This entry is part 19 of 23 in the series (Social) Contract form Below

By Nole Clauson AKA MtGNole

90x90 noleHello and welcome to another season of (Social) Contract from Below. As always, I am your host (and Demonic Attorney) Nole Clauson and I’ll be helping you through the fine print that is the social contract. This article is going to discuss two different truths about my commander playstyle that I have learned over the break.

Conclusion #1: I am thoroughly annoyed by certain aspects of alliances and I get annoyed when players fell they have a right to tell me how I am supposed to play my deck.

Allow me to elaborate. I have no problem with table talk. Part of playing multiplayer is building temporary alliances, working together to maintain game balance, and cursing your “teammates” sudden but inevitable betrayal.



This came out in 2002, but I have no doubt that 99% of you will get the reference.

However, I have a huge problem other players telling me how to play my deck. Now, obviously this does not apply if I’ve missed something or am making an obvious play mistake (I’ll probably thank you if you point out things that will cost me the game.). However, at the end of the day, the spells in my hand are MINE to cast, the dudes on my side of the field are MINE to swing at who I choose, and I if I can and want to knock a player out of the game, that is ultimately MY decision.

This came up in a 4 player game the other day. I was playing Ruric Thar “my first Commander” (yes, that deck is still fun enough to justify playing even though it was made for someone else) against, amongst other things, a group hug deck. Arena and Wurmcoil Engine had most of the board cleared and I could swing out, kill any one player, survive the backswing, and then kill the others the next turn. I thought about it while the other three waited, knowing that I was going to kill (at least) one of them.


I knew what the right call was….


I also knew what was going to happen when I made it….


“Declare attackers, team at {group hug player}…..


My opponents (with the notable exception of the group hug player) lost it. It was like watching through someone going through the stages of grief. From denial (what? why?) all the way to acceptance (ok fine whatever). The kicker came from one of the other players saying “but he’s not even trying to win? Why did you take him out when he’s not a threat to you?” I knew the group hug player pretty well and asked him to show us his hand. He revealed Wrath of God (that would have cleared out my dudes) and Arbiter of Knollridge (that would have reset all of their lives back to my 50+). We then finished the game in short order (I killed the other two on the next turn) and even then I have to defend my actions on taking out the “fun deck.” While the group hug player “got it,” my other two opponents cold not understand why I took out the deck that “wasn’t designed to win” even though to my winning, it was the biggest threat. Which brings me to my second point.

Conclusion #2: Just because you play a deck that is not designed to win, does not mean you should be left alone by those who have.

Both of my other opponents were upset that I took out the deck that was, on its surface, the least threatening. However, I knew that it was the deck that could logically have the treats to stop me. Despite my (in this rare case, superior) threat assessment, I became the bad guy because I attacked the goofy deck. I feel that decks like this (group hug, chaos decks, “theme” decks) get given a pass on being attacked because their decks are designed to do something other than win. Oftentimes, they are simply not attacked because they are less of a threat than a deck designed to win the game. However, they are still a deck, still an opponent, and still (at some point) need to be killed to let someone win.

I’m by no means saying don’t play these kinds of decks. To be honest, one of my favorite commander decks is a five color chaos deck. However, you (as the “goofy” deck player) should not expect to be handed second place on a silver platter just because you are playing your “women with exposed midriffs” deck rather than a more traditional deck that is designed to just win, at least when you are sitting down to play with me.

I’d like to know what you guys think. Do you guys play against decks designed not to win in traditional ways? How do you rank them as far as threat assessment go? Feel free to let me know either in the comments below, on my email at, or on twitter at @MtGNole. See you in two weeks where I’ll be writing about on the topic of our first ever theme week! (Stay tuned!)

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