Commander League

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on Dec. 10, 2018, 4:35 p.m. by BS-T

I'm thinking of setting up a commander league at my LGS (with the owners input/permissions of course).

I'd like to hear from anyone who has done similar or with a group of friends to hear about what works and what doesn't. There's a few areas to think about, like:

  • can/should I limit the number of registrations (I'm thinking no, and we'll just deal with the pod numbers as we go)
  • how regularly we would play; weekly, bi-weekly, fortnightly - probably depends on peoples availability but an idea of expectations to begin with would be sensible
  • format rules; I'm thinking each player should register their chosen commander and then just whatever from there. But, I'd be keen to know what experiences people have had with registering decklists and/or making only X number of changes between sessions etc
  • points system a la 'Commander VS' or just on pod wins/position, what combination of simple/complicated works well?

To be honest I am doing this because I want to play more commander with more people I am trying to get to know, and with a fun way to get to do it. I don't really want to be Pit Boss and run all the games/pods or monitor decklists for errant 6 changes instead of 5 for example.

Looking forward to taking a proposal to my LGS, but first, the community's thoughts!

Brutal_B says... #2

Buy in would be an incentive for LGS to say yes. Say $5-6 a person. Weekly on same day/time every week. My LGS gives you 2 initialed treasure tokens at the start. Whenever someone kills off someone they get to take their token. In the end you trade your tokens in for boosters or in store credit at $4. As far as rules..well, what's reasonable in your meta?

December 10, 2018 5:09 p.m.

BS-T says... #3

Well, I don't know a great deal about the meta, it's a new-ish place/group to me, plus the 'meta' will be somewhat created once we've got all the registrations in.

Buy-in I had thought to get everyone to buy a couple of boosters from the store which then makes up the prize pool - all the money goes into the shop that way and people might pick a mix of boosters because its a set they'd like to open and therefore something to play for.

The tokens is a nice idea, the whole group then has a limited number of points to be won and there could be a lot of fluctuations, plus an incentive to build up to eliminate more than one person at once. Does it encourage beating on the person in the weakest position in a pod though?

December 10, 2018 5:18 p.m.

DrukenReaps says... #4

I would not limit registration because at some point you have to turn people away and then you get some guy that randomly stops showing up when just last week you turned someone else away...

Shoot for weekly sessions, I think even if most people can't do weekly that you will get a better core group of players if they play often.

I don't know what real purpose registering commanders or decks actually serves beyond more paper work.

A point system that is well done like Commander VS is a fun thing to implement and allows you to at some point do temporary rules to encourage changes in the meta. I would start out by just stealing straight from Commander VS or another one that you like and then adjust depending on what is working for players in your area.

Try to avoid rules that soft ban play styles like having a large penalty for comboing off. The only thing those rules do is discourage people from playing....

But you could, after the group has established itself, tell everyone that in 2-3 weeks for the month of whatever players get a point for having 5 walkers in play at once. Just an example but it is something difficult to do that shakes up the meta for a bit and encourages people to play something that maybe isn't being played a lot.

December 10, 2018 6:32 p.m.

Arvail says... #5

I've played EDH for a long time. I also happen to be a spike with money. I'm not a heartless bastard. I'm not going to bring my cEDH grand arbiter combo control to a shop. I would, however, like to play some combo list that's far lower on the power level with way worse tutor options. That makes it so the games are still interesting. I wish I could do these things, but basically every league around me has instated heavy penalties against this playstyle.

Let me make it perfectly clear; point-based systems do nothing to discourage Spikes. I'm the kind of person that will look at your point-based system and come up with optimal strategies to maximize my point gains each night. Whether I actually go through with those plans is another matter. By instating a point-based system, all you've done is change the paradigms of the format. It's specifically spikes that are best positioned to solve the format. Worst of all, since all these point-based systems change the format, it becomes much harder to rely on community resources for help, meaning you actively shaft the less experienced players and those who aren't interested or capable of theorycrafting within new paradigms.

The biggest reason I see people advocate for point-based systems is that they think they're going to make their store less competitive or they somehow think they're going to ban out the oppressive things in the format. This never works.

What does work, however, is establishing player expectations and clarifying what the community wants as a whole. EDH is a grassroots format. Oh, and keep the league payout minimal. Maybe provide some participation stuff and very minor payouts.

December 10, 2018 7:39 p.m.

F3A5t says... #6

I agree with Arvail. I had a LGS that did a point system that paid out a box every month and it devolved into a spike fest that was a weird hybrid of cEDH / meta the point system.

It got so bad that as soon as people started to check their list each week the losers would scoop at insta-speed to mess with them. It was cancer.

December 10, 2018 9:01 p.m.

DrukenReaps says... #7

F3A5t and Arvail I think those point systems were poorly implemented and done for the wrong reasons. I've played within systems that work out really well because they will do a penalty for things like searching your deck for over a minute and will award points for the goofy play of the month as per my example above. Of course it warps the format because now you want the points and winning the game comes second to getting points.

If done right it warps the format in a way that is fun for almost everyone. You will of course always have unhappy people.

December 11, 2018 3:21 a.m.

Arvail says... #8

You're not getting my point. I've played under similar restrictions. For example, leagues that punish tutoring for too long only hurt inexperienced pilots. Awarding points for first successful attack or killing players just incentives creature based strategies. I had this league where I landed on a value based plan with Roon of the Hidden Realm as one of the strongest options. You still had access to combo in the form of Time Warp + Eternal Witness + Flicker as well. The reason you went for that combo was that the store punished comboing early, so you instead wanted your combo pieces to be as high value as possible outside of the combo while limiting number of pieces. You had access to other similar things as well. In addition, you could clog the board down while constantly recurring engines like Seedborn Muse and Glen Elendra Archmage. Best of all, Roon wasn't a general most people looked as anything other than cute, so a lot of players looked down on him. However, under that particular set of rules, he was exceptionally strong. You wouldn't know this if you didn't spend time analyzing the rule set.

No matter what rule set you create, you'll always generate circumstances where leading strategies form. You might want to put in that point-based system to reduce the cutthroat nature of your league, but all you've done is veil it since you've effectively just changed the conditions for victory. People will alter their playstyles radically to shoot for maximum points instead. The same cutthroat play will continue.

The only way that instating these types of restrictions helps is if they're so annoying to deal with or change the game enough to where people no longer want to be a part of the league and those players quit entirely.

December 11, 2018 9:02 a.m.

F3A5t says... #9

Very well put Arvail. I fully agree with this, I recently went back to that LGS and noticed that they cut the winnings from a box to a few packs and the people that made the league toxic were gone... me included.

Even if the point system has a few negative points they have to outweigh what a person can meta for. The point system that they used had negatives for killing people before their 5th turn, MLD, tutoring too much, and some others. If I found a line that made me combo off at turn 3. I would take it because it not only cause me to get more points due to the way the points were but cost my opponents to have very few points.

December 11, 2018 9:21 a.m.

Arvail says... #10

Honestly, the worst league I've been a part of lasted a month and always had a true dual as a prize as well as about $200 in store credit across the top 3. The collusion for the top spots was insane.

I think rather than force people off of certain archetypes or punish 'bad' playstyles, just be reasonable human beings. Talk about it. Is there someone at the shop who's running a 3K Grand Arbiter deck and making everyone mad? Maybe ask him to run some suboptimal cards or ask them to cut down on the number of stax or tutor cards. Don't force them off their deck. Or maybe suggest they play something very close but clearly lower in power level. Playing Arcanis the Omnipotent where all of your combo pieces have an enchantment in them slows the combo player way down and makes it so that the combo pieces are much harder to dig up. Someone loves blowing up lands because of the 15 ramp deck in your league? Maybe point out that there exists cards like Natural Balance that help address ramp without resorting to Armageddon.

My point is attempting to reach a state where people self-police is far better for the group than establishing hard restrictions. In addition, when someone goes too far, it sets the stage for others to gang up on the player.

December 11, 2018 11:20 a.m.

BS-T says... #11

It seems that a good way to limit such infectious and aggressive play-changing in response to restrictions is to have a really flat prize system and a therefore a low buy-in. I want to get a group of people together whose main motivation is to have access to a structured and regular play group with a perk here and there; rather than playing 'degenerately' to win a high end prize pool.

Spit-balling a 'treasure token' type approach has lead me down a road. Everyone would start with 3 tokens each and whoever eliminates a player from a game takes a treasure token from them. The key then is to put a time limit on the event - e.g. 12 rounds of 3x 4-person pods - after that last game session, the prizes can be divided up based on how the tokens are distributed. The benchmark being that anyone finishing with the 3 they started with should get the 2 boosters they paid for and going from there.

December 11, 2018 11:41 a.m.

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