Commander for those wondering what the hell it is, is a multiplayer variant of Magic the Gathering. Each player has a commander (a Legendary creature), a deck of 99 cards (apart from basic lands, you can only have one copy of each card), and starts with 40 health. It’s basically a free for all after that, last man standing is the winner.
But the thing is there is a political element to the game that a “normal” game of Magic doesn’t have. You are making deals, ganging up to remove the current big threat on the table.
I was on the 4 player table. Which was made up of myself, Diego, Justin, and Jamie. We were all playing with preconstructed decks. Justin was using the cat tribal 2017 deck, Jamie had the dragon tribal 2017 deck. While Diego and I had decks from the Anthology. I had chosen the Plunder the Graves deck, which I assumed was going to be putting stuff into the graveyard and doing stuff with it. Diego chose Freyalise Llanowar’s Fury that had a Planeswalker as it’s commander.
Naturally dragons were seen as the biggest threat on the table. So we all smacked Jamie first, although the odd blow went towards each other as well. However that allowed Diego to make use of his deck, get commander out, work those combos. It wasn’t long before Diego had too much out, and was dominating things. Sadly no board wipes were coming. So the inevitable happened, he won.
Our second game started out the same way. Keep those big nasty dragons off the table. This game was looking like a win for Justin. He’d got 22 health left, Diego was on 8, I was on 10. I’d got some creatures on the board (after a great power play a couple of turns earlier) that made me less of a target than Diego. I’m not entirely sure I could have survived Justin swinging at me, but luckily I didn’t have to find out because he swung in with everything he had but 1 creature suffering from summoning sickness at Diego to finish him off. If I swung in with everything I had enough to win, even if Justin blocked. I’d won!
The tables then swapped round. The four player table was now Justin, myself, Josh and Michael. Josh was running the dragon deck. But the biggest threat was Michael and his constructed deck he built. Which meant a pact was made to target him first. I’d mulliganned most games during the afternoon. But I’d forgotten we were using the Paris mulligan, I could have been keeping a card or two I wanted in the mulligans. Doh! The biggest surprise for me in this game was that I lasted so long in this epic long game. I needed lands, particularly a forest so I could start playing cards. I had removal stuff in hand that would ruin Michaels plans, if I only had a flipping forest.
Our alliance fell apart for a while after I was finally able to cast spells, and a failed attempt to remove Michael’s two creatures in front of him. I had played a card that forced everyone to sacrifice two creatures. I had none, so was ok. It got rid of the creatures in front of Josh and Justin. However it didn’t get rid of the one I’d hoped for with Michael. He flashed in a third creature and sacrificed that saving the threat. Justin soon developed into the biggest threat, and saw him with some nasty pumped up cats in front of him. We all managed to work together to take out one particularly nasty threat from Justin. Josh was getting salty about not being able to keep any dragons out on the battlefield. I don’t think it helped when I took control of one from his graveyard. Justin killed Josh first. I was next on his hit list. Not a surprise really. After such a bad start I was gobsmacked is lasted so long. At my death Michael had just triggered his threat. He was no getting an extra turn after every other players turn. With his extra turn he somehow wrangled it so that after Justin’s turn he’d be getting 17 extra turns!!! That’s game over once he started taking them for Justin. Sadly for Michael he never got to take them. Justin smacked the life out of him to grab the win.
A great afternoon, some amazing game play. This was such great fun.
Commander adds that extra political element, and multiplayer that almost makes MtG into a different game! If you don’t like “regular” MtG would you like Commander? It depends on what it is you don’t like about MtG. At the end of the day you are still playing MtG. However as my bad starts have shown that isn’t such a liability in Commander. The bigger liability is being seen as a threat. So if it’s the “I always draw badly” or “it’s down to luck of the draw” as your reasons for not liking MtG then give this a go. If it’s the theme and mechanics, that’s not changed.
A big big thank you to our hosts Fenrock for the use of their facilities, and great coffee.
Our next MtG league starts on the 4th November for anyone interested in joining in the fun. Details of time and location (Fenrock) can be found on the event set up on the Fenland Gamers Facebook page. Where you can also sign up to say you are coming (which would be handy to know so I know how many boosters to get in).