6/20/2011 MM: "Word of Commander"

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his thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.
add uril the myststalker to the banned commander card list bc we cant target it, and only WoG type effect kill it, yeah we can block it bot with the right auras and equips its immpossible to deal with it
There's plenty of ways to deal with uril.

On a nitpicky note: The rules fools unbanned worldgorger, which just goes to show you guys wrote these articles probably a few weeks ago or more. 
Guess he didn't catch the news about Worldgorger Dragon being restored to the format.

I wonder myself about why hybrid cards can be interdicted by color identity. The format existed before Ravnica, after all, so it might just be an artefact of keeping out gold-style multicolor (and/or trying to keep color bleed under control).

Never mind that Balthor the Defiled really ought to be regarded as black-red color identity, not merely black...
I agree with MaRo about the colour identity issue, but I never found anything confusing about general damage. I think getting rid of it would probably not change much, but it seems reasonable enough to me.
blah blah metal lyrics
It helps to remember that Commander was first called Elder Dragon Highlander because in its infancy, those were the only generals meant to be used--the five Elder Dragons. Putting aside Vaevictis Asmadi's firebreathing, 21 damage = 3 full hits from an elder dragon. I guess the idea was meant to be similar to the system shock rule in AD&D 2nd edition (no matter how many HP you might still have on the positive side, taking 50 HP or more from a single attack forced you to save vs. death, or die from sheer bodily trauma).
Incidentally, there's a story about a grandmaster - the writer of a famous book on endgames - once forgetting a little known Chess rule.

In Castling, the King is not allowed to cross a square, when it moves two squares, on which it would have been in check. But no similar restriction applies to the Rook.

One way to understand the rationale for this rule (and thus make it easier to remember) is that if the King did make the move which it forbids, the result would be that it would be in check, from the threat of an en passant capture.

Both the Pawn and the King get to move two squares instead of one on their first move, but the "mechanical loose end" is tied up in both cases - neither one can use that first move to sneak past a threat of capture it would not otherwise have been able to move through.

Coming up with weird ideas to make everyone happy since 2008!

 

I have now started a blog as an appropriate place to put my crazy ideas.

I get where MaRo is coming from on the color identity issue.  If whatever body governs Commander did want to relax the rules on hybrids, however, there would still be a few problems with MaRo's proposed fix.

There are plenty of ways to use cards without actually casting them, most obviously.  A Seton, Krosan Protector deck could slide Archdemon of Unx into play with Elvish Piper, a move against the spirit (and current letter) of the Commander rules.  Further, some cards can be cast without the use of mana.  A deck built around Ambassador Laquatus could play a Mogg Salvage off a Tideshaper Mystic.

A better way to allow for hybrids while keeping the intent of color identity restrictions largely intact:
-Determination of color identity remains the same
-Decks may not include cards with a color identity (i.e. non-colorless) that does not include a color found in the commander's color identity.

So Isamaru, Hound of Konda white weenie decks can play Stillmoon Cavalier, but not Snuff Out or Cranial Plating.

Whether or not these hybrid applications should be accomodated is another matter, but if the answer to that question is yes, this is a better way to do it.
I agree with MaRo about the colour identity issue


I also agree with everything he said about the color identity. I hope that whoever is in charge of the Commander rules makes changes according to MaRo's suggestions...
I fully agree with MaRo on how silly EDH's rampantly idealistic redundancies really are.
That's just sad.

Like Rosewater, I don't play Commander, so my opinions about the format would be theoretical rather than empirical, but his observations seem pretty logical to me.  As for his comments about the presence of a commander making a deck more relatable, I feel ambivalent.  He goes on to talk about how his role as spokesperson for Magic design makes it more relatable--and the fact that some Magic players tend to attribute the quality of Magic to him personally suggests he has a point--but I think this has more to do with metonymy than with the extent to which he describes his family life.

I would agree that there are psychological and linguistic reasons to personify ideas, but I don't think it follows that people don't relate to ideas, or that people always relate to personages better than to ideas.  For example, I think it might be more common for Magic players to identify with, say, color philosophies than with specific characters.  This practice would be consistent with how Creative prefers concepting Magic blocks as settings rather than as stories; a player can think of himself or herself as belonging to the Izzet League based on their philosophy rather than any specific member.

The issue of whether ideas or personages are more relatable reminds me of a similar conflict mentioned in The Art of Game Design: the player character as an ideal form versus the player character as a blank slate.  Sometimes game designers argue about which type of character is more immersive, but players can project themselves into both types.  Philosophies would be even less idealized than blank slate characters, but in my opinion, a player can identify with a philosophy just as easily as with a character.  For example, players can relate to concepts such as good and evil (not to mention lawful and chaotic!), or to colors as I've mentioned previously.

The application of this "commanders as spokespersons" idea can be seen in the addition of planeswalker cards to the game (I suppose Vanguard counts, too).  I think I remember reading that one of the reasons they were introduced is to act as spokespersons for the game--in other words, red isn't just a philosophy now, it's Chandra Nalaar.  However, I wonder if players really think of planeswalkers and legendary creatures as people to whom to relate, especially given that the distinction between the various types of permanent cards is somewhat arbitrary.  Could there be a format where a player can access non-creatures from the command zone, such as "Elder Sorcery Highlander" or "Elder Instant Highlander"?

I've recently been helping design and tweak the rules for an alternative format similar in spirit to Commander called I, Planeswalker (which you should totally check out because it's awesome), so this article was very interesting to me, and it lined up well with a number of my own thoughts on the format's design.

In Commander, the face of your deck is created by choosing a general; in I, Planeswalker, the face of your deck is you. The suite of spells you select as your personal signature suite mimics the typical three-ability design of planeswalkers, effectively turning you into your own planeswalker card.

A better way to allow for hybrids while keeping the intent of color identity restrictions largely intact:
-Determination of color identity remains the same
-Decks may not include cards with a color identity (i.e. non-colorless) that does not include a color found in the commander's color identity.

This is basically the version of color identity used by I, Planeswalker: a deck may not have cards in them that don't at least partially match the color(s) of the signature spells. IPW doesn't use the mana-production restrictions, though, so it's still slightly more gold-friendly.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

Could there be a format where a player can access non-creatures from the command zone, such as "Elder Sorcery Highlander" or "Elder Instant Highlander"?

See my previous post for just such a format.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

I'm not a big fan of the Commander format for a number of reasons.  I do play (a little bit), and I've been told "You're doing it wrong", but I swear the format itself is messed up, and this seems like a good place to point out what I think is wrong and why I don't like it so much.


One of the big issues is that the increase to 40 life means that aggro has an even steeper uphill climb than it normally does, especially for a multiplayer format.  Aggro is an important part of the game, and leaving it out seems wrong to me -- and leaves me with little to play.  I have the hypothetical option of trying to do 21 damage consistently through my commander, but that's really only a so-so solution because it's so impractically difficult.  I've heard that Eight and a half Tails is able to consistently aggro out once in a while, but I've not actually seen it happen yet.  Because the cards themselves are balanced for a format where the life total is 20 (half that), and control is still a viable deck archetype in those formats, it suddenly dominates with the extra life it now has.


My next complaint is about the singleton format.  Your claim is that it increases variance, but it actually has the opposite effect.  It effectively eliminates combo decks as serious contenders because it is more difficult to assemble combo pieces.  I've seen it done using 10-20 Demonic Tutor variants, but if I had a single counterspell all their labor would be for naught with little recourse.  The most common way to get around the single format is to use the cards that Magic frequently prints and reprints with minor variations: Wrath of God, Demonic Tutor, Counterspell, Control Magic etc.  You are effectively limiting the decks to the most fundamental effects found in Magic, because those are the ones that let you get around the inconsistency.  That means that you see basically the same effect with a different name, over and over again.  Whether you're seeing an actual Control Magic, a Legacy's Allure, a Mind Control, or one of the myriad other variations, what happens is that your stuff gets stolen, over and over again.  And no, you only get one Simic Skyswallower that can't be targeted by most of those effects.


So with combo decks and aggro decks effectively out of the format, what you're left with is a monolithic control format.  And that's what I've seen repeatedly when I play, at least within my own state -- a bunch of players playing some variation of blue control and patting themselves on the back for being so clever.  Because control decks care about board position and not about life totals (except their own, which has been padded), control deck variations dominate the format.  There's a sprinkling of "oops, I win" combo pieces in the decks that get to sneak up on people because of the high variance, but mostly it's a bunch of control decks vying for total domination.


I'm sure I had other issues, but that was my main beef: the format essentially only allows variations on control decks, which I don't enjoy playing at all.  I strongly recommend you play the format, because it's a bad format.  You'll be less inclined to push it on us players unwillingly if you've had the experience.

The thing about how the commander helps you personify your deck is the whole reason why I like EDH - but I like Vanguard far more because it does a better job of it IMO, since your Vanguard is always there and there are no extraneous extra rules junking the process up.

BRING BACK VANGUARD!!!

For example, I think it might be more common for Magic players to identify with, say, color philosophies than with specific characters.



You forget, MaRo is the guy who thinks colors are people.  He's written multiple articles in which a color "talks".  (And expresses a perspective which is NOT the totality of the color - pet peeve there.)

Oh, and as for fixing the problem with hybrid cards in Commander, the publication of special Commander-only decks would have been their opportunity to present a gorgeous solution.

My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
See my previous post for just such a format.


Hah!  You had perfect timing, I guess.  I wish I had someone to try out that format with...

The fact that some players came up with the I, Planeswalker format goes to show that players can "invest their ego" in a set of sorceries and/or instants just as easily as in a legendary creature.  The fact that the creature has a face doesn't necessarily make it more relatable, so I'm not sure if Rosewater's justified in saying that commanders are the most brilliant thing about the Commander format.

The only difference between a commander in a Commander deck and a creature in any other Magic deck aside from the deckbuilding restriction is that commanders are nearly always accessible to their decks and can support a particular theme.  However, decks built for non-singleton formats accomplish the same thing by playing multiple copies of cards.  Really, as long as the deck has any kind of coherent theme, it can have personality and definition--my Rat Ninjutsu deck is very different from my old roommate's Blue/Red Revised deck.  That personality and that definition don't have to have anything to do with legendary creatures.
I personally was really excited about getting into commander this week on release day only to find out the local store decided to sell all the products he received the day before the actual release date when his order came in so when most people showed up on release day we were all out of luck as he was already sold out.
Anyway, I guess I'll just have to rip apart my other decks to make a commander one. At least no one else in my play group got one either so we will stick with standard LOL

I'm not a big fan of the Commander format for a number of reasons.  I do play (a little bit), and I've been told "You're doing it wrong", but I swear the format itself is messed up, and this seems like a good place to point out what I think is wrong and why I don't like it so much.


One of the big issues is that the increase to 40 life means that aggro has an even steeper uphill climb than it normally does, especially for a multiplayer format.  Aggro is an important part of the game, and leaving it out seems wrong to me -- and leaves me with little to play.  I have the hypothetical option of trying to do 21 damage consistently through my commander, but that's really only a so-so solution because it's so impractically difficult.  I've heard that Eight and a half Tails is able to consistently aggro out once in a while, but I've not actually seen it happen yet.  Because the cards themselves are balanced for a format where the life total is 20 (half that), and control is still a viable deck archetype in those formats, it suddenly dominates with the extra life it now has.


My next complaint is about the singleton format.  Your claim is that it increases variance, but it actually has the opposite effect.  It effectively eliminates combo decks as serious contenders because it is more difficult to assemble combo pieces.  I've seen it done using 10-20 Demonic Tutor variants, but if I had a single counterspell all their labor would be for naught with little recourse.  The most common way to get around the single format is to use the cards that Magic frequently prints and reprints with minor variations: Wrath of God, Demonic Tutor, Counterspell, Control Magic etc.  You are effectively limiting the decks to the most fundamental effects found in Magic, because those are the ones that let you get around the inconsistency.  That means that you see basically the same effect with a different name, over and over again.  Whether you're seeing an actual Control Magic, a Legacy's Allure, a Mind Control, or one of the myriad other variations, what happens is that your stuff gets stolen, over and over again.  And no, you only get one Simic Skyswallower that can't be targeted by most of those effects.


So with combo decks and aggro decks effectively out of the format, what you're left with is a monolithic control format.  And that's what I've seen repeatedly when I play, at least within my own state -- a bunch of players playing some variation of blue control and patting themselves on the back for being so clever.  Because control decks care about board position and not about life totals (except their own, which has been padded), control deck variations dominate the format.  There's a sprinkling of "oops, I win" combo pieces in the decks that get to sneak up on people because of the high variance, but mostly it's a bunch of control decks vying for total domination.


I'm sure I had other issues, but that was my main beef: the format essentially only allows variations on control decks, which I don't enjoy playing at all.  I strongly recommend you play the format, because it's a bad format.  You'll be less inclined to push it on us players unwillingly if you've had the experience.



You're absolutely right, that pretty well sums up almost everything about the format in 1-on-1.
EXCEPT...
It's a multiplayer format, and it's designed to be played by more than 2 players. Aggro decks are designed to kill one player fast, but it's just logical for it to be inconsistent when you play against 3 or more people. Commander is a format for those who like long games, building stalmates, using diplomacy while playing. In other words, mostly a casual multiplayer format.
Guess you're just not the part of audience or doing it wrong (i.e. playing 1v1)
I personally was really excited about getting into commander this week on release day only to find out the local store decided to sell all the products he received the day before the actual release date when his order came in so when most people showed up on release day we were all out of luck as he was already sold out.
Anyway, I guess I'll just have to rip apart my other decks to make a commander one. At least no one else in my play group got one either so we will stick with standard LOL

If you contact Wizards Customer Service they'll look into that; they very much frown on stores who violate their agreements and break the street date on new products.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

The fact that some players came up with the I, Planeswalker format goes to show that players can "invest their ego" in a set of sorceries and/or instants just as easily as in a legendary creature.



I always used to build my decks in such a way that I could pick a single "face card" for the deck - I have hand-made deckboxes I used to create which had a picture window cut out so that you could see the face card's art above the deck name.  I'm too lazy for that level of craft anymore but I still always try to pick a representative card to leave on top of the stack when I put it back in the (clear) deck box, so that I can pick up the deck, see that one card, and instantly know which of my roughly twelve thousand decks it is.  I've even tried to make a little game out of picking a card which will tell me exactly what the deck is about without telling an opponent so that he has a strategic edge.  (For instance a deck that has Triumph of the Hordes as its wincon doesn't want to advertise that fact, so instead it might use a creature with a high power that costs 1 less than Triumph, as an optimal win might involve curving out that creature and swinging FTW the next turn.)

The fact that the creature has a face doesn't necessarily make it more relatable, so I'm not sure if Rosewater's justified in saying that commanders are the most brilliant thing about the Commander format.



He's perfectly justified in saying it even if it's not entirely true - it's his opinion, and a quite valid one, even if others might disagree.

However, decks built for non-singleton formats accomplish the same thing by playing multiple copies of cards.



Uh, NO.  A 1/15 chance of drawing the card (okay better than that, but I'm not up to the math) is NOT the same as having the card always be there.  I can't tell you how many times I've run a Goblin deck or something and had my Goblin Kings turn out to all have been shuffled to the bottom.

Really, as long as the deck has any kind of coherent theme, it can have personality and definition--my Rat Ninjutsu deck is very different from my old roommate's Blue/Red Revised deck.  That personality and that definition don't have to have anything to do with legendary creatures.



No, but the legend does make a nice accessible face for the deck.  It's a lot easier to see Higure the Still Wind and know that the deck is about ninjas, rather than look through it gradually trying to figure out what all these blue and red Revised decks have in common.  Just because your deck has a personality and a definition doesn't mean it has a good one of each; it might be able to succeed in that regard without legends, but they make a very useful shortcut.

By the way, my post above is updated with the images in the sblock.
My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi

You forget, MaRo is the guy who thinks colors are people.  He's written multiple articles in which a color "talks".


I'd actually considered that when I was typing my post.  I'd say articles like that fall under the (admittedly vague) heading of "psychological and linguistic reasons" to personify ideas.  It's easier to say "Black will sacrifice anything for power" than it is to say something like "The philosophy of black includes a willingness to sacrifice anything for power."  When Rosewater represents the colors as people in his arguments, it's just a rhetorical device.  Yes, I'd agree that personifying the colors makes it easier to talk about them, but I don't think that necessarily makes them more relatable.  In my opinion, Rosewater's interviews with the colors for Alara block weren't particularly more insightful than his less rhetorical color articles for Ravnica block.

To put it another way, take an abstract concept such as time.  Sometimes it's easier to talk about time as if it were a person, so we say things like "Time flies when you're having fun" or "I had to race against time."  In the Commander article, Rosewater argued that personifying ideas provides an emotional connection that wouldn't exist otherwise, which I don't think is entirely true.  For example, the character of Father Time doesn't really make the concept of time more personal.  I don't see how deckbuilding around a commander provides more of an emotional connection than deckbuilding around any other theme, so I disagree with his assessment of that aspect of Commander.

As for Rosewater's colors-as-people articles, I don't think he was actually attempting to create the emotional connections that he's talking about in the Commander article.  I mean, portraying the colors as being able to use instant messaging is a pretty transparent metaphor, right?
It helps to remember that Commander was first called Elder Dragon Highlander because in its infancy, those were the only generals meant to be used--the five Elder Dragons. Putting aside Vaevictis Asmadi's firebreathing, 21 damage = 3 full hits from an elder dragon. I guess the idea was meant to be similar to the system shock rule in AD&D 2nd edition (no matter how many HP you might still have on the positive side, taking 50 HP or more from a single attack forced you to save vs. death, or die from sheer bodily trauma).

Thanks for this, I was looking for someone to explain why the 21 rule exists. It does seem a bit clunky from a pure design perspective, and it adds another layer of record-keeping to the game. If there were a more natural solution I think it would be worth exploring.

Would aggro-oriented commanders be redundant without the 21 rule? (Dragon_Bloodthirsty suggested that aggro is mostly redundant in the format anyway, though I have never played it to find out.)

How does infect work with EDH?
I get where MaRo is coming from on the color identity issue.  If whatever body governs Commander did want to relax the rules on hybrids, however, there would still be a few problems with MaRo's proposed fix.

There are plenty of ways to use cards without actually casting them, most obviously.  A Seton, Krosan Protector deck could slide Archdemon of Unx into play with Elvish Piper, a move against the spirit (and current letter) of the Commander rules.  Further, some cards can be cast without the use of mana.  A deck built around Ambassador Laquatus could play a Mogg Salvage off a Tideshaper Mystic.

A better way to allow for hybrids while keeping the intent of color identity restrictions largely intact:
-Determination of color identity remains the same
-Decks may not include cards with a color identity (i.e. non-colorless) that does not include a color found in the commander's color identity.

So Isamaru, Hound of Konda white weenie decks can play Stillmoon Cavalier, but not Snuff Out or Cranial Plating.

Whether or not these hybrid applications should be accomodated is another matter, but if the answer to that question is yes, this is a better way to do it.


I'm not convinced that any of the situations you mentioned are problematic.  Is there any reason, other than a desire to preserve the status quo, why a Commander deck shouldn't be able to include a card with an off-color mana symbol?
How does infect work with EDH?

Exactly the same way it works in normal Magic.

Come join me at No Goblins Allowed


Because frankly, being here depresses me these days.

He's perfectly justified in saying it even if it's not entirely true - it's his opinion, and a quite valid one, even if others might disagree.


By "justified," I wasn't talking about whether he has the right to say it; I was saying that I didn't think his assessment was sound.

Uh, NO.  A 1/15 chance of drawing the card (okay better than that, but I'm not up to the math) is NOT the same as having the card always be there.  I can't tell you how many times I've run a Goblin deck or something and had my Goblin Kings turn out to all have been shuffled to the bottom.


This depends on what you consider to be the deck's theme.  If you're calling it a "Goblin deck," then any Goblin card you draw is relevant to your theme, along with any other cards that enable your strategy.  If you're calling it a "Goblin King deck," then I suppose you have every right to be upset when your Goblin Kings end up on the bottom of your deck, but that's inevitable if you're going to have such a narrow theme.  I guess being able to make a narrow theme into a viable deck is part of the appeal of having access to your commander from the command zone, but it's not quite 100%--you still need to have enough mana available to cast the commander, and that amount increases over the course of the game.  (And I'm not entirely sure on the rules since I don't play Commander, but it's also possible for a commander to end up trapped in the library, isn't it?)

Just because your deck has a personality and a definition doesn't mean it has a good one of each; it might be able to succeed in that regard without legends, but they make a very useful shortcut.


My Rat Ninja deck has a single copy of Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni.  Are you saying that if I were to start thinking of it as "my Ink-Eyes deck" instead of "my Rat Ninja deck" it would instantly have better personality and definition?  I think this point is why Rosewater's article bugged me so much.  It's like he was saying, "You can't possibly be as emotionally invested in your commander-less decks as much as Commander players are in their decks."  Admittedly, that's a bit of an overreaction on my part, but it does show that I am emotionally invested.  =)
My Rat Ninja deck has a single copy of Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni.  Are you saying that if I were to start thinking of it as "my Ink-Eyes deck" instead of "my Rat Ninja deck" it would instantly have better personality and definition?  I think this point is why Rosewater's article bugged me so much.  It's like he was saying, "You can't possibly be as emotionally invested in your commander-less decks as much as Commander players are in their decks."  Admittedly, that's a bit of an overreaction on my part, but it does show that I am emotionally invested.  =)



This is where MaRo makes the same kind of mistake he created T/J/S for; he talks only about his own perspective, while there are others. As babies, some (the majority of girls) show more interest in faces, whereas others (the majority of boys) show more interest in 'things' like the mobile hanging above their crib. On a whole on avarage, women's media is more focussed on people whereas men's media is more focussed on things.

So MaRo's perspective is just one view, not the view. It's a good thing Magic facilitates both. You can build a deck around a person or a theme. Block now both have a personal aspect (planeswalkers) and a thematic aspect (the plane, which has shifted from story-driven to setting-driven).

I'd dare to wager the people playing Magic are on avarage relatively less interested in people than the avarage population.

I'm not convinced that any of the situations you mentioned are problematic.  Is there any reason, other than a desire to preserve the status quo, why a Commander deck shouldn't be able to include a card with an off-color mana symbol?



Because of flavor. Commander is a tad more Vorthosian rooted than normal Magic.
That was the least boring article I ever read from Rosewater. While it's dissapointing to hear that he and so many of you take the view that commander needs fixing, I'd advise you all to play it that way if you want to, it's a casual format which many groups play under house rules.
As another non-Commander player, I was surprised to learn about the 21-damage rule, and I was very interested that MaRo almost completely skipped over it, despite the fact that it is a whole extra layer of record keeping that could (indeed will) lead to mistakes being made.

As for MaRo's perspective issue - he does state very clearly at the start of the article that these are his opinions and that, unlike most Making Magic columns, they are not to be taken as WotC positions. Personally, I tend to agree with the view that there isn't enough "story-telling" going on in Magic outside of the casual players, and I'm glad to see that this aspect is gaining a little bit of traction within R&D and that it isn't all being left to Creative and Brand.
I'm not a big fan of the Commander format for a number of reasons.  I do play (a little bit), and I've been told "You're doing it wrong", but I swear the format itself is messed up, and this seems like a good place to point out what I think is wrong and why I don't like it so much.

[...]

I'm sure I had other issues, but that was my main beef: the format essentially only allows variations on control decks, which I don't enjoy playing at all.  I strongly recommend you play the format, because it's a bad format.  You'll be less inclined to push it on us players unwillingly if you've had the experience.




Have you read the article about "Scott Evil doesn't understand Commander"? =)

mtgcommander.net/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=1...

Basically, the format is indeed 100% broken and messed up and the best decks are control decks that combo out at one point, as you said. Those kind of decks are what you'll end up with if you play the format competitively. But that was never the intent of Commander. It's supposed to be a casual fun format, not approached from a competitive view.

If anything, the people who told you you did it wrong are the people who do it wrong. (Not that there's anything wrong with competitive Commander, just understand you're actually the alien here. Even if it seems you've outnumbered/outclassed the indegenious population)

So, I hope you can find a more casual playgroup more suited to your tastes to enjoy a different flavor of Commander =)
I actually somewhat agree with Dragon_Bloodthirsty. I've played exactly one Commander game, with a borrowed deck. It was fun, I'll admit that. I liked kicking Rite of Replication on Darksteel Colossus, sure, and it was amusing to see Doubling Cube power out an Emrakul. The main problem is that 4 out of 5 decks included blue, there were Sol Rings, Rhystic Studies, Briberies and counters flying everywhere and it just felt like a big blue mess. There was some variance in the specific win conditions but that was it. Once you use the old-school cards, blue is just massively overpowered, and you get mass removal everywhere. It has its charm but the absolute need to build in card advantage machines and cards that just keep coming back make it a bit of a one-type format in my opinion. Maybe I would enjoy it more with random people who don't have access to all the old cards.
76125763 wrote:
Zindaras' meta is like a fossil, ancient and its secrets yet to be uncovered. Only men of yore, long dead, knew of it.
As another non-Commander player, I was surprised to learn about the 21-damage rule, and I was very interested that MaRo almost completely skipped over it, despite the fact that it is a whole extra layer of record keeping that could (indeed will) lead to mistakes being made.

As for MaRo's perspective issue - he does state very clearly at the start of the article that these are his opinions and that, unlike most Making Magic columns, they are not to be taken as WotC positions. Personally, I tend to agree with the view that there isn't enough "story-telling" going on in Magic outside of the casual players, and I'm glad to see that this aspect is gaining a little bit of traction within R&D and that it isn't all being left to Creative and Brand.



Here here.

I very very much agree with MaRo, and have said as such on the "official" Commander forums. But the community there is hostile to such a change. In fact, my biggest disapointment when Commander was announced is that WotC decided to leave commander rules to the Rules Commitee. You guys could do a much better job than them, what with not being blinded by nostalgia and inertia, and having the power to print new cards to fix problems.

Appart from removing the 21-damage rule and the deck construction rule 3, I'd lower starting life to 30 (to replace the 21-damage rule as a way to make games end sooner, and to make aggro more viable).

I'd also add the possibility of returning a commander to the command zone if it's put into a library. I don't understand why such a loophole even exists. All it does is screw decks that are low on tutors and shufflers, as I have personally experienced at the Commander release tournament. Played my commander once, had it countered and placed on the bottom of my library with that new counterspell, and it stayed there the rest of the game. MaRo probably hasn't played enough to notice the issue.

You're absolutely right, that pretty well sums up almost everything about the format in 1-on-1.
EXCEPT...
It's a multiplayer format, and it's designed to be played by more than 2 players. Aggro decks are designed to kill one player fast, but it's just logical for it to be inconsistent when you play against 3 or more people.
Commander is a format for those who like long games, building stalmates, using diplomacy while playing. In other words, mostly a casual multiplayer format.

It's "just logical" that a multiplayer format with 40 life encourages combo/control and strongly discourage aggro. It's not "just logical" that this is a good thing. And it is not an unavoidable fate. There are casual multiplayer formats that do not devolve into stalemates (which you mention as if they were a good thing?!). Two-headed giant, pentacle, attack left... Commander could be made more aggro-friendly if the RC wanted it to be.
I've played a little commander, about half a dozen games now, but not all that much. Definitely like it, though.

As for control and combo dominating, I think that's a local metagame thing. Except for the decks released this past weekend I've never even seen a heavily blue deck, and only one tutor, Diabolic. (Admittedly, like I said, haven't played it much, but still.) Aggro can definitely win, you just need pump effects. Titanic Ultimatum, Overrun, Coat of Arms, Furnace of Wrath, several cards from the new event decks, etc.

My biggest complaint is the rule about 21 points of damage from a single commander. It makes record keeping a big problem if more than one person has a commander worth attacking with.
I've enjoyed the format with a house rule of dying at 21 points of damage from all commanders total, but that might be too crippling with some decks.

Posting from my phone, forgive bad formatting and stuff.
The most important aspect of the General Commander Damage rule is that it provides an "out" to infinite-life combos. It's really hard (not impossible, mind) to mill someone out when 99-card decks are involved, and poison was never a serious option for the format until Scars block and infect (ok, and maybe a Slivers deck as of Future Sight).
If you start to remove restrictions, then what is the point in having restrictions in the first place?  Having a quirky rule makes the game that much more fun.  Sure, if you want to play with Kitchen Finks then you need to run green/white in your General's colors. 

The rule is good as is.  Don't change anything, because then you are just making the format less quirky, less flavorfull.
In regards to Aggro not being in EDH/Commander.. I'd have to slightly disagree. I say "slightly" because I'm sure we all have a different idea as to what aggro actually is. I tend to define aggro by the format in which is being played. The Standard version of aggro is going to be much different than the EDH version of Aggro, and this is what I think people are failing to realize.

An example is that Goblin Guide in Standard is pretty good aggro. A Goblin Guide in EDH, however, just blows. This is where the EDH version of aggro needs to come into play. To use the new Commander decks as reference, the Heavenly Inferno deck can hit for untold damage on T5. On T4, the player casts Kaalia of the Vast (their commander), and then on T5, they attack and sneak in Mana-Charged Dragon. This is at least 7 damage - 12 if the player has 5 lands and played nothing else this turn. Then the other players at the table get to have at it.  If the other players - excluding the defending player of course - ponies up some lands, the attack could easily reach upwards of 20+ damage. This could even happen T4 if Anger somehow hits the graveyard.

My point is, I find it hard to believe that out of 12,000+/- cards, that an aggro strategy just can't hold water in EDH.. It sounds to me that people are trying to put a Standard/Extended/etc aggro strategy into EDH, failing miserably, and saying that EDH is nothing but control..

The other problem with aggro in EDH is that EDH is primarily a multiplayer format, and aggro just doesn't do well in multiplayer.

I would not complain about changing the life total to 30, nor would I complain about the changes in the color identity rules.

As a big commander player, I have to say I'm getting a little tired of commander articles aimed at non-commander players though. Too much of that article was just explaining what the format was, when really it was an article for commander players anyway. But that's just my impatience :P 
My next complaint is about the singleton format.  Your claim is that it increases variance, but it actually has the opposite effect.  It effectively eliminates combo decks as serious contenders because it is more difficult to assemble combo pieces.  I've seen it done using 10-20 Demonic Tutor variants, but if I had a single counterspell all their labor would be for naught with little recourse.  The most common way to get around the single format is to use the cards that Magic frequently prints and reprints with minor variations: Wrath of God, Demonic Tutor, Counterspell, Control Magic etc.  You are effectively limiting the decks to the most fundamental effects found in Magic, because those are the ones that let you get around the inconsistency.  That means that you see basically the same effect with a different name, over and over again.  Whether you're seeing an actual Control Magic, a Legacy's Allure, a Mind Control, or one of the myriad other variations, what happens is that your stuff gets stolen, over and over again.  And no, you only get one Simic Skyswallower that can't be targeted by most of those effects.

So with combo decks and aggro decks effectively out of the format, what you're left with is a monolithic control format.  And that's what I've seen repeatedly when I play, at least within my own state -- a bunch of players playing some variation of blue control and patting themselves on the back for being so clever.  Because control decks care about board position and not about life totals (except their own, which has been padded), control deck variations dominate the format.  There's a sprinkling of "oops, I win" combo pieces in the decks that get to sneak up on people because of the high variance, but mostly it's a bunch of control decks vying for total domination.


I'm sure I had other issues, but that was my main beef: the format essentially only allows variations on control decks, which I don't enjoy playing at all.  I strongly recommend you play the format, because it's a bad format.  You'll be less inclined to push it on us players unwillingly if you've had the experience.


Way to be completely wrong.  Combo DOES dominate the format...and combos HAPPEN to often use "control" spells to protect said combo.

Aggro is, pretty much, completely boned though.



I'd agree with Smauls.  Aggro in EDH/Commander exists, just in different form.  I run a couple of aggro-oriented EDH decks, using Homura, Human Ascendant  and Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund  as generals.  Both do just fine in my group (though I wouldn't exactly call us net-decking Spikes).  As for combo decks, they exist as well (for example, using Zur the Enchanter  and Arcum Dagsson  as generals), but these tend to attract quite a bit of hate from EDHers in communities where I've played.  It may be that we're just a bunch of Timmies and Johnnies who prefer longer games centered around control (and politics). 

I think that the rules about 40 starting life and (especially) commander damage are pretty well accepted among folks who play this format regularly.  I would even say that if they were to change, we'd get very many splinter groups who keep the old ways.  This would be very bad for deck portability and community building, IMO.  It's the ingrained culture of the community, and we've done great with these rules so far.

But I do tend to agree with MaRo on the mana issue.  Cards castable with hybrid mana were obviously meant to be cast from decks that didn't have to run all colors involved.  Updating the Commander rules to take this into account would give a greater sense of freedom and flexibility to Commander deckbuilding, and IMO it wouldn't be too bad for the community.  If we can come to welcome Memnarch  as a general, then we can probably accept some Swans of Bryn Argoll  as his supporting cast.
You know, for the hybrid thing, it'd be much easier to add a rule that says you may treat hybrid mana as a mono-colored mana of either of the colors it represents.

And maybe add another rule for cards that produce mana of every color. (Like say the hypothetical City of Copper - if a card's rules let you earn one mana of any color, and it does this by showing the mana symbol of every color, you may ignore those specific mana symbols when determining if a card is legal for your commander deck.)

But really, I think the one change would be to add a rule that says you may treat hybrid mana as a mono-colored mana of either of the colors it represents.
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