Sunday, 18 September 2011

EDH / Commander play

One of the aspects I like about playing Magic: The Gathering (MTG) is playing the cards in combination with each other for interesting effects and outcomes, and the social play. I do like playing competitively, but I really enjoy play in a relaxed atmosphere, where each person has enough time (and life points) to be able to get some combos out, before the game grinds to a halt due to someone winning. One on one is fine, but it is much more social and fun playing in a group, where alliances can be forged in one turn, only to dissolve in another.

One sub-game of MTG is attempting to address that - called Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH), or as it is better known now MTG Commander. The rules can be found on-line, or in the main website, but in summary:
  • You have 100 single (no duplicate except for basic lands) cards in your deck including your commander card
  • The deck has to be in the same colour as your commander's colour/s
  • The commander must be legendary
  • Your commander starts off in a "commander zone" and stays there until it is ready to be cast - it does not add to your hand total
  • It costs more every time your commander dies to cast it out of the commander zone
  • You have 40 life (instead of the 20 you get in a normal game), but if you sustain 21 or more points of damage from a single commander, you loose
  • Games take longer - not the 25 minutes a normal game may take, but closer to an hour
  • You are encouraged to make up more rules to add more fun to the game
Getting together 100 cards is a lot to ask for, especially if you are new-ish to the game, so to assist, the guys at Wizards (developers of MTG) came out with preconstructed Commander decks - with oversized cards for the deck's commander. Those decks (with their mana colours) are:

1. Heavenly Inferno (white, black, red deck)
MTG Commander - Heavenly Inferno (front)MTG Commander - Heavenly Inferno (back)

2. Mirror Mastery (blue, red, green)
MTG Commander - Mirror Mastery (front)MTG Commander - Mirror Mastery (back)

3. Counterpunch (black, green, white)
MTG Commander - Counterpunch (front)MTG Commander - Counterpunch (back)

4. Political Puppets (red, white, blue)
MTG Commander - Political Puppets (front)MTG Commander - Political Puppets (back)

5. Devour for Power (green, blue, black)
MTG Commander - Devour for Power (front)MTG Commander - Devour for Power (back)

Each deck's checklist can be found on the wizard site, or you can find the entire card list for the MTG Commander set on Gatherer.

Along with that, I also got some sleeves, and storage boxes:
MTG Commander - original box imagesMTG Commander - original box imagesMTG Commander - sleevesMTG Commander - sleevesMTG Commander - Ultra Pro BoxMTG Commander - Ultra Pro BoxMTG Commander - Ultra Pro BoxMTG Commander - Ultra Pro BoxMTG Commander - Ultra Pro BoxMTG Commander - Ultra Pro BoxMTG Commander - Ultra Pro BoxMTG Commander - Ultra Pro Box filledMTG Commander - Ultra Pro Box filled

Since I am new to this format, I have not had a huge opportunity to playtest the different sets. I will be able to give a better indication over time, but I will leave that to another articles. My thanks for allowing me to put all this together goes to:
Lastly, I have noticed some people actually constructing commander decks by hand, and doing this all in one colour. It limits the possibilities you have, but if you can get the cards you need, you can be very annoying for other opponents. Think of an Erayo's Essense (the flipped side of the card) as your commander, and then playing an Arcane Laboratory - hence locking out your opponents from casting regular spells. It would make you very unpopular, very fast.

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