Talked about it.

Threatened it.

Hinted about it.

Suggested it. 

Avoided it.

Considered it.

Went to the card shop in the middle of a hurricane.

Did it.

We been playing Emperor.

Remember like a year ago when I wrote that article in defense of Planechase? (That was like four months ago.  Dammit.  Accelerated release schedule, what?).
I’m done.  Nobody likes Planechase, and no number of PCP addicted cats can change that.

It’s ok, we have a new toy.

Emperor is a multiplayer format that is designed for six players.  This is ideal, because six players is the exact wrong number of players for a normal EDH game.  Four seems to be the ideal, with five being acceptable if slightly too big (five-player games are the perfect setup for “win by being the third most threatening player”), and six giving you the option of a five hour chaos game, or two threes, and nobody (except Mr. P) likes threes (three-player games are the perfect setup for “win by being the third most threatening player.”)


So anyways, we’ve been dating Emperor.  I’m not sure we’re ready for a relationship quite yet, but we’ve been enjoying some solid gold easy action in the meantime.  That’s pretty hot! 
Ok then.

Quick, boring explanation for people who somehow found this website but don’t understand how Google works: Emperor is a team format for six players.  You sit is some configurations where three players are on one side, and three are on the other (I prefer to sit at the end of the table, because I’m Mr. P, with my minions on either side.) The middle player on each team is the Emperor, and the players on either side are the “Generals” or “Lieutenants” or “Wingpeople” or “Brahs” or whatever. You each have a separate life total, but you take your turns simultaneously with your team.  The goal is to eliminate the opposing team’s Emperor.

There are different ways to handle the fine points of the rules, but here’s what we have used.

-You can only attack the player adjacent to you.  This means the Brahs can attack the opposing Brahs next to them, and the Emperors can’t attack or be attacked until one of the Brahs has been eliminated.

-We have been playing that there is a spell and ability area of effect of two.  This means that the Emperor’s spells and abilities can hit everyone except the opposing Emperor, and a Brah’s spell or ability can hit anyone except the Brah diagonal from them.  We applied this to everything, including global effects (ie. an Emperor’s Wrath will destroy everyone’s creatures except for the opposing Emperor’s. )  Anything that says “all players” or “all opponents” hits everyone legal in your spell range.

-The Emperor can tap a creature they control to pass it to one of their Brahs. This transfer of control is permanent.  We play that this is like any tap ability on a creature, so it can only be done if the creature does not have summoning sickness.  For the purpose of avoiding stupid rules loop-hole-ing, we ruled that tapping a creature in response to a spell or ability to move it out of that spell’s range did not make it an illegal target.  The idea of transferring creatures seems good, although it seems like it needs a bit of refinement. 

Aside from that, it’s just normal EDH.

Ok, that’s not entirely true.  It’s sort of normal EDH, but it’s also completely different.  Here’s what we’ve learned:

-Having aggressive decks as your Brahs is pretty strong.  This is mainly because of the focused attack range; instead of trying to aggro out everyone, you can just focus on one player at a time.  Also, since the diagonally opposite Brah can’t “see” you, you can only be Wrathed by 2/3rds of their team.

-Wrath effects are generally worse, as any Wrath you play is going to hit your entire team and only 2/3rds of theirs.  The theoretical flip side to this (and I say “theoretical” because I have no actual evidence to back this up) is that it seems like the Join Forces stuff would be really good in this format (or at least marginally better that it is normally.)

-Massacre Wurm is really good.  Shocking.

-The “pass your creatures” thing is a nice idea, but the way we handle it currently isn’t great.  The idea I have been experimenting with is that the Emperor could pass its creatures as part of the attack step (ie, Brahs attack Brahs, Emperor’s creatures “attack” Brahs by joining their board.) This is the single biggest thing I am unsure about (first world format problems, what?)

-The games often go substantially quicker than you might think.  Part of this is based on the fact at since teams are taking their turns simultaneously, there is considerably less waiting than a typical six-person game.  Also, since you can only be attacked by one person, there is substantially less compulsion to play random defense; you can typically know what is going to be attacking you next turn and plan accordingly, instead of sitting back wondering who might attack you (and not attacking as a result.)

-You need to do something every turn.  If you are going to play this format, play a deck that does something (ie, Cass, don’t play Riku :P).  The last few games we played, I chose decks that were slower and with a higher mana curve, and I did almost nothing for the entire time.  Sorry abut that, team.

Speaking of which…

-Try to create symmetry among teams based on overall power of deck, and player ability. 

I use the term “symmetry” because it’s important to both balance the power levels of the teams (in order to avoid completely one-sided blowouts), and also in how you seat the teams.  We learned this the hard way this past week; let’s just say that we had two “less experienced” players in the game, one on each team.  One team chose to put the less experienced player as their Emperor, while the other had their less experienced player as one of the Brahs.  Let’s just say that every game played in that configuration ended quickly when the less experienced Brah was blown out, followed by the Emperor a turn later. 
I’ll give you one guess which team Mr P was on.

-The “teamwork” factor is (for me, at least) highly enjoyable.  While EDH games often devolve into players temporarily teaming up to knock down the biggest threat, the quality of working as a unit from the get-go adds an interesting strategical wrinkle to the whole thing (especially when your Emperor is as Machiavellian and micro-managey as Mr. P.)

Oh, and

-This format variant is really fun.

I love EDH , and I’m a big believer in the idea that one of the reasons I love it is because I am fortunate enough to have a playgroup that embraces the social aspects of the format.  In turn, my contribution to this is to try to give something back to the playgroup, which led to the creation of EDH Night at Mr. P’s House.  One of the great things about hosting EDH night is that we can try out different format variations.  Both Planechase and Archenemy have been tried, but both of those never really caught on the way I had hoped they might (possible reason for this: those formats suck.)

For the time being, people seem to enjoy it.  I strongly encourage you to try it out the next time you have a playgroup of six, and you want your game to last less than three hours.



->Mr. P


Back door cracked, we don’t need a key.  We get in for free.  No VIP sleeze.  Drink the Kool-Aid, follow my lead.  Now you’re one of us.  Our name’s Mr P.