Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Flashback: July 29

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
(yes, I drew that)



AFFILIATE LINKS
CMDRDecks


True Conviction 04 - Go Tuck Yourself
By MATT
(Generals being “tuckable” by cards such as Hinder and Oblation is a ruling that is inconsistent with other such replacement effect rules and ultimately discourages players from building general-centric decks or from even casting their general in the first place, which is the defining characteristic of this format and plays the largest role in its success and sets it apart from normal, deceased Highlander. It’s the mating call of the scrubby player to insist that some Generals are “clearly overpowered” and that tucking them is the only solution, especially given that there are plenty of efficient answers to every General that should already be staples in any well-built deck, and simply communicating to the player with the "clearly overpowered" general and requesting that he/she play something more to the level of the group is a more viable solution yet. Rendering entire archetypes moot for three mana at instant speed is what’s truly “overpowered.” I find this debate so absurdly one-sided that writing another structured argument like I did about the sideboard rule would be excessive. Already I’ve said too much on the topic. So, instead, you get a short allegory about a man and a woman going through couples therapy. Enjoy!)

“Please, have a seat,” Dr. Morris gestured to the modern couch, a white-upholstered oddity that looked more like a paper airplane than a piece of furniture. Reluctantly, Eric and Rachel sat down, making sure to sit at the extreme opposite ends from one another.

The doctor adjusted her glasses, looking intensely for a moment at the couple’s body language, already asking herself if the two had any hope of reconciliation. Regardless, she had a job to do. Rachel’s brows were furrowed, her arms folded; Eric looked exasperated, wearing a smirk. Dr. Morris crossed her legs and readied a pen and paper, “How long did you say it’s been since you two last spoke?”

They both started to answer over each other, and then they immediately went silent, and then Rachel started again. “It’s been nine days since he spoke to me.”

“And vice-versa,” Eric interjected, drawing a spiteful glare from Rachel.

Dr. Morris made a note, and said to herself, mainly, “Well, the fact that you’re not bound by law and are still trying to make this relationship work is a good sign.”Eric started to say something, but Dr. Morris put up her hand and said, “And it doesn’t matter which one of you initiated the contact with me. The important thing is that you both agreed to do this. You both want to make this relationship work.”

That seemed to make the both of them ease up a bit, their expressions relaxing, suggesting truth in the statement. Eric chanced a look over at Rachel. Her eyes remained fixedly forward. She said, “How long is this going to take?”

“That depends on the both of you,” Dr. Morris said. She smiled. “Now, Eric, if you’ll begin: what do you think triggered this rift between the two of you?”

“Well,” he cleared his throat and shifted nervously. Of course he’d given it much thought, but he’d not quite put it to words before. He wondered if it would sound ridiculous out in the open. “I was crawling into bed next to her after my late shift, and she was sleeping. There was no blanket to spare. She had it all. I put my hand on her shoulder and rocked her gently, saying that I needed the blanket, too. She’d turned away from me, pulling even more of the blanket with her, and told me to ‘Go tuck yourself.’”

“This triggered the silence?”

“I mean, no, I guess not.” Eric didn’t dare glance over at Rachel now, but he felt her eyes burning into him, or at least imagined that he did. “That’s just the last thing she said to me, nine days ago.”

“I see,” Dr. Morris tapped her pen on her pad a moment, and then turned to Rachel. “And before that? What compelled you to say those words to Eric?”

It took great effort for the couple to keep their eyes forward, as they wanted to search each other first as if for permission to reveal the truth. Rachel bit her lip, and hunched forward, “I don’t like to point fingers, not usually.” She frowned. “But Eric sucks the fun out of every activity we do.”

“Now wait just a minute!” Eric practically leaped from his seat in protest.

Dr. Morris raised a hand again, “Let her speak, Eric. Could you give an example?”

“Oh, where to begin?”Rachel inhaled deeply, fixing her gaze halfway between the doctor and her significant other. “I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a very competitive person. I won’t lie about that. And I’ll go ahead and admit on Eric’s behalf that he’s a very competitive person, too--but he’ll tell you differently. He’ll say that he puts fun first and that winning is irrelevant. Both of us were used to always winning at everything until we met each other. I’ll also admit that neither of us has handled our losses gracefully.”

Eric’s eyes were downcast, but nothing in his body language suggested that he disagreed with anything that had just been said. Dr. Morris made a note of that and said, “Go on.”

Rachel continued, “Well, everything is a competition to him, down to who can hold more wine and who can a finish a book the fastest.”

Knowing that he wasn’t allowed to interject, Eric nevertheless raised his hand as if he were a school child again. Dr. Morris humored him, “Eric, you have something you’d like to say?”

He said, “We’re both guilty of this. I mean, even now! At first I tried to break the silence between us, but I swear she’s trying to outlast me in a game of ‘who can ignore the other person the longest.’ But really,” his voice took on a mocking philosophical tone, “can such a game truly have a winner?” Rachel rolled her eyes.

Dr. Morris was rapt at this dynamic. She’d seen countless dysfunctional couples destroying each other with spite and malice and sarcasm, but these two were so similar yet struggling to best the other and tally more wins--but to what end? She asked, “What sort of games do you two play? Actual games, I mean.”

Rachel spoke first, “All games, really. Board games. Card games. Video games. Anything that requires skill--”

“And luck.” Eric broke in.

Again, Dr. Morris had to interject to soothe the couple, both of which looked ready to punch the other. She said, “Eric, do you remember the first game the both of you played?”

“Well,” he answered, “we’d bought Monopoly on a whim at the Borders liquidation sale. It’s funny what you’ll buy just because there’s a sale. I never thought I’d get a mani-pedi, but then Groupon makes everything sound so darn necessary. Anyway, we’d made a night out of it by scheduling a get-together with our couple friends, Jill and Cooper. None of us had ever played before, but Rachel and I mastered the game almost immediately.”

“And then?”

Eric went on, “Jill and Cooper didn’t exactly share our competitive spirit, we’ll say, so we had to invite other friends the next time we wanted to play, and different friends still the next time. And that’s when things started to get ridiculous. That’s when Rachel started imposing restrictions on me for winning too much--”

“Objection!” Rachel stood and exclaimed, drawing a confused look from the doctor and an embarrassed look from her significant other. She sat down and murmured, “Sorry. I watch too many court dramas.” Composing herself, she added, “Your honor--I mean, Dr. Morris, if I may. I made certain balance fixes, is all.”

Some days, Dr. Morris really loved her job. This was one of those days. She asked, “What sort of ‘balance fixes?’”

Eric was grinning, waiting for her to explain. Rachel looked helpless for a moment, but finally volunteered, “Well, I made it a rule that if Eric opts to stay in jail by rolling the dice when he’s in the lead, he has to mortgage his most expensive properties one by one until he decides to play sportingly.”

Now Dr. Morris was thoroughly amused, but she had to pull her lips tightly together to hide it. She nodded with an “mhm”and scribbled some more notes, finally responding, “Eric, are there any other ‘balance fixes’ that Rachel has made?”

“Certainly,” Eric almost laughed. “When we started playing Tetris Friends, she said we had to ban the Twister power-up because it was, in her words, ‘obviously overpowered.’ Yeah, it wasn’t obviously overpowered to her when she beat me with it multiple times, but only after I’d mastered it slightly better than she had.”

Rachel sounded almost pleading now, “I just want our matches to be fair--”

“And they are,” Eric jumped back in. “Neither of us has the clear edge, but whenever I start to pull ahead in anything, you pull out some sort of arbitrary ban and say that the thing is overpowered. You said I couldn’t use the Crab powerup in Peggle anymore because it was like obviously cheating, getting multiple swings in--even though I don’t even come close to some of the lucky point totals you’ve gotten at random with the Bunny powerup.”

“Luck!” Rachel exclaimed. “There he goes again. Any time I win at something, it’s ‘oh, if only I’d been so lucky.’ As if none of my victories have ever been deserved. And seriously, I don’t think that defaulting to overpowered strategies every single game is a prouder victory than occasional good fortune, which is part of these games.”

“And those strategies are part of the game, too!” Eric bristled. “Strategies that have counters and counterparts. I shouldn’t be punished for mastering a game, should I Dr. Morris?”

Dr. Morris remained stoic and replied before Rachel could, “I’m not here to pick a winner, Eric.” She glanced at the clock on the wall behind the couple. She looked panicked, and suddenly stood up and started stripping off her clothes, hurriedly revealing her fishnet stockings and corset underneath, saying, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to be late for my other job.”

Rachel exclaimed, “As a prostitute?”

Dr. Morris looked indignant. “Dominatrix, thank you very much.” She switched her heels for stilettos and stuffed her formal wear into her briefcase, saying, “Therapy doesn’t pay what it used to. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She darted for the door.

Eric called after her, “Wait, what about us?”

The doctor/dominatrix paused a moment in the doorway and said, “You two should find other people to play games with, but you otherwise seem very much in love to me. Anyway, I must be going.” And in that same instant, she vanished, flipping the lights off behind her.

Eric and Rachel sat there in the pitch black room, saying nothing for a long while, trying to figure out just what to say. It was Eric who broke the silence. “I’m sorry that the way I play games upsets you so much.” He paused a moment, waiting for her response, then continued, “I just wish you’d told me I was making you so upset instead of making me agree to all those silly restrictions to try to figure out your idea of fun.”

Dr. Morris burst back into the room suddenly, flipping the light back on, and went straight to her dresser drawers, scavenging for something hastily, muttering, “Forgot something.” She soon pulled out a well-worn riding crop and, just as quickly as she’d appeared, left the room again and turned the light back off.

Rachel sighed, “Should I have to spell out everything so clearly? If we’re playing something for fun, I shouldn’t have to say ‘you’re trying too hard’ and ‘hey, you should try doing something else for once’ every time I get upset. Don’t you notice when I get upset?”

Another pause. Eric thought a moment and said, “Remember our last game of Scrabble? You intentionally shut off all the expansions with 3 letter words to force us into a corner after you already had the lead.”

“I remember,” She said. “Are you saying that upset you?”

“No. I mean, yes, It was cut-throat, it was inconsiderate, and it absolutely ruined the game. But”--he grinned again--“I kinda loved it..”

She couldn’t see his grin in the dark, nor could she see him inching closer to her on the couch. Regardless, Rachel wore a grin on her face now as well. “You always were a glutton for punishment.”

And then they [deleted by the editor] by using five [deleted by the editor], grindingly [deleted by the editor] until their [deleted by the editor] held no more charge. [deleted by the editor]. [deleted by the editor]. [deleted by the editor] like Charlie Brown.

The end.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mid-Week Update: July 27

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
Nothing too fancy for this update. Matt is still hamming out his latest installment of True Conviction, so we flipped days for articles. This way we can throw my undercooked crap under the bus and salvage his reputation as a real writer. I think the fact that the subject of this article is a direct comparison between an urban dance style and a Magic format should give you a firm indication of where this is headed.

Also, the call-in show recording is approaching fast. If you want to make an appearance, you'd better send in that e-mail to CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com STAT, because spots are running out!

The Social Contractor 04 - Breakdancing vs Commander
By ANDY
If you weren’t already convinced that what I write is filler until we have a new writer, then I don’t think this piece will leave any doubt in your mind. A note: I will be referring to ‘breakdancing’ from here on in by it’s appropriate term, ‘breaking’, and it’s practitioners as ‘breakers’.

This week we’ve got two things you never imagined comparing going directly head-to-head; a casual variant of a fantasy trading card game and an athletically taxing, informally-developed dance style. This is something that I think has been creating a deep rift between the collectible card gaming and hip-hop dancing communities, which I think we can all agree is unacceptable. I’m hoping that this comparison can help break down barriers and maybe even mend this hurtful divide that we all seem unwilling to confront.

So, we’ll be comparing these bitter rivals through a couple of categories before finally judging which we consider superior. We’ll begin with the origin story of both: their histories.

HISTORY

 
Commander:
The history of Commander, or originally known as EDH is well-documented. Some guys were bored in Alaska working in a remote research station. Typically, they amused themselves by trying to figure out who was The Thing or playing Magic. However, tragedy struck when Thunderbird 2 was rendered inoperable by DOD budget cutbacks, and cutting-edge Magic sets like The Dark were unable to be airlifted to these Alaskan MtG players. They were forced to come up with new ways of amusing themselves using the resources available, especially when they were shooting powder.

In a MacGuyver-style maneuver, they decided to weave together a format based around the five olde tyme Elder Dragon Legends. While the format was severely warped (no doubt a reflection of the isolated minds responsible for it’s creation) and included new, bizarre concepts that would later be transformed into recognizable mechanics like General Damage, it proved to be popular within a group of crazies. Eventually some guy with a goatee said “yo this is money let’s push this shit to the streets like crack” [recorded quote] and brought it to the mainstream. I’d continue with more depth but I’m bored of this already so I can only imagine how you feel.

Breaking:
In the primordial soup of hip-hop culture during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, a new form of dance emerged. Unlike Commander, its history is shrouded in lore and mostly lost to time. The generally decentralized nature of its evolution also virtually ensures a comprehensive history of breaking will never exist, but in broad strokes, breaking (and its practitioners, “b-boys” and “b-girls”, or “breakers”) was one of the four core elements of old-school hip-hop. Next to the MC, DJ, and graffiti artist, these four cornerstones formed like Voltron to create largely new forms of expression that combined instrumental, lyrical, and visual arts.

Breaking was elevated as an art form by groups like the Rock Steady Crew, now-renowned individuals and hundreds unaccounted for because of its inherently underground nature. Breaking continues to be widely diverse, with huge variations in styles but a core of maneuvers that have been somewhat codified as breakers around cities, countries, and eventually the world were connected by the rise of globalization.

WINNER:
A surprising number of similarities exist. Consider the following:
- Commander was created as a variant of an existing game by people separated from the authorities governing the primary methods of playing the game. While it retains core elements of more traditional MtG, it has been undeniably made into something new and different, without losing sight of it’s origins. Breaking is dancing’s equivalent; it borrows from varied styles of dance like ballet, capoeria, and even ballroom, but flourished away from the influence of more ‘traditional’ dance institutions.
- Breaking has no centralized authority or criteria for evaluation on ‘correct’ forms. It is an organic style developed and tailored to the individual. Attempts to make it highly central and convert it into a more competitive, formalized style with universal judgment criteria have categorically failed. Instead, it remains primarily a form of expression with enormous room for variation. Commander is the Magic equivalent; while games are often competitive, they are unsanctioned. Rules vary widely, and there are authorities but no truly unified set of rules.

While both histories are interesting, the clear documentation of Commander’s origins gives it a win by default. I don’t doubt that the guys who started doing six-steps and headspins are a lot cooler than the guys who started putting Elder Dragons in a special area outisde their decks, but since we don’t know exactly who started the headspinning or where they were doing it, it seems unfair to give the prize to a nebulous group of breakers somewhere out there. Commander gets the nod.

MAINSTREAM PERCEPTION

Commander:
“What the fuck do you think you are, some kind of cardboard Harry Potter or some shit? Oooh, this is your little lieutenant? Get a life nerd.”

“This looks awfully complicated. Wait, that piece of cardboard is worth $30?”

Breaking:
“Oh snap, that guy is spinning on his hand and probably has less than 35% body fat!”

“I think I saw this in a Jay-Z video or something.”

WINNER:
Breaking by a long shot, even if it has fallen out of the mainstream even further as of late.

IN ACTION

Commander:

As a format, Commander is different from the average game of MtG in that the objective on paper is the win, but outside that there are layers of social expectations heaped onto the game. As a result, winning a game of Commander might actually be considered ‘bullshit’ in some circles if done at the ‘wrong’ time or in an ‘inappropriate’ manner. While the format’s growth has only happened because it’s fun and accessible to wide ranges of player types, it has the unique distinction of potentially having technically interesting games being considered terrible by the participants.

In short, a good game of Commander is amazing for everyone involved; the worst ones are absolute trainwrecks, the kind that result in nerd slapfights and FORUMZ ARGUMENTS.

Breaking:
A skilled breaker results in jealousy boners. In a society increasingly saddled with self-inflicted allergies to exercise, the athleticism required to be a b-boy or girl at the most elementary level should be considered unbelievably impressive. For people with no knowledge of breaking, watching basic maneuvers is impressive; for those with an understanding of it, there is still respect to be found in the fundamentals. Even the worst kind of breaking is awesome because deep down inside, we all have a spiteful, hateful little version of ourselves that loves seeing another person fail, hurt him or herself, and look like an idiot.

WINNER:
Breaking hands down. Watching Commander can be kind of amusing for people with a knowledge of the game, but even then only for so long. Even basic breaking maneuvers can be considered highlight reel material by the average person. Additionally, Commander games have a higher probability of being sour for all involved that is compounded by the multiplayer element, while this is less likely in breaking. Given sometimes I’d genuinely prefer watching old people squaredance to watching four combo-control players in Commander, I think breaking will get a clean win here.

REQUIRED SKILLS

Commander:
The variation between Commander players is an incredibly broad divide. While this causes some people on the internet endless frustration that people they’ll never meet or play with are not good enough at Magic/too good at Magic, it’s just part of a casual format. In general, playing Magic requires a good attention span, reasonable memory, and slightly-below average intelligence to scrape by. Basic math skills help, although recently they have been widely replaced by iPhones. Unique to Commander is that social skills help a Commander player both in terms of in-game politics, and out-of-game with being able to find a group. This may explain why the format is so mystifying to many MtG players.

Breakdancing:
Even fundamental breaking requires a person to be in tune with music, capable of feats of good physical strength and dexterity, and hand-eye coordination. Advanced maneuvers require extraordinary strength, patience, and the rare trait of not being scared of breaking your neck doing something like trying to spin on your fucking head.

WINNER:
Tie. They’re so different, even by the standards of this comparison, that it’s too hard to say one is coming out on top.

GOVERNING BODY


Commander:

We have the Commander Rules Committee, a group of six Magic-playing/judging individuals governing the format. Their influence is limited by a lack of resources, the inherently decentralized nature of casual formats, and the inability to enforce their rules through any efficient mechanism. This is apparently not considered a problem by the Rules Committee, as they think local groups taking the game in a direction that works best for them ultimately benefits for the format. They resist sanctioning of Commander by Magic’s larger overseeing body, Wizards of the Coast. In spite of this, I’m sure this trend will end once they manage to devise some kind of mind-controlling hologram to implant in foil cards.

Breaking:
The closest thing to an officially recognized authority on the art of breaking would be individuals who are recognized for contributing to the form of dance as a whole, have extraordinary skill, and history with the art.

WINNER:
Commander by default. No, this isn’t some cheap shot at the Rules Committee, go find your drama somewhere else.

PERIPHERAL MUSICAL CULTURE

MtG:


Breaking:


WINNER:
You’re shitting me right?

CONCLUSIONS

If you’ve managed to read down to here, that’s pretty impressive in it’s own right. Am I really going to argue either Commander or Breaking is flat-out superior to one or the other? Who really gives a shit? I wrote this because at the end of the day, Magic is a game. Sometimes, we might need reminders about this. I really hope this article works as such.

The real moral of the story is lighten up. Don’t get mad at people for playing their cardboard differently from you; don’t let Magic become a defining characteristic of your identity; don’t get involved in or pay attention to any drama going on over who-said-what on the internet about whatever is ‘controversial’ in the Magic world at the time. Just play your stupid overpriced cards and have fun with your friends, and maybe learn to breakdance.

Monday, July 25, 2011

CommanderCast S3E9: Real Talk Redeux

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
An exciting week here at CommanderCast! Season 3 contest winners selected? Check. The end of the monocoloured madness? Check. Rules committee R&A, part two? YOU SEE IT! Brace yourself for this episode because it's totally sweet. There's a lot going on here (about two hours worth of material), but don't worry... between Donovan, Brionne, Alex and myself, we should be able to guide you through the material without an unexpected vomiting fits or joy seizures.


I also want to provide extra thanks to my co-hosts. Brionne was super helpful as our point man for the mono-white discussion, and I assure you she was very good in this role. Alex also deserves extra thanks for making himself super accessible to us and you, answering pretty much any question, and generally chilling with us. Alex and Brionne also both came through big time when a file was lost and re-recorded a segment with me early on the weekend. Also, as always, Donovan prooflistened this joint up.

Also, don't forget to check out the Circle of Judgement this week featuring Derfington! We pick our winners (if you're lame, you can also just check the contest results page and scroll down) and talk our picks.




Show notes and links below. Enjoy.



00:00 to 05:50: Intro:Who is this yelling at you? Why should you care? Also announcing the Season 3 Contest Winners and announcing the next Call-In Episode. Get the details and e-mail us to be on CommanderCast!

COMMUNITY

06:03 to 47:45: Rules Committee Real Talk II: Since S3E1, I have been soliciting your questions for the Commander Rules Committee's Alex, who made an appearance in season 2. Alex has been kind enough to descend from the RC's equivalent of Mount Olympus to grace us with his wisdom and insight. He answers questions from our listeners and ourselves for a long time.


48:00 to 49:37: Community Spotlight: Castles and Cooks: It's games, it's cooking, it's ridiculously tasty. Check out Castles and Cooks and start getting fat!

STRATEGY

49:50 to 1:12:51: Mono-White: It's mono-white's turn to be discussed. Why play mono-white, and where are it's strong points? What are the weaknesses? How can you compensate for the colour's shortcomings? As tricky as this can be, you can count on Brionne to guide you into this topic. In fact, you better be counting on it, because me and Alex don't know too much about mono-W in Commander.


As a note, this is a second recording of this segment, the first was lost. Donovan has a dramatic reenactment of the event. He was unable to make it to the recording.





Note, this is not what ultimately transpired, but is rather a horrifying view into what COULD have occurred.



TECHNOLOGY

1:13:02 to 1:24:16: Mono-White Technology: Here's some helpful cards for mono-white decks.

Alex's Picks:
Donovan's Pick:
Andy's Picks:
Brionne's Picks:

1:24:29 to 1:37:07: Entourage: Celestial Kirin: He's a Spirit, he's from Kamigawa, and he blows stuff up. He's underused. Mono-white? Check. A perfect fit for this podcast, we're assembling a skeleton around this explosive, underplayed Commander. Let's do this shit.

Andy's Picks:
Erratic Portal
Brionne's Picks:
Blinking Spirit, Kami of False Hope, Ranger of Eos, Shining Shoal, Yomiji, Who Bars the Way

1:37:21 to closing: Outtro.

PERTINENT LINKS
CONTACT INFORMATION
  • General show contact/Andy: E-mail CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com / Twitter @CommanderCast
  • To Contact Donovan: E-mail donokun(at)gmail(dot)com / Twitter @d0su
  • To Contact Brionne: E-Mail snapple.coffee(at)gmail(dot)com / Twitter @snapplecoffee
  • To Contact Alex: PM Ban-Ki Moon over on mtgcommander.com's forums

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Flashback: July 22

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
Friday Flashback up in this piece! Right now it's so hot here (and this is Canada, so you know something is wrong) I'm surprised the internet hasn't melted down, but if you're seeing this then we've managed to avoid that catastrophe. This week we've got links and CMDRDecks. No article since Justin continues to shield his next installment from our eyes, refining it until it's horrifying perfection can be released in a moment of face-melting awesomeness befitting his next opus. That and he's been like super busy.

Next season, we are going to have a new website. It will be better than this one, which is an extraordinarily low metric, but important nonetheless. My question to you is what kind of features or ideas you would find worthwhile on the site? I plan to keep the site very simple, but it should be easier to browse old content and the like. There should also be an improved comments section so you don't have to jump through hoops to drop a line to anybody. If you have ideas or suggestions you would like to make, please do them soon, the site is under construction now, and it's easier to integrate ideas now than later.

AFFILIATE WORKS



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mid-Week Update: July 20

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
We return with another installment of our mid-week updates. If you are back after our last episode of CommanderCast, then you're a real diehard. In case you missed the wheels falling off the podcast, check into our last episode for a shocking lapse in our utter professionalism. I mostly blame Neale. But still, we shall move on.

Prepare yourself for the Circle of Judgement, coming Monday along with our Rules Committee member episode! We're also doing our mono-white thug thizzle, so stay tuned for that business. It will include our the third installment in our ever-popular Entourage segment as well, where we design a deck skeleton for an acutely underplayed (and possibly awful) Commander! Who will it be!? I know but if I tell you, the suspense will be ruined!

Here's a quick thing that is awesome: real CommanderCast homie GU Doug aka Judson aka Season 2 Contest Winner has mad sharpie skills and I am going to show them to you because it's my website and I like them. These are some really high-quality sharpie alters he's doing, but what floored me with a giant piledriver of excellence was his 'Tiny Tim Myr' and the 'Myr Refinery'. In Jud's own words:

"Here is my "Myr Refinery" playmat I drew up based on this token I made of Tiny Tim Myr:"
"Tiny Tim Myr gets crushed and goes in the "Refinery" and then out pops an Aristocratic Fancy Pants Myr complete with top hat and monocle."






"I wanted it to go through technological revolution as it got farther down the line. I love double meanings, so the fact the the Refinery is like charm school and the actual Refinery is getting refined brings me much joy.  Interesting side note (or not): I always envisioned it as Memnarch told the myr to build him a myr refinery and this is made instead of what was actually needed.  I made this well before Scars of Mirrodin came out when the Magic world was not all Myr crazy."

If you don't like this... I'll see you in hell.

OH SNAP AN ARTICLE


Line In The Sand 03 - Musings On Gentleman's Agreements
By BRIONNE
We all know that Commander is supposed to be a social format; play nice with others, don't play stuff that others find unfun, blah blah blah. Certain people whom many look to as leaders of the format are preaching about their desires for Commander:
  • Don't play land destruction
  • Don't play combo
  • Don't take extra turns
  • Don't play blue
The so-called Social Contract is being described as an agreement not to play “d-bag” cards and strategies. As I've said many times before, the concept of what is unacceptable to play is too subjective. This 'contract' we're all supposed to be abiding by is creating a rift in the player base. It's entirely possible that this rift would be there regardless of what certain Rules Committee members are saying. This divide is as old as the game itself, when Johnny, Spike and Timmy realized they all had different definitions of “fun.”

The Commander player base, as fanatical as we can be about our favorite format, has started drawing battle lines and hurling insults at each other across the anonymity of cyberspace. Many people think this divide between “competitive” and “casual” is like a war. “Either you're with us or you're against us!” the enraged players say. “If you're not playing my way, then you're not playing in the Spirit of the Format!” We have all these catchphrases. Sort of like propaganda.

It's ridiculous.

The divide in the player base is not a war zone, it's not a huge trench filled with sharp stakes—it's a line in the sand. An arbitrary line we as players have drawn, one that can easily be erased or shifted. The question is, what is the best way to do that?

My solution is using a gentleman's agreement, which is not the same as a Social Contract. A contract implies that we've all signed it, and that we're all bound to it. The only problem is, hundreds of people can't agree on anything, especially not their vision for the casual format of their favorite card game. I have my own ideas about the Social Contract itself, but I think I'll leave that for another day.

Wikipedia defines a gentleman's agreement as:

“an informal agreement between two or more parties. It may be written, oral, or simply understood as part of an unspoken agreement by convention or through mutually beneficial etiquette. The essence of a gentlemen's agreement is that it relies upon the honor of the parties for its fulfillment, rather than being in any way enforceable. It is, therefore, distinct from a legal agreement or contract, which can be enforced if necessary.”

A gentleman's agreement means that you don't have to talk to every person you play Commander with and set out a set of rules and expectations to play by. You also don't have to play by the expectations of people you will probably never meet or play Commander with. There is a certain way to form a gentleman's agreement about playstyle and what is acceptable within a playgroups. It takes a little bit of work and some observation, but I've learned that it is very much worth it.

Here's what I do:

1) Play the first few games with new people.
If I've never played with someone before, and there is a good chance I'll play with them again, then I watch them during the game. I watch what cards they play. I watch how they play. I look for their reactions to how I and others at the table play. It's fairly easy to get an idea about someone's expectations about the game if you just pay attention

2) Choose my deck according to the power and skill level of the table, especially the new players.
This goes back to my last article, in which I talked about building a casual deck. Sometimes you will have to build a new deck to fit the environment you are playing in. Most Commander players I know have at least two decks. These decks are normally built for different power levels, so if you don't personally own a deck that's on the right power level, you can probably borrow one from a friend.

3) Remember how everyone you know plays.
Which may seem like a lot of work (and it is), but it will save you a lot of upset players. Play according to the desires and expectations of the table. This is why so many people have stories about games where they lost before turn six to a combo and everyone was angry and annoyed: they weren't all playing the same game.

Which leads me to my definition of a gentleman’s agreement:

“A gentleman's agreement is an informal agreement between Commander players, because we're all adults. It is an unspoken agreement not to freak out when someone does something you don't like, because if they keep doing it you can either tell them or find other people to play with. The essence of a gentleman's agreement is that if we're all playing the same game with the same expectations, then we're probably having a good time. A gentleman's agreement isn't something you can force people into, but if they don't abide by it you can kick them out of your club and complain about them behind their back. Or something equally juvenile.”

Many of us don't want to be hampered by what other people want when we build a deck. Realistically speaking, however, that's not going to happen. If the people you're playing with don't like your deck, they probably won't be playing with you for much longer. Sometimes the best thing to do is follow the gentleman's agreement and play well with others. Optimally, though, you just find a group of people who all have the same expectations about a game of Commander.

In conclusion, I'm going to share the (mostly unspoken) agreement I have with my three favorite Commander-playing gentlemen:
  • Everything goes, but if you're going to combo off don't do it until we've had a good game. Unless you want to hear a lot of grumbling and whining.
  • Land destruction is okay but don't get offended when everyone grumbles over your casting of Cataclysm.
  • Going after one person is kind of rude and forces them to sit and watch for the two or three hours it will take us to finish the game.
  • Play good cards. Play synergistic, powerful decks.
  • If you want to test a new casual deck or something, then tell everyone. It's no fun if we're playing our normal decks and you're playing Illusion tribal.
  • No drinks or food on the table when there are cards on the table, or Brionne will kill you and never cook for you again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

S3E8: Liquid Swords

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
Nobody likes mono-blue decks, mono-blue players, and cards that are best in mono-blue. Subsequently, I don't think anybody will like this podcast. The contents are all mono-blue, with the exception of the final segment, which is still all about blue cards. I'd like to apologize to our listeners for supplying such an inherently unlikable podcast. Myself, Byron, Carlos and guest Neale aka Wrongwaygoback accept full responsibility for producing this travesty. Neale has volunteered to accept the hatemail, as well as physical attacks in the real.

If you think you can stomach listening to a bunch of boring mono-blue crap, show notes are below. Try to enjoy it, I guess.



00:00 to 04:00: Intro: Introducing the podcast, your hosts, and a brief rundown of podcast news for the week.

COMMUNITY

04:12 to 18:25: The Mono-Blue Boogeyman: So I already went over the fact that everyone hates Blue. Here, we're discussing whether the hate is deserved. Is mono-blue really THAT oppressive? When is blue GOOD for everyone? How much of this reputation is created by playing broken telephone with other players, and how much is based from experience in the real?

STRATEGY

18:38 to 39:18: Mono-Blue: We are here to help you oppress your play group. Not only do we go over why you should use blue to destroy the souls of everyone at the table, but we also review blue's soft spots so you can be careful to minimize them.

TECHNOLOGY

39:30 to 56:45: Mono-Blue Technology: These are some cards people might not hate enough in your playgroup yet.

Carlos's Picks:
Andy's Pick:
Byron''s Picks:
Neale's Picks:

56:55 to 1:19:30: Most Obnoxious Blue Cards: Here's a list of blue cards that lots of people already hate. If you've never seen them before, you'll probably hate them by the end of the segment (Teferi = dick).

Andy's Picks:
Teferi, from SpainRhystic Study
Byron's Picks:
Shared Fate, Capsize
Carlos' Picks:
Neale's Picks:
Jin-Gitaxis, Telepathy

1:19:57 to closing: Outtro.

PERTINENT LINKS
  • None for the first time ever.
CONTACT INFORMATION
  • General show contact/Andy: E-mail CommanderCast(at)gmail(dot)com / Twitter @CommanderCast
  • To Contact Byron: E-mail surgingchaos19(at)gmail(dot)com / Twitter @surgingchaos
  • To Contact Carlos: E-Mail cag5383(at)gmail(dot)com / Twitter @cag5383
  • To Contact Neale: E-Mail wrongwaygoback(at)yahoo(dot)com / Twitter @wrongwaygoback

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Flashback: July 15

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
Friday. For some of us who do shift work like me, it has lost all relevance. For those of you doing more traditional jobs, attending non-tyrannical educational programs, and other more 'normal' folk out there, maybe Friday is still an awesome day to you because it heralds even more awesomeness to come (even if the second part never materializes). Hopefully, these updates make it even better. For some scrub like me straight up grinding at work, though, it just gives me something to do until I punch ou--ah, who am I kidding? My job is totally sweet.

Welcome to one of the four MtG related things on the internet this week that isn't about M12. This week I'm welcoming a new affiliate, Castles & Cooks. This is not a Commander-exclusive website. They engage in all manner of gaming, but maybe the best part is these sweet-ass-sweet recipes that they put on there. Check them out, you'll see what I mean.

AFFILIATE LINKS
Not an affiliate per se, but I also wanted to point people towards my man Chris Lansdell's article "Speculate to Accumulate". I don't read many Magic articles, but my friend sent me this link. I really enjoyed it, even if I don't agree with everything he says, and I think it is an important discuss to be had

CMDRDecks is putting out a mono-green deck to compliment our mono-green podcast! THIS IS HOW WE NETWORK HOMIES, MAKE MONEY TAKE MONEY (we don't make any money)



Finally, put on your hazmat suits for this stank and leave good taste at the door. I've got another 'article' that I 'wrote' here. League rules? I got 'em for you. Check it one time:

The Social Contractor 03 - LOLEagues
By ANDY
Ahhh... league systems! Who doesn't love adding external awards to a game to promote certain types of behaviour? Commander, as a format, is perhaps the greatest fit for this type of system you can find in Magic. After all, when the best way to win a game is often frowned upon, your game could probably use some beefing up. A little more substance without the abuse part. For many people, Leagues do just that, as well as having the added bonus of providing a subtle way to steer the behaviour of participants with a nice, passive-aggressive tone. This also lets you avoid the kind of uncomfortable confrontation so many MtG players fear.

In a way, many league structures represent the vision of Commander the Rules Committee and much of the more 'casual' (aka scrub-laden) player base chooses to promote and play. We see rewards for unique and funny plays, even if they aren't that efficient. We see points distributed for meeting arbitrary, non-gamestate related requirements. It lets people play around and have fun, without necessarily trying to win the actual game. In theory, these Utopian, sunshine-and-lollies setups create a perfect world where even the guy playing Horned Troll as his win condition should be enjoying himself while playing.

But this isn't your typical bullshit League. While many run penalties to deter things that 'ruin games' like infinite combos, fast kills, or mass land destruction, this system promotes the 'play to win' philosophy. Instead of trying to make sure everyone has a fighting chance, we're here making sure we see the survival of the fittest. There's no room for hand-holding and appreciating your delicate little unique snowflake of a deck, and nobody gives a shit about your 'funny' play. There's nothing funny about Commander, son. This is serial bidness.

If most league setups are paradisaical (oh snap this is a real word, I totally thought I was making it up!) visions of Commander with sunshine and rainbows, this is the Mad Max of Commander; a barren, loveless wasteland only the hard-hearted can survive. It's the kind of point system Cormac McCarthy would endorse. A sort of post-apocalyptic bizarro world of Commander. Gone is the pretense of social play, the veneer of civility; with these kind of points, we've stripped the game down to it's most primal (and 'important') elements, the kind of things Professional Commander Players on message boards everywhere should be trying to integrate into their game.

So, without further adieu, I present to you the Internet TryHard Commander League Scoring System.

Pregame


This Deck Sucks (-1 to -4)
If your deck doesn't have a Sol Ring, lose one point. If your deck has less than three copies of Sensei's Divining Top in it, you lose 3-X points, where X is the number of SDTs in your deck.

Don't Waste People's Time (-1)
When you reveal your Commanders, if your deck doesn't have blue in its colour identity, you lose a point.

Social Format (+1)
Whenever you refuse to play with another player, everyone gets a point pre-game (except for the asshole you refused to play with, nyah!).

Gotta Love Leagues (+1)
Before the game starts, everyone gets a point, because you're going to forget to award some later on. Trust me.

I Read It Online (+1)
If you can bring a printout of your deck from somewhere on the webternets and you didn't post it, gain a point.

Gatherer of Misery (+1)
Discreetly sideboard in color-hosers. When confronted about running Lifeforce, insist that you’ve always mainboarded that card. (Matt)

In-Game

We don't play THAT kind of game here (-1)
Lose 1 point whenever a creature comes into play under your control. (Carlos)

Swimming Upstream to Victory (+1)
If you make an opponent cry, you get a point.

False Kill (+1)
Eliminate another player with a proxied card for a point. (IGottaBigDeck)

Online MtG Writer (+1)
If you call somebody else bad at Magic, gain a point.

No. (+1)
Gain 1 point whenever you counter a spell. (Carlos)

Andy's Commandercast Special (+1)
Whenever you destroy a land, gain 1 point. You may destroy another land. (Carlos)

Cunning Linguist (+1, -1 friend)
Eliminate another player with a foreign card doing something other than what you 'translated' it to do. (IGottaBigDeck)

Double Scoop (+2)

Counter an opponent's spell by scooping for two points. (Obsidiandice)

I Don't Know that Jackass, I Swear (+2)
Give your friend a 5-0 split on a Fact or Fiction in an EDH 'tournament' for two points (split the prizes later!).

The Loneliest Game (+3)
Mindslaver lock the table, but demand to play the game to its bitter end. +1 additional point or each player at the table beyond four. (ElTacotheRogue)

REAL SKILZ (+3)
Whenever the term 'skill' is seriously referenced in an EDH context by a player, if you pass that player a pamphlet from a local trade school, college, or university, you get three points.

Nice Kodama's Reach (+3)

Gain 3 points for each player you kill before turn 5. (Carlos)

Inception (+Variable)
Create a sub-game using Shahrazad, then use a Wish to retrieve it and cast it again. Get a point for each sub-game created, and a point for each opponent who scoops in frustration. (Silvermannen)

Playing with Yourself (+Variable)
Whenever you take another turn, gain 1 point for each successive turn you have taken. (1 point for 1 extra turn. 2 points for the next, etc). (Carlos)

But Kokusho is Broken! (+Variable)
Whenever a Kokusho, the Evening Star goes to your graveyard from the battlefield, each opponent loses 5 points. You gain points equal to the points lost this way. (Carlos)

After School Special (+Variable)
Gain a point for each consecutive tutor you cast beyond the first. Gain no points instead if none of those cards are part of an infinite combo. (Matt)

Post-Game

Losing is for Losers (-1)
Whenever you lose a game, you lose a point. Give the guy you took you out of the game your pants.

The Real Winner (+2)
After losing the game, reveal the top 5 cards of your library. If one of those cards would have “won me the game if only you hadn’t gotten so lucky,” you win two points. (Matt)

Hundred Card Singleton (+5)
At the end of the game, gain 5 points if you didn't play your commander. (Carlos)

Lost And Gone (Variable)
At the end of the game, you get a point for each Commander you placed into either a non-visible zone (like a library) or caused a player to exile permanently.

------------------------

I would like to thank everyone who was kind enough to contribute to this exercise in awesomeness. I’m not creative to come up with a full list of these things. If you are curious about where or whom each achievement came from, you can find it attributed to the creator in parenthesis after the achievement itself.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mid-Week Update: July 13

Posted by ANDY aka GHoooSTS
Close on the heels of S3E7, we have an update as per the new standard (no, not the format everyone complains about). This Wednesday Matt aka TheGoldenBoy is back with True Conviction 03, where he's talking sideboards. Yep... dem sideboards. If this isn't enough sideboard talk, we also went over the issue in an earlier episode of CommanderCast, so you might want to put that in the scope real quick if you're still thirsting for sideboarding goodness.

For the record, I still haven't bothered with the sideboard. It's just... too much work. While that sounds kind of pathetic, I can barely modify a precon, much less build a deck from scratch... so sideboard construction is just another nice thing I can sidestep.

Be advised; the Circle of Judgment approaches. Joining it's shadowy ranks this season is Derfington, the Grand Imperial Archrduke of Pimpology and boss of Durdling Around (up in this bitch).

In any case, as usual on Wednesday I'd also like to solicit some feedback. I have received some fantastic help for Friday's upcoming satirical league rules article. In two Fridays, you will have the misfortune of seeing my 'writing' again. I have two topics, and I'm not sure which people would prefer to see. I'm divided between the issue of "Birth of a Nation", which will be a chronicle of the Ib Nation and it's continued development; or the "Commander Sanity Checklist", which was suggested by my man Travis as a bit of a reality checklist for those of us who can forget at times that Commander is just a questionable-quality format of an overpriced collectible card game. Which would people rather see? Let me know one way or another, because I'd like to get help on both again.

Anyway, here's Matt, aka The Truth of Commander, aka TheGoldenBoy, aka you favourite columnist's favourite columnist, talking Sideboards. LETS GET IT

True Conviction 03 - "Let's Use The Optional Sideboard Rule!" or "How To Fail The Voight-Kampff Test"
By MATT


I don’t hate competitive decks.

Okay, I’ll grant that this sounds far-fetched coming from the guy who says “tutor generals are worse neighbors than the Taliban” and “you’re as respectable as John Wayne Gacy, Jr. when you play 5-color combo decks”—but it’s the truth. To hate competitive decks would be to hate one half of myself, one half that surfaces at the right times and the right places but remains respectfully hidden away from the casual group games that the Rules Committee (hereby abbreviated to ‘RC’) promotes.

There is a time and a place for a Land Destruction archetype, for “Counterspell: The Deck,” for Necrotic Ooze combo, for Erayo lockdown, for Captain Sisay and her hateful band of prison guards, and for all the things you deem “cheap” or “unfair” or “overpowered.” That place is for equally Spike-y playgroups and that that time is for when someone chimes: “Who wants to duel?” I am fully in support of both ends of the spectrum of Commander—“Casual” and “Competitive”—and I never judge unless one of the two is presented repeatedly and pompously out of context.

I am loving and accepting and open to all of the wonderful things that this format has to offer—wait, who invited you, Optional Sideboard Rule? We don’t welcome your kind around here! OUT! GET OUT! That’s it, I’m getting my shotgun!

Alright, I suppose I have some more explaining to do for my blatant hypocrisies. You see, sideboards and I have a bit of a troubled history, and not a single agreeable experience to speak of. Whether the Optional Sideboard Rule was being used in group games or in dueling, the results were the same: the Optional Sideboard Rule favors assholes and leaves an ass-y flavor in the mouths of all the other players, plaguing playgroups and negatively affecting turnout. In other words: the Optional Sideboard Rule (henceforth ‘OSR’) is a big middle-finger to both casual and competitive Commander and should never be used under any circumstance.

Yes, I understand that “normal Magic” has sideboards, but this isn’t normal Magic. This is a format where communication, knowledge of the meta, and a temporary “3v1” is your sideboard and shield against so-called “degeneracy.” And especially in Commander duels, your knowledge of the competitive meta and your weaknesses should be taken into consideration in your deck-building stages, given that your deck consists of 99 cards, which is plenty of room for diverse and/or redundant answers. Let’s move on.

The Rules Committee’s obvious endorsement of the OSR is just one reason of many that I don’t trust their authority and often describe them as irresponsible and out-of-touch. Let’s take a look at what they have to say in support of the use of Sideboards on the official Commander website, and break down their argument point by point:

“Highly tuned threats piloted by skilled opponents mandate efficient answers. The minimum number of response cards required to ensure they are available in the early turns can easily overwhelm the majority of an EDH deck's building space.
Sideboards allow players to respond to the "best" strategies in a timely fashion. They should be strongly considered as a necessary defense against brokenness and degeneracy in an environment where no gentlemans [sic] agreement on style of play exists.”

“Highly tuned threats piloted by skilled opponents mandate efficient answers.”

As a matter of fact, EVERY threat in Magic mandates answers, and the severity of those threats and those answers shouldn’t be a sliding scale that you move freely in a 3-minute span before matches (and I’ll explain very pointedly why in a bit). As your knowledge of the card pool deepens and as you gain access to more efficient answers to deal with decks that become more “highly tuned,” the scale should be sliding naturally towards “efficient” over the course of your time playing Magic. If this isn’t happening naturally over time, then you’re bad at Magic. Your opponents aren’t cheap jerks who need to be punished for running more efficient decks; you’re a bad player and your stubbornness makes you the deserving target of my next dragon punch.

“The minimum number of response cards required to ensure they are available in the early turns can easily overwhelm the majority of an EDH deck's building space.”

I’ll get straight to the point: the only time you’ll be in need of redundant efficient answers in the early game is when someone opens with Sol Ring, Mana Vault, and/or Mana Crypt, and uses this Legacy-banned dream team to fuel an early combo or lock piece. I agree that you shouldn’t have to fill your decks with excessive amounts of targeted discard and artifact hate, but having to do this isn’t the fault of “highly tuned threats piloted by skilled opponents”—it’s the fault of a really irresponsible ban list encouraging players to build degenerate decks (but I’ll save that for another diatribe). Point being: The RC and OSR supporters are crying “Wolf!” when we can see the murderer stabbing our inner-child in plain sight of us.

“Sideboards allow players to respond to the "best" strategies in a timely fashion.”

Sure, but sideboards also allow bad players to momentarily compensate for their stubbornly inefficient answers in favor of putting in utterly offensive hate cards. You better believe that if there is an option available to players to manipulate a rule in an unsporting way, they will—and with shameless bulges in their britches—especially if there are prizes on the line. And if there aren’t prizes on the line or the environment isn’t competitive, then why in the hell else would anyone even consider using a sideboard? Oh boy, do I have some snarky answers coming to that question!

“They should be strongly considered as a necessary defense against brokenness and degeneracy in an environment where no gentlemans [sic] agreement on style of play exists.”

Whether there’s an “agreement” or not, there’s a certain communicative expectation that takes place before, during and between matches which sets the stage for what constitutes an acceptable style of play for every group (or, if it’s a tournament setting, you bring your best and expect the same, period). Encouraging the use of the OSR shits all over the ideals of respectful communication (and surely the type of “social interaction” the RC is trying to promote), instead leading players to deliver spiteful “fuck yous” in cardboard form as they reveal themselves to be one of the following types of players: a) self-righteous condemning assholes, b) rules-manipulating unsporting twats or c) stubborn scrubs with shit decks.

Let me be absolutely clear: the OSR is NOT the bridge between competitive and casual play styles, if even there is one. If someone brings a gun to your knife-fight, then take out your own gun or ask him kindly to take out his knife, too. If you don’t have both styles of Commander decks, then you’re going to quickly become one of the three obnoxious bastards in the above paragraph that no one enjoys playing with.

The very first time I played a game of Commander in which someone actually opted to take advantage of the OSR, he was the sole player to do so at the table. This was a 4-way tournament setting, and one that I’ll grant was poorly regulated, because the B-type player took longer than 3 minutes as he delved into his ENTIRE binder of cards to find a single card before our match that was meant solely to hose my deck. The card was Empress Galina, which is the only card he put in simply because Sisay joined the General pile.  We’d never played against each other before, so he had no idea what level of “degeneracy” my deck was packing.

As if having a combo-centric mono-blue Memnarch deck wasn’t competitive enough, the sideboard-using player opted to give himself a boost just to hose one deck, simply because the rules allowed for it. In other words: The rich just got richer, and sideboards failed to fulfill their “game-balancing” destiny. Strike one.

In this same playgroup, mono-blue and blue-heavy became far too prominent, and every game was littered with counters and attempts at combo-ing off with the same couple of combos seen in every deck. The obvious fact that this playgroup seriously lacks for imagination aside, I have to judge the non-blue players, too, who refused to tune their decks to be faster and more aggressive to combat the blue menace. At the very least, you’d think, that the Asuza players would switch to Thrun and match his blue opponents in cards that can’t very well be interacted with and just win every game, right?

What the non-blue players did, instead, was take advantage of the OSR to play cards like Choke, City of Solitude, and Boil, regardless of if there was just one blue player or three. That’s not to say that any of these color hosers ever resolved, but then that would describe our C-type players rather well, wouldn’t it? The rich decks continued to prosper by adding cards like Back to Basics while the OSR just made for a more hostile and bitter experience for all. Strike two.

I used to play competitive 1v1 games in the only venue that held tournaments for them in NYC, an unsurprisingly brief venture that ended in a matter of months due to low turnout. I could write an entire article about the rise and fall of this scene, but I can’t emphasize enough how instrumental the OSR was in bringing the scene to its bitter end. With money on the line, I decided that I no longer wanted to lose to control decks, so I filled my sideboard with the most vicious anti-control tech available. I was known infamously for putting in 8 cards from my sideboard every time a blue player sat down across from me.

After a while, my deck became fast and strong enough on its own merits that I no longer needed all of the hateful sideboard cards—but I kept playing them, because I could. I used to rant in that oh-so-endearing way that I do about how the blue players needed to be taught a lesson, and I was doing everyone a favor. Well, not all blue decks are created equal, and my smug sideboarding started to deter every single blue mage—either super competitive or merely competitive-curious—from showing up again. Strike three. GTFO.

If the RC continues to marginalize competitive-minded and/or duel Commander, the format will become characterized by constant anger and confusion as long as players have the option to communicate in passive-aggressive spiteful terms. Calling the sideboard rule “optional” while being clearly in support of it is irresponsible—given the obvious detriments the rule has to promoting positive social interactions. But this is just one of several clear indicators of the RC’s attitude towards players who don’t share their identical vision of Commander, as if ignoring those players will make them vanish. As if giving a little wink and a nudge to encourage A and C-type players to resolve their grievances with better players through manipulating anti-social rules will grow the community. As if being skilled and playing highly-tuned decks is something deserving of derision and spite and has no place in Commander.

I have much more to say about the sort of unwelcoming “Us vs. Them” message you can easily glean from reading the official rules and delving into articles from the RC’s figurehead, but I’ll save it. The bottom line is that the RC has a ton of sway in determining how fledgling playgroups handle get-togethers and tournaments, and the “official rules” can and have ruined newcomers’ impression of the allegedly social format we all call Commander. More to come.