Thursday, June 23, 2011


Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
Off the hop: this is late. There was a technical issue with a program I use to send files to Donovan, the prooflistener, and some other stuff. Then, tonight when I wanted to post it, there was a power outage. But the podcast is here, and it's a bit of a doozy, clocking in at almost two hours with some other important stuff in this post. CommanderCast's personnel have been busy. I've paired today's podcast with the mid-week update, so when you're done checking out the podcast, don't forget to read the article by Brionne!

In today's late podcast, we've used the spare time prior to this posting to spend more time straight-up GRINDING with the new Commander product! Between release parties, pick-up games, and even online play, we're here to provide a reasonably comprehensive look at there five new beasts as they're released into the wild. On top of that, we've gotten feedback from out listeners who are contributing their thoughts on the new stuff to the podcast.

This week the staff consists of myself, Carlos, Justin, and lastly we're joined by newcomer Brionne. In case you are not familiar with this name, it was the woman whose name I ever-so-gracefully gender-bent in the Season 2 Circle of Judgement, apologized to, and subsequently discovered the blog of. I was short on personnel to contribute to this podcast and she jumped in to help.

For this super-focused podcast, each podcaster is tethered to a specific deck for review purposes. Assignments are as followed:
  • ANDY is reviewing Heavenly Inferno
  • CARLOS is reviewing Devour for Power
  • JUSTIN is reviewing Mirror Mastery
  • BRIONNE is reviewing Counterpunch
The five of us pooled our experience to talk about Political Puppets.

As a few quick reminders before you start listening to the show:
  • Enter the Season 3 Contest!
  • The Mid-Week Update's structure has changed to Wednesday, with the Friday Flashback now being posted on Fridays. This means on Wednesday you can expect to see an article occasionally accompanied by some other goodies, and on Friday we'll be posting an article, the links to our affiliates and a video from CMDRDecks. This is kind of a big leap, so I hope it works out.
Show notes and links below. Enjoy!

00:00 to 07:38: Intro: Introducing the podcast, your hosts, and a brief rundown of podcast news for the week.


07:45 to 20:35: Free-For-All Roundtable: Banned List Update:We celebrate the much-called-for unban of Worldgorger Dragon and discuss potential implications.

20:47 to 55:57: Deck Reviews: This will be a catch-all segment where we discuss the new Commander preconstructed decks, looking at them from a few angles. We're also talking about our experiences at the release events, local groups, and the impact these have had. Each deck is discussed individually. This is only a single weekend of play, mind you, so keep in mind these are early impressions.


56:08 to 1:13:44: The Political Cards: Many of Commander's cards had a slant towards a 'political' angle, with the Vow and Join Forces cycles. Cards that affect the politics of the table, reward opponents while taking options from them, and leveraging the resources of the other players to your advantage. How do we like these? What level of effectiveness are we seeing? How do they influence strategy?


1:13:53 to 1:29:53: Flops: Not everything can be rainbows and lollipops. We take a brief detour into Hater Country to discuss our biggest disappointments with the new decks, the worst cards from the precons, and stuff that will never see use in one of your post-precon decks.


1:30:05 to 1:51:33: Staying Power: Conversely to the Flops, we're looking at our favourite Commanders and non-Legendary cards alike. Wat cards do we think are fun, powerful, and likely to have a big splash in the future of the format? Which archetypes benefited the most? What kind of decks benefit big time here from an arsenal of new cards?

1:51:42 to closing: Outtro.

  • General show contact/Andy: E-mail CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com / Twitter @CommanderCast
  • To Contact Carlos: E-mail cag5383(at)gmail(dot)com / Twitter @cag5383
  • To Contact Justin: jagteq(at)gmail(dot)com / Too cool for Twitter
  • To Contact Brionne: E-mail / Twitter @SnappleCoffee
Here's Brionne's premiere article, "The Gift of Deckcrafting". Expect to see Brionne's column focusing on various issues local Commander communities face on every other Wednesday.
Line in the Sand 01 - The Gift of Deckcrafting
If you guys are anything like me, then at least one person at your LGS (assuming you're lucky enough to have one) has asked for your help with their EDH deck. For some reason I can't quite figure out, everyone in my area considers me the go-to person for deck advice. I have had the privilege of working on everything from duals-and-all Thraximundar voltron, to Numot Land Destruction control, to Drana tribal vampires. In the beginning, I would get annoyed that people wouldn't listen to my advice. I was suggesting all these great cards, and they were just wanting to play Lava Axe. If they wanted me to help them, why were they still playing all of these bad cards?

This caused me to stop helping people with their decks for quite some time. That is, until I became a member of the internet EDH community. As I began to read opinions on the format that differed from my own, I realized that I had to stop forcing my views and card choices on others. If someone asks you for help with their deck, you have to remember it is still their deck. The most important thing to do is keep them involved. After all, you're not the one who has to play the deck. Here are some other things that I've learned over the past few months.

Keep their collection and budget in mind
When asked for help, especially from newer players, you have to approach their deck systematically. The first thing to do is find out what cards they have avaliable. Some players might not even own cards from sets as recent as the Zendikar block. For them, finding something as simple as refuge lands or an Expedition Map might be a chore. On the other hand, you might be dealing with a player who has been around since Alpha. This is especially important consideration if your LGS doesn't have an extensive inventory.

Once you've worked out what the players have available in their collection, find out what their budget (if any) is. A lot of players have not only an overall budget, but a limit on what they will spend on an individual card. If you're doing more than just giving their deck a quick glance, then you'll want to talk to them about all this. Look through their binders and maybe even their common and uncommon boxes. This process can be very time consuming, but if they honestly need help, then neither of you will regret it.

Know their playstyle
Many of the disagreements in the EDH community, both at large and in my meta, revolve around differences in playstyle. What one player considers a jerk deck might be someone else's favorite strategy. When I'm helping someone with their deck, or even just trying to help them pick a general, I talk to them about their favorite archetypes. What's their favorite color? Do they like a particular card? What about aggro versus control? All the Cryptic Commands and Hinders in the world aren't going to do any good if the person you're helping hates countermagic. Which leads me to the second part of this point: you have to determine what they’re willing to play. Many EDH players hate the usual suspects: LD, stax, and combo. There is also the odd player that loves these strategies.

Your job when helping people is to find out this information, even if they don't realize it about themselves. I'll use myself as an example. In theory, I'm completely okay with combo and LD as strategies. They are legitimate ways to win the game. But, as anyone who has ever played with me will tell you, Wake of Destruction, Cataclysm, and Armageddon are probably some of my least favorite cards of all time. Talk to the player you’re helping. The more you know about someone's playstyle, the more efficient you can be.

Accept what their deck is trying to do
Once you've found out the basics of what you're working with, it's time to get a little more specific. What is the theme of their deck? Because, like it or not, that's what you're working on now. There are some exceptions to this, but you have to really know the person before you suggest changing the goals of their deck. If that is something you think should be done, then the best thing to do is lay out your argument logically. Don't yell at them, or call them names, or degrade them as a player and/or deckbuilder. That may seem like common sense, but it's very easy to do these things if you think they are indeed taking the wrong route with their deck.

If a logical argument doesn't work, or if you didn't have a problem with the deck in the first place, then you just have to remember to stick to the chosen theme. When you drastically change an EDH deck in a manner that is not in line with its owner's preferences, then it becomes more your deck than theirs. You cannot allow yourself to do this, because self-expression and creativity are pillars of the format. So, get in, make the deck do what its trying to do better, and get out. The time and place for enforcing your own ideas about deckbuilding is in your own decks.

Don't cut Giant Shark
Every Magic player I've ever met, especially the EDH ones, has the same bad habit: pet cards. EDH has a well-earned reputation for being the format where you play the bad (or just sub-optimal) cards you love. One of my personal favorites is Tower of Calamities, which I run in my Azusa deck. Many people have tried to talk me into cutting it for better cards. I've told myself many times that Predator, Flagship would be better anyway. Yet, after all this, it stays. It is a cool card, and my foil looks great. If someone like me, who is so obsessed with running good cards, refuses to cut pet cards, then I doubt that few people would. The best thing to do is shake your head and save your breath when it comes to these cards.

Keep personal bias out of the equation
The last issue I'd like to touch on is an ethical one. Many people wouldn't even consciously do anything wrong. Still, you have to fully examine your motives when you're tinkering with other people's decks. It can be easy to cut cards that hose your decks, perhaps without even realizing. For example, my boyfriend plays Adun Oakenshield. He runs Wake of Destruction. I. HATE. THAT. CARD. When two of your three decks are mono color, someone resolving Wake means you lose. Often, it will be just you, if other people at the table are not running basics of the same color. So, every time I look at his deck to make room for new cards, I say, “You know, you really should cut Wake of Destruction.” That might be okay, because he knows I'm just annoyed about losing to it all the time, but it could be different with someone else.

If another person respects your opinion, then you cannot let your own bias factor into card decisions (you can tell them if you have a problem with the card, but that's another discussion for another day). It would also be very easy to talk someone into cutting a card if you know it will make its way into their trade binder (I've had this happen with my foil Japanese Batterskull). Just be honest with yourself. If you have a problem with a card in someone's deck, open a dialogue with them about it. Don't tell them “That card is bad and you should feel bad,” because that's not the truth. You're the one who has a problem with the card, and it is, after all, their deck.

Saying goodbye
Helping someone at your LGS with an EDH deck is very different than helping someone on the internet. With those anonymous people, you can suggest whatever you feel like, regardless of budget or their personal opinions. You won't ever know if they took your advice, or if it was at all useful. It's different with the people you see all the time. You know if they took your advice, they know that you know they put some crappy pet cards back. (It's also different than helping new players with Standard decks. You don't have to be as considerate about pet cards, just for heaven's sake make them cut that stupid Lava Axe.) Next time someone walks up with a towering monstrosity of crappy cards, keep yourself from wasting the time of all parties involved. If those people that approach you are willing to be helped, then these suggestions could serve you well.

Once you're done helping with someone's deck, you might feel a sense of accomplishment. You might even be proud, depending on how involved you were. It is now time to let go. However, there is one thing I like to do to stay involved with people's decks. Whenever I see a nice foil in a trade binder that would look good in someone's deck, I tip off the potential owner. If I see see cheap foil commons somewhere, often times I'll pick it up and give it to them. I'm out fifty cents, and the deck that I've put work into looks nicer. That is how I leave my own personal touch on other people's decks. I've had a hand in the deck, and I remember it when they counter my Tooth and Nail with that stupid Overrule.

Jerk. I'm taking it back.

That's what you get for helping people with their decks. Maybe thanks, but mostly you get better opponents and more enjoyable games. That's reward enough for me.


  1. I listened to this podcast as I picked up my Devour for Power deck. Bring on the Mimeoplasm!
    It's nice to see the fairer sex on this podcast, hopefully we can get some more females involved on occasion.
    Great episode.

  2. Great show this week guys.

    First and foremost, as a Vorthos, I have the compulsive need to correct you on your gender usage with the legends.
    Zedruu is a she.
    Karador is a he.
    Tariel is a she.
    The Mimeoplasm is a The Mimeoplasm.

    The vows strike me as a very interesting cycle.
    I'd say the white one is the worst, hand down. Not because it's bad, cuz it's not. But rather because white is already inundated with similar affects.
    The others are all great.
    The green, blue, and black all grant serious evasion, which is great for playing on Voltron generals (yours or your opponents).
    I think the whole cycle is great particularly because they are able to largely eliminate a creature without killing it, which can be crucial against creatures that don't care about, or even encouraging dying, the Kamigawa dragons for instance.
    The red, blue, and green in particular also stand out since the grant a semi permanent removal to the colors with the most fickle removal.
    Red is somewhat lacking at killing big creatures without A) spending a boatload of mana to do it via an blaze variant or B) without killing every other creature via Inferno or the like. Not knocking against Inferno, natch, but sometimes you want to maintain board presence.
    The green and blue are the best since blue is terrible at permanently dealing with stuff that's stuck on the board, and green is... well, green.

    I'm glad that someone mentioned Painter's Servant, because I love using it.
    I made a mono-black Anowon vampire tribal list, and included Servant because of the positive interactions it offered me with Repentant Vampire and Vampire Nocturnus. In my experience, people are okay with you using banned cards if you clear it with them first, even more so if you emphasize like I do the extremely not-bullshit-combo useage I have for them.
    Usually I get to "This is my vampire tribal deck and..." before they let me use it.

    Going into this product, I was looking forward to Ghave because it seemed like my kind of shit.
    I love screwing with counters and proliferation always makes me randy, so he seemed made specifically for me.
    But the more I think about it, the more I love The Mimeoplasm.
    The flavor, the function, the tyrannosaurus arm.
    The Mimeplasm has everything I could ever want from a Magic card.
    Every time I think about The Mimeoplasm, I think of something cool I want to do with it.
    Like this.
    Right now.
    Off the top of my head.
    Thought Gorger.
    Go ahead and kill my The Mimeoplasm, I'll just be drawing 20 cards thank you very much.

  3. Another comment on Worldgorger Dragon: It's notable that as long as EDH has been a major format, Worldgorger Dragon has NEVER been off the banned list. While they already know what combos it is a part of, they don't actually know whether it's degenerate or bad for the game yet. Other cards that are banned for combo implementations have been seen in action and claimed bad. Worldgorger Dragon's implications have only really been seen once in EDH, not on a widespread level.

    I think there isn't enough information to say Worldgorger Dragon's unbanning will or won't have a major effect, because the EDH community has almost never been able to play with the card.

  4. Who is Zir/Zer/Zur/Xir? Who you mentioned as part of the holy trinity with Stranglehold and Ruination?

  5. Oh. Nevermind. You were talking about Ib Halfheart. I've never seen this used, but it seems ok. Play Boomb/Bust (Bust) or cycle Decree of Annihilation and sac all mountains in response to get 6+ goblin tokens to play with Ib? Is that good? I must be missing something. I guess if you've been curving out guys turns 1-6 and no one else has anything big in play it is better... it seems better. I think I'm missing something.