This entry is part 02 of 2 in the series Community

By William Hernandez


Hey there Commandercast faithful! In my attempt to keep the columns rolling while we recruit and work with applying writers, I’m back again to climb atop my soap box and preach the good word of Commander!


“If you aren’t making everyone hate you, you’re doing it wrong”.


How many times have I heard that lately? How many times lately have I seen people who are more interested in playing games where their only goal is to make life miserable for other people? I’ve had to play against a couple of those people in the past few months, one of which is in my regular playgroup.


In the game of Commander, we all want to do awesome things. We all have different ideas for what “awesome” means to us though. For the most part, we can hash it out before or after a particularly unpleasant game., but even socially acceptable decks can be used to make plays that leave one or two people saltier than a beach and sometimes people are just trying to defend themselves with whatever tools they have.


I know it’s frustrating to have your aggro deck shut down with what seems like all the removal a deck can throw at you, or having your combo deck beat in the face before you can set up your board, but those are things we all have to deal with. It’s called playing a game of Magic,  as opposed to playing a game of Solitaire that looks like Magic.


About a month ago, I was sitting at a four player pod. Around me was Five-color superfriends, Sliver Queen, and a newer player borrowing a friend’s Trostani deck. I was using an Azami, Lady of Scrolls deck.


I’m sure you’ve already decided what you think of me if you haven’t already. This guy’s playing Azami? Great. He’ll just shut down the game until he combos off. But I make it clear whenever someone brings it up that I don’t play combo Azami. I just like being able to draw cards and it gives me things to think about during other people’s turns. It’s how I like playing mono-blue. For the most part, people seem to accept that and move on with the game.


The game in question was still setting up. Trostani had miracled into Entreat the Angels for three. Not bad, all things considered. The new guy gave one of the angels an Armadillo Cloak and started swinging: one at me, the rest at Superfriends. Ouch. It hurt, but wasn’t anything big.


The next turn, Superfriends goes to wrath the board.


I counter the wrath.


Superfriends proceeds to flip his shit.


The board at the time consisted of the three angels (one of them being powered up), some minor artifact ramp for all of us, Slivers struggling to set up their board, and my lone Thada Adel, Acquisitor.


Okay, so Superfriends had a right to be upset. All I lose is my fish thief and we all get saved from 14 points of power swinging at us every turn if his wrath resolves.


“You have no reason to do that,” he huffed. “You’re just targeting everything on me this game.”


Again, from what the board was like, it would have been better to let the wrath resolve. But  the problem here is that’s only looking at the board.


In my hand I had an Aetherize, and a Roil Elemental. If the angels live, I can take them for myself and start beating people in the face. Alternatively, I could let the new player’s angels keep beating people in the face and let the game speed up that way, with Aetherize as the back-up plan if I was in danger of getting killed.


And let’s not forget Thada Adel. I was still struggling for more mana that I needed in order for her to start grabbing any sort of mana rock she could get her hands on.


From my perspective, I had every reason to counter the wrath effect. Keeping my means to grab more mana and letting someone else have fun while bringing the game to a faster finish is more than enough reason for me. I tried to explain this without giving away my plans, but Superfriends just shook his head. We played on.


Later in the game, I’ve got the board position I want. Roil  Elemental is doing its thing and has stolen a couple of angels. Azami is on board and doing her best to keep my hand full. Superfriends tries to cast Ral Zarek.


Now, aside from being a total ass (I have a history with Izzet mages it seems), I normally don’t have a problem with Ral hitting the board. Want to tap your Gilded Lotus for some extra value? I don’t have a problem with that. But this time, there was a problem. Ral has the power to bolt and I was mighty leery of that bolt going to my elemental. Cue counterspell.


Another instance of frustration for Superfriends. He just wanted to untap his Gilded Lotus. Was I out to ruin his night or something?


“You had no reason to counter him.”


Maybe I’m just overly cautious, but even assuming he was telling the truth, if he had any way to stop an attack on Ral he’d be free to bolt the Elemental on the following turn, or any turn after. I’d lose everything Roil had built for me. I couldn’t have that. What was I supposed to do? Not counter a threat?


The last straw came when Take Possession took Superfriends’s Mana Reflection.


“If you ever play that deck again, I’m attacking you first.”


Wait, what? What did I do?


“You countered everything I tried to play!”


I countered three things and let you have all of everything else.


“Just to steal it!”


I let you have four ‘walkers out and left them alone. I only countered the stuff that threatened my board.


Things cooled down a little, but even after he apologized I bristled a little. I had “no reason” to do the things I was doing? I did have reasons to do what I did. It all made sense to me. Is it just the reputation that blue has?


I can understand frustration at feeling like you’re being unfairly targeted. But to presume that you know how the other person should have been playing just because you’re frustrated doesn’t sit well with me. I’ll protect my things fiercely because I want to keep playing with my cards.


Blue doesn’t get Boros Charm or Rootborn Defense; Blue gets counter magic. You don’t get to tell me how I should feel about my things getting blown up and I’m not going to let someone destroy my board if I have a way to preserve it.


Kaalia gets targeted quite often. I get that. That doesn’t keep me from getting annoyed when people kill her before she’s even swung, but I also don’t take that frustration out on them.


If someone does something that doesn’t make sense to you, ask them about it. But don’t treat them like they’re crazy when they try to tell you that they do have a reason for their actions just because you don’t like it.


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7 Responses to “Community: You Can’t Control Everything”

  1. Beeronious said

    Sounds like somebody has a serious case of counterspell butthurt. Make a new Azami deck made solely of counterspells, card draw and 2 or 3 win cons. Play that next time you run into him. Show him what picking on really is.

  2. Ayumi The Last Visitor said

    Sounds to me more like you were the one getting angry that somebody didn’t like your playstyle tbh. :I After all, you wrote an article about it. I’ve seen a lot of blue mages lately online complaining that people wouldn’t play with them again because the blue mage wants 3 other people to watch them play solitaire for hours.

    Sounds like you were stealing a lot of creatures, countering a lot of spells, all in all doing a lot of stuff that people dislike happening to them. Probably that all added up when he just wanted to have a fun game of magic and you were clearly the one standing in the way of that in this situation. Anyway, I’m not going to say either of you were in the wrong, you probably just need to try different playgroups since you both enjoy different things out of the game.

  3. Eric Walter said

    I originally had a much longer response written up, but it boiled down to is this: I think you were right in your responses, and in your shoes I’d have made the same decisions. Superfriends kept playing spells that impacted you or the whole table, and you had every right to respond to them. That’s multiplayer Magic, in a nutshell. Yeah, it sucks to have things like Wraths and planeswalkers countered/stolen/etc, but in what fantasy land will those go unanswered? Magic is a competitive game, even in casual play, and Superfriends’ attitude is immature. Thankfully the crop of players in my area doesn’t seem to have anyone like that.

  4. John Butt said

    I agree that counterspells are not fun when you are on the bad end of the counter-stick but it is blues way of removal. When red takes a creature for a turn gives it haste attacks back with it then sacrifices it how is that more fare then when a blue mage takes it for a longer time and more offten then not the other player gets there creature back as blue dosent normally play sac-outlets. With a format where just about every deck uses their graveyard in one way or another being contered is not that bg a deal. Now im not defending blue 100% just pointing out that when a player is sitting down to use a mono-coloured deck, they should not be hated out nor told to use another deck when they are useing what that colour has to offer.

  5. Jeremy Parsons said

    After playing a ‘mono-blue’ prismatic deck. A lot of blue’s options for answers do include being a jerk. Either stopping it outright or taking it. I was so offput about counterspells originally in the game, but eventually came to grips with them. There are simply spells that should not happen. Though I admit only my earliest EDH decks with blue really have counterspells in them. (All six have blue, but one uses counterspells to protect its board, and another is my counterspell/grixis board restraint deck specifically. The other decks are too focused on other mechanics to have room for the counterspells)
    That said there are times when it’s just annoying to be immediately downwind of a known counterspell player. Or when you disagree with another player on threat assessment. I just get grumpy and try to punish the offender.
    I had a game the other night where the blue player was doing some strongly shifty things. And meanwhile it was my creatures his girlfriend was handling in her slow start. I knew she’d been having mana problems, so had left her mana rocks alone. But the second time she neutralized one of my things temporarily… well… Parallel Lives > Aura Shards (both already in play) > Trostani’s Summoner. Let’s clear all the artifacts and enchants not mine off the table.

  6. (Matt) I think if you explain why you feel a player’s spell was a threat to you when they get huffy, it’s overall good for you in the game. Once you bring some understanding to them, they’re less likely to take it personally, get angry, and take it out on you later (we are fearful when we don’t understand the motive). They might be flattered that you deem their spells a threat to what you’re trying to do.

    This is especially important when playing a counterspell since, in my opinion, getting a spell countered is the most psychologically unsettling thing that can happen in Magic. Of course it’s not alway possible to explain yourself since you can’t give away future plans, but often you can do this when someone starts to think you’re picking on them.

  7. Michael James Mortensen said

    From where I am standing, the person playing superfriends should come into the game with mindset that either him or you would be target one. Superfriends is a deck archetype bent on abusing one of the most powerful card types in the game, of course it will be seen as a threat.

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