(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!


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!


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.
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.

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.)

->Mr P