Playgroup Competiveness

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on Feb. 24, 2017, 4 a.m. by Profet93

I apologize in advance for this long rant.

I'm currently in between playgroups as I go around LGS's to see the different Meta's, atmospheres and overall feel. Upon entering the new LGS, I play a 3 play game. I'm Captain Sisay, vs. Oloro, Ageless Ascetic and Ghave, Guru of Spores. I quickly play Iona, Shield of Emeria on turn 5, Ghave scoops. I then use Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Living Plane to blow up Oloro's lands. He scoops. Had I not blown up his lands, he would have killed me with Aetherflux Reservoir next turn so I don't feel so bad.

Now keep in mind I've only played the deck a few times and it is my most (perhaps 2nd most) competitive deck. Also, I have only played 6 games of commander so far.

New game. I stay as Sisay, vs. Nin, the Pain Artist (previously Ghave) and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic. Oloro says he can kill me off and barely survive. He is hesitant but I insist he does it because I'm curious how he would. He uses Aetherflux Reservoir. I laugh like crazy because I love dying out of nowhere (no, seriously, I love the randomness and craziness that is magic). He then proceeds to lose to the other player. Had he not killed me, I would have blown his lands next turn.

I switch decks because I wanted to try out my Talrand, Sky Summoner for the 1st time. Moreover, Sisay seemed "too competitive." Talrand vs. Nin, the Pain Artist and Daxos the Returned. I try to use my counter magic evenly on both players (which isn't ideal as the blue player can only counter so much and end up with an empty hand) to be fair. I tried to play defensively (just countering, getting drakes and not attacking) but Daxos the Returned decided to exile some stuff of mine and attack me so I fought back with 6 drakes. He gets mad that I'm only attacking him. I tell him that I keep to myself unless someone hits me first. Nevertheless, I decide to not kill him on my next turn and attack Nin, the Pain Artist to be fair yet again. Towards the end, Nin, the Pain Artist had a choice to kill me first and then Daxos the Returned or vice versa.

He kills me off, I don't really care, but I ask why. He says because no one likes their stuff being countered. I kind of understand where he is coming from but it isn't much different than you playing a creature and then I destroy it. He argues for the satisfaction of a spell resolving (and I guess ETB's even though he didn't say it). To me, a counter is a kill spell. I don't mind getting my stuff countered (he was running counters too but never drew one). But apparently people get annoyed and want to kill the blue player first. This is annoying as I love blue, counters and shenanigans.

That LGS is more casual and I thought Talrand was the best choice. I have 4 decks, Captain Sisay (LD/Toolbox) Sisay Deck , Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed (Infinite combo/Control/Stax), Xiahou DeckGrand Arbiter Augustin IV (Infinite Combo/Control/Stax), GAA4 DeckTalrand, Sky Summoner (Control) Talrand Deck.

I have a couple options...

  1. Return to a different LGS which is competitive (turn 3 - 4 wins consistently)
  2. Create a casual deck that isn't stax, combo, or control and remain at this LGS

I'm more inclined towards option #2 as this LGS is close to my work and convenient. I don't want to spend too much $ on this deck (My other decks cost over 1k each) which will both save me $ and lower the power of the deck. I am just not sure which commander to choose. I want it to be a fun commander that has a decent chance of winning with no infinite combos, has a fair amount of synergy and isn't incredibly difficult to pilot. I take it that I should stay away from blue, my favorite color.

So far, the only thing I thought of is Xenagos, God of Revels. Green ramp is cheap, I already have a small amount of green cards. I can play fatties and smash face. I would also like some form of removal for artifacts, enchantments and creatures.

What are you're guy's thoughts?

Megalomania says... #2

I recommend Purphoros, God of the Forge if you're looking for a cheap, effective, and relatively fair commander that still wins a lot of games.

Xenagos would be better if you're looking for something a bit more interactive.

February 24, 2017 4:14 a.m.

Profet93 says... #3


Purphoros, God of the Forge is nice but I want a commander whose colors include enchantment removal. Purphoros swings wide with tokens (usually goblins) and I've despised using tokens.

February 24, 2017 4:29 a.m.

Boza says... #4

You are in a bind - the decks you like to play are not decks that people want to play against. Granted, everyone in Commander tries to do degenerate stuff.

I think Saskia the Unyielding is your friend. It can run a gamut of options with aggro being a chief strategy, but it can easily play any role.

I just saw a list online in SCG articles, I think, that ran mana ramp and 30+ legendary creatures. Friendly, thematic and non-opporessive.

February 24, 2017 6 a.m.

MagicalHacker says... #5

I would take a look at [List - Multiplayer] EDH Generals by Tier and pick something from tier 4 or tier 5. Even picking something from tier 3 is gonna be too much for them since you know how to deck build so well.

Also, set a goal for this deck besides winning or a strict limitation of a theme. For example, in my Dragonlord Silumgar deck, I am only playing aikido cards besides a few staples, so while Conjurer's Closet, Deadeye Navigator, and Panharmonicon could work well with the commander, I'm not playing those cards so that I can stick to a theme.

Another option would be to go to and build a tribal deck, but don't pick any of the ones that are really common (pick a tribe that only has 100 decks or less already built from that tribe).

A quote I love for commander is "Don't bring a gun to a pillow fight, and don't bring a pillow to a gun fight. "

February 24, 2017 6:12 a.m.

GobboE says... #6

You sound like a fair player and not overly competitive, really. Though I must say that blowing up lands is often frowned upon in EDH (in casual, as well as competitive playgroups) - that's coming from me, I had an EDH land destruction deck with Radha, Heir to Keld but people didn't like playing against it for very legid reasons ;)

Basically: you can play (almost) any commander and make the deck more (or less) competitive. A bit of self reflection on your play style and the deck you are trying to create goes a long way in this. I use the '75% rule': meaning that you don't cover every flaw in your deck, but leave some in. F.i. I had a mono blue Tromokratis deck (with counter spells) people like playing against.

February 24, 2017 6:24 a.m.

SaberTech says... #7

How about trying Glissa, the Traitor? She doesn't draw as much aggro as Meren of Clan Nel Toth, but is still able to play a grindy, card advantage strategy to keep you in the game against multiple opponents. All her abilities work well in more casual games where lots of creatures get played, and her artifact focus gives you lots of options for fun shenanigans. If you are feeling particularly mean, I find that she's one of the best commanders to snag an early game Hatred kill with due to people rarely wanting to block and give up creatures to her.

February 24, 2017 9:24 a.m.

landofMordor says... #8

For me, the absolute best way to keep decks at a reasonable power level is by imposing a budget. I usually impose a $50-100 budget on my decks, and also stay away from gimmicky Shadowborn Apostle decks. That way, I am challenged as a deckbuilder to make a successful deck in spite of my budget, but I am also unable financially to do things people don't like playing against like land destruction/infinite combos/Linvala, Keeper of Silence/etc...which is a good thing in the long run because people will actually enjoy playing against me. If you're intrigued, check out my user page -- all the decks on that page are sub-$60 budget, but they still are great for casual play. Hope that helps; good luck!

February 24, 2017 9:41 a.m.

Wizno says... #9

I think a tribal deck can be fun, fair, and can vary its degree of competitiveness depending on the meta. I had a casual zombie deck from my original LGS that was much slower and less mean but I'm at a very competitive LGS now and so I increased the mean and it can hold it's own against top tier decks.

February 24, 2017 9:47 a.m.

For casual builds, you can have a lot of fun going a wacky tribal or weird commander route. Think elementals/ouphes/vampires or Kaho, Minamo Historian/Toshiro Umezawa/Chandra, Fire of Kaladesh  Flip.

February 24, 2017 10 a.m.

TehCoopeh says... #11

In my experience the two most hated things in magic are land destruction, and counterspells. If you want to keep playing at that store, you should stick with the budget you're seeing in the others decks. If they're getting mad at you, then I bet you won't see them dropping down a $100 two card combo.

February 24, 2017 10:42 a.m.

TheDevicer says... #12

I had a similar problem. I made a Breya deck with a heavy emphasis on going wide. Some combos, but only 2 tutors.

February 24, 2017 11:11 a.m.

Phaetion says... #13

I'll be taking Dragonlord Ojutai to a league soon, but the whole counterspell thing is what I'm wary of. Using them is only half the battle (because I tend to have poor judgment at times when using them), but I also find counterspells to be a bit unfun. If a deck is full of them, then that's a problem. A few? (mine runs ~8) No problem.

February 24, 2017 11:41 a.m.

Argy says... #14

I totally get where you are coming from with .

Counter spells are ways of defending itself, and are absolutely NO different from Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile.

However, because they are so hated, I try to limit the amount of Counters I have in my EDH decks.

There are other things to use in to protect yourself in a game and those are the pillow fort cards like Propaganda, War Tax, etc.

They don't seem to be as hated.

I made an Artifact deck with that philosophy that you can check out here: Factual

It has a "weak" Commander that people hardly ever target because they don't see her doing much. She helps me draw into what I need.

There is nothing much threatening in the early stages of the game. The deck slowly grows into its power plays, and can win quite handily in the later game.

That seems to fly well with most groups. As Magic players, and particularly EDH players, we most often want to play a game with quite a few turns, not a Turn 2 whitewash.

I do commend you on your awareness of the power of your play group, and your willingness to adapt to meet it.

There's nothing worse than being THAT person that nobody wants to play.

February 24, 2017 11:46 a.m.

Profet93 says... #15


I am trying to keep it 1-2 colors, 3 colors max. Moreover, my best friend runs as Saskia deck and I don't want the same deck as him.


I only skimmed that list. I should take a closer look at it. Thank you so much!


I was thinking of creating a 75% deck, but knowing me, I would make it 100% (at least over time) and would just cause people the flip the table.


Tribal seems fun, I should look into that. Thank you.


Glissa, the Traitor would be a stax deck for sure, it has it written all over it.


That seems like a great idea. I will check out your page in a few!


The budget level isn't so much the issue (although that is a noticeable portion of it), but rather how the decks are built. Ghave spent 1.2k on his deck while Oloro spent 700-800 max, and Oloro was a MUCH better deck.


It sucks when you have a good deck and people won't play against it. I'm glad someone feels my pain (wow, that sounds super cocky. Sorry)


I've thought of making a deck around Dragonlord Ojutai. Seems interesting and I should look into

ArgeauxI'm glad you see where I'm coming from. That makes me feel a little better. Your deck seems interesting (+1 from me). And yeah, I don't want to be "that guy," so I'm trying to have atleast one deck that is more casual.

I HONESTLY thought Talrand was casual since there is no artifact/enchantment removal, just counterspells, very slight creature steal, and digging through deck. But apparently Talrand is "semi-competitive" in their eyes. I even tried to play defensively and aim for 2nd place, stopping game winning blows, but to no avail.

February 24, 2017 12:30 p.m.

Phaetion says... #16

Profet93: EDHrec is a goodplace to start, or you can take a look at my build, Cojutron. I never liked Voltron or counterspells, but this is one of the very few decks using either tactic (or both) that I can get behind; it's weird of me.

February 24, 2017 12:37 p.m.

MagicalHacker says... #17

No problem, let me know if you do pick something from tier 4 or 5 or something from edhrec's underplayed tribes!

February 24, 2017 12:40 p.m.

I suggest running Ezuri, Claw of Progress. You can get the precon if you want to keep it that simple or you could upgrade it. It has blue (also my favorite color), is synergistic, and can be really cheap!

February 24, 2017 12:48 p.m.

Profet93 says... #19


I've always despised counters and tokens. I know it seems weird but they never were attractive to me. I appreciate the suggestion though.


Will do


I took a look at your build. It seems pretty interest (+1 from me). Personally, i like equipments more than auras (particularly because I own some equipment staples). I'll look into it.

February 24, 2017 12:57 p.m.

Wizno says... #20

Zurgo Helmsmasher could be fun and moderately competitive. I would leave out World Slayer for your group. Some form of chaos deck could be interesting too. I've played against a bizarre Maelstrom Wanderer deck that relied heavily on Possibility Storm which led to some interesting outcomes.

February 24, 2017 1:15 p.m.

Profet93 says... #21


He seems interesting, I will have to give it some consideration. Thank you

February 24, 2017 2:32 p.m.

Argy says... #22

"I've always despised counters and tokens. I know it seems weird but they never were attractive to me."

"Personally, i like equipments more than auras (particularly because I own some equipment staples)."

OK so now I know we were DEFINITELY twins in an earlier life.

February 24, 2017 3:15 p.m.

Profet93 says... #23

Haha I'm glad to know I have a previous life twin Argeaux.

I came up with a list of potential commanders organized by the Multiplayer Tier List

Tier 2

Thada Adel, Acquisitor - Can steal artifacts which is nice (Sol ring!). Is mono blue so I have a lot of cards for it. Seems cool.

The Mimeoplasm - One of the first decks I tried to make but failed due to the mana base. I am willing to make this again with a cheaper (slower) mana base. Can be fun because he changes depending on who I am up against

Tier 3

Thassa, God of the Sea - The second deck I tried to make but failed because it sucked. I LOVE Thassa, but I feel there is no real direction for this deck and there is no chance in hell of it ever winning anything. Mono blue aggro anyone? lol

Xenagos, God of Revels - Ramp into fattiest and beat face. Simple linear strategy, has artifact enchantment and creature hate.

Gonti, Lord of Luxury - Seems fun because I can grab different stuff depending on who I'm up against. Mono black is also my favorite in EDH

Tier 4

Ashling, the Extinguisher - Again, I love mono black. Add some unblockable and possibly some equipments and watch hell unleash

Cao Cao, Lord of Wei - Mono black, what a surprise. Opponents love drawing, so we should make them discard! On the fence about this one because he's useless if the opponent has no cards in hand

Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni - I love the artwork and graveyard plunging seems fun!

Rosheen Meanderer - Green ramp with X red damage. Simple yet fun

Thoughts on this list?

February 24, 2017 3:41 p.m.

Argy says... #24

Well I love in EDH as well.

It's very strong with its board wipes, spot removal, draw, and lifelink.

Why don't you just choose the Commander that appeals to you the most and build based on that?

It will probably make your deck the right power and be as fun as shit.

To me that would be The Mimeoplasm. See how far your deck building skills have progressed, and it seems perfect for a 75% deck.

February 24, 2017 3:46 p.m.

MagicalHacker says... #25

In order, the top three I suggest are...:

  1. Thassa sea creatures (utilizing cards that reveal the top card of your library to put big creatures into play for free, like Quest for Ula's Temple)

  2. Rosheen hydra tribal and fireball support

  3. Ink-eyes aikido mill and kill

Best of luck!

February 24, 2017 4:45 p.m.

landofMordor says... #26

Ditto for MagicalHacker's top three. Those would all be insanely fun decks to pilot regardless of how well you finished

February 24, 2017 6:17 p.m.

casey says... #27

One of my favorite, non-cutthroat commanders is Yeva, Nature's Herald. Flashing in a 1/1 deathtouch scorpion to kill something huge is hilarious. I've got a couple general suggestions to keep your power level down, but still largely run what you want. Run basics and lands that enter tapped and don't run the staple artifacts like Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, etc. unless they're actually part of the strategy of your deck. What I've found with commander is that it's often not what you're doing, but how fast you're doing it.

February 25, 2017 2:24 a.m.

Cold_Pizza says... #28

In EDH, I think counter-spells are less effective. You want your opponents to kill each other, so destroying a creature that isn't attacking you specifically feels more annoying to them. Best reserve counter-spells and destruction for things that are actually targeting you and your board specifically. I say, let your opponents have fun with their big flashy spells. Having, unsummons are good though, because then your opponents know to avoid you and target your opponents instead.

April 4, 2017 5:42 p.m.

Rzepkanut says... #29

I have had some of these same problems myself. My solution was to just keep building new decks without disassembling the old ones. It wasn't until I had about 8 or so decks that I started to build ones that were more truly casually oriented. I think I had to use up all the most busted cards in unfair decks first so I could focus on other parts of my collection to build funner decks. And now with 17 built I have decks that can compete anywhere, with anyone, and I feel evenly matched in any group I find. If your goal is to build a deck that is not as harsh as what you described but still good, simply build with no MLD, tutors or "I win" combos. If you want a real challenge try to use cards that are not in any other deck of yours every time you build a new one. It gets harder to keep building new ones but it makes you more creative with card choices. Also it makes you choose new strategies altogether. You could use some aggro decks I think. Happy gathering!

April 12, 2017 8:21 a.m.

Argy says... #30

The other problem I have is that people seem to be unaware of the power level of their decks.

Example from EDH tonight.

I didn't want to play against this guy because his decks are always OP combo nightmares.

He says he'll use his weakest deck. It's a Sliver deck.

Needless to say he killed us all around Turn 10.

At the end I said to him, "Thie is why I don't enjoy playing you."

He was all, what? My deck takes forever to get going.

April 12, 2017 9:15 a.m.

TheDevicer says... #31

To be fair, turn 10 kill is pretty slow for a dedicated combo deck. It's all relative.

April 14, 2017 9:11 a.m.

Argy says... #32

He wasn't playing a combo deck. As I said.

He killed three of us on Turn ten, with us all ganging up on him.

With his "weakest" deck.

April 14, 2017 10 a.m.

TheDevicer says... #33

Look, it's pretty evident that you just had a mismatch of expectations. From where I stand (a hyper spike who would love to do nothing more than play tier 1 EDH but is forced to play fairly average decks because of my meta), it looks like your group is really on the low side of competitiveness. If I didn't have a bunch of intentionally weak decks just to play with groups like yours, I'd probably have to play something I consider weak (eg. dedicated Tier 2 Sedris splinter twin combo) against you. You'd likely have a really shitty time against it, I'd win maybe one or two games, and you'd all focus me for the rest of the night.

I believe in building decks to fit the meta despite being a spike. I have the tendency to make stuff that's always pushing groups just a little, but I still try to confine myself to what the group can deal with. I don't, however, make strategies that everyone will consider to be fun.

So yeah, it's quite likely that this dude considers his deck to be weak and played it expressly with the purpose of running his worst deck out. That may have been too much for your group to handle.

It's up to you to be an adult about it. The way you made it sound like was as if you've never brought forth the power level mismatch issue in the past. Instead, you've made some bitter post-game remarks with no real intent on addressing the issue. Now if this isn't the case, things have been discussed in the past, and he's still ignoring you, excommunicate him or something. I dunno.

It's just that I've been the dude who walks into shops with powerful decks in the past, wiped the competition, and been personally insulted as a result. I don't even enjoy when this happens. It's just that I didn't own any other options at the time. Like I said in my first post on this thread, I recently made a Breya list that's all about making thopters and buffing them up. Simple deck with lots of synergies. It may cost $800, but that's mostly OG duals and some fetches. Aside from a passable mana base, it's all fun stuff on budget. I play it to great fun at local shops.

My point is, don't be a dick. Try to get everyone on the same page. It's only a game...

April 14, 2017 7 p.m.

MagicalHacker says... #34

TheDevicer, we need more people like you in the game.

To add to the conversation, my friends know that I am always advising everyone to build/play to their meta by always saying, "Don't bring a gun to a pillow fight, but don't bring a pillow to a gun fight either."

April 14, 2017 8:06 p.m.

HappyViking says... #35

I face this all the time. I wander around from LGS to LGS looking for a game or five. It is always fascinating to see the competitiveness vs casualness. Additionally, watching the dynamics of "who does what to whom" is also entertaining. To a point.

I have 3 decks, a Scion of the Ur-Dragon (Five Color - Dragon Tribal); a Krenko, Mob Boss (Mono-red Goblin Tribal - Burn); and a Tajic, Blade of the Legion (RW Soldiers with Dragons and Angel Air Support).

Scion is a streaky deck, but I really love using it. I tried NOT to build it in a conventional manner:

Scaly Bungholes Deck - Scion

Commander / EDH* HappyViking


. My fiancee calls it Scaly Bungholes (she uses a**holes).

Krenko is a glass cannon. Light the fuse and BOOM!

Tajic I am still looking at playing.

I get blown up a lot when I play Scion. Seems like someone, somewhere, somehow built a Scion deck which butt-hurt the universe. All at once. As such, my own build has gotten leaner and meaner, with fewer gimmicks, just mean things. I adjust how I utilize the deck, based on how the table plays out. Folks are laid back, I play laid back. Folks get aggro, I blow people up. Fair's fair, yanno.

Ultimately, in my opinion, it boils down to building your deck the way you want, then being able to switch gears based on the playstyles at the table. Some players will not table talk, or joke around. They are playing a four to six player game as seriously as they would a one on one game for the World's Championship. Good on them. Others are there to flop cards, and try to pull off the janky combo they built the deck to pull off. Others are playing like it is a game of Diplomacy, gotta win and win big.

I am not knocking any of these folks. They are playing to have fun, just like I am. They just define fun differently.

Here's my advice, and it's worth exactly what you are paying for it.

  1. Build your deck. Make it exactly the way you want it, with how you want it to run.

  2. Don't expect anyone you play against to have a mindset similar to yours. They won't.

  3. Adjust HOW you run your deck, based on the playgroup. Just because you have Scion on the table with 4 untapped mana, does not MEAN you need to use him to Copy Moltensteel Dragon and Skittles. You CAN, but will it enhance the overall game? Same with attacking and eliminating the weakest player first. How much fun is that for the mana-screwed guy who had a bad shuffle?

  4. Expect nothing. Sit down and play.

  5. It's a game, not a tournament. You didn't pay to sit down, and winning just means you won the game, losing doesn't mean anything else.

  6. Don't question someone else's strategies. They play their style. You play yours. Trying to convince them that their style is wrong just alienates you from them.

  7. Don't META. If you play a guy in one game and he beats you with a janky combo, next time you sit down be aware of what he did, but for the love of all that's holy don't make this game about what he did last game. Play each game independently.

  8. Do wonky fun things. Your decks DO NOT need to be "light the fires and kick the tires" racer decks. Throw in a strange combo that makes people go "WTF Is THAT?"

  9. Did I mention having fun? Keep the mood light. Tell jokes. Use humor. This ain't life and death. Unless of course IT IS. Then you are in the wrong place. Don't be Christopher Walken in "The Deer Hunters."

  10. Play with courtesy, grace and humility. Say please and thank you. Ask to see cards. Announce your phases and allow for responses. Don't play slushy (running all of your actions together). Saying things like "I am going infinite now." don't allow your opponents to react.

  11. Are infinite combos necessary? I dunno. They do cause a bit of confusion. Having one in deck, does not mean you NEED to use it every game.

  12. Ignore all I have said. Like I mention, my advice is worth what you paid for it.

  13. Be awesome to one another.

April 15, 2017 10:56 a.m.

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