40 Life in EDH

User avatar
Cyberium
Posts: 395
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 18 times
Been thanked: 29 times

Post by Cyberium » 1 week ago

How do people feel about it?

If starting life shifts to 35/30/25, how would the gameplay change (and deck building)?

User avatar
DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
Posts: 1095
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 107 times
Been thanked: 233 times

Post by DirkGently » 1 week ago

I've long said that, much like rent, it's too damn high.

Lower life totals benefit currently underpowered aggressive decks, depower combo decks that don't interact with the board, and help mitigate the absurd power of cards like necro and sylvan lib which were designed for 20 life formats (and broken in those ones too).

TBH it's high enough that it's often not relevant, and the difference between 40 and 50 or maybe even 100 would be negligible, because past a certain point the optimal strategy is to go way over the top with combo, or a lockout, or some other strategy that renders life totals irrelevant.

User avatar
Maluko
Posts: 103
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 51 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Post by Maluko » 1 week ago

DirkGently wrote:
1 week ago
I've long said that, much like rent, it's too damn high.

Lower life totals benefit currently underpowered aggressive decks, depower combo decks that don't interact with the board, and help mitigate the absurd power of cards like necro and sylvan lib which were designed for 20 life formats (and broken in those ones too).

TBH it's high enough that it's often not relevant, and the difference between 40 and 50 or maybe even 100 would be negligible, because past a certain point the optimal strategy is to go way over the top with combo, or a lockout, or some other strategy that renders life totals irrelevant.
I don't think I could've said it better. A starting life total of 30 would bring agressive decks more on par with other strategies and it would put a dent on cards that require you to pay life.

I also don't buy the argument that 40 life promotes longer games. I believe that decks would adjust accordingly and play more reactive and defensive cards in the early game to deal with faster decks, thus not significantly changing the amount of time games last. It is also worth mentioning that the 40 life choice was done arbitrarily, without formal testing from the RC. If I am not mistaken, they split the 200 life total rule by an average of five players and that was it.
Expand Signature
Primeval Dragon Highlander (PDH)*
InfernoFeather DanceCall to the Depths
Knights' ChargeEnhanced EvolutionDragon Rage

*only cards printed in expansions and core sets since Mercadian Masques, or printed for the first time since 2002.

User avatar
Mookie
Posts: 1034
Joined: 1 year ago
Answers: 16
Pronoun: Unlisted
Location: the æthereal plane
Has thanked: 30 times
Been thanked: 137 times

Post by Mookie » 1 week ago

Personally, I enjoy having such a high life total. It allows for long, grindy games and shenanigans that require a lot of setup. To me, a lot of the appeal of EDH is the fact that you can get away with things that you just can't pull off in faster, more competitive formats. 40 life allows people to run haymakers like Rise of the Dark Realms and Omniscience, and I would be concerned that lowering starting life totals would make it more difficult to engage in traditional battlecruiser play. I'll also call out that my favorite games tend to be 1-2 hours long.

That said, lowering life totals would certainly make aggressive strategies more viable. Dealing 120 points of damage is difficult, especially if there isn't another aggro player at the table. Midrange strategies may also benefit - it's hard to grind opponents out of resources when a huge life buffer gives people extra resources to play with. My experience is that the vast majority of games are won by one or two big plays that effectively invalidate opponents' life totals (whether they be combo or something like Craterhoof Behemoth or Torment of Hailfire), and it's pretty rare for people to lose from a bunch of small points of life loss adding up over time.

I will note that I don't see the increased power level of stuff like Necropotence and Sylvan Library as a detriment to the format. They were designed for 20 life formats, yes, but there are a lot of cards that get stronger or weaker depending on the format. See Trinisphere being restricted in Vintage but fine in Modern, while Smuggler's Copter got banned from Standard and is fine elsewhere. Admittedly, those are more because of the environment in those formats and less because of the rules changing, but... I'll also call out a lot of other cards getting stronger / weaker as a result of the EDH ruleset - mill gets weaker due to larger deck sizes, while cards that scale off the number of opponents get a massive boost due to multiplayer.

Anyway, I suspect most peoples' responses to the question will depend on whether or not they want the format to be faster and/or less combo-friendly. I am in favor of diversity in general, but I'm not entirely convinced that making aggro more viable is necessary due to how much variance is already baked into the format.

User avatar
Cyberium
Posts: 395
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 18 times
Been thanked: 29 times

Post by Cyberium » 1 week ago

Personally, I find 40 life troublesome

1) In other formats control/combo decks need to defend themselves while building up wincon, in EDH they only require half of the effort, if at all. A control/combo player could easily shed 30 life and still manage to find their wincon before dying. In other words, 40 starting life severely skewed EDH format towards control/ramping colors and play styles, it's become degenerating.

2) Due to the political aspect of EDH, a player is dissuaded from focusing down one player unless s/he presents obvious threats, which means aggro decks are socially required to attack everyone evenly; they might have to dish out 60+ damage globally before they're "allowed" to gun down any single opponent, that is antithesis to the core of aggro style. This is exacerbated by my aforementioned life advantage control/combo players already have.

3) Speak of social dissuasion: Most players frown upon people using MLD, which means aggro deck (W and R especially) lost one of their most effective methods of keeping board advantage. Adding this to point 1 & 2, aggro decks are stacked with three disadvantages, two of them being social pressure.

EDH is no longer the same game as the days it was invented. People have learned to speed up the game with ramps, rocks, and tutors. The reason why Vintage is such as messed up format is because the supposed slowest color (u) are supported by extreme mana acceleration, 40 life in EDH is doing pretty much that from another angle: Allowing control/combo players to stay alive and spending life points over time, IN ADDITION to most of those overpowered mana rocks.

40 life was suitable for the past, 30 is more like it now. I'd even venture 25 life in a 3+ people game.

User avatar
folding_music
minus 75% EDH
Posts: 659
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: they / them
Has thanked: 264 times
Been thanked: 69 times

Post by folding_music » 1 week ago

think I need around ten thousand life to compete with the new breed of EDH decks :3 but I understand the point that a lower starting life total would allow table stompy and early discard decks to have a better chance at fighting through all the good stuff, I'd love to see this tested even if wasn't an official change.

i'm slowly falling out of commander because it's no longer an expressive format. just so cutthroat and overexposed at this point that I'd love to see a change, any change at all to freshen things up a bit
Expand Signature

User avatar
DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
Posts: 1095
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 107 times
Been thanked: 233 times

Post by DirkGently » 1 week ago

I guess for some groups, more life = longer games. But imo, it can often be the opposite. I see a lot of videos on youtube, and players in stores, expressing that they need a combo in their deck "so they have a way to end the game". That is a bad sign. It means that all the other stuff is just fluff, a way to kill time until someone actually tries to win with a combo. And the more the format gets pushed towards combo as its primary means of ending the game, the faster it's going to get. And, imo, the less enjoyable.

Granted, I've changed locales several times since I started playing, and groups lots of times. So perhaps it's a coincidence. But my memory is that in the earlier days, ANY infinite combo, especially 2-card, was considered pretty BM. Now a lot of players consider them a necessity. Interaction is becoming more and more mandatory if you want to have a chance to win in another way, and I fear the scrubs playing jank with a combo thrown in "for necessity" are the players that will evolve towards pushing combos faster and more frequently because that's the way they're actually winning. Because 40 life makes it so hard for a deck to win by chipping in damage.

At the risk of coming off like a bit of an egotist, I think I'm a strong player, and I enjoy the challenge of winning with chip damage over turns. And I do it a good percentage of the time. But when I lose, a really unpleasantly high percentage of the time (like, seriously, 70+% I'd wager), it's because someone pulled a combo out of their ass (often in decks that otherwise were totally fair and fun, but jammed a combo because people have told them they should) that puts them from zero to victory in a single turn. That's how the younglings of the format are winning their games, because damage is too hard for those players. As this cycle repeats itself over generations of commander players, I worry that it'll only get more and more combo-oriented unless something is done to make other strategies more accessible to less experienced players. And I think lowering the life total is a good start.

EDIT: another note - when the format was new to me, my memory is that my friends and I all loved 2+ hour games. That was basically the norm. We once played an eight hour game, and it wasn't until about hour 6 when people started to say "holy cow someone please end this game". As the format has gotten more and more and MORE popular, to the point where commander is arguably THE dominant format in magic, it turns out that the magic audience as a whole does not want 2+ hour games. These days people start to get antsy if the game has been going longer than an hour or so. I love a good long game that goes back and forth forever, but the people who want that experience are no longer the dominant percentage of the commander playerbase. And the new blood, who like commander but want it to last 30 minutes to an hour at most, will tune their decks to achieve those ends. If life totals are lower, at least that way they might try doing it in a way that isn't another boring combo deck.

User avatar
TheAmericanSpirit
Human Smokestack
Posts: 153
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Location: Under the chicken coop
Has thanked: 43 times
Been thanked: 32 times

Post by TheAmericanSpirit » 1 week ago

I like the current life total. Aggro isn't totally unviable, it's just bigger and more explosive than in constructed formats, and this is fine by me.

Of all the busted things in Edh, the life total standard is the least of my concerns.

User avatar
Cyberium
Posts: 395
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 18 times
Been thanked: 29 times

Post by Cyberium » 1 week ago

I notice that with people having more and more EDH decks, playing long game would hinder them from "switching up" frequently, to try out other decks and keep games fresh. Smaller life pool, like 30, would make it easier for a table to end quickly. (10x4=40 life removed from equation)

But if starting life goes from 40 to 30, then the ban list might also have to change to accommodate the change of pace.

User avatar
WizardMN
Posts: 757
Joined: 1 year ago
Answers: 34
Pronoun: he / him
Location: Twin Cities
Has thanked: 391 times
Been thanked: 291 times
Contact:

Titles & Recognition

Post by WizardMN » 1 week ago

It seems that lowering the life has the effect of increasing a deck's efficiency if the pilot wants to be successful. That is, if the idea is that aggro becomes more viable (assuming it is hovering around "barely playable") would that not mean that you now have decks trying to go faster? This doesn't mean the games go faster, just that there are more decks that can to try to do that. Which means that to combat these new, faster decks, players need to build their own decks to be faster. Whether that means to try to win faster or just be able to answer faster depends on the deck.

And, as an offshoot of that, why would combo be kept in check any more than it is now? Are the combo players often at less than 10-15 life when they win? If not, does lowering the life total actually hurt them in any meaningful way? In 1v1 the increase of aggro might be able to prey on combo more easily, but in 4 player FFA it seems that you just end up in situations where other players are threatened by the aggro player and there is a concerted effort to handle them first. Which leaves the combo player free to do what they want later.

Obviously this is dependent on the table. 3 aggro and 1 combo means combo has a hard time. 3 combo and 1 aggro means combo is almost certainly going to win. I still think that if the decks became faster and the opposing decks were required to be more efficient, trying to combo faster is a viable answer. And with the amount of turn 1-2 wins the card pool already allows, I foresee a rise of combos for players who might not otherwise play them.

I guess beyond aggro becoming more viable, what is the next biggest reason to offer the change? The declination of combo/control seems to be another argument made above but I don't think that will actually happen. Combos may become more glass cannon-y than they are now, but I don't think that is better. And it likely certainly wouldn't cause people to play them less often; they would just build their decks to make them faster.

Who knows what actually will happen, but this seems to be a "problem" where the solution could have much more impact than realized. And, while I realize that not everyone's situation is the same, I find the current life totals to allow for a wide variety of decks and playstyles without truly hindering or bolstering any specific one. I have a deck built that probably fits into each of the main archetypes and they are all viable. My group enjoys playing off the wall decks like Scarecrows, Crabs, God Tribal (maybe not too off the wall I suppose) and lowering the life total has the potential to impact these types of decks in such a way as they become completely invalidated because they are slower and inefficient.

onering
Posts: 421
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 214 times
Been thanked: 118 times

Post by onering » 1 week ago

The life total is fine where it is. Combo is only a problem when it goes off early, and lowering the life total to 30 won't fix that. Aggro is viable, its just a bit more difficult. Aggro wouldn't suddenly become easy in multiplayer if the life total went down to 30 or even 20, what WOULD happen is that it would be easier for aggro to eliminate a single player early before getting handled by the rest of the table or running out of gas.

The problem with aggro is that its a strategy that requires a lot of skill to play effectively, but it looks to a lot of people to be deceptively straightforward. It looks easy enough, be fast and turn things sideways, but succeeding takes strong strategic and tactical play, strong threat assessment, knowing when to press an advantage or hold back deploying threats, building in ways to effectively restock resources without sacrificing consistency, etc. I think the 40 life total scares off a lot of lower skilled players that would otherwise be drawn to aggro, and I'm fine with that. A lower skilled player who is drawn to control is annoying but will usually balance out misplays across the board. A low skilled player who likes combo will just lose. A low skilled player who likes Battlecruiser decks will only hurt themselves with lack of skill. A low skilled player who likes aggro can ruin games, because its the low skilled player who likes aggro that is most likely to just zerg rush someone and take them out early with no chance of winning themselves, and that makes games worse.

I'm not against taking a player out, or focusing fire on a threat. Knowing when you have to kill a guy is important if you want to succeed at playing aggro. Sometimes spreading out the damage early on is right, sometimes targeting one person is right. The problem is that targeting one guy early is often the wrong decision, because they'll just spend all their resources against you to stay alive while the other 2-3 players build up and wait until you are done killing the first guy to wrath your board, leaving you in a crap position and the first guy salty. Its the path of least resistance, because only 1 player will try to interact with your stuff if only 1 player is at risk, but its usually not the path to victory. The exceptions are if one guy is clearly going to be the biggest threat to you and needs to die ASAP because you won't be able to beat him in a longer game, if you have an opportunity to one shot someone or finish someone off with a big turn without over-committing resources, or if there is some sort of incentive to smack the same guy until you cannot (your deck runs a lot of triggers from damaging opponents and he's the only one open, he's landed a card you can't deal with that threatens to shut you down, etc).

40 life doesn't make aggro hard, it just makes it obvious that aggro is hard. Aggro has to be built with the long game in mind, and played well to succeed in this format, but it can, and I think the format is better off for it being like this. Aggro is viable in basically every competitive format, this is the one format where aggro takes a bit of a back seat. Meanwhile, this format allows archetypes to exist that are generally weak to aggro, Battlecruiser style decks being the most obvious. This format being different is a feature, not a bug.

User avatar
darrenhabib
Posts: 1120
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 108 times
Been thanked: 277 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by darrenhabib » 1 week ago

40 life is a problem, Necropotence, Bolas's Citadel and even things like Ancient Tomb basically come at no real cost.

However if life was lowered, what would people do about commander damage at 21? The difference between 30 and 21 is just too narrow to be a worth while rule.
9/10 times you'd be killing the player before you ever do the actual "commander damage" kill.

I do think that the Eminence commanders in Arahbo, Roar of the World and Edgar Markov make a 30 life total problematic.
Its not so much that its overpowered because in a 4 player game you still needs to do 90 damage (to kill 3 players), but its that a single player can be easily picked out and killed.
That's what happens when cards are designed around the formats rules of 40 life initially, although Eminence was the worst conceived mechanic ever printed.

Dunharrow
Posts: 355
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Location: Montreal
Has thanked: 52 times
Been thanked: 39 times

Post by Dunharrow » 1 week ago

Since I don't like aggro, I like 40 life... but I totally see how it pushes people towards combo since they are unlikely to die to creatures attacking.
I think bringing it down to 35 or maybe 30 life could work... but it would affect deckbuilding. You would need to have more early game and rely less on big haymaker spells.

Since this is the format for big haymaker spells, I think this argument might do better as a local rule kinda thing. If there is too much combo and not enough interaction, lower the life total for your playgroup.

I also find that the life total being static could be an issue. In a 3 player game an aggro deck has a much better chance than a 4+ player game. Should starting life totals change based on the number of players?

User avatar
Cyberium
Posts: 395
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 18 times
Been thanked: 29 times

Post by Cyberium » 1 week ago

WizardMN wrote:
1 week ago
It seems that lowering the life has the effect of increasing a deck's efficiency if the pilot wants to be successful. That is, if the idea is that aggro becomes more viable (assuming it is hovering around "barely playable") would that not mean that you now have decks trying to go faster?
Or decks would be wise to pack more board wipe and removal, like how control/combo handles aggro in other formats, instead of packing your entire deck with just tutors, combo pieces, and counterspells. Control/Combo can still play at their pace at 30 life, it simply means they actually have to put equal amount of effort in staying alive.
onering wrote:
1 week ago
40 life doesn't make aggro hard, it just makes it obvious that aggro is hard.
You have to deal 10 extra damage per each additional opponent. Mathematically speaking, 40 life does makes Aggro hardER than 30 life. Control/Combo decks is having an advantage of higher starting life total, 30 life simply narrows that gap so Aggro decks would have a closer starting point.

And you're right, this depends heavily on the table, but I've yet to see a table with more than two Aggro decks these days, and I've seen several tables going full Control/Combo, or a mix of two with zero Aggro.
darrenhabib wrote:
1 week ago
However if life was lowered, what would people do about commander damage at 21? The difference between 30 and 21 is just too narrow to be a worth while rule.
We can ask the same question about Infect. If this 30 life thing is pushed through, I don't mind seeing Infect requiring 15 poison counters instead of 10.

It's a tricky balance, because 21 commander damage is as much a rule as the flavor of EDH, I don't think it's wise to change it. Many aggro commanders such as Adriana, Captain of the Guard focus on anthem effect rather than voltron, those would probably prefer the 30 starting life and don't mind the 21 commander damage.
Dunharrow wrote:
1 week ago
Since this is the format for big haymaker spells, I think this argument might do better as a local rule kinda thing. If there is too much combo and not enough interaction, lower the life total for your playgroup.
I don't think haymaker spells are as big as it used to be in EDH these days. We used to fill EDH decks with expensive Timmy spells, nowadays we actually have to keep the curve low to avoid manascrew, most decks have ways to handle early threats and/or becoming early threats. This is a different era.

Besides, creatures are already the easiest permanents to remove, part of the reason why 40x3 life is such a long haul because they might not survive to that point.

User avatar
darrenhabib
Posts: 1120
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 108 times
Been thanked: 277 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by darrenhabib » 1 week ago

Cyberium wrote:
1 week ago
darrenhabib wrote:
1 week ago
However if life was lowered, what would people do about commander damage at 21? The difference between 30 and 21 is just too narrow to be a worth while rule.
We can ask the same question about Infect. If this 30 life thing is pushed through, I don't mind seeing Infect requiring 15 poison counters instead of 10.

It's a tricky balance, because 21 commander damage is as much a rule as the flavor of EDH, I don't think it's wise to change it. Many aggro commanders such as Adriana, Captain of the Guard focus on anthem effect rather than voltron, those would probably prefer the 30 starting life and don't mind the 21 commander damage.
You're saying 21 damage is as much part of commander as say its singleton nature or the fact that you have a commander...but that shows how 30 life then makes an intrinsic part of the format extremely laughable. It would be a literally joke at that point to style voltron decks and then you as yourself have pointed out would lose part of the format.

I've always found infect to not be so much of a problem, in fact in thousands of commander games I don't ever recall actually dying to infect once. And we have a Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon deck at one of my play groups.
The difference is that you have to actually have cards that say "infect" on them in order to get that functionality, where as commander damage is not a key word that needs to inserted into your deck.
So I'm on the personal opinion that 10 poison is and always will be fine.

I'm obviously also of the opinion that if life totals would be changed to say 30 life, that commander damage would need to be skewed down as well in order to not make it such a trivial element of the rules.
In theory 16 I think would be the right ratio if scaling down.

User avatar
DirkGently
My wins are unconditional
Posts: 1095
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 107 times
Been thanked: 233 times

Post by DirkGently » 1 week ago

onering wrote:
1 week ago
The life total is fine where it is. Combo is only a problem when it goes off early, and lowering the life total to 30 won't fix that.
It can absolutely mitigate it. Especially since, with lower life totals, more people are likely to attempt more aggressive strategies, which means more players putting pressure on the combo players. It also means that each time the combo player is disrupted, it hurts more. If they're disrupted but still have a huge life total and nobody is zerging them down because it sucks, then they can easily regroup and try again.
Aggro is viable, its just a bit more difficult. Aggro wouldn't suddenly become easy in multiplayer if the life total went down to 30 or even 20, what WOULD happen is that it would be easier for aggro to eliminate a single player early before getting handled by the rest of the table or running out of gas.
Aggro isn't viable. More aggressive strategies can work decently (mediocrely, really), but those decks aren't aggro decks by the standards of other formats. Cavalcade of Calamity + a ton of hasty one-drops? Good luck making that strat work.

Commander's "aggro" decks are just midrange decks. True aggro doesn't exist (outside of 1v1).

And I really don't follow the rest of the argument. Making it easier to eliminate each player makes it easier to eliminate all players. Sure, it's true that aggro is often incentivized to kill one player at a time, which might result in them sitting out for a bit, but honestly? Good. The idea that all games should only end when one player combos off or drops an absurd haymaker play and wins the game agnostic of board state is lame. Players should be whittled down one by one. Lower the life totals and at least they might not be waiting around for as long afterwards.
The problem with aggro is that its a strategy that requires a lot of skill to play effectively
I mean, that varies a lot by the format, the deck, and is also true for other archetypes so this is just a weird generalization. There have certainly been effective aggro decks that were relatively low skill.
I think the 40 life total scares off a lot of lower skilled players that would otherwise be drawn to aggro, and I'm fine with that.
I'm not. This is a game about being able to play how you want to play, not being forced to play combo or ramp because those are the only two viable options.
A low skilled player who likes combo will just lose.
Well that's plainly false. It doesn't take a big brain to play T&N for mike trike. Combo is easily the most tolerant of unskilled players and it's not remotely close.
A low skilled player who likes aggro can ruin games, because its the low skilled player who likes aggro that is most likely to just zerg rush someone and take them out early with no chance of winning themselves, and that makes games worse.
I don't think I've ever seen another commander player bum-rush a single opponent from the word go to eliminate them in all the time I've been playing. When it happens, it's probably ME, because that is usually a good strategy when playing a more aggressive deck against someone threatening to combo or board wipe you.

But also this distinction makes no sense in my experience. I've seen tons of players waste counterspells on insignificant spells only for another player to combo off. Yesterday, someone negated my Torpor Orb...and then literally zero etb effect creatures were ever played all game and I won off quite a few powerful noncreatures, any of which would have been excellent negate targets. Bad players can screw up games playing any archetype, it's not specific to aggro and your assumption that bad aggro players will single out a single opponent does not square with my experience playing commander.

(this is a bit of a tangent since it wasn't commander, but a month ago I got talked into a casual-ish 5-man FFA M21 draft at my LGS. One guy was clearly inexperienced because he was playing a lot of cards that were unbelievably awful in multiplayer, like Liliana's Steward. I was in a good early position with a Library Larcenist into Rousing Read, which he immediately Grasp of Darknessed. Fine, fair enough I suppose, but now my board state is pretty minimal and other players are becoming significantly scarier. He then proceeds to target me with multiple liliana's stewards, and I think a mind rot and another removal spell as well, when I am in 3rd place at absolute best, and likely 4th just ahead of him. At first I shrug it off because nobody likes a whiner and I assume he'll spread it around, but no, he just keeps going after me for no damn reason. I try to explain that this is a poor move for both of us, but he doesn't care, he's not really expecting to win anyway. And the rest of the table of course finds this hilarious, and eventually kill him, much to my relief.

I ultimately won the game - I was the least-important-target to the most powerful player which ensured I lived to the final two, and sandbagged a Teferi's Tutelage into multiple draw spells to deck him right before he pulverized me. But I'll never play with those people ever again because that was an absolutely miserable experience for being unreasonably targeted, and aggro had nothing to do with it.)
I'm not against taking a player out, or focusing fire on a threat. Knowing when you have to kill a guy is important if you want to succeed at playing aggro. Sometimes spreading out the damage early on is right, sometimes targeting one person is right. The problem is that targeting one guy early is often the wrong decision, because they'll just spend all their resources against you to stay alive while the other 2-3 players build up and wait until you are done killing the first guy to wrath your board, leaving you in a crap position and the first guy salty. Its the path of least resistance, because only 1 player will try to interact with your stuff if only 1 player is at risk, but its usually not the path to victory. The exceptions are if one guy is clearly going to be the biggest threat to you and needs to die ASAP because you won't be able to beat him in a longer game, if you have an opportunity to one shot someone or finish someone off with a big turn without over-committing resources, or if there is some sort of incentive to smack the same guy until you cannot (your deck runs a lot of triggers from damaging opponents and he's the only one open, he's landed a card you can't deal with that threatens to shut you down, etc).
I don't think it's particularly material, but this all sounds like theorycraft to me. Why are the other players assuming you won't target them until you've killed the other player? What does spreading damage around have to do with not overextending to board wipes? If the targeted player has any experience, surely he could point out that the other players have become more serious threats and make a deal with the aggro player to be left alone - unless he's still the biggest threat, in which case the aggro player is still making the right call by killing him.
40 life doesn't make aggro hard, it just makes it obvious that aggro is hard.
-it does both.
-it's not really aggro.
Aggro has to be built with the long game in mind
-it's not really aggro.
and played well to succeed in this format, but it can, and I think the format is better off for it being like this. Aggro is viable in basically every competitive format, this is the one format where aggro takes a bit of a back seat. Meanwhile, this format allows archetypes to exist that are generally weak to aggro, Battlecruiser style decks being the most obvious. This format being different is a feature, not a bug.
So I actually agree - losing to cavalcade on turn 4 or whatever is not a super fun experience, and I think commander is definitely better for making aggro harder than in other formats. But that argument could apply to ANY life total. Screw it, let's make the life total 500, then aggro will never ravage our shores and pillage our halls! Aggro shouldn't be a dominant force, sure, but think about how unbelievably hard aggro has it here:

-100 card singleton means a much diluted pool of strong aggressive creatures, and the prevalence of powerful oldschool tutors that enable consistency in other archetypes cost aggro valuable tempo which is its primary advantage.

-40 life is double the norm life total.

-3 opponents is triple THAT life total.

-if aggro is actually curving out strong enough to be the threat - which is kind of its goal - then it's got 3x the cards and 3x the mana getting thrown in its face to stop it.

So it's exceedingly obvious why cavalcade et al will never be a strong commander deck. But I think those numbers CAN be a bit misleading, because it looks like aggro has to do 6x damage against 3x resistance with a significantly worse deck, but that's not ENTIRELY fair. If the life total lowered, it'd likely increase the frequency of aggro decks, and suddenly the aggro deck isn't trying to deal all 120 damage on its own, nor taking all the heat - the more popular aggro is, the more effective it is. So a careful touch is absolutely reasonable.

We don't want cavalcade-style all-in turn-4-kill aggro to be a strong commander deck. But we want slightly midrangy aggro decks to have some kind of game, even if they're still a somewhat weaker archetype. So we're aiming for some kind of middle ground, presumably, between 500 life aggro-shall-never-raid-our-villages meta and the 20 life cavalcade-is-viable norm, which might result in an aggro takeover. But I really don't think 40 is the sweet spot. 30 or 35 are still a huge hurdle to aggro, and so long as aggro isn't dominant it'll almost always have the player multiplier going against it as well.

I do also want to say - this "battlecruiser deck" idea is, imo, no longer worth supporting. Battlecruiser magic circa 2009 meant Inkwell Leviathan was good enough to get on Sally's "top 50 blue cards" list (lol...it was wrong then too, but at least it seemed plausible). Battlecruiser magic in 2020 means T3 Jodah, Archmage Eternal into T4 Omniscience into Expropriate. WotC has killed "battlecruiser" by making it so good that it's obnoxious. Aggro should absolutely be let off the chain to punish those decks - at least a little bit.

User avatar
MeowZeDung
Posts: 770
Joined: 9 months ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 203 times
Been thanked: 180 times

Post by MeowZeDung » 1 week ago

A lower life total will definitely enable some commanders that have been middling options up until now. Stuff like Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest and Adeliz, the Cinder Wind suddenly become real threats and will keep metas a lot more honest. I don't think dropping down to 30 is a terrible idea by any means, but then there's a chance that Torbran, Thane of Red Fell or Subira, Tulzidi Caravanner type RDW lists could become the new boogeymen of the format. Wheel decks like Nekusar, the Mindrazer, Niv-Mizzet, Parun, or Shabraz, the Skyshark//Brallin, Skyshark Rider with Guttersnipe, Spiteful Visions, and Psychosis Crawler support get a lot nastier too. None of this is necessarily a bad thing though. It might also lead to a surge in popularity for lifegain/fort decks. It would definitely shake things up. I for one would love to see WW builds, maybe something like one of the Thalia's or Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit, become more potent.

I do have Alela, Artful Provocateur and Gishath, Sun's Avatar in my meta that don't rely on any combos, just combat, but in most metas that is becoming increasingly rare. My Kykar, Wind's Fury has a Plan A wincon of combat damage, but I run a handful of non-combat combos because Spore Frog loops and pillowforts exist. Even the Drana, Liberator of Malakir "vampires turning sideways" tribal deck in my meta often wins with huge Exsanguinates or Blood Tribute + Defiant Bloodlord. The point is that even if dedicated combo decks are weakened with a change in starting life totals, even creature/combat decks are still going to run insta kill plays. I just don't see that going away.

ironic gesture
Posts: 11
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 3 times

Post by ironic gesture » 1 week ago

MeowZeDung wrote:
1 week ago
The point is that even if dedicated combo decks are weakened with a change in starting life totals, even creature/combat decks are still going to run insta kill plays. I just don't see that going away.
My reply to this is to reiterate a point Dirk made: a LOT of choices made in terms of deck construction, commander choice, wincon etc are influenced by the 40 life starting life total. I've lost count the number of "aggro" ish decks I've made that I've eventually felt forced to shoe horn a combo into to feel like having a shot at combo heavy tables. My impression is others have had the same experience. Lowered life totals would give aggressive strats a needed boost where players would feel like they could actually remove players through combat. Also: if aggressive decks were more viable, more players would play them which would add diversity to the format.

User avatar
MeowZeDung
Posts: 770
Joined: 9 months ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 203 times
Been thanked: 180 times

Post by MeowZeDung » 1 week ago

ironic gesture wrote:
1 week ago
MeowZeDung wrote:
1 week ago
The point is that even if dedicated combo decks are weakened with a change in starting life totals, even creature/combat decks are still going to run insta kill plays. I just don't see that going away.
My reply to this is to reiterate a point Dirk made: a LOT of choices made in terms of deck construction, commander choice, wincon etc are influenced by the 40 life starting life total. I've lost count the number of "aggro" ish decks I've made that I've eventually felt forced to shoe horn a combo into to feel like having a shot at combo heavy tables. My impression is others have had the same experience. Lowered life totals would give aggressive strats a needed boost where players would feel like they could actually remove players through combat. Also: if aggressive decks were more viable, more players would play them which would add diversity to the format.
I don't disagree with any of that. All I was getting at with the statement you quoted is that even if life totals were lowered, folks are going to run the instant win combos in their creature/combat decks. Especially the 2-3 card ones because they are so efficient and work when you're behind.

User avatar
pokken
Posts: 2234
Joined: 1 year ago
Answers: 2
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 830 times
Been thanked: 632 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by pokken » 1 week ago

I'm not gonna beat around the bush, I enjoy playing fetchlands and doing all the nonsense things we get to do that use life as a resource without being aggro bait. Most of my decks will chew through 10 life in the course of operations. Take that out of the game and I don't think I enjoy deckbuilding as much.

Part of this may just be that I'm the most likely to play control cards in my meta and therefore most likely to be the first targeted by an aggro player, but I am pretty happy with the balance of life totals now. They keep pushing damage and power more and more every year as well. It's very easy to be threatened with your entire life total in a single swing early in the game as is.

I don't have a ton of interest in going back to the fetchless manabases or being afraid to put my shockland in untapped, and you can absolutely take that as a whinge if you want. But it's been this way and I'm happy with it :)
Expand Signature
EDH
UW Ephara Hatebears [Primer], UBWR Opus Thief CEDH, URG Omnath Rug elemental landfall

ironic gesture
Posts: 11
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 10 times
Been thanked: 3 times

Post by ironic gesture » 1 week ago

MeowZeDung wrote:
1 week ago
ironic gesture wrote:
1 week ago
MeowZeDung wrote:
1 week ago
The point is that even if dedicated combo decks are weakened with a change in starting life totals, even creature/combat decks are still going to run insta kill plays. I just don't see that going away.
My reply to this is to reiterate a point Dirk made: a LOT of choices made in terms of deck construction, commander choice, wincon etc are influenced by the 40 life starting life total. I've lost count the number of "aggro" ish decks I've made that I've eventually felt forced to shoe horn a combo into to feel like having a shot at combo heavy tables. My impression is others have had the same experience. Lowered life totals would give aggressive strats a needed boost where players would feel like they could actually remove players through combat. Also: if aggressive decks were more viable, more players would play them which would add diversity to the format.
I don't disagree with any of that. All I was getting at with the statement you quoted is that even if life totals were lowered, folks are going to run the instant win combos in their creature/combat decks. Especially the 2-3 card ones because they are so efficient and work when you're behind.
I definitely agree with you. Just like people would still run pure combo decks and that's great. I'm all for people building the way they want to build which is basically the basis of the life total drop. It allows people who want to build aggro to have a shot whereas now it's almost a trap (obviously very meta dependent).

User avatar
pokken
Posts: 2234
Joined: 1 year ago
Answers: 2
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 830 times
Been thanked: 632 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by pokken » 1 week ago

Lowering the life total just reduces the number of combos that are viable, it doesn't change the basic fact of magic that aggro loses to combo.
Expand Signature
EDH
UW Ephara Hatebears [Primer], UBWR Opus Thief CEDH, URG Omnath Rug elemental landfall

User avatar
Candlemane
Posts: 75
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: he / him
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Post by Candlemane » 1 week ago

After reading every post, I feel inclined to ask; what is an Aggro deck in this argument? Are we talking something more akin to a standard deck kind of Aggro, or something else?

In my opinion, I feel Commander has its own version of Aggro decks, but the arguments here sway back and forth in my head for me.
Expand Signature
EDH
Omnath, Locus of the Roil GUR
Yore-Tiller Nephilim WUBR
Niv-Mizzet Reborn WUBRG

User avatar
RxPhantom
Pharmacist
Posts: 406
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Location: Southern Maryland
Has thanked: 357 times
Been thanked: 181 times

Titles & Recognition

Post by RxPhantom » 1 week ago

I think 30 life would be something worth trying, perhaps in the same vein as when Un cards were legal for a time. After all, 40 life, much like 21 commander damage, were conceived in an entirely arbitrary fashion, and were basically grandfathered in to become the format's sacred cows.
Expand Signature
Can you name all of the creature types with at least 20 cards? Try my Sporcle Quiz! Last Updated: 6/29/20 (Core Set 2021).

My (inactive) 720 Peasant Cube

onering
Posts: 421
Joined: 1 year ago
Pronoun: Unlisted
Has thanked: 214 times
Been thanked: 118 times

Post by onering » 1 week ago

DirkGently wrote:
1 week ago
onering wrote:
1 week ago
The life total is fine where it is. Combo is only a problem when it goes off early, and lowering the life total to 30 won't fix that.
It can absolutely mitigate it. Especially since, with lower life totals, more people are likely to attempt more aggressive strategies, which means more players putting pressure on the combo players. It also means that each time the combo player is disrupted, it hurts more. If they're disrupted but still have a huge life total and nobody is zerging them down because it sucks, then they can easily regroup and try again.


It would be negligible. It would mostly effect slower combo decks, which aren't the problem and can already be disrupted easily enough. Fast combo isn't getting hated out by aggro at 30 life most of the time. If the table is all aggro and directs all fire at them, sure, but that's not going to be common at all. Aggro is still not going to be good enough at 30 life. That suddenly enough people will run it that gunning down fast combo will be realistic.
Aggro is viable, its just a bit more difficult. Aggro wouldn't suddenly become easy in multiplayer if the life total went down to 30 or even 20, what WOULD happen is that it would be easier for aggro to eliminate a single player early before getting handled by the rest of the table or running out of gas.
Aggro isn't viable. More aggressive strategies can work decently (mediocrely, really), but those decks aren't aggro decks by the standards of other formats. Cavalcade of Calamity + a ton of hasty one-drops? Good luck making that strat work.

Commander's "aggro" decks are just midrange decks. True aggro doesn't exist (outside of 1v1).


Very low to the ground zerg rush aggro isn't viable, that doesn't mean that the full breadth of aggro isn't viable. Aggro control is viable, hatebears are viable, Those are still true aggro. Your argument relies on narrowly defining aggro to be a very specific subset of aggro (and the deck you gave as an example wouldn't be anymore viable in a 20 life format than hatebears or fish is in commander as it is now, and a bad joke in a 30 life format).
And I really don't follow the rest of the argument. Making it easier to eliminate each player makes it easier to eliminate all players. Sure, it's true that aggro is often incentivized to kill one player at a time, which might result in them sitting out for a bit, but honestly? Good. The idea that all games should only end when one player combos off or drops an absurd haymaker play and wins the game agnostic of board state is lame. Players should be whittled down one by one. Lower the life totals and at least they might not be waiting around for as long afterwards.


Your usually reasonable, but you fail here badly at understanding what I was saying. Go back and reread what I wrote, and you'll see that I said that sometimes taking someone out early is necessary, and that generally you won't knock out everyone in one big turn when playing aggro. I specifically faulted zerg rushing one player without a plan for actually winning the game, which is what I see too often from unskilled aggro players. Committing too many resources to the board to take out one guy then getting put on you ass by one wrath and finding yourself completely unable to be relevant the rest of the game.

Taking a player out IN THEORY raises your odds of winning based on generic statistics, but generic statistics don't matter when you apply context. We've had this conversation before, and it seems to be a blind spot for you. Bad aggro players play based on the generic statistics that removing a player means there are fewer players in the game, and thus the generic chance that they will win increases (say from 25% to 33.3333%). The reality is that the generic statistics are never relevant. Your chance of winning isn't related only to how many players are in the game at the moment. Other factors are usually more important. I know that you know this, because when you describe games you've been in and the choices you make they don't boil down to just taking out players whenever you can.

Playing aggro doesn't mean you forget politics, and it doesn't mean you ignore what other players are doing, and how they can help you, to just goldfish. As I said in the post you replied to, sometimes zerg rushing a player is correct, and rarely will you be putting everyone away in one turn, but everything is based on the context of what is happening in the game. Most of the time, whittling down everyone a bit early and then focusing fire based on what is happening in the game is correct, it makes it less likely that any one person will feel the need to commit everything to stopping you, it lets you find out who needs to be put away first, and it gets the other players to more manageable life totals for when you need to turn your focus to them. Other times, you have to be opportunistic. Context matters.

Again, I have no issue with taking someone out, or someone taking me out, if its actually contributing to victory. I take issue with people who blindly rush someone at random and succeed only in making sure they both lose. Discouraging lower skilled players from trying aggro makes this less likely.
The problem with aggro is that its a strategy that requires a lot of skill to play effectively
I mean, that varies a lot by the format, the deck, and is also true for other archetypes so this is just a weird generalization. There have certainly been effective aggro decks that were relatively low skill.


What's weird is that your bringing up how it varies by format. 1v1, aggro can require a lot less skill to pilot. It should have been clear however that I was talking about multiplayer, given that many of the reasons I gave for aggro requiring skill to pilot effectively only applying to multiplayer.
I think the 40 life total scares off a lot of lower skilled players that would otherwise be drawn to aggro, and I'm fine with that.
I'm not. This is a game about being able to play how you want to play, not being forced to play combo or ramp because those are the only two viable options.
Weak argument. You know that this format is never going to be in a place where every play style is equally viable at all levels of play. This is the one format where Battle Cruiser and other more durdly archetypes are at least somewhat viable, and they stand to lose the most from aggro getting better due to lower life totals, and will do so before aggro gets good enough to actually impact control or combo.
A low skilled player who likes combo will just lose.
Well that's plainly false. It doesn't take a big brain to play T&N for mike trike. Combo is easily the most tolerant of unskilled players and it's not remotely close.
Again, context matters. If your going to pick out things to respond to, do your due diligence and at least to attempt to understand what you are responding to. From the context, it should be clear that I wasn't saying unskilled players would be unable to win with combo decks. I was talking about how unskilled aggro play can hurt the enjoyment of other players, and comparing it to the effects of unskilled play of other archetypes. The effect of unskilled play of a combo deck just results, at most, in that player losing (due to trying to force through a combo at an inopportune time, or screwing up triggers, or not realizing that something on the board blanks the combo, etc). It doesn't usually ruin the game for anyone except the unskilled combo player if they screw up. Casting T&N into a Stranglehold or Aven Mindcensor is just a funny oof for the combo player. Zerg rushing someone out of the game at random then running out of gas and sitting around being irrelevant means the guy you took out lost because you were an idiot, and that feels a lot worse than losing because you were outplayed. You'll notice that I also compared it to poorly played control, which I said can be annoying because they don't answer the right threats, but that this tends to even out (because they usually will not just focus on answering only one player's things, so the effects of their misplays are evened out).
A low skilled player who likes aggro can ruin games, because its the low skilled player who likes aggro that is most likely to just zerg rush someone and take them out early with no chance of winning themselves, and that makes games worse.
I don't think I've ever seen another commander player bum-rush a single opponent from the word go to eliminate them in all the time I've been playing. When it happens, it's probably ME, because that is usually a good strategy when playing a more aggressive deck against someone threatening to combo or board wipe you.
You didn't see it so it doesn't happen is a piss poor argument. Obviously I wouldn't be concerned about this if its something that I haven't seen happen enough to be wary of it. I've had it happen to me, and I've seen it happen to other players while I reaped the benefits of aggro Andy being an idiot. And once again, if you are zerg rushing someone because it actually is going to help you win, that isn't a problem, and its pretty easy to tell the difference between the two. When i see someone dump their hand to kill someone and then just be out of the game the moment someone wraths, I see someone who shouldn't be playing aggro. If that person is playing a commander that easily refills their hand, I assume they have a way to keep the pressure on and the zerg rush is a viable strategy.

But also this distinction makes no sense in my experience. I've seen tons of players waste counterspells on insignificant spells only for another player to combo off. Yesterday, someone negated my Torpor Orb...and then literally zero etb effect creatures were ever played all game and I won off quite a few powerful noncreatures, any of which would have been excellent negate targets. Bad players can screw up games playing any archetype, it's not specific to aggro and your assumption that bad aggro players will single out a single opponent does not square with my experience playing commander.

(this is a bit of a tangent since it wasn't commander, but a month ago I got talked into a casual-ish 5-man FFA M21 draft at my LGS. One guy was clearly inexperienced because he was playing a lot of cards that were unbelievably awful in multiplayer, like Liliana's Steward. I was in a good early position with a Library Larcenist into Rousing Read, which he immediately Grasp of Darknessed. Fine, fair enough I suppose, but now my board state is pretty minimal and other players are becoming significantly scarier. He then proceeds to target me with multiple liliana's stewards, and I think a mind rot and another removal spell as well, when I am in 3rd place at absolute best, and likely 4th just ahead of him. At first I shrug it off because nobody likes a whiner and I assume he'll spread it around, but no, he just keeps going after me for no damn reason. I try to explain that this is a poor move for both of us, but he doesn't care, he's not really expecting to win anyway. And the rest of the table of course finds this hilarious, and eventually kill him, much to my relief.

I ultimately won the game - I was the least-important-target to the most powerful player which ensured I lived to the final two, and sandbagged a Teferi's Tutelage into multiple draw spells to deck him right before he pulverized me. But I'll never play with those people ever again because that was an absolutely miserable experience for being unreasonably targeted, and aggro had nothing to do with it.)
I'm not against taking a player out, or focusing fire on a threat. Knowing when you have to kill a guy is important if you want to succeed at playing aggro. Sometimes spreading out the damage early on is right, sometimes targeting one person is right. The problem is that targeting one guy early is often the wrong decision, because they'll just spend all their resources against you to stay alive while the other 2-3 players build up and wait until you are done killing the first guy to wrath your board, leaving you in a crap position and the first guy salty. Its the path of least resistance, because only 1 player will try to interact with your stuff if only 1 player is at risk, but its usually not the path to victory. The exceptions are if one guy is clearly going to be the biggest threat to you and needs to die ASAP because you won't be able to beat him in a longer game, if you have an opportunity to one shot someone or finish someone off with a big turn without over-committing resources, or if there is some sort of incentive to smack the same guy until you cannot (your deck runs a lot of triggers from damaging opponents and he's the only one open, he's landed a card you can't deal with that threatens to shut you down, etc).
I don't think it's particularly material, but this all sounds like theorycraft to me. Why are the other players assuming you won't target them until you've killed the other player? What does spreading damage around have to do with not overextending to board wipes? If the targeted player has any experience, surely he could point out that the other players have become more serious threats and make a deal with the aggro player to be left alone - unless he's still the biggest threat, in which case the aggro player is still making the right call by killing him.[/quote].

Its not theory crafting, its from experience. When I am straight targeted by some idiot, or when I see it happen, people sit on their answers until he finishes killing the guy, and then answer him, because its sensible to hold your answers until you actually need to use them. Honestly, your smarter than this dude, because I've heard you make the same arguments when talking up your flying hippo deck. I'm not pathing any beater that isn't pointed at me, and if someone is telegraphing that they're aimed at one guy then I'll hold spot removal up but wait until they finish before throwing out a wrath. Spreading out damage doesn't make you a must answer threat to any one player, but is also more likely to bait out a wrath once you start swinging with a decent board. If you overextend, that's obviously going to be really bad, but if you don't overextend you can redeploy pretty quickly. The fact that you're just not going to be able to zerg rush the entire table is a disincentive to just vomit your hand onto the battlefield, unless you have some reliable way of refilling it (Sygg, Ephara, etc) or some way to protect against wipes. And you know that you can't just talk a bad player out of targeting you, as evidenced by the example you give above about dunce that made you discard everything. If you, master of magic politics, couldn't dissuade him, how's that going to go for average players? Oh, and if he was playing an aggro deck and decided to just spend everything to take you out instead of a bad control deck spending everything to attack your hand, you wouldn't have been able to sit back until you won.

I also play a lot of aggro online. 4 player, 40 life. I think I do well enough when the power level of the table is in the 75% range, and pretty well if its lower.

[quote
40 life doesn't make aggro hard, it just makes it obvious that aggro is hard.
-it does both.
-it's not really aggro.
Aggro has to be built with the long game in mind
-it's not really aggro.[/quote]

This particular No True Scotsman sucked the first time you made it, and it doesn't get any better here.
and played well to succeed in this format, but it can, and I think the format is better off for it being like this. Aggro is viable in basically every competitive format, this is the one format where aggro takes a bit of a back seat. Meanwhile, this format allows archetypes to exist that are generally weak to aggro, Battlecruiser style decks being the most obvious. This format being different is a feature, not a bug.
So I actually agree - losing to cavalcade on turn 4 or whatever is not a super fun experience, and I think commander is definitely better for making aggro harder than in other formats. But that argument could apply to ANY life total. Screw it, let's make the life total 500, then aggro will never ravage our shores and pillage our halls! Aggro shouldn't be a dominant force, sure, but think about how unbelievably hard aggro has it here:

-100 card singleton means a much diluted pool of strong aggressive creatures, and the prevalence of powerful oldschool tutors that enable consistency in other archetypes cost aggro valuable tempo which is its primary advantage.

-40 life is double the norm life total.

-3 opponents is triple THAT life total.

-if aggro is actually curving out strong enough to be the threat - which is kind of its goal - then it's got 3x the cards and 3x the mana getting thrown in its face to stop it.

So it's exceedingly obvious why cavalcade et al will never be a strong commander deck. But I think those numbers CAN be a bit misleading, because it looks like aggro has to do 6x damage against 3x resistance with a significantly worse deck, but that's not ENTIRELY fair. If the life total lowered, it'd likely increase the frequency of aggro decks, and suddenly the aggro deck isn't trying to deal all 120 damage on its own, nor taking all the heat - the more popular aggro is, the more effective it is. So a careful touch is absolutely reasonable.

We don't want cavalcade-style all-in turn-4-kill aggro to be a strong commander deck. But we want slightly midrangy aggro decks to have some kind of game, even if they're still a somewhat weaker archetype. So we're aiming for some kind of middle ground, presumably, between 500 life aggro-shall-never-raid-our-villages meta and the 20 life cavalcade-is-viable norm, which might result in an aggro takeover. But I really don't think 40 is the sweet spot. 30 or 35 are still a huge hurdle to aggro, and so long as aggro isn't dominant it'll almost always have the player multiplier going against it as well.

True, you could make an argument for any number, but it doesn't serve a purpose. Would 50 be absurd? Absolutely. Would 20? I think just as much. You think 40 is too high for the reasons you gave, I think 30 is too low for the reasons I gave. I of course think my reasons are more valid, or else I wouldn't be holding my position. 35 is more intriguing though. I think that's still high enough to scare off enough low skilled players from misplaying aggro. I think 30 might as well, but not well enough, while sub 30 its no longer a deterrent. At 40 life it still happens, but not often enough to be a problem for the format, so the answer to why I wouldn't go higher to stamp it out entirely is diminishing returns, you start having the problems caused by higher life totals become even worse while the situation with poor aggro play just doesn't have much room to improve. For 35 life, the benefits of lowering it may outweigh the negative effects of increased instances of poor aggro play, being that I don't think at 35 life we'd see that much of an increase. And many of the issues people cite with 40 life get taken care of by 35 life, while others are lessened. Shocks and Fetches usually do about 3-8 damage over the course of the game, so 5 life lower basically starts players off with the fetch/shock tax having already been payed. Its already 5 activations of necro, and more importantly your first extra card from sylvan library, and two activations of Ancient Tomb.

More importantly, I think what life total is right depends on how many players there are in a game. I think 40 is definitely too much when the game is large, 6+ players, but I think its about right with 4 or less, and I lean toward in being alright with 5. There should probably be a sliding scale with life totals decreasing as the number of players increases. 40 life for 4 or fewer, 35 for 5-6, 30 for 7-8.
I do also want to say - this "battlecruiser deck" idea is, imo, no longer worth supporting. Battlecruiser magic circa 2009 meant Inkwell Leviathan was good enough to get on Sally's "top 50 blue cards" list (lol...it was wrong then too, but at least it seemed plausible). Battlecruiser magic in 2020 means T3 Jodah, Archmage Eternal into T4 Omniscience into Expropriate. WotC has killed "battlecruiser" by making it so good that it's obnoxious. Aggro should absolutely be let off the chain to punish those decks - at least a little bit.
Well, you're not going to have much luck getting aggro to punish those decks at 30 life. If Omniscience into Expropriate is happening turn 4, then aggro is boned, sorry, probably even at 20 life. You need control to handle that. I also consider such decks to be more in the combo realm that Battlecruiser, because cheating out haymakers that give you a bunch of free spells or extra turns is combo territory. Not all combos are infinite. Show and Tell sure as hell wasn't but fell under the combo umbrella nonetheless. I still see more traditional Battlecruiser on mtgo, especially when people label the games casual or power 5-6, and before the Rona it would still pop up in my playgroup unless we went with our higher power decks. But, just as theres aggro/control with Sygg dumping 2 and 3 drops while countering answers, maybe Battlecruiser/combo is a better descriptor for Jodah dumping out Omniscience/Expropriate or similar decks.

Post Reply Previous topicNext topic

Return to “Commander”