Welcome back, readers! After talking with several of the regulars in the shop, the idea of writing about the current status of EDH and its two sub formats sprang to mind. Now you might be thinking “But David! EDH is one format” and you're not wrong. What I am going to discuss today is the divide that has been steadily growing between Casual EDH and Competitive EDH, how each can benefit the community in different ways, and how to bridge the gap between the two.
The format of Commander has evolved over the past few years, and as more players have jumped into the format, the power level of individual decks has begun to take shape in the form of a power bar. The weaker of decks tend to be ranked closer to a 1 on the sliding scale, while the more tuned and consistent decks wind up around the 8 or 9. Many players have their favourite deck and have put lots of effort and money into making it the best monstrosity it can possibly be, but it can inevitably lead to some feel-bad moments when the person with a 9-power deck sits down with a group of 3’s and 4’s and just dominates over and over.
A surprisingly helpful suggestion that a good friend of mine made was to consider bringing two decks whenever you come out to play at your Local Game Store. Having a deck that registers on the 8-9 as well as one that is a 4-5 is a great way to break the ice when sitting down with newer players. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to test an individual’s deck-making prowess. It’s far too easy to look at the internet and see the top cards used in every deck and mimic it. It’s a whole new story when you want to take a Kynaios and Tiro deck and stuff it full of every political and group-engaging card you can think of. This can lead to looking at sets and cards that otherwise would have been almost forgotten (Yes I’m looking at you, Goblin Game).
Another idea that stores could consider is having ‘loaner’ decks for people to play. I know I have a few relatively low-powered decks sitting behind the counter for the new or curious player to try out. They’re inexpensive but will hold their own. One perfect example of this is my friend Mac, who carries around Azami, Lady of Scrolls, and a Cromat deck. Azami is the tuned deck that out-draws, out-counters and out-combos just about anything and everything. He changes maybe 14 cards and it’s an equally as oppressive Locust God deck. The deck is disgusting and I’m totally not salty about it. His Cromat deck… It’s the Goblin Charbelcher. Fourteen lands, and a bunch of random cards that somehow make Charbelcher a viable win condition in a singleton format. I’m still not salty; not one bit. Mac is quick to warn other players about the power level of his deck, and understands if a table full of 4 and 5 power decks gang up on him. Likewise, he’ll quickly pull out charbelcher and laugh at the sheer depravity of having it either explode in the table’s face or his own.
Commander is a wonderful format where many impossible things can happen. I’ve seen so many corner-case judge calls and arguments about board states that I can’t help but laugh at it all. The thing that keeps the format great is its diversity. If you have a collection of powered decks that are all 8’s and 9’s, I challenge you to power some down. Take out the consistency and put in some wacky obscenities or surprise ‘what are you thinking’ cards. Put in that Mana Tithe into a mono-white deck and blow the mind of the next blue player who thinks he can tap out against you! Guttural Response is a perfectly valid card in an Omnath deck! And yes, it’s a perfectly fine play to fetch my Charizard-EX card using Ring of Ma'rûf. It doesn’t have to do anything other than make people smile from the foolishness of seeing a Pokemon card chilling on a Magic board. And if you don’t like foolishness, I’m always happy to introduce you to my Mizzix deck!
Thank you all for reading and I hope to see you at the next EDH event at Three Kingdoms Games!