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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Oct 08 2014 12:00pm
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I love this game. I love writing about it. Compiling lists about it. Evaluating it. Sometimes, I even play it. I'm an Accidental Player.


 Welcome back to the wonderful world of competitive Commander multiplayer, featuring decks and games from Sunday Commander, the PRE I run every Sunday at 16:00 GMT! Enjoy.

 Table of Contents

  1. Commanding News
  2. Commanding Interview: justcanceled
  3. The SUNCOM Chronicles
  4. Commander Resources


 We have a special edition for the Commander side of Accidental Player today. While the Magic world has started chasing the 5 new wedge-colored commanders from Khans of Tarkir, and spoilers for the upcoming Commander 2014 decks are still severely lacking, and while the SUNCOM events have struggled to fire lately (hopefully, the two abovementioned new influxes of cards will make everyone eager for some free Commander tournaments again), we take the chance to meet closely one of the most influential player in the competitive arena, through a long interview with the ten-time SUNCOM and two-time Table of Champion winner justcanceled.

 Before that, though, we have to acknowledge the latest change in the Commander banned list, that came through this announcement by Papa Funk of the EDH Rules Committee. The news in itself is barely relevant: Metalworker is unbanned, and they'll also stop having cards banned only as commander, which results in Kokusho, the Evening Star being unbanned as well, while all the other previously banned commanders (Braids, Cabal Minion, Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary, and Erayo, Soratami Ascendant) are now also banned as regular cards. So, essentially, green loses a ramp guy and colorless gets one back.



One thing most of these cards have in common: terrible art.

 What's really interesting, however, is a throwaway sentence in the post, where Papa Funk is addressing the way they looked at each banned commander to decide if they should have ended up unbanned or become banned completely. At some point, he says this:

Erayo was the most contentious; it's a bigger problem in competitive play, which we don't really consider

 So, they outright admit, in an official statement about the banned list, that they don't consider competitive Commander when they regulate the format. Is it just me, or is there a basic contradiction in this idea? If they don't care about competitive play, and they know that there are cards that aren't banned that pose a "bigger problem" in that environment than they do in casual, then why do they even bother maintaining a banned list to begin with? What exactly prevents "casual players" from playing competitive broken cards, yet they can't be trusted to avoid other problematic cards? I really struggle in finding any sense in this. It's like saying, "we advocate casual Legacy only. So our banned list contains Windfall but not Oath of Druids, because Oath of Druids is only played competitively". I mean, how can you even draw the line? You either trust play groups of casual players to regulate themselves, or you don't, and if you don't, then you have to treat them as competitive players. After all, Magic was originally played casually until some casual player found out that, hey, you can put 30 Lightning Bolts and 10 Mountains together. Or Channel and Fireball. It's like the Homo sapiens discovering fire, which leaded to the atomic bomb down the line.

 I really hope the contradictions in the way Commander is handled will be resolved in the near future, because the more the format becomes popular and supported, the more competitive players will start playing, the more these contradictions will appear evident.


 Most players who came to play SUNCOM can remember playing on a table with this guy... and probably losing to him. With ten total event wins and two Tables of Champions out of three, justcanceled has probably been the most successful player in these first 2 years of the tournament (the only player who won more events is raf.azevedo with 13, yet raf never won a Table of Champions). Here's the full list of justcanceled's victories and decklists (click on the name of the commander to see them, Gatherling lists only starting with SUNCOM 48):

  1. SUNCOM 34 with Heartless Hidetsugu
  2. SUNCOM 40 with Thada Adel, Acquisitor
  3. SUNCOM 42 with Thada Adel, Acquisitor
  4. SUNCOM 46 with Riku of Two Reflections
  5. SUNCOM 53 with Azami, Lady of Scrolls
  6. SUNCOM 55 with Rakdos, Lord of Riots
  7. SUNCOM 56 with Ruhan of the Fomori
  8. SUNCOM 57 with Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
  9. SUNCOM 62 with Jeleva, Nephalia's Scourge
  10. SUNCOM 83 with Child of Alara




9 commanders, 10 wins.

 What can you tell us about your non-MTGO you? Where do you live, what do you do, that kind of stuff.
 Hi, my name is JC. I’m a 28-year-old American from Little Rock, Arkansas, and I’m addicted to magic and bacon. I’m currently employed as a programmer and business analyst. I live in a house (aka "the bachelor pad") with a buddy of mine from college. I typically work some, school some and play hard. That’s my life in a nutshell.

Little Rock, with its typical balloons.

 Why "justcanceled"?
 Wizards apparently had an issue with the name I had originally chosen. All of the replacement names I conjured up were either blocked or taken. I was annoyed by the fact my prior name was “just canceled”. So it’s my silent protest. Plus, I actually go by JC.

 Aside from playing Magic, do you have any other intensive hobby? What do you like to do in your free time?
 Aside from libations and social gatherings, I enjoy playing and listening to music. I can play the piano and the drums. I also enjoy soccer and kickball; however I’m still recovering from an injury or two I sustained earlier this year. I have a foosball and pool table at home which I enjoy frequently. I do play some Call of Duty on my Xbox 1. I also play most board games, especially chess and Candy Land. I also play dominoes, inebriated Jenga and spades with friends regularly.

Looks fun. And terrifying.

 How's the Magic scene in Little Rock? And what does it mean for you to meet so many different people from so many different places online, and share the same game with them?
 There is somewhat of a Magic scene here. A few places to aggregate have spawned in the last few years. I have  some coworkers that I’ve played paper magic with. I really don’t have the physical collection to enjoy competitive or casual play. We did attend a paper draft once together, but I normally devote my Magic time and resources to MTGO – lately some of Blippy's or your wonderful events. I enjoy meeting and playing with other people online. The cultural diversity is a nice bonus. I value the differences and similarities in people and ideas. Playing with, and hopefully beating, other players from around the world can also be satisfying.

 When/how did you get started playing MTG and MTGO?
 I started playing Magic around the age of 7. I was exposed to it by a classmate and his father. Unfortunately my first set was Homelands, but I enjoyed playing the game nonetheless. I became disconnected from the game due to time and financial restrictions, but I picked it back up online when I got older around MTGO V2.
  As for paper Magic, I have a few coworkers that I'm friends with that have some paper cards. I personally don't have the paper collection to really play. As I mentioned, I did play in a paper draft with some friends at a local store. And I suppose I could play offline and build up my paper to par because there is enough of a community to play, but I'd rather just stick with my online collection and play only almost exclusively online.
 In the last few months I've only played in SUNCOM and that's not even constant due to time constraints. In the past I've played in Tribal Apocalypse and any Modern PREs I could find. I also took part in some of the Modern MTGO events but the innate time commitment is always difficult. Lots of 2-man, 8-man, etc. I would even qualified for some events and never play. I just enjoy the game. I try to take rogue-ish builds and win out.

The most reviled set in Magic history.

 What would you say is your Timmy/Johnny/Spike percentage?
 I consider myself to be 68.8% Johnny, 31.2% Spike. I started off purely as a Johnny; I really enjoyed card interactions and being as creative as possible. My objective was and mostly still is to be competitive with my own brews in any format. I’d like to think that I’ve turned a crap rare or two into tourney staples. But I must admit, if I see a card interaction that peaks my interest I don’t mind duplicating and retrofitting into a creation of my own. I will play some staples in our Commander format for the sake of consistency. But I try to limit my usage of power cards, and tend to only use them as a means to an end. I really only enjoy victories that I feel are “cool”.

 Are you satisfied about your current MTGO collection? How do you feel about spending money on MTGO to better one's collection?
 I’m fine with my currently collection. I’ve built it up slowly over the years mostly from my PRE or sanctioned winnings, and the occasional personal contribution. Although I’d love to own a foiled out playset of every online card, I’d personally rather spend my money elsewhere. I think building up one’s own collection is generally fine. I tend to purchase my cards whimsically to fit into whatever deck just came to mind. I do think that the expense of certain cards can be a double-edged sword to the game. Those with more liquid assets have access to better cards. I’ve seen and played many a player online with expensive cards they didn’t know how to use. But to each his own, I say. Money doesn’t the player make.

 So, the Commander format. What's the appeal for you? And since when you're playing it? Do you play it in paper too?
 I started playing commander/EDH a little while after it first came online. I really enjoy the dichotomy of its innate randomization yet constructible consistency. The deck size and singleton construction leaves so much room for variety and creativity. I also savor the flavor that the Commander brings. It can both limit and add to decks in so many ways. Who could resist?

 What's the word you use when you think of it, "EDH" or "Commander"?
 Commander, probably, due to the fact that it’s called that way online.

 Do you play 1v1 too? Don't you feel like it's not even the same format, and that's basically came to be by accident? (Because I do).
 When I play casually, it’s generally 1-on-1. I agree with that sentiment, though. It does have a different metagame. Very much comparable to any other multiplayer format versus its match-playing complement. Multi-targeting and slower strategies become worse while more controlling and aggressive tactics get better. I enjoy it, though. There are usually fairly creative but more competitive decks. I like the challenge and feel that it helps give a good gauge of my decks’ strengths and overall playability.

 What do you think of Sheldon Menery essentially controlling the destiny of Commander, and generally of the way WotC is handling it?
 I feel that he has done a decent job with spreading the format to the Magic community. I do wish that he and Wizards would think of the format on a grander scale. I understand that they wish to sustain the casual feel of the format but in my humble opinion they fail to see the competitive potential.

Sheldon Menery, the Commander's godfather.

 You've won 10 SUNCOM events with 9 different commanders, plus 2 consecutive Table of Champions. What's your secret?
 I wish I had a good answer to that. I suppose having a good understanding of the format and my decks. I tend to know what I need to win, and have a keen sense for seizing the moment.

 While we're talking competitive Commander, where do you stand on the endless debate on what's casual and what's not? Within Commander it's an especially topical argument, because Menery and all the official supporters of the format see it as a casual format only. But once you create a tournament of something, isn't the causal element automatically absent?
 As I said earlier, I’m a supporter of both competitive and casual play. Their recent ban of Sylvan Primordial reflects from a more casual multiplayer environment. They need to create space for more competitive play; at the least some recognition of the distinction. This way, I think it would improve general gameplay more than hindering it.


On the left: scary. On the right: harmless. According to the EDH Rules Committee.

 Speaking of your build specifically, care to comment your five favorite ones you won events with? (Click on the names to see the list).

 Jeleva: I really try to make my commanders have synergy with my decks. And to turn your commander into part of a card combo seemed pretty awesome. Side note: Menery actually noted that Enter the Infinite would never be viable in Commander.

 Heartless Hidetsugu: I should bring this one back. I purely enjoy the crazy accelerated game states it creates. I’d argue it’s somewhat of a more challenging deck to play, purely based on decision-making. Plus, red is probably my favorite magic color.

 Rakdos: This deck was unique and fun to play. Though not quite my style, it’s cute to win with cheated-in, big powerful colorless creatures. I think it was fairly solid normally, but during the event it won in, I felt like I was playing in a red/black magical Christmas land.

 Child of Alara: 5-color in singleton multiplayer. Not much else to comment on that.

 Thada Adel: I’m not a huge fan of the overpowered small artifacts (you have to play them, though). Stealing my opponent’s Sol Rings makes me giggle.

 You have a habit of giving weird, funny, or surreal names to your decks (like "Blue balls is what I got" for Azami, or "Chocolate Thunda" for Teferi, or "Jeleva looks like she's holding something"). What do you have to say about that?
 My deck names, huh? Lol. I just like to have fun and be original. Decks, decknames, and playing style can really tell a lot about a player and their personality. I'd like to think mine come off as fun, and different with a small dash of complexity.

 Of all your opponents in these two years of SUNCOM, has there been someone you liked best to have at the same table? Either because they're fun, or bring interesting builds, or because beating them was always a challenge.
 I really enjoy playing any of the players in SUNCOM. I could actually make a small list. If I had to choose one person, it’d probably be the now retired raf.azevedo. He and I played each other at the final table often, and some of those matches were the most memorable and challenging I ever played. We would often silently build against each other in anticipation or retaliation.

 Next card you plan to make be ban?
 Haha. I suppose I’ve made some nice donations to the ban list, like all that blue stuff. I wouldn’t mind people giving me some fresh ideas.


 SUNCOM 86 winner: mihahitlor with Krenko, Mob Boss. Decklist here. Miha's mission to make Goblin aggro-combo into a Commander staple keeps going.

 SUNCOM 87 winner: mikey k159 with Sliver Queen. Decklist here. Like the name of the deck admits, this is more or less just mikey's monoblue Mind Over Matter list hidden behind a random multi-colored commander that the deck can't even cast, and is there only to allow for the presence of (Yagwmoth's Will). It's certainly not the same as having Azami or Arcanis as the actual commander, so it's fine, I guess. It's playing Commander as if it were 100-Card Singleton, which is a legit approach. Next time use Karona, False God or Cromat, mikey, it'd be more amusing! (I should consider not giving this win to Sliver Queen, indeed, because it puts her one step closer to be banned for no reason).

 SUNCOM 88 winner: Dwarven_Pony with Arcum Dagsson. Decklist here. Newcomer Dwarven Pony hit the jackpot at his first try, thanks to the power of artifact fetching. I'll be sad when all the great fetching commanders like Arcum and Sisay will be gone from SUNCOM (after they'll get to their fifth win), but their inherent brokenness makes it inevitable.


81 cards with colorless identity for every Commander deck (review here, propose additions)

 LANDS: Command Tower, Opal Palace, Vesuva, Thespian's Stage, Strip Mine, Wasteland, Ghost Quarter, Tectonic Edge, Dust Bowl, Homeward Path, Reliquary Tower, Winding Canyons, Miren, the Moaning Well, Boseiju, Who Shelters All, Maze of Ith, Mystifying Maze, Thawing Glaciers, Reflecting Pool, Deserted Temple.

 MANA ACCELERATORS/MANA FIXERS: Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, Mana Vault, Everflowing Chalice, Grim Monolith, Mind Stone, Worn Powerstone, Thran Dynamo, Dreamstone Hedron, Coalition Relic, Chromatic Lantern, Gilded Lotus, Expedition Map, Armillary Sphere, Journeyer's Kite, Solemn Simulacrum, Doubling Cube, Extraplanar Lens, Gauntlet of Power, Caged Sun.

 EQUIPMENTS: Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, Whispersilk Cloak, Darksteel Plate, General's Kabuto, Champion's Helm, Skullclamp, Umezawa's Jitte, Sword of Fire and Ice, Sword of Light and Shadow, Sword of Feast and Famine, Basilisk Collar, Loxodon Warhammer, Nim Deathmantle, Argentum Armor.

 DRAWING/TUTORING: Sensei's Divining Top, Scroll Rack, Seer's Sundial, Mind's Eye, Illuminated Folio, Staff of Nin, Citanul Flute, Planar Portal.

 ANSWERS: Ratchet Bomb, Powder Keg, Oblivion Stone, Nevinyrral's Disk, Contagion Engine, Duplicant, Steel Hellkite, Triskelion, Karn Liberated, All Is Dust, Spine of Ish Sah, Predator, Flagship. NEW ENTRY: Perilous Vault.

 MISCELLANEA: Crucible of Worlds, That Which Was Taken, Quicksilver Amulet, Trading Post, Wurmcoil Engine, Sculpting Steel.

And that's it. See you in the SUNCOM room next Sunday at 16:00 GMT, and with the Commander Chronicles here next month! Commander ho!


I think your issues with the by Leviathan at Wed, 10/08/2014 - 13:22
Leviathan's picture

I think your issues with the change to the ban list are worth discussion. However, to me, the bigger issue with the ban list change was how unnecessary it was, specifically changing the "banned as commander" rule.

The reasoning behind this ban just doesn't make sense. It was supposedly about "streamlining" the banned list. It was not about the fact that it was "confusing" though, as the RC made a point of specifically discussing this and saying that they knew that people understood the rule. So why are they doing it? Especially since just in July with their last ban announcement where nothing got banned, the RC noted that they were very happy with the format, and there was nothing they were thinking of banning at the time? Why the sudden change in tune?

Could it have had anything to do with the fact that MTGO v4 can't handle the "banned as Commander" rule? Specifically, you were able to play Rofellos as your Commander during the entirety of the existence of the Beta, despite several reports being filed by me and friends. MTGO not being able to handle this "banned as Commander" seems like the only reason that would cause such a sudden change in tune from the RC. If so, why are there changes being made to the ban list that should easily be handled by coding MTGO correctly? How much sway does Wizards actually have over the RC now, especially as the RC seems to pride itself as being "outside" the corporate structure?

It may be out there, but I haven't seen anything where the RC specifically denies this issue. Even more damning in my eyes, Sheldon made no mention of it in his articles over at Starcity. Each time there has been any change to the ban list, Sheldon uses his articles to talk about the changes and why they were implemented. He also talks about how long the cards in question have actually been problematic, or the process he has used to determine whether a card should be unbanned. But nothing from him this time. Not a peep. Why no discussion of the thought process behind these bans, Sheldon? Unless there is no legit reason besides a request from Wizards, and you don't want to show who is pulling the strings behind the scenes.

It just frustrates me because despite the fact that it only effects a few cards, each of these cards were valuable and served a purpose. And "streamlining" seems like a bogus excuse because I've never heard of anyone having a problem with "banned as commander." I have yet to hear any reasonable explanation for this change that appeared out of nowhere, with no player input. When the RC talks about how they aren't part of Wizards, this lack of transparency just stings. If MTGO is the problem, fix the problem! Don't just work around it by changing the format.

They are likely not getting by Paul Leicht at Wed, 10/08/2014 - 15:05
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They are likely not getting paid (as a group) by WOTC, and if they don't cowtow to WOTC they probably lose very little but at the same time many of them are probably well connected to the corp and feel obligated to accept mandates from them. After all this relationship is fairly fragile. Any time WOTC feels that the RC isn't doing the job they want it to do they can just pull the plug.

So while they aren't employees I doubt it is accurate to say they are outside the corporate structure. As for the ban changes, well they just plain don't make sense. So why bother explaining them?

I agree with you Paul. So by Leviathan at Wed, 10/08/2014 - 17:14
Leviathan's picture

I agree with you Paul. So what if they had said this in their ban announcement: "Someone at Wizards mentioned that MTGO was having a hard time with 'banned as Commander' and that got the RC thinking that this isn't something we really need. So we went over the pros and cons, and decided to get rid of it." That wouldn't have been so bad. Sure there would still be some people who complain that MTGO shouldn't be the reason behind changing the ban list, but at least we would have an idea of what happened, and it would make sense. The whole "streamlining" reasoning by itself is just nonsense.

I don't know, I don't really by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 10/08/2014 - 23:00
Kumagoro42's picture

I don't know, I don't really see the conspiracy here, Mike. I think it might as well be a case where they gave a new look at the banned list (as they're supposed to do periodically), and decided that it was time to get rid of the "banned as commander" rule, which was never particularly elegant (and newbies did find it confusing).

I don't think it was due to MTGO, at least not uniquely. More like, "Okay, MTGO is having issues with this. Is it worth it to push for it to be fixed, or at this point, we might well just get rid of it and call it a day?". I think I would have come to the same decision. After all, it seems a pretty harmless change to implement, so why even bother? I don't foretell any impact on the format: Braids and Erayo as regular cards range between irrelevant and occasionally still annoying, and green ramp will barely notice the absence of Rofellos.

One fact that makes your conspiracy theory debatable is that they didn't just handle the "banned as commander" stuff. They also unbanned Metalworker. So while last time there was nothing to change, this time they found something. It happens with DCI bans too. Of course, this is where the seed of the Great Commander Contradiction resides, because DCI uses tournament results to engineer meta changes. The EDH Rules Committee, instead, doesn't monitor anything more than the games they themselves play. (Another contradiction: why does the committee still refer to EDH when overseeing a format that's called Commander? These aren't certainly signs of being up to date with what the players think and do, as kids at the game stores buy Commander products and don't even know what EDH is.)

But as I said, the main issue to me is that saying that you're making a banned list exclusively for non-competitive play is like saying that you organize events only for people who don't play in organized events.
After that announcement, I'm more certain than ever that the sooner DCI will intervene in the matter, and will start treating Commander as a proper Magic format, the better. As justcanceled said in the interview, Menery did a great job to bring Commander to a wide audience. But now it's become too big to still be managed from his kitchen.

The difference with by Leviathan at Thu, 10/09/2014 - 12:48
Leviathan's picture

The difference with Metalworker is that it has been discussed for years as something to unban. Typically after each ban announcement there's at least a couple of threads on sites asking "why haven't they unbanned Metalworker yet?" That's different from the "banned as commander" issue, where there had been literally no concern or outrage that this issue existed.

Heck, if you want to go deeper into conspiracy mode, you can say that the RC was trying to appease people that were losing Rofellos by replacing him with another mana ramp dude, albeit one that helps artifact players rather than Green players. I'm not saying this is true at all, but it is funny.

The RC went out of their way to point out that this was not done due to any confusion issues. Quote from Sheldon on 9/14/14 (practically the only thing he has said about the bans btw): "I went back to the announcement to make sure we didn't say that people are confused by the 'banned as commander' status. We didn't. 'Streamlined' is the operative word there. No one implied that players (or potential players) aren't smart enough to understand the difference." So they specifically aren't doing it because of confusion issues. Really, why was this unnecessary change done then? You can see the quote here: http://mtgcommander.net/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=17212

I'm not trying to say what happened was a conspiracy. I just think that this was a totally unnecessary change that likely should have been handled by FIXING MTGO. Seriously, don't let MTGO's problems affect my game (even if MTGO is the reason I don't play it anymore, I'm hoping that it will improve at some point). If MTGO had something, anything, at all to do with this decision, just say so.

I don't know why it should be by Rerepete at Thu, 10/09/2014 - 10:58
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I don't know why it should be a problem for MTGO to handle the "Banned as Commander" list. Just check the sideboard separate from the maindeck for the banned commanders. Simple coding to add in an extra legality loop. They have to check that the sideboard is one card, legendary and what its colors are already.

I am sad. I really like by KaraZorEl at Wed, 10/08/2014 - 19:03
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I am sad. I really like Braids! I had a ton of fun with her.

Also, Sylvan Primordial created unfair early games and uneven late games. It got even worse with bant bouncing and black recursion. It more or less says, "Seek the Horzion + Destroy 3 Target Lands + a big old body on the field."

If the destroy non-creature permanent part was taken out, it would be strong, but not unbeatable.

This might be true in casual, by Kumagoro42 at Wed, 10/08/2014 - 23:10
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This might be true in casual, but it's not true in competitive play (not to mention in 1v1). As I said elsewhere, in almost 2 years of SUNCOM tournaments, Sylvan Primordial was barely noticed, and its absence has been barely noticed since the banning. Deadeye Navigator was the problem. Navigator doesn't care for Primordial's ramp, because you get infinite mana with Palinchron & co. already. But according to official rules, Deadeye Navigator can still wreak havoc as much as it likes, provided it doesn't use Primordial (so it'll keep using Acidic Slime, Woodfall Primus, etc. etc.).

And this is just one of about two or three dozens of problematic cards that should have ranked higher than Primordial in the "To Ban" list. But how would the Committee know? By their own admission, they don't play competitive Commander!

Oh wizards by justcanceled at Thu, 10/09/2014 - 15:31
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Competitive Commander just isnt a priority to them. They appear content with only attracting casual players and their "bans" reflect that. Shame.

I think that is true but look by Paul Leicht at Thu, 10/09/2014 - 19:32
Paul Leicht's picture

I think that is true but look at the context. The format started as a purely casual way for players (judges mostly) to kick back after a tourney was over. Slowly it caught on to various people some of whom worked for WOTC. So to the rules committee (and Wizards by proxy), Commander (EDH) IS a casual format, first and foremost. In fact the only reason it is on MTGO at all is because workers coded it in their spare time to play it casually.

The fact that they added 1v1 play and that MTGO somewhat more encourages the competitive player mindset does not negate this history. Looked at in that light, maybe it's just a matter of time and patience for them to come around to seeing that there IS a competitive side to the format.

This is all true, but I feel by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 10/09/2014 - 22:19
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This is all true, but I feel like we're way past this phase once Commander has become a product sold in worldwide stores that sells more than any other multiplayer product they attempted. It's a corporate brand now, they have to treat it that way, for better or for worse. It can't be "the format the judges play to relax" anymore. That's the genesis. But things evolve.

I'm actually amazed how corporate interests didn't take over already. And it's weird that I'm rooting for that to happen!

They didn't treat Archenemy by Paul Leicht at Thu, 10/09/2014 - 23:24
Paul Leicht's picture

They didn't treat Archenemy or Planechase any differently. Those casual format/products sold quite a bit and were supported by multiple (casual) events and yet no one is even making noises that they should be treated more formally.

I get it. I am someone who has played competitive commander multiplayer (though think 1v1 is an abomination.) Read my old articles if you have forgotten that.

But I don't think WOTC does, yet. Give them time, keep piqueing their interest with articles and forum posts and keep running SunCom and other Commander events on MTGO. That's how it will happen. Probably help your cause if Blippy gets involved since he seems to have some inside juice. :p

Why is 1v1 commander an by longtimegone at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 00:15
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Why is 1v1 commander an abomination while something like Two Headed Giant Standard is fine? Is there some reason why it's only acceptable to create alternate formats that use more players than usual rather than less?

I'm very aware that 1v1 commander is a format that plays nothing like multiplayer commander. I don't see that as any sort of problem, just something you need to be aware of going in.

I think you may have read too by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 01:17
Paul Leicht's picture

I think you may have read too much into my opinion there. It is merely not my cup of tea. I am not all that fond of 2hg standard either really as the decks team mates come up with tend to be pretty broken for the format.

I dislike the way commander rules set up the 1v1 game where 100cs imho was somewhat balanced. Commander 1v1 is just something that rubs me the wrong way (hence my hyperbole.) Don't take it to heart.

Fair enough. The wording made by longtimegone at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 02:03
longtimegone's picture

Fair enough. The wording made it sound like you were opposed to the very concept, I can certainly understand someone just not enjoying the format.

I'd say it's pretty rare that by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 02:13
Paul Leicht's picture

I'd say it's pretty rare that I am dead set against anything without caveat. 1v1 cmdr is definitely popular in some places and I can't blame people for enjoying it. In fact I want people to enjoy magic in as many ways as possible as long as it doesn't involve me actively not having fun.

I was extremely dissapointed by DrDrJ at Thu, 10/09/2014 - 20:12
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I was extremely dissapointed in the recent round of bannings and am still incredibly annoyed by the Sylvan Primordial banning.

First: Rofellos. The issue with this banning is that ramp and creatures are supposed to be green's strengths. In commander though, ramp is easily attainable in every color due to the absurd number of mana rocks. So, the reality of this banning is that due to the lowered ratio of green ramp to colorless ramp, the strength of this color as a whole is severely injured. While it has been said that green ramp will "barely notice" this change is just not true. There is not a single other 2-drop or combination of 2 and 1 drops that can replace the utility of rofellos. For a long time it has been true that if a green ramp deck plays against any other deck with sol ring or mana crypt in it's opening hand, there is a roughly 90% chance of losing (yes, I have quantitatively tracked this in my own playing). Which begs the question, why weren't these banned instead? It was said in the interview that you have to play mana rocks. It's not even a strategic question, it's a necesity. The most insulting part of this banning is that concurrently with this ban metalworker is unbanned. How absurd is that?

Second: Sylvan Primordial. Well yeah, it was banned last round, but I still want to say something about it here. I'm not angry at the fact that this card was banned as much as I am angry that there are literally 20 or 30 other 7-drops that are more degenerate than this. There are at least 20 cards that might as well say "LOL, I have 7 mana now, I win." Yet Sylvan Primordial was banned. It's already been said that Sylvan Primoridal itself wasn't the problem, it was the degenerate blue bounce and copy spells that made it a problem. Namely Rites of Replication and Deadeye Navigator have always been the real issue, because both far more easily unbalance a game than Sylvan.

Yeah, like you said, by Kumagoro42 at Thu, 10/09/2014 - 23:04
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Yeah, like you said, Metalworker back in, Rofellos out, Sol Ring/Mana Crypt/Mana Vault untouched just prove once more that they're not looking at the format from a competitive point of view (then again, they outright admitted as much). I don't know how you can even do that. How can you tell what's bad for casual players and what's not, on the basis of "because casual players don't play it anyway"?

It's an approach that's likely to generate a mess, and it's gotten worse in late years, because most of the original EDH ban list was just obvious stuff that worked as a basic guideline for casual players to have a common ground to operate. Like, of course you can't play Karakas, because the format just doesn't make sense with Karakas in it. Those are the cards that "a ban list for casual players only" (assuming it's even conceivable) should include. Then specific playing groups would be free to ban Sol Ring, or Sylvan Primordial, or Shivan Dragon, if they like.

And while I played green ramp for years and I never really used Rofellos (as I want a safe, stable ramp, not one that has a 90% probability to end killed within 2 turns — which is why Rofellos was scary only as a commander), I totally hear you about Primordial being very low on the list of problematic cards, if it ever made that list at all, whereas Deadeye Navigator (and many others) being left free to roam makes me wonder if they ever experienced it in the hands of someone who wasn't actively trying not to win, which seems to be their idea of "casual".

We all know the debate on the actual meaning of the term "casual" is very ample and complex, and pretty much impossible to conclusively settle, but in my idea, playing casual means not pursuing 100% efficiency at any cost, and instead going for elaborate interactions that you pull off once every third game if you're lucky (plus, not trying to end the game as soon as possible, which is about your style of play more than the cards in your deck). Still, if you put Deadeye Navigator in there, it's hard to not think what other cards would be good with it. In fact, I posit that if you're playing Deadeye Navigator without seeking meaningful Johnny interactions for it (which in the end would inevitably land you on some quite degenerate stuff), you're not doing the format any favor, because you're not keeping it casual, you're dumbing it down. Smart, creative deck building is the oxygen of the game. A format that wants for you to avoid that is a format that has an identity problem.

If a card like Deadeye Navigator is not compatible with casual play (and I don't think it's compatible even with competitive play!), then the access to it has to be prevented. Either that, or no cards except the format-specific ones (Karakas, Coalition Relic, etc.) should be banned, leaving to the players the choice, especially on MTGO, where the client enforces the ban list for you. They trust casual players not to play Deadeye Navigator yet they don't trust them with Sylvan Primordial: that's the heart of the contradiction. "Let's have a fair fight, so no guns. You can use chemical weapons and land mines, though."

The trouble with using by AJ_Impy at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 09:50
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The trouble with using 'Smart, creative deckbuilding' as a goal is that this is essentially an aesthetic distinction, according to the tastes of the players involved. One player's creative is another's derivative. It is entirely possible to get a group of commander players who consider Deadeye Navigator an interesting and useful part of the format, and that viewpoint is just as valid, for much the same reasons, as saying that using it is dumbing down the format.

When you're dealing with aesthetic factors, legislating for and around them is a fool's errand.

No, my point wasn't clear. by Kumagoro42 at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 11:42
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No, my point wasn't clear. Using Deadeye Navigator doesn't dumb down the format; quite the opposite. It's a great Johnny card. The things it creates are magnificent.

Now, the problem is that if you investigate properly its applications, if you use Deadeye Navigator as food for brain, like Magic as a game is supposed to encourage (according to Rosewater, for one), it inevitably leads to degenerate board statuses. It is, as we say, "broken".

In order to accept it as a casual card, you have to dumb down the Navigator itself. You have to pretend you don't know what Palinchron or Acidic Slime do when paired with it. But a casual deck is not a dumb deck. We have great casual deckbuilders on PureMTGO, first among them CottonRhetoric. His decks are never dumb. They don't include cards that don't get fully exploited. If a card isn't suitable for a casual environment, he just doesn't include it.

This is the objection I and others make: if by definition Commander is a casual format, and if certain cards aren't allowed because they're "too much", then it's assumed that the Commander players will play all the remaining cards, including cards like Deadeye Navigator (which is just the example at hand here, one of many), in a way that won't lead to degenerate statuses, therefore in a way that stops short of investigating their full applications. (Leading to two categories of "problem cards": those that you're prevented from playing because they're banned, and those that you're not supposed to play "competitively", if at all).

Either that or they never experienced those degenerate statuses on a regular basis, because, by their own admission, they never put the format to the test of a competitive environment, which is where the issues come to light: when people try to win first and foremost, they'll do whatever the format allow them to. If you only test a car at 30 mph, you'll never know what happens when someone pushes it to 100.

I see your point and your by AJ_Impy at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 14:31
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I see your point and your reasoning. It's a fair comment. The question is, do we want to see what they'd do to the banned list in the name of keeping it casual if we give them the competitive data to work with? My thought is both parties would walk away unhappy from that.

The solution seems obvious. by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 16:10
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The solution seems obvious.

2 lists: one for Commander, the Bloodsoaked Venture into Grisly Horror movies. And one for Commander, the fluffy teddy bear syndrome.

Here is where we disagree to by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/10/2014 - 16:08
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Here is where we disagree to some extent in that it isn't dumbing anything down to not to exploit an already known exploit. I hate that kind of thinking that puts things in boxes and packages them neatly. If I come up with a cool johnny combo I don't want to have to repeat it a billion times just because it is cool and the most efficient way to build. Efficiency kills creativity to some extent. Sometimes you have to be willing to use sub par cards/interactions if you want to see what's on the other side of "What if?"

Also an aside to your analogy: Sure going 100mi an hour will get you there faster but you might hit a few old ladies and kids on the way home. There is a REASON for speed limits. :p

Yeah, but we're talking of by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 10/11/2014 - 00:02
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Yeah, but we're talking of different things. You're criticizing the player's approach that uses Deadeye Navigator (to keep using it as the one example at hand) to try and win through the same, deadliest Deadeye Navigator combos.

Whereas I'm criticizing the manager's approach that assumes Deadeye Navigator is (relatively) harmless because the deadliest Deadeye Navigator combos won't be used.

Yours is a fair criticism that I can't help but share, considering I banned Deadeye Navigator in my event because it had become out of control and dead-ended (no pun intended) and unfun and terminally uncreative.

My criticism is about methodology. It's about the correct principle of testing anything, really: you have to do it in extreme conditions, not in safe conditions. It's the same for V4: they test the interface with accounts that have 20 buddies, 10 decks, and 500 cards. And yup, it works pretty well under those conditions. Too bad there's people in the real world that have 500 buddies, 300 decks and 50k cards. So the interface collapses. Had they collected some real world data first, they would have known that they had to be sure the interface worked with 3000 buddies, 1000 decks and 500k cards.

The car metaphor also speaks to this: the speed limits exist because they know how fast a car goes, and they correctly assume people will try and use that full speed if not somehow prevented. But if they don't test the car at full speed, they won't know. They have to test it at full speed to make it safe, as opposed to assume that everyone will use the car responsibly because everybody likes to take it easy and drive at a leisurely pace. Any assumption that discounts basic human psychology is doomed to fail.

Hey, I just now saw this by CottonRhetoric at Sat, 04/23/2016 - 13:20
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Hey, I just now saw this comment. (I was Googling whether there was already an article on this site mentioning both CottonRhetoric and Braids Cabal Minion and this was the only one to pop up.)

Thanks for the shout-out!