I did it. I solved the format. Throw in the towel, nerds. Get ready for endless Affinity mirrors, because Commander is solved. We can all go home.
FYI – I’m Dave. I manage some stuff for GDC – mainly prodding our team of miscreants to write stuff on deadline. Two weeks in since the relaunch, and it’s going gangbusters. Hooray for us.
So… let me let you in on a little secret.
Sometimes I say inflammatory, or… let’s call it debatable things. But seriously, I really did solve EDH, so you can stop contorting your brain. I got this.
Here’s my solution to EDH:
Work the Social Contract. Work it HARD.
After painstakingly asking the crew on team GDC what the “Social Contract” means (and then ignoring them) I compiled this description.
How to Social Contract:
- Communicate: Early, well, honestly, and often. About your preferences, your intent, and what you’re packing.
- Listen and Respect: Others’ preferences, goals, and reactions. You should be min-maxing to enjoyment, not winning. As Mr. P put it, pay as much attention to the fun of others as to your own.
- Just play: Slang that cardboard yo, but cut cards that are making you unhappy, and play decks that you can enjoy without kicking the other three puppies at the table. It is still a game built around winners and losers, so there’s nothing wrong with eliminating a player. But you don’t get extra points for their tears, even if they do sustain you (and maybe if that’s you, you should refer back to point 1 quite often)..
You’ll notice no specific card, style, or strategy is explicitly out of bounds – or in bounds for that matter – in the above. It’s mainly about not being a jerk and playing with the other people in the game, not attacking at them.
Every game has a purpose. In Sonic the Hedgehog, you gotta run all fast and grab dem rings to rescue the animals; in Settlers of Catan, you try and be as huge a dick as possible to see if you’ll still have friends (Truth – ED); in draft, you make the pick with highest probability of ensuring you win every game.
In EDH, you try to have maximum fun while playing within a specific subset of Magic’s rules, and secondarily, you try to be sure everyone else has fun – or at least doesn’t-have-a-bad-time (™).
Going hard on The Social Contract is the best, most effective, most efficient, most flexible way to do this.
But It All Was Bull Sh…..
Here’s why this isn’t a pile of crap:
EDH is a ton of different things to different people — even after segmenting out “competitive EDH” or “Duel Commander.”
Those are competitive formats. It’s in their freaking name.
With all these differences in what we want, our shared desire for communal fun (and also the deck construction rules) is basically the only thing EDH-loving strangers know they have in common. But this is a precious, fragile thing – and again, keeping in mind that the goal of EDH is maximum fun for everyone – so The Social Contract is your best tool to protect it in a world where you only know two things about the next rando who shuffles up (again, for reference: 1) deck construction and 2) they should want everyone to have fun).
Of course, this doesn’t protect you from troglodytes who don’t “get it.” Oh wait – if you do number one right, it kinda does.
Woo Hoo. Go me and team Social Contract.
A desire to “Defend the Social Contract” really impacts everything. Deck strategy, card choice/tactics, in-game decisions, what beverage you bring. You can either do it right and crush, having an awesome time with memories for all, or do it wrong, and make everyone pack up their toys early so they can stare at their phones some more.
What Did I Just Read
Time to put my money where something something. I’m moving to Dallas later this month – Loadin’ up the kids and leaving the warm, familiar NYC Magic family for unknown pastures. According to Reddit, there are two decent stores for EDH night, but one is “fairly competitive.”
So I’m in search of a playgroup, an experience that is sure to test my Team Social Contract faith. But I plan to document it all, practice what I preach, and prove that it doesn’t matter if you play a sub-optimal card in your second recursion slot, because EDH success is measured on a different axis. Fun for everyone.
And let’s be honest. Commander is damn sweet, so it shouldn’t be that hard to get across the finish line.
Until next time.