When do you attack? With how many of your creatures? What other resources do you use on the attack? Who do you attack?
These are questions we answer regularly in Magic and EDH, but they are not simple.
Welcome to The Situation Report. This new series is going to be a shared column among the GDC team. The goal is for each of us to bring good examples of real-life situations we experience in the EDH games we play, spell them out on the page, and open up questions designed to make you think more about the tactical decisions that this format drops on all of us. EDH is a casual format, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to think about the decisions you make, and how they affect the game.
Threat assessment is a critical piece of the Commander puzzle, and let’s face it – it’s easily the most contentious thing we face. With The Situation Report, we hope to open up new lines of thinking, ways of solving problems and puzzles, and most importantly, communication. Let’s get to it.
On my most recent EDH Bro Brew night, I faced an interesting decision about attacking. This was the situation (Roughly…I’m sure I’m missing/mis-remembering stuff, but this is close enough to accurate for this exercise):
- Me: Nemata, Grove Guardian – designed to make Nemata barf Saprolings.
To my left:
- Grant: Sigarda, Host of Herons – designed to be difficult to interact with, packed full of hexproof, indestructible, and other keywords that end friendships.
- Mike: Lyzolda, the Blood Witch – sacrificed dinks and probably did recursion tricks.
- Ryan: Ruhan of the Fomori – Blink control goofiness and some aggro.
- Finally, Tony: Roon of the Hidden Realm – Blink and untappy goodstuff with a minor token subtheme.
QUESTION 1: If you saw nothing but the generals on the table, how would you rank them in terms of threat (from most-threatening to least-threatening)?
So more details about the situation: it’s my turn. I’m at 18 life and I have taken 11 from Ruhan + Sunforger. I control Nemata (who has been cast twice) wearing Illusionist’s Bracers, an un-equipped Sword of the Paruns, five Saprolings that can attack this turn, a Night Soil (and for the sake of this exercise, there aren’t enough creatures in any yards for it to be relevant any longer) and 17 lands (15 Forests, a Terrain Generator, and an Opal Palace). My hand consists of Sprout Swarm and Mycoloth.
Grant is at 33 life, has Sigarda (who has been cast once) , a flipped Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant, a Predator Ooze with one counter on it, and a Fleecemane Lion, already monstrous. He controls roughly 10 lands, all tapped, and also has five cards in hand.
Mike is at 34 life and controls Lyzolda (cast once), a Bloodghast, and eight or so tapped basic lands. His yard has a Solemn Simulacrum, and he has two cards. He hasn’t done much so far, besides gaining a bunch of life with Gray Merchant of Asphodel.
Ryan and Ruhan (cast once) have been bringing the beats. He is at 35 life, and his yard has lots of non-threatening instants and sorceries like Arcane Denial. He controls Ruhan holding a Sunforger (tapped); He also controls two random 2/2 tokens. Ryan has roughly nine lands, with four mana up (including two blue sources). His hand contains three cards.
Tony is the boogeyman of the game, and is at 37 life. He controls a Propaganda, Roon (cast once), a Luminate Primordial that is responsible for the empty-ish board and yards, Prophet of Kruphix wearing Swiftfoot Boots, Simic Manipulator with two counters, and a Thousand-Year Elixir. He also has a decent mix of colors from his nine lands, and two cards in hand.
[Editor’s Note: In the future we’ll be preparing these ahead of time and try to have a graphic to throw in here so you can “visualize” the board state. Upward and onward.]
QUESTION 2: Who is the most threatening player at the table now? Who is the least threatening?
QUESTION 3: What is the most threatening permanent on the board?
QUESTION 4: If I have Austere Command, should I pop it now or hold it for later? If now, what modes?
If you’re in my shoes, what do you do? How would omitted information about earlier game decisions and politics influence your call here? If if you knew Mike’s deck had been sputtering while Ryan and Tony got all blinky and silly, would that change your answers?
Head down to the comments and try answering before clicking on the link below to see my thoughts.
No seriously it’s more fun if you give your answers first.
OK, fine. Here’s my answer and some other details.
That’s it for The Situation Report number one. Hopefully this look at attack decisions was fun and made you think.