My Five-Cents On… a Commander Cast Article

I’m going to try out a New Feature here on the EDH100 Project, wherein I will take an article I’ve read on another site and give my thoughts or reactions to it (linking back to their original article… of course, if you’re reading this blog and NOT reading the ones I’m linking to, Shame on you! Theirs are way  better than mine (but I’ve got more decks))

I like CommanderCast a lot. I enjoy the articles, and I was an avid listener of the Podcast for many seasons (though I’ve fallen behind), and was even on one of the Call in Shows.

Distorting Lens, Magic, 8th Edition

They posted an article a few days ago entitled  “90 Minutes with Brian (or ‘Why I Hate Commander’),” in which the author gives his well-thought-out opinions for reasons he “hates” commander, or things he hates about the format.  One of the great things about a social/community-based format like commander is the variety of opinions and reasons for playing the game.  I thought I’d throw in my Nickel’s worth of opinions on the same topics.

Here are my feelings on the 8 Things that Brian Hates…

1. Color Identity Restrictions.  Me: LOVE

Yes, it’s an extra challenge sometimes, but I actually like that I can’t play Debtors’ Knell in any deck with White OR Black, or have Bringer of the White Dawn in any white deck.  The color identity restrictions actually open up the card pool for people who play a lot of decks by taking away some things that might be the dreaded “Auto Include/Staple”.   It also  causes me to have to build more decks.  Hybrid cards, to me at least (Sorry Maro) are two-colored cards: just look at them.  This is one of those restrictions that breeds creativity for me, and I’d be displeased to see it go a way (which is why I’m glad Maro don’t EDH).

Debtors' Knell

Only for special occaisions

Debtors' Knell, Magic, Guildpact

2. Commander Damage.  Me: ‘LIKE’ LIKE

If Commander Damage didn’t exist, I would only play arbitrarily large life-gain decks, ever.  I sometimes dislike losing too quickly to Voltron decks, but I wouldn’t ever want to lose the Commander Damage rule, as I think it gives some character to the format and it makes the General into something more than just “This is what colors of mana my deck can produce, and what colors of spells I can play.”  Any general should be able to win the game for you more easily (even Isamaru or Jasmine Boreal).

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

I hate you the most because you CAN’T kill via commander damage.

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, Magic, Scars of Mirrodin

3. Casting from the Command Zone .    Me: LIKE

Other than the occasional desire to use Ith as a general and not have to pay 7, it doesn’t really bother me that there are a few Legends of the 300+ that don’t work as generals, or at least require hoops.  I’m actually really glad that the Myojin require you to have a bounce effect to make them useful as generals.

Ith, High Arcanist

7 Mana or $20?

Ith, High Arcanist, Magic, Time Spiral

4. Commander Death Replacement.   Me: LOVE

I love the tension of the choice here.  Commanders already have a pretty sweet bonus that you can always have access to them from the Command Zone and get their ETB effects (with a few exceptions, like said Myojin).  Also getting their death triggers would be a little to much if you ask me.   I definitely have generals that I prefer go to the Graveyard (Skullbriar is the first one that comes to mind, since after the first Commander Tax, most of the reanimation I have for him is cheaper than 6).

5. Mana Production Restrictions –  Me: LIKE

Again, apologies to Maro, but I think it’s a fun quirk of the format that you don’t have access to Mana out of your Commander’s Color ID.  It makes the choices different for certain spells, and I think that’s a good thing. Blue theft decks don’t need even more help.  It seems, though, that as of Theros R&D has updated their technology (ala Daxos) to work-around this rule to a degree… and I do like Daxos, so I can’t make a life-long commitment here; the friend-zone will be good enough.

6. The Social Contract – Me: LOVE

I don’t play any other format (I don’t even actually like Pre-releases, though I go to get new cards faster), because every other format is based on the idea that you need to win. Period.*

From my skewed view, everyone that plays a non-Social format is either a Spike or delusional.  So, yes, I like the idea that Commander is a format centered around something other than Winning.  To me the Social Contract is: Play games and decks that the people you’re playing with (“With” not “Against”) could also enjoy.  If other people are consistently able to have fun playing with you, then you’re in the wrong format, or at least playing in the wrong group.  If everyone in your group likes to try to combo out on turn 3, or is at least okay playing under that restriction that a deck has imposed, then you’re with in the Social Contract. … I could go on about my thoughts on the Social Contract and “competition,” but I think I’ll undertake that “write” of passage in a different article.

Common Cause, Magic, Mercadian Masques

* There’s a difference between “I play to have fun. Winning is fun.” and “I play to win.”

7. The Banlist – LIKE

Do I like all of the choices for the Banlist? Not really. Since I’ve started playing, have I ever been happy that a card got banned? No.    The great thing about the Banlist and the “Social Format,” (or at least the fact that, while recognized, EDH is not sanctioned by Wizards) is that you can ignore it if you want .

Due mostly to the fact that She was banned only days after I bought one for my brother as a Christmas Present, Emrakul is fully allowed in any game under my roof or that I’m hosting.    I started playing EDH just days after Tolarian Academy was banned (I didn’t know about the banned list when I built my first deck), and it was one of the first 5 cards I grabbed for my very first deck  (1. Zephyr Falcon. 2. Kangee (general). 3. Soraya, 4. Serra’s Sanctum. 5. Tolarian Academy).

Painter's Servant, Magic, Shadowmoor

To be honest, though, I wish they’d just ban Iona and let Teysa have Painter’s Servant and make many illicit bi-racial spirit children.

8. “Commander”.  Me: TOLERATE

I’ve only been playing since 2010, so I’m not Old Skool enough to have strong ties to the terminology. I use it interchangeably, and don’t care what terms other people choose to use.


So there you have it. Me piggybacking off of a better writer. If you hate it. Let me know.

2 thoughts on “My Five-Cents On… a Commander Cast Article

  1. Hey, those are some valid points you make.
    I for one am in agreement with the color restrictions even though I think hybrids should be allowed in any deck sporting only one of their colors because that was the idea behind their invention. It is just a minor issue though. I also think that Commander damage is necessary to keep evil lifegain decks in check (hello Oloro…), so yeah, I’m fine with it.
    However, the whole discussion about this so-called “Social Contract” is annoying me no end. The reason here is simple: The people behind it try to enforce their understanding of fun onto all other people. Land desctruction? Unfun, don’t play it. Infinite combos? Unfun, don’t play it. Best example here: Triskelion / Mephidross Vampire. I mean seriuosly, if people are not able to kill a critter that has no kind of protection whatsoever, then they should start thinking about rebuilding their deck. I see where the argument comes from, though, and ending an otherwise interesting game within a single second may feel bad to the other players at first. Then again, just start a new game! Such a combo might even prevent an extremely boring game from going any longer (as I have seen a few times). Luckily, the all-important Rules Committee allows that house rules always prevail here. And thank God that Commander isn’t a sanctioned format.
    Well, and then there is the ban list. Why is everybody even talking about it? The concept behind it is clear: Adhere to it if you want to, but if you prefer ignoring it, do so! And that really makes the whole discussion moot, doesn’t it? Because everybody can do as they like. Where is the point in wasting your time discussing it in hundreds of articles when the solution is up to every single person themselves? For example in my playgroup, we definitely allow playing Sylvan Primordial because it has never been as evil as people seem to think it is. And it has shown itself quite often because it’s just a good card.
    So, there you have it. My two cents. Now back to work! 😉

    • I think the idea of a “Social Contract” isn’t about enforcing your idea of fun on to someone else, but rather about, when you sit down with a group of people to play, that everyone is playing the kind of decks they like to play in games with. If a group is against LD and you just love to play Kali-Armageddon, it might be the wrong group for you. I think the idea is to be upfront about what kind of game your deck is for. I’ve had people that I’ve never played against before ask me not to play an Azami deck, because they assume it’s an “Azami” deck, or assume that my Zur deck is a “Zur” deck (it’s really group hug).

      I don’t “Cube” for Social Contract reasons. I like to randomly draft things and then treat it as a sealed (I hate the stress of drafting, but I like sealed), but what I’ve learned from real cubers is that it ruins their fun (something about “signals” and other drafter jargon), so I usually make that fact known about my cubing before it starts. If it’s not cool with the group, then I bow out.

      I think the Ban List is optional too, but the fact of the matter is when you encounter other edh “cultures” there needs to be a baseline. Just because Emrakul is Emra-Cool in my house, it doesn’t mean it should be everywhere. I think of the Ban List as the “It is reasonable to assume these cards are, generally, not allowed unless you are told otherwise” list.

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