What are people's thoughts on the social contract?

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on Aug. 6, 2021, 1:34 p.m. by DrukenReaps

For me it always seems like it is just a way to tell folks what they are not allowed to do. Don't tutor, don't destroy lands, don't play stax, don't play 20 counterspells, don't combo, don't, don't, don't... Honestly I'd rather people just make whatever deck they want and if they stomp my ass with it pull out a different one and see if you can do it again ;)

If your goal is to drag the game out 20 extra turns, even if I can technically get out of it, I call that a win on your part and shuffle up for another go.

Just my thoughts on it. I guess as a combo player being told by people "I won't play with you" is kind of annoying. Blasphemous Act + Repercussion isn't even that good of a combo, lol.

Have you had a negative experience because of the social contract in commander? A positive one? Your thoughts on the social contract?

Kesch says... #2

Personally I am fine with people playing whatever they want to play. I enjoy and have fond memories of games where people win in extreme and dominant ways.

I think the commander community is generally a bit entitled and players are aggravated when games don’t go the way they expect or someone plays something they don’t appreciate for whatever reason. I do feel that outright prohibiting strategies one doesn’t like rather than working to find ways to adjust one’s deck to overcome those strategies can be a mark of immaturity in a player.

With that being said I think there’s a place for all types of games and all types of decks. Which is why my solution is that I have approximately ten decks built at various power levels from an out of the box Precon to a cedh deck. That way I always have something to match my opponents.

I will say that generally the most fun games ensue from a pod of relatively evenly powered decks. So I am for tempering power level at times but just banning cards or strategies a player doesn’t like when that player could develop their game to meet the challenge seems a bit childish.

August 6, 2021 2:15 p.m.

I may not have fun playing against the Vorinclex player, but I most definitely am not getting mad at them for playing it!

Personally, I think the answer to "annoying" cards is simple: play more interaction. That Gaddock Teeg isn't doing much against your hydra deck when he's exiled by a Swords.

In general, rule 0 would solve a lot of issues these complaining players have--making sure everyone's on the same boat about power level, etc.

August 6, 2021 2:36 p.m.

There could be another answer: Grow up and try to have fun without getting annoyed because there are decks that annihilate you. Also, behave like an adult and consider other player's experience as similarly important as your own. Basically: Be a social being and communicate. That's the basic idea of the social contract, expressed kind of flat.

I know, I worded this very provocative, but consider the following: There are all ways of having fun. That doesn't mean they are universally fun for everybody. So let's simply talk about the decks, be honest about the game your deck is intended to produce, and lets try how it works out. And if your regular opponents don't like your favourite playstyle, maybe have a second deck to switch from time to time to make the experience more fun for everyone involved.

August 6, 2021 3:29 p.m.

RNR_Gaming says... #5

Should probably just be changed to "talk to who you're trying to playing with before hand, state what your deck is trying to do and if that's not something they're into just walk away and thank them for their time" kinda like dating but much easier - chances are with a community so big you'll find someone into the same thing you're into and you'll have a lot more fun with that person. :) just keep trying till you find your person/people.

August 6, 2021 4:33 p.m.

PapLaRiviere says... #6

I am fine with people bringing any legal deck they have to the table. It is my fault if they have a deck that consistently wins against the table using a legal strategy - I did not make my deck broad enough to cover the strategy employed and that player found and exploited a weakness in my deck (and yes, it happens). Further, it inspires me to set the bar higher and strive to make my decks more competitive.

I have little patience with those who constantly complain about everything that does not go their way. If you want to be one of the big dogs, you have to run in the tall grass.

August 6, 2021 5:02 p.m.

Having almost exclusively ineffective decks I’ve keenly positioned myself on the “never challenged” side of the fence when it comes to breaches in the social contract. What I have seen, however, is friends bring a deck or two that are of significant power level for use when a player savagely bulldozes the whole table and intends to do it again. If you play a recursion multiple-chained-extra-turns play-with-yourself deck that eventually ends up winning with lab maniac or whatever, and then say “that was fun, let’s see if I can do it again” be ready for Narset or Prosh to return the dumpster-delivery favor. This generally doesn’t happen more than a few times a year, because the cEDH folks generally gravitate towards one another. I think the problems really start when you run into a deck that is very oppressive but doesn’t have a significant wincon. That, in my experience, is when people get steamed. Funny thing is, that same scenario is often when my decks have a pretty good chance of accidentally killing the offender with Copper Tablet or Razor Pendulum. lol.

August 6, 2021 5:20 p.m.

DuTogira says... #8

Here’s the exact thing about the social contract:
Commander as a format was designed very intentionally by wizards to be the social, fun, lax format.
It was designed to be what wizards has been pushing for YEARS with their premade 60 card decks, but never achieved: fun tabletop magic.
The kind of magic where your first few decks are literally composed of 200$ worth of cards from the 10 precon decks you bought, and you lose to Novablast Wurm because the damn thing can’t be blocked and all 3 pieces of removal in your deck were already spent on Terra Stompers, or you lose to King Macar, the Gold-Cursed + Smuggler's Copter because you hit a land pocket.
The most fun kind of magic I’ve ever played.

Of course, because magic has a winner and a loser, it attracts competitive people. People who have standard, modern, legacy, vintage, Canadian highlander, pauper, and more as competitive, regulated outlets.

The social contract is, at its core, really just an attempt from the glorious, fun loving casuals to get spikes to chill the F out for a game and just enjoy it.

To be completely frank, the only times I have ever seen someone struggle with the social contract in person, is when a new dude comes into the LGS, loses his first game because he got teamed up on, and decides it’ll never happen again.

For commander, for just this ONE format that has no officially sanctioned tournaments or cash rewards, turn off your need to win and just have fun. Note that this is very different from turning off your want to not lose. You can still do that.

I promise that’ll be a better guide to deckbuilding than “no mld, countermagic, combos, otk’s, tutors, or overtuned busted stuff”

August 6, 2021 5:27 p.m. Edited.

DrukenReaps says... #9

seshiro_of_the_orochi That's what I'm saying. People should just talk before the game to set expectations instead of crying and hiding behind some "social contract." Because that is what I run into when people bring it up in the wild. Just a list of like 20 things they refuse to play against. Ever.

Like in one game I was playing we had set expectations around power level 6 or so. One of the guys had a Lost Vale and I blew it up with a Ghost Quarter. He was pretty far ahead of the rest of the table but complained about land destruction being against the spirit of the format. He stormed off saying he'd never play with me again. Which is fine with me but a little crazy too. The number of folks who refuse to even sit down at the mention of combo is crazy too. When I offer up a different deck that doesn't combo about half still refuse to play.

Not to say I don't get games in still. I do get a good number of them and most people I play against are decent sorts.

August 6, 2021 6:17 p.m.

SpammyV says... #10

I don't know how to explain that if you make yourself a miserable person to play against, no one will want to play against you.

August 6, 2021 7:01 p.m.

Scytec says... #11

I feel it pertinent to point out that Wizards did not design, invent, nor do they control commander. Wizards works with the team that manages the format, but they don't control the ban list, rules, or restrictions. :p Commander is an incredibly fun format, at every level in my opinion. I will agree the best games are those in which the scale of power is balanced amongst the table, but getting angry at people for building a deck you dont like is silly...just don't play with them again. Or build a stronger deck and make them regret ever sitting at your table, whichever way the spite carries you, just dont be a salty Karen.

August 6, 2021 8:32 p.m.

Gleeock says... #12

Haha, I keep raging on the social contract left & right. It is too subjective & turns on a dime... You used MLD & couldn't win in 3 turns? unacceptable to me! how many turns is acceptable? what is your version of acceptable advantage? etc??

& to have conversations about a subjective social construct all the time & have a serious Therapist-style pow-wow before games - you might as well name it Magic The Talkening at that point because you won't be playing alot. Then there's the idea that certain individuals with voices & social platforms tend to gospelize what the generally accepted social norms are in the game, its fascist, it sucks, it enables people to act like babies because it is "generally accepted" to respond extra salty to very specific legal game mechanics... Honestly, some of my groups funnest recovery games have involved Thieves' Auction without a great plan (besides how the deck is built), & that is all sorts of social contract no-no according to many

August 6, 2021 9:46 p.m.

Scytec says... #13

How long do your rule 0 discussions normally last?? I've never had one run over like 2 minutes. Haha.

August 6, 2021 9:49 p.m.

Gleeock says... #14

Guess I wouldn't know. I've never been in a group that needed a good sitdown. But, considering we often run 8-12 people at various tables it could definitely take awhile, then theres the fact that we rotate a bunch of decks. Honestly, we just self-regulate, get the games in, read the room if you get an unfulfilling win & move on with a more satisfying deck or strategy.

August 6, 2021 9:54 p.m.

Scytec says... #15

8-12 people in 2-3 pods or all at one time? I've played with 7 in one game...it took 4 hours. Haha. We were all pretty casual though, no combo lists at the table. We normally only rule 0 if were playing with a random or two. At this point, my consistent play mates know my lists and vice versa, so we kinda just decide what level we want to play at for that game

August 6, 2021 10:01 p.m. Edited.

Gleeock says... #16

Usually 2-3 pods. Sometimes with different groups (all loosely associated peeps). Sometimes more (EDHmas for example). It's completely random what people will be playing. Sometimes we've had subformat changes. Usually I like "Star" the most where we play 5 monocolored decks arranged like the back of the card. But we also will range between 4-5 player games (you tend to build different when you break the 4 player implied cap & that typically will change the game length)-using more cards that powerscale incrementally to however many players are in the game.

August 6, 2021 11:02 p.m.

DrukenReaps: Your example reminds me of myself with like 15...16 maybe. One of the friends I played with regilarly exclusively played mono- counter decks, and my teenage-head didn't understand how to play against it. I often raged and some very mean things. We're still friends today, although meeting each other is tough with family, work and the unspeakable plague running rampant.

Gleeock: fascist is a veeery strong word to use in the context of a card game, I really wouldn't go that far. But still, it's a problem when creators tell people it's fine to be a manchild if another player plays XYZ.. Your example of something simply leaving because you destroyed their land is beautiful. That's the definition of childish.

August 6, 2021 11:58 p.m.

*"said some very mean things"

*"someone simply leaving"

...can't added and my fingers obviouly aren't made to write on my phone.

August 7, 2021 12:01 a.m.

plakjekaas says... #19

Just focus on the people you're playing with. There's people who provide good times even with the most miserable of decks, there's also people who are impossible for me to have fun with, independent of the deck they're playing. You can try and figure that out in a pregame conversation, adjusting the decks to each other is very helpful for preventing disappointing games. But only actually playing the game will help you decide who's actually worth your time in future game nights. When you have found people to play Commander with, I find it better to focus on the Gathering over the Magic from that point on.

August 7, 2021 5:23 a.m.

Gleeock says... #20

I think fascism is fair, though it is a strong word. It seems like a bundle group empowered to be the voice of the game at the expense of others. I feel the same way about the salt list & the ban list in general. A plakjekaas indicates, its more of a question of sociology than it is social contract.

I don't want to overthink it before games & then still have individuals that won't really accept some aspect of the game no matter what. I'd rather just get the games in & adjust to the meta or vice versa. I do think there is some merit to those saying repetitive, pubstompers, who don't keep things fresh are problematic - but I don't think conversations or the social contract changes behavior. I'm not going to be someone's therapist, I just will choose to either let people "read the room" & let that be behavioral modification for them. Or if they are incapable of behavioral modification they usually don't stick around the meta.

August 7, 2021 10:05 a.m.

Gleeock says... #21

I would be happy just annihilating culture-driven expectations, social constructs, content-creator driven philosophy... and just playing the game

August 7, 2021 10:20 a.m.

Gleeock says... #22

Actually I should say I would be happy Obliterate'ing those things :)

August 7, 2021 11:10 a.m.

CaptainKidd says... #23

To me the social contract isnt needed. The only thing I could think of that I wouldnt be okay with is a stax deck with no win con. In my opinion the social contract disrupts the colour pie and its self balancing. IE. Banning land destruction because you play green, but you run Bane of Progress blowing up everyone elses ramp.

August 8, 2021 4:52 a.m.

marco-piatti says... #24

I have no problems with not using any social contract. I go to different LGSs and i often play with people i've never met before so i know pretty well that there are guys that say "don't worry my deck it's a 7/10" and then they kill you off turn 4. Or people that play stax, MLD and other "considered annoying" strategies.I personally dislike people using proxies of very powerfull and expensive cards that are not necessary for the deck to work well. But, then again, i've learnt that whatever people say, the game eventually ends and if i didn't have fun i'll just change group.

However social contract is needed in some degrees. For example, in my playgroup one of my friends has a Lord Windgrace deck based on MLD. At first he thought it was fun to run a lot of Obliterate effects. Then, since the deck doesn't run infinite combos or means to win soon after he blows the board up, the games started to get really long and boring. He only has that deck and he is not willing to build another. So we talked and at first he had no problems with us attacking him in 3 vs 1 after the first MLD effect. But that meant that his chanches of victory became basically zero. So now he adjusted the deck in order to contain just a couple of MLD effects and everyone is pretty much ok with the situation, without us needing to kill him off to punish him to use that strategy or affecting the game experience for anyone.

August 10, 2021 7:24 a.m.

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