I’m not crazy about the idea of predetermination. I want to believe that things happen in this world organically, and that being spontaneous is, well, actually a thing, rather than a failed theory.
This is an article that explains why EDH is better than Limited. It might also be about things happening exactly the way you expect them to. It certainly is going to contain a hefty helping of me complaining about things, so to that extent, I’m doing what I can to keep the idea that ‘the more things change, the more do stay the same’ alive and well.
First things first – why I dislike Sealed:
Sealed is, with very few exceptions, a total crapshoot. You can be the best Magic player in the world, and you’re occasionally going to dump a match or an event to the kid who opened a bomb pool that all-but plays itself. Skill can tip the scales in your favor a bit, but if you open a pool with no removal and crap off-color rares, the player who rips Firemane Avenger, Aurelia’s Fury, Assemble the Legion, three Boros Charm, and multiples of every important common battalion guy there is will just wipe the table with you.
Plus, I’m never that guy. So there’s that.
Next – why I dislike Draft:
I’m a 36-year-old husband, father, and provider for my family, living approximately an hour from the shops I play at regularly. As a result, I can’t and don’t play all that often, so when I do, it’s Wednesday Night EDH, not Thursday Night Draft. As a result, if I ever find myself in a situation where I have the time and the means to enter a draft, I’m typically playing against players who know the format inside and out, understand signals, know how to piece together the correct archetypes, and so on. I, on the other hand, am the jerk who holds thing up because he’s reading every card.
That’s a disadvantage that does not translate into many wins. So there’s that.
The reason I mention all of this is because I love drafts. I really do. However, in order to really feel like I’m on a level playing ground, I tend to only draft at large-set Prereleases, as this guarantees that everyone else is as clueless as I am.
Except for the guys who know an owner who will break street date. Or the ones that hit the events. Or the ones unafraid to pad their pools with what they’ve learned in both situations, in order to gain an edge and win some easy packs.
And then, I also have to take into consideration that Wizards of the Coast still doesn’t allow drafts at Prereleases for a number of reasons. So there’s that.
Last Friday, I decided that I’d hit up Friday Night Magic for the first time in a very long time. (I think the last time I played at an FNM, Keiga, the Tide Star was still Standard-legal.) Being the first Friday of the month, the first day Gatecrash was available, and that the February FNM promo is a sweet alternate-art foil
, I figured it would be a great chance to have a good time playing something other than EDH. Reliquary Tower
As it turns out, predestination is a thing. It fully sucked, to the point that I was considering skipping out on Limited for the next two years or so, including the GenCon events that I enjoy so much. It was really that exasperating.
But it got me thinking too. Without further ado, here are the eight main reasons EDH is better than limited:
1. I know my deck doesn’t suck. Mostly.
There’s no fear that I trainwreck a pile of unplayable crap and have a miserable evening. Well, unless I’m playing a deck of my own design that fits that description, anyway. That does happen from time to time, to be fair…
2. Mulligans don’t decide games.
Draw seven. No land. Shuffle. Draw six. One land. Shuffle. Draw five. Five land. Shuffle. Flip the table. Punch a cop.
No, I’ll take the EDH way. In our shop, it’s “
Mull until you get a playable hand.” That’s great. I’m perfectly capable when it comes to screwing things up in my games; I don’t need any help from mana screw, thank you.
3. Elbow room!
Okay…the years have not been completely kind. You work a desk job for a decade, and let’s just say it’s hard to keep to your fighting weight.
Still, I want to set up shop at a table with four or five other players, spread out my playmat, and be able to breathe without being able to tell what the dude next to me had for lunch. There’s nothing worse than looking at a folding table designed for four people and then getting told you’re in seat three of four on one side or the other.
4. The money thing…
This is mostly me complaining about the grass being greener. My typical draft goes like this:
-Open pack one. Look at the rare. Awesome…it’s Realmwright. That ought to bust this draft wide open.
-Turn to kid next to me. Whoops! He’s so excited, he can’t help but mention he just opened a foil shockland.
-Move on to the second pick. It sucks, mostly because I’m bad at evaluating cards, but also because I have to get excited about crap uncommons that I can’t even unload on CardShark.
-Hey…weird! Someone passed the kid Obzedat, Ghost Council!
You get the point. I’d much rather be able to sit back, content in the knowledge that I’m spending very little money (or none at all) and I’m going to get my money’s worth.
5. No douchebags!
True story…one of the last times I hit up a draft event, I ended up paired against a very outgoing younger guy who really liked to talk. He was being very vocal to friends across the room about how good the draft went, how awesome his deck was, and on and on.
I quietly started to lose, and he decided that it was a good idea to explain to me exactly why that was. How his deck was so good, and how it was crazy how easy it was for him to win with it, and why I didn’t have a chance playing that card right there, and on and on. Insufferable.
I may have lost my cool. I may have told him where I was planning on shoving his perfect deck if he didn’t knock it off. I may have said some unsavory things that I (slightly) regret saying in public. I’m not totally sure, because anger was clouding my judgment at the time.
Can you guess who I get paired against in round three Friday night?
And guess what he does again?
I must have been Genghis Khan in a past life to have karma kick my ass like this.
6. N o s l o w p l a y e r s . . .
Might as well get this all out of the way right up front.
Round one, and I’m paired against a very nice young girl.
“I’m sorry…I’m a bit slow here.” She tells me.
“No worries!” I’m in a good mood.
I win the die roll, lead with a Swamp, and pass. Total elapsed time – 3 seconds.
She draws a card, and looks at her hand. For a very long time. Moving cards around, looking at things quizzically, moving things some more, commenting on what the right play is, and boy, I don’t know what to do, and more card moving, and I’ve suddenly developed an urge to take up recreational drug use to make the time pass by in a more-palatable fashion.
Finally, she just plays a
Forest and passes the turn. Total elapsed time – 4 minutes.
And that was one of the faster turns, too. By the time the first game ended (I had the joy of losing after keeping a four-land hand and drawing into six more lands in the next eight glacially-paced turns), we had fifteen minutes left in the round. Most everyone else had finished and reported already.
If this happened at an EDH table, there would be two other people at minimum helping me to knock the offending player out. (Of the game, I mean. Kind of.)
7. Waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
I am a patient man. I really am. It takes a lot to get me worked up in real life. But when it comes to playing Magic, the last thing I want to do is, you know, stand around waiting to play Magic. Any semblance of strong will goes out the window, and I’m pacing and fuming and swearing and headed out into the parking lot and checking my email on my phone and pacing again, waiting for games to end and new parings to go up. It is borderline physically painful, no joke.
I want the experience where I sit down and play cards for a few solid hours at a time. This is likely why I dislike infinite combos in EDH, because they end things way too quickly for my tastes. If I order a nice steak at a restaurant, I don’t want to try to swallow it all in the first bite. The last thing I want is to have to sit at the end of the table and watch everyone else eat for the next half-hour.
8. The person I become isn’t a very nice person.
I know I mentioned this in the past few weeks, but I used to play Magic competitively. I really enjoyed winning. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you can balance it out.
It’s a game, after all. It is meant to be enjoyed.
But when I play in drafts and sealed events, that hyper-competitive player comes out of retirement. I wish it was to make me play better, but it’s usually just to make myself angry.
The joy of looking at cards is gone. No longer am I excited to see what I’m going to be playing with; instead, I’m either calculating the chances the cardpool has as a whole to win, or else I’m mentally preparing a sell-list to ship to a dealer for profit.
If the cardpool sucks, or is worth nothing, I go in the tank.
I’m quiet. Introverted. I tend to develop a thousand-yard stare. I’m too busy thinking about what I need to do to win that I don’t listen to people very well. I check out of conversations, and wander off on people who are in mid-sentence.
When it’s time to play, I have to force myself to look at my opponent. I prefer to stare at the table in silence and focus. I’m positive my blood pressure rises, because I get flushed and hot and uncomfortable.
And if I lose, I take it pretty hard. I find friends to explain how unlucky I was, how my deck mana-screwed me out of the game, or how the other player saw all the right cards at the right times. I have a hard time admitting fault.
In a nutshell, I become a shitty person. I don’t like that.
EDH brings out the best player in me. Not in terms of skill, but in terms of how I want to be as a person. I want to enjoy the games, and talk, interact, and laugh with others. I want to joke, and talk about card interactions, and come up with deck ideas, and help out others with tuning.
I’m a better person when I play EDH. That really says it all.