Welcome to EDH: IMHO. A diverse haven for passionate, casual weirdos who want to create stories with their friends through a game of Commander!
Thank you for joining me! If you are reading this article, I hope that you read my first one. My desire with that article was to not only introduce myself, but to give you, my beloved reader, a look into what I want EDH IMHO to be every week.
This week, I would love to discuss my history with the format, and why I love it so very much. If I had to summarize my Commander mission statement, it would be this:
My goal in commander is to create the very best possible Magic the Gathering experience for my playgroup.
This is important for me to get out of the way early. I know for a lot of commander groups this is simply not the case. If the above statement isn’t for you, that is awesome, and I wouldn’t want to change a single thing about your philosophy. (Not that I could)
But the goal of creating the best experience possible is, for me, what casual (and by extension commander) is all about. Now, to be clear, this does not mean you don’t build with strong interactions in mind, and it certainly doesn’t mean you don’t build answers into your deck to stop your opponents. What this mission statement sets into place is an attitude that takes an extra step to consider your opponents, as well as yourself.
But to talk about that, I must first share what is probably my cardinal rule of commander:
Talk to each other.
Full disclosure: I am a full-blooded introvert. People can wear me out, especially if a conversation goes too long. I could write a separate social column on the tricks I have used in the past use to end conversations as quickly as possible. I’d read it – Editor
So believe me: those of you who got exhausted just READING my request that you talk to your playgroup: I get it! It’s work, and it’s often contentious work, at that. It always requires energy and patience.
But in my opinion, talking is the only way to create the kind of games you want to experience as a team. It is not only worth the effort, but in my opinion, it is actually wasteful not to talk.
You know what’s a great movie? The Hateful Eight.
If you’re a big fan of Tarantino, you probably don’t love this movie. It’s probably just barely better than Death Proof when you rank his movies. The Hateful Eight is super long. It may be Tarantino at his most pretentious. You have to wait a long time for the action.
But it’s my favorite Tarrantino movie. It may not be his greatest…but it’s my favorite.
Do you know why? Because of how they talk.
People who love Tarrantino have all kinds of reasons why. They love the grittiness, or the violence, or his dark humor. They love that he basically reinvented the rules of plotting when it comes to film. I love all those things, but for me, they aren’t what makes Tarrantino great. What truly sets him apart, in my opinion, is the way he has characters talk to each other. And Hateful Eight just might be the Taj Mahal of talk.
The movie is an ensemble of awesome actors who do so very little, but say so very much. The few moments of violence and action in the film act as punctuation for the dialogue. The dialogue aligns the dominoes to ensure that the action rolls destructively and passionately through every twist and turn.
Sometimes, I think I love the act of communication so much because I feel like the world around me has come to despise it. Talking is work. Talking can be monotonous. It often requires you to repeat yourself, which never feels like anything less than the biggest waste of time possible.
And this is just as true in commander as it is in anything else. Someone hates how a certain card affects the game, but they are worried to make someone mad, or that they will look stupid for hating a card that isn’t as powerful as they think.
So they do the worst thing they can do for a problem: they keep their concern to themselves.
But here’s the thing: when you don’t talk, you do the one thing that has 0% chance of fixing the problem. To not talk is to keep precious knowledge out of the pool.
I need the card because of its title….but seriously, screw this card.
I recall a time when my playgroup was having dinner together before we started a new game. One member of my group, who for the sake of this article I will nickname “Jaws,” was mostly just listening. We discussed some of the cards in our group that might be negatively affecting our experiences. We were bringing up some really powerful cards that were potentially warping our playgroup’s experience.
Finally, we asked Jaws what card bothered him the most.
“Honestly,” he said, “I think it sucks that Crypt Ghast can be played in mono-black decks.”
If you don’t know, there are a lot of people like my friend Jaws when it comes to this card. Extort is known in the commander community as just another bullet in the pissing contest between Mark Rosewater and Sheldon Menery when it comes to what color identity should mean in commander. Rosewater has always hated that hybrid cards cannot be played in either of its colors, individually. Meanwhile Menery has maintained that a commander must have both of a hybrid’s cards colors in its identity for it to be legal.
It is theorized that extort was created by Rosewater just to needle at Menery’s stance. If true, it is a embarrassingly petty move. Of course, it was followed in kind by Menery’s equally petty response, which was to declare that extort would actually not factor into a card’s color identity. His reason?
Because the hybrid mana is in the reminder text.
As lame as the Menery/Rosewater disagreement is, at the end of the day Crypt Ghast is legal to be run in mono black decks. Even though I didn’t think that was a big deal, my friend Jaws did. We had been playing commander for four years, and I don’t think I had ever heard Jaws mention a card he didn’t like.
So I took it out. Now, I don’t need to tell you how amazing Crypt Ghast is in mono black. I also don’t need to tell you that my deck got weaker after that. Keeping up in mana can be hard when you don’t have green, so cards like Crypt Ghast are a godsend. It was a really tough cut for the deck.
But then again, making as good of a deck as possible….that’s not my mission statement, is it?
I will try to say this every week, but I want you all to know that this series of articles is going to be about my particular experience with casual commander in my own specific playgroup. There’s a good chance you disagreed with a good portion of this article, and that’s not only ok, it’s actually perfect. My entire point with this article is to create as much fun as I can through what I believe to be the most important ingredient: talk. Talk with your playgroup. Come to conclusions. Be ok with those conclusions differing from the EDH Rules Committee. For the sake of the preservation of your fun, and the fun of your friends, be brave enough to talk!
Thanks as always! This has been EDH IMHO. I’ve been, and continue to be, Akabane Rowsdower.
AkabaneRowsdower is an avidly casual player of Commander. He loves movies, Japanese pro wrestling, and Sphinx Ambassador. Every week, he uses EDH IMHO to share his rambling philosophy regarding the format he loves.