The Hipster factor

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“What is that game you’re playing?”

I think a lot of us have been asked that question at some point when playing Magic at a cafeteria table in school, by the kitchen table around nosy siblings, or in a local gaming store not dedicated to cardboard slinging specifically. Ponder a proper answer to that question for just a second.

Done?

I’m going to guess that you will try and explain that the game is a sort-of mix between chess and poker, with a fantasy flavour stapled on to it. If the person you’re talking to is invested in gaming you might use terms like “trading card game”. Most of the time, I find myself explaining to people that “you take these cards, there are many thousands of them, and you build a deck for yourself and you play against other people who have built decks.”

Usually, there is no point going deeper into the topics of metagaming, archetypes, net decking etc. – to the person you’re explaining the game to, you’re a deckbuilder, and you play against other deckbuilders. Never mind the fact that most of us will never T8 a grand prix with a rogue brew of our own, or make a mark on the Standard metagame with some new tech. Innovation is most of the time for the pros, unfortunately, when it comes to most formats.

zurtheenchanterThe exception is EDH. In EDH, building something for yourself is almost the norm. You select the commander you would like to build a deck around, and even though you technically can net deck an EDH list it might be unwise. Every play group is its own metagame, and a deck that is too powerful or percieved as too powerful might construct a new downside to the player – the others around the table will bully you out. Even though your net decked Zur list is awesome, the others will catch on as soon as you reveal it, and kick you out of the game Archenemy style. This fact seems to frustrate most tournament-calibre spikes that dip their toes into the water.

Innovation, thus, is sometimes key to being able to play politically. On top of that, EDH seems to be one of those formats that people play specifically to discover new cards.


I’m relating this to one of my more recent decks. I was looking to play some more red, since I wasn’t playing red at all for a while, and I settled on re-building my Meren deck after a while and make her Jund. I’ve been wanting to rebuild her since I noticed she was the most popular Golgari general on EDHREC.com – playing her lost me a lot of Hipster points. I’m not trying to say that innovation is quantifiable, but I believe most people will agree that it’s boring to sit down at a table and see the same general in every game played against you. I wanted to build Adun Oakenshield, but he is expensive and hard to come by, so that project is slated for late 2020 instead.

prosshskyraiderofkherAfter going over the other Jund options, I found that most were either too weak, too similar to Meren (like Shattergang Brothers or Kresh the Bloodbraided for example – both being prime examples of “sac for value” type generals), I decided to just say “screw it” and go with Prossh, Skyraider of Kher.

This might make me a hypocrite, on paper, since Prossh is by far the most popular Jund commander, but I regained a few Hipster points just last weekend when I decided to cut all of the “sac for value” cards and go balls-to-the-wall aggro with Prossh. I’m not pretending to innovate on Prossh as a general, but I do play some unusual cards – like Berserk, Diligent Farmhand, or Inferno Titan. A link, to my deck: Prossh it to the limit, on TappedOut.net.

What’s imporant to me is that the deck feels like my own, even if the general is hugely popular. It boils down to some sort of Rifleman’s Creed thing – this is my deck, there are many like it but this one is mine.

That, and all the Hipster points I make from Wydwen and Ojutai must be invested somewhere. I deserve to sometimes just bust out Prossh and destroy my opponents with enough force to leave only a pair of smoking boots behind. To quote XKCD’s “What if?” blog: in a way, they don’t die, they just stop being biology and start being physics.


What do you think? How important is creativity and innovation to you when it comes to Magic or EDH? Leave a comment!

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