Hey everyone!  I wanted to touch on a bunch of stuff today, and quite a bit of it is looking for feedback from you.  We’ve got metagame concerns, taglines for the new site, and a few parting words on the Commander’s Arsenal piece last week.  Let’s dig right in!
COMMANDER’S ARSENAL – THE POLL AND CLOSING THOUGHTS (For Now…)
No news yet.  We’re still in the dark as what’s on the way, and we’re down to two weeks.  In comparison, From The Vault sets are usually fully spoiled by now, so I have no idea what the deal is. In any case, the article last Monday spawned some solid discussion, and I wanted to get the poll results out to add to it:
Commander’s Arsenal.  Will You Be Buying In?

3%-     Sure!  Paying rent is over-rated anyway…
5%-     Maybe…I suppose that’s why I was born with two kidneys, right?
55%-   Probably not.  There are more important things in life.  Like food.
37%-   Nope.  That’s highway robbery.

I think I should have included some content-based options instead of strictly pricing ones.  After all, I wouldn’t buy in either if Sylvan Library is the high-water mark.
Anyway, Imshan (of Commandercast.com fame and an occasional guest here at GDC) made some incredibly valid points in regard to the push-back from the community on this one, and something he replied with really resonated with me.  In his own words:

“…What really irks me about Commander’s Arsenal is the process that created Commander’s Arsenal. They said “We want to make a release for Commander players.” We instead have a release for collectors, and it is highly exclusive. The failure of their marketing machine is difficult to express, but I’ll do my best:

1. It is scarce. Really scarce. Players in a casual format will find this unappealing. Isn’t this the reason why Library of Alexandria continues to be banned? Won’t this create a perceived barrier to entry, especially if prospective players don’t know it’s all reprints?

2. It is expensive. Really expensive. This *is* a casual format. The second release really ought not to be expensive. We’re trying to play casually here, not put liens on our assets.

3. It replaced PDS, which were a great place to find singles for Commander decks for a bargain, especially when they included chase rares from other formats.

Whoever decided that it would cost a fortune, have a retarded limited print run, and axed PDS at the same time must have really hated people who casually want to play a game. Why would a casual ANYONE buy Commander’s Arsenal when they could buy one or two board games?

Why is this irksome? It’s just not good for a casual format. It’s not good for new players, it’s not good for veterans (who aren’t also collectors), and it’s not good for retailer-player relationships. “

Looking at it that way, I can’t disagree.  The positioning of this release is really going be key, because this is certainly turning into a ‘veer away from the EDH fans squarely into stupidly-expensive collector-land’ territory.  This is not a great way to launch what Wizards is painting as a start to a yearly Commander product. 
My concerns with secondary market issues will resurface when we have a set list.  One of the problems I have with reading the various forum threads on this thing right now is that they’re filled with far too many posts from people angry that the set content itself is garbage.
All due respect, but I’m waiting to actually, you know, see the contents before I jump to that conclusion.  It only seems fair.  (And not stupid and pointless…)
In any case, this thing is going to be a lightning rod for the community.  If Wizards of the Coast wants to support the Commander community, Commander’s Arsenal is going to provide some solid feedback one way or the other very soon.
Ramp – The New Combo?

Last night I had an interesting thing happen in a game at Worlds Apart.
I completely checked out on the game I was playing.
We’re talking all the way.  100%  I was on my iPad writing this update at first, and before long, I was working on the Dear Azami article for StarCity for next week.  I moved on to working on a sell list to ship to a vendor (I love that I can open Angel of Serenity and not have any desire to keep it, since I don’t play Standard or have my Angels Tribal deck anymore…), and before I knew what was happening, I was checking my work email.
Again…checking my work email.  Mid-game.

Why?  Glad you asked.
The four-player game I was a part of featured (among other things) friend to GDC Asa’s mono-green ramp deck.  It was able to do what it does through several Wrath variants and removal on key components like Mana Reflection, finally resolving Boundless Realms and Caged Sun into a huge Molimo, which was sacrificed to Momentous Fall for a metrics ton of cards.  There was a Genesis Wave involved.  The player piloting the deck had so much mana available on top of the card draw that he was taking really long turns to figure things out, and every turn ended up in a seriously threatening board position.  The game became nothing more than three people trying to contain the green monstrosity briefly each in turn, only to sit idle and watch it flop around for ten minutes or so until it spit up a new crazy threat for the turn. 
I was running Slobad and just had no plays that could compete.  I was relegated to playing draw-go, and I just checked out completely.  Eventually, something happened to cause the other players to scoop, so I just followed suit and moved on.
Honestly, I’m coming full circle on ramp decks.  At this point, I’m beginning to see the merit in combo decks that win in three turns flat in comparison.  Either way, I’m not in the game at all, but at least the combo deck ends things in a hurry and we can move on to something else.  Hopefully.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I really don’t want to play against either one.  And I guess that’s exactly the point.  My go-to stance on EDH is that I want to play the game, and I tend to hate on strategies like prison or “pillow-fort” that make it impossible to interact.  This seems exactly the same to my eyes.  Maybe not so much in terms of the components that force non-interaction (Ghostly Prison, I’m looking at you!), but rather that the decks play the same game-plan that revolves around just vomiting up the entire contents of the deck in very long, convoluted turns.  The win condition is effectively causing the other players to quit out of futility or sheer boredom. 

Now, I know I could adapt in response…I have the Riku deck to still discuss at some point that plays the part of the metagame foil specifically.  I could modify the deck to handle ramp, but then I’m playing a deck designed to hate on another strategy, and I don’t really want to go at way either.
I guess I’m undecided here.  What say you readers?  Does ramp drive you up the wall?  Is it any better or worse than combo?  Did the RC nail the PrimeTime ban, or am I just overreacting here?
Hit the Comments to tell me what you think. I’m interested in what you all have to say here. 
Return To Ravninca Theme Weeks

For those of you who don’t know it, Wizards of the Coast has laid out a schedule for Theme Weeks over the next few months to hype up RTR. 
You know, because it needs hype and all, right?
Anyway, I plan on tackling quite a bit of content to coincide with this schedule.  At current time, I’ll be giving Dear Azami the Golgari treatment for the corresponding week, and I’m diving in head-first with my new friends over at LegitMTG.com for both Izzet and Azorius. 
I’m brimming with ideas, but I’m also interested in what sorts of things GDC readers want to see as well.  Note that I don’t need to stay with Return To Ravnica specifically here…I can delve into the guilds or the colors any way I want.  For example, I’m looking at a spare Bayou in my binder right now and contemplating resurrecting Sisters of Stone Death and documenting the process as I go.  I’m also intrigued by Patrick’s Savra deck from Monday; specifically, what happens when a card like Primeval Titan gets banned and completely throws a wrench into the works from a fundamental level.  I’m considering trying to talk him into letting me use the need to fix the deck as a great foundation for Golgari week. 
What do you guys think?  What topics really grab you when it comes to Ravnica guilds or colors?  I have some great pieces put together already, but I want to speak to stuff that you all want to hear about as well.  I’m all ears, everyone.  Comments section.  Hit me up.
Speaking Of LegitMTG.com

My second article is hitting their site tomorrow (a pretty solid discussion on format staples and what they mean, if I do way so myself) so I wanted to give a shout-out to Jason, Jonathan, and the rest of the crew over there.  I’m really excited to be onboard with Legit, so please head over and take a look around; they’ve got a really good thing going on. 
I Wrote The New GDC Tagline, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt…

All kidding aside, I sat down with my brother to discuss finalizing the new logo for the GDC site redesign this week.  I’m pretty excited about it right now…things around here could use a little spicing up, and this logo is s really sweet.
Spoiler – it involves a scythe.  Awesome.
Anyway, I’ll show you the logo as soon as it is done, and we’re going to be finishing the new design and going live with GDC 2.0 in a few weeks, so stay tuned there too. 
Anyway, the missing piece that I’m looking for help on is the tagline.  I love “…No Pulled Punches”, but I’m ready for a change.  What I’d like to do it put it out to you, the readers, to come up with a tagline that best represents what we do here.  The best example will take up residence at the top of the main page permanently, and also go on the T-shirts we have in the works. 
Right…the T-shirts.  I’m trying to create a small batch of shirts that the GDC crew will have on hand to wear to events to help promote the site – kind of an official uniform, if you will.  I’m not planning on going big with these things at this point, but I will send the winning tagline writer one of the shirts as a thank-you for helping us to make this place a little bit cooler. 
No deadline right now…email in your submissions whenever you have them. 
Closing Time…

Okay, everyone…I’m done for the week.  Next week, we’ll return to focused content with a discussion on metagaming for the typical EDH metagame among other things.  (I guess I need to make good on the Riku thing.)  And hopefully, we’ll finally have some solid Commander’s Arsenal information in place to start complaining about discussing…
Have a good one, everyone.  Again, please hit up the Comments to let me know what you’re feeling on all of this stuff.  We love getting content out to you, but nothing makes us happier than interacting with you as well. 

—>Cass