Hello, everyone-

Thanks for bearing with me for the last couple of days.  I hate to miss a day of content, but unfortunately GDC doesn’t pay the bills, and occasionally I find myself still at the office at with no end to the work in sight for several straight days. 

Let’s hear it for real life, eh?

(On a side note, if you’re reading this and happen to be independently wealthy, I have a great suggestion for an investment opportunity…)

Anyway, we’ve got some things in the works that hopefully will help to prevent coverage gaps in the near future.  Stay tuned.

THE READERS HAVE SPOKEN…AND THEN SOME!

We’re still reeling under the responses to the post last week.  You guys had a lot to say, and didn’t at all feel bashful speaking your minds.  That’s awesome, and we can’t thank you enough.  There were some great responses and discussions that came out of all of this, and Patrick and I read every last bit.  He posted his responses in the ‘comments’ section, but I feel like I should step up to the plate as well on this one. 

By number, here’s how I would answer the same questions if you asked me today-
1.      Blightsteel Revisited

This will be a bit of a cheat, because I’m giving a partial answer and following up with a question.

My answer: No, I don’t play Blightsteel Colossus. 

Here’s the thing for me; this ‘metagame breaker’ deck project has really been about holding myself and the rest of the EDH world to a standard.  While some of you noted that it is a tournament for prizes and BSC is a valid non-combo finisher regardless of how poison is perceived as a mechanic for ‘normal’ games, I have to go with the majority on this one.  Emrakul was a solid non-combo finisher as well, and that didn’t stop it from getting banned because it went against what EDH should be about.

Now, so do thirty-odd hard-combo decks, but the message you sent was loud and clear; if I go somewhere I wouldn’t otherwise to win this thing, I may as well just play combo myself.  There’s little difference.  I’m with that.

I should have referenced the deck to give you all the full picture; A lot of you said you would steer clear due to effects like Bribery, but being that my deck is built to control the game and shut off certain things from happening, that wasn’t a concern for me.  (In fact, as my tournament report from last year shows, I can easily deal with Bribery with this thing.)  The concern is that I can build the deck to shut down combo, take control of the games, and not worry about the opposing decks (who are more-than-likely playing decks built to just goldfish wins and aren’t expecting to handle a deck designed to counter their strategies anyway.) 

Based on that, I need a realistic finisher.  Playing Hydra Omnivore seems good, but I have to be aware of the fact that these combo decks are resilient and can probably rebuild a winning board state if given enough time.  With that in mind:

My question: How do I win with this deck? 

2.      When Is The Game Really Over?

As I said in the ‘comments’ section, this is something that came up last week.  I have strong feelings about this, but first-

My answer: I will *never* make a play that effects the board state of a game that I’m about to be knocked out of.

I was the player who was going to knock the Goblin Bombardment player out of the game.  For full disclosure, he’s a good friend that I usually see eye-to-eye with on nearly everything.  In this game, he was playing his Kresh deck, a build that he’s working on tuning to be a tier-one contender.  I was running my Riku list, and had spent a good chunk of the game setting up (and getting mercilessly beaten on by a certain mono-white player who also shall not be named here…;) 

At that point in the game, I had played a Phyrexian Metamorph, copying another player’s Stuffy Doll and copying that with Riku; one targeted the Kresh player, and the other targeted the mono-white player.  The only other interaction I had with Kresh at that point was that I had Commandeered a Boundless Realms he played.

He concluded his turn by tossing an X-burn spell at the player sitting between us to knock that person out of the game.  I tapped the Stuffy Doll to deal him one damage, leaving him dead to exactly three Storm Seekers.  My hand had the Storm Seeker and a Regrowth, with Riku in play and enough mana to pull it all off.

The Kresh player, dead on the board, then made the Bombardment play pinging himself, with the net effect that my third Storm Seeker dealt him one damage past lethal, and instead of getting three points (one for eliminating him and two more for exact damage), I only got one.

I was pretty mad, and let him know it.  I also tanked for a good portion of the rest of the night.  I’m not happy about either of those things.

But the point remains, and most all of you agree, that this is a no-no for casual games, which our Wednesday EDH league certainly qualifies for.  It’s the principle that is important to me here; the points system we’ve crafted is there to reward players who are able to pull off some interesting or unique things, and I don’t want to deflate a player who has managed to achieve one of them for no good reason if I’m no-longer going to be in the game itself.  If the play I make can keep me in the game, it’s a different story, but I don’t want to affect the game if I’m not going to be a part of it any longer for no reason other than spite. 

The player that eventually won the GenCon Qualifier with Edric last year had more than one occasion where he attacked someone for lethal damage, and that player scooped in response to prevent the Edric draw triggers from happening.  While that was during a tournament with significant prizes on the line, it still made me sick to watch.  This isn’t what EDH is about, folks.  Not for me. 

3.      Pick Your Poison

My answers (from best to worst):

1- Rite of Replication

2- Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

3- Boundless Realms

4- Palinchron

5- Time Stretch

6- Myojin of Night’s Reach

7- Armageddon

This one was cool to watch as it played out.  I like “worst-case scenario” questions like this, because it really illuminates the differences between metagames and personal preferences in an honest way that won’t come all the way out in conversation.

It seems like a good portion of you – maybe the majority – have Armageddon and Myojin near the bottom.  This is good in my eyes; it means that most all of you who responded value interaction over backbreaking game-states.  Again, your mileage may vary, and there are some of you who aren’t afraid to wear their competitor badges with pride, but the overwhelming message seems to be the same for everyone – EDH is about playing the game, not watching it happen.

For me, Armageddon represents the bottom of the heap.  Again, a lot of you mirrored this, but it’s really hard (and damn boring) to play the game without any mana producers.  (And I agree…if this happens, you’d better have a win condition ready immediately, or there will be some tables flipping.)

In order next are the Myojin and Time Stretch; both do a good job of dangling the carrot of interaction in front of the rest of the players at the table in a way that Armageddon can’t quite believably pull off, but in most cases, the game is now about the player who played the Myojin.  The rest of us are spectators, likely until it’s too late.

Palinchron is tough.  It’s in the middle for me not because it gets abused in my metagame – It doesn’t even see play, to be honest.  But the few times it has, the results are predictable.  Palinchron, mana doubler, infinite.  It *could* see fair play, but it never actually does.

Realms usually signals that the green player is going to be taking extra-long turns for the rest of the game, or else we’re all about to eat a giant Squall Line.  The latter ain’t bad, but the former is really annoying.

Ulamog…honestly, there’s no issue here for me.  ‘Mog represents what I think is pretty cool about the format – double-digit casting costs on giant creatures that do stupidly-swingy things.  It makes it to second on the list because annihilator is kind of lame in large doses, and that’s enough to cause people to scoop on occasion.  That’s not my idea of a good win.

And then, there’s Rite.  I play it.  I enjoy it.  It’s a huge part of my stronger decks.  Sadly, it often just ends games when it hits. (Andrew, I apologize again for the kicked Rite on Woodfall Primus at the end of the game a few weeks back…)  However, I’m trying to keep an open mind here.  I shouldn’t be annoyed with five Avenger of Zendikar hitting the board all at once; if that happens, it’s actually pretty awesome, and if the rest of the table can’t answer in some way, it deserves to win.

A little stale?  Sure.  But it’s a hallmark card, and I think it’s a fine include.

4.      Duck, Duck, Duck…

My answer:  Kaalia of the Vast in my normal games, Teferi if I’m playing in a competitive game.

And with that, I’m the first to answer Kaalia! 

Honestly, I had the Kaalia deck.  I played the Kaalia deck.  It always did the same damn thing, and it always did it just a bit too fast for the rest of the table to handle reasonably, or else it caused people to gripe and complain.  Realistically, Kaalia is nothing more than scalable acceleration, and it’s too easy for that to add up to a strong early lead that is tough to deal with.

However, if I can go broken record and invoke GenCon again, I had the tools in hand to deal with a Mind Over Matter/Temple Bell combo deck at the second Commander Constructed Qualifier event, but Teferi came down in just the wrong way to lock things out.  At least Zur usually telegraphs the setup and leaves the window open for a bit before slamming it shut on everyone.

5.      A Simple Question

My answer:  When I resolve a kicked Tooth and Nail, I put something that gives my team haste or indestructibility and anything else after that into play. 

A simple answer for a simple question.  Any two-card game-winning combo gets the finger in my book, no matter what.

6.      A Loaded Question

I would have answered the rules lawyer not all that long ago, but for me – My Answer is the slow player. 

There are a lot of you who are kind souls in the comments.  You want to help new players learn the game and teach advanced players about etiquette.  That’s great. 

However, in recent weeks, I’ve added, “Damn-near fall asleep” to the list of ‘Things I do while you’re taking your sweet-ass time deciding what to Demonic Tutor for.’  For reference, the current list also includes “Check my email”, “Check my work email”, “Find inappropriate songs on YouTube”, and “Google the Titanic Wikipedia entry for the 67th time.”

Did I mention we had a player take a sixteen-minute turn two weeks ago?  Yeah.  Nice guy and all, but seriously?  The decision tree involved what lands to find with your ramp spells, and coming up with some big creatures that weren’t attacking that turn anyway. 

I can’t abide by that.  My time is precious.  (Okay…that’s overdramatic.  Fair enough.)

Realistically, though, after I Banefire the slow guy, I then fold the Banefire into a point and shank the rules lawyer, and give a crazy-eye to the vendetta guy. 

7.      Enough Is Enough

My answer: This is another toss-up; it’s either-

“Someone sacrificing Lord of Extinction to Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord and thinking they did something clever and never before seen at an EDH table.”

Or else, it’s-

“Generals that are designed so completely one-mindedly that they only suggest a single strategy and nothing more.”

You really want to impress me?  Sacrifice Phage the Untouchable and reanimate it with Necromancy, with the Jarad trigger still on the stack.

8.   Judge, Jury, And Executioner

This is really hard, actually.  The likely answer for me?  Probably Timetwister. 

At this point I don’t actually own one, but I have in the past and I will again this year.  It’s not the power level of the card that draws me in, but what it represents.  EDH is the format of “Anything Goes” and “Flavor First!”, where players come out of the woodwork with crazy interactions and cards that haven’t seen the light of day in a long time, but are surprisingly good here.  You’re supposed to be able to play anything in this format (for the most part), and it’s supposed to be a solid representation of the history and the spirit of the game combined.

And yet, there’s only one piece of Power Nine legal for play. 

I think it’s important that this is always the case.  We should be able to point to a card, lean over to a new player, and say, “That one.  That’s one of them.”  EDH deserves to have that feeling in my opinion, so my vote goes towards preserving it for as long as people shuffle 99-card decks. 

Have a good weekend, everyone-

—>Cass