To skip the rant and go straight to what matters, go to the next text painted in red.
I have been worried with the state of multiplayer Commander for quite a while now. Call me a boomer or whatever, but the format is a far cry from what it used to be a few years ago. What brought me personally to multiplayer Commander was the fact that you could play your favorite cards from all time, build the craziest decks and go nuts. It was finally a format for the nonspike players to be able to unleash their creativity. People seem (or pretend) not to able to gauge their decks' power level, and there is always that one person in a casual table that ruins the experience for everyone else. With COVID and now, for most of us, the only option being to play online with different playgroups, at least in my experience, things got worse. At least in my playgroup, if someone comboed 5-10 minutes into the game, we declared that player the winner and moved on with the game without them. The game has become more about stopping the other players than playing your own stuff.
The Rules Committee has been terrible for quite a while now, I would much rather have the decisions about the format made by an expression of the community instead of a few people that (again, in my personal opinion) are clearly on WOTC's back pocket by now. Add to that WOTC's "FIRE" (more like dumpster fire) design philosophy, and the ridiculous price spikes in RL cards, effectively pricing them out of most players' resources. And the threat of sanctioning Commander will make T1 decks pour into multiplayer tables as well (because more and more people will be building them, plus the power level evaluation problem) make me want to run to a corner and hide.
All of this makes me want to do something, anything, to try and restore Commander to the healthier state it had before all this madness happened. I have been thinking about something I call "Safe Haven" and would like to collect feedback and suggestions from everyone who think Commander didn't evolve the way it was intended to. If you like things where they currently stand, it's fine too, you have all the official formats to enjoy!
So, here's how it works:
- No changes to general game rules - Commander keeps being played the way it has always been.
- There would be an initial banned list, composed by the actual official banlist + more cards (more about that later), and updates to it are somehow be made by the community (I would love to hear ideas about how that could be possible). Also should there be cards banned as commanders but allowed in the 99?
- Cards and mechanics created for a 20-life format are banned or considered as errata'd. Think Serra Ascendant or Infect, for example.
And that's that.
About the initial banlist. The goal for the banlist is reduce the amount of optimized combo-based decks, remove cards that have been priced out of most players' resources, remove oppressive cards/strategies that created un-fun game states for everyone but their owners, removing the blatant card design mistakes made in the last years. So, here's my suggestions:
1. RL insanity: the ridiculous price spikes would not happen as much or as often if not by the demand created by Commander. Which is why, my suggestion is to include the most egregious ones in the initial list and discuss the others individually with the community. This would include: all of the original dual lands, cards like Gaea's Cradle, Mox Diamond, Gilded Drake, Earthcraft, Intuition, Survival of the Fittest and so on (with these examples, I think it's possible to understand the price range I'm talking about).
ngl, I would really hate this proposed format. Lots of completely fair cards banned for no reason (which is a problem with the current RC), entire strategies hated out of the format, everyone pigeonholed into playing big dumb stompy decks? Too much interaction specifically cited as a problem with the game? Nah fam, no thanks, that's boring as hell.
My current problem with the format is that the banlist makes no sense in any dimension, and this idea would only exacerbate that.
Sadly there is no point making messages like this.
"competitive" player here will want to keep comboing and turn 2 and will hate your suggestion. Casual players will be labeled as hateful and not wanting to be inclusive.
You can see the answer from cranky here. Combo making sinergies unplayable is fine. Combo making every other playstyle irrelevant is fine. But trying to ban something to put stompy/battlecruiser decks back on is not.
Right now EDH is trying to do to many things and appease to many different kind of players. You won't ever be able to please anyone. The best solution is to make your own banlist and make your friends accept it.
Even so, it's not that easy. I'm a casual player myself and in your list i see some fine cards being banned, while some broken cards aren't.
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How i feel about competitive players and casual players in EDH: The competitive are german tourists, the casual are italian tourists, both in a italian beach. The italians asking themselves "why are the germans here?" make a legitimate question, the answer is because the beach is beautiful, no matter the country you came from. The italians wanting to ban the germans are dumb, because if the germans pay for their stay and follow the rules like everyone else, they have the right to be in the beach. Hovewer, if the germans started to ask themselves "why are the italians here?"... they would be dumb as hell.
It makes me a little sad that people can't just self-regulate to create a fun and balanced casual gaming environment, and that the proposed solution is to ban dozens and dozens of cards, preventing others from playing with their treasured game pieces, rather than just have a conversation about it. I own all of the cards you list as ban-worthy. Literally. And my playgroup is very healthy and casual, includes new players without deep collections, and has pretty balanced win rates overall. The key is building decks that are fun and interactive.
For example, my bf runs a few extra turn spells in his Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper list and they don't feel oppressive. They feel fun and cool because the deck itself isn't built to abuse them so much as use them like Azorious extra combat steps. I run Gaea's Cradle in my Virtus, the Veiled / Gorm, the Great list, along with Lure and Thicket Basilisk as a throwback to early Magic. In that deck, Cradle is very powerful, but the thing my deck is trying to do with all that mana is totally fair. Sure, it will get blown up by the next Acidic Slime, but it's not part of a strategy designed to make my friends suffer.
The early days of Commander allowed for the kind of play you are looking for because people didn't just walk into a game store with the expectation that they could openly sit down and play a game with just about anyone. Open play and the fact that players have had years to explore the format and discover interactions has led Commander to where it is today.
Don't want to play modern era Commander? Curate a play group of close players and get back to the spirit of the format in an more controlled setting where things can be regulated as a group.
In an era where people understand the value of decentralized currency like Bitcoin, I am not sure why they cannot reverse engineer the concept to understand why decentralized play is warping Commander into something other than what it once was when it was more centralized around close groups.
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LEGACY|UWStonebladeCOMMANDER|UBGThe Mimeoplsm Ooze & Aghhs!MODERN|UWAzorius Control THE JUICE[BOX]³ CUBE
I don't think adding several hundred (!) cards to the banlist will make the format any healthier. Tbh, I don't have a problem with the format as it currently is. Just communicate with the rest of your group which power level you're playing at. From pauper commander and budget decks for 50€ to cEDH I play anything and all is a lot of fun.
Also it seems weird to me that you want to ban relatively innocent mechanics like infect (I've never understood the hate against infect. It's easy to kill one player with infect, but then the rest of the table will focus you down soon enough, it's not particularly powerful at all) and a lot of cards which aren't particularly powerful or easy to abuse like Grindstone (the 2 card combo can only kill a single player), Steelshaper's Gift (??), Lotus Petal, Enchanted Evening, Gaddock Teeg, Beacon of Tomorrows (not that easy to abuse at all since it shuffles back into your library) while you miss a lot of powerful cards which would be much more banworthy (and I don't think any of them should be banned).
Cards like Stasis, Winter Orb, Urza, Isochron Scepter, Omniscience, Dream Halls, Najeela, Ad Nauseam, The Gitrog Monster, Necropotence, Lion's Eye Diamond, SOL RING (!) and dozens of other cards are all much stronger or more oppressive than most of your proposed banlist.
Adding several hundred cards to a banlist will not make the format healthier. There will always be combo decks and control decks, no matter how many cards you ban. It's part of the nature of the game. Talk with your playgroup about power levels. For online play, it's easy to build multiple decks for all power levels so you can adjust your choice of deck to what your opponents are playing. That's how you make the format healthy: Communication. Not by a banlist of hundreds or thousands of cards.
My question would be whether people think EDH could survive being split in two. One format would look like what we have now with few bans and based on the social contract, the other would ban the reserved list and whatever else was necessary to achieve a healthy competitive format. Casual players could build decks for either depending on preference, and decks from the more limited format could certainly still be played in casual “no rules” EDH.
I've started to think that splitting EDH is the only thing that makes sense. A game where you're supposed to handicap yourself in some unspecified way doesn't really make sense; I've had too many games where people have gotten mad because I played a particular card or whatever and, conversely, games where I've had no fun because the game wound up being too competitive. As far as the rules are concerned, all EDH is cEDH since all those strategies are legal; people try to say "oh but that's not power level 7" or whatever, but that doesn't actually mean anything.
Like others, though, I would question your proposed banlist.
Banning cards based on price doesn't make a lot of sense. Certainly from a game design/mechanical point of view, price is irrelevant.
Banning cards with combo potential is really hard. Yes, a lot of the cards you list can be used in combos but a) many of them are fine on their own and b) I'm pretty sure you can fine "worse" combos than those listed. Knowledge Pool for example is an awesome card that just happens to have a degenerate combo with a couple of others; honestly you'd be better off banning those things, IMO. Also, 6 mana! Why not Isochron Sceptre and/or Dramatic Reversal? Same with Doubling Season - it's pretty mana-intensive as combos go (and actually the more sensible thing there would be for it simply not to work with planeswalkers somehow). It's widely regarded that Exquisite Blood combos are pretty tame, too. Personally, I'm not a fan of combo in general, but I think you just have to accept that it's part of the game, and combos will exist; I wouldn't be too sad to see Exquisite Blood so, but it's non-trivial to pull something like that off and I don't think it's oppressive. Heck, I would kill Craterhoof way before that!
You're also listing cards like Expedition Map(!) or, say, Deadly Rollick there (I get the whole "free spells" thing, but a one-shot removal is hardly gamebreaking), but not Sol Ring (one of the biggest offenders!). And, does White really need to lose Smothering Tithe?
For the record, you're talking about "all this madness", but a lot of the biggest offenders IMO are very old cards. Yeah, they made a few questionable design choices recently (*cough* Hullbreacher) but I think you may have some rose-tinted nostalgia there. Honestly, games in general I find to be more fun when you don't really know what you're doing, and you may just be remembering days before you or the people you played with really knew about the more powerful strategies.
As far as design philosophy goes for EDH / Commander, I'm really surprised that there's not enough "Group Hug" cards in terms of equalizing board states. Say a Commander is designed that says whenever you cast a spell then an opponent at the table can make a copy of it by paying it's mana cost as though it were mana of any color. There's Ice Cave but it mainly enables anyone to counter a spell instead of giving players access to specific cards that may or may not win them the game. Sure there's always that risk, but If the experience is enabling other players at the table to actually have fun playing against what you're playing instead of feeling miserable about it with Stockholm Syndrome then that's more of a win-win instead of a win-lose situation in my book.
As for getting around the Reserve List why not print more cards that function like Reserve List cards but with different names and card types? Most card design I see nowadays is all style and no substance where the power level of cards don't match up with how flashy they appear to be. This is going by what I mostly see in recent Standard sets where Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro is walking a thin line to where they don't want to make sets too broken but not too powerful. That usually ends up with design that's pretty mediocre or subpar to what it could be to where Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro is getting away with selling Paper Magic products that look pretty but play horribly like with Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow.
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America Bless Christ Jesus
"Restriction breeds creativity." - Sheldon Menery on EDH / Commander in Magic: The Gathering
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