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Jan 01 2016

Rules Committee Leak? Rule Changes to the EDH Format

Welcome to MTGCasualPlay.com! My name is Wally D. and I am an avid EDH player. My playgroup and most of the local game stores in my area utilize the ban list and rules set forth by the EDH Rules Committee for our local Commander events. While today’s article was prompted in direct response to a conversation currently taking place in the r/EDH section of Reddit, it will also focus on how I personally perceive bannings and rule changes. For those of you that do not know what is going on, I’ll explain. There was an “unconfirmed” snapshot of an individual having an instant message conversation via social media with EDH Rules Committee member Sheldon Menery. In a nutshell, Sheldon expresses a desire to find a way to ban the use of off colored fetch lands in a commander deck. ie: You can no longer have an Arid Mesa in your EDH deck if your commander does not have BOTH red and white in his/her color identity. The snapshot conversation also states that this is a minor issue the RC is looking at, but their main focus is still addressingthe mulligan rule. Again, this is an alleged conversation. It is not confirmed and very well may be “photo-shopped”. Here is a link to the Off Color Fetch Lands Reddit thread containing the images and the conversation.

First things first. IF this image / screenshot is indeed a real conversation involving Sheldon, then I call “bullshit” to whoever did this. What an underhanded, deceitful, and cowardly thing to do. This has nothing to do with EDH, MTG, or gaming for that matter. Rather the fact that someone took a private conversation he/she had with another person and posted it for the world to see. I assume that Sheldon felt his chat with this individual was both private and “off the record”. Again, if this screenshot and conversation are real, then the biggest douche in the universe award goes to the scrub that screenshotted and publicized a private conversation.

IF this image / screenshot is NOT real. ie: a photoshopped image or falsified conversation, again, “bullshit” to whoever did this. The perpetrator has drug a well known member of the EDH community into the street and accused him of witchcraft. It has started a shit-storm of anger that has resulted into over 500 comments and escalating. While a large mass of townsfolk are carrying torches, thankfully only a handful of protesters have stooped low enough to light the fire with personal attacks. It is good to see that the majority of us can express our agreement or disagreement for possible rules changes in a civilized manner.

On the subject of banning off color fetches. I am sure that the Rules Committee discusses a bunch of wild and crazy ideas that we have never known about. That is what they do. So, it is my opinion that yes, they could be talking about this, but if it were not for the “leaked” conversation, this may have been something we would have never know about.

The Uproar of EDH Rules Changes

Over the past few years there have been quite a few rule changes that have had the Commander community up-in-arms and taking cover from the falling sky. We won’t discuss the banning of individual cards, that is a subject for another day, but let’s take a look at perhaps the most controversial rule changes of our format’s history, the tuck rule. While it seemed the majority of EDH players were against the Rules Committee’s decision to remove tucking a player’s commander into their library, there was also a healthy dose of players that rejoiced at the announcement. March 2015’s rule change created a flusterstorm of anger, but this subsided after about a month or so. Sure, there are still players who express their saltiness that tucking commanders had been abolished, but for the most part, EDH as a community has accepted the rule and moved on. If you are interested, here is the EDH Tuck Rule Article I wrote last year in response to the announcement.

A temporary stirring of the masses always seems to occur with any tweak or alteration to our beloved format, but we always seem to get past our disagreement and adapt. Looking back, I remember a lot of dissatisfaction when the rules committee merged the separate ban list for cards vs generals into one. This led the permanent abolishment of EDH favorites Rofellos and black Braids. A huge deal at the time, but a shoulder shrug now-a-days. What is funny to me is that so many players question the sanity of the Rules Committee governing our format, that they forget that it was Wizards of the Coast that, in this writer’s opinion, made the most format warping rule change to Commander. The Legendary Rule. For example, a few years ago only one Avacyn, Angel of Hope could be on the battlefield at a time. If there was an Avacyn on the battlefield and a different player casted their own Avacyn, they would both die to the old legendary rule. Blue mages in particular exploited this rule and built decks using clone-like effects to copy and destroy another player’s commander. Wizards of the Coast changed the legendary rule so each player could have their own copy of the same legendary card on their side of the battlefield. This rule change neutered control decks that used Clone and similar effects as a way of removing opposing commanders and threats. At the time this change produced a community uproar for both sides of the argument, but today, is now simply a part of MTG history.

Dealing with EDH Rules Changes

Here is how I personally approach rules changes to Commander/EDH (whether it’s the RC or WOTC). I accept and adapt. If I built a deck around a particular strategy that has been changed or altered, then I change my deck to encompass the rule change or card banning. Simple as that. While we may agree or disagree with a rule change, we should always look at the bright side of things. Sure, we may not agree with a change, but now we can expand our minds and enjoy an adventure that leads to new strategies with regards to deck building and play style. Sure, my playgroup can have “house rules”, but I like a rulebook. These are the rules, this is how we play. Following the “official” rules and ban lists creates less confusion at the kitchen table and makes an easy transition when joining a game at our local game store.

Did I agree with the tuck rule? The Legendary Rule? Would I agree with an Off Color Fetch Ban? The New Mulligan? Honestly, I can look at both sides. Sure, sometimes I lean more towards one side or another. I can look at a banning or change and say, “this really wasn’t necessary”. Or, I may say “I don’t like it”, but I can see why they did that. In the end, rule changes and bannings within my format may or may not bother me, but I always look at it as an opportunity to try new strategies or to try new cards in my decks that may take advantage of the change.

Is there a change that would make me grab a pitch fork and storm the castle? Possibly. I have a ton of money invested in Demonic Tutors and Vampiric Tutors and we all know that Sheldon and the RC do not like tutors in the format. Also, I am sure that Purphoros, God of the Forge might be somewhere on the RC watch list and I have an entire deck built around him (60% of which is foil). It would probably make me upset to see him get the hammer. But after the initial surge of disappointment, I could sell my tutors to strengthen my decks in other areas. Maybe invest in some dual lands. I could swap Purphoros out for Krenko and go with all goblins.

Rule changes and bannings are going to happen. I do not think Sheldon or the Rules Committee are out to anger the masses. I understand that they are trying to keep the format fun for veteran players and inviting for newer players. By no means do I believe any of them are out to sabotage the format they created and love. With that being said, I also believe that if the RC starts to get out of control or “crazy with power” that Wizards of the Coast will step in. The last thing WOTC wants, is for players to abandon the games most popular casual format.

All-in-all. Let’s always be decent human beings. Exposing a private conversation or photoshopping a fictional tale that could result in a lynch mob is a douche bag move. Karma will find you.

Thoughts? Opinions? Plenty of room to discuss in the comments below!

On to the next!
—wallyd

7 comments

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  1. Kuchisama

    Hey, nice to see someone who’s rather laid back about the RC and their decisions. I swear, everytime they annouce something, the idiots come out of their wholes and scream murder. And unfortunately, the internet allows for this. I have no problems with people giving voice to their opinions but I’m already fed up by all the shitstorms about minor or irrelevant topics and issues. People have started to take things far too seriously…
    Especially since Sheldon Menery has stated again and again that their decisions and bannings are by no means binding for everybody. If you don’t agree with something, just ignore it.
    I know that this might get difficult if you’re at an official event but there is always the option of talking to the other players and come to an agreement.

    So thanks for this piece of calmness among all the shouting that’s bound to come as soon as the RC announces the next rules change. Thumbs up!

    1. Kuchisama

      * announce
      * holes

      Typo alaaaaaaaaaarm! 😀

    2. Wally D.

      Thank you my friend! I have to admit… I can’t help but shake my head at the chaos, its truly unbelievable. Take care and hope you have a great new year!

  2. Ryan C Kennedy

    I hope this doesn’t happen. I took great care with my land base and I like my expedition fetches, so much so that I’ll just run a Child of Alara as the commander with only UB cards. IMO from my experience, a control deck cares more about a safe Mana base over who their actual commander is, especially when someone is playing infect or infinite combos. (Lazav and Dralnu can go main deck)

    1. Wally D.

      Hey Ryan, thank you for the comment. Yes, I honestly do not think we have anything to worry about. I really don’t believe Off Colored Fetch lands will be banned. I just don’t think there is a clean way to ban them.

      Good to hear that you have crafted a good mana base, it is very important for consistancy and access to your colors.

      Please stop by again, we have plenty of articles for your reading enjoyment! 🙂

  3. Cailtis

    Hey WallyD, thanks for posting this. I want to preface this by saying I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch! My life has been changing dramatically, and while MTG remains one of my most beloved games of all time, I’m afraid it may be taking a lesser role in my life for a time as a result. This doesn’t stop me from frequenting magic and EDH news and media, thankfully.

    I was home for winter break when this blew up and luckily was able to talk with my playgroup a bit about the events. How you react to the alleged text images is respectable and noble which I found very important in this whole unfolding of events. Perhaps the most important conversation that sprung from these events, though, was one of much greater magnitude than the stakes the torch-bearers were going on about. The following rant-like thing was what took my interest most after much of the dust had settled 🙂 let me know how you feel about the debate!

    I really have appreciated the standardization and stability that Sheldon’s RC has given the community. Like you, I have seen both sides of the coin on many of the decisions they have made. I have also disagreed strongly with many of their decisions. In the past many EDH’ers have felt similarly, but were repeatedly told that all parties involved promoted “house ruling” above all else if it would be conducive to more fun. But how divided can the way of playing EDH become before it isn’t EDH anymore?

    For the seasoned playgroup, house-ruling is obviously the best resolution to ruling/banning disputes- there is either easy consensus or a discourse between players can begin that ultimately leads to more understanding and honest fun for all parties. However, this pretty much screws very new or guest players by completely alienating them from playing if they happen to walk into a game shop with a custom banlist or ruling. And, unfortunately, situations may arise that leave local players unwilling to allow illegal cards/decks, which may very well prevent a new or visiting player from playing altogether because of a shortage of decks or a plethora of other factors (including Magic players just being plain assholes, because we all know quite a few frankly). Barring a player from playing the game itself seems to be the most fundamental and basic factor that keeps me skeptical of promoting house-ruling and custom banlists, and a perfect example of what the “format” would look like if it were to dissolve into a million customized “EDH”es.

    House rulings and banlists are no doubt incredibly important for the playgroup or game shop that has a consistent and “solved”/”stablized” playerbase that can voice opinions and reach consensus on its own. The problem I see with WotC or the RC promoting this method so heavily is the abandonment of at least *some* shred of standardization for the sake of those players who then might not even be able to play the game. I really appreciate your “accept and adapt” style as you word it, and is essentially what my playgroup has done in the past with the following of the RC. For the most part, I want to stick with this attitude — but I do kind of like the idea of at least some structural change to how the RC goes about all of their decision-making… including transparency: how do they determine what is and isn’t considered best for the format? is there testing, or just sampling from different playgroups? What about the discrepancy of banning based off of “fun”-ness and power? How can we tell the difference? Is banning based on “fun”-ness or “fairness” even effective, since these qualities are so subjective and particular?

    Sorry for that — take care!

    1. Wally D.

      Hey my friend, really good to hear from you! No worries, I think we all have “life get in the way” when it comes to MTG at one point or another. Heck, that is why I took 10 years off. Even recently, I am not involved as much as I want to be. Working overtime and trying to feed my other hobbies plus time with the family. Doesn’t leave much meat on the bone for producing MTG content. Anyway, it is good to hear from you and hope school is going well!

      You kind of touched on something, that I feel, is rather important. Sure, we can create “house rules” in our local playgroups. We can have different banlists and rules at our local game stores where tucking a commander may still be a thing or Sylvan Primordial is still running rampant, but, like you said, how long before this is no longer EDH?

      The Rules Committee may make some unpopular changes to the format, but, I believe they make it with the best intentions. It is also my belief that we should all adapt those rules and changes in our playgroups and LGS. I have faith in the guys that they won’t destroy CMDR and, if for some odd reason they hit the self destruct button, WOTC will step in. They won’t let the popularity of their best selling casual format bite the dust… for sure. But again, I think the RC is doing a fine job and I would encourage everyone to continue to adapt and use the rules they have provided.

      Final thought, and referencing what you said on when it “isn’t EDH anymore”. If you or your LGS plays by a wacky version of EDH House Rules, how long before it becomes frustrating to interact with others on Twitter, Reddit, and social media. It would be like talking in different languages. Trying to figure out what each others Home Rulings are may be too much effort, and start to crash communication.

      Anyways…. hope this helps add to our conversation. Glad to see ya!

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