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  • posted a message on Combatting Ramp
    Quote from Taleran »
    It isn't someone's mana it is everyone's mana it is a meaningful distinction.
    Well, that's not quite accurate either. It doesn't destroy everyone's mana, or at least not ALL of everyone's mana. Mana dorks and rocks are left unaffected, which are just two of the ways to break the symmetry of the effect.

    It's really less of an anti-ramp card, and more of a pro-artifact-ramp card.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Combatting Ramp
    Quote from PhroX »
    If a player (or players) has a significant proportion of their mana generation tied up in artifacts, is it against the "social contract" to play Bane of Progress? Likewise for a bunch of elves and a Wrath of God?

    (and I'm not meaning this as a "gotcha". I'm genuinely interested what peoples' thoughts on attacking non-land mana sources, and, if they are OK with it, why they view them differently from lands)
    If armageddon said "destroy all lands that got put into play by spells" (which is essentially the equivalent of bane of progress or wrath of god) then I don't think this thread would have any arguments at all in it.

    Probably some people do consider lands sacred and are just being whiners, but my problem is with the ability for a single card to destroy 100% of someone's mana. That is, imo, too strong of an effect for a single spell, especially a 4 mana spell that many decks have no capability to interact with meaningfully.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Your Input on Content
    I'm not much of an article reader commander-wise. Most of the mtg content I consume is limited focused. I think the primary reason for this is that there aren't really experts in commander in the same way as traditional competitive formats. I want to know what Owen turtenwald says about the latest format because he has proven credentials as a pro player. The vast majority of commander content is amateur because, well, there's no such thing as pro commander, or pro commander players. I'm sure there are cEDH people who think they're something equivalent to pro, but I trust those people least of all.

    The content I'm most likely to consume, commander-wise, is mostly card analysis, whether set reviews or hidden gems or w/e, but usually just to enjoy disagreeing. Anything promising a scientific approach is almost guaranteed to get my attention. Fastest way to lose it is a decklist for a commander I'm not interested in (and even if I am, I'll probably lose interest pretty quickly if it's anything short of spectacular).
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Combatting Ramp
    Quote from Taleran »
    Hold on did I just see that you could top deck a mass draw spell in response to a Mind Twist on this page and you will be fine afterwords? Let alone the fact that Mind Twist is a card that only targets one player and not all the lands in play, and not alone the differences of finding one of those spells depending on what kind of deck you are playing.

    The amount you are behind is a different level of magnitude.

    If you gave me the choice in 90% of Commander games of Mind Twist my hand or cast Armageddon I am picking the latter every single time.

    And yeah, who thinks you can just recover after discarding to Mind Twist? I'm in topdeck mode, and I just have to draw a Reforge the Soul or Blue Sun's Zenith or Damnable Pact or Shamanic Revelation (lol u sux white) to fix that? I call bull***** on that. Yeah, I can fix my problem that way, but what are the odds of me doing so? Even the green options all depend on my board state.
    I wasn't trying to make a direct comparison between which I'd rather have happen to me, rather simply to illustrate that discard is at least possible to recover from quickly. Whereas for most decks there's no possibility of recovery from a geddon when behind on board.

    Obviously which is actually worse for you depends on your deck and what's currently going on. The fact that mind twist only hits you is a big difference - perhaps a better point of comparison would be mindslicer. But I think this points to mind twist being the superior anti-ramp card, since you can single a player out rather than setting everyone back (assuming you aren't playing geddon as a wincon, which is more likely the case).

    And sure, maybe the ramp player has a slightly thinner deck from tutoring lands which gives them slightly lower chances to topdeck them, but that's not nearly as relevant as the current board state. Unless they've cast boundless realms specifically, they're probably looking at like a difference of a single-digit percentage at worst in terms of drawing, and most of the time when geddon resolves drawing isn't very relevant anyway since the board state is all that matters. One uncontested planeswalker or a gilded lotus is worth a dozen lands in hand.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Going Infinite and "I Win" Combos Outside cEDH.
    I understand your position, but I don't feel like I play in a blowout combo meta. It was just the paradigm I walked into at my LGS; to pack extra hollowpoint bullets but hold them until we're bored of fireworks. Dunno why it's like that, dunno who started it.

    But after a couple years, you figure out how other people play and play what you know is acceptable and effective.

    P.S. I wouldn't really want to play against you either (despite the vast statistical unlikelihood and my appreciation for you as a regular poster). A picture of Pheldagriff is what you'd really find if you shaved Damien Thorn's head and that's one satanic migraine I would merrily avoid.
    Oh? What's so bad about Phelddagriff? Have you actually played against someone's version of my deck, or did you just look at the thread and decided it sounded too Machiavellian for you to stomach? Or do you just think the actor has a familial resemblance to a badly-drawn flying hippopotamus?

    Anyway I don't play Phelddagrif every game, he's more my competitive (or at least anti-competitive) deck. It works best when the field is badly balanced (especially when someone shows up with a cEDH deck to an otherwise casual group, since I can easily take them down a peg), but is also totally safe to play even in a purely casual meta. More commonly I'm playing whatever my flavor-of-the-week commander is, though. I've got a pretty bad case of EDHD, sometimes I make several decks a week when I'm really into it.

    I think if I were in your group I'd want some pretty firm rules on when combos were "allowed". As long as you have a well-established rule, then you can still try to solve the puzzle within that problem space. That said, I probably still wouldn't run them since I find them a boring way to end a game. But I'd want to know that the other players are playing to win, within whatever version of the rules they're playing by.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Going Infinite and "I Win" Combos Outside cEDH.
    Quote from Yatsufusa »
    I can tell where you're coming from and how my structure feels like it's going against some sequence of logic. Let's start with this: "The primary plan is primary plan because its the best one." There we have our first disagreement - the primary plan is the way you hope to win with, the janky brew idea(s) you intended as the deck's base and not necessarily the "best" one. The "Combo" is the backup because its the one that needs the least components in order to technically win, but if you win with said combo you are actually just "closing the game proper" than actually "winning", because you've failed to win via the primary objective.

    Yes, at the start of any given game, the backup "combo" is inherently more powerful because you can tutor for it straightaway and win, but as I said, closing the game without accomplishing your primary objective is "pointless" so to speak. Doing so while your primary objective pieces have not been disposed of is doubly insulting to the deck's brewing purpose. Of course, this is only within context of decks of equal or lower calibre - if plunged into complete cEDH, it becomes your typical logic of "best plan = primary plan... or rather, given the prevalence of removal... the decoy plan."

    I can already feel your potential cringe of the start being like that - I'm spending resources (draw, tutors) building on a weaker plan, but at the same time I'm also forced to spend the same resources on removal and the like to deal with threats (and combos if combos are someone's primary plan). By the time the primary plan is worn down to be impossible, not only do I lack the resources to promptly just summon the backup, part of several combos might have already been spent since it's important to make sure your combos aren't just "two cards stuck into the deck", each and every piece must also have synergy with the primary weaker plan.

    Let's use the zombie plan as an example (since I actually have one) - My primary plan is to beatdown with as many zombie (preferably the 2/2 tokens I collect) as possible. I do have my share of counterspells to stop wipes, but the secondary plan against wipes is to sacrifice them and let Plague Belcher/Vengeful Dead do the job (likewise, against pillowfort and the like, Shepherd of Rot is also a secondary plan). The kicker comes in when I know I have run out of resources to reliably ensure I can muster enough zombie (tokens) for either plan against the opponents' plans and/or life totals in time - now I need to use whatever resources I have (usually draw, not tutor) to find Gravecrawler and Phyrexian Altar (or Rooftop Storm and some sac outlet) and I'm potentially still screwed if either Belcher or Vengeful is completely out of the realm of recovery.

    If we're playing cEDH within the closer group and/or the new player outright declares cEDH and/or tells us to play our best, gravecrawler, altar and plague belcher might be out as early as first to third turns (depending on draw/tutors) and it would still be answered safely. In such games, the "backup" plan becomes the "decoy" plan because you expect it to fail and it's actual purpose is simply to exhaust the opponent's resources. The primary plan usually still retains because we're spending each other's removals on each other's "decoys" (hence the actual need for several backups/decoys in some decks). If I walked into a casual game doing that it would be a three-turn game at most that doesn't even accomplish the decks' primary goal because the decoy won... so it's a decoy victory and essentially as worthless as a backup/closer one (which is why they're the same).

    If I removed the teeth of the decoy/backup plans, all I'm left is the midrange grindfest that honestly makes the primary plan itself boring (especially since the combos are also interweaved into the theme - Gravecrawler is equally useful in sac-lose-life plan even when not infinite and Altar is great ramp for the deck regardless, I could replace Altar with Ashnod's instead, but it falls to the Magic Feather argument - I have the Phyrexian which is better why "cripple" myself during deckbuilding instead of when playing? Sure in theory I could swap Altars depending on the players, but in practice I usually play with people of the same caliber and my resources are already split across multiple decks of around the same level (so they can form an apocalypse constructed cube), so that means having to double unsleeve and double-sleeve the altars (and bringing said decks with each other all the time, I'm not cherry-picking cards from several other decks to form a sideboard).

    As for the "fragile part" - we're in multiplayer edh, with me tilting towards the competitive end... nothing is durable, there are answers for everything by anyone on the table (even for protective measures). The value of a decoy/closer is in how many pieces it requires to assemble so it can either outspeed removal (in cEDH), dispose of removal for the future at a low cost (decoy function) or assemble successfully in the window of opportunity that both draw and removal resources were halted by the primary plan doing well enough to demand all the attention in order cripple it down (backup/closer function). Yes, there are bad times where everything just fails and you just sit there twiddling your thumbs, but the whole design philosophy is to minimize such cases from happening, without decoys/backups, it a whole lot more common than one would imagine.
    See, if it were me, I think there are loads of things you could do to prevent the main plan from running out of gas. There are quite a few mass reanimation spells, in case of a board wipe. There's big and/or recurring draw to reload if you're low on gas. There's your own board wipes and hand wipes in case your opponents are getting ahead of you on board or hand, to bring them down to your level. Granted, you'd have to draw them for it to be relevant, but the same is true for a combo. And at least each of those pieces is effective on their own. Phyrexian altar is a pretty weak topdeck if you've got no board. There's also plenty of cards that are reasonable standalone wincons - geth, lord of the vault comes to mind. Razaketh. Sheoldred. Necropotence. If you're building your deck well, I think it should be pretty unlikely you'll ever be totally out of the game.

    But ignoring the specifics of your deck, one thing you've mentioned a couple times that I disagree strongly with is the idea of being relegated to a "kingmaker" because you've run out of gas. In any reasonably-balanced game, every player should have some impact on who wins the game, even though obviously most of them won't win it for themselves.

    Take, for example, a game I played the other day. I'd been missing a lot of land drops over a long game, so my 2 remaining opponents (rakdos and nikya) were sitting on 10+ lands each while I only had 6. All of us were at relatively low life. I knew I couldn't win a 1v1 against either of them, so my goal became to prolong the game. Rakdos player attacks the nikya player for 5, and since I left it up (myself being at 9) and having nothing else to use it on, I used kor haven to prevent the damage, because I deduced that my best chance to win the game was in prolonging their conflict, so that they might exhaust each others resources and give me a fighting chance against the victor. Well, rakdos didn't like this tactic and so targeted me with rakdos's return for 8, putting me to 1 with no cards in hand. On the next turn, nikya killed him with a card he had in hand.

    Now, if I'd not been there rakdos definitely would have won, he had the damage and the ability to strip his opponents hand. But he played badly, targeting me because I annoyed him rather than targeting the real threat. Does that make me a kingmaker? Well, if I'd been targeting the rakdos player with the goal of helping nikya win, then yes. But I would argue that, so long as you're acting with the goal of maximizing your own chance to win the game, you can't be a kingmaker. If you're in topdeck mode hoping to draw into one of the cards I mentioned before, and someone overextends attacking you and gets killed by another player, that doesn't make you a kingmaker either. The only time someone is kingmaking is if they intentionally help another player win. And nothing about being on the ropes forces you to do that.

    Now, at the end of the day, having fun is the only real goal of commander. Playing to win is merely a path to that goal. If your group really enjoys playing this way, then go nuts - nothing I say can change that, if it's what you really truly prefer. I still suspect that you might have more fun if you all built decks that were maximally fun when played to win, rather than decks that need to be misplayed to be fun, but I really have no way to prove or disprove that conjecture. What's more important is that everyone is on the same page. Even if that page is WRONG. Grin
    Quote from Cainsson »
    Wrong. I've lost count of the playgroups I've played in where your deck was called cutthroat even if it was all dumb french vanilla creatures just because you happened to have a Bayou.

    Casual can't be defined. What's casual and fun to me is finding suboptimal ways to win even if I have access to better plays. Wheter or not that's casual to you isn't very relevant because we don't play each other.
    I've been playing dual-lands in commander decks in many different groups (hell, in multiple countries) for years, and no one has batted an eye. I'm not even sure if anyone even hardly noticed, or at least they didn't say anything. You can certainly make a decent manabase (at least for 2-3 color) without them, though, especially duals. I can't exactly refute your experiences, but I also find it hard to believe you'd need to have a combo backup plan in a group where people are losing their minds over a slightly blinged-out manabase.

    I have no idea why having better ways to win that you don't use would make anything more fun, but ok. At the end of the day, as long as everyone is having fun, that is what counts. For me, I find playing to win at all costs, provided the deck is constructed properly, creates difficult puzzles, interesting interactions, and an overall satisfying experience, win or lose.

    But maybe you have more fun if you know you could win in the back of your head. Make sure to let your playgroup know about it next time. Then you can find out if their definition of fun is the same as yours.
    This is I think the source of all this dissonance of opinion: You appear to believe people are usually strictly logical beings. We are not, hence why the study of modern economics (founded on realtively simple logical principles) is rarely practical and often only theoretically applicable.

    Very often we place what we want over what might be "optimal" because we simply prefer it. Therefore, telling us that our in-game reasoning is stupid in an idiosyncratic, unsanctioned game mode where social settings influence the rules (and their supporting logic) is only a stone's roll away from "My fun = best fun" or "everyone should play like I do", and I know you know those are fallacies.
    I don't think logic really factors into this at all. Logically there's no real reason to play commander in the first place, except fun, which is of course subjective. My assertions are based on my experience that the most satisfying and fun way to play commander - or any format - is to play to win, because it takes all the nonsense that happens during the game and turns it into an adventure of discovery. When you terminate your own creature to prevent your opponent gaining life off a hexproof lifelink creature, and then kill them on the next turn - that's fun because you're discovering strange things about the game, like sometimes killing your own creature can be the right play. If you terminated your own creature just "for the lulz" then you really haven't discovered anything. And multiplayer commander amps this up tenfold - realizing that giving your opponent back a counterspell with shieldmage advocate is a way to stop a tooth and nail is an interesting new dimension, a whole new direction to explore that doesn't exist in the 1v1 game of magic. If you're not playing to win, then none of this is interesting anymore because it loses its context. Stopping the tooth and nail isn't important because letting it resolve isn't a problem, if your goal isn't to win.

    BUT, that's just what I find fun about the game. Maybe you find something else - like holding back on a superior plan because it would result in an unsatisfying game, while still keeping that plan in the deck because you can't (for some reason) balance that deck without it - to be more fun. There's nothing objectively wrong about your position. But, as with the other posters, I'd recommend you share your perspective with your opponents, and let them know you may well have a way to win that you aren't using. If they also agree with your method of achieving fun, then mazel tov, it's a match. But don't expect me to want to play with you.

    EDIT: having thought about it some more, I think a lot of the enjoyment I get from magic is from viewing it as a puzzle, where the goal is to find the best plays in order to win. I think it could be also fun to have some other goal that you're trying to puzzle towards, but you'd probably best make sure the rest of your group is cool with it.

    This is probably why I don't enjoy tabletop RPGs - they're less about trying to solve a puzzle, and solving them in the same way one tries to solve magic is generally viewed as metagaming and frowned upon.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Combatting Ramp
    The problem with saying that MLD is just another form of resource punishment is that land, unlike other resources, is very difficult to replenish. Someone hits you with mind twist? Topdeck a big draw spell and you're fine. Someone hits you with a board wipe? No problem, if you've played it smart you might have a hand full of creatures to reload. With MLD, short of a counterspell or a handful of other pretty specific tools like faith's reward(which requires keeping up 4) or splendid reclamation(which still needs some mana to cast post geddon), there is basically no way to interact with it. Otherwise your plan is to keep playing one land per turn at best until you're back in the game, which is way too slow to be relevant if the MLD player has planned ahead by either having a wincon on board, or a decent amount of artifact mana. You can be sitting on a handful of land just in case someone plays geddon, and it's still going to mean nothing most of the time. So this argument of punishing players for not planning ahead or whatever is nonsense.

    And the idea that you're punishing ramp is similarly ludicrous. Well-placed MLD wins the game by punishing people for not having board presence, not for playing ramp specifically. If the ramp player has already deployed a big threat or two then they probably don't mind it at all. On the other hand, someone playing a non-rampy deck could easily get knocked out of the game just as easily as the ramper, if they don't have much on board. Plus, of course, any non-land ramp isn't affected by MLD. If your group enjoys MLD and thinks it's a fair wincon, then go ahead and play it, I've got nothing against players who like playing high-powered decks against other high-powered decks. But it's not a ramp punisher. It's a punisher for anyone who doesn't currently have a significant board presence or artifact mana.

    If you want to punish ramp specifically, you've got a few options:
    -play aggressively to hurt them while they're powering up
    -they have a lower threat to mana ratio, so having answers can slow them down a lot
    -there are a handful of cards that hurt ramp players while not locking people out of the game, like natural balance and keldon firebombers, as long as your group is cool with them
    -play targeted LD like strip mine to deal with the coffers and gaea's cradles of the world
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Phelddagrif: Show Weakness to Hide Your Strength
    OK, so for some fun I took a look at all the deserts we can run in the deck and I'll run through them and offer some opinions real quick.

    cradle of the accursed - Rate2
    Not really what we're looking for. If it was an instant at least we could have a flash blocker in an emergency.

    Desert - Rate3
    Not a totally useless ability, could screw with some combat math and kills hippo tokens gone rogue, and it's a nice low cost. Obviously better if you've got good fixing.

    desert of the indomitable/desert of the mindful/desert of the true - Rate3.5
    I like these a decent amount, they have that low-powered-new-card stink that makes a deck really look like a piece of crap worthy of being ignored :p And realistically paying 1 more for cycling is pretty irrelevant at the point you'd be cycling them. LFTL interaction is obviously...questionable. Might be too strong, or maybe the extra cost makes it ok. I haven't run lftl in a while though.

    dunes of the dead - Rate2.5
    This does give us a flash blocker when in combo with one of the sac deserts. Better than cradle since we'd basically never sac cradle to itself. Still mostly useless, though.

    Endless Sands - Rate1.5
    Solid card but, at least for my current version it doesn't really do anything. Protect stonecloaker, which we're trying to make obselete? lol. Good if you have a decent number of creatures, but that's really stretching the boundaries of this deck.

    Grasping dunes - Rate2
    I guess it's removal for some small number of things, but being a sorcery I'm pretty not into it. OG desert seems a lot better, even if this can ignore combat.

    Hashep Oasis - Rate3.5
    Speeds up phelddagrif by 1 turn by itself, 2 turns with a buddy desert. Plus it taps for green and is untapped, but doesn't have to hurt us, so the cost is really low. Definitely the best of the utility lands imo.

    Hostile Desert - Rate2
    If we do have a bunch of deserts like the cyclers this could conceivably activate, but other than chumping it's pretty useless.

    Ipnu Rivulet - Rate3
    Comes at a low cost like hashep oasis, but its effect is a lot weaker. Still, could be a way to mill people out, if you have enough deserts and the game is super long.

    Painted Bluffs - Rate2.5
    Definitely worse than a basic, but it's not the worst land ever fixing-wise. Probably better than a colorless land with no useful abilities at all, like cradle or grasping dunes.

    Scavenger Grounds - Rate4.5
    Obviously great.

    Shefet Dunes - Rate3
    Same low cost as the others, but it's a 1-turn speed increase for Phelddagrif and that's it. Still pretty solid though.

    Sunscorched desert - Rate1
    Does nothing except slightly annoy someone. No thanks.

    Survivor's Encampment - Rate2.5
    On the plus side, Phelddagrif is almost always untapped so you have an easy way to fix, but you already need all 3 colors of mana to cast Phelddagrif. Probably worse than painted bluffs on balance.

    OK, so after all that, I think the deserts worth playing are:


    I think that gives us enough that we should reasonably expect to draw a couple at least, over the course of a game, and more if we're determined.
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Phelddagrif: Show Weakness to Hide Your Strength
    I don't think there's much of a case to include ramp since we're not ramping to anything in particular, and they're dead draws late. The only ones I like are exploration and Burgeoning since they let us empty our hand of lands to keep it lean and mean, and they have a super low cmc and are backup targets for any tutors that hit telepathy. But that's just my two cents.

    Whispers of the muse (and other repeatable draw like arch of orazca) I think circumvent the "don't play repeatable effects" rule because the result of them is both undetermined and separated from the actual board-state change, so they're significantly less threatening. With capsize your opponents know exactly how much havoc you can wreak and will play accordingly. Also to get value out of capsize you have actually bounce permanents, which is bound to make people mad. If you're just playing whispers, you don't need to piss anyone off to get value. You also can just not cast it when you're already at 7 cards. And, like all buyback spells, if it's becoming a problem you can always just cast it without buyback. I haven't played whispers a whole lot, but arch has been consistently excellent and they're very similar effects.

    Stonecloaker is a different beast and I do wish we had a better tool for the job. Being a creature makes it a target for otherwise-useless removal, and being a repeatable hate card against graveyard decks can put us in the position of being a threat to those players and is likely to attract their attention. But graveyard based decks can be difficult for us to deal with, and having a single-use grave-hate like clear the mind can only delay the problem. I've been using stonecloaker in most version of phelddagrif and my main strategy with it has been to be very judicious about how you use it - don't eot it constantly for value, only use it when you absolutely have to and be apologetic about it. But YMMV, it's definitely one of the least on-brand cards in the deck. If you wanted an alternative, I think perhaps the best option might be including a bunch of deserts alongside scavenger grounds (which already merits a spot) so that you have repeatable, but not unlimited and not without a real cost, grave hate. That way your judicious use of the effect is more explicable as not wanting to lose your lands and not wanting to use your answers against subpar targets, rather than just being permissive for no reason. The deserts could also help speed up the phelddagrif clock by a turn or two, or give some cycling in the late-game, so it's not a bad solution. Even the mill one could be useful as a weak alt wincon. Hmm, I might have talked myself into it. You'd probably want to make sure you have some land tutors, though.

    Flashback is great but there aren't a ton of flashback spells that fit in the deck unfortunately. Deep analysis is a decent draw spell. Fervent Denial is the wrong kind of card to have revealed in your grave, same for divine reckoning, both will have people trying to bait you into firing them off. flash of insight is also decent. memory's journey/krosan reclamation are both ok grave hate/anti-mill tech and can be played. moment's peace is great. prismatic strands is an ok backup but significantly worse in several ways. purify the grave is too low-impact imo, I'd rather have memory's journey. ray of distortion is really overpriced. ray of revelation is too narrow. think twice does too little imo, it's fine but I'd just play a bigger draw spell. aaaand that's all of them. Some ok but replaceable draw, some decent grave hate, and one excellent fog.

    Noxious revival has the downside of being effectively sorcery speed when used on yourself (unless you have an instant-speed way to draw it), which makes it a bad choice for recurring counterspells, and really only great for recurring board wipes and our scant few permanents, and even then you're down a card. Unfortunately I don't think there are any ways to recur to hand at instant speed, unless you count reap, which is pretty sketchy (although a very high ceiling, obviously, maybe even too high to be honest). As far as the tempo play of putting a reanimation target on their deck, we're more in the business of value plays instead of tempo plays, so I'd much prefer to exile it than delay the inevitable.

    Anyway those are my thoughts, I hope you enjoy the deck!
    Posted in: Multiplayer Commander Decklists
  • posted a message on Going Infinite and "I Win" Combos Outside cEDH.
    Quote from Yatsufusa »
    This is not a matter of "If you enjoy combo, play combo. If you don't enjoy combo, don't bother at all". This is our solution to "what happens if your primary plan of the brewed deck fails?" Perhaps your solution is "I'll concede and move on to the next game", but to us that is disrespectful, not letting people who still have a chance of executing their primary plan to continue doing so - what fun is there if the game ends abruptly because the first person in the pod decided to concede because he or she couldn't assemble the primary win-con? Scrambling for boring combo last-minute isn't as efficient as just T1 tutoring into it and will take time, time in which participants still on their first plan can continue to do so, whereas people who "conceded" aren't reduced to mere puppet and/or kingmaking positions.

    I said this was built and agreed upon by our circumstances - you say this lets everyone have a Magic Feather... and that is true - the core group consists of pretty much experienced players with years of experience and collections, perhaps not to the extreme (although there are a few semi-active players who does bling out their cEDh in OG foils and beta duals). The primary decks we build are all very near-competitive from the get-go and the "inverse mantra" keeps it from being outright cEDH. Again, this is not a matter of "If we enjoy playing cEDH, just play cEDH", we will do that when we feel like it - what we're doing and enjoying is "creating decks that can stretch to meet both ends of cEDh and casual in the same deck" instead of creating purely cEDH and casual decks, because we don't enjoy that.

    Perhaps I've phrased my wordings really badly to make sound hypocritical in terms of combo - if you want to play combo, go ahead, we'll definitely have the answers to stop you from doing so. The only mentality I think we're really on opposite ends is that (I think that) you think "as long as you have a combo in the deck, you should always tutor for it as fast as possible and give it your "best"... and leave combos out of your other decks trying to win in other interesting ways", whereas from our own experiences it becomes "your other interesting winning way should have back-up combo so that you would have something to strive for when the plan fails instead of ruining the actual play experience by outright conceding/kingmaking afterwards".

    The "interesting way first, combo backup" formula doesn't seem to gel with you because it feels like you're emphasizing on "as long as you have a combo, you should always combo first, otherwise it feels like you're not trying to win" whereas it gels with us because it's a formula that works in pretty much any scenario - casual, competitive and itself as well. If the point of contention is that it feels like we're "holding back" when playing casually, all you have to do is tell us and you'll face the cEDH side of the same decks. If the point of contention to that is that we don't have a purely "casual" deck, then yes, that's the whole point this whole thing was for - because we don't enjoy building "purely casual" decks with no backup, because once the plan fails, it becomes a miserable experience altogether - conceding outright is considered worse than striving for a combo-backup and kingmaking is even worse.

    Actually, I think we're just agreeing to disagree here - you pointed here our "holding back" is a mutual agreement, but my whole point of contention is that I had to say that because right before that post your suggestion was to communicate, which implies you thought we didn't (apologies if you didn't mean it that way, but I had to infer with what I have), hence the whole post there. Likewise, this recent post citing answers being important - trust me, we definitely know how important answers are, considering we originate from cEDH or at least very close to it in terms of power.
    Having a backup plan is all well and good, but I feel like you've got it backwards. The primary plan is the primary plan because it's the best one, the one with the best chance of winning. The backup plan is the next best chance of winning. And so forth. You switch to the backup plan when the chances of the first plan succeeding become lower than the backup. All these decisions are predicated on trying to win the actual game, though, and playing your best. If you've got your better plan as your secondary, then there's no logic to when you switch plans - because logically you should switch the moment the game begins.

    Maybe I'm too much of a min-maxer to make any logical sense out of what you're saying, but it sounds like the best deck in your meta would be one with a primary plan that falls apart like tissue paper, to give you the fastest excuse to start playing towards a robust combo plan that's your "backup".

    I don't follow this "when your plan falls apart" scenario though. A combo can fall apart, sure, because it's dependent on specific cards which could be removed, but if your plan is, say, "beat face with zombies" or whatever, then unless someone strips all the zombies out of your deck I'm not sure at which point you'd be incapable of acting on your plan.

    Decks without combos can, of course, have backup plans, and they don't have to be bad decks, either. People in this thread keep acting like the only alternative to including a combo is having a precon-grade deck that falls apart against a stiff breeze, when that's obviously not the case. A good deck should either have a very robust plan, or multiple backups if the primary plan becomes untenable, but there are myriad ways to do that which don't need to include a combo.

    Not that this is even specifically about combo - it's about building a deck that plays the way you want to play it, whether that's combo or something else. If you build a deck trying to do X but with backup plan Y that turns out to be stronger...then you've made a Y deck with an X backup plan, not the other way around. If you can't find a way to make your X plan the most viable part of your deck and still make your deck perform decently, then I'd say that's a failure of deckbuilding.

    As far as having answers, then I think it sort of begs the question - if you're so worried about being plan-less and having your primary wincon dismantled, then what exactly do you do if your backup combo gets answered? I would think if your goal was to avoid being stuck without a way to win, you'd want the most durable backup plan possible, not something that will presumably fall apart if a single card in answered. Which, strangely enough, is how many decks in competitive play in other formats work - fragile but powerful primary plan, with a weaker but more durable backup.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Going Infinite and "I Win" Combos Outside cEDH.
    Quote from Cainsson »
    Because if the board state allows it I'd rather win with Gravecrawler and Diregraf Colossus beats even if I have Phyrexian Altar and Blood Artist in hand, than lose to mana screw from playing taplands.

    Holding back can be fun because it makes you analyze the game from layers you wouldn't and find alternative roads to victory that playing competitively with bad cards just doesn't give.
    I might be misinterpreting what you said because it's a little hard to parse, but your first sentence makes it sound like you think you only have 2 options: play a powerful deck with combos (and then choose not to play them) or play one with a cheap manabase. Which doesn't follow at all. Whether or not you put combos in your deck (or how powerful you make your deck on the whole) is a completely separate decision from how much you sink into your manabase. You can play duals and fetches in an otherwise jank deck. No one's going to call the cops, I promise.

    I also don't follow the second sentence either. What layers are you analyzing that you couldn't analyze without having the combo at all? No one said you had to run bad cards. Do you want to win with diregraf colossus and gravecrawler beats? Great, run those cards. Are you not playing phyrexian altar despite having it? Then don't run it. The only "layer" I'm seeing that's only available by running a combo you don't play is the layer of knowing you could win and then not winning. Which is not a very interesting layer imo.
    Quote from Yatsufusa »
    Ah, but we did communicate - in fact what we presented to you is what came out of the communication, which is why I said it's a matter of perspective - there's no right or wrong, but the majority of the core group in my LGS agreed to this "inverse mantra". You could argue that perhaps intrinsically we are compromising and I won't deny that, but the "inverse mantra" was decided taking into account on how we would react to different newcomers to the LGS (not necessarily new players to the game/format overall, could be walk-in experienced player).

    Using the MJ and his magic feather example, I would tell you that we wouldn't want him to ditch his magic feather so just we could have a "equal" match - it would be disrespectful to the fact he has the Magic Feather and we know he does. Just like you think us playing our 75% decks and lowering ourselves to 50% to match casual to disrespectful, we think if you could improve your deck with cards you have but you didn't because you outright wanted to "match" a lower tier, to us is no different from putting it into your deck and not playing it out - in my meta, deckbuilding criticism (the good kind) is no different from questioning move decisions in-game as well - "why you didn't play out the game-winning combo" is an equal question to "why didn't you put this fitting combo we know you own into your deck" and the same answer of "I didn't want to win too easily" is met with equal lack-of-approval.

    Perhaps saying "Build competitively, play casually" as the inverse mantra is not correct - the correct order is "play casually, build competitively". Our roots lie in managing the way we play so that it doesn't cause players to outright have to divide their decks (or even worse, only have 1 deck (especially newer players) and effectively have to sit out games) into distinct competitive and/or casual decks, we seek to improve all our decks over time still. Building is primarily individualistic process (even if we do give out criticism to assist), but the playing style is a whole lot interweaved between all active players of the group. Telling a player to build a whole another deck of a different tier is a whole lot less productive than telling them our playstyle and have them try to adapt to it. Sure both require change, but we have enough proof over the years to see which one has a better retaining rate.

    If you enjoy playing combo, I'd say just play combo. I don't have a problem with people playing combo decks against each other if that's what they like to do. If you want to have a house rule that says "no combos until turn 6" or something, that also seems fine to me. Then people can play their best within that constraint.

    In the metaphor, this is roughly letting everyone have a magic feather. That way it's a fair, fun game. You say you don't want him to lose the feather, but if someone sits down with a combo deck you're effectively asking them to play like they don't have one. I'm not sure how this is supposed to be less disrespectful. Personally I'd rather not play at all, than be told I'm supposed to play my deck incorrectly.

    As far as people having to sit out, I'm not sure what you're trying to avoid. If most of you have multiple decks, than whatever a newcomer shows up with, you'll be prepared for it. If there are multiple players with only one deck and one has a powerful deck and one has a weak deck...well, that game was always going to suck.

    But if you wanted it to NOT suck, the better solution would be to run ANSWERS to the more powerful deck, so that you can dole out an appropriate amount of hate to bring the powerful deck down to the same level as the weaker one. Not pile on to the problem by having multiple combo decks racing to the finish line while the weaker deck has no chance at all.

    As far as deckbuilding being the same as playing, I wonder if you're willing to follow that line of thought to its natural conclusion. If someone had all the cards available to them, would you be disapproving if they DIDN'T build FCT or some similarly degenerate, win-on-turn-3 deck? They'd be holding back and you'd feel your win wasn't earned if they built anything less? Why can't people brew for the sake of brewing? I don't put combos in my deck because I want to try to win in other, more interesting ways. Deckbuilding is an experiment, and forgive me if I don't want to experiment with the same cards that have been done to death already. Also it sounds like you're holding back during play (by mutual agreement) anyway, so I'm not sure where this disapproval is coming from. Seems like everyone should just be fine with either, rather than disapproving of both.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Going Infinite and "I Win" Combos Outside cEDH.
    Emphasis mine. As someone who stated prior in this thread an opinion aligned with the faction you're referencing, I can tell you it isn't for "anti-competitive" reasons, just acknowleding practical realities. I can go play EDH at most twice per week for about 4 hours each time. If one game takes the whole four, or even just three, I get to play that many fewer games in an already limited window.

    Furthermore, by reserving combos as a mutually agreed late game tool, it adds a cold war fear to the game that I find intriguing. The land war rages on, but secretly we're all building nukes. It's spicy IMHO.
    So the winner is the first person to decide the game has gone on too long? Doesn't sound like a very interesting competition. But then I'm not much for spicy food, either.

    (granted this is pretty oversimplified since there are such things as answers. But that also sort of negates the whole "this is my one and only plan to end the game when it's gone on too long" plan, if it can be disrupted).
    Quote from Yatsufusa »
    It's all a matter of perspective. The most important thing to note about "75% / build competitively, play "casually"" (I don't claim to speak for everyone, but I guess there's some common baseline at least with others with similar mentalities) is that the primary win-con is usually by nature a casual win-con (or at least reasonable in the realm of casual) and the "competitive half" (which amounts to pretty much a couple of insta-win combos and tutors) is an adaptation tool to the competitive side of the LGS's meta. "As long as everyone is playing the same something" is not a luxury the flexible LGS walk-in scene can afford, even with core groups in the LGS tilting towards either side of the meta.

    On the "mathematical" surface level, you can say that we're not trying our best based on our decklists solely, but the 75%/inverse mantra in by itself is a social agreement within the LGS/group - we are all aware that we're playing with the primary objective of winning with methods that don't really match cEDH standards and may be higher than the typical casual standard (but can be reasonably stopped in the dimension).

    Perhaps the gap between competitive and casual isn't as wide in your meta, but 75% isn't exactly "flip a switch - I'm competitive now" - by the time you analyze that your primary plan isn't going to work, resorting to the "competitive half" is already "fighting tooth and nail to win" against decks of the same or higher caliber. Any less than this baseline, you'll be either conceding or passively doing so by durdling (or worse, kingmaking), in which by itself leaves a bad taste.

    To put it bluntly, the "competitive backup plan" is essentially us "conceding" in a twisted, yet gracious way - we admit that we aren't going to win with our preferred way, but at least we aren't to just leave abruptly or go down as puppets or kingmakers (especially considering the politics of multiplayer combined with resources of the game) and we're going to throw what is admittedly "more boring combos" as the last wall for you to overcome. Perhaps to you (and people with the same opinions), a clean concede would be neater and more polite, but from our perspective, denying our opponent the chance to play out their strategies or practically staying there as a goldfish is also disrespectful in its own way.
    So (1) bring multiple decks and (2) communicate before you sit down.

    If I found out I'd won a game because someone else was sitting at the table with a win in hand and didn't play it, I'd feel like my win was tainted and I'd never want to play with them again.
    Quote from cryogen »
    If I wind up in a more casual game then why would I want to just wreck it by tutoring up a combo and ending the game when I could play a little looser and have a longer and hopefully more enjoyable game? Similarly, if I ever got the opportunity to play a game of pickup ball with Michael Jordan (showing my age because that is the most recent player I know), how would either of us enjoy it if he played like he was on the court still when he could b9ld back and give me a fighting chance when I'm going 100%?
    Same as above. Bring multiple decks. Communicate. Or just bring a sideboard to take in/out the combo stuff.

    MJ isn't a good comparison because that's an innate ability. You aren't intrinsically bound to your deck. If MJ had a magic feather that made him good, and without it he'd be roughly equivalent to your skill, wouldn't you rather he just ditched the magic feather and tried his heart out, rather than kept it but played like crap on purpose?
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Going Infinite and "I Win" Combos Outside cEDH.
    Quote from Cainsson »
    Having the combo doesn't mean I have to tutor and cast it as soon as possible tho. You can build competitively and still play casually.
    I've seen this inversion of the EDH mantra a couple times and it really bothers me. It's supposed to be "build casually, play competitively", not the other way around.

    Mostly I just don't understand how people could have fun following the inverted mantra. The reason the EDH mantra works is that competition is FUN. Trying your best to win at a game is a pastime that's provided enjoyment for humans since time immemorial. And as long as everyone is playing toned-down decks that don't have easy "I win" buttons, it's a good, satisfying game. I can't speak for everyone, but I wouldn't have any fun playing a deck that I knew I could win with, but intentionally held back.

    I've used this analogy in the past and I think it's apt - playing a (powerful) combo deck and holding back is like bringing a NASCAR racer to your buddy's homemade go-kart competition and trying to match your speed. It's condescending, it makes the competition feel meaningless, and I don't understand how it could possibly be fun for you. I'd much rather bring the slowest go-kart of the bunch, and have to fight tooth and nail in order to stand half a chance.

    Not to say that "playing competitively" means you're acting like it's day 2 of a GP or something. Take-backsies as long as no hidden info from your opponents was revealed, etc. is all fine. I just mean that I'm always trying to find the best play. It still doesn't need to be taken super seriously when all is said and done.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Going Infinite and "I Win" Combos Outside cEDH.
    Well, not using combo, it's the only way I can be satisfied. If I use a combo...tch, over too quickly.

    Apologies to Mandy Patinkin.

    I have complicated feelings on combo.

    On one hand, I find (at least well-known efficient combos) to be a really boring way for a game to end. I think people who are play competitive decks in casual games, especially if they don't make any disclaimer or apology about it, to be in poor taste at a minimum. I think that combos are the easiest way to win at basically every level of deck strength because it reduces the opportunity for your opponents to respond - and the tide of threat and response is a big part of what makes magic great, so limiting that ability, especially in combination with cards like teferi or conqueror's flail, significantly reduces the enjoyment I get out of those games. But it's definitely very strong.

    But what's interesting is that, while I think some people gravitate towards combo because they're building too competitively, I find a lot of people include them - or at least claim to include them - for almost anti-competitive reasons. A lot of them are in this thread. Generally the reason is given as something like "I don't tutor/play it early, but if the game is going on too long and it needs to end, then I'll tutor/play it." That is, they presumably have games which they could have won but chose not to, in the name of creating an enjoyable game. Which is kind of fascinating to me, since it's almost treating the game like it's D&D or something - about trying to create an experience first rather than an actual competition. Which I'm sure is how some people see the format, but for me, I like commander because the competition first, which creates an experience that I enjoy. And I hate tabletop RPGs because it feels too much like making your own fun. If I knew how to have fun I'd just be doing that. Games give me a structure that I can understand, and then fun naturally happens while following that structure (if it's a good game).

    Personally I almost never feel like the game has gone on too long. I can happily play a game that lasts for hours and hours. But I also generally pack combo-breakers and I can threat-assess like a champ. Which might be why my games always last so long, come to think of it.

    Anyway, I basically never pack combos. The vast majority of people I've played commander against - and I realize this is going to sound condescending as hell - aren't really at the same level as I am, in terms of how much time they spend on magic in general or commander in particular, or how well they "get" the game. In limited I have plenty of opponents that are on a similar level, but commander I usually feel like an adult playing against children. I win too many games already. If I played combos I'm pretty sure I'd be completely insufferable.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on Random Card of the Day: Chandra Flamecaller
    That can be true of many players with regards to play of the game specifically, but doesn't really apply to other assist cards. Removal like bring down or gang up (hey, up/down, I see what you did there, wotc) or counters like out of bounds are pretty likely to get funded as long as someone has the mana. Maybe even Lava-field overlord if you promise to target the right thing.

    That said, the assist cards are reeaallly safely costed, with the exception of huddle up (which is trash outside of 2hg anyway). Basically everything costs twice (or at least nearly twice) what it would cost without assist. Which is such a shame for the mechanic, I hope they revisit it one day with a little more chutzpah. There's some really interesting potential to abuse the mechanics versus control to try to get them to tap out at a critical juncture, or to try to feel out what's in their hand based on how much they're willing to pay. All of this is largely wasted when the cards aren't playable, ofc.

    I think bring down is the worst offender. Even at half the cost, it's a sorcery speed reprisal. Make it an instant and lower the power to 3 and, unless someone else funds you 2 mana, it's just a skywhaler's shot minus the scry. gang up is pretty bad too, but as an instant it's at least playable in commander, even if it's not very good.
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
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