Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Your Playgroup and Inbreeding

I imagine that the people you play EDH with are a good time.  There's likely some jokes, obvious ones, inside jokes, stories about games of weeks past, all the usual fun.

Sometimes I think that everyone wins in a well-aligned group, regardless of the game's outcome.  My friends would come over after FNM and we'd play until the wee hours.  Saturday, my neighbor would ask me who won, and I honestly don't remember who won, unless it had been something noteworthy (Delirium cast on a Blightsteel Colossus sort of thing.)  In self-reference to my first post, we were mostly TJs.

However, that's my experience and my friends.  I know that everyone has a different goal, and perhaps someone else looks back with a fond memory and says, "I killed everyone six straight games with the same deck and the same combo-kill."

I do know that in my group, we were evolving decks almost like we were revising essays in high school English class.  We would refer to the 'first draft' of a deck, how it would still be 'under construction' for a while.  Sometimes a deck performs wonderfully right off the bat, other times it just feels like a collection of cards that only share mana costs and have no synergy.

I moved away from those guys a few months back, and have since had the chance to play with different Commander players, both in large events and at local game stores.  I've learned that while my friends were a lot of fun to play with and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything, I (and they) built decks formulated to deal with one group of people and one style of play.

We didn't play any land destruction.  We rarely bothered with counterspells or ways to slow down combo decks.  Graveyard hate was sporadic, but improving. 

This would seem like a grevious fault, an oversight, in a vacuum.  You might hink that we were overloaded with blue deck taking lots of turns, or repetitive loops, but you would be wrong.  We didn't hate those strategies away.

We hated those players away from us, or at the least, we made those decks get put away, never to be within our sightlines again.

When you play over and over with the same people in the same styles, you begin to close off from the greather realm of experience.  In my first post, I referenced Elizabeth's and my experience playing in a Commander event at Worlds.  Three of us had decks that were tuned to a more drawn-out game, with lots of wraths and sweeps, while one guy had a deck tuned to aggro and killing.

This affects your outlook on the game, the amount of fun you have, and even the specific cards you choose to play.  For instance, my token deck has Crescendo of War in it.  This is a terrible buff spell because it takes too long and gives a bonus to my opponents.  There are likely better choices for a way to boost my armies, but because I'm used to my group, this seems like an awesome card, because now everyone gets to attack!  Serra's Blessing would be a more strategic choice, because then I can attack or defend.  Or Masako the Humorless, for the surprise value and the fun that is blocking with tapped creatures.

The style of play I'm used to dictates things a little differently.  It took me a while to see that, because when I was only playing with the same folks over and over, I didn't (or perhaps couldn't) gain the perspective needed.

So my recommendation to you is: Try something different.  Build a new deck.  Play with strangers.  Take a suggestion for an addition to your deck, even if it seems like it won't be good.  Add unexpected answers.  Use a Willbender or Wild Ricochet.

Also, venture out into the land of the Internet.  I can recommend the forums at MTGSalvation, and at the official Commander site.  There is no shortage of other talented people writing about Commander and helping others with decklists, in ways that don't occur to me and might not have occurred to you, either. (My specific favorite writers and links will come in another post.)

Just don't have your decks play other of the same kind of deck, over and over, getting more inwardly-focused until you're an isolated hill family, where everyone has eleven fingers and nine toes and the ten/ten people look strange, different, and unfun to you.

You know, inbred. ;)

Take it easy!


P.S.  I posted it to Twitter a couple of days ago but I'll say it here too:  I've spent $45 on three Kokusho, The Evening Star cards in the last few days.  Regular, FTV:Dragons, and Italian Foil.  I know what decks they are going in and what's coming out.

What I'm saying is, I'm super certain that I will be right about the unbanning. :D

P.P.S. I was totally wrong. :(

1 comment:

  1. You bring up a very good point with this post, Cliff. It was actually in my thoughts when we were playing together continuously before you moved away, so when I made an EDH deck, I tried to only add a few number of "problem solver" cards for the specific decks I usually went up against, but the deck more or less kept its flavor and theme.

    After you moved away, I ended up playing with Scott, Jim, Travis, Jeff and other goons, and it was certainly a different environment (like Damage Deck, Improved Grixis Zombies, and Jeff's Flavor of the Week deck), but thanks to the way I built my decks, they held their own and didn't get completely shut down.

    However, Emerald Knights was far more brutal. I want to say that people like to make "unfun" decks and play them there (I've never encountered so many wipe spells in my life), but I guess it's fun for them. The best solution I found to this is to just beat everyone's face in.

    Anyway, didn't mean to make this so long-winded, but it's just a way of saying, "You're right, Cliff." :D

    P.S.: They said that they might still unban Kokusho this coming September! They're still testing it out.