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House Rules – Two Headed Giant EDH

My local play group meets every Tuesday night to play EDH for a few hours. We usually play free-for-all, which usually devolves in a political shenanigan filled extravaganza. Lately we started throwing around the idea of trying out some alternative formats top mix things up. About half of our play group consists of people new to EDH, and subsequently they do not have a vast collection of cards like the rest of us. This mean that any variation had to be based on not creating new decks. Planechase is fun but takes FFFFOOOORRRRREEEEEVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEERRRRRRR. Archenemy is fun but only works well if one of the people in the group lends a stronger deck to one of the new guys, and most do not like having to play with someone else’s deck. So that left us talking about Two-Headed Giant. The vets in the group have played constructed 2HG, and greatly enjoy the interactions that come out of it. So over the process of a few weeks we generated a version of 2HG to fit what we think is in the spirit of EDH.

Two-Headed Giant EDH – House Rules

Teams will be randomized at the start of each match, after teams are made and commanders declared each team will be allowed 3 minutes to sideboard with a maximum of 10 cards being changed between both players combined. Players may not exchange cards.
We wanted to prevent powerful decks from constantly teaming up and dumping on the rest of the board so we decided to roll the die and let chance drive the pairings. With it being a team format we came to the conclusion that since the pairings were random we should be allowed to change a few things in our decks to create at the very least a small amount of cohesion between decks, thus the sideboarding option.

Starting life total is 55
Commander Damage win at 30
Poison win at 16

We felt that 80 was way too much and 60 just did not seem right either. There was really no science or rhyme to picking 55 other than it just felt right. The bump in commander damage needed to be enough that tron commanders had to have help from their teammate. Only one of the guys in our group runs poison, and that is a very rare occurrence when he actually plays it. He felt 16 would be just enough to make it challenging.

Members of each team move through phases together. All triggers have to be resolved before either team member can move to the next phase/step.
At the start of Main Phase 1 team members may exchange 1 permanent at a 1:1 ratio. Only one permanent can be exchange and both players must have a permanent to swap. Players maintain control of the given permanent until their next upkeep. All other 2HG rules apply.

Just standard OP, nothing special here.

Shared Battlefield – team mate is unaffected by effects like Sheoldred, The Whispering One, but does not get any beneficial effects that the owner would get.

This is the part that we created especially for our group. We love when dumb crazy stuff happens, and we wanted our 2HG games to really embrace that. This makes it to where your teammates permanents are unaffected by any effects that say opponents/permanents you don’t control. Will this create some ridiculous interactions? Yes. Will this randomly pair decks that pull off stuff that would other wise be relatively impossible? Yes. Will it be fun to watch? Absolutely.

All cards on the commander banned list still apply in addition to those listed below:
Knowledge Pool
Worldfire/Obliterate/Jokulhaups/Decree of Annihilation/Apocalypse
Sundering Titan
Sharuum the Hegemon (as a commander)
Heartless Hidetsugu (as a commander)
Saffi Eriksdotter (as a commander)
If you draw one of these cards from your deck reveal it to the group, exile it, and draw another card. When possible you may not play the same deck two games in a row.

We added cards that would be banned in our 2HG games due to the way we have structured our house rules, and the fact that some stuff just is not fun to play against period. We add the last rule so that decks did not have to be changed when we decided to run this format.

So this is what we do. Let me know what you, if you have any crazy rules your group run let me know!


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  1. I host a weekly EDH group at our local tavern, and while some attempts have been made to add House Rules and bannings, only a minimal amount has been put into practice due to some resistance from more ‘competitive’ players (ie, French-build decks and “pro players”). We employ several formats to keep the games fresh and entertaining for most players, including: 2HG, FFA, Star (with 5), and occasionally Emperor. One rule we adjusted was for a free mulligan as it makes for a miserable game to sit there and have a crappy game due to being land-screwed.

  2. Similarly, though, we randomize both pairings for 2HG, and if possible even decks by having an opponent randomly select a deck box so as to prevent obvious meta or Commander bias. Another option is to rank decks by power level and have all players select decks on the same general power level.

  3. Two-Headed Giant is the mostly played multiplayer format in our group. We stick to the core rules most of the time… 50 team life, 21 Commander, 10 Poison. Commander/Poison wins are not as prevalent as Combo/Aggro wins. We usually start our games by randomly selecting teams and then pick whichever deck we want to play.

    Comments on your House Rules:
    1) I find the “exchanging” of permanents interesting. Really Cool.
    2) Question for you… are teammates able to “block” for one another or can opponents swing at the open side of a two headed Giant to get damage through?
    3) How do you handle extra turn effects?

    Great article Jared!

    1. We have several decks in our meta that are Commander/Poison win cons so that is why we made the adjustments to those. Teammates are able to block. We felt that with the shared life total and shared battlefield it only made since to allow this. Plus there are a handful of all spells and two all lands decks in our group, and we did not want to punish someone if their deck roll caused them to have to play one of those two decks. Both members go through an extra turn, but only the player that cast the spell/ability that caused the Time Walk gets to untap.

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