The problem with trying to create a perfect scale where not everyone is a seven is that:
-everyone's scale is going to be a bit different - one guys 10 is T&T cEDH, another guys 10 is niv combo, another guys 10 is anything with fetches in it.
-even if everyone got on the same page and we had a perfect scale with clear markers of strength (this deck is exactly a 6, so if you're stronger you're 6+ and if you're weaker you're 5-)...players, especially edh players, are still really bad at gauging how good their decks are. It's really not that easy to be sure either. Some decks look insane one game and awful other games depending on lots of factors. Unless you're playing your deck over and over against a wide variety of decks it's be really hard to get it down a specific number.
Most people say their decks are 7s because narrowing it down more precisely is difficult. Not because the scale is bad. If you make precons 2s, then instead of everyone saying 7, some people will say 4 and some will say 7, and it will still be a total crapshoot which is actually better.
Tbh I rarely have major issues with power level discrepancies, and a power level discussion usually does fine even if it's not very precise - within a reasonable margin of error, multiplayer usually sorts things out.
You are missing the point. You do not have control over what decks your opponents play. What you DO have control over, is who you play with. Even in a LGS enviroment, you can curate these groups. I live in a town of 17k people and Commander is popular enough that I have been able to identify what intensity players like to play at - and I simply don't play with people who don't fall similarly on the spectrum as I do. If I can do that in my small town, I am more than certain most places can.
As for your comments about other formats, Commander is no different in how people play the game. The only difference is that people who don't have Tier legacy decks, don't play the format. The compromise is that they are unwilling to play that format because it heavily leans towards a highly competitive set of decks. I think the issue is that Commander players feel way too entitled and think that the power scale should be non-existent, and that is an impossible demand.
If your table seems completely unhappy with the game ending in a combo, especially the person initiating the combo, then your group sounds like it really suffers from a lack of basic communication and/or you are too willing to play with people you are unfamiliar with. If you are going to engage in open play, then you need to compromise and accept that people are just going to combo out. If you have an issue accepting that, then don't partake in open play... it is simple.
You really strike me as someone who feels some sort of entitlement, either that or someone who thinks they like Commander but really... doesn't. Maybe you should sleep on that and revaluate, I don't know. Not sure there is anything more I can tell you.
It’s an LGS. Pods form as people arrive, and usually don’t reorg unless games happen to end at the same time, at least until people start leaving. I’m usually waiting 30 minutes to an hour for a pod to form. If I’m refusing to play with certain people, not only is that going to be pretty damn awkward to explain, it’s probably going to mean waiting hours for a game, if I can get one at all. Also, I wouldn’t say it’s any players in particular really, but the general culture that’s at fault. By my estimate, a lot of decks have combos in them “to stay competitive“.
As long as we’re playing armchair psychologist, you strike me as someone who’s been in the same small town most of their life and can’t relate to anyone in different circumstances. I’m one of the newest arrivals at this LGS, and most people have been playing there for years and years, often with tight-knit groups that sometimes don’t even consider playing with other people. It can be quite difficult already just finding a game when everyone else has a ton of history together, and I’m frequently the odd man out. I’m in no position to make demands or be selective who I play with.
I’ve read your second paragraph a dozen times and it still makes no sense to me. Legacy players mostly have tiered decks - yes, sure. The compromise is not playing legacy - what? How is that a compromise exactly? Players play commander instead of legacy as a refuge from the repetitive nature of legacy and other constructed formats. Players feel the power scale should be non-existent - not remotely? Nearly everyone tries to put a number on their decks in an effort to keep everyone at the same level of power. Is that not what you mean by power scale? I’m Seriously confused.
Don’t get me wrong - I still enjoy it. A lot. Sitting around waiting for a pod sucks, but actually playing is great 90%+ of the time. And I’ve started to make some friends, even among the more obstinate combo players. And I’m certainly not having problems with my win%. But it’s frustrating to have games end in such a deflating way sometimes, and for players to be seemingly unaware or unwilling to remove those cards even when no one seems to like them, because they think they’re supposed to play them. But I still look forward to commander night(s) every time it comes around, 100%. And while I do ***** and moan about the LGS environment, it has the perk of endless variety. It’s really not that bad, I’m just disappointed that it could be better so easily and isn’t. So you can stop with the nonsense psychoanalysis routine.
I’d hardly call it “my group“, it’s clearly been going on for quite a while and I have Almost no control over It. I do try to change people’s minds when I think it’s appropriate, but it’s a rotating cast of 30+ people, so anything I do is pretty much a drop in the bucket.
Just chiming in to say this has been my experience too.
The more casual a player claims to be, or their build claims to be, the nastier theyve been.
Ive seen no less than three people throw their decks physically and rage sell their entire collection after a loss. One guy threatened a beating after he used slaughter pact and his only swamp was vindicated. Its okay when they counterspell your cultivate but its rage time if you spell pierce their genesis wave.
Hahaha, seriously? That's wild. I've never seen anyone do either of those things, not in any commander game, prerelease, or limited tournament I've played in over the years. I definitely get a little salty sometimes (hell, my opponent last night was quite a salt-monster after I beat him) but that's mind-blowing to me. Worst I ever saw, that I can recall, was my opponent stand up and slam his hands on the wall when I (admittedly rather dickishly) got him on a rules technicality during a prerelease. He still won anyway...I probably deserved it.
My solution is: be willing to compromise. It is either be willing to compromise or deal with having fewer people to play with.
If you are having an unfun experience in Commander, that is on you. It shouldn't be up to other players to cater to you because you don't want to play Combo. Maybe have a bit of accountability for your experiences within the format... seems you are sidestepping that little tidbit.
How does one compromise in an LGS environment? If my opponent plays a combo deck, I have essentially no control over that. For that matter, if I wanted to play a nasty deck (which I sometimes do on accident, usually followed by apologies and a deck switch), they wouldn't have any control over that either.
One of the biggest differences in the mentality between standard/modern/legacy/vintage/KBPTL/etc is that commander was built on acknowledging accountability for your opponents' fun. Yes, compromise would be ideal, and that's something that's possible with an established group, but in an LGS environment that's not really an option.
Part of what annoys me is that, for the majority of these players, they don't seem to WANT to play combo. They just put it in to compete with the other decks doing the same. After a game ends in a combo, rarely does anyone actually seem pleased, even the person who did it. The player gleefully assembling a crazy combo I don't begrudge, that can be a fantastic ending to the game, but when the game has gotten less fun for everyone because of the increased power level I think we've made a wrong step somewhere.
Prettymuch this. Personally, the power level I enjoy building at is about an 8 or a 9, but the average player runs 4s and 5s (not 7, the obsession with lying and saying 7 people have is infuriating) so I have to build much weaker decks to ensure that the experience isn't lopsided (pubstomping is the opposite of fun).
Taking responsibility for your own fun is a pretty fair ask for everyone involved, and arguments to the contrary are churlish at best.
If you thought pubstomping WAS fun, though, would that make it OK? You'd still be taking responsibility for your own fun, wouldn't you?
It's really convenient when the things you find fun is also what will make the game fun for your opponents - that's great, genuinely. But what about when the things you find fun AREN'T fun for your opponents? I don't think taking responsibility SOLELY for your own fun is enough, you have to also keep your opponents' experiences in mind.
Not that this seems to apply to my meta though - nobody really seems to enjoy combo, they just do it anyway to stay competitive.
I think this "combo players need to go play somewhere else" stance is kind of foolish.
Perhaps the biggest issue in Commander these days, is the sitdown and play mentality. People who don't curate their playgroups with either close friends or players that operate on the same axis, are the ones having the most issues with the format. People who have regular groups that have been curated, don't have these issues. It is an inevitable situation, really, but I would say that if you are really having issues with players sitting down and playing Combo decks vs your precons... stop letting random people sit down and play with you.
So your solution is basically just to have the exact same playgroup situation that you do. Very helpful.
1) A lot of people aren't playing dedicated combo decks, just decks that happen to have a combo or two in them. While I don't mind a wild janky 4-card combo, especially if I haven't seen it before, when someone sticks DEN and peregrine drake into their blink deck because one is a powerful etb enabler and one is a powerful etb, it's still a pretty boring way for the game to end - and even more frustrating in some ways, because at least the fast combo deck will end a short game in a boring way and you can quickly recalibrate. The accidental combo deck ends a long and interesting game in a boring way.
2) I've had many different groups I play with come and go over the years, and that's not necessarily a cure-all either since even friends are going to have disagreements about how they want the game to go. It can help. But I'm not going to stay in one place my whole life just to avoid new playgroups. I'm still relatively new to this country, and the few friends here I do have don't play magic, so I don't have a ton of alternatives to playing at an LGS, and whoever/whatever shows up, shows up. We can have the power level conversation and that might head off the cEDH combo decks, but the blink deck that happens to have a combo is probably not.
You're really leaning hard into the victim complex stuff my dude, let's dissect this a bit.
Oh, let's. This is very therapeutic, a long-overdue leeching to get all these bad humors out of my system.
I don't think you can really in good faith make the claim that combo is inherently bad, or that it's wrong to include them in the average deck.
I find combo a very unsatisfying way to end a game - especially when it's the same boring, well-trod combos that have been winning games for years and years. A game that was interesting and unique ending yet again to high tide palinchron is extremely frustrating imo.
Playing a game of commander is like telling a story. A combo win is the equivalent of "rocks fall, everyone dies".
Some people enjoy playing combos.
Great, do it somewhere else.
Some people just want their decks to be good.
Great, do it somewhere else.
It is an unfortunate side-effect of the way the format is meant to be played that aggressive strategies are just not as effective as going infinite. The game has to end at some point, and I know that I've consciously made the decision to include at least one way to immediately end the game in every deck because playing one game that drags on the for the entire night makes me want to kill myself.
That's exactly the logic I hear from players at my LGS. And you know what I think to myself? If you don't like long games, GO PLAY ANOTHER FORMAT. When I started playing, 2+ hour games were the norm, sometimes as long as 5 hours or more. And we loved it.
Part of this is the fault of commander becoming too popular. More people means that it's no longer a specialized format exclusively for people who want a long epic game. Personally I think the life total should be lowered to encourage non-combo strategies, but that's another conversation. There's a multitude of factors pushing commander more and more competitive, few of them intentional. But intentional or not, the ones who benefit from it are the cEDH players, so they receive the brunt of my furious rage.
And can you really blame people for looking at a cEDH deck and saying 'wow that looks awesome!' when they're such finely tuned works of art?
Whoever first thought up [insert combo/deck here] has my respect - although I still don't want to play with them. The million imitators? No, I think it's boring as hell. Plagiarism isn't a work of art. It's a competitive necessity, but art it ain't. And while I understand people netdecking for standard, I find netdecking for commander to be nothing short of pathetic. And I think the only people who would find it "awesome" are those too green to know any better.
When the cards in them are often obscenely expensive? People like shiny things, and a solid cEDH deck is very, very shiny indeed. Its like gawking at an ancient heirloom katana when you've been playing with boffing sticks. They both have their place and they're both fun, but come on it is only natural.
I get why new players are impressed by expensive cards, and I know that's part of the allure of playing these decks. I'm not complaining when people are impressed by my collection, it's kinda fun. I don't blame them, it's nobody's fault, really. But that doesn't mean it's not contributing to the degradation of the format.
A cEDH player is exactly the kind of person I'd expect would make a metaphor involving katanas. No offense.
I wouldn't be too worried about the extinction of casual EDH, from my experience the ends of the format keep getting further and further apart from each other, not closer, as folks naturally separate themselves into distinct cliques based on what they want out of the game.
That experience has not been mine, nor most people's from what I can tell.
I don't think it'll ever go extinct by any stretch. But the line will be less and less well-defined. Most people at my LGS are still playing at a relatively low power level and I don't think that'll change - thank god for the reserved list sometimes. But will change, and is changing, is the culture. cEDH is less and less a separate format now than it was a few years ago, or a few years before that. The new players aspire to play at the cEDH table, held back only by budget and skill (skill in cedh, lol that must have been a typo). cEDH decks are more and more likely to join in at non-cEDH tables. Because there aren't "cEDH decks" and "everything else" anymore, it's a slow gradation of power as people strive to push their decks to the lofty plateau of perceived cEDH greatness. Some people self-limit, to be sure, but that percentage is getting lower and lower with every year. And wotc doesn't exactly help when they print obnoxious commanders every set, making it easier and easier to stretch the limits of what power level is acceptable.
For someone called cranky, I am out-cranky-ing the hell out of you right now.
Holy hell that's an incredibly toxic way of looking at things, Dirk. The scawy cEDH people are definitely not out to get you, but those are some pretty ferocious straw men you've got there.
I sincerely hope you're just trolling and I'm just not catching the sarcasm.
I wish it was a straw man. I see it happening online. I see it happening right in front of my face every time I play at my LGS.
When I first started playing commander, playing any infinite combos was tryhard behavior. Now, if I polled the players at my LGS I doubt a single one doesn't have a deck with a combo wincon in it somewhere. I've repeatedly heard people say that they need to have a combo somewhere in the deck to make it viable, and it makes me cringe. When I lose a game, a solid 70% of the time it's from a combo. That used to be almost unheard of. And I know it's not just me because everyone else I've talked to online has seen the format shift more competitive as well. Posts about someone's once-casual group shifting closer to cEDH are commonplace.
How much is this the fault of cEDH as compared to the existence of online resources or wotc's power creep? Hard to say, they all contribute. Is the blurring of the line intentional subversion on cEDH's part - are they "out to get [the format]"? Most likely not. But it's still happening, and cEDH players sure aren't in a hurry to prevent it. They want to talk about their format, the same as everyone else does, and this is the unavoidable result. All the time I'll see people ask for help, get answered by a cEDH player with cEDH advice, and they'll gobble it up because they lack the experience to understand the distinction. I see it online, I see it in person. I see the reverence new players have for the local cEDH players' decks, and how they wish they could build decks like them.
Keeping a casual format casual may well be an impossible task, and one day the difference between commander and cEDH may well be almost indistinguishable. They're getting closer together every day. Of course some people will always keep the flame alive, so the two formats will never truly be one, but mainstream commander is constantly in a slide towards more and more competitive - slow, yes, but inexorable. And cEDH will always be happy to receive the benefits of that, whistling a jaunty tune and pretending that it's just a coincidence.
Here's the thing: stripping the banlist and then rebuilding it for the top end of the format would have little to no effect on casual games
What are you basing that on exactly? Paradox engine was getting played a LOT before it got banned, and it was obnoxious as hell. I see no reason to assume it wouldn't become popular against if it got unbanned. Simply being an annoying card is not sufficient to keep people from playing certain cards. Some cards probably wouldn't see much play in normal commander because the social contract might prevent people from playing, for example, limited resources (the same reason winter orb isn't banned). Some other stuff might be fine (I wouldn't mind gifts coming off). But there are still lots of cards that would be unfun to play against that people wouldn't self-regulate. I know I'd be pretty unhappy if the game ended out of nowhere to a biorhythm, but it's not a card that I think people would avoid using, were it not on the banlist. That is, surprise surprise, why it's on there.
If a card like demonic consultation got added to the banlist, which has very little application in regular EDH but is nasty in cEDH, I wouldn't mind that much - depending on the specific card. But stripping everything off the banlist? No. Adding cards that are fun in normal commander, like Thrasios? No.
if a card is broken it is broken, regardless of how fairly you play it.
I disagree very strongly with this logic. Tazri was, for a time, among the strongest - if not the strongest - cEDH deck because she provided a reliable wincon for food chain combo with as few cards as possible. Does that mean Tazri was broken? Should we take away tribal ally decks from commander players for playing a "broken" commander?
Thrasios's ability is really not that strong in a vacuum. 4 mana is a lot for that effect. He's an outlet for infinite mana that lets you play a lot of colors, and sometimes he generates incremental advantage, but to my understanding the most important part of him for cEDH purposes is that he provides an outlet for infinite mana and a lot of colors. In normal commander, that's not really a problem, and besides, infinite mana also wins with completely innocuous cards that no one would call broken.
Nothing is broken in a vacuum. It depends on the cards around it. Thrasios in a cEDH deck with infinite mana combos might be broken, but in a normal deck where he's just a decent draw engine, he's not even close.
There's definitely no valid reason to otherize players who just want to see the banlist make sense. Casual EDH players, competitive EDH players, and everyone in between, we're all just EDH players.
And we're all just magic players, and we're all just people, and we're all just vertebrates, and we're all just animals, and we're all just carbon-based objects. We've got plenty of things in common, yes, but we've also got some pretty important differences that have a pretty profound impact on how we'd like to shape the format.
I don't have any problem with people playing cEDH in their own isolated bubble - that doesn't bother me at all. But that's not how the world works. cEDH players talk online with other commander players, they play at their LGSs. cEDH players want their format to grow, the same as any player, but the spaces they take up are often the same ones other commander players use. When a new commander player goes online to see how to improve their deck, the information they get - through EDHrec, through forums, through posted decklists - will often include cEDH.
Let's say a new player, excited about the Otrimi deck they picked up and looking to improve it after losing at their LGS, goes online for advice. And they happen to see a Cazur + Ukkima cEDH decklist that looks very strong. They might not have the experience to understand the difference between commander and cEDH. They might even get excited at the strategy of the deck, and want to show it off to their friends. Most other games and formats don't have this self-regulating aspect that commander does. Someone fresh off hearthstone - where sure, there are better and worse decks, and there are dumb meme decks, but everything has to withstand the power of the standard meta, there is no true "casual" - may not understand where the line is between improving a deck and what's pushing it too far.
So when they get this cEDH information, they consume it uncritically, and push their deck to the limit. And then they show up to their LGS and play this deck. And some people, the veterans, might say "hey, that's a bit too cEDH, can you play something else?" But the other newer players, in the same boat as the Cazur player without a good grasp of the separation between cEDH and commander, might think "wow, that deck was really strong, I should look up ways to make my deck stronger to compete". It doesn't always happen that way, of course. But it rarely goes back the other direction, from more competitive to less competitive. cEDH is entropy, slowly decaying what it touches.
This is why I dislike cEDH more than standard or modern or legacy or vintage or any other format. Because those other formats stay in their own lane. If someone wants to play standard, then I might not join them, but they're not affecting the culture around my format. cEDH - online and in person - has done permanent harm by insinuating their format with commander, and I suspect a lot of that is intentional to draw more players in. And while there are no doubt plenty of noble cEDH players who try avoid blurring the line between cEDH and commander, there are many more who are happy to spread their format around at the expense of commander. I see the entire format of cEDH as an existential threat to the future of commander and I wish it could be scrubbed off the face of the earth.
Solving for that unfortunate misconception, I've come to the conclusion that there's no reason to even HAVE one for casual play, and the only cards that need to be banned are the ones breaking the top end of the format. Casual players are happy to play with house rules, or soft-ban cards that aren't fun, or just exert social pressure on people playing things they don't like, which solves for 99% of problems you'd likely see from a completely open format. Meanwhile competitive players are always looking to bring the biggest guns to pummel their buddies with, so taking the broken toys away is important. Looking at it from that perspective, I think the perfect banlist would probably be ~a dozen cards max. It should be entirely possible to provide for both casual and competitive players with an extremely light touch. For the most part cards that are broken aren't even fun in casual.
Literally just unban everything, ban the small selection of cards ruining high-end games, and everyone wins including the RC, since both camps stop complaining and the criteria for banning becomes crystal clear, making their job easier at the end of the day.
I'm going to push back on that one hard. As someone who plays at LGSs with whoever happens to show up, social pressure is not a terribly effective tool, nor are house rules or any of that other stuff. Sometimes people are amenable to trying to balance the table so everyone has a similar-power deck, and sometimes people aren't. When the alternative is sitting on the sidelines for another hour waiting for a spot to open up, I'm going to have to deal with whatever they happen to be playing and hope it's not too obnoxious.
And on the flip side, I've played a very fun casual Thrasios deck and I'd be profoundly annoyed if he was banned just to suit the cEDH crowd. Because in an LGS environment, people are going to follow the letter of the law, so if he's banned, he's banned.
Basically what you're saying is "instead of trying to have a banlist for the casual format which is the vast majority of the target of commander, let's completely disregard that and instead have a banlist whose only goal is to appeal to the small percentage of cEDH players."
I'll say what I always say in these circumstances - if cEDH dislikes the banlist so much, then they should just make their own.
What is your argument at this point? WotC has had more to do with the growth of commander since 2013 than the RC? Yeah, probably. Because they have totally different jobs with very different impacts on the format.
What does that have to do with the topic of this thread exactly?
I guess you are right, it couldn’t possibly be an exponentially larger demand now than in 2009, or 2013...
WoTC going from 0 commander products a year to 4+ is merely a coincidence...
There are more 5G towers than last year, and we didn't have any coronavirus last year ... 5G towers cause coronavirus!
Correlation is not causation.
I don't know how popular commander would be without direct wotc support, and neither do you. Until you can produce some sort of evidence to back up your point - perhaps a graph showing the number of commander players jumping up with commander product releases? - you've got nothing but an opinion.
But really, this argument is stupid and I'm not sure what the point is. The original topic of the thread is that the RC is out of touch - presumably with the implication that their handling of the banlist is detrimental to the format. I don't know about that - there are certainly some cards I'd like banned, and a couple I'd like unbanned (c'mon, gifts). There's room for improvement, sure, but you can't please everyone.
But even if Sheldon was divine will made manifest, and he could craft a perfect banlist and ruleset that pleased every commander player present and future, it'd still be stupid to compare the RC to wotc. Wotc is responsible for making every card in the format. Every fun deck you love was built with 100% wotc produced cards. How the hell is managing a banlist going to compete with that? The RC is responsible for the early growth of commander by getting the word out, but at this point their impact - for good or ill - is pretty minor, unless they went absolutely nuts and started banning hundreds of cards, or drastically changed the rules. Whatever reach they could possibly have is dwarfed by the large corporation of WotC, and there's just nothing sexy about a banlist compared to making whole new cards to get people hyped up - especially in a format where the banlist isn't particularly important.
We could could argue about whether early growth or sustained popularity is harder to cultivate, but really it's all moot because the original topic was "does the RCs approach hurt the format", and that conversation has nothing to do with that topic - and honestly I'm not sure what the point of that conversation would even be. I do think the RC's approach probably encourages more casual players to join, and pushes away more competitive ones - and personally I am 100% on board for that, even if I might quibble over the details.
So here is my question, with functionally the same ruleset as Commander, albeit some slight variations, why did Tiny Leaders not follow the same exact trend?
1) as I said, popularity is everything and tiny leaders never got that popular, at least where I was playing.
2) it didn't do anything novel that commander didn't already do - the core commander concept scratched an itch people didn't know they had, TL just tried to ape that same success (much the same as brawl did, although at least brawl brought some better ideas to the table imo).
The Commander boom didn't start in 2009, I wouldn't even say it started in 2013... So between 2013 and now, what has the RC done to expand the format and allow it to reach the potential it has reached now?
Can you please show me what your evidence for this timetable is?
I do find it kind of silly that, whatever growth the format experienced between 2013 and now was a "boom"...whereas growing from basically nothing to nationwide popularity over the course of a couple years wasn't a "boom" for some reason.
RC saving WOTC from killing the format with insane design ideas, isn't the same as growing the format. 2009 was organic growth. The same organic growth Tiny leaders received. The only difference was WOTC was able to step in and stop Commander from stagnating, by injecting new cards, themes, and a sense of unity, into the format. You still don't have an answer to my question of "What has the RC done to growth te game and bring in new players?", and the reason is simple: that isn't what they do and it isn't what they are responsible for.
What you are providing, are not counterpoints - they are justifications.
Oh, I don't think the RC has done anything super important for the format in the past 10 years tbh. I think having no banlist at all, the format still would have grown just fine. I also think it would have grown just fine without wotc support. I put the vast majority of the credit to the core idea by Adam Staley, and the initial spark that got it going from Sheldon and the other early RC members.
Unlike TL, commander didn't have competition. Nobody said "why would I play commander when I could just play X"...which is exactly what people say when something like TL comes along, where X = commander. And since commander was the first to market, it's got the popularity and momentum on its side against any newcomers like TL or OB or brawl of whatever other thing people come up with. Until someone has a truly novel great idea, like commander was to begin with, I doubt it'll be unseated as the king of casual - no matter what wotc or the RC do to help or hinder it.
New sets inject new material for commander, just the same as they did in 2009. If wotc closed their doors, maybe the format would stagnate - if that's even a thing commander can do - but with or without official commander products the format is consistently fresh, primarily because it's a casual format that doesn't revolve around solving a metagame, which keeps the pool of decks all-but-limitless. Sure, commander needs wotc - without wotc mtg wouldn't exist after all - but their ongoing support isn't crucial imo.
I'm not sure what that last sentence is in reference to.
The ruleset has been in place since the dawn of the format... That doesn't mean that the RC is responsible for the sudden rapid acceleration of growth within that format. I think you are forgetting what draws players to the format, and subsequently relating it to Brawl.
Requires constant investment
Covers a fraction of a player's collection
Suffers from a significant lack of diversity and customization
Commander doesn't suffer from any of that. Which is important to consider, because WOTC has all but abandoned eternal playability from a design standpoint and, arguably, a printing standpoint. So when they instead, acknowledge something like Commander by strategically focusing on reprints and new designs, it is pretty silly to attribute the growing complexity, diversity, and customization that appeals to people - to the RC.
Additionally, the unification of the format under WoTC as Commander (instead of EDH) has birthed a standardized banned list. This induction of it as an official format has greatly extended its reach and taken it from a back room hobby store format to a format that covers a great deal of different player demographics.
Outside of the final notation about a banned list, what has the RC done to reach other players, particularly new ones? Nothing. It is all on the back of WoTC.
In 2009 commander was, to my knowledge, already a major up-and-coming popular new format that took over my playgroup by storm. In mid 2009 none of us had heard of it. By late 2009, we were all playing it. By 2010, we were hardly playing anything else. All of this was before wotc was directly involved. I don't have a graph of "number of commander players over time" but, from my experience, the format did a very good job of promoting itself without any interaction from wotc. Without a parallel universe in which wotc never prints commander products, there's no way to determine how important their role has been. But it's worth remembering that wotc started printing cards for commander because it was already popular, and becoming more popular, and they wanted to promote it and make more money off it. Who knows what would have happened without them, but I think it's very likely that commander would have continued to become more popular without wotcs direct support, because that's what it was already doing.
At the end of the day, unless you're about to reveal that you're actually part of wotcs market research team, neither of us have evidence beyond our personal experiences about (1) how the popularity of commander has increased over time (although maybe this info is available somewhere?), and (2) what is responsible for that popularity (which is essentially unknowable and also not even a reasonable question because, without both parties, commander wouldn't even exist).
Personally, I suspect that the #1 thing that contributed to commander's success is simply that the basic rules are super fun. When we all first started playing the format, it wasn't because we cared about the banlist, and no commander product has really made me think "oh boy, if I wasn't sold on commander already, THIS is the thing that would get me excited!" It was because the core concept, putting a face on a deck and building around a card you thought was cool, was such a neat idea, and a departure from the normal "build 60 card jank until you're good enough to play standard" track that was the dominant way to play before commander existed. The RC and WotC have both presumably contributed to that popularity - and FWIW I don't think the ongoing management of the banlist is terribly important, as I've said - but I think that initial spark of an idea was EVERYTHING. You can say "without wotc, commander would only have half as many players" or whatever, and maybe you'd be right, but without that initial idea NOBODY would be playing commander. And probably a lot fewer people would be playing magic at all.
EDIT: while it's not really relevant, for my money:
Rotates - I'd argue as a positive since it prevents the same cards from dominating in perpetuity and keeps the metagame from becoming stale
Requires constant investment - so does commander, at least the way I play
Covers a fraction of a player's collection - sure, it's nice to have someplace to use older cards, but that doesn't preclude it from existing alongside commander.
Suffers from a significant lack of diversity and customization - There's still a lot of options, we've got 17 commander choices just in ZNR.
@Cranky I think you're giving way too much weight to the banlist. If the RC vanished tomorrow and the banlist was gone, I doubt the format would change very much, because it's mostly regulated by social contract anyway.
In order to kill the format and/or make everyone mad, they'd have to make a bunch of really haphazard bans, which isn't likely to happen based on past performance. Until that time, they'll have a few detractors and a few supporters when they ban contentious cards like Iona or PE, and most of the format won't really care.
This isn't standard where a mismanaged banlist is going to destroy the format. Commander is all but unkillable.
WotC printed product for brawl. If WotC support is the critical element, why hasn't that exploded?
The fact is, commander has become extremely popular while the RC was managing it AND while wotc was supporting it. There's no way to tell "how much popularity" each was responsible for, but going off the brawl example it's pretty clear that there's something about the commander format itself that works for people, and which wotc can't take credit for. Anyone who claims to know whether wotc or the RC is responsible for the popularity is deluding themselves.
It'a also worth noting that commander went from absolutely nothing to being very popular with absolutely zero support. Percentage-wise, guaranteed the RC can claim more based on that alone. By late 2009 most magic players at my uni were playing commander and wotc wasn't directly supporting the format at all.
Personally I think commander is TOO popular at this point. I kinda wish whoever was making is so popular would dial it back a bit.