Fun For People Who Hate Fun

Everyone has their own version of fun.  I wrote about the disparities in people’s version of fair/fun over the Summer when the Commander precon decks were released.  You can read it here if you like.  Even my Commander deck has changed to be more competitive since then.  I’m sad to say I’ve comprimised, and had to cut some of my favorite cards, Omnibian and Lorescale Coatl.  Omnibian admittedly does literally nothing to help win a Commander game (despite being freaking awesome) and Lorescale Coatl does not affect the board state until he’s been out for at least 3 turns, which never happens.  My EDH playgroups vary slightly between competitive and casually competitive, so I’ve had to adjust slightly to play ball.  My deck auto-loses to the extremely competitive decks, and that’s something I accept.  I just don’t play against those decks, and my reward is the ability to play the cards and deck type I want to play.

Commander is as much and Eternal (cards throughout the history of Magic) format as much as it is a casual format.  Just like online multiplayer games often have different “rooms”, you need to see games of Commander as different “rooms”.  Things like infinite combos, turn 3 lethal Commander damage, and “hard locks” may be the kind of fun people have in some “rooms”,  while in other rooms people attempt to win with their one-of Dragon Arch, and in yet another Knowledge Pool + Wild Evocation or Shaharazad are fun and perfectly acceptable.  I personally would probably flip the table in the last instance, but there are those psychopaths out there. There is room in the Commander format for people to play the deck they want to play, and where their opponents appreciate them for it.  It’s important to allow for that, and it’s equally important to be able to recognize and select decks to play with and against that are appropriate for your own Commander needs.  This saves everyone 45+ minutes of frustration, anger and even hurt feelings.  Know what your play style is, and find a group where that fits in, and Commander is great fun.  I personally, for example think the cycle of Praetors from New Phyrexia is the the opposite of fun.  In my opinion these cards singlehandedly ruin Commander games, despite what Magic’s wise designers may have believed when creating them.  In what world is Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger (Mana Reflection + Freyalise’s Winds) fun for anyone but the sadist who casts him? It’s likely that many turns pass where no one can find an answer, and by then the damage is often already done.  My playgroup has a gentlemen’s agreement that Praetors are out.  We also shy away from “easy buttons” like Infect and “land destruction”.  The result is longer games in which everyone usually gets to cast the spells they love, and work for incremental advantage while dealing with threats, and playing to their decks’ strategies.  Sound like fun?  We think it is.  When I play against other decks, games often go: “having fun, having fun, having fun, opponent resolves a Praetor, I lose”.  It doesn’t take a lot of skill to Tutor for Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, force your opponents to discard their hands, and eventually win the game.  It never feels like the winner earned it, to me.


Ultimately, what I think is fun is stupid to someone else.  I’m not trying to propagate my version of fun.  I’m just saying that it’s important we recognize our preferences, and choose Commander games based on those.  Everyone can be happy.  It’s a pretty simple concept, so I’m not going to belabor it.  I’ll leave you with my Rafiq list, which is pretty fun for me.  I started playing in Shards of Alara, and fell irreversibly in love with Bant at the prerelease.  I love the whole idea of the shard, noble knights, men and beasts working together for order, holding back the undead hordes, etc.  And Rafiq is their champion.  Since the theme is very personal to me, I can’t help but build the deck based on a lot of personal preferences.  I knew that my deck would always involve Rafiq, the Mythic Conscription package (Sovereigns of Lost Alara + Eldrazi Conscription), Steel of the Godhead, and Finest Hour, so an Enchantress shell seemed appropriate.   There a bunch of cards that probably should be in the deck and aren’t, either because I haven’t thought of them, I straight up don’t want to play them, or they just didn’t make the cut over cards I prefer to play.  Because my creatures tend to get hated (for some reason people feel threatened by enchanted, double-striking creatures) all but 4 of them have “comes-into-play” effects that gain some value before they get suited up and sent into battle.


[Updated 1/19/12 After playing a TON of Commander during and after Commander Week.]


Rafiq of the Many



Serra Ascendant (a 1 CMC target for Hibernation’s End.  Also pretty strong on turn 1.)

Argothian Enchantress (She attacked and killed Liliana of the Veil yesterday)

+Phantasmal Image (Stronger Hibernation’s End target, generally awesome.)

+Qasali Pridemage (Another H.E. target, artifact/enchantment hate I can Wargate for, great early attacker.)

+Knight of the Reliquary (Undeniable value, huge beater, can fetch/abuse Maze of Ith, plus various utility lands.)

Eternal Witness

+Stoic Angel (Designed to interact well with the Bant plan of ‘suit a guy up and throw him into battle alone, also flying and vigilance is good. She’s the best full Bant creature besides Rafiq that gets full benefit from both Steel of the Godhead AND Shield of the Oversoul)

+Timbermare (Great in the deck.  Awesome Tooth and Nail target, perfect Planeswalker killer, really like this card.)


Karmic Guide

Sun Titan

Sunblast Angel

Sovereigns of Lost Alara

+Gaea’s Revenge (Huge hasty beat stick, also good after a sweep, can’t be targeted by much.  Great with Sovereigns.)

Woodfall Primus

Blazing Archon


Artifact Creatures:



Legendary Creatures:

Geist of Saint Traft (A lost son of Bant. I love the story behind this card, and the picture is awesome, especially foil.  I tested him and he turns out to be great, particularly when enchanted with Steel of the Godhead, or right after a board sweep.)



Enlightened Tutor

Mystical Tutor

Path to Exile

Supply // Demand

Idyllic Tutor



+Hinder (Since my strategy is always to attack, I upped my counter spell package, mainly to further protect my creatures)

Voidslime (I love this card.)

Bant Charm

Fact or Fiction

Replenish (Oracle Text: I win game.)

Winds of Rath (Pretty unfair)

+Recurring Insight (cards are good…)

Tooth and Nail



Sol Ring

+Swiftfoot Boots (Haste and Hexproof are good for a deck that likes to attack…)

Selesnya Signet

Azorius Signet

Simic Signet

Coalition Relic



Sterling Grove (Don’t mess with my stuff.)

Greater Auramancy (Ditto.)

Sylvan Library

Enchantress’s Presence

+Prison Term (Often dies early to sweeps or sacrifice effects, but is still very very good.)

Rhystic Study

Steel of the Godhead

Shield of the Oversoul

Oblivion Ring

Karmic Justice

Aura of Silence (The only card in my deck illustrated by my favorite Magic artist.)

+Leyline of Anticipation (AWESOME.  Gives me the ability to cast enchantments and creatures reactively, and play powerful spells EOT.)

+ Parallax Wave (Great as removal, great for protecting my own creatures.)

Faith’s Fetters


Sigil of the Empty Throne

Hibernation’s End (One of the more underrated cards in Commander.)

Privileged Position (See: Sterling Grove)

Finest Hour (*Angels singing*)

Mana Reflection

Take Possession



Elspeth, Knight-Errant (Amazing.  And, like Rafiq, definitively Bant.)

Venser, the Sojourner (Recently added- blinks any of 10 creatures with “comes-into-play” effects, moves enchantments, makes creatures unblockable)


Basic Land:

2 Island

2 Forest

3 Plains


Non-Basic Land:

Windswept Heath

Flooded Strand

Misty Rainforest

Krosan Verge



Tropical Island

Treetop Village

Stirring Wildwood

Celestial Colonnade

Wooded Bastion (The mana base improved dramatically when I added the filter lands)

Mystic Gate

Flooded Grove

Selesnya Sanctuary

Azorius Chancery

Simic Growth Chamber

+ Adarkar Wastes

+ Yavimaya Coast

Seaside Citadel (Oh, Bant. *sigh*)

Command Tower

Lonely Sandbar

Tranquil Thicket

+Reliquary Tower (This is an awesome and beloved Commander card with incredible art. I REALLY hope a full-face art version is released someday.)

+Maze of Ith (Must-include with Knight of the Reliquary.)

Strip Mine

Homeward Path (Rafiq fights for ME!)

Temple of the False God


Legendary Land:

Serra’s Sanctum (Has tapped for 24 mana.)

Hall of the Bandit Lord (Another very powerful recent addition.)


I had Flickerform in the deck for a long time, and it was rarely relevant, and usually got my hated.  Admittedly, sometimes you get it on Eternal Witness or Mulldrifter and go nuts, but those instances are rare, and nobody likes it, so I cut it.  I should find room for Swords to Plowshares but I always end up cutting it for more flashy (I mean literally foil) cards.  I’m sure it’ll make its way back in. I’ve also thought about Simic Guildmage, and Celestial Ancient, but both are a little too “cute”and don’t affect the game enough.  Umbra Mystic, Mesa Enchantress/Verduran Enchantress/Yavimaya Enchantress/Femeref Enchantress, and Kor Spiritdancer all were unimpressive in testing.  I’d like to test Ancestral Mask, as soon as I find a foil one.  All in all it’s a fun strategy and I get to play with cards that I love.  Let me know if you have comments or suggestions!


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4 thoughts on “Fun For People Who Hate Fun”

  1. I agree with you, Adam. I do think that Jin-Gitaxias, Vorinclex, and Urubrask are stupidly overpowered. However Elesh Norn and Sheoldred, in my opinion, are certainly not as bad. 

    And I see what you mean about people who spend stupid amounts of money just to make their deck overly amazing. 

    1. Elesh Norn is manageable (unless they’re playing tokens), but I just prefer an all or nothing agreement.  It eliminates the argument of which is worse, which isn’t bad, etc.  Also, I generally don’t fault people for spending money on their EDH decks (Mishra’s Factory is a little much, but even that’s understandable).  EDH decks are kind of like children.  Some people can’t help themselves, and make as many kids as they can, and others make a few and give them the best of everything.  I spend a lot of money making Rafiq shiny, and I have a ways left to go (all the fetches, Treachery, Enlightened Tutor, Replenish, Woodfall Primus, etc.). Ryan McKinney’s deck could compete with Lil Wayne’s grill.

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