This entry is part 20 of 23 in the series (Social) Contract form Below

By Nole Clauson AKA MtGNole

90x90 noleHello everyone and welcome to another edition of (Social) Contract from Below. This week is Melvin week here on commandercast, so it’s up to me to write about how the social contract fits into this demographic. But before we jump into that particular jello-filled swimming pool. Let’s take a closer look at what Melvin wants to get out of a game of magic.

green-poolThis picture was surprisingly easy to find.

Above all, Melvin likes rules (and not in the way that judges like rules). Melvin is the one who, when you ask him about his deck, the first thing he will tell you is the considerations that went into building it. While his alter ego Vorthos will tell you about his Captain Sisay “only exposed midriffs” deck or his Ertai, the corrupted deck based on Breaking Bad, Melvin will tell you that his deck is his “all creatures Momir Vig, Simic Visionary deck” or his Vela the Night-Clad deck that only runs a few card with CMC 6+ because “He wanted to make Dark Confidant, Duskmantle Seer and Dark Tutelage playable in Commander. To Melvin, the most egregious offender to flavor is the card Hornet Sting. Not because it’s terrible, but because “green shouldn’t have direct player damage that’s not creature based.” Now it’s only fair to make a confession. I am a huge Melvin. Both of the above decks are mine. I tend to be the one who likes to add extra rules to my deck building, and I am both annoyed and intrigued at cards that break the color pie.

With that bit of soul searching out of the way, let’s move onto how this applies to the social contract. There are a few things that I’ve discovered in dealing with my Melvin-ness

Thing #1: Melvin, know that just because you think your deck cool, you’re going to impress non-Melvins a lot less.

When Melvin makes a deck, he is sort of like Johnny in that he wants his accomplishment acknowledged. However, for Melvin this comes from following the rules and building the deck rather than when the deck actually functions. In the way that Johnny can be compared to a mad scientist, Melvin can be attributed to a mathematician, in that he does not have to see the results of his work, but rather know that it all checks out. The problem comes from the fact that non-Melvins or less Melvin-y people don’t appreciate the interlocking parts of the Melvin’s grand design. As a Melvin, don’t be upset that others cannot see the wow factor in what you have done, and as a non-Melvin, don’t immediately lose interest if something is based around a Melvin-y idea. Remember that deck construction and personalization is a big part of why all of us play this game and part of that is being at least willing to look at and appreciate someone’s deck, even if it’s not your particular brand of vodka.

Thing #2: Melvin, be careful with “Uncle Ben” decks, your desire to push the limit will push other people to theirs.

“Uncle Ben” decks are decks that get near to violating the social contract (the name comes from the one line non-comic book folks know from Spider Man “with great power comes great responsibility”) These are decks like the long time Melvin favorite “Judge Breaker” that is designed to create complicated game states or, to a lesser extent, decks that change how the games is played like group hug or chaos decks. While these decks are catnip to Melvin’s, for many players who want a more traditional game, they are an annoyance at best. Be mindful of your playgroup’s tolerance if you are grabbing a particularly Melvin-y deck.

Thing #3: You’re doing the same thing as Vorthos, he’s just doing it better.

A lot of Melvins I know like to think they are superior to the other “other” (yest it’s there twice) demographic. You’ll hear them shake their heads at “theme decks.” However, to the majority (those who are not either super Melvin or super Vorthos) the things that hardcore Melvins make decks around seem just as dumb. In fact, to the average player, what Melvin does with his deck is harder to understand at first glance. A common line I hear is that “with [Vorthos]’s cute theme deck I get it. Go for the Throat is weak but fits in his Game of Thrones deck. But your all-creatures deck would be awesome if you put primal surge in it, why are you making your deck bad on purpose?” In a way it makes sense, as the rules that Melvin is holding himself to don’t tickle non-melvins like a cool Vorthos theme deck will tickle a non-Vorthos. It’s important to remember that, regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, at the end of the day Melvin is doing the same thing as Vorthos, just using the other half of your brain.

That’s going to do it for me this week, but I’d like to hear from you. Any of my Melvin brethren want to share their cool deck ideas? How about some “Melvin Sympathizers” who “may not like it, but respect it?” Maybe even a Vorthos that want to build the Breaking Bad/Game of Thrones deck that I alluded to in my article? Hit me up in the comments below, at my email @ or on Twitter @MtGNole.

One final thing for all you Vorthos’ that have felt left out this week; don’t worry, your theme week will come later this season.

(Editors Note: This article was heavily edited after publication. Due to operator error, the first draft of the article was posted, rather than the final edtion.)

Series Navigation<< (Social) Contract from Below 19- No, I Don’t Want a (Group) Hug!(Social) Contract from Below 21- Why people Don’t play Commander. >>