Tuesday, September 15, 2015

You Can't Argue With Another Person's Experience (pt 2)

So, let's talk a little about the "reasonable discussion that EDH (Commander) is bullshit"

I find Commander to be a particularly interesting format for Wizards to care about. I also think that it's pretty clear that they do care about it quite a bit. Not just because it's a fun format to play in but because it gives WotC a back door to tinker around with Eternal formats. Usually one but sometimes even two cards per Commander set get adopted by the Legacy and sometimes Vintage deckbuilding communities. I don't know Vintage as well so I can't speak to it with much authority but I believe cards like True-Name Nemesis have weaseled their way in. I know that Scavenging Ooze, Flusterstorm, Containment Priest and True-Name have worked in Legacy decks, with the Ooze getting reprinted for play in Standard. True-Name is just too strong for Standard formats but I believe the trend is clear.

This also gives WotC the opportunity to print weird cards like Comeuppance or Chaos Warp or reprint cool cycles like Tempest's Medallions, or difficult to find cards from sets like Portal: Three Kingdoms or cards that really only work in a multiplayer-focused setting and would raise a little outcry in a regular set.

The point is: Commander product gives Wizards a chance to take some risks that would otherwise be a disaster for regular product. If this format didn't exist, Wizards would probably have to make it because it allows for experimentation and the small twiddling of the knobs of older formats.

It's their place to get all punk rock with Magic.

The problem for the author is that 'Casual sucks' and the central reason why casual sucks from my reading is because players don't play to win. They play, by his reasoning, to show off the $10K decks they've built.

Now, understanding that you cannot argue with his experience, I have to wonder; why is he picking out Commander specifically? Cube, a format he goes on to reference in the article, Standard, hell, EVERY format I can think of has players in it who are out to gild the fuck out of their deck somehow. Often this is through foils but it can involve difficult to acquire cards from historically difficult to find sets. Or insanely powerful cards from years gone by, banned in other formats.

So why pick on Commander?

Because the world is complicated and often run by an economic engine, I find myself reading books on economics or listening to economists and one thing I often see them doing is making one really interesting mistake: They believe that because they know something, everyone else is motivated the exact same way and with that knowledge would and should behave accordingly: i.e. like them.

But people don't do that. People have never done that. We are strange beings and we are motivated by different things to behave in similar but sometimes very different ways.

It would seem to the author, if you aren't playing Magic to win, then you aren't really playing Magic. People aren't playing Commander to win (and he goes on to cite authors who talk about having a 75% good deck to demonstrate this, among other things), therefore they aren't really playing Magic.

That might be his experience but it isn't the truth. People play games for a lot of reasons and winning doesn't have to be on that list. However, people also play Commander to win and they can be just as cutthroat as any player in any format. I've been on the end of that, myself.

Or not. Because playing casually just means they aren't playing officially, like the Professor, says.

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