In Search of Commander / EDH group in Portland, Oregon

  •  I’m Moving to Portland Next Week.Weird Harvest, Magic, 9th Edition

    36yo player (MTG since The Dark)  ISO a fun, regular EDH/Commander group.  165+ EDH Decks and counting.  Just left a fantastic group in Ellicott City, MD (The Family Game Store).

    If you want to read more about my EDH philosophy, check here


  • Casual Play,
  • Social Contract/friendly games,
  • relaxed (non-sculpting) mulligans,
  • deck variety,
  • placeholder proxies (only cards I own),
  • 2-5 player games,
  • standard Commander rules (with occasionally expanding/modifying the format — Tag-Team Commander, Pauper, GuildWars etc)


  • play for prizes,
  • play for points,
  • leagues,
  • tournaments/ “pods”,
  • hyper-competitive games,
  • games consistently ending before turn 10,
  • combo-only games,
  • house-bans,
  • anti-social players,
  • optimization.

    Not sure what my availability will be just yet.  Letters of reference available on request.  Contact me via this blog (cross posted at

On Proxies

Proxying cards is a hot-button issue for a lot of EDH players. On one hand, it’s a casual, non-sanctioned format that is nominally about Fun/Social gaming, so why does it matter if the cards are real or not. Some of the best cards in the format are $100+ . On the other hand there are copyright/counterfeit implications, as well as some indignance by those with $100+ cards when other people get to have the same effect for 5-cents.  I’m not going to go any further in to the debate; if you’re reading this, you’ve probably read it all before. Instead, I’ll just explain how I handle proxies.

(If you haven’t been part of the debate, Commander Cast’s “Staple Remover” just wrote an article about it)

My basic policy is:  If you own a copy of a card, you can proxy it in a deck.   I call this the Physical MTGO rule. If you own the cards that you need for a deck, you could theoretically build that deck, so go ahead and use them.

This is, of course, within reason. A deck of all sharpie-proxies would be ugly and hard for opponents to understand, and just printing out an entire deck is kind of lazy (except not, because that’s a lot of physical cutting and pasting).

In practice, I have “placeholders” in a lot of my decks. Sharpied lands that hold the slot in the deck for the actual card.  Whenever I can, I keep a binder of my most commonly used cards so that I can swap cards in if I draw the placeholder (or, if playing with sticklers who are willing to wait for me to prepare a deck, swap the cards in before a game and swap them back out afterwards).  It’s sort of like the “Commander Cube” idea, with out the pain in the backside of having to Draft.


Case in point:  I own 90% of a playset of Revised Duals.  They’re good lands and they go in every deck. They’re better than any other multi-color land (I don’t proxy for Shocks – I only play what I own) They also are expensive, and I can’t afford to buy enough for all of my decks. Rather than swapping them around all of the time, I put real ones  in the two-color decks, and do sharpie-proxies for the rest. I keep a page in my proxy binder with one of each as “proof of ownership.”  Some people think it’s because I don’t play with sleeves or worry about damaging them, but I’ll happily shuffle them into a deck if someone wants me to take the time to do it. (I almost sharpie altered one of my 3 Underground Seas for an old CommanderCast contest with a picture of Ib Halfheart  on a ‘beach’ vacation, but I can’t draw well enough to make it look cool)


Other cards that I frequently have placeholders for:  Good lands that are also expensive (Urborg; Cradle; Stronghold, etc.).  Genesis; Survival of the Fittest.  None of these are cards that I play in every deck that they could fit into, but when they really fit into a deck, I want to have them there.  I also proxy Sol Rings (I own about 15-20), but I don’t have to have them in every deck.    For the lands and the Sol Ring, I’ll usually just use the sharpie-proxy on the table, and for the non-land permanents I’ll always fish out the actual card from the binder.

The key thing here is that I proxy for cards that I really want to have in a deck. Just because a deck has green, it doesn’t mean I feel that the TryHard Law of Staples requires me to include a Cradle and Survival of the Fittest, but for the 4% of my decks that I want to have a Survival in, I don’t feel super bad about sticking a placeholder in.

The other area where I use proxies is for Generals and Planeswalkers. Wiping a foil-common and printing a custom-card decal  with MSE is pretty easy (though time consuming), and I like having foil generals, or alternate art generals, or full-art generals. Sometimes the old Legends cards have kind of lame art, so I like to make them look cooler (or I’ve gotten an Italian Legends card because they’re cheap, but want to easily see what it says in English… in those cases I often use a clear sleeve with the cards back to back).

Angus MacKenzie Gwendlyn di Corci.1 Lady Caleria.2 Xira Arien.2

I don’t play Planeswalkers a lot, but they’re usually pretty pricey, and when I do want one for a deck, I really want it in the deck. Plus, Planeswalkers ALSO look cool with alternate art, so I’ve made foil-proxies for several of those as well.

Chandra Ablaze Elspeth Knight-Errant.1 Liliana of the Dark Realms  Tamiyo the Moon Sage

I am planning a WUBRG Planeswalker deck. In order to make that happen, I’m going to have to proxy a lot of them (only ones I own though), but I think it will be cool. I thought about doing alternate arts of DC superheroes (as the “Superfriends”), but instead I’m going to go with  Marvel’s “NextWave”.

Tezzeret Agent of Bolas

I don’t mind playing against non-placeholding proxies if they’re not going overboard, but only if it’s for play-testing purposes, or because the card is in the mail.  However, I’ll usually give a hard time to someone who’s slotting in things like Mishra’s Workshop, or Imperial Seal, etc.

In the last few months I have done some de-proxifying of decks. The equipment suite that used to be shared between Kemba, Rafiq and a few others got mostly replaced in Kemba when I decided it wasn’t Voltron.  I own a set of Swords of Protection and Value, but I only play them in two of my decks.

So, there you have it. I’m a terrible human being that fundamentally ruins your ability to enjoy the game because of individual, non-gameplay-based, choices I make in my decks.

How to Build 100 EDH Decks


How to Build 100 EDH/Commander Decks*
(originally posted HERE in my, currently on hiatus, list blog “My Year in Lists“)
1. Don’t Be Hung Up on Perfection:   Not every deck is going to be a hyper-optimized pile of staples.
2. Play “Bad” Cards:  your decks will get boring if every deck has the same staples.  Use this opportunity to try out “less good’ cards (or the ones that TryHards say are “bad”).
3. Proxy (fairly) —  Some cards that are good enough for a lot of decks are also a lot of money, and you might not have stacks of them.  To me, fairly means you can proxy something as long as you own at least one copy of it, but no more than 3 non-dual-land  placeholder proxies per deck. More on my Proxy philosophy in a later post.
4. Restrictions = Creativity (because MaRo said so):  not every green deck need be “Ramp to Fatties,” and not every blue deck “Draw/Counter/Combo”. Giving yourself restrictions can lead to more ideas for decks…  Mono-blue beat-down,  creature-less green,  all one-drops, Samurai tribal, Ice Age Block Constructed etc.
5. Sleeves are for Wimps:  or people with extra time and money to keep decks in the right sleeves, or people that foolishly would want to ever get rid of their cards.  I’d rather spend money on more cards, than on 10,000 sleeves, but your mileage may vary. Penny sleeves are awkward and gross, and other sleeves are hard to shuffle. I have 2 decks in sleeves. One is an all-foil deck, and another was going to be. I sleeve my Generals to distinguish them.
6. Play for Funsies First:  see #1.  If you are tournament-hustler Spikey McSpikerson, you’re probably only going to optimize one deck to KILL and win all of the prizes and money and glory.  Building in bulk, not all of your decks are going to be optimized to win, (or at least not win in the same old way).  Be happy to play for the game to pull off an awesome play, or be part of epic games, or just to sling cardboard with your friends.
7. Build for Art Sometimes:  an extension of #4.  Some of your decks might be exercises more than anything else. Try building a Rainbow Stairwell, or Tag-Team decks, or ‘drafting’ out of your deckless-cards (see #9), keeping a few “teaching” decks is a good idea too.
8. Have a Lot of Cards:  it helps if you’ve already got a ton of cards to build from. Any card that isn’t in a deck should make you want to put it into a deck or make a deck for it.
9. Play Favorites:  some decks are worth going back and tweaking with the newest cards, others can be built and finished. Keeping all of the decks up to date would be foolish, costly, and time-consuming. On the other hand, keeping a few favorite decks as fresh as possible, is also important.
10. Don’t Go Bankrupt Trying to Do it All at Once:  My initial goal was just to have one of each possible combination (including no-color and 4-color). Once that happened I thought about going for two of each legal combination.  The idea of shooting for 100 didn’t come up until about #65.
* at this point I have 99 that are ready to go, with #100 just waiting for lands to be added, plus at least 4 others that are in various states of build.

My EDH philosophy

Before we get started with the decks, I suppose I should share my personal EDH philosophy:

I’d rather enjoy a game of EDH than win it.

People that want to win as fast as possible don’t like playing (just winning).

There’s no such thing as an EDH “Tournament.” (Fun or Prizes: you can’t play for both).

A deck doesn’t have to be “optimal” to be playable.

I am Pro:

  • General Damage,
  • 40 life,
  • combos after turn 8-10,
  • interactivity,
  • scooping when it’s no longer fun,
  • wacky combos,
  • attacking with dudes,
  • theme decks
  • Free mulligans to get a playable hand
  • “bad” cards
  • Proxying for cards you own

I am Anti:

  • Poison/infect,
  • Mass Land denial,
  •  Mass Hand Denial (unless it leads to quick victory),
  • spite scooping,
  • infinite turns,
  • long turns,
  • playing with other people’s decks, 
  • Partial Paris / Hand Sculpting Mulligans
  • Lockdown decks
  • Staples-as-necessities
  • Proxying for cards you won’t own
  • Trading, or having a trade binder

Other Fun Facts:

The sum total of all Sensei’s Divining Tops I’ve ever owned, played (or even used) : 0