroting what you are told. (Or, more accurately, it’s time to start parroting Mr. P!)
LIE #1: “This card should go in everything.”

It’s amazing how much mileage I intend to get out of the Glenn Jones “staples” article on SCG like a month ago.  I was particularly irritated by his statement that there are certain cards that should go in everything, and that you should have to explain their absence when you don’t run them.  And then, compounding this, Ashley Morway’s recent article contains a statement that Bribery “clearly…should go in every blue Commander deck.”
Let’s talk about that.  Sure, Bribery belongs in some blue decks.  My Pirates -vs- Ninjas deck wants it, because pirates are not above Bribery.  My Dromar grindy-control deck wants it because it is low on win conditions of its own.  However, my Sedris Re-Animator doesn’t want it, because that deck has its own set of huge, terrifying things, and I would rather spend my time reanimating my horrible things rather than durdling around in your deck.

Bottom Line – You shouldn’t have to explain why you aren’t running a staple in your deck, you should have to explain why you are.  Instinctively jamming staples into decks without stopping to ponder why stifles creativity and leads to boring, homogenous deck lists. 
Think for yourself!
LIE #2:  “This isn’t a combo deck; I only play the combo if I happen to draw it.”

I’ve heard people express this as a justification for keeping Pestermite in their decks.  It sounds so reasonable! Highlander format! 99 card deck! Variance! Probability!

BS!

Once you start running combo cards, it’s really only a matter of time until you just assemble them and win.  It becomes very hard not to use the combo if it’s in there. 
Anecdote time –
When we first started playing this format, one of our friends played a deck with the Kiki Jiki/Pestermite combo in it.  This was the main source of his wins.  The rest of us grew tired of it, and started complaining suggesting that he stop playing it.  The net result was that he actively tried to not use the combo in our games, but it was still in there. 
The problem he then was faced with was what to do if he was on the ropes and about to lose.  This became a zero-sum gambit; he’d either pull the combo out as an emergency parachute, or he wouldn’t, lose the game, and leave us all wondering if he could have just won and instead decided to hand us the game, or if he didn’t have it.
In essence, the deck – in trying to actively not be a combo deck – made our games more about the combo than they were when it was used as a regular occurrence.
Bottom Line – If you want to build a combo deck, go ahead and build it; just don’t build one and then try to hide behind rubbish explanations and disclaimers.  

Speaking of which…
LIE #3: “Every deck needs an infinite combo.”

This is another idea Glenn Jones put in his “Commander Deckbuilding 101” article.  I hate this idea so much.  If you believe this, then essential what you’re signing off on is the concept that every game of EDH is nothing more than four players racing to see who can assemble their combo first.  Does that sound fun?  Is that an interesting format? If so, let me introduce you to a convenient format variant:

How to play 4-way Combo EDH

1) Each player rolls 1 d20.

2) The player with the highest roll wins the game!

 

Bottom Line – Save time!

Speaking of which…
LIE #4: “Since so many crazy things are happening, winning with a crazy combo is fine.”

Let me try to express this as civilly as I can; Kiki-Jiki/Exarchmitehussar is not a “crazy combo,” it’s a boring combo.  If your combo involves nine cards, then I’m willing to acknowledge it as “crazy,” but two-card combos are not “crazy”; hell, that particular combo was the basis for a frigging Modern deck!

Also, combo finishes make games SUCK.  Let me give you three examples.

1) A couple of weeks ago, we were playing at our local shop.  The game had been going well, with a lot of back and forth, shifts of power, and management of threats.  Everyone as having fun, when suddenly a player ripped their tenth land, played Primal Surge, and combo-ed off the table.  Everyone’s mood immediately sank, and a game that had been fun suddenly became a 90-minute waste of time.

2) Similarly, this week we had twelve players, enough for three pods of four. Two of the games went long, involving lots of interaction and entertainment.  The third game was over in about 15 minutes, when the Azami player locked down the table and won with Mind Over Matter/Temple Bell. (How “crazy!”).
Clearly our points system needs to be reworked…

3) Finally, the other night we played a game at our other local shop.  Everyone agreed before the game that we were going to play a more “competitive” game, which meant I was playing Kaervek, the player to my left was playing Stonebrow, the player to his left was playing (a non-cutthroat) Zur, and the player to his left was playing (non-combo) Riku. (Feel free to use this information to deduce what you will about our local metagame.)
(Editor’s Note: That was me playing my “GenCon Metagame” Riku list from Monday’s article.
—>DJ)
ANYWAY, the game went on for a long time, with lots of shifts of power and changes in board state.  O-Stone happened, Damnation happened, and then Relic of Progenitus happened.  It was a pretty “epic” game…and then I drew a tutor.

At that point, I had Exsanguinate in hand.  Looking through my deck, I saw Mana Geyser.  While not an infinite combo, Mana Geyser would have given me enough mana to Exsanguinate for enough to instantly kill two of the players, cripple the third, and gain a bunch of life.  Clearly Mana Geyser was the “optimal” play.

Instead, I tutored up Sheoldred and played it, forcing the Stonebrow player to sacrifice his 10/10 Predator Ooze.

The game went on a while longer, and eventually I tapped out to play that Exsanguinate for six, and was killed by flashed in Bogardan Hellkitten followed by Storm Seeker. 
That was awesome.

Bottom Line – Combos make games suck.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS

People tell you how you’re supposed to think all the time.  I’m doing that right now. While it would make me happy if everyone agreed with my perspective, I understand that it’s not going to happen, and I’m fine with that.

If you want to play staples, do it.  Just know why you’re playing them.

If you want to build combo decks, do it.  Just play them without apology or disclaimer.

If you want to build a deck that’s been made a million times before, do it.  Just don’t try to pass it off as something unique or groundbreaking.

Don’t believe the lies they tell you (and you tell yourself.)

XO,
->Mr P

(Guest Content) Where It All Went Wrong – Mr. P and DJ

(Editor Note – Today is another joint article by myself and Patrick.  It’s pretty much a continuation and logical conclusion to the Monday piece. 

I guess you can consider it “Mr. P Theme Week.” 

—>DJ )

My presumption is that most people who play EDH are looking for something more than just the opportunity to play bad Legacy. I like to think that the real reason people play EDH is to have fun games, instead of simply grinding wins as brutally and efficiently as possible.
This is probably wrong.
If you play EDH because you want to combo off as quickly as possible or because you want to prison-lock the board with Stasis or land destruction, then this article is not for you. 
The real question is this:
If you are one of these people, are you the minority or the majority?
Up until recently, I would have said that the “combo and prison” crowd was the minority of EDH players. When I played in the EDH constructed event at GenCon last year, it seemed like a minority of the players were playing hard combo or prison style decks, and a majority of the players were disgusted with this (and expressing their disgust in a variety of ways that ranged from “expressing mild irritation” to “threatening to quit the format and/or beat the hell out of the person playing the Erayo deck.”
However, over the past year I have observed a mounting pile of evidence that suggests that the public’s acceptance of these types of non-interactive decks may be substantially on the rise.
Part of this makes a lot of sense, and sadly, the explanation of it involves complaining about getting nice things. Up until a year ago, EDH (sorry…”Commander”) was strictly a casual format, conceived and championed by players who were looking for something very casual and a bit silly, a nice change of pace from the cutthroat, competitive Pro Tour and Grand Prix formats.
When the Commander pre-cons came out (and immediately sold out), it became clear that EDH had become a format for the masses.  Although I have no actual data to back this up, I have beet told anecdotally that EDH is now the most played format in the world. While this may or may not be true (or matter to begin with), it is impossible to ignore he fact that here has been a huge influx of new EDH players in the last fourteen months.
Let’s pause for a moment to engage in a bit of amateur psychology.  Riddle me this: what’s the first thing anyone does when they learn a new game?
Answer: They try to figure out how to win. 
This makes perfect sense; nobody learns UNO and immediately tries to figure out how to avoid winning in order to make the game more fun for the other players. When the new influx of EDH players occurred, they brought along the dominant sanctioned format philosophy that the only thing that matters is the end result of this game. Other than the cantankerous grumblings of older players about “the spirit of the format”, there was nothing telling them that infinite combos, mass discard/land destruction, endless counter spells or prison decks were philosophically off limits. The influx of new players brought vastly increased recognition and clout to the format, but it also signaled a shift away from the format’s focus on interactivity and fun.
(I realize this is a relatively overblown claim backed up by almost no actual evidence, but bear with me here.)
When EDH became recognized as a popular format, tournament and convention organizers naturally recognized is as a means to generating extra revenue.  The result? Side events.  And how do you run side events? You award prizes for eliminating players. And how do you eliminate players? You run non-interactive combo and prison decks designed to grind wins as efficiently as possible. At no place in here is the opportunity to receive any tangible reward for playing a deck hat promotes fun and interactive play.
Of course, may devotees of EDH would tell you that’s exactly the point of the format. Anyone can win a game, but many people who play EDH (especially those who’ve been playing for a long time) are devoted to the idea that “winning” is more about the experience than the end result.
Maybe.
This last statement sounds nice, but it is probably pure crap. Let’s be honest; most people play games because they want to win.
The critical distinction, however, is how far you are willing to go and what you are willing to do to achieve victory. If you are playing at a Pro Tour, the answer to his question is obviously “as fast as I can/whatever it takes.” The same probably applies to your local Friday Night Magic; however this is also an environment in which players may test out less-tuned decks, or possibly play whimsical, silly decks. At the kitchen table it is often regarded as being “douchy” to play a deck that is clearly designed to stop the other players from doing anything, although this obviously varies from playgroup to playgroup.
The point is that in the last year, EDH has gone from being a format that is primarily played on kitchen tables, to a format that is primarily played in environments more similar to a Friday Night Magic or a Pro Tour, bringing with it all that entails.
So what’s the answer to this?  The way I see it there’re two options-
Option one is to begin playing decks that are less interactive and more designed to grind wins.
Option Two is to begin making more of a concerted effort to encourage players to see EDH as a format that is more about interactivity and fun than about strictly winning.
That’s right…This is a “Take back our format” article.
For the record, I’m totally in favor of attempting to win over the hearts and minds of newer EDH devotees. Our local store has been using a “points” system for the past two years, and it has really done a lot to help encourage the style of interactive game-play that we are looking for. Also, anecdotally, it does seem as though this style of play is desirable and enjoyable for many of the new players who come to our shop; many have come to the shop, played a few games using the point system, and made some comment along the lines of “This environment is so much more fun than the environment in which I normally play!”
I understand that this approach is somewhat less than fully democratic, as it prescribes to a particular set of values and rules hat are, at the end of the day, written by a small group of players. (In this case, Cassidy and I, with some input from a few other players and a liberal amount of borrowing from the Armada Games points list.)
Nonetheless, while the system was created by a few, it has only persisted because the players as a whole have embraced it.  The end result is that, for the most part, the games that occur at Worlds Apart games on Wednesday nights are fun, interactive, and interesting.
Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here.  Maybe you tuned out the moment it was obvious I wasn’t going to tell you about the new tech or present another stupid list of “format staples”; either seems like a reasonable response. The point of the story is, if you do care about EDH as a format, you need to start doing something about it.
àMr. P
.   .   .   .   .

I wanted to add in a few words in here.  The second poll at the top of the main page and the decision to run the article Patrick and I put together for Monday was a lead-up to this piece.  I really think this is an important thing to think about for the community as a whole right now, because things are changing and growing at an alarming rate for Commander on all fronts; there are more EDH side events than ever at major tournaments and events, and Wizards of the Coast has clearly recognized the popularity of the format as well in making the decision to release an annual Commander-specific product. 
In short, the times are changing, so be prepared. 
Aside #1
I started to notice an interesting trend recently in the comments section of the ‘Dear Azami’ articles I author over at StarCityGames.com.  I know…writers need a thick skin.  I get that.  But the actual results were a baffling paradox.
When I first started writing, I attempted to make decks ‘better’.  (I know that’s subjective.)  When I did this, the first responses were fairly uniform; enthusiasm, positive feedback, people coming out of the woodwork to suggest other stuff that would work well.
Before long, that business model started to fail.  The same game plan was suddenly getting me results that ranged from people complaining about me missing something obvious, to the dreaded “This is a boring list filled with staples!” accusation.
I reconsidered my position.  Those of you who read this site regularly know that I’m not a fan of blindly tossing good cards at my decks just for the sake of doing so.  I realized that I had a voice, and I could bring it to Dear Azami.
So I did.  I started explaining that I wasn’t going to snap-include good cards for no reason.  I was going to actively remove purposeless good cards for other choices that brought more synergy to the lists.
And things were good.  Mostly. 
I started to see people start to suggest staples in the comments section, or call me out for not using them.  Interesting. 
My personal “Black Monday” hit not long after.  I think it was a redo of a B/W Teysa list, where the author was very good at explaining the purpose of the deck, and the goal of making it more competitive.  I tried to tune it with that in mind, going back to using staples like Debtors’ Knell that clearly made the deck better.
And I got a huge beating for it.  The comments section overflowed with people calling me out for suggesting staples.  The article took a huge beating by angry people suggesting I was just making the deck a “good stuff” list.
So I headed back to the drawing board.  Now, more than ever, I dedicate those articles to making decks stronger at the expense of staples that don’t have a purpose.  I call the cards out.  I’m not shy about it, and people seem to like it.
And then Glenn Jones publishes his piece, telling the word to play all of these cards because they’re staples.
And people love it.
Anyway…
We’re flying out for GenCon one week from today.  I’ll likely be somewhere between the airport in Indianapolis and the hotel downtown at this time next week.  Now, with the Official Commander Forums still down for the count (Sheldon, Genomancer, Ban-Ki…hit me up if you need a new host.  I can’t overstate how important those forums are to the community.), it’s hard to discuss and see the effects globally that Patrick was discussing above.  Specific to GenCon, there’s the traditional 3-round EDH event that was Erayo-locked to oblivion last year, now with way more prize support and an entry into the GenCon Championships, which can net you a full ride (travel, food, lodging, events) for GenCon ’13.  There are “side events” firing as they fill, pitting four players against each other, with packs awarded for eliminating other players.
I’m going to dive into these things full on to see if I can gain a better understanding of how people feel globally about EDH.  I’m not just talking about playing in the events (because that’s going to tell me that people like to win quickly when prizes are on the line, spirit-of-the-format be damned), but also immersing myself in the EDH community that comes together in Indy.  I want to learn more about what kinds of players play the format, and who they play the format.  I’m really hoping to gain a better understanding of where things are going, because at this point, I honestly don’t know.
Aside #2 –
Seems like a good place for this.  Our friend Chad played EDH last night at Worlds Apart.  I wasn’t there.  This was the first time he had played EDH there in a long time.  To sum up his backstory, he started playing EDH with us back in the day, but kind of quit when the format started to take off and games went from people throwing big haymakers around and laughing their heads off to tons of control elements and board wipes backing up combo wins. 
We tried to convince him things were changing.  We told him about the environment we’ve been building, and how much better it is.  We told him things are different now.
From what I understand, in his first game back last night, things went along swimmingly in the early game, until the mono-green player thought it would be a good time to ramp up and combo out the table with Primal Surge.  Game over.
I’m sure that helped to convince Chad things are better.  Fantastic.
Anyway…
We’re not running around screaming that the sky is falling here.  Or at least we’re not trying to.  But the concern is out there.  I love that the format is seeing a ton of new players, and a ton of new product.  I just hope that the masses continue to understand and embrace the spirit of EDH.  Without that, things may continue to get more and more uncomfortable for those of us that do.
So come out and talk to me at GenCon.  Challenge me to a quick pick-up game.  Tell me about why you started playing EDH, and what you like about it.  I want those stories.  I want people to hear about them. 
And help to grow the format on your own too.  You may or may not prescribe to the same mindset that myself of Patrick does when it comes to EDH, but we’re all ambassadors.  Remember what drew you in to begin with, and try to help others enjoy the same feelings for themselves.  Growth is great in the long run…it really is.  The best thing you can do is to try to grow your community.  Help new players learn.  Work on ways to make things fun and engaging for everyone.  Try different things to see what works.
Make it yours.  After all, if you’re reading this, you’re probably a fan.  Since EDH is non-sanctioned and casual, it can be as good as we all want it to.
Patrick talked about ‘taking back the format.’  Here’s to hoping we don’t have to.
See you next week-
àDJ

(Guest Content) – The Issue Of “Staples”, by Mr. P and DJ

(Before we get started today, I wanted to weigh in with a few disclaimers.

First off – In the interest of full disclosure (and for those who do not know), I am a compensated writer of StarCityGames.com.  I don’t want to catch anyone by surprise with the content here. 

Second – Patrick (aka “Mr. P”) is my close friend, fellow EDH enthusiast, and is as close to being officially onboard here at GDC as you can get without having your name on the letterhead.  On a personal level, he and I share incredibly similar opinions on EDH/Commander, and have worked together to build a local play environment based on rules and guidelines that we both fully agree are healthy and enjoyable, and the results – a budding EDH community that has spread to multiple stores in the Amherst, Mass area and enjoys dozens of regular players – speak for themselves.

In so many words, our voices differ and our stated opinions are each our own, but we agree on the concepts he discussed here nearly completely. 
Patrick and I have discussed this content at length, and while he is the main author and creator of the concept, I’ve also included some of my own thoughts at the bottom of the article with his blessing.

Finally, thanks for tuning in.  We’ll get back to the Xiahou Dun deck build shortly, but GDC was founded on a concept of “No Holds Barred, No Punches Pulled” EDH/Commander discussion, and I feel that this is an important piece to get out to the public eye right now.

Without further ado…)

       

Despite what you may have heard, you don’t need to play staples in your deck.

I know that there have been some articles recently on prominent websites which have said otherwise, including one article which said the following:

“A staple is a card that, if you can, you should play the vast majority of the time. Specifically, its absence from any deck should be noteworthy and not without explanation. There will be staples that wind up on the cutting room floor from time to time, but by and large there should be no reasonable strategic ground for excluding the card from your list.”
(The article in question is “Commander Staples And The Hall Of Fame”, written by Glenn Jones for StarCityGames.com.  It can be found here.  ->DJ)

This is pure rubbish.  I will freely concede that this statement is 100% true when applied to any competitive format, however (at least theoretically), EDH is not a competitive format.

More on that idea later.

The thing about playing staples is that it will make your deck better. The other thing about playing staples is that will make your deck boring.

Okay, so maybe “boring” is the wrong word; maybe the correct way to say it is that playing staples takes away from your deck’s identity in favor adding of raw power and sheer efficiency.  When you only run “the best cards,” you lose individuality and creativity, which are two of the joys of building EDH decks.

Now, I understand that this is a fine line; nobody really believes that it is noble to play Index over Ponder.  At the same time, you can jam Primeval Titan in every green deck, but at what cost?
Should you run Primeval Titan in your treefolks tribal deck, despite the fact that it is not a treefolk? 
Should your run Primeval Titan in your almost-creatureless Enchantress deck just because it finds Serra’s Sanctum? 
At what point is playing a staple just making your deck a little bit more uniform and predictable?

As with many questions like this, the answer lies largely in what you hope to get out of the format.  If your entire goal is to grind wins as quickly and efficiently as possible, the answers to these questions are probably “Who cares?”, “Of course!”, “Of course!!”, and “Who cares?” in roughly that order, and that’s fine. (sort of.)  
However, if you actually care about the “spirit of the format” (whatever the hell that is), then it may behoove you to actually spend some time thinking about this issue.

Let’s go back to the quote that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. When the author of this quote says that these cards should be played in every deck that can support them, what he is really saying is that all decks should functionally be the same; they should all be focused on getting the win as efficiently and quickly as possible, and these cards are the most effective and efficient tools for the job.  The difference between, say, a blue-black deck and an blue-green deck is that the first can run tutors and the second can run ramp, and the blue component should be pretty much the same in both.

I suppose this is theoretically true, as there are certain blue effects such as card draw that are pretty appealing across the board.  However, beyond that, it seems like blue can fill many roles; it can steal things, copy things, counter things, redirect things, and a variety of other things.  The presumption that every blue deck should run Time Stretch, Desertion, Rhystic Study and Brainstorm suggests that, at heart, all decks that run blue want exactly the same effects out of them.

This is completely wrong.

Look, run whatever the hell you want to, OK?  If you can get past the belief that you need to run staples at all costs, then you can open up a new world of creative and interesting deck building.

Let me give you a quick example.

I built a Hannah, Ship’s Navagator deck.  It was the middle of winter in Massachusetts, and I decided I wanted to make a blue-white “blizzard” theme deck.  Since there were no “icy” generals, I chose Hannah because she had favorable interactions with the various “frozen” auras (Frozen Solid, Ice Cage, etc.) in going through my binder of blue cards, I found a copy of In The Eye Of Chaos.  (Go ahead…you can look it up.)  I decided to make a deck that was primarily focused around enchantments, with In the Eye as a particular focal point.

You know how many counters the deck runs?
Zero.
àMr. P
.   .   .   .   .

I respect Glenn Jones as a co-author and fan of the game, and he’s a great asset to the Magic community by and large.  However, in this case I believe he’s aiming for an audience that may not completely line up with the true spirit of the EDH format.  In my work in the “Dear Azami” series, I’ve tried to impress upon people that “staples” (defined as “cards you should play in every deck”) don’t need to exist at all. 
Here’s the critical distinction:
-There are good cards out there, cards that provide powerful or unique effects whenever they are played.
-There are decks the need a certain effect or ability for a given slot. 
The two can be mutually exclusive if the need requires it.
Patrick makes an important distinction about EDH as a format; it’s not a sanctioned one.  Local metagames and playgroups may vary, and as they do, the concept of “competition” does as well.  This is the exact reason that we can sit back in good faith and attack the concept of “staples” to begin with.  If you’re not trying to win at all costs, there is no single card that is required to show up in your deck.
Again – No single card is a must-include in any given deck.
It’s possible that your specific metagame is exactly the one that Glenn is speaking to.  It’s not a secret that EDH is easy to break if that’s what you want to do.  I’ve personally seen tuned combo decks that aim to win on turn three through disruption, and decks that take the concept of “prison” and “resource denial” to new heights.
If you enjoy this sort of thing, or if you’re coming into the format and think you might, Glenn’s list is a great place to start.  I’ll happily concede that point.
But not everyone is like that, and there’s easy empirical evidence to back this up.  
Recently, M13 was in the process of being spoiled, and Worldfire came into the public eye.  The uproar was tremendous in the EDH community, and threads popped up on every major website forum, filling quickly with people on both sides of the fence.  
The main argument against the card? 
It takes the fun out of the game.
That statement gives me all the evidence I need that people don’t want cookie-cutter decks filled to the brim with optimized card choices they looked up on a popular website.  After all, no-one was screaming for Jace or Stoneforge Mystic to get the axe in standard because they weren’t fun.  They screamed because those cards were too good.
I’ll echo Patrick’s sentiment in closing.  Play what you want.  Play the card that fits your deck the best, or the one that you enjoy the most when it hits the table.  Play the pet card that you have sentimental attachment to because you opened a foil copy years ago.  Play the card that your favorite artist signed at a Prerelease.  
Maybe that card is Bribery or Tooth and Nail.  Maybe that card is Norrit or Hunted Wumpus.  
In any case, the true spirit of EDH is that it’s a format that lets you be creative and enjoy games in whatever manner you like.  In Standard or Legacy, there may be a “best deck”, but in EDH, the “best deck” is the one that makes you the happiest, not necessarily the one that wins every game.
So play the card that you want to play for the reasons you want to play it.  Don’t let anyone else convince you to do otherwise.

—>DJ

Wednesday Short – in which DJ gives himself coal for Christmas???

Good morning, team!  Just a quick drop-in today that I felt like pondering publically…

ITH’S BEGINNING TO LOOK ALOT LIKE CHRISTMAS…

I cashed in some store credit I had lying around and ponied up a little extra to give myself a nice little Christmas present:

I’ve been wanting to get my hands on one of these for a while, so I decided to pull the trigger.  I haven’t actually owned a Maze for the better part of the last two years, when I got rid of an Italian Dark version I had because I don’t do foreign cards.  (They irritate me in the same way that white borders do…can’t quite explain it.)  The original art never sat well with me, and when this alternate art was spoiled for the first time, I knew I had to have one eventually.

So why is it ‘coal’?

Here’s the thing – I hate Maze Of Ith.  Not in a “Man, I hate it when someone plays that card against me!” way; it’s more of a “I’m always miserable to see this come off the top” sort of way.  I understand the power level of the card; I know that it’s considered to be an EDH staple by many people.  I get that it’s an uncounterable way to deal with attacks.  I understand that it’s free to use.  But the fact of the matter is that I will run Mystifying Maze over this card every time, because it taps for one.  Flat-out.  I realize that the idea is to put this in a non-land slot in the deck, but I always find better things to include.  I just can’t get into Maze Of Ith.

So yeah…I’ve succeeded in buying myself a really nice present that I won’t like.  Figure that one out.

What about you?  Are there any “format staples” that you just can’t bring yourself to play?

What cards are on your Christmas list?

—>DJ



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