Thursday, October 30, 2014

Greed is Good

The cards I put into Oloro were: Reduce to Dreams, Words of Worship, Allay, Elixir of Immortality, Pontiff of Blight and Dimir Doppelganger. I like these choices and I found in my game last night that Reduce was very good and Pontiff probably would have been good if if I had decided to play it. However, the Ebola Pope was in my hand too early and I didn't want to play it. A bomb that shows up too early makes you a target. Allay did some incredible work though and I feel like it's time to start running cards with Buyback in every Commander deck ever.

So here we have a five player game.

That's early in the game. It would go for over two and a half hours. In that lighting.

Two and a half hour games deserve better and by the time there were only three of us, I had ceased to give a fuck. Two players were rubberbanding between 26 and 65 life and I was refusing to die like a horror movie villain via Sun Droplet and Oloro triggers. I was being (understandably) ignored as I had no board presence to speak of until I drop a Heavy-Nevy Disk and suddenly I'm a target. Which doesn't make a lick of sense because as soon as I'm a target yes, I'm going to blow everything up. But until then, just keep fighting amongst yourselves!

That didn't happen and even post board wipe, I was successfully ignored.

And that's when plan B hit me.

I've may have mentioned before but if not: Noah and I have decided that Phage the Untouchable is an excellent commander because sometimes, you just need a way to get out of the game. If something has gone for 3 hours, you can just cast Phage from the command zone and lose! We called it "Phaging out," a riff on fading out. All Commander decks need something like this I think; an emergency escape hatch.

Greed was going to be my way out. I'd already eaten chunks of my life to draw nine cards before I cast Reduce to Dreams and now, I had a way out.

So that's what I did: at 18 life I drew another nine cards and settled my tab. The other two players duked it out for another twenty minutes and I relaxed.


  1. Commander does have a mechanism to prevent this from happening, but unfortunately our group has traditionally not played with it. It's called Commander Damage, and was created for this very reason. To end long games, and minimize the impact of life gain decks.

    1. The problem with Commander damage is that with certain commanders (Uril, Zur off the top of my head) the decks are so degenerate that games turn into "Kill that player so we can have a game", while also taking other commanders and automatically making them less feasible, coupled with another stat to hold in a game that already has enough. The upside doesn't really outweigh the downside.

      I think it's just easier to avoid games of more than four players, especially when lighting and ale are not in ample supply.

    2. At the same time, you're not wrong.

  2. I feel that Commander Damage provides a meta layer of math and politics that is missing when it is absent. I disagree that the objective becomes "kill that player" so much as "remove that commander". Taking Zur as an example, most Zur EDH decks are honed for 1-on-1 play or lower costed threats, thus a tighter mana count in the deck. Removing Zur a few times changes the decks ability to respond and attack. It becomes a game within a game, when Commander Damage is included. I can take the hit from the 7/7 monsterous'd Polukranos, but I can't take the 3/3 hit from Comander Sakiko. It changes the game a lot, and feel there are more benefits than downside. But, that's just me and my experience playing with it on MTGO. Or, just ban degenerate Commanders instead of changing the rules of the format.

    1. If players are constantly forgetting that something exists (as I was and many do) then odds are the game doesn't need it and quite likely shouldn't have it. My experience is that the game isn't as much fun--however, a week's worth of lifegain decks and I might change my tune.

      In all the multiplayer games I've witnessed, the person with the strongest board position gets targeted. If that person repeatedly attains that position, then they are eliminated regardless of their actual threat level. And when you can have indestructable, 21/21 trampler/fliers by turn 4, that eliminates the need to play politics. You either win, or you get killed. People make decks like this (which is perfectly fine) but it utterly changes the dynamic. Decks become brutal machines and the space for doing weird things evaporates. Sometimes, that's great but it isn't want I want to do always.

      Banning commanders is just as feasible as changing the rules of the format, since banning (or allowing) a commander in house is changing the rules.