This entry is part 11 of 23 in the series (Social) Contract form Below

By Nole Clauson AKA @MtGNole

90x90 noleSo first a little bit of a warning, this article is going to get a little rant-ish. I watched a wonderful game of commander get ruined a while back and, to be honest, have waited almost a year to tell about as it still makes me want to bang my head against the wall thinking about it.


I hopped into one of those six man Commander games that seem to spawn after FNM each night. These game are a lot like getting the giant Slurpees from the gas station, you know that they are going to take too long to finish and probably give you a headache, but are too much fun not to hop into from time to time. We had a player whose deck contents does not mater, with the exception of a Bloodline Keeper. Another player at the other end of the table (who in all fairness couldn’t see the board state very well), cast Intruder Alarm. This is an infinite combo that would wrap up the game.  While my group frowns on these kind of games (something about one of us writing an article about the social contract every week keeps us honest), it’s not like we got out the torches and pitchforks. It was one of those where the game stopped, the question “Does anyone have a way to deal with this?” was asked and, with everyone shaking their head no, we scooped up our cards and got ready for another game.

The thing that made my blood boil is that as we were shuffling up, someone asked me where I was on that as “You’re the only one who plays answers.” I was kinda taken aback and asked him what he meant. He said “Oh yeah, you’re the one who cares about that whole social contract thing, so it’s your job to make sure that it doesn’t happen.”

I Lost It. I’m not one to yell, especially over something like a casual card game. I instead turned to each of the regular players in the group. I asked the first “Why do you not play Knowledge pool in your Teferi deck?” He answered “it’s boring and kinda ******.” I turned to another player “Why is it that you quit running thieves auction in Norin?” “Are you kidding? The spell takes 20 minutes to resolve.” I turned to player three. “I haven’t seen your Marlen deck recently.” His response was “I took that apart after two weeks, it just comboed into Exsanguinate every game.” I then turned back to the guy who said I was the “Social Contract” guy. “Look, I might talk about it more than others, and I certainly probably think about if my deck is fun to play against more than most, but the social contract is the reason this format is fun. You should be taking care of it just as much as me.” Once he stopped sputtering, (this guy is the kind of guy who wonders why he gets hated off the table after killing the new guy whose trying out commander for the first time with Master of Cruelties and Kailaa), he then decided to try the line that “He didn’t have to play by the social contract if he didn’t want too.” I then (again I’m now keeping a cool demeanor while deciding which dumpster I am going to leave his body in) pointed out that “and I don’t have to play with him either.” At this point I then went ahead and scooped up my cards. His other four opponents also scooped to him. “There,” I said “looks like you won that game.” The five of us then started another game, leaving him on the sidelines. He stomped out of the store (more than one person actually thanked me for causing that) and we did not see him for a while.

Apparently he took the preachings of the good reverend Nole to heart as he came back in a couple weeks and, low and behold, had a deck that was more in tune with our groups play style and while I still don’t like the guy, I can at least stand to be in the same room with him.

So what can we take away from this (other than that I have some severe anger issues I should probably deal with)? The thing that I am trying to say today is that the social contract is everyone’s job. This includes both how you build your decks and how you play. While I could write a book (that exactly no one would like to read) about the social contract, I’d like to give you all a secret about making your commander deck both better and better for your playgroup. Here it is:

Answers are everybody’s job.

This may seem like a rehash of the most common edh deckbuilding tip (play more graveyard hate) and in a way it is. However, it is also more than that. There is an expectation that certain decks are going to do certain things. If the table is about to lose to an enchantment, we expect that the Trostani deck will have something in its 99 to stop it, over some deck like Rakdos. In the same vein, if I need a creature dead I’m gonna expect the Rakdos deck to tell Trostani “sit down, I got this.”

The converse of this is also true. If you know that your deck curls up and dies to Leyline of the Void then you should be packing something to deal with it. While I would never advocate running 40 land, 59 answers, and your general (though isn’t that what Merieke Ri Berit does?), odds are adding a card like Disenchant, Terminate, and Beast Within will not only make your deck better, but make the table love you when you can deal with “that one card.”

Which brings us right into Ruric Thar. This week I’d like to load in the non-creature hate. With Ruric double bolting us with every non-creature spell, if these cards can be attached to creatures (or lands) even better. Shoot out some cool ideas in the comments.

This brings me to something I want to address. Last week Sheldon Menery posted a Ruric Thar list on his weekly Star City Games column. I then got a flood of emails (Ok two, but it’s the most I’ve ever gotten on an article) asking if I was mad that he stole my thunder. The short answer is that I‘m not. I’m almost sure that he does not read commandercast (though if he does I’d love to see him comment on here) and I’m doubly certain he did not do it out of spite (why would he?). That being said I encourage you to check out his take on Ruric Thar as it is definitely different from mine.

So that’s it for this week. Please drop your comments on the article (as well as your thoughts on removal for Ruric Thar) in the comments below. As always you can email me at or hit me up on twitter at @MtGNole where I am currently trying to get both #huntmasterofwinterfell and #FLANNELISCOMING to become a trending hashtag. I’ll see ya’ll next week.

Edit: Right, Links to articles I talk about are helpful here is Sheldon’s take on Ruric:

And here is my current Ruric decklist:

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