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List of Generals
In particular, I'd like to make a note of the banned card list, which is (at the time of writing) as follows:
903.4. The Commander variant uses color identity to determine what cards can be in a deck with a certain commander. The color identity of a card is the color or colors of any mana symbols in that card's mana cost or rules text, plus any colors defined by its characteristic-defining abilities (see rule 604.3) or color indicator (see rule 204). Example: Bosh, Iron Golem is a legendary artifact creature with mana cost 8 and the ability "3R, Sacrifice an artifact: Bosh, Iron Golem deals damage equal to the sacrificed artifact's converted mana cost to target creature or player." Bosh's color identity is red.
Blue: Mystical Tutor, Merchant Scroll, Mystical Teachings, Personal Tutor, Trapmaker's Snare (for finding Mindbreak Trap, Transmute Artifact, Eerie Procession, Fabricate, Intuition, Library of Lat-Nam, and transmute cards (Muddle the Mixture, Tolaria West (colorless land, blue identity), etc.)
One word about the social aspects of EDH would be appreciated in your introduction, this is supposed to be a casual format (yes, i know people have different oppinions on what is casual) and i think it should be mantionned somewhere. One word about strategies/effects that are being frowned upon in most playgroups could help new players in their understanding of this wonderful format.
@Internet_the_Explorer Black and Blue tutors can be selected based on what you're trying to find.
Black can get pretty much whatever you like with Vampiric Tutor, Grim Tutor, Imperial Seal, Demonic Tutor, Diabolic Tutor, Beseech the Queen to name a few. Black is also the go-to colour for graveyard search, like Entomb and Buried Alive.
Blue tends to be much more tricksy. It's got good instant/sorcery based search like Mystical Tutor. But you can also get a bit more diversity if you branch out into something more interesting like Intuition.
@ Goblin_lord: I hadn't considered including anything about that, now that I think about it. I suppose I was focused more on deckbuilding, but the experience does deserve mention.
An addendum, then:
As far as the experience goes, EDH games range from the casual to the competitive. It is largely considered a casual format, which is something to keep in mind when building a deck. Your BUG control deck might be the best in the area but nobody will want to go up against it if your meta consists of recreational players. Some playgroups frown on "unsporting" tactics like infinite combos or heavy control. Others shun you if your deck can't compete with their next-level combo control strategies. These preferences are largely reflective of the groups themselves and at a large store or gathering you might find many different attitudes among EDH players. The trick to really enjoying this format is to find where you fit on the spectrum and try to play against other people of the same mindset. You'll find that you get more out of your games and walk away with a great experience and the occasional story to tell.
Fun is very important in EDH, yes. Why is that? Mostly because it stops your friends who are losing too much from strangling you. If you've used the Squirrelcraft infinite, your friends will probably hate you. If you use Insurrection, you may elicit a laugh or two instead of simple hatred.
It's very annoying to have to patronize people whose decks are worse than yours. You become an instant target in multiplayer when you're too good, and then it isn't any fun for you. There's a balance, unfortunately. You honestly cannot win them all, unless your group is full of gaming masochists.
So I'm trying to build a deck out of Wrexial, the Risen Deep, and decided to go with the swampwalk/islandwalk/just-in-general-unblockable portion of his abilities. The issue with this is that Turning Guys Sideways rarely actually works too well in EDH... So to that end, I've tried to find cards that give benefit when they hit an opponent, like Dimir Cutpurse, Coastal Piracy, and Larceny.
@ CrushU: A part of deckbuilding is card knowledge, and I don't know if there are any searches that would yield what you're looking for. Off the top of my head, I know that ninjutsu is a mechanic that might be of interest to you. In particular, there's Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni. You might also want to look at some demons.
I did find Ninjutsu to be useful; One issue I had with it though is that it only (probably) works once, so I was torn on actually using them. (There is a Ninja that makes ninjas unblockable, though, so maaaaaaaaaaybe.)
I actually just did a search for all blue/black cards and put all the ones that looked interesting into a private prototype deck. ... Four hundred cards chosen later... ;) There's actually a good bit of Swamp/Islandwalk. (And Shadow!)
In building Sacrimundar one of the most useful things to me was Magic Cards Advance Search. The other tool I use is Card Kingom Advance Search which is pretty useful but I personally like magiccards.info better.
Then playtest playtest playtest! I'm still taking cards out for things that I think might work better =)
People at my store ask me why I take decks apart all the time, or why I won't trade things out of my EDH deck. The answer is simple. Standard rotates, and my store doesn't support Modern or Legacy. But EDH is forever. There will always be EDH players, and no matter where you go, there is someone with an EDH deck willing to play you.
EDH is by far the most "eternal" format.
P.S. I had to fight the incredible urge not to shamelessly plug my own Vendilion Clique EDH.
P.P.S. I failed... :(
This is a really great article to point new folks to. One thing that I find in a lot of EDH decks is an insufficient manabase to support some of the cards they expect to play. The typical culprit is running too few lands because they want to fit all of these great cards in their deck, then you're stuck with a Blightsteel Colossus in your hand the whole game. Or, running a multicolored deck with triple-color-cost cards like Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir without enough blue sources to cast them.
I find that 34-37 is an appropriate number of lands for an EDH deck. You have to take into account all of the mana accelerators (usually in the form of mana rocks like Sol Ring and signets) and ramp spells in your deck. You also have to gauge the ability of your deck to find the lands you need (Cultivate, Kodama's Reach, Skyshroud Claim, etc.). As with any deck, there's no absolute number of lands to run, so playtesting will tell you if you've got it right.
I'm frequently trying to get more people at my university interested in the EDH format, so thank you for writing up these useful points that I can direct people to.
The fact that EDH was originally designed as a group format is casually addressed in your article, but I think that it's worth outright stating. A group format requires its own take on card selection, such as the percentage of spot removal VS wrath effects. There are plenty of people who participate in simple duel matches with their EDH decks, but the general mentality that EDH is a group format will influence the comments that people receive on their deck lists. It's just one more factor to consider during deck construction (both in designing your own deck and guessing what other people might have in theirs).
There are a few other nit-picky aspects to EDH deck construction to be considered, but this is a great intro article that will hopefully inspire more discussion on the format.
I often find myself playing 1v1 BUG combo-control mirrors (which are surprisingly fun), but it is true that EDH is often a group format. It's certainly something to be aware of in playtesting and perhaps I should have addressed it in the "Putting It All Together" section as another item on the list. I suppose I'll do that now:
Game size - Does the deck perform consistently in any sized game? Does it do better in 1v1 or multiplayer? If so, why and how could you improve it to make up for any deficiencies? Consider that EDH is in many cases a group format and often times you'll find that large games demand more of your deck; there are going to be more answers to your actions and you'll be forced to give your own answers to an increased number of threats. Designing a solid deck that can handle multiple environments and game sizes is difficult, but rewarding.
So, after reading, then re-reading, then re-re-reading this article, I think I've managed to put together a pretty decent EDH deck. :)
I have put another EDH deck together before this, but that was restricted by cards I actually own (I'll get to test my deck:prevail-3 next weekend).
Considering I designed it as a combat-oriented deck, would my Olivia's Chosen deck be considered 'good' by you more experienced deck builders...? Currently I only have a small handful of the cards in the deck list, but depending on the feedback I get, I may actually work towards building it sometime in the near future.
The definition of "good" is subject to opinion. My standards are somewhat biased by my experience building, playing, and playing against high-caliber decks. Your Olivia deck is certainly functional in many regards, but as with all decks there is room for improvement.
Great article. It should be noted, though, that some of these rules (such as banned cards, mulligans, and the banning of certain themes [land destruction, board-wipes]) are all up to your play groups. EDH is a casual format and lends itself to some rules changes depending on what the players feel like changing.
are their any good commanders that are colored Blue/Black/White? Also can you use a planeswalker as your commander? i have never played EDH before and me and a friend have been talking for awhile about getting into it. I ask about the U/B/W because those are my favorite colors, and i am only/mostly familiar with cards from scars and innistrad blocks. Also i hear this is a format for multiplayer, but is it still as good with only 2 people, because the rest of our group have no interest in playing EDH.
Zur the Enchanter and the previously mentioned Sharuum the Hegemon are typically the two most popular generals in those colors, so you'll find a bunch of other decks that you can reference for those two. Another possible general that hasn't been mentioned yet is Dromar, the Banisher.
Sen Triplets is a fun choice, but can be a little hit-or-miss to use due to EDH rules stating that nothing in your deck is able to produce mana outside of your general's colors, so you can't throw in things to produce green or red mana. Sen decks usually use use Celestial Dawn and Mycosynth Lattice to get around that little problem.
And yes, EDH can be played just fine with only 2 people. It originally started out as a multiplayer format but there's no reason why is can't be played 1v1.
I often play 1v1 EDH and have a lot of fun, so the multiplayer aspect isn't necessary to the experience (you should try it out if you can, though).
As for the general, it must be a legendary creature. You can't use a noncreature card such as a planeswalker as your general.
Since there are multiple choices for an Esper general, you should consider what each one offers and try to match yourself up with the general that best accomplishes the goal you had in mind for the deck. For example, Ertai, the Corrupted and Sen Triplets are more suited to control decks while Sharuum the Hegemon is a combo-based general because of its ability. Also, if you pick Sharuum you kind of have to build around its ability for it to be useful. Otherwise it's just there for the colors.
i need some help because i need cards in Sin Triplets the goal is to be a jerk but i need more combos and i am on an extremely limited budget only getting what can be pulled out of a booster pack. the proxie limit around the place where i play is 17 and i am almost there. any cheap but effective ways to get an infinite combo.
You should also mention that the cards that go into the deck and the functionality of the deck may change because of the house rules. For example, Vendilion Clique has been all but abandoned as a 1v1 general/deck at my store because there is a house rule that states that if your general would go to the bottom of your library or would be shuffled into your library, you may put it into the command zone instead. This effectively ruins Vendilion Clique 's ability to function as a deck in 1v1 matchups.
House rules are difficult to cover in any kind of detail, unfortunately. Many playgroups don't use house rules, and the ones that do often have different rules because of different concerns and experiences. While one group may ban tutors, another one may ban infinite combos. Some unban cards and others change the actual rules and mechanics of the format. House rules are one of the few things I can't really offer solid advice on because they're specifically tailored to the people who play by them. You'll know your own house rules best.