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Stalking Mists – The Gentleman’s Agreement: Fact or Fiction?

“Cast Mikaeus, the Unhallowed, shoot you with Triskelion, Undying trigger.  Do it a billion times?”

Palinchron, float 14, trigger untap 7 lands.  Bounce him, float 14, cast him again?”

Restoration Angel triggers, blink Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, copy Resto Angel, get you for a million?”

“Play Sculpting Steel, copy Sharuum the Hegemon.  Get them both back, take 20,000 from Disciple of the Vault.”

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.

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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.

THE Battleship

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

6 comments

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    • Andrew on June 2, 2013 at 9:39 pm
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    My first commander was Jacques le Vert, who was quickly replaced by Rith, the Awakener. I still play that deck, and it’s fun to wash over my opponents’ defenses with tokens of all types–going infinite isn’t a problem since I don’t have any engines in that deck.

    On the subject of fun in EDH, I keep to a pretty harsh set of restrictions for my decks and my play style.
    1. No pet cards or staple cards. I try to make sure all my Commander decks are unique, so while I might play Return to Dust in one white deck, the next one gets Orim’s Thunder. Only my Sharuum deck plays Sol Ring, and I have no desire to throw it in any more decks.
    2. No tutoring. Sometimes I cheat because there’s a fun tutor card I wanna run (Firemind’s Foresight for the spells to summon The Unspeakable is pretty sweet in my Melek deck). Otherwise, I try to avoid tutoring simply because I like the variance of EDH so much and decks that only use ten cards to win bore me.
    3. No tucking. I don’t care if you do it to me, but some people get really hurt if you tuck their commander, so I don’t want to be That Guy.
    4. Use the general. Don’t play Reaper King just so you can get away with running a 100-card vintage deck…I better see some goldang Scarecrows in there.
    5. Go big, but don’t go infinite. Mirrorweaving your field of bird tokens into copies of the other guy’s Eldrazi? That I can get behind.

    1. I’ve been trying to force myself to be more creative in deck construction as well. It started as a test I made for myself about a year ago where I vowed to cut Sol Ring and Lightning Greaves from every EDH deck. The boots ended up making their way back to Uril, since he’s already shrouded and haste is nice, but I have 5 other decks and none of them play either of those two cards.

      I’ve cut back on tutors as well, only using tutors that are expensive (Conflux), have restrictions (Beseech the Queen, Library of Lat-Nam), or affect other players (Noble Benefactor, Weird Harvest).

      Tucking remains a favorite of mine, as I feel that a deck should be able to function without its commander. This is what led me to change the focus of my deck and add a little more generic stompy to it in case I can’t access Uril for some reason. Commanders should set the tone of a deck, but not be the deck’s only route to victory.

      I’m glad to see you enjoyed the article. Thanks for your comment!

  1. Wow… I’m going to feel so horrible when I post my Niv-Mizzet deck later this week. I do see your point, though. Sometimes, however, you’re in a group where you know everyone is running at least one straight win-con (Oona, Queen of the Fae + Palinchron and company, as an example). As you said, it really does depend on your play group. There are so many one/two color infinite combos that it’s possible to build one in to almost any deck. We only have one house rule: try at least one variant a night.

    1. Yeah, I feel like the occasional soft lock or weird combo is fine, especially if that’s the type of play group you have. Everyone around me is fairly casual, so I try to steer clear of the super pricey and degenerate stuff at school.

    • Alexander Jacobik on June 4, 2013 at 11:27 am
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    I run a hardcore competitive Sharuum combo deck and a big, splashy, Timmy-ish Stonebrow, Krosan Hero aggro deck. I usually only play with Sharuum once a night in the casual circle, and that game is usually quite quick. While everyone else is playing their Battlecruiser Magic, I just sit back, tutor, and combo out from behind some free counterspells. Then I put away Sharuum and bring out my fat, stupid stompy deck so that the table will a) have some more variety and b) not start to hate playing against me because I’m always comboing off and winning. To be fair, Stonebrow has an infinite combo as well, but that’s kind of a “In case of a 4-hour game, break glass” kind of situation.

  2. Hey. Do you have an updated list of this deck?

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