I don’t think I “get” EDH anymore.
Maybe it’s survival of the fittest; ‘adapt or die’ is a real thing in any Magic format – even a casual one like this. I’m starting to think that something in my head worked its’ way loose somewhere along the way, and is now just hanging disconnected in the clutter up there; while the cool kids are jamming Commander 2015 product to their hearts’ content, I’m busy lamenting poor design choices (ones that everyone else seems to love – Hey there, Experience Counters!) and sadly rebuilding Kresh the Bloodbraided for the eleventh time with roughly 85 of the same cards I used the last time I had this dance.
I think it comes down to poorly-educated expectations. Everyone else seems to be having great games lately, while instead I’ve got a whole thread string in the private GDC team chat that features the entire rest of the team trying to help me not hate Magic in general. Something’s a little off there.
My mood sucks, and part of it is that I feel like it’s been a few months since I’ve had a good EDH game. I seem to be stuck in a Groundhog Day-style loop:
- Show up at the shop.
- Head across the street to Antonio’s for pizza with Mr. P. (Good times!)
- Come back, draw cards for random pod seating.
- Shuffle up, and proceed to have my game crushed in about fifteen minutes flat by an accelerated explosion of Prossh, Skyraider of Kher tokens, or someone countering my Austere Command that would have shut down the mono-red guy running away with the game by abusing Pyromancer’s Goggles and Rings of Brighthearth to dome the table with Urza’s Rage because, well gee whiz, that would also blow up my Door of Destinies, and what do you mean the games is over? (Bad times…)
- No thanks. Anyone wanna play Modern?
- Lemme just finish looking through this binder first. For 40 minutes or so.
- Wife calls, kid is sick at home, plz help.
- Sure. (Deck proceeds to miss land drops three through twelve…)
Well, at least it’s an hour drive to get home.
Clearly there’s an issue, but I think it’s me. I’ve famously torn down my entire collection of decks at least once a year since this website was founded after prolonged bouts of crappy EDH in order to rebuild them all, because in my head I’m a far better builder than I am a player.
In the past month, I’ve now done that twice over.
It’s somehow easier to keep up this rotation because, as a deckbuilder, I can retreat into my little bubble of a theory world where everything makes sense, people run removal and play fair decks, there’s no such thing as mana screw, there’s steam heat in the sidewalks, and butter on both sides of my bread. I don’t need results. I can build my decks in the absence of external factors, feel content about them, and not have to actually, you know, play them against other people – people who will inevitably crush my concoctions, thus ruining my weeks-in-the-making synergies and strategies and causing me to get salty about their no-answers decks that just power through a race to get their own decks to goldfish a win before the rest of the table can do the same damn thing.
The irony is palpable. I get it.
This is why Vorosh, the Hunter comes apart after one play, why Bosh, Iron Golem comes apart before getting played, and why I apparently founded a website that I could engage in some serious pot-meet-kettle writing action on. Good times.
That does beg the question, however – If I’m the only one not having fun, where does the problem really lie?
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES
Week after week, I see a shop full of stoked players. There are kids that are new to the format that are experiencing things now that I’ve seen for years:There are regulars having fun games that are not the ones I’m in. Hell – there are regulars having fun in the games that I’m in. I’m missing the boat and having a shitty time because my expectations haven’t changed.
This is important. I’m putting it here so that I can reference it and kick my own moping ass into gear (and prevent another 1,200-card month-long rebuild) after I get angry from losing to another Hazezon Tamar-meets-Purphoros, God of the Forge tokensplosion this week:
MY EXPECTATIONS HAVEN’T CHANGED
That changes today:
I need to stop expecting that people will assess threats correctly. Let people do what they want to do. My way isn’t the highway. Expect it and be ready for it.
I need to stop expecting that people will play removal and help shoulder the load of managing the board-state when someone gets out ahead. If you can’t help yourself, right?
I need to stop thinking that the environment that I enjoyed playing in four years ago is the same one that will continue to exist now and in the future. Plus ca change, plus c’est la something something…
I need to understand that Wizards of the Coast will continue to design cards for my favorite format, and stop complaining about it. This much attention means that it’s a good thing, and will keep being a good thing. That’s a good thing. Good? Good.
I need to basically remember that Magic is a game, and games are fun. I like fun.
I need to take all of this to heart, and move forward with my deck-building and gaming, and remember why it is that I keep coming back week after week, and spend hours upon hours at home and work theory-crafting and maintaining this website.
It’s time to build some glass-cannons to force other players to deal with me, and see how they work out. I’ll stay in the realm of “weird and not oft-seen” – time to build Phage the Untouchable to see if I can wipe out a table of players with it. (Or maybe just one to start.)
It’s time to hit the big-leagues and power things back up. Run some staples. No-one else is taking it easy; what’s really wrong with running Fling in Kresh? Is Insurrection really that awful? Why do I have to hate on Geth, Lord of the Vault so much?
(Actually, that card still drives me nuts. Screw Geth.)
I’ve spent months complaining about everything else but me, and that’s a dangerous mental position to take. (You know what they say – If you can’t spot the asshole in the room…) I need to change my expectations – or just do away with them altogether. I’m going to build what I want, play how I want, and just have fun creating fun for everyone else. I can sit back after bringing a knife to a gunfight and get angry, or I can start shooting and start laughing with the rest of the table.
This last part is why we all play the format – to have fun with a bunch of like-minded people. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing cutthroat French-rules 1V1, or competitive multiplayer, or 93/94, or Tiny Leaders. (Wait – it does matter. No-one plays Tiny Leaders anymore.)
The point is this – just have fun, dammit. That should be your only expectation.