The problems with playgroups

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I spent Monday night playing EDH with some friends who I usually don’t play EDH with, which is always a complete blast. This night, I brought a deck I recently put together – Tasigur, the Golden Fang, who I myself wrote down wrote off as too durdly in my preview post of him. All bad feelings regarding him went completely out the window when I happened to open a copy of him in my Dragons of Tarkir sealed pool, and naturally, I had to build a deck around him. He did really, really well.

The deck can be seen here: You go, Tasigurl! on TappedOut.net.tasigur

The deck is obviously not tuned to any given metagame, since I more or less just threw together the good BUG cards I had, and with the tuck countermagic replaced by other similar cards, I was ready to at least take Tasigur for a spin around town, and boy did he spin.

Tasigur is followed by some cards that I have described as problematic before – Time Warp, Exsanguinate, and Rite of Replication to be specific, but since I had no idea what to expect from the metagame in question, I figured that the gloves were off. I wasn’t about to be outdone by somebody else at the table, and this is where I sorely failed.

Problems arose when the others showed up, a couple of people had preconstructed decks, some had just put together decks from draft leftovers, some had pieced together decks more aligned with my own from EDH staples. We played mostly three man pods, but found time for a final four man pod and when I brought out Tasigur and his deck, I realized how miserably I had failed in my deck construction.

villainouswealth.fullI don’t want to say I didn’t have fun, for example, casting Villainous Wealth for like 15 on the mono-green preconstructed deck from Commander 2014, which yielded Titania, Protector of Argoth, into Terastodon blowing up three of my own lands into Collective Unconscious for about a dozen cards was awesome, and even some of the other players at the table laughed at my board state. Rather, the issue was that I suspect nobody had as much fun as me at the table, and that is a huge issue in a social format. Thankfully, most of the players around the table seemed to let me be an asshole and play out my board with few frowns, and some even talked about getting more into the format afterwards, but I’m sure the latter were in minority.

My point is that the main issue with EDH as a format isn’t that it is inherently broken, which it obviously is. The problem is that it’s difficult for players to find a suitable power level in a playgroup. When my first playgroup started playing back around 2011, it was clear that everyone was very casual in the beginning, but as soon as somebody placed an order at StarCityGames, the arms race began, and pretty soon, we all had rather powerful decks. This is the same playgroup that both other contributors of this blog are a part of, by the way, and we’ve been playing EDH ever since. In fact, I’d much prefer to visit my old stomping grounds and play EDH a Friday night than compete in a tournament these days – partly because it’s great to see old friends, partly because in that playgroup, everyone has played lots of Vintage, Legacy and EDH and have access to most cards they want and need. In a setting like that, I don’t feel too bad about casting Villainous Wealth for fifteen because people are doing things in that neighbourhood all the time. However, in a group where there is a mix of new and seasoned players, I am left clueless.

Have you, dear reader, encountered similar issues with EDH? What’s your solution?

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4 Comments

  1. randomName#359 aka Nargluj

     /  April 5, 2015

    It’s a hard balance between grabbing all the fun yourself and letting others have fun. I try to read the situation, the players, and the general attitude when someone else does something more or less broken.

    Sometimes Dark Depths is just fine as a mana sink and Expedition Map is better of fetching Thawing Glaciers. Sometimes the O-So-Powerful Rest in Peace needs his/her otherwise seemingly harmless buddy Helm of Obedience, to knock that jerk with the oppressive general/deck out of the game.

    I’ve gone down the road with more than one game plan. It makes a weaker deck overall, but you can choose whichever road that coincides with the tempo of the game.

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  2. Grim Lavamancer

     /  April 9, 2015

    Well, I only ever play EDH with the same group, so I don’t really have this problem. But I’d imagine each play group that get together fairly often eventually stabilizes at a certain power level, much like an ecosystem. But a delicate one. A new player accustomed to a different power level (often a higher one) would sweep in like a migrating apex predator and just go Jurassic Park on the entire group. Though unlike the Tyrannosaurus in Jurassic Park, most players would feel a bit guilty over Pernicious Deeding a super casual player’s Crab Tribal deck.

    Alright, that metaphor may have gotten out of hand. But there’s a point in there somewhere.

    Oh, and I really like your Tasigur deck! Two thumbs up.

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