Change is a powerful thing. I have the Japanese kanji for “change” tattooed on my right chest in black, with a red circle background. I like to think that it’s here as a guiding factor in my life, so that I always understand that change is a constant. Really, I got it tattooed there after a very recent ex-girlfriend got the same tattoo. I figured she’d never see it anyway, and it would just be my way of still staying connected to her or some crap like that.

Kids do dumb things sometimes.

It went on to be a focal point on one of my band’s albums. I’m not sure I remember the reason, but in my poor little twenty-something brain, it felt like some sort of spiritual confluence. It was “right” somehow.

God-bless youthful exuberance.

One of the secrets of growing older is that with age comes the development of a sense of simplification. There are lots of things that matter when you’re eighteen; when you’re thirty-seven, you can narrow that list waaaay down. I want to believe that it’s a matter of perspective, but I think it might actually be that old people are just tired of the BS.

I used to worry about opinions and great social injustices and the effects of climate change on indigenous plant life on Zimbabwe. Now, I worry about paying bills and having beer in the ‘fridge. I can’t wait to get old enough that I can get away with taking off my pants in public and crying during beer commercials.

(I may already do one of those things from time to time.)

Anyway, the point of all of this is partially to illustrate the joys of the middle-age wandering mind, and more importantly to talk about the fundamental reason EDH is awesome – care-free expectations.

WHY I PLAY EDH

The secret to EDH for me is the pace of the climate. Standard is cutthroat; Limited is frenetic. Vintage feels like getting dropped into Clash of the Titans, while Legacy feels angry that Modern is stepping on its toes all the damn time.

EDH is like sitting in an Adirondack chair in the backyard in late Fall, wearing your favorite sweater and enjoying a lovely cigar. It’s nice, relaxing, enjoyable, and most importantly, it sticks with you even after you gargle with Listerine a few times. It’s not rushed, and the entire point is to take it all in and enjoy it for what it’s worth. The good games are good, and even the bad games are still worth talking about.

No drama. Just fun.

THE CULLING

I think I’m having a mid-life crisis. I did the unthinkable last week; the culling of the decks.

Again.

The truth of the matter is that I find my playtime limited these days, so I want my games to count. I discovered that I would be well served by really focusing on the decks that I enjoy and play all the time, which I made possible by weeding out the rest of the stuff that never quite gets there, or never even gets taken out of the bag to begin with.

Also, my back hurts when I drag the whole bag to and from the card shop to my car. Worth noting, I think.

The Ones That Made It:

Kresh the Bloodbraided – Good old Kresh. Everyone needs a screaming aggro blitzkrieg, so I took parts of Xenagos, God of Revels (Sheer Ridiculousness) and wedged it in there. Highlights: Xenagos himself. Berserk. Sneak Attack. Phyrexian Dreadnought.

Prime Speaker Zegana – I’m taking her back to well-documented GenCon Combo-Breaker status. The current count of missing foils: 13. (Five Zendikar full-art Islands and Forests each, a Misdirection, and Misty Rainforest. Oh yeah…also Force of Will.)

Angus Mackenzie/Roon of the Hidden Realm – These two continue to cohabitate the command zone like a proper played-out buddy-cop drama. Grizzled veteran, meet young blood. (And yeah…Roon is better. Sorry, Angus!) Sometimes, you just need to bust out Aluren and Man-O’-War.

Hazezon Tamar – On the one hand, I hate token decks, and I always take them apart. On the other hand, I love being able to slam my fist on the table and scream “Delayed trigger! DELAYED TRIGGER!” just to scare the younger players. Recently added – Ice Cauldron. Just to ensure that someone calls a judge every time I play this thing.

Eladamri, Lord of Leaves – I’ll be damned if this thing isn’t my most favorite deck right now. It’s elves…but then you get moments when Concordant Crossroads, Door of Destinies, and Coat of Arms is in play, and you’re drawing extra cards off of Font of Mythos. Three mana later, and someone is getting the business end of a 14/14 Llanowar Elves. Someday, I will live the Helix Pinnacle dream with this deck.

Zedruu the Greathearted – I dismissed this thing as an exercise in theorycrafting, and it has ended up being the most memorable of my decks in the past year. I can’t thank Sheldon Menery enough for the concept. I find myself price-shopping Beta Smoke because of this deck, and that’s pretty awesome.

Sharuum the Hegemon – She’s back…again. With all the new players in the shop, I look forward to having to explain to at least one person each time I play it that it doesn’t go infinite in any way shape or form, and that instead they need to fear my Guardian Beast and Mycosynth Golem. Here’s hoping it doesn’t suck this time around.

Hanna, Ship’s Navigator – I couldn’t very well tear everything down without building something new. Hanna makes the scene as the new enchantress deck in my quiver, because I’m dying to play Moat[card/], [card]Opalescence, and Archetype of Imagination.

No more Melek “all the spells”. No more Sigarda “the other Enchantress”. No Thraximundar, no Memnarch, no Ghost Council 1.0. All gone. I even killed off mono-white angels.

Here at GDC, boredom reigns supreme!

ABOUT THAT MID-LIFE CRISIS

I live in rural New England. We’re an environmentally-conscious community who experiences some pretty brutal winter weather. Naturally, it is only logical that I trade in my dependable and sensible Subaru sedan for a 425-horsepower rear-wheel-drive muscle car with 20” wheels.

This seems like a good idea to me.

Outwardly, I’m reconciling the decision to the fact that my wife has an all-wheel drive minivan, and we commute together. I won’t miss work in bad weather, and I have a fun car for the weekend. Inwardly, I’m looking forward to 14 miles per gallon and flipping off Prius drivers with “Shop Local” bumper stickers on them while I do nice, smoky burnouts in second gear at highway speeds.

Note to self: tell the wife the first part, not the second one.

WHY I HATE CONSPIRACY

It’s official – I’m the only person on the planet who didn’t enjoy Conspiracy. And yeah, “hate” is a strong word. The official party line is that I do not enjoy the format at this juncture, and I look forward to further engagements with which to alter my opinion.

Quick story – My one and only experience was a home draft at Mr. P’s house. I drove an hour and fifteen minutes each way for it. I then totally forgot to keep in mind the fact that it is a multiplayer format, and drafted a monster of a R/G beats deck that would kill in a 1v1 environment. I opened a Reflecting Pool for value. Then, we sat down, and I was killed on the sixth turn by a player running triple Muzzio’s Preparations. Turns out it says “card”, not “creature,” and all of those 4/4 flying spirit tokens were much smaller, since you can’t name “spirit” and get the bonus.

So yeah…equal parts “I suck at drafting it” and “RTFC, everyone!” But I digress.

  • My big fear with this set is that people will bring to the table expectations in line with their particular gaming preferences, and that these will clash heavily and create some bad blood. In specific:
  • EDH players like casual multiplayer games. Conspiracy is touted as a fun casual multiplayer format.
  • Limited players like the skill of drafting a deck that will be the most efficient at defeating his/her opponents. Conspiracy is a draft format.
  • My empirical evidence sucks, but I know when I was eliminated, I was irritated that I was killed off on turn six. Aren’t multiplayer games supposed to be fun, not cutthroat?

If they’re EDH games, yes. The lesson? Don’t confuse the format for something it isn’t, and it’ll likely be fine. Or savagely rare-draft foil Misdirections and stuff.

IN CLOSING

…because this is getting a bit long, I’ll wrap it up for now. I know this is disjointed and all over the place, but that’s the point. If you’ve learned anything today, I hope it is one of the following things:

Man, people make no sense sometimes.

EDH is like smoking and drinking mouthwash.

Dodge Challengers have a backseat, so the car-seats still fit. Also, the terrible rear visibility will prevent the kids from seeing daddy flipping off nice old ladies.

Tattoos are forever. Teenage angst, thankfully, is quite temporary.

If you have opinions, base them on fleeting experiences that don’t actually resemble anything close to what they should. Defend them with fierce (and totally misguided) conviction.

Hope I’m passing to you in the next draft you’re in.

Q&A?

If you feel like it, answer one or more of the following below:

1. Because the deck-building bug bites quickly and symmetry is three decks to a fat pack box, what is my lucky ninth deck going to be?

2. What was your experience with Conspiracy? Did it meet and exceed your expectations, or fall a little flat?

3. Should your humble author actually go ahead with the musclecar purchase?

4. Is your humble author losing his mind?

5. In a single word, what is EDH to you?

-Cass

@GDCCommander