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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