Kind of a fitting topic, I guess…
After the Wednesday night game this past week, I was discussing the shifts in the local metagame with my friend and fellow Wednesday Night EDH Thingamagig co-organizer Patrick. There’s actually a decent discussion on the official forums specifically about that topic here, but the main thrust of the discussion was that we were trying to decide how to deal with the power creep that had started occurring. One of the things Patrick suggested after a while was re-introducing general damage.
This got me thinking. As far as I can remember, I’ve played about three games over the entire span of my time with EDH as a format where we actually used general damage.
Now, I understand the thematic strength of the concept, but I can honestly say I like EDH better without it. One of the more frustrating parts of getting used to the format when I was just getting into it was all of the housekeeping involved. The number of life totals involved with the game are effectively multiplied, which seemed to me to be a logistical nightmare. This is a casual format, but I need a pad and paper or a bucket of dice and a *very* stable gaming table for a format that usually involves dozens of permanents per player at any given time? Messy at best, and “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” more likely.
As time went on with our playgroup, I think we came to also find that games went longer for everyone without general damage. I realize that this came at the expense of invalidating an entire strategy of heads-up general aggro, but we were having far more fun playing the game rather than ending it, and I’m pretty sure that none of us missed it before long as a result.
As Patrick and I moved on to playing in the local shop, and then taking charge of the official shop-hosted Wednesday night event before long, we carried the “no general damage” rule over to the league-style points list and rules we instituted. I think it seemed like a natural exclusion to us, but I realize now that we were effectively imposing our house rules on a far wider audience, which could have come as a shock. It certainly misrepresented the format to newer players now that I think about it.
The thing is, I’m pretty sure that we haven’t had a single complaint in multiple years. Not one. Even with players utilizing Omnath and Rafiq as generals, the standard reply is, “Cool! I like that better that way.”
Well, maybe one complaint. But I think the guy who made it had a mono-brown Emrakul list, and I’m equally sure his “backup” deck was an Erayo list. No-one seemed too interested in playing with him to begin with, and really, he didn’t seem to interested in playing with anyone at all given his deck choices…
Anyway, this is more of a realization entry rather than anything. I’d be interested in hearing from other players on this, though. Have you ever played without general damage? What do you prefer? Do you think the game is fundamentally weakened without general damage, through a loss of “Voltron” strategy and general flavor?
Let me hear it. Maybe I’ll throw up a poll too for all three of you who’ve found the site so far. 😉