By Stephen AKA Astray Penguin

Welcome to Hippo Genocide #3 : The hippos didn’t have a witty title.

Combo players in EDH are assholes.

I shall repeat: combo players in EDH are assholes.

If you’re playing EDH you know it’s a broken format, it’s full of the most powerful cards and it’s easy to abuse them, so easy that unless a card is destructive to the format, it is just left alone to run havoc (drawing 6 cards off Skullclamp in one turn comes to mind). This is fine and dandy until you come up against that guy who is running nothing but tutors and combo pieces.

Every time I run into one of these people I ask myself, “why are they even playing?” Are they so desperate to win they have to play 59 tutors.dec and then feel smug because they ruined everyone’s game? Is it even worth calling it a game at that point? Surely a guy who just plays his combo out to win the game isn’t playing a game, he’s just goldfishing. I’ve sat in games where I’ve comboed off in constructed decks (Extended Elves when it was the biggest deck in Extended), the look on people’s face isn’t a pretty one. They think you’re a prick and in that case I was being a prick and proceeded to enjoy it.

Now I want to point out I am a combo player, in Extended I play combo decks. I love going off with combos and watching someone tap out turn 3 so I can drop a Pestermite and win next turn. To me that’s the fun of constructed, I find control mirrors boring and aggro gets stale fast, so it’s combo or mid-range.

My problem comes from the EDH format being a ‘beer and pretzels’ format. You’re not looking to win some packs or get a pro tour invite, so why is your objective to make the game as little of a game as you can? Surely if your only objective is to instantly win the game as early as possible you could do that by never starting the game in the first place.

Combo is an important part of Magic and has a place, but that doesn’t mean it fits into every format. In the eternal formats it’s balanced by things like Force of Will, whereas in EDH you can’t expect to counter every tutor and combo possible, even more so if two people are playing combo in the same game. So next time you’re thinking of sleeving up a combo deck, consider why you’re playing the game at all; surely if your only objective is to combo off you should just sit in the corner and play Magic by yourself.

For those who want to be smart asses and say “regulate your group”, I would like to point out I play on MTGO, I have done so now for over a year and enjoy it more than paper Magic (blasphemy I know), it is impossible to regulate a playgroup when you’re playing with random strangers and you can’t block someone out of a game they’re already in. Now that Wizards are starting to give official support to Commander as a format (And hopefully we will get four colour commanders. Is it really so hard to make a WRUB1 6/6 Legendary creature with protection from green?”), people are going to start pushing the competitive side even more and start to encourage this sort of gameplay. I would not be shocked to see Commander become as cut throat as Standard is on MTGO within the next 6 months and it’s up to you guys as the community to say no to this and keep games about playing, not winning.

That’s all this week folks, I wanted to rant and I didn’t have an article come to mind. If you have any feedback or thoughts send them to or drop me a line on MTGO where my username is Astray_Penguin. I hope to hear from all two of you soon.