This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Ancient Wisdom

By Old Man Fred

Fred’s General EDH Disclaimer:
My first exposure to the term YMMV on the internet was on the EDH rules page. After asking six people all at once on AIM what it meant, only one was able to tell me. It means Your Mileage May Vary. That means what I’m about to say, while written to be as broad as possible, is not applicable to every person in every play group everywhere. If some guy in your play group uses Evil Eye of Orms-By-Gore in every deck, and that somehow makes what I’m about to say totally wrong, don’t flame me. Your mileage may vary.

The Why
Why do we play Magic? I haven’t done the research. But Wizards of the Cost, who obviously has an interest in the answer, has. They’ve determined that Magic players play for different reasons. If you haven’t already, go read Mark Rosewater’s classic article explaining the different player types entitled “Timmy, Johnny, Spike.” As much as I despise the classification, I am a “Johnny.”

Here’s how Mark Rosewater describes Johnny:

“Johnny is the creative gamer to whom Magic is a form of self-expression. Johnny likes to win, but he wants to win with style. It’s very important to Johnny that he win on his own terms. As such, it’s important to Johnny that he’s using his own deck. Playing Magic is an opportunity for Johnny to show off his creativity.”

“Johnny likes a challenge. Johnny enjoys winning with cards that no one else wants to use. He likes making decks that win in innovative ways. What sets Johnny apart from the other profiles is that Johnny enjoys deckbuilding as much as (or more than) he enjoys playing. Johnny loves the cool interactions of the cards. He loves combo decks. Johnny is happiest when he’s exploring uncharted territory.”

That’s me, with one exception: I’ve seen too many unfair and unfun combo plays in my time to love combo decks, and despise them (I stopped playing Legacy, for example, after they “fixed” the format, and I lost on turn zero to a combo deck). I see deck building as a challenge and a form of self expression.

To that end, I’m willing to try unusual things as long as they interest me. For the longest time I resisted building a Sharuum the Hegemon deck because it held no interest to me. It was too easy to make, too powerful, and too obvious a deck choice. After Scars of Mirrodin came out I built one, but only because I could draw from four artifact blocks’ worth of artifacts to build it (Saga, Mirrodin, Shards, Scars), and even then, I only included cards I found interesting. Despite much magnificent internal synergy, I’ve never fully powered it up. That’d be too easy.

So I’ll often challenge myself to build certain decks with certain generals, and make the decks work; take a sub optimal idea and make a functional EDH deck out of it. There’s skill in this task, because you need to understand why and how decks work.

Read the rest of this entry »