(Hey Everyone-
So this is apparently what happens when I get a Monday off from work.  My brain goes into “Still Sunday!” mode, and things don’t get done. 
Better late than never, right?
So there’s lots to talk about today…Return To Ravnica spoilers, From The Vaults, Xiahou Dun…the list is endless. 
In honor of that, here’s something completely different!
àDJ)

Key:

 Regular text = Patrick 

(Bold text in parenthesis = Cassidy)

We complain too much.

I had written an article that Cassidy was theoretically going to publish today. You know what it was about? Complaints.  I have another article that I’ve been writing.  You know what it is about? Commander’s Arsenal.  Specifically, complaints about it.

I complain too much.
(Ironically enough, Patrick gave me this article after he dropped by my parents house and I started immediately complaining about how I didn’t have anything ready to put up on GDC today. 

And you all really thought you were in the clear here…)

When I stop to think about this, it bums me out because of how much I enjoy playing EDH.  Despite the fact that I am somewhat predisposed to complain all the time, I absolutely love playing Magic, and EDH is by far my favorite format.

I love EDH because it allows for endless creativity and silliness.  In honor of this, I’d like to share some ideas for how to maintain the casualness and fun of it all, especially in the presence of all this talk of “competitive” EDH.
(I’m with this.  It’s really easy for myself especially to get caught up in things like spiked-out decklists in articles and $75 pricetags on Commander product from Wizards of the Coast, and before you know it, I’m complaining my poor little head off.  It’s nice to remember that we play this format because we enjoy it.)

IDEAS FOR HOW TO PLAY

1) Use a point system
This is an idea we instituted at out LGS when the weekly EDH event started to take off.  To be fair, we completely ripped off the idea from the Armada Games lists that Sheldon has mentioned repeatedly in his articles.  While not perfect, the point system has helped us to maintain a pretty casual environment, and it also serves as a nice advanced warning system; players who are new to the show can read it over and glean understanding of what sort of play environment it is (there are penalties for going infinite or playing Armageddon effects, for example.)
(It’s really important to mix things up from time to time as well.  Armada does this each iteration of their league seasons, and we’ve done it a few times as well.  It keeps people on their toes, and prevents the games from settling into similar ruts as people get familiar with the current list.)

2) Eternity Map!

We tried Planechase several times, but it always seems a little too random and swingy.  The Eternity Map Planchase variant, on the other hand, is pretty swell.  It takes the Planes from being a random factor that can suddenly swing the game, and turns them into much more of a strategic element.  As I mentioned in my article, the biggest downside of the format is that it requires additional space, and it really helps if the players all know what the Planes do.  Still, if you can overcome these, it is a fun format.
(I sincerely want this last part to be the truth.  I do.  However, at current time, I’m pretty much in the “Planechase can kiss my entire ass.” camp.  Let me know if you all want the reasons for this, but be prepared – they’re not all that interesting, and most stem from me losing due to a random plane flip at an inopportune time. 

Yeah…I’m that guy who sucks at memorizing things, and still screws things up despite Patrick’s insistence that EM can be fun.  Tell your friends.) 
3) Archenemy! (why not?)
(Because it sucks worse than Planechase?)

To be fair, we’ve never actually played a game of Archenemy EDH that was good, although we gave up after maybe five attempts, so we may not have given it enough of a chance.  Part of the issue was the starting life totals: the Archenemy rules suggest 40 for the Archenemy and 20 each for the “Heroes,” and this always seemed a bit low, but starting the Archenemy at 80 and the Heroes at 40 wasn’t great either.  There was also a numbers issue: 2vs 1 was always won by the Archenemy, and 4-vs-1 was always won by the Heroes.  I hope to one day figure this out; please feel free to share your thoughts.
(Again, a format that I want to be good.  But holy hell…the balance is just terrible when you introduce 100-card tuned EDH decks.  If anyone has found the sweet spot, please let us know.)

4) Make tacos!
(Random departure from topic, but will allow.  Proceed.)

Have you ever made your own refined beans? It will make you wonder why you’ve been buying the canned ones all these years.  Sauté up some onions and garlic (and some jalapeños if you are awesome), add some beans and some olive oil and some spices (cumin, black pepper, cayenne, and whatever else you feel) and mash them shits!
(He’s not kidding.  They’re delightful.)

I’m vegetarian, so I will bypass the meat, thanks, but you should go extra meaty!  Get some good burger or some chicken or chorizo, and cook it up nice and spicy! Get some lettuce and olives and onions and avocados and fine cheeses and you are ready for a party! Oh, and play EDH! Social!
(It’s worth noting that my wife still raves about Patrick’s chili.  She doesn’t rave about anything at all that I cook.  Period.) 

5) Emperor EDH!

We’ve never actually tried this, although it gets jokingly brought up every time we get six players at the shop.  (I’m going to Google this as we speak.)  This seems like a great thing to do, especially in the context of…

6) Have some drinks!  (If you’re old enough.  Otherwise, have some chocolate milk.)
I’ve held EDH Night at Mr. P’s House several times, and it is super fun.  I am a big fan of Junior Johnston’s Midnight Moon Moonshine (And Junior Johnston is apparently a big fan of over-abundant alliteration…) which mixes delightfully with pretty much anything (the Cherry goes great with Dr Pepper).  Having some drinks also makes the game more fun; who cares who wins?
(Back from Google.  Seems like a good time, although I highly suggest random seating to prevent teams form getting together ahead of time to build complementary decks. 
And I will admit the moonshine is both wonderful, and enhances the game night like no other…)
Speaking of not caring about winning, if you can let go of your desire to achieve supreme victory, you can open up an exciting world of deck building possibilities.  Which leads to…

SUGGESTIONS FOR HOW TO BUILD FUN THINGS

1- Build a deck around aesthetics!

I currently have two of these.  One is a Symmetrical Art deck with Riku as the general.  This deck is a pet project of mine, partially because finding cards with symmetrical art is difficult and partially because the deck has to be able to function enough to do something (because everyone sees the General and assumes it will eventually take infinite turns or something.)  I have limited myself to cards with approximately symmetrical art, and a few cards that do not have symmetrical art but do create twins (hi, Stangg!).  The deck is extremely fun to maintain, and it gets played occasionally.  The most fun thing about its when a card like Lunar Mystic gets printed, and I get to go rush off to find a foil one.

My other art deck is the Bad Art deck, and it is a blast to play.  In order to maintain my commitment to excellence, I had to be willing to completely forsake winning for the chance to play shit like Coils of the Medusa and Brushwagg.  This deck is also an endless work in progress.
(I watch Patrick play this deck, and then I see the washable crayon art my 14-month-old son does on the side of the tub each night, and I realize that he could be the next Jesper Myfors.  Like right now.

See what I mean?!?!?)

Before the forums burned down, there was a guy who had a Zur deck that was based around artwork featuring old people; he had helpfully posted pictures of the entire deck, and it was hilarious.  Artwork theme decks are probably not going to win you many games, but they are fun to maintain and play.

Next project; Bad Flavor Text deck!
(Where’s a good aneurism when you need one?)
2- Avoid linear strategies

Let’s be honest; your Talrand deck probably runs a bunch of instants and sorceries.  Let me guess; your Kaalia deck runs dragons, demons, and angels.

Fascinating.

(Wait a minute…you’re the one being positive here, and I’m the one still complaining.  Penalty box for you.

Back to it…

3 – Don’t be afraid to sacrifice the…er…sacrificial lambs?

I talked a bunch about how to make your deckbuilding more rewarding when I was building my creatureless Sisters of Stone Death list.  There’s something nice about taking an element (such as creatures, but it can be whatever…instants, sorceries, bad Jesper Myrfors art, etc) completely out of the mix; you start to dig deeper into the card pool to find new and interesting ways to fill functional needs, and your decks start to look very much unlike anything else out there.

I won’t toot that horn too much here, but I promise there’s something very rewarding about playing a green deck that doesn’t auto-run Eternal Witness and Primeval Titan. 

Seriously…if you haven’t yet, pick an angle, and give it a try.  I can’t suggest this angle enough.)

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING

Enjoy the ride (Simply put, stop caring only about winning, and have fun.)
(It’s easy to forget that this is a game, after all.  To assimilate and simultaneously murder a classic golf mantra, a bad game of EDH is better than a good day at work. 

Have fun with it, everyone.  Even we take a break from complaining to do just that from time to time.  Trust me…it’s worth it.

XO,
->Mr. P
(-àDJ)

POLL RESULTS – How Do You Play EDH?
I thought you guys might be interested to see the results:
-To win as brutally and as effectively as possible – 8%

-To play a crazy game…who cares who wins? – 12%

To win the hard way – no combos, unusual card choices, etc – 32%

To play a fun game, and maybe win from time to time – 48%

…And my faith in humanity is restored!

àDJ…Again.