The Scrub Report—A Brave New Scrub

The store was buzzing last week with talk of the new Commander League. Everyone talked about their awesome decks, their crazy combos, and the identities of various commanders. While flipping through my Mondo-Green Standard deck (which I’ve detailed in the past), I asked an innocuous question to my coworkers: “Does anyone play mono-colored EDH decks?”

I was staring at a card in my deck. A Standard-legal, mono-green, legendary creature. A lovely elf by the name of Yeva, Nature’s Herald. I knew the general outlines of Commander. I knew the card count, the singleton rules, the life totals, and I had a general idea of the social structure of the game.

I had no real plans to play this past Monday. I just wanted to fiddle with a deck, and see what I could scrounge together based on Yeva. I like the idea of being able to flash her and anyone else in at any time, so I went with her as a commander. I also wanted to cast big, dumb creatures and swing away with them. That was the goal of the deck. I just wanted to build it, see if the art of building an EDH deck interested me, and go from there. So how did I go from that to staring down Sorin, Ajani, Nicol Bolas, Chandra, and Garruk at a table where the two other participants just kept saying, “Do something, kill them!” to me? Magic, my friends, pure Magic.

I’m something akin to the “kid brother” of Magic at the Twenty Sided Store. I work there full time, but I came from the D&D side of things (gasp! other games?) and only first got into Magic because I knew it would be a huge part of my job. Now I’m a diehard fan and I love the game, and everyone pitches in with my maturation as a Magic player. So when I started feigning interest in building an EDH deck, everyone had their opinions and suggestions. Orlando, my new co-worker and close friend, started rattling off insane cards. I told him he could help, but I really want to build the deck myself, so if he could write down awesome ramp cards for me, I would handle the rest.

Deck construction was a lot of fun. I basically went through lists of green cards and would stop on ones that felt synergistic or were hugely expensive to cast. After picking through, I ended up with some mainstays like Symbiotic Wurm, Yavimaya Elder, Chameleon Colossus, and Primordial Hydra. My deck is what ten-year-olds dream of at night: huge creatures, absurd power and toughness—and creatures like Elvish Piper that make me not have to pay retail for any of them. It’s a dream scenario. With my deck constructed, there was nothing to it but to do it.

The turnout on Monday was huge. There were around 36 players signed up for the league. I sat down to my first table with John and a few newer players. John H. was playing Planeswalker Control, and I was having a blast squaring off against him. The two other players did not help the state of the table. While John was resolving Garruk and I was resolving Howl of the Nightpack, they were just staring at his Nicol Bolas, saying things to me like, “I’m not gonna cast a creature, he’ll just control him!” and, “Come on, do something!” as I stared at a doomed board state. Once John was able to resolve multiple planeswalkers the game became very clearly us against him.

But in retrospect, I wonder if I wouldn’t have faired better if I had teamed up with him against the two inactive players. This is where the game most interests me. These little political moments are a very interesting way to play Magic, and I really enjoyed the process. And a major shout-out to John, who played an insane deck but didn’t make the game joyless. He didn’t Sorin us down to 10 life until we were at time and clearly in a stymied board state. And by the end, I had a huge smile on my face and notes about how I could change my deck for next Monday.

I stuck around and played in the second grouping. That, too, was a blast. I see talk of people with broken decks, but I think that will all change next week. One player at my second table sat down and said he felt a little awkward about his overpowered deck. Upon playing it, I found it was very powerful but extremely interactive. No one got shut out of the game, no one was out of options, and no one’s feelings got hurt.

In the end, I had a blast. And I realized what aspects of Commander I really liked. Cards like Eladamri’s Vineyard, for example, were awesome in my deck. They gave everyone resources so we could all enjoy the game. I took out cards that impacted the board too little, like Rancor, and added cards like Howling Mine and Otherworld Atlas. Everyone should have cards and mana! That’s how I want to play my decks! Yeva really is Nature’s Herald, and she’ll be guiding you through the Forest next week. Because the way I see it, we’re all in this together… until we’re not.

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3 Responses to “The Scrub Report—A Brave New Scrub”
  1. SnottNormal says:

    As “that awkward guy in pod two,” I have to say it was awesome getting to be one of your first EDH opponents. I can’t help but wonder how our pod would have shaken out if *any* sort of board wipe had happened. I realized afterwards that the Dryad Arbor I played on turn four was still alive at the end of the game, which is a hint that things were pretty screwy. Still, things stayed interactive ’til the end, which I think is the most important part.

    I do think power levels will settle as folks get a better idea of the general dynamic of the league. At the very least, I know I’m opting for “entertaining” over “well-tested” next time around. Commander is the best excuse to play weird cards that don’t have a home elsewhere. 🙂

    Keep waving that mono-green flag! It’s totally the best flag.

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