Changing your deck's power level without changing cards

jaishivajai
Posts: 22
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 16 times

Post by jaishivajai » 4 months ago

I have a couple of decks with infinite/win the game combos in them. Now, I've never wanted my EDH decks to be linear, so I always make "combo" decks with more general wincon focus as well. When I first introduced my group to EDH combos they rolled their eyes a bit. I wanted to keep playing my new powerful deck without upsetting my group. I also became the target automatically when playing my combo deck. So, if I had already won with a combo for the night, I'd promise not to use a combo as a wincon the next game. This kept everyone from getting salty, kept me playing my brand new deck, and kept me from becoming public enemy number 1 right out of the gate.

You can literally shave power levels off your deck, while also letting your opponents know you are doing so.

I've found it to be a fun way to switch up your play style while keeping your group from playing against the same old combo.

MRHblue
Posts: 79
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 106 times
Been thanked: 30 times

Post by MRHblue » 4 months ago

Isnt that just 'letting them win'? Like if you drew half the combo, and now a tutor, isnt not casting it false to the play pattern?

Now swaping A card is also feasible.

jaishivajai
Posts: 22
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 16 times

Post by jaishivajai » 4 months ago

Not if I put that limitation on myself to start. I don't have to tutor for the other half of my combo. It's an extra challenge and keeps the deck from being too linear. I can still try to win, just in a different way.

User avatar
cryogen
GΘΔ†
Posts: 435
Joined: 7 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Location: Westminster, MD
Has thanked: 32 times
Been thanked: 143 times
Contact:

Titles & Recognition

Post by cryogen » 4 months ago

I've moved this to the main forum area, didn't seem appropriate for the rules sub.
Expand Signature
Sheldon wrote:You're the reason we can't have nice things.

User avatar
darrenhabib
Posts: 442
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 60 times
Been thanked: 73 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by darrenhabib » 4 months ago

I have a Sisay, Weatherlight Captain deck I play like this. I will adjust how I play the game (what I search for) according to the power level of the rest of the table.

So often I'll be setting up creature beats, rather than infinite combos if it seems that the rest of the decks are "fair".

pokken
Posts: 664
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 189 times
Been thanked: 122 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by pokken » 4 months ago

Something I would say is that it's rather gauche to tell people "well, I could have just stomped you but I went for creature beats instead."

If you do this, just keep mum about it.

User avatar
BaronCappuccino
Posts: 26
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Location: Quiet Corner
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 9 times

Post by BaronCappuccino » 4 months ago

Being in a position where you can graciously let others experience what winning feels like, but always be capable of winning on demand so that your playgroup doesn't forget its place is probably an enviable one.

User avatar
lyonhaert
Posts: 285
Joined: 5 months ago
Answers: 1
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 114 times
Been thanked: 42 times

Post by lyonhaert » 4 months ago

One can also favor card draw over tutoring to increase variance, and/or make sure loops require a minimum number of cards to assemble.
Expand Signature
Commander/EDH — Main Decks
To-Build Pool

User avatar
Candlemane
Posts: 56
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Post by Candlemane » 4 months ago

Sometimes, especially when I'm testing a deck, I intentionally don't go ham because I want to see how well the deck can recover from mass destruction or how mill or discard might effect its chance of being operable. It really helps me narrow down weaknesses and minimize them.

For regular games, it might go easier if someone is playing a new deck they just built. Everyone wants to play their cards and contribute, so why not? Don't get me wrong though, that charity only last until turn 6-9.

I myself have a personal limitation about the command zone. No general I have there can be an outright combo piece (I still love you Ghave!) because I will lean into it more than not, and frankly I find combos a dull way to win. There of course are exceptions, like having a combo in the deck itself is fine for the long, 2 hour games to just finish it or try to.
Expand Signature
EDH
Nightmare Moon / Princess Luna B
Alela, Artful Provocateur WUB
Kadena, Slinking Sorcerer BGU
Ghired, Conclave Exile RGW
Tariel, Reckoner of Souls RWB
Omnath, Locus of the Roil GUR


Oathbreaker
Sarkhan the Masterless R Sarkhan's Triumph

Casual 60
Greater Numbers GU
Death Throws BG
Ashen Revenants RW

User avatar
DirkGently
Posts: 259
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 47 times

Post by DirkGently » 4 months ago

I very much dislike people intentionally playing suboptimally in order to let other people "have their fun" or because "the game hasn't gone on for long enough yet". If your deck is too powerful, power it down. Don't play badly. It makes any win the other players get meaningless - they only won because you let them win, basically.

If you tell everyone at the start "this game, I am not allowed to play both combo cards together - i.e. if I have one in play the other can't be cast (or otherwise put on the board)" then...I mean I guess that's fine. Seems easier to just take one out of the deck, though.
Expand Signature
My decks actually on this site:
Phelddagrif

User avatar
Mookie
Posts: 463
Joined: 5 months ago
Answers: 10
Pronoun: Unlisted
Location: the æthereal plane
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 45 times

Post by Mookie » 4 months ago

I do occasionally intentionally play suboptimally... but it's usually less due to me wanting to tone down the power level of my decks, and more due to me wanting to try out a new card or strategy. For example, tutoring for some sort of card advantage engine (or whatever card I most recently added to the deck) instead of a combo piece. Alternatively, I could intentionally play more conservatively if there is a possibility that my opponents are holding up interaction to stop a combo.

....but if all my opponents are tapped out and I think I have a line that will win? I'm going to take it. Simultaneously, if I see that an opponent refuse to take a winning line so they can draw more cards, I'm going to be very annoyed.

User avatar
Myllior
Posts: 84
Joined: 5 months ago
Answers: 1
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 12 times

Post by Myllior » 4 months ago

DirkGently wrote:
4 months ago
Seems easier to just take one out of the deck, though.
Got to agree with this. From a play perspective, there's the question of how fun/effective the card is when removed from its combo partner; Felidar Guardian and Peregrine Drake can be fantastic combo pieces, but aren't very impressive outside their combos. If I'm intentionally not comboing, then it's the perfect time to run some Big Fun Stuff like Memnarch|DST in place of the essentially dead cards.
Expand Signature
EDH: Derevi GWU | Kamahl (Based on Rumpy's Primer) | Kefnet | Roon GWU

TheTuna
Posts: 24
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 8 times

Post by TheTuna » 4 months ago

lyonhaert wrote:
4 months ago
One can also favor card draw over tutoring to increase variance, and/or make sure loops require a minimum number of cards to assemble.
Absolutely this. The power gap between a deck running a tutor suite and a deck with no tutors at all is typically quite vast, so if your playgroup doesn't like tutoring (particularly if they don't like tutoring for combos) you may as well just take the tutors out and put in some splashier cards. It's meant to be a high-variance format, after all!
Expand Signature
Current Commander Decks
Show
Lyra, Fumiko's Thunderdome, Rubinia, Aryel Regna & Krav, Aminatou, Grusilda's Discount Monster Mash

User avatar
BaronCappuccino
Posts: 26
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Location: Quiet Corner
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 9 times

Post by BaronCappuccino » 4 months ago

Another perk of losing the tutors is that you quickly and regularly discover new and unintended perks and synergies with a more zen-like playstyle. My tutors are never silver bullets. They're redundant copies of the only cards I know can win games at the moment, but often during deck construction I accidentally put together many other winning synergies and/or combos and they can only be discovered by gameplay. I feel like tutors held me back, if that makes any sense. My decks are almost never linear and learning to best use what I have vs racing to cards X, Y and Z every game is so much better I can't see turning back.

User avatar
motleyslayer
Posts: 272
Joined: 6 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 13 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by motleyslayer » 4 months ago

I started having decks that could match the power level of the group I'm playing with because I mostly play casual commander now. Most of the decks I play now don't run tutors as much so they're less consistent but still good and capable of winning

User avatar
3drinks
Kaalia OG
Posts: 653
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Location: Nomad Outpost, Tarkir
Has thanked: 27 times
Been thanked: 41 times
Contact:

Post by 3drinks » 4 months ago

Playing a deck to intentionally misplay is intellectually dishonest and incredibly disrespectful toward your opponents and speaks volumes of what you - even subconsciously - think of them or their ability. I would rather lose 100× and figure out why that is, than win once because you "allowed me" to win.

It's like in D&D, an example given speaks loudly of this poor game mastering trait; players would rather defeat a wyrmling dragon on their own, than a powerful ancient great wyrm because some epic npc teleported in to lend a hand.

You force your players, or in this case your friends into a case of playing only as spectators. No, you know what this is? It's you playing kingmaker. You could win anytime but you chose not to by somehow manipulating the game in such a way as to manually distort it's intellectual integrity.
Expand Signature
Tibalt's #1 Fan & Personal Liaison to Kaalia of the Vast.
MTG: Commander
WBRKaalia of the Vast [THE Definitive Primer - a Contract from Below]
WBRKaalia, Zenith Seeker [Astral Slide]
BRGKorvold, Fae-Cursed King [Sacrifice for Value; White Borders Edition]
RKari Zev, Skyship Raider [Secret Torbran Deck and "how to" guide to multiplayer R]

User avatar
lyonhaert
Posts: 285
Joined: 5 months ago
Answers: 1
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 114 times
Been thanked: 42 times

Post by lyonhaert » 4 months ago

Generally I agree with "don't underplay", but I disagree with it being a strict rule -- there are corner cases where I may choose not to apply it and there are other things going on. So I guess I'll had my two cents.

Not every player is out to get better and improve deck-building and skill. Some play to have some fun with their theme decks and maybe see some cool stuff happen. Some would more enjoy a game they lost if they felt like they had a fighting chance and did what they could up to the end than if somebody wins out of nowhere, yanking the carpet out from under them and maybe making them feel like nothing they accomplished in the game mattered. I'm not just playing games of Commander but also playing a metagame called "making sure my friends have fun" (or sometimes "making sure my friends are not demoralized") that's influenced in part by what I do in each game. If I know the most optimal play that moves me toward winning the game is going to be too demoralizing, there's a chance I will do something else to maintain the tension and suspense of shifting power dynamics during the game because that experience seems to be the most rewarding in my group.

And then there's the times I just want to try something I haven't tried before to see how it pans out, though I will sometimes replace the cards I keep leaning on in order to help with going down that different path.

The point is I have goals outside of just winning any individual Commander game, and sometimes that ends up with my losing the Commander game to improve the metagame. Balancing with my playgroup like this is an iterative process between play decisions made in the moment and deckbuilding between game days. For example, if the same trade-off decision with the same card comes up more than once then I should probably consider replacing that card.

Sure, this could be seen as manipulation, but I don't see it as any more "intellectually dishonest" than what a D&D GM does. I showed my friends Commander, they love it and got onboard. I accidentally started an arms race in the group, but learned from that and over time managed to get it to plateau and reach an equilibrium specifically because I underplayed at times and powered down my decks (doesn't mean I always lost).

I find the D&D example quite apt because D&D is basically co-op and the metagame of having fun is, too. Yeah, the players probably won't get much out of a win via NPC deus ex machina, and it's also bad to pit them against a huge challenge that's just going to TPK, and it's also unlikely to be rewarding for them to face something that they just crush easily. It's more rewarding if they had to play well and struggle to beat a well-balanced challenge -- but it can also be a really rewarding and fun experience to go up against a challenge that's just a bit too much that makes them regroup, learn, try a different approach, etc.

To me, in a format like Commander that doesn't have an official GM in the group like D&D does, whoever in the group sees the bigger picture of the group's experience and can nudge it are, to me, that group's GMs. And that role can be a rewarding/enjoyable experience just like playing optimally in a Commander game.
Expand Signature
Commander/EDH — Main Decks
To-Build Pool

DrSeaMonster
Posts: 131
Joined: 5 months ago
Pronoun: he / him
Location: Texas
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 9 times
Contact:

Post by DrSeaMonster » 4 months ago

I don't typically build infinite combos into decks, and when I do I try to limit the decks I have them in.

Out of my current load out, only Ertai and Riku can go infinite. But Riku doesn't have just one combo in it, it has four or five, and I go off with whichever one I draw into. That keeps things interesting.

In general, I try to build my decks for synergy instead of specific combos, so instead of needing two or three particular cards, the decks can go off with any interaction of several cards.

My Samut, Voice of Dissent deck is a great example of this. It's based on creatures that make tokens when they ETB, cards that make token copies of creatures and cards that multiply tokens. So it can have a big turn and make a bunch of creatures with Armada Wurm, Kiki-Jiki and Anointed Procession...or with Urbis Protector, Minion Reflector and Parallel Lives.
Expand Signature
Abzan aligned, Timmy/Johnny with a Vorthos activated ability.

Commander decks: Karador. Riku. Savra. Vorosh. Teysa Karlov. Kenrith. Balthor the Defiled.
Radha, Heir to Keld. Nath. Atarka, World Render. Saheeli, the Gifted. Zacama. Zurgo Helmsmasher.
Samut, Voice of Dissent. Grimgrin. Muldrotha. Ertai, the Corrupted. Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Elsha. Glissa, the Traitor.

Oathbreaker: Ral, Storm Conduit/Teleportal.

Iso
Posts: 62
Joined: 6 months ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 1 time

Titles & Recognition

Post by Iso » 4 months ago

A lot of my LGS has players that will promise "oh my deck doesn't do thaaat", but oftentimes, it's with people we just...don't know, and don't have reason to take at face value. That said, why even put the combos in your deck if you know people are going to grumble about it?

Post Reply Previous topicNext topic

Return to “Commander”