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  • posted a message on Beating a dead horse: Tutors in commander
    We have not had a thread about tutors in a while, so I wanted to start a new one.

    To begin with, I do not have a problem with any tutors in principle; I own many myself; and I think trying to regulate and control them within a playgroup can be rather futile. Despite this, I find myself wanting to tune down the power level of my decks by reducing or outright removing tutors in favor of more card draw and/or redundant effects.

    Aaron Forsythe elegantly explained "the problem with tutors" in one of his old random card of the day entries on Planar Portal. I will put in bold the parts which really caught my attention and have never forgotten:


    Aaron's Random Card Comment of the Day #29, 11/4/10

    The structure of (Planar Portal) is based on that of the oft-reprinted original card advantage machine Jayemdae Tome. Replace the 4’s with 6’s and change “draw” to “tutor” and there you have it.

    As a designer, I like this card about a tenth as much as I like Jayemdae Tome. As designers, we strive to make sure the game has the right amount of variance in it; variance leads to replayability and it keeps the outcomes of individual games in doubt longer. Players, at least those whose primary goal is winning, strive to reduce the variance in the game as much as possible. Things like tutors, scry, and card drawing are used to make sure the same spells come up in essentially the same order--or at the very least at close to the right time--game after game. If a deck can consistently assemble a game-winning combo on turn two, players will do that over and over and over. Games like that get really boring really fast, so we need to fight back against that. The mystery of the draw is a vital part of the game.

    Tutoring every single turn has the potential to remove all the variance from at least one player’s part of the game. Once Planar Portal is up and running, assuming its controller isn’t under significant pressure, the outcome of the game is a foregone conclusion.

    Not only does Planar Portal eliminate variance, it adds shuffling, which is another way to make a game consistently less fun.

    The only thing that makes the card printable are the high costs associated with using it; you have to spend 12 mana to get the first benefit out of it. The mere act of surviving long enough to activate it is a feat in itself. It’s okay for us to print cards like this that do powerful-but-bad things at high costs once in a while, but personally I’d rather focus our efforts on powerful-and-fun.


    The key words and bits being: "Variance" & "The mystery of the draw is a vital part of the game."

    In 2014, Jason Alt coined the term "75%" to describe a style of deck building that many of us are familiar with by now. One constant theme within 75% is the topic of tutors. In an early article, he directs readers to Bennie Smith's 2012 article, Letting go of tutors in Commander, wherein we find the following quotes of interest:

    Commander's singleton format and 100-card deck size often cause people to instinctively stuff as many Tutor spells into their deck as they possibly can. Sometimes it's necessary—perhaps your Commander needs a boost to be really good or you're trying to assemble some sweet off-the-wall haymaker play that requires a couple specific cards. Or maybe you're trying to be a control deck which is quite the high-wire act in multiplayer where you can't always rely on pure card drawing to have the right answer in your hand.

    But I think all the Tutor power that is readily available for just about every Commander deck you build takes away a bit from the enjoyment of the game. Today I want everyone to take a few minutes to think about letting go of Tutors in Commander or at least minimizing the quantity you use.

    (...)

    Embrace the Chaos!
    There's a reason why this is Sheldon Menery's catchphrase for Commander and it's the reason why it's a singleton format with 100-card decks. One of the joys of playing a Commander deck without Tutors is that each game is going to play out differently keeping the experience fresh and fun. If you've tuned your deck into a machine that kills the same way each game not only will your opponents quickly tire of playing against you but you're going to tire of playing it yourself.


    Jason Alt does not directly respond to the article, but rather veers off into his second rule: Always start weak and improve the deck & never weaken a better deck. Instead, Jason address tutors more directly in his article 75% – Homogeneity, wherein he defines/refers to "face up" and "face down" tutors.

    When Bennie Smith wrote his article about letting go of tutors in Commander, I thought the argument against having players search through their decks in secret and pull something out while laughing maniacally was a compelling one. You make the entire table wait for you, and they don’t get to know what you’re doing. It makes them a bit nervous, and they may have a tendency to want to attack you because of your secret shenanigans. I thought at the time that my objection to face-down tutors may have stemmed from not wanting to inflict that kind of game experience on the group I was playing with. I think now, although my gut instinct to shy away from face-down tutors was correct, that I may not have interpreted my aversion to them properly in a 75% context. I think trying to come up with a Zegana deck may have given me the proper context to evaluate what I really don’t like about face-down tutors and what other things I’d like to avoid in 75% decks.

    As much as I’m averse to face-down tutors, I find myself partial to face-up tutors.

    (snip)

    But why are face-up tutors better? Is it because your opponents don’t like to see you root around in your deck in secret? I thought about it seriously and asked a lot of players, and that’s really a small part of it. But the more I think about it, the more I realized that face-up tutors work better in a 75% context because they’re narrow. And narrow tutors are very, very 75%. A face-down tutor finds you a card face-down because your opponent doesn’t need to see it. You can grab anything. You can fetch a Swamp. You can find a Steamflogger Boss. It could be anything; it could even be a boat. A face-up tutor needs to be face-up so you don’t Wizardcycle a Vedalken Aethermage and grab a Force of Will. Face-up tutors need oversight because everyone needs to verify you found something legal. Narrow tutors not only give away information, which puts you at a competitive disadvantage compared to face-down tutors, but they force you to derive your answers from a smaller pool of cards. And I think that there is an inherent danger in this and requires a little vigilance on your part. I’m suggesting there are situations in which you might want to voluntarily remove tutors from your deck.

    (snip)

    While narrow tutors are good because they have limitations and are therefore more 75%-friendly because they cause you to be a bit more creative in deck-building they can lead to homogeneity in game experience. If your one tutor target with Worldly Tutor is going to be It That Betrays all the time, you might as well just play Demonic Tutor. You might as well not tutor face-up if you’re fetching the same thing every time. If your tutors allow you to create a path of least resistance and homogenize the game experience, they need to be re-evaluated.

    (snip)

    • Try to vary the game experience, and build with multiple paths to victory in mind.
    • Play tutors or card-draw, but not both.


    At the risk of piling on, one of the things which has caused me to want to start this thread was how on Saturday I re-watched an older episode of The Command Zone with special guests Graham and Kathleen from Loading Ready Run in which they discussed building EDH decks without tutors and going so far as to play decks blind.

    So, as I have said, the topic of tutors in commander is one with a lot of history. I wanted to know your thoughts. For example, do you use tutors? Face down and/or face up? Why? Do you run decks of different power levels based on what you are trying to do and who you are facing? What do you think of the various quotes I provided?
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Overpowered or douchebag deck?
    It sounds like typical neckbeard crying to me.

    The MtG community is simultaneously the best in all gaming and also painfully toxic and everything in between.

    Your deck looks awesome and like a lot of fun. I am going to bookmark it and steal the idea for later.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Coming back, out of nowhere
    This always come back to "budget vs competitive". you can get back in without having to spend a ton, but it will not be very competitive.

    The staples ofthe format are simply having ramp, draw, a core concept to play with and some cards to interact with the table. Competitive decks will go for fast mana, fast tutors, low cost utility cards and most will have combo win conditions that they go for. Budget games look to just get value each turn and play until it comes to a natural (dropping to zero life, 10 poison or something like that). Combo just gets there in one resolution, typically hitting every opponent at once.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Sheldon's Thoughts on infinite combos
    Quote from lyonhaert »
    (snip)
    Seems pretty straightforward to me and not "mental gymnastics".
    Thank you for the reply. I disagree and find that the logic which begins with "turn 5 Sorin" and concludes with "an arms race" is ridiculous and requires such mental gymnastics to pull off.

    • Sorin Markov targets only one player without the help of Rings of Brighthearth.
    • After setting a player to 10, Sorin is left at one loyalty and needs three undisturbed rounds at the table to be ready to do it again. If that causes the table to panic, then we are saying a lot more about the EDHRC and what Sheldon thinks of the community as a whole than we are of thevampire planeswalkerin question.
    • Setting a player to 10 does not knock them out of the game. Additional setup is still required to deal that 10 damage and finish the job. If a player leaves themselves completely open to such an attack, then they need to improve. Otherwise, the player casting Sorin Markov has to have worked together with others and established a plan,which is table politics and good for the game. For example: "Look, Player X is way ahead and needs to be taken out before they can kill the rest of us. I cannot do it alone, but I can set them to 10 with Sorin Markov. Can you (singular or plural, as we lack such a distinction in English) finish the job?" Which, in this case, the person being targeted is the one who has failed to live up to Sheldon's "theory of being second best", not the person casting Sorin.

    How does this, in any way, lead to an arms race?

    In a 75% deck, tutors are not banned, but discouraged, and Sheldon promotes that we "embrace the chaos" of singleton by using as few and narrow tutors as possible. To insist that the threat of turn 5 Sorn Markov is grounds to start an arms race also implies any sense of consistency at achieving such a play line. The fact is that "Turn 5 Sorin" does not win the game, did not win the game in his example, nor does/did it threaten to win the game any time soon.

    Who is honestly going into game two thinking, "We had all better gang up on the deck with Sorin Markov before they cast it on turn five and lowers one player to 10 life and then... um, I dunno, kills that player on turn 7 and then we still keep playing until turn 14! Get him!"??? Is that the arms race one fears? Is that the instigation to use an infinite combo to kill the table? Is this all a big troll job that I fell for?

    Sigh.

    Warnings against arms races seems to be Sheldon's kick right now, as it was also the main point of the article which sparked this thread.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Sheldon's Thoughts on infinite combos
    Quote from Dragoon91 »

    You need to wait long enough for Floral Spuzzem to make a decision?


    You got it. Show it to players who have never seen it before and see how they react.

    In my experience, anybody who has never seen it before will stare at it for a while and not get it. I have had crowds try to figure out what is wrong with it because of how easily we as magic players read things and errata it in our heads.

    This is why Demigod of Revenge as to be explained with the stack. This is why it took the community a while to realize Mangara of Corondor did not exile himself as part of the cost, but rather part of the resolution and could be saved with the likes of Momentary Blink and flicker effects.there are other examples, but you get the point. Now back to the main topic...

    ... seriously, Sheldon doesn't even understand 75% magic, does he? Neither does the RC it seems. Sorin on turn 5 that doesn't even kill one player is over powered? Do they also want the NFL to become flag football?
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Sheldon's Thoughts on infinite combos
    Quote from Dragoon91 »
    Quote from Drain Life »
    I honestly do not even understand how the play line described gave him the six mana needed for his fourth turn play of Kethis, the Hidden Hand and Helm of Kaldra. He made each land drop and only ramped with Sac-Tribe Elder, which means he should have only had five mana on turn four, but this is a side observation.


    The Helm is legendary, so Kethis reduces its cost by one.
    Thanks, I had head errata which changed it to legendary creatures.

    By the way, head errata is real and we do it all the time. For example, try reading Floral Spuzzem and find the error.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Sheldon's Thoughts on infinite combos
    Wow. I was not prepared for that.
    Gavin (Kethis): Plains, Sorin Markov. We laugh, thinking he's not going to "ten" somebody. To the surprise of three of us, he sets Toby to (10), then attacks him to (7). In fact, Toby's still laughing and doesn't initially realize he's been targeted. It becomes the source of a brief conversation, mostly because there were people waiting to grab games afterward with us. It could have gone longer and deeper.

    To be fair, we never had a pre-game Rule 0 chat, because I think all of us assumed we didn't have to. To be even more fair, Toby, Scott, and I have played lots of games together since the last time more than one of us have played with Gavin. Three of us settled into a power level agreement over the years, and it's firmly 75%. Turn 5 Sorin definitely doesn't fit that model.

    In the abstract, it's a perfectly acceptable play. It's only less so if it's outside of a group's comfort zone. Since we hadn't had the group discussion involving Gavin, it's a fair play, even if I'm not a fan of what the play does (see below). Gavin's argument was a version of “Toby's already getting out of hand,” which is somewhat reasonable under the circumstances. Theoretically, I disagree that it's a good play, because even if it cripples or kills the one player, the other two are thinking “I don't want him to do that to me,” which makes you the archenemy (and for me would violate my theory of being second best).

    The play itself isn't what I'm saying is problematic; it's what the play does in the bigger picture that slips us down the slope. Knowing that Turn 5 Sorin is a distinct possibility, the best defense is to kill the Sorin player on Turn 4—which is where the problem starts, as it ramps up the arms race really quickly.

    Talk about mental gymnastics. I am dumbstruck. He deserves an Olympic gold for that performance.

    In this story, Gavin didn't even get a kill with Sorin Markov. He simply set somebody to 10 and then swung for three. When I cast Sorin, it is when I have at least 10 power in play and am ready to end somebody on the spot.

    I honestly do not even understand how the play line described gave him the six mana needed for his fourth turn play of Kethis, the Hidden Hand and Helm of Kaldra. He made each land drop and only ramped with Sac-Tribe Elder, which means he should have only had five mana on turn four, but this is a side observation.

    Then, after turn 5 Sorin, it is not until turn 7 that he was able to kill Toby, who was eventually saved anyway.

    We never hear about what happened to Sorin Markov after it was cast. One has to assume it was killed, as we never hear about Gavin giving him +2 or activating his ability to set anybody else to 10 later in the match. This is the big weakness of Sorin, as it cannot outright kill one player alone, only set up a kill while sitting in play with one loyalty and a table of two or more opponents to pick it off.

    Is Sheldon really complaining about a turn 5 Sorin which doesn't even kill a player by turn 7 and did nothing the rest of the game, which went to turn 14 with the guy targeted by Sorin still alive, and equate that to an arms race to knock the player with Sorin out of the game by turn 4? I am again dumbfounded by the insanity and stupidity of such an article.

    Thanks for sharing. That was painful.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Unreleased and New Card Discussion
    what is the established pattern? (regarding flashback)

    Mystic Retrieval + Runic repetition to loop spells is one.
    Discarding Lingering Souls to Collective Brutality and then still being able to use flashback to get value out of what was discarded. Deep Analysis is another example of a card which has been used this way a lot. Loot it early, flash it back later for value.
    Quiet Speculation combines a sort of "draw three" with a tutor and results in a 'not-so-broken' effect for 2U.
    Mystical Teachings for Teferi, then flash it back for Dralnu.
    Cast ritual spells into a Yawgmoth's Will or Past in Flames to do it again and do something powerful like storm.
    Playing mono black control and casting Chainer's Edict early to slow the aggro, then again later off of Cabal Coffers mana as you stabilize.

    We can talk about power level separately, but to me, that is what has been established when flashback is brought up.

    I like to think that I have an open mind, and am more than willing to be shown various of the new commander once it comes out and smarter people than myself start to brew seriously. Maybe I am all kinds of wrong and foolish. Maybe it will become of my favorite decks and will laugh at how I feel today.

    ===================================
    Must I really type (in my opinion/imho) in order for something to e differentiated between a "statement of fact or as though it were fact" and otherwise showing how I feel, or can that not be implied by the sentence structure and content? I thought it went without saying. It was not like I cited sources and tried to present my opinions as fact. This is literally a thread about discussing how we feel abut the new cards. It is implied by the existence of the thread.
    ===================================

    You talk about how much you dislike Kess and that is fine, to each their own, but that doesn't change the fact that it would have been nice to see the new "flashback" commander just in Izzet (or even better Dimir) colors as an alternate legendary in the 99, rather than as a face commander. that way it could have been thrown into Kess or Mizzix or Dralnu (depending on what two color pair it had been given with blue). Similarly, I am still disappointed that the 2017 cats deck was only green and white. It is missing red. It should have been Naya. It could have supported Wild Nacatl, Titanic Ultimatum, the Boros Ajani, Firecat Blitz, and while the red cats are bad, it could have printed new good mono=red or multicolored cats with red in them. So, yeah, this is another commander where I look at the color identity and cringe a little at the wasted potential.

    But I think it's a little self-centered to say "Madness is not interesting." as though it was a statement of fact. Especially when your justification is that it wasn't seen in competitive constructed formats. So what? This is commander, the format where all those lost cards and mechanics that never quite worked in constructed get a chance to shine in the sun of casual multiplayer. Why should we care what worked in other formats? I happen to think madness is interesting, and I know I'm not alone.

    Oh, stop it. Especially the empty rhetoric in bold.

    We all know that this is the format where once unused and unplayable spells have become format staples, or at the very least found a home in a deck or two were they are a total gem. Decree of Pain became good because there times wen you would realistically cycle it, and games went long enough were you could hard cast it and draw a lot of cards. Weathered Wayfarer became good in a format where you can activateit in responce to fetchlands while having multiple opponents. Madness has no such cards. Nobody is going through Gatherer or Scryfall and digging up "hidden gems" like Abandon Reason or Brain Gorgers

    Madness and the cards which exist today would have already found a home by now. There are plenty of quality discard outlets to fuel madness if one wanted to. It is not as if those cards were waiting for the right commander, nor is there anything about the new commander which suddenly makes them viable. There is a big difference between building a madness deck and me using From Under the Floorboards in my deck alongside the likes of Liliana of the Veil, or Falkenrath Gorger in my Edgar Markov deck because it is a one drop vampire and I can accidentally cast some vampires after resolving a Wheel of Fate.

    I feel the need to repeat myself yet again when I say that Madness cards are built with traditional 20 life duels in mind, and even then, they were not good enough to make an impact. In a format where people do not even use Lightning Bolt, it is not as if a new commander is going to make Fiery Temper or Alms of the Vein any good.

    Nobody is going to see you cast Psychotic Haze or Gibbering Descent and think/say, "Wow, that card is so good in that deck!" or "Wow, how did you find that tech?" Are you kidding me? What am I missing? telling me to wait for what is printed would be laughable.

    What would have made Madness interesting is if the commander had had text similar to Falkenrath Gorger, except for all of your spells and/or made the cost 1BR or something else reasonable. If you could "rummage" (red loot) and cast cards which were granted madness, that would be a whole different world. It would likely end up being too good and too pushed, but at least it would not rely on a history of under-powered garbage.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Unreleased and New Card Discussion
    Quote from Gashnaw II »
    Drain life, can you tl;dr that please?
    My earlier posts were the TL:DR version, which apparently needed to be expanded upon as they seem to have been misunderstood.

    The 2018 were boring.
    The 2019 decks look like they are going to be boring.
    I am not talking about their power level or how competitive they are.
    Nothing about them seems like something I would suggest to a new player. Nothing about them appeals to me as an enfranchised player.
    Just because you can win with them doesn't make them good.
    Just because they are not broken doesn't make them bad. Their uninspired and boring design makes them bad.
    Commander products in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 all added something to the format. 2018 didn't add much it doesn't look like 2019 will do just as little or less.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Unreleased and New Card Discussion
    I wrote a reply, but I guess it did not post last night.

    Quote from DirkGently »

    white gives you increasing devition, as well as waves of aggression, leave // chance etc. Plus the new flashback spell, and others they’ll presumably print. And all the general utility stuff like stp, good board wipes, etc. Sure it makes it harder to fit into the 99 but it’s basically pure upside as a commander.
    I am well aware of traditional white cards that a deck has access to, as well as multi-colored spells like Supreme Verdict. I thought it was quite obvious that I was referring to flashback and the "theme" of the deck.

    Of the cards you listed, only one has actual Flashback which can benefit from having the commander in play, and that is Increasing Devotion. Also, I thought it was obvious by my reply, but I know how to use Scryfall to do an advance search for cards. In that search, we get:

    Gain life, create birds, removal which doesn't matter if it were doubled, prevent 4 damage, tap some creatures, exile a creature (which also requires you to tap a bunch of your own creatures), combat math, the very card blink is named after, prevent damage which is also worthless to be copied because new targets can be made but the copy retains all modes and choices, single target graveyard hate, more combat math, disenchant plus straight from The Korova Milk Bar, a combat trick, the card you mentioned, and the spoiled card.

    If you add cards which flashback with white, we also get:

    Self boomerang and another combat trick

    Sure, there are likely to be more spells with white in either the casting cost or flashback cost. However, that is far from an impressive list of things to flash back. It is also hardly enough to justify building a flashback deck in a direction which differs from the established pattern. It is not as if announcing this commander has suddenly sparked thoughts of an aggressive Boros deck which splashes blue for card draw and flashback value, which is what the white flashback cards tend to favor with all of their combat tricks, combat math and token creation. Otherwise, you are playing a blue red spells deck that splashes white for no real reason, as Izzet spell decks do not need white to do their thing.

    To try and avoid more confusion, I am the kind of player who looks at potential commanders and asks the following types of questions in no specific order:
    What theme can I build around this?
    What cards can help this commander do what it wants to do?
    What kind of deck can this commander help do what it wants to do better?

    I respect it when people want a generic commander vs a linear commander. My personal preference when I build and play a deck is that it has a goal and play style which makes it stand out from other decks I have built or can build. My Roon deck wants to blink stuff, but doesn't crumple without the Rhino. My Mizzix deck wants to sling spells, but with the help of Jace's Sanctum and other cost reduction effects, I can still play out my deck when people hate on my commander. My Kaalia deck (work in progress) wants to cheat Angels, Demon and dragons into play, but it also has enough support that I am not stuck with a hand of over-costed bombs either. My Nekusar deck (work in progress) is where I obviously use wheel/windfall chaos and punishment cards. My Edgar Makrov is a go-wide vampire aggro deck. My Ghoulcaler Gisa is not full zombie tribal, but rather big black with zombie swarm as a core finisher which can also cast the likes of Army of the Damned, Empty the Pits, and From Under the Floorboards to flood the table even without Gisa. One way or another, Zombies are commin' for ya'. My Breya deck is a Red Esper artifacts deck, as giving Esper access to Deretti and his toy box is a lot of fun. My wife uses Inalla for wizard tribal control and a few wizard clone combo finishing moves. My best friend has his The Ur-Dragon deck where he can put anybody and everybody on a fast clock, as Dragons can go from zero to 40+ or 10+ infect in one turn.

    When I look at the decks from last year, I did not see anything worth spending my money on. There was a well known lack of valuable reprints and staples as well as boring comanders who did not do anything new or better than what has already been done before. If I wanted Esper Control, I have plenty of optionsand did not feel the need to stray from my Merieke Ri Berrit deck. My Breya deck does artifacts in four colors far better than the blue red deck did with two. The Lands deck hasn't shown my over the last year that it does anything inherently better or more interesting than my sister's Gitrog Monster deck or my Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis landfall deck. The Bant deck was the closest I came to buying one, as I do have enchanted evening and Aura thief type stuff along with enchantress cards and so forth which I originally bought for Kynaios and Tiro, but I still feel I would be better off buying the commander of the Bant deck as a single some day if I ever find it, as opposed to dropping cash on a whole deck.

    However, this is not about last year, I only mention it as this year is also very lackluster yet again to me. I understand that the annual product is for beginner players as much as it is for enfranchised players. That is also why I am let down. Remember the friend with The Ur-Dragon deck I mentioned earlier? that is his first commander deck, one of his first MtG decks, and the only deck he owns right now. In previous years I would recommend other decks, but he talked abut not having the time/disposable income to invest in magic (with his wife, kids, house, etc.) Despite that, there were decks i could point out to him and my wife and say, "Try this" and feel confident that they would like it. I could not do that last year. I cannot do that this year so far. That might change with the lists revealed, but I doubt it, as the commanders themselves are uninspiring. I am waiting in part for the alternate commander to continue to be spoiled, if there are any. My wife like Inalla and is collecting cards to build a separate Kess deck. That is what a good commander product did before. It made you want to build two or three decks out of one pre-con because the staples to make each alternate commander and subtheme were polluting the core deck and let you play around with ideas even as a beginner.

    Quote from DirkGently »
    (snip)
    Blam, T1 win. Ban Anje plz wizards, 2OP4EDH.(snip)
    I get the feeling of frustration and a bit of anger slash sarcastic anger in your reply here.

    You know that I have respected your opinion over the years, but I also think you sometimes fall into the trap of bashing good cards for being good and occasionally take the hipster high road for NOT playing strong cards. At least, that is the impression I get from your writing. Espcially in your other reply when you wrote:
    These face commanders actually look very fair, but good enough that I’m sure I can still crush with them at my local group. I’m so pleased to see some actual restraint in their designs, instead of designs that say “screw balance, it’s just casual. Let’s give them OP nonsense so they buy as many as possible”.

    But if you really want powerful, I’m pretty sure krrrik is busted somehow.

    Do you not understand the difference between a desire for power and a desire for something interesting?

    Madness is not interesting. I did not play Shadows over Innistrad Standard, but to my understanding, Madness was never a good deck. I did play when Time Spiral block came out and Madness was also never a thing. Madness has never been a thing in Modern, Extended, Legacy or Vintage (at least to my knowledge). In fact, to my understanding, the only time Madness ever did anything useful in magic has been Wild Mongrel and Basking Rootwalla, and in Time Spiral draft/sealed. The truth is that Madness cards are not good enough to have an impact in 20 life duels, which all of the creatures and damage spells are scaled to. It is even worse in a multiplayer 40 life (120+ with three opponents) format.

    Morph has some half decent cards, most of which are flip tricks and some bombs like Liege of the Pit. Casting them for free and only having to pay the morph cost is interesting, as many morph creatures are help back by that pricey 3 initial investment. Forget chaining free morph spells to combo out. I am just talking kitchen table fun. Even then, are we playing that deck to do a pickles lock? Just to megamorph/manifest or what ever it was called in Khans block?

    We have gone over the flashback deck already.

    Regarding populate, I have to plead ignorance of what Trostani decks try to do or why they might want to "upgrade" by splashing red. It is the one deck which has my attention, if for no other reason than to be more aware of. I already have Roon, which makes similar tokens at a solid rate with the likes of Armada Wurm and friends. It would be a hard sell to have another deck with green and white that makes tokens but with less interaction than my blink deck.

    So, unless something, or many somethings are shown to be exciting and/or solid reprints and staples are listed, I have a hard time seeing myself buying any of the decks or having a reason to recommend them.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Are bounce / scry lands useful or useless in mono-color EDH?
    As somebody who also plays Ghoulcaller Gisa, I can add to what Abel88 suggested:

    Expedition Map to find Cabal Coffers or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    Wayfarer's Bauble is a solid turn one play and turn two ramp for a basic swamp

    Coldsteel Heart + Star Compass + Charcoal Diamond are solid 2cmc mana rocks which will add black mana for you.
    Fellwar Stone can add black for you if your opponents can produce it, and if you use Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, then you can guarantee it.

    Mind Stone
    Everflowing Chalice (set to 1)
    Fractured Powerstone
    Guardian Idol
    Prismatic Lens
    Thought Vessel

    Worn Powerstone is the only 3cmc rock I would play. I think that Darksteel Ingot and Commander's Sphere are overrated, while other 3cmc rocks are more suited for decks with two or more colors.

    There are better/faster/strong/more expensive to buy mana rocks like Mana Crypt, but I am trying to keep my recommendations casual and budget.

    One of the reasons that I like a lot of 2cmc ramp is to set up turn three with four mana to cast the likes of:

    Solemn Simulacrum - This gets your 5th land to cast Gisa and can be sacrificed for two tokens and draw a card. There is a lot of value here.
    Liliana's Shade - This doesn't put the swamp into play, but it replaces itself and ensures you have that 5th land drop. It can also be pumped and then sacrificed to Gisa to get the token swarm going.
    Thran Dynamo - Yes, ramp into ramp. This can result in a turn four with 7 or even 8 mana available to you.
    Crypt Ghast - This was mentioned by Abel88 and is a solid way to start a game.
    Lashwrithe - A nice little 3/3 to get things rolling.
    Liliana of the Dark Realms - I only cast this into a board without threats to attack her. Otherwise, I hold her back until I have a little defense. Regardless of which turn she is played, she is a solid play. +1 into swamps until you can use her ultimate. She is often ignored by the table because you are only using her to find swamps, which does not seem scary until you can suddenly tap for BBBB or more with each land. Remember, Crypt Ghast and Caged Sun do not double the mana your land produces, they simply say when a swamp is tapped for mana, which means that when combined with Liliana's emblem, you swamps add 5 or 6 black each. You do not have to use an infinite mana combo in mono black to produce an insane amount of mana to close out games.

    Also, if you spend turn one casting a utility spell, a turn two ramp spell can set up a turn three where you cast card draw to refill your hand with cards like Ancient Craving and Ambition's Cost. Assuming that you keep your opening 7, draw to 8 to start the game, play a land and utility card and go down to 6 cards in hand on turn one; draw up to 7 on turn two, play a land and a mana rock which takes you down to 5 cards; turn three draw up to 6, play a land and cast the card draw spell which puts you down to 4 cards, it resolves and brings you back up to 7. This sets you up on turn four with 8 cards after your draw step, four mana and potentially 5 if you drew into a land so you can cast your commander a turn early without having to use a card in hand. This sets up turn five with 5 mana, eight cards again, your commander in play without summoning sickness and you are ready to start playing magic. In play groups that are not trying to combo out a win by turn four, this is a very respectable start. You have lots of mana, a hand full of cards, your commander is online and what happens next is up to you.

    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Unreleased and New Card Discussion
    I want to clarify and say that I do not need a Commander to be busted to be interested in it. I do not play cEDH, only casual kitchen table with family and close friends, or at a couple LGS locations

    With that in mind, every Commander set has had at least one deck I wanted to buy and improve until last year, and this appears to be more of the same.

    Look, I agree with our Holistic Detective that there is potential to cycle through your deck with the Madness commander, but even that seems janky and trashy. You are still using a deck with 30+ trash spells. Madness does not have scaleable spells which get better in multiplayer. They do not have higher end spells that are only useful in late game commander. They are a collection o spells which are often not even good enough for two player 20 life duels. Moreover, when deck try to discard/loot their spells away, they do not even care about madness... they try to loot fatties to reanimate, flashback spells for value, or even load up a graveyard for something like a big Yawgmoth's Will / Past in Flames / Mizzix Mastery turn. Also, what is the deck doing when it doesn't have its commander? Even a Mizzix deck can operate without needing experience counters to reduce costs. Doesn't a madness deck fall even flatter on its face without its commander?

    I was at an LGS flipping through binders and several people were joking about how terrible all four seems. Even the "good one" (flashback) seems rather janky at best.

    White does nothing meaningful for flashback. So, unless they print new cards which are good, adding white makes it worse. Had it been Izzet or Grixis in colors, it could have fit in the 99 of my Mizzix deck or maybe a Kess deck. Until we see good white card with flashback, I am less than sold; I am disappointed.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Unreleased and New Card Discussion
    Quote from DirkGently »
    Quote from Mimicvat »
    The flashback one is pure value, and the BUG one is pure value, while the ones with trash mechanics and weaker colours are also weaker and trashier. Everything went pretty much as expected, nothing to see here people.
    how is anje not value? She basically reads: you may cast any number of madness cards for their madness cost, and draw a card when you do it. Seeeeeems strong to me. How many good madness cards we’ll have remains to be seen, but there aren’t a ton of good morphs or flashback spells either. Also anje costs 3. If any commander breaks into cEDH, my money is probably on anje.

    Ghired is combat focused, so ofc he’s not broken good. But with haste that’s still at least 10/13 of stats for 5, with more each turn...for low/mid power tables I’m sure he’ll be fine.


    Because what good madness cards exist?

    There are only 41 of them in Rakdos including the the ome spoiled, and all of them are subpar creatures, removal, and "raise dead" effects.

    What are you going to do with that? Use Phyrxian Altar to sacrifice the creatures for mana to try and fuel casting more madness cards, return them to your hand with the raise dead effects and build up a storm count... maybe?
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on I hope Emminence comes back for C19. Roast me :D
    Quote from Faruel »
    If you throw all your one drops on the field, even 1 board wipe can be the end. I can see that he is really powerful in 1vs1 but multiplayer? When you are the threat on turn 2 and everyone is throwing removal-spells at you? It seems like your game group has too little or no early game. If you play Edgar you are at least forced to play those mediocre or even awful 1 drops or to the vampire tribal. Oloro on the other hand is just good stuff.


    Among various forums, threads, facebook groups, youtube comments and real life experience, I do not know where you and people like you get the idea that casting a combination of three 1-drops and 2-drops is the same as casting ALL of the one and two drops in my hand. I alsp do not know where this idea of overextending comes from. Nowhere in my comment, nor any time I talk about or play the deck does that ever happen.

    I can take a guess and assume that other Edgar Markov pilots play poorly and do that, but this is pilot error, not a deck problem.

    You also mention being FORCED to play awful one drops. It seems clear that you fundamentally don't get it. Those one drops are the backbone of the deck. Edgar Markov doesn't care about the power or utility of an individual creature. Each creature is generally no more important thannthe token which comes along with it. That is alao what makes it so resiliant. Losing creatures to a boardwipe is not a meaningful setback. Rebuilding is quick and easy.

    Quote from Buffsam89 »

    Some games, I’m going to say not most games. Cool beans,
    Your condecending attitude aside, you clearly do not respect the various aggressive play lines open to a well made Edgar deck. Especially one using solid tutors.

    a boardstate left unmolested for 3 turns does damage! We could probably link a hundred deck lists that can do that too, that aren’t Edgar.
    There is that condecending attitude again. Well, I do not know what play groups you participate in, but non-cEDH decks spend the first three turns playing ramp, utiluty, tutors, and card draw. Some might save a mana up for emergency spot removal... which does nothing meaningful to Edgar Markov. My example was multiple strong openings, not turns 5-7 without interactions.

    Moreover, in a pod of four, two of the opponents are often happy to sit by and watch Edgar beat down a known combo or stax deck and they get 3+ turns unmoleested by two decks (Edgar and the person defending themselves). This is even especially common as most players underestimate the deck as much as you have.


    He’s a glass cannon that gets stumped a lot of ways.
    That is demonstrably false. It is just creatures, anthems, and card draw. It smashes faces and rebuilds easily. It has answers for common defensive plays and rebuilds quickly without overextending. I do not know how difficult this is to understand for people.

    Hardly the strongest deck at any given table.
    Not a claim I have ever made. This is what I hate about the internet which will never change. Saying how something is good suddenly becomes "This is the best ever" or to show the flaws of something means "This is the worst ever."

    Instead, I was just trying to explain how powerful Eminence is with Edgar. Inalla grants part of an infinite combo while Edgar makes aggro viable and can fuel a combo with Razakath.

    Powerful, but swingy, and very much so meta-dependent on how powerful he is.
    if by that you mean non-cEDH decks, then thanks for stating the obvious. That is true for every non-cEDH deck, even your example of Alesha.


    Heck, she can win via Commander damage, something I’ve yet to see an Edgar deck do.
    Who ever wins with Commander damage? Sure, infinite combat step combos will result in such a win, but that is a technicality. You say that you have never seen Edgar win through commander damage. I would raise that and say I haven't seen commander damage be the reason somebody lost in over 10 years.

    In fact, it is so rare that on The Command Zone, they recently were talking about potentially changing the commander damage rule to work closer to infect, where you do not have to keep track of indiviual commanders, but instead lose to 21 collective commander damage. However, now things are getting way off topic.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [[Official]] Unreleased and New Card Discussion
    I love the hype of new cards and ideas, then after time to calm down, the disapointment sets in.

    As Mimicvat above said, the trash mechanics have remain trash and the value mechanics got more value.

    I was hoping there would be a thread or some talk here in the forums, but what more needs to be said? We do not need broken/breakable commanders to have fun, but everybody knew before today that Madness and Populate would need a lot of help to be remotely viable evenat the kitchen table.

    Before today, the only one I was interested in was flashback, and now that we know it will have white instead of black, I have no interest in any of the decks for the second year in a row.

    The only hope to hold out for now are solid reprints and nice staples.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
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