Rule Zero

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on March 24, 2020, 3:42 p.m. by MindAblaze

First off; Rule Zero

This is an interesting read that I think everyone should see. He talks about abandoning the generic power level number scale in favour of, get this...communication!


TypicalTimmy says... #2

My roommate has a vocal opinion about how "rule zero" shouldn't be implemented.

I don't understand. Even reading the article, it's what... Just talking about your past experience with the format?

March 24, 2020 4:17 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #3

One of his posts on Facebook:

  • "I love EDH but I very much don't like the rules committee/CAG. Their reliance on Rule 0 is frustrating."

Bare in mind, this is the same guy who proxied out a Mox Ruby on paper with pen and marker. Yes. He drew and colored a Mox Ruby, then when his group wouldn't allow it, he got butthurt and blasted on Facebook how he shouldn't have to spend $2,000 on a single card to play the game.

He's a spike, through-and-through. Will insult any build that isn't top-rated on EDHREC and will insist your build is garbage, even if it beats him.

March 24, 2020 4:23 p.m.

MindAblaze says... #4

Talking a little about what your deck does and what you hope to get out of the game.

“I have a bunch of ways to go infinite and I’d rather end the game and move on to the next one than slog for the next couple hours.” Rather than the blanket “my deck is a 8/10” which doesn’t really mean anything to anyone but you.

March 24, 2020 4:24 p.m.

GhostChieftain says... #5

Don't get me wrong, I still love me some battlecruiser edh from time to time, but my favorite rule 0 interaction is and always will be, "cEDH?... Yup, sweet"

March 24, 2020 5 p.m.

0rc says... #6

It just makes sense. But the power scale also gives players a basis of understanding.

March 24, 2020 6:14 p.m.

dbpunk says... #7

The power scale is nice for giving people like an actual scale. For example, my mom (whos a relatively off and on player and generally only plays with me) considers Blatant Thievery to be an extremely competitive card, but I dont. She would call that competitive, despite the fact the deck would be lower on the power scale. Also like, some people actually do statistics with magic decks lol

But also... people need to talk about their decks honestly and just try to have fun.

March 24, 2020 7:08 p.m.

ZendikariWol says... #8

As someone who moved from a playgroup of 5 high schoolers (all of whom I had taught how to play), into a town with an actual LGS where my broke college ass got curb stomped by players with years upon years more experience (and well more advanced wallets)... I should have used rule 0. But hey. Now I'm playing better and I kinda hold my own against the super awesome people.

Either way, I hate to be that guy, and I know only a sith deals in absolutes, but anyone who doesn't believe in Rule Zero is an elitist prick and needs to broaden their horizons by any means necessary.

March 24, 2020 7:42 p.m.

MindAblaze says... #9

dbpunk and when I started playing with my wife she found Doom Blade to be an extremely competitive card. That’s kind of the point of why the scale doesn’t work, because it’s all about perspective. I realize that it’s pretty easy to go online and find what a 9 or 10 looks like, but as ZendikariWol said, you might be a 9 in one group and a 4 in the grand scheme...

March 24, 2020 8:27 p.m.

triproberts12 says... #10

I think the turn zero conversation is useful in the context of exactly the game you're about to play with exactly the players you're about to play with. If you want to casually mention that you keep a range of decks from around 5's to 7's, that tells someone that you might not have the best time in their playgroup if they mostly play cEDH or push it to the point of $20-30 cards, but don't dish out for fast mana. You might also describe certain lines of play as only being appropriate for an 8+ power-level deck, like the inclusion of Flash Hulk. I appreciate the fact that people want to be more communicative (for example, I really thought I had a good idea of what Commander Clash decks should be prepared for, only to have my Tatyova deck embarassed by Pleasant Kenobi's stax perversion), but the backlash against numerical scales seems a little overblown.

March 25, 2020 12:40 a.m.

manbearpig90 says... #11

TypicalTimmy so your roommate believes people should always just be silent before a game? and how does that correlate to making proxies?

March 25, 2020 1:34 a.m.

Gidgetimer says... #12

I'm glad that people are finally writing articles calling out high quantitative analysis with low qualitative as worthless for MtG in general and Commander in particular. "Rule Zero", while poorly named in my opinion (it can be conflated with tabletop rpg Rule Zero which is the antithesis of MtG), is the only way to ensure that everyone is having a good time.

March 25, 2020 8:54 a.m.

Boza says... #13

The problem with rule 0 is that to enforce it correctly you require a lot of knowledege and experience. Whether it is power level, several sentences describing a deck or anything else, most people cannot fathom how that will translate to the actual game and how that will interact with the other decks on the table.

Plus, the subjectivity in any deck description is massive, as already stated.

The simplest way is to sit down in a pod, play a game, then see if you want to play another with those people. I do not see the need for a conversation prior to the game.

March 25, 2020 9:01 a.m.

Pervavita says... #14

The scale of 1-10 is still a good thing though I understand that as stated above my 8 might be your 5. Where the scale is at it's best is a starting point for a conversation with a new group or with in an established group to sit down and say "Hey we are playing around 8's this time".

March 25, 2020 10:51 a.m.

Boza: the only knowledge needed is the rules. once a person knows that, they can easily know how any line of play translates in game. playing a game to find out if you want to play another makes no sense. you won't find out if its unfun until its too late. having a conversation beforehand just makes so much more sense.

March 25, 2020 12:58 p.m.

shadow63 says... #17

If your playing for prizes be ready to face tier zero cedh decks. And some people are just A holes

March 25, 2020 6:06 p.m.

Boza says... #18

manbearpig9001 - you do underestimate how much meta knowledge is needed to play Magic. Slang and terminology, possible lines of play, deck archetypes, possible points of interaction between the decks - none of those are part of the rules, but they are essential to "having a conversation".

Can someone give an example Rule 0 conversation?

March 26, 2020 10:09 a.m.

MindAblaze says... #19

  • “Hey guys I’m (your name here,) before we get going I just want to let you know what to expect here so nobody is salty/everybody has fun at the end of the game, me included; my deck (insert main game plan here,) and with the nut draw I could win by (turn X.) The deck is built to do this one thing, so I also have a lot of stuff to protect it, and it usually wins by (turn y.) What about you?”


  • “Hello, my name is (insert name here.) I brought my Kalemne deck. I think it is pretty strong, and wins most of the games against my friends. Mostly I just put equipment on big flying creatures and attack, or beat down for commander damage. I also play a couple good enchantments that make all my creatures scarier, and if I get my Avacyn out, game over.”

I think these conversations need someone to set an example. It will be the job of the experienced player to set the tone, or the player who has been roflstomped a few times and doesn’t want to have a bad time. I suppose that counts as experience too. If you really wanted you could even ask questions in response to either of those descriptions...

March 26, 2020 noon Edited.

Gidgetimer says... #20

Depending on if there is a specific commander you are wanting to play, you are open to choosing a commander to fit the group, or if you are sitting down for a few games with the same group and will be changing commanders throughout the conversation will change.

Multiple games: "Hey, I enjoy games under an hour with decks that are consistently building toward the endgame from turn 1. I do have a couple of decks that don't threaten to start eliminating people until turn 7, but will want to play decks that are winning by then at some point. To that end most of my decks include tutors and combos. I do have one deck that wins consistently turn 3, 4 through disruption, and sometimes on turn 2; if we want to play that sort of game at some point."

Single game, open to what commander: "Hey, I have a few different decks with me today. They range from turn 10 win Voltron to a combo deck that can win as early as turn 2. What sort of game are we looking for?" (Proceed to single game, set commander explanation of the deck that you think best fits the game the group is looking for to verify that the group agrees.)

Single game, set commander explanation for my Xenagos, God of "You're Swinging with a HOW BIG?" deck: "Hello, I would like to play my Xenagod deck. It ramps into big creatures with evasion or trample and then doubles their power. Ideally I will be swinging for 15+ on turn 4, turn 5 with bad luck. I have swung lethal trample on turn 4 before, but that is rare. I am light on removal and protection, but heavy redundancy and some tutors."

March 26, 2020 1:56 p.m.

If someone who plays cEDH brings a cEDH deck to a random playgroup, and doesn't ask if they are ok with them playing a cEDH deck, then that cEDH player is kind of a d*ck if you ask me. Because just simply asking the question of, "Do you mind if I play my cEDH deck?", allows the group to see who is understanding of what "cEDH" means and what it would do to affect the group.

And anyone who knows anything about cEDH and doesn't quickly identify that it would be a mistake for that player to use his/her cEDH deck, is also just at much fault for the events that are about to unfold.

I play some cEDH, but I also play casual. I have the ability to use different decks depending on what pod I am sitting down at. I would never use my cEDH deck in a group I know for a fact plays Jank decks. It would be insurmountably unfair and the group would not want to play their Jank against it. Which makes an unfair friendly experience.

TL;DR - Basically, don't play your competitive builds in noncompetitive settings. And those that do just that to exploit others, are d*ckheads.

March 26, 2020 10:24 p.m.

Boza says... #22

I still think this conversation is a bit useless. Thanks for the examples!

Out of those two examples, I understood a couple of things:

  • You need a metric ton of metagame knowledge to understand those conversations. Non-experienced players will not be able to use that information in any capacity to make any decision.
  • If someone brings a cedh deck to a non-cedh table, isn't the game over in like 15 minutes and you can go with the next one, asking the player not to play that deck?
  • I think that somehow people conflate a bad experience playing against a deck as that somehow leading towards dislike for the player who played said deck, but the two are not necessarily connected.

And most importantly:

  • EDH is a flawed format that will never be fair. Do not expect it to. Magic does not work well in multiplayer and politics on the table will almost always be horrible and ruin perfectly good games, regardless of the Rule 0 conversation.

  • An unsatisfying play experience occurs in one case - when the player does not get to achieve the goal they set out to achieve in the game. A pre-game conversation about play experience does nothing to alleviate that.

March 27, 2020 3:47 a.m.

ZendikariWol says... #23

Boza, you seem to be working under some pretty flawed premises.

1- the idea that new players have no understanding that their decks are bad. As someone who teaches many new players, I can safely say that they are aware that their decks are not good.

2- the idea that there is no power scaling consistency. While, yes, power level is subjective, people can often judge what their deck is, and after some more description, one can usually tell if the other player's power scale is off.

3- the idea that because commander is busted, it cannot be fair. It can. I make fair (and, in my opinion, fun) commander decks, which balance well with the power level of the other decks in my meta.

4- your most ridiculous claim, that politics ruins commander. Politics is the soul of commander. Commander is about good friends getting together and playing a great game, and politics manifests that. It ensures that no one gets too out of hand too quickly, and more importantly, it establishes the social contract, which ensures that this broken format remains fun.

5- lastly, pre-game conversation ensures that everyone at the table knows what the other players want and, thanks to the aforementioned social contract, knowledge of each player's hopes and expectations increases the likelihood of their coming to fruition. People want to have fun. People want to see others have fun. Letting people know what you think is fun helps them help you have fun. I cannot stress this last one enough.

March 27, 2020 4:48 a.m.

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