Welcome to MTGCasualPlay.com! My name is Wally D. and I am an avid EDH player. My playgroup and most of the local game stores in my area utilize the ban list and rules set forth by the EDH Rules Committee for our local Commander events. While today’s article was prompted in direct response to a conversation currently taking place in the r/EDH section of Reddit, it will also focus on how I personally perceive bannings and rule changes. For those of you that do not know what is going on, I’ll explain. There was an “unconfirmed” snapshot of an individual having an instant message conversation via social media with EDH Rules Committee member Sheldon Menery. In a nutshell, Sheldon expresses a desire to find a way to ban the use of off colored fetch lands in a commander deck. ie: You can no longer have an Arid Mesa in your EDH deck if your commander does not have BOTH red and white in his/her color identity. The snapshot conversation also states that this is a minor issue the RC is looking at, but their main focus is still addressingthe mulligan rule. Again, this is an alleged conversation. It is not confirmed and very well may be “photo-shopped”. Here is a link to the Off Color Fetch Lands Reddit thread containing the images and the conversation.
First things first. IF this image / screenshot is indeed a real conversation involving Sheldon, then I call “bullshit” to whoever did this. What an underhanded, deceitful, and cowardly thing to do. This has nothing to do with EDH, MTG, or gaming for that matter. Rather the fact that someone took a private conversation he/she had with another person and posted it for the world to see. I assume that Sheldon felt his chat with this individual was both private and “off the record”. Again, if this screenshot and conversation are real, then the biggest douche in the universe award goes to the scrub that screenshotted and publicized a private conversation.
IF this image / screenshot is NOT real. ie: a photoshopped image or falsified conversation, again, “bullshit” to whoever did this. The perpetrator has drug a well known member of the EDH community into the street and accused him of witchcraft. It has started a shit-storm of anger that has resulted into over 500 comments and escalating. While a large mass of townsfolk are carrying torches, thankfully only a handful of protesters have stooped low enough to light the fire with personal attacks. It is good to see that the majority of us can express our agreement or disagreement for possible rules changes in a civilized manner.
On the subject of banning off color fetches. I am sure that the Rules Committee discusses a bunch of wild and crazy ideas that we have never known about. That is what they do. So, it is my opinion that yes, they could be talking about this, but if it were not for the “leaked” conversation, this may have been something we would have never know about.
The Uproar of EDH Rules Changes
Over the past few years there have been quite a few rule changes that have had the Commander community up-in-arms and taking cover from the falling sky. We won’t discuss the banning of individual cards, that is a subject for another day, but let’s take a look at perhaps the most controversial rule changes of our format’s history, the tuck rule. While it seemed the majority of EDH players were against the Rules Committee’s decision to remove tucking a player’s commander into their library, there was also a healthy dose of players that rejoiced at the announcement. March 2015’s rule change created a flusterstorm of anger, but this subsided after about a month or so. Sure, there are still players who express their saltiness that tucking commanders had been abolished, but for the most part, EDH as a community has accepted the rule and moved on. If you are interested, here is the EDH Tuck Rule Article I wrote last year in response to the announcement.
A temporary stirring of the masses always seems to occur with any tweak or alteration to our beloved format, but we always seem to get past our disagreement and adapt. Looking back, I remember a lot of dissatisfaction when the rules committee merged the separate ban list for cards vs generals into one. This led the permanent abolishment of EDH favorites Rofellos and black Braids. A huge deal at the time, but a shoulder shrug now-a-days. What is funny to me is that so many players question the sanity of the Rules Committee governing our format, that they forget that it was Wizards of the Coast that, in this writer’s opinion, made the most format warping rule change to Commander. The Legendary Rule. For example, a few years ago only one Avacyn, Angel of Hope could be on the battlefield at a time. If there was an Avacyn on the battlefield and a different player casted their own Avacyn, they would both die to the old legendary rule. Blue mages in particular exploited this rule and built decks using clone-like effects to copy and destroy another player’s commander. Wizards of the Coast changed the legendary rule so each player could have their own copy of the same legendary card on their side of the battlefield. This rule change neutered control decks that used Clone and similar effects as a way of removing opposing commanders and threats. At the time this change produced a community uproar for both sides of the argument, but today, is now simply a part of MTG history.
Dealing with EDH Rules Changes
Here is how I personally approach rules changes to Commander/EDH (whether it’s the RC or WOTC). I accept and adapt. If I built a deck around a particular strategy that has been changed or altered, then I change my deck to encompass the rule change or card banning. Simple as that. While we may agree or disagree with a rule change, we should always look at the bright side of things. Sure, we may not agree with a change, but now we can expand our minds and enjoy an adventure that leads to new strategies with regards to deck building and play style. Sure, my playgroup can have “house rules”, but I like a rulebook. These are the rules, this is how we play. Following the “official” rules and ban lists creates less confusion at the kitchen table and makes an easy transition when joining a game at our local game store.
Did I agree with the tuck rule? The Legendary Rule? Would I agree with an Off Color Fetch Ban? The New Mulligan? Honestly, I can look at both sides. Sure, sometimes I lean more towards one side or another. I can look at a banning or change and say, “this really wasn’t necessary”. Or, I may say “I don’t like it”, but I can see why they did that. In the end, rule changes and bannings within my format may or may not bother me, but I always look at it as an opportunity to try new strategies or to try new cards in my decks that may take advantage of the change.
Is there a change that would make me grab a pitch fork and storm the castle? Possibly. I have a ton of money invested in Demonic Tutors and Vampiric Tutors and we all know that Sheldon and the RC do not like tutors in the format. Also, I am sure that Purphoros, God of the Forge might be somewhere on the RC watch list and I have an entire deck built around him (60% of which is foil). It would probably make me upset to see him get the hammer. But after the initial surge of disappointment, I could sell my tutors to strengthen my decks in other areas. Maybe invest in some dual lands. I could swap Purphoros out for Krenko and go with all goblins.
Rule changes and bannings are going to happen. I do not think Sheldon or the Rules Committee are out to anger the masses. I understand that they are trying to keep the format fun for veteran players and inviting for newer players. By no means do I believe any of them are out to sabotage the format they created and love. With that being said, I also believe that if the RC starts to get out of control or “crazy with power” that Wizards of the Coast will step in. The last thing WOTC wants, is for players to abandon the games most popular casual format.
All-in-all. Let’s always be decent human beings. Exposing a private conversation or photoshopping a fictional tale that could result in a lynch mob is a douche bag move. Karma will find you.
Thoughts? Opinions? Plenty of room to discuss in the comments below!
On to the next!