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 Post subject: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-19 9:10 pm 

Joined: 2015-Dec-22 4:41 am
Age: Drake
There doesn't seem to be a topic about this yet, so I'm starting one. The issue was brought up in a certain very popular commander podcast and it raises the following questions: Is commander damage still good for the format or is it outdated? Should we get rid of it to simplify the rules (like they did with mana burn for similar reasons)? Is it even relevant for most games?

There are probably other similar questions, but the general question is: Should we get rid of it? I'm not sure if people are actually considering or even talking about this question outside of that podcast, but I'm actually curious if this is something the RC is considering and whether or not the RC is divided on this issue.

---

I'll finish off this post with my own stance on the issue: I think that removing commander damage would be inadvisable for the following reasons: commander damage is too embedded in the identity of the format to simply go; removing it would be a step in the wrong direction in regards to how commander should compare to other formats or, more accurately, how it should not; it would take away a budget option for new and casual players; finally and most importantly (to me, at least), it would be a relatively extreme solution when you consider one other obvious solution that answers the following question: is 21 the magic number? That question implies a solution that should be considered and debated before we even think about thinking about thinking about taking the more extreme route of getting rid of a format-defining rule entirely.

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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-19 10:27 pm 
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Joined: 2016-Nov-27 2:39 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
It's good & fine from my perspective.

Voltron decks are engaging and interesting. The point of doing them is that Commanders uniquely can deal 21 damage that makes someone lose, regardless of life total. It'd be a shame to see that go missing and losing the 21 damage rule would cripple the Voltron game plan.

I consider their existence beneficial for the meta as well. A single, powerful, immediately accessible creature that can make you lose no matter what your life total is, changes the landscape of what strategies are viable or not. They suggest people can't dawdle too much in the early game. They give extra value to decks that build around a single creature, which would often otherwise be far less viable. They keep a check on decks: part of the threat of their existence is that sufficient lifegain isn't enough to keep you safe. Leaving yourself open isn't safe.

That threat of Voltron decks may not be relevant to playgroups which don't have voltron decks at all, but that's true of any given strategy: the threat of mass land destruction isn't relevant in metas where nobody plays it, etc. It's very relevant, however, to larger meetup groups and any FLGS which has large numbers of people and who you'll play against isn't guaranteed. I'll give as an example the London EDH community which consists of several dozen people, any of whom may show up at any given meetup spot, several of which have Voltron decks that are sincerely fun to play against. Another example is EDH meetups on the open floor at Grand Prix events.

In my group of friends back in Australia, one of us was very interested in Voltron. They didn't because of decisions we made together about the kind of meta we wanted. However, if one of our decks started getting out of control, a single Voltron deck being introduced would've been useful to keep it in line.

I don't see there being any element of outdatedness in the rule, or any element of it being too complex or too irrelevant. It's dead simple: 21 damage from a given commander and you lose.

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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 12:54 am 
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Joined: 2006-Dec-31 12:26 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
From a rules perspective -- it does good things.

From a playing-perspective, it's annoying to keep track of when you don't need to (if Azami hits me for 2 points of damage, I'm probably not going to look for another 19 from her.)

What we tend to do, is only make note of it if someone says so (ie, "Okay, so that's 6 commander damage.")

We mostly ignore it because it usually isn't relevant. But we happily play with it if someone wants to pay attention to it. It can certainly add additional tactical/political decisions throughout the game.


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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 1:47 am 
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Age: Elder Dragon
I like how it plays. I *don't* like having to track it.

I wonder if separating it out from individual commanders would simplify it?
IE, if you take 21 damage from commander(s), you lose. Doesn't matter if it was 21+ from one Voltron commander or three different commanders each doing 7.

It would be a *lot* more realistic to actually track in casual games. You'd just need another twenty sided die to track the total # of commander damage you'd been dealt.

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Alesha, She who Smiles at Death.....Atraxa, Praetors' Voice.....Eight-and-a-Half-Tails.....Gonti, Lord of Luxury.....Karametra, God of Harvests.....Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.....Kozilek, the Great Distortion.....Prime Speaker Zegana.....Rubinia Soulsinger.....Thrasios, Triton Hero + Vial Smasher the Fierce

My general commander philosophy: Using your opponent's degenerate cards against them is far more satisfying than playing degenerate cards yourself.


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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 2:25 am 
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Joined: 2017-Mar-11 6:43 am
Age: Dragon
I don't usually keep track of Commander damage, because my decks tend to operate on plays large enough to do well over 40 damage, or make the opponent draw more cards than they have, or something of that variety- but in my experience, it has been good for the playgroups I've partaken in, when the person who cares about Commander Damage keeps track of it.

For example, Rafiq of the Many, Zurgo Helmsmasher, and Ruhan of the Fomori are all decks I've encountered and been very fond of for CD shenanigans- and the pilots are prepared to track it- since it's a major element of the operative strategy. I think it's a "different strokes" principal that opens up gameplay options to cards which would otherwise struggle in the format- I just can't be bothered by it because I'd rather deal triple digits in damage if I can, and in EDH it isn't very hard.

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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 3:54 am 
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Joined: 2016-Nov-27 2:39 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Carthain wrote:
From a rules perspective -- it does good things.

From a playing-perspective, it's annoying to keep track of when you don't need to (if Azami hits me for 2 points of damage, I'm probably not going to look for another 19 from her.)

What we tend to do, is only make note of it if someone says so (ie, "Okay, so that's 6 commander damage.")

We mostly ignore it because it usually isn't relevant. But we happily play with it if someone wants to pay attention to it. It can certainly add additional tactical/political decisions throughout the game.


Among the equipment I bring to games, I have a little compartment of some spindown d20s in various colours that I've picked up over time from fatpacks my friends or I opened. Whenever someone deals commander damage to me I just plop one of those down in front of me with a color that corresponds to their commander. (At most I've needed 3 of these at once.) If I've got multiple, I keep them arranged corresponding to seating positions: the person closest to the left of me has the leftmost die, the person sitting closest to the right had the rightmost die. It works out pretty smoothly.

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Beloved precons: Atraxa, Praetors' Voice; Saskia the Unyielding; Freyalise, Llanowar's Fury.


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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 4:18 am 
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Joined: 2009-Aug-20 7:49 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
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kaldare wrote:
I like how it plays. I *don't* like having to track it.

I wonder if separating it out from individual commanders would simplify it?
IE, if you take 21 damage from commander(s), you lose. Doesn't matter if it was 21+ from one Voltron commander or three different commanders each doing 7.

It would be a *lot* more realistic to actually track in casual games. You'd just need another twenty sided die to track the total # of commander damage you'd been dealt.


The number would need to be higher than 21 IMO, or it would unbalance things.

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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 7:43 am 
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Joined: 2006-Dec-31 12:26 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
spacemonaut: That sounds fairly elegant. I might have to try it some time. (I think next EDH night is this coming Friday...)

Sid the Chicken wrote:
The number would need to be higher than 21 IMO, or it would unbalance things.
I agree with that.

Maybe something like 60 (roughly 3 opponents all hitting you with commander damage)... Although, it sort of seems 60 is a bit more unwieldy than 21 (due to the pervasive nature of d20s these days.)


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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 8:16 am 
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Joined: 2012-Sep-19 1:30 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Carthain wrote:
spacemonaut: That sounds fairly elegant. I might have to try it some time. (I think next EDH night is this coming Friday...)

Sid the Chicken wrote:
The number would need to be higher than 21 IMO, or it would unbalance things.
I agree with that.

Maybe something like 60 (roughly 3 opponents all hitting you with commander damage)... Although, it sort of seems 60 is a bit more unwieldy than 21 (due to the pervasive nature of d20s these days.)

The problem is that it would make it suffer from the same problem as Infect at that point - its viability becomes HEAVILY dependent on what others are building. If nobody else builds for commander damage, and your whole battle plan is commander damage, then you've essentially crippled your deck (when under the old rules it'd still be viable). If you're the only one at the table doing Commander damage, that 60 could be virtually unattainable in a normal game.

I think the rules should be kept as-is.
1) Commander Damage gives a way around infinite lifegain strategies (without forcing you to have infinite damage or alt win conditions in every deck).
2) A pooled commander damage is a bad idea because it either; a) makes commander damage too powerful with a 21-point pool; or b) makes it too weak at higher totals if nobody else goes aggro with commanders.

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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 8:25 am 
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Joined: 2012-Feb-07 4:15 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
I honestly just think it's way more work than its worth to try to expand Commander damage to include all commanders at the table, particularly in the balance area. If it's too high it'll make Voltron generals virtually unplayable, whereas if it's too low it will make it stupid easy to facilitate anti-climactic wins. It also gets complicated when you talk about table size. 30 or 40 commander damage might be reasonable at a 4+ person game, but it's just way too much for 1v1 or 3 player matches. And 60 is just way too much period. With a number like that the only voltron generals that could possibly be viable are the obscene scalers like Omnath or Thromak.

Edit: Damn Willbender being a ninja


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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 9:05 am 

Joined: 2011-Feb-15 7:09 am
Age: Drake
I think I'll switch the questions around...
MMLgamer wrote:
Is it even relevant for most games?

Nope.
MMLgamer wrote:
Should we get rid of it to simplify the rules (like they did with mana burn for similar reasons)?

As other's have said, you don't win much simplicity, you do reduce the amount of tracking.
MMLgamer wrote:
Is commander damage still good for the format or is it outdated?

It's a distinct part of EDH. Can you prove it was good? I can't see how it's bad for the format. If it's outdated then maybe the format needs another unique feature that's easier to track. I'd be happy with a rule that players can't have more than 40 life points :P


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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 10:04 am 
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Joined: 2012-Feb-07 4:15 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
I think a lot of us are kinda missing the point on the biggest reason that getting rid of commander damage is a terrible idea: look at how many generals (many of whom having been explicitly designed for this format) would become absolutely useless:

And plenty of other generals have other modes besides Voltron but still tend to prefer to be played as a voltron anyway. I for one rarely build a deck without expecting the possibility of my general hitting someone for 21 and ending the game. We have a lot to lose from axing commander damage, all for the small benefit of slightly more streamlined rules.


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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 1:44 pm 
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MMLgamer wrote:
I'm actually curious if this is something the RC is considering and whether or not the RC is divided on this issue.


That podcast was the first I'd heard about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-20 11:33 pm 

Joined: 2013-Apr-02 12:46 pm
Age: Wyvern
Carthain wrote:
Among the equipment I bring to games, I have a little compartment of some spindown d20s in various colours that I've picked up over time from fatpacks my friends or I opened. Whenever someone deals commander damage to me I just plop one of those down in front of me with a color that corresponds to their commander. (At most I've needed 3 of these at once.) If I've got multiple, I keep them arranged corresponding to seating positions: the person closest to the left of me has the leftmost die, the person sitting closest to the right had the rightmost die. It works out pretty smoothly.


My playgroup does the exact same thing. We usually play in groups of 4 and I arrange my D20s in a triangle based on seating next to the D10s I use for life and it works fine for me.

Also, if I'm playing my Uril deck correctly my opponents don't need to keep track of how much commander damage I've dealt them 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Commander damage?
AgePosted: 2018-Mar-21 2:54 am 
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Joined: 2017-Mar-11 6:43 am
Age: Dragon
Uktabi_Kong wrote:
I think a lot of us are kinda missing the point on the biggest reason that getting rid of commander damage is a terrible idea: look at how many generals (many of whom having been explicitly designed for this format) would become absolutely useless:


I agree completely with your conclusion, but not the highlighted methodology. Many of those Generals can exceed 40 damage quite easily, but having infect-like damage simply makes them more fun. Jenara, for example- is much more interesting in a sleeker, more aggressive build than a terminal "counters matter" deck.

The conclusion that 21 is too low, is something that bewilders me though- because it looks more like player error than anything pertinent to the rules. In my own experience, decks leveraging commander damage tend to be softer to removal- and as we learn in our commander experiences; removal is not only important but mustn't be tossed out haphazardly. Disrupting the correct thing at the correct time cripples even the most explosive Generals- it's part of the ebb and flow of this mode of gameplay. If Jenara is crushing your group, then both removal choices and timing need to be discussed as considerations. Often enough, even Chain of Vapor is like 2 or 3 valuable turns of clemency to push back against the Jenara player.

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