Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Command Tower - Tales from the Drawing Board

by Alex Gershaw

It's lunchtime I'm sat at my desk looking around the MTG Salvation Commander forum, I am obviously bored and looking for a new project to start. I reminisce about the previous deck I built, Niv-Miz, you know the one. It runs such dull instant win combos such as Niv-Miz-curiosity and Niv-Miz-ophidian eye but I love it. It didn't start that way - just ask the little slips of paper in front of my Curiosity or my Ophidian Eye, the ones that say Spiraling Embers or Scrabbling Claws. The deck started out "fun" and all the baggage that complicated word implies.

Commander is this "fun" format where everyone playing is a Timmy (please read that article before telling me I am defining Timmy incorrectly) - not in the "lets all play Craw Wurm" way but in the "We are in this for our enjoyment" everyone involved in a multiplayer commander game is looking for enjoyment.

I enjoy winning. This isn't contradictory to the rules of Timmy, but it is contradictory to the rules of other Timmies - Cue the white mist as we travel to the not too distant past to a game where I am ahead with the capabilities of taking some player from 40 (crazy format commander is) to 0 life in a matter of a double striking, double combat phase. So I do. He sits there grumpy as the rest of us take 30 minutes to finish the game, he didn't find that very fun even though my experience was completely enjoyable. My reasons at the time were clear, "Don't touch my Mirari's Wake", but was it worth watching a friend suffer for 30 minutes... No. I annihilated some one's enjoyment of the game by ending it before they had their fill of crazy EDH goodness.

Back to my story, the one about searching online for a new commander deck - I know quite a journey we went on there. I stumble upon a deck I like the look of a Hermit Druid combo deck. "OMG" I said to myself, like an American teenage school girl, it potentially wins turn 4 against a whole table and it's packing disruption the likes of silence, orim's chant and Teeg with a whole suite of saucy flashback spells. I print off the net-deck and go about highlighting and circling all the cards I didn't believe were necessary so I could make some personal touches.

As a quick aside, I don't often construct decks in this way and I would suggest using either or gatherer as a toolbox to start construction, in this case there was an idea someone else came up with that I wanted to try. Also there is nothing fundamentally wrong with net decking in general but for Commander you should learn and try your own style both in construction and in play, you might learn something.

Back to the story again... "I print off the net-deck and go about highlighting and circling all the cards I didn't believe were necessary so I could make some personal touches." ...

Then it hits me. The back of my mind there is a voice that says, "this deck has no interactivity in fact it goes about silencing and stopping the opponents for an easy win which isn't fun for you or them." I put the highlighter down and I step away from the desk. The reason why none of my playgroup have been vocal about Niv-Miz is because he is relatively new, relatively under tuned and I play the deck in a way that doesn't hamper the fun of others. Sure I counter the occasional vital spell, but sometimes Rite on Wit needs to be experienced.

In the words of a true friend of mine "Winning turn 4 sometimes, isn't fun for all the people involved, it would be much better if you could win turn 15 every time, so that everyone gets a game, everyone gets a chance to play some spells, get some experience and learn something before you combo for the win."

Needless to say (or not since I'm saying it) the deck list went into the recycling bin and I drew a card.

Which leads me to my final point - Combo for the win is legitimate, as much as land destruction and games of chaos. Whatever way you choose to win is fine, as long as everyone picks up their cards at the same time, in order to say "another game?"

Thanks for reading


PS. If anyone wants me to build a Commander deck for them I am willing just define your commander, play style, favourite cards and budget, just post a comment.

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