“Palinchron, float 14, trigger untap 7 lands. Bounce him, float 14, cast him again?”
Do any of these scenarios feel familiar to you? These, along with countless others I couldn’t possibly fit in this article, are ways in which large, multiplayer EDH games have ended while I’m at the table. As much as I love to win, though, I’m usually on the receiving end of these combos. This has led me to return to the roots of what brought me into EDH as I now know it, and what it means to play with a set of unofficial house rules.
I was taught EDH by a friend of mine during my freshman year in college about 4 years ago. When he told me I would be able to build a deck themed around my recently acquired Uril, the Miststalker I was thrilled. I loved playing enchantments more than anything else, and it gave me a chance to dig through my old Ravnica and Lorwyn block cards to find the perfect pieces of armor for my big fatty.
After finding my long-lost copy of Shield of the Oversoul, however, I was given a quick rundown of what my friend called the Gentleman’s Agreement. The guidelines were simple:
1.) Infinite combos are rude and should be avoided.
2.) Don’t wreck someone’s mana base.
3.) If the other players look bored, you’re taking too long.
I didn’t quite get it at the time, as I was still pretty new to EDH, but after having my first run-in with an infinite-mana-generating Palinchron, I understood. The game had been going for a good 6 or 7 turns, and I had just slapped an Armadillo Cloak onto Uril, so I was feeling pretty confident. The guy to my left then proceeds to flash in Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir at the end of my turn and kindly allow us all to draw our decks thanks to a few infinities’ worth of Stroke of Genius. The combo was interesting enough for a new player, I suppose, but I felt cheated out of a fun game. There were no prizes on the line and no trophies to claim, but Captain Teferi still decided that his turn 6 win was more important than a game of politics and socializing.
It is this type of experience that makes me ask: What do you think is the difference between competitive and cutthroat EDH? Do you play in a group with lots of combo decks? Do your players interact a lot during games, or are the tables quiet? How willing are new players to join your EDH circles?
For me, the spirit of EDH has always been to let everyone play the game. Showing off your combo deck or your turn 4 kill in a 100-card singleton format is fun approximately 1 time, and does more harm than good to a balanced play group.
Not all groups are like this, and I have played in my fair share of both over the last few years. The spirit of the game means something different to everyone, but whether you like smashing people with giant creatures or ticking up your storm counter for the big combo-kill, EDH is a great way for everyone to get their Magic fix. As long as everyone is having fun, the means aren’t as big of an issue.
Last article, I promised you that I would post some content and not just rant about Magic philosophy the whole time, so I’ve put together a little something. This is my current Uril the Miststalker EDH, which has been a work in progress ever since I first scrambled it together back in late 2009.
GENERAL: Uril, the Miststalker
Assembling the Battleship is a ton of fun, and my main goal here is to stomp face with some combination of Uril, Kor Spiritdancer, and Elderwood Scion. Any other targets will do, but these allow me to get the most bang for my buck when casting tons of auras.
Fill me in: Who do you play as a general? Are you a combo or casual player? Does your local playgroup have any house rules that encourage politics or discourage combos? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks, and happy gaming!
-David “StalkingMists” Gentry