Defending the Commander Social Contract

Category: Old-school cred

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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Out With The Old?

I asked you guys about direction for a Livonya Silone deck not long ago, and the long of the short of it is that as much as I hate to admit it, Wizards R&D just does it better these days.  Maybe it’s a simple matter of the necessity of “power creep”, but I sat down over the weekend intending to bang out Livonya’s new 100-card home, and came out the other end…with a Thromok list.  I wanted to restore a classic car, and bought a brand-new one instead. 
Well, let’s cover some standard business before we look further at this.  It’s Monday; I need to ease into my frustration a little at a time, or I’m liable to run screaming into the woods.  Or at least take a leisurely drive down to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee.   
I neglected to give you guys the results of the “Tuck!” poll from last month.  Here’s the scoop:

How Do You Feel About Tuck In EDH?

Seems Fine!                           77%    (33 Votes)
Needs Errata                         19%    (8 Votes)
Who Plays Tuck?                  4%      (2 Votes)
Broken!                                 0%      (0 Votes)

This ended up exactly where I was expecting it to.  I expected most of you to be okay with tuck as it currently stands, especially on the backs of the new toys in Terminus and Banishing Stroke.  (Shiny and new.  All is forgiven!) 
When referring to the errata in the second option, this is the suggestion that tuck effects should work in the same way as other removal currently does when used on a general; if a tuck spell or effect would cause a general to be shuffled into or placed on the bottom of a library, the player who owns the general should have the option to place it instead in the Command Zone.  
Personally, I’m of the opinion that tuck as it exists in the format is fine as it is; I like to have the option to handle a problem general with some amount of actual permanence.  However, I know there’s a body of players who would argue that losing your general removes the identity of your deck at best, and at worst cripples you.  
How does this resonate with you?  Hit up the comments section with your opinion.


I’m looking for some opinions here, and I figured some of you may have a better grasp of the technology than I do. 
I’m looking to pick up a notebook or tablet.  I have a computer at home for my heavy work (word processing, image manipulation, research, etc), and I’d like a device that has an emphasis on mobility.  Ideally, this will be something that I can easily travel with, and be able to use for updating Twitter/Facebook, some amount of writing and note-taking on the fly, and the standard suite of internet/e-mail access.  I’d like to be able to integrate photos and video as well, although I have a smartphone that will allow me to also handle this in a pinch.  It doesn’t need to be perfect at everything, but it does need to address it all.
So far, the suggestions have been equal parts netbook/Macbook Air and tablet/Ipad.  The former is obviously easier to do actual writing on, but it’s easier to stand next to a table at GenCon and post pics and pithy comments about the Griselbrand combo mirror matches as they happen.
Any suggestions on what I’m really looking for here?  Shoot me an e-mail.  And thanks in advance.


Back on topic, I’m sitting here staring at a Thromok deck that was supposed to be something else.  Despite my best intentions, devour X for five mana just seemed to be better in nearly every way to a moderately-sized first-striking land-walker for six.  I started dreaming of dropping In The Web Of War, playing a 49/49 Thromok (triggering Warstorm Surge, knocking out one player on the spot), attacking another player for lethal damage, Fling-ing him at a third player, and triggering Stalking Vengeance to kill…
Well, I usually play four player games, so I guess myself?
You know…style points.  Or something.
The point is that when it comes down to it, power creep has taken us into a new age in Magic.  Back in the day, six mana got you Force of Nature – an 8/8 trampler with a four-mana colored upkeep cost.  These days, the same investment gets you an uncounterable 8/8 trampler with no upkeep, or a hydra that deals combat damage to all of your opponents at once.  That’s a pretty hefty swing over the past fifteen-odd years. 
The question is simple – At what point does it just stop making sense to be nostalgic?
My current poster-boy for this phenomenon is Maelstrom Wanderer:

Not more than a few weeks back, Imshan and I published our joint article on Intet, the Dreamer.  Now, the specific purpose was more focused on the construction of the decks themselves, and trying to steer clear of falling prey to “good stuff”, but there’s a very real component to the equation that seems to indicate that my first-ever EDH general has been upstaged.
Intet gives you a 6/6 flyer for six mana – good bang for the buck.  From there, for a small three-mana investment on the back of a successful damaging of another player, I can cast the top card of my library for free.  Again, seems good; the only real downside comes when we hit a land. 
With Wanderer, we’re paying an additional two-mana premium.  The power grows to seven; the toughness drops to five.  However, we’re now getting an additional two spells for the same price via cascade, and there’s no chance of blanking by hitting a land.  Looking at my list, that allows me to play anything currently in my deck. 
And if that’s not good enough, my team also gets haste.  Isn’t that just…better?
There’s also the question of usability and integration.  With Intet, you really need to invest in a “top of the library matters” strategy with the deck, which often means replacing arguably-superior draw like Rhystic Study with something like Soothsaying.  With Wanderer, you can go in that direction, but it’s not terrible to just double raw-dog the top two spells off the top of your deck, and play better cards instead.  There’s no extra investment required, no risk of loss through combat, and most of all, no chance of blanking out. 
The flip side of that coin (at least for me) is that usually all of that risk means that Intet stays in the Command Zone more often than not, effectively becoming a puppet-general.  Which I hate.  Realistically, though, why would I waste a critical turn mid-game running him out for a minimal return and several hoops to jump through, when I’d really like to be saving my mana for the Gather Specimens in my hand instead?  Where’s my motivation to play my general? 
Intet, for all of the nostalgic value, isn’t really winning this fight, despite how much I love being a slave to old-school flavor.
.   .   .   .   .
So where does this leave me?  Is there a point where it no longer makes sense to hold on to tradition?  Is my stupid desire to flash my old-school cred being overshadowed by the fact that two colorless mana is apparently now worth one Mind’s Desire trigger stapled to Fervor?
Or is it just better to get your brains bashed in while proudly displaying a card printed before some of the players at your table were even born? 
Does moral high-ground matter in the long run?
…Oh, hey.  Just shuffled up a hand with Soul’s Fire, Natural Order, and Symbiotic Wurm. 
I’m sorry…what were we talking about, again?


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