This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series For Fun's Sake

 By JT Kamp

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If you are reading this, then congratulations! You’re a fan of EDH / Commander and have concluded that you are indeed a bad enough dude (or dudette) to read an article based on the format. I salute your bravery and hope to bring justification to your willingness to dedicate a portion of your morning, evening, or strictly monitored allotted federal prison PC use to peruse my very first commandercast.com article. Huzzah for you!

But who am I? As a self-proclaimed Magic durdler, I’m a random dude who found this website a few years ago, listened to some bad ass podcasts, played a bunch of Commander, and now decided to start writing about my favorite format. But what to write about…? There are plenty of other folks who offer competitive advice, deck building tips, strategies and commander choices… what ground is there left to tread? Ultimately I settled upon the topic you are about to read based on the simple fact that it is the single defining feature of what I love so much about this multiplayer-centric format: fun.

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Shoot, Spongebob beat me to it.

 

What is Fun? (Baby Don’t Hurt Me)

What would the notion of “fun” encompass? In what way could I define the term that would fit the role we are aiming for? It’s true that everyone’s fun is unique, embodied by the simplest of playstyle definitions: a Timmy player sitting down with a Johnny deck would probably not have as much fun as he would piloting a Timmy deck, and a player who prefers red might get less entertainment out of playing a white deck. In the same fashion, an EDH player may take immense amounts of enjoyment out of causing his opponents to writhe under his pressed thumb, drinking in their agonizing cries until he mercifully end it for everyone.

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Or they just pull a Thanos and sabotage themselves. TRULY THE ONLY WEAKNESS THAT MAKES SENSE.

Whether you’re a group-hug, combo, weenie, big-stuff or bad-stuff player, you’ll craft your own form of entertainment out of any and all games of EDH you play. However, there is a single, immutable fact that must be respected in any playgroup, and that is the fun of the table.

 

The Fun of the Table

“What’s all this then?” you exclaim in a Cockney accent while twirling your baton and bristling your moustache, “Inanimate objects such as tables surely cannot experience joviality!”

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G is for “Oy, stop yer blabbin’ or I pop yeh in da gob!”

I think the best way I can describe the fun of the table is by recounting an experience I had with my first EDH group. We had been turned on to the format via a tool you may have heard of called the internet. Needless to say, the idea of building 100-card singleton decks with an overseeing legendary creature and immense possibility for creativity caught on in my playgroup like a plastic bag on a wire fence. We all put together decks, each choosing 2 or 3 color commanders to give us the best options out of the box. I knew immediately I wanted to play Esper and I enjoyed the idea of an emphasis on artifacts, so my first choice was Sen Triplets.

I will admit right now that I am a relatively brutal deck builder. I love using synergy and goodstuff to an almost stupid level, so I’ve taken to putting restrictions on myself when I build a deck to purposefully force myself to think creatively and be unique. This was not so in the case of “The Electric Bonermobile” (my super mature name for my Sen Triplets EDH deck). The deck was part Archenemy precon, part incredibly good artifacts and effects, and part Tunnel Vision into Open the Vaults.

I won. I won a LOT. While my table-mates were durdling around with mana dorks and trying to cast their commander, I was putting 25 artifacts onto the board on turn 5, gaining 75+ life with Filigree Angel and swinging for the win the next turn. Anyone I didn’t murderhouse with fatty creatures was cooed to sleep with a gentle Exsanguinate to the face. Dissenters were locked out of using their things by Sen Triplets’ incredible ability. All others were promptly sacked.

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If you need me I’ll be quietly fist-pumping by myself.

But therein lied the ultimate problem with this scenario. While I was winning (and I will admit that winning is pretty awesome), none of my friends were having any fun. The only way they could stand a chance of defeating me was if everyone at the table focus fired me relentlessly and hated everything I had off the table, and even then they were only knocking me out about 50% of the time. Failure to eliminate me spelt ultimate doom for everyone else. It was sort of like every game of Commander at our table was Archenemy and I was the big bad villain that everyone wanted to see plummet off a cliff, complete with Howie Scream.

Did this lead to some fun games? Sure, a couple. But more often than not it led to a table of disdain, bitter resentment, and an environment that was not conducive to the entertainment of me and my friends. This is no way to foster a strong playgroup.

While it is worth noting that many valuable lessons were learned by myself and my friends, equal parts shame and torment forced my hand to dismantle The Electric Bonermobile. Ultimately, the decision benefitted everyone. Instead of being “on tilt” every game my tablemates were able to focus more on how to hone their decks to handle threats and we all learned to never give anyone free reign. The tyrant fell but we all knew other decks would appear in the future that would test our mettle. But for the time being we were a happier, stronger table that enjoyed a period of peace and tranquility. All were equal and everyone had a fair shot at winning.

And then I made a Wort, Boggart Auntie deck.

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Oops.

 

For Fun’s Sake

We’re all in this together. Each and every person who sits down has a story to tell. It might be a really short story about how they paid $30 for a preconstructed Commander deck, or it might be a tale of trial and error, hardships and victories, painful cuts and obvious misplays, all leading to the culmination of the man or woman who sits across from you with a deck that’s roughly the same height as your own (sleeves notwithstanding). We all want one thing in a competitive game: to win. However, this does not mean we must tear one another down on the road to victory.

Try to focus more on having fun at your table but also contributing to the fun of your tablemates. Think about what a card might do to your meta rather than how well it will synergize with your deck. Pay attention to the attitudes of your fellow Commander players, and if they all have sour looks on their faces or continuously brandish knives or other deadly weapons at you, consider performing a self-evaluation of your deck or playstyle. Everyone is entitled to their own forms of fun, but just because I think it’s hilarious to belch lyrics to early 90’s sitcom opening theme songs doesn’t mean anyone will care to keep my company.

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I always puke a little at the high notes.

It’s worth saying that a meta will define its own fun. Perhaps you play in a world where turn 3 combos are a thing of beauty, and that’s fine. However, I feel that this topic shall best be left to explore more in a future article.

Thanks for reading and keep on swingin’!

 

JT Kamp is a part-time IT professional and full-time Magic doofus. He is also a writer and cohost of anime review shows Animerica and Cover by Cover at www.animericashow.com

Series NavigationFor Fun’s Sake 02 – “Your Fun Ain’t My Fun, Bucko” >>