(Editor’s Note-

Today we’ve got a bit of a surprise.  Chad, a very old and very dear friend of both Patrick and myself, decided to poke his head out of his draft-saavy blinders and weigh in on the current(ish) topic of ‘threat assessment’. 

This is a surprise mostly because Patrick and I are likely responsible for Chad all-but quitting EDH in general. 

It does, however, position him in a great position to discuss table personality and how it applies to EDH, since he’s been forced to deal with the effects over the years playing with us. 

It’s no wonder he prefers limited these days…


Let’s talk a moment, shall we?  Better yet, just read on and (in the figurative sense) listen to what I have to say.  For the benefit of this discussion I will use both Mr. P and Cassidy (as avid readers have come to know both of these characters quite well by now) as examples in the vignettes you will encounter within the short (but very relevant) discussion that follows. 
I wish to focus this discussion on the current topic of threat assessment.  This is a very important topic for anyone who wants to play competitive Magic for the sake of actually winning games (or at the very least having good games!) 
Threat assessment is quite a difficult task in any format you play, but it is arguably less taxing on the person playing against one opponent, rather than three, four, or even eight.   One factor that neither Mr. P or Cassidy have pointed out with regard to assessing threats is recognizing who it is you’re playing against.  Mr. P touched on knowing what you’re playing against, but who is also a very important factor.  I used to play a lot of EDH with Mr. P and Cassidy.  I stopped because I got tired of watching Mr. P play his deck, put it into his graveyard and then play his deck from his graveyard.  He would then, nearly without fail, savagely win the game with a somewhat heartfelt (but not entirely genuine) apology. 
“I’m sorry,” he might say.  “That’s just what the deck does.”
So why didn’t anyone stop his deck from doing what his deck does, I wonder?
The answer here is simple: No one wants to attack their buddy.  Mr. P and I used to religiously attend Wednesday night EDH, and would generally play at the same table.  As a unit we were both pretty adapt at recognizing threats, and as a result (and not totally through collusion but not totally innocent of it either ) would most of the time end up heads-up against one-another at the end of the night.  Part of this has to do with recognizing the major threats at the table (I of course would have to break up crazy broken synergy on Mr. P’s board, and he would likewise do the same to me), but also this had to do with loyalty.  You don’t want to attack and put your buddy out of the game. 
As it turns out, ruining your buddy’s good time can in fact be a greater threat than is their Sylvan Library/Abundance combo.
Cassidy (I’m sure) can think of many kitchen table games where he had a few significant threats on the board, but a big frown on his face.  As a result of his attutude, his threats typically got to do their threatening thing, lest we piss him off.  (I guess I deserve that…   —>Cass)  One notable exception for me was at GenCon ’11 in a Pre-Con sealed event; I knocked him out quickly, as his deck was going broken and would likely have won about two turns later. 
Had there not been a total stranger in the game with us, perhaps Cassidy would have a tale of victory for that occasion. 
Cassidy and Mr. P have figured this “buddy theory” as I’ll call it, and as a result prefer not to play against each other at any form of competitive event.  (Or at Wednesday Night EDH, to be fair.  àCass) 
How is this information useful?  Well, if you’re Mr. P, you’ve recognized this tactic and have put it to good use.  If you’re the helpful and well-liked guy at the table, your threats suddenly seem less-threatening and the thirteen cards you’re holding thanks to ReliquaryTower in play must be a bunch of land you’ve had the unfortunate luck to draw and are simply not bothering to play.  Right?
Well yes, until Mr. P’s deck goes and does “…just what the deck does.”
My point – Capt. D-Bag (from Cassidy’s example in an earlier posting) will nearly always get knocked out early in contrast.  (Unless he happens to blow out the table with that combo that “…Isn’t the focus of my deck, I swear!”  Sure…so why is it even in there?) 
Why will he get targeted before Mr. P?  Because he’s a D-Bag.  Don’t be a D-Bag. 
Skippy (also from Cassidy’s previous article) doesn’t want to attack the guy who’s acknowledging their own great plays, and who he is also becoming reliant on to become a better player.  No one wants to upset the cool kid (especially if the cool kid is padding your ego!) 
That is, at least until the cool kid’s deck crushes you – but at least you got crushed by the cool kid, right? 
My advice is simple – BE the cool kid.  Don’t be a D-Bag.  Even if players can accurately assess your threats (which as a good player you’ll undoubtedly have), you will find simple psychological tactics will keep you around just that much longer.  If, however, you just want to win, remember – Sylvan Library plus Abundance with ReliquaryTower in play usually equals bad news for you.  I don’t care if it’s my wife who’s got that board state; it has got to be disrupted! 
That is unless she offers me the couch for the evening, in which case, she can keep the board state.  I like my bed.

Priorities, ya know?