The Awesome of EDH

November 2, 2011

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Crossover Month

Shoe is the author of, a Magic website devoted to the promotion and archive of alternative formats for casual players. His writing often entails how to play, promote, and build for formats such as Godzilla Magic, Type 4, or Big Box. For more content from Shoe, bookmark If you would like to hear Shoe’s thoughts in audio form, he was a guest host for CommanderCast S2E7: Spicing Things Up, and also appeared on S2E12: The People’s Episode.

It’s a funny thing. We hear a lot about what people hate or want changed about the EDH/Commander format, but the ranks of players whom have decks seem to only increase. Today I want to touch on a little bit of what makes EDH awesome, why that can help us have more fun, and guide us to build decks to promote fun for everyone.

People play EDH for a change of pace from Standard/Extended/competitive formats in general. Here are the major aspects of the format that make it stand out from other sanctioned formats:

EDH is highlander, and has 100 card decks which decreases consistency and makes for different games every time, even if each player plays with the same deck over and over again. This aspect of EDH is frequently averted by tons of tutors. One sentiment that I have seen around the EDH community is that people play too many tutors and I think that sentiment stems from people’s desire to see many different cards and strategies in each game they play. I don’t condone/promote cutting all of the cards in your deck that can search a library. However, think about why you and your friends enjoy EDH before you add Demonic Tutor, Vampiric Tutor, Diabolic Tutor, Beseech the Queen, Grim Tutor and Cruel Tutor all to the same deck.

Another key feature of EDH that draws us in from other formats is the constant availability of the general. People like to build decks based on a theme. Sure, in any format you can build a Laboratory Maniac deck or a Chance Encounter deck, but both of those cards are vulnerable to being removed in somewhat permanent ways such as with Jester’s Cap and its ilk. In EDH, players receive one card that they are virtually guaranteed access to, as long as they have the mana to pay its ever increasing cost. The importance of this idea is my major argument for not allowing tuck to function the way it does in EDH.

Now, this is not another anti-tuck article. But when playing cards like Hinder, Declaration of Naught, or similar General-hosting cards, remember to be sure that people are either ok with that kind of strategy where you play, OR that people play generals that are known to be degenerate and you can get a free pass with these types of cards.

The other lesson we learn from this type of consistency is that building around a general is a lot more fun for yourself and others than just using one for its colors. Sure, sometimes you just need access to that 3rd color and are forced to choose a general that doesn’t fit your theme so well, but when possible, decks that rely on the general to at least some extent are more fun for the whole table.

The last feature of EDH that makes sigit nificantly different from all of the most well-known and supported formats is the larger life total. Many would argue that this is not as important a feature, and that they do not care about this aspect of the format as much as others. Well, I would argue otherwise. People play EDH to have a game where the 7+ Converted mana cost cards become relevant, to have epic plays where someone does something so amazing that the game will be remembered for years to come. Higher life totals bring with it longer games. Mechanics that remove this element such as life total setting effects (Magister Sphinx), Poison Counters (Blightsteel Colossus), and the like make for shorter games, and some groups like that. But again, this is another thing that can lessen the fun of an environment for many average EDH players.

The goal of this writing was to display why most people love EDH, and cards that can threaten the fun of others. Many people enjoy strategies that make EDH less like EDH and more like regular magic. There are only a few select cards that effect EDH in such a manner, and I don’t think most players even recognize that is what those cards can do. If any card alters one of the above things that makes EDH awesome and different, it can easily cause frustration in other players. I know that things like counterspells, discard, or control strategies in general can cause players to complain, and needlessly so, but I think that any complaints regarding the aforementioned cards do deserve a bit of consideration in local groups. People want to have fun, EDH is about the most players having the most fun possible. Here is what makes EDH fun, GET TO IT!

That’s all I’ve got, so until next time…
Use YOUR shoes as counters!

Shoe’s Crossover Month partner from CommanderCast was Andy. You can find his article discussing Type 4 on

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