This is the story of how an improptu barbeque and the evening that followed sparked a fire thought to be all but put out.
Last Friday, me and a few friends had planned a last-minute barbeque. After more than enough meat we stayed for a nice evening. After a while, the subject of Magic came up. Our group doesn’t play nearly as much anymore as we used to. We do occasional drafts with eight of us, sure, but most if the time it is just me and one or two other friends.
But those drafts, they sure are fun, we mutually agreed. ‘Too bad I never use those cards anymore’, one friend commented. We all had to agree. Even draft all-stars rarely make it to casual kitchen table constructed. No matter how much I want to play, say, Keepsake Gorgon, it’s just not good enough. There are better alternatives, almost always more expensive. Getting back into kitchen table Magic takes some dough.
How could we use those draft leftovers again?
This is the paragraph that answers the above question
A whole while back, we (mostly, myself) tried to launch Peasant among my friends. For those who don’t know, Magic played an important role in my circle of friends. I wanted to have the times back again where we would play together every week, sometimes with eight people. The idea of Peasant was basically because of the pricetag. With only commons and just five uncommons, decks couldn’t be all that expensive.
Peasant never really caught on, except for Rick and Jeroen, with whom I would play the game anyway. It turned out we (well, me) tried to solve the problem from the wrong angle. We just needed a format where fun would take a front seat. The games with Jeroen and Rick are fun, too, no doubt about that – but they’re not necessarily fun to other friends. Our decks are pretty tuned and competitive (according to casual standards, I think), which means you need a deck of similar calibre to compete. Peasant was not the format for a level playing field.
Actually, here’s the answer to that question
It turns out that the way to start playing Magic again with more than two friends was the same answer as the answer to the draft-leftovers question: Commander Lite. I’ve always wanted to try Commander, but was wary of the hefty pricetag attached to it. I tried to enthuse Rick and Jeroen for Pauper Commander (all commons and an uncommon creature als your Commander) way back when, but that was when Peasant’s popularity was already in rapid decline.
I don’t know the exact way the conversation unfolded, last Friday, but the end result was a bunch of guys getting more excited by the minute about the prospects of this brand new format. We could reuse all those cards that got us excited in one draft or another, while maintaining a level playing field for everyone to have fun on. I would say the best part is being able to have a new deck without investing a lot of money, but the best part is just a three letter word: FUN.
Commander Lite feels just right. Luckily, I can tell you about it too.
First of all, it looks like a whole bunch of fun. It offers my friends and me a new way to enjoy Magic and hang out together like you would with any other game. Magic is still my favorite game hands down, and I’m excited to be sharing it with more people than just Jeroen and Rick, and the occasional draft.
Second, part of the fun is the nature of the Format. 99 singletons create more diversity, more chances of unexpected card combinations, and less chances of getting bored of a deck (be it yours or theirs) or repetitiveness.
Your deck is a your key to having fun. Therefore, a good Commander deck is an extension of your own self. I chose a Commander (more on her in a bit) that fits my favorite colors and does something I can build around. I like this construction: sure, you can use your Commander just for the color combination, but it’s way more fun (and satisfying) to build something with synergy.
It’s nice to be able to do so without breaking the bank. Taking into account the cards you (and your friends) have lying around, you don’t have to spend a lot. In fact, I think creative people will be able to make a deck just from the cards they have lying around.
I hope all this adds up to a fun new way to play Magic again. I wonder if we might even make it into interactive-metagame-territory, where we change our decks to shore up weaknesses.
I bet you wanna know about my Commander
Since I want to be closing down shop for today, I will not discuss my deck in detail. There’s a new blogpost looming in there. First, I have to make a deck from 200+ cards. Then, I want to play with it a bit before I write about it. Starting this Friday, when we’re gonna get together and brew, build, talk, and hopefully play too. My choice? Marchesa, the Black Rose, in Grixis colors ofcourse.
I’m happy to let start Magic playing a role in my group of friends again. And I even get to use draft allstars (like Keepsake Gorgon, Brimstone Mage, and Nivix Guildmage) and search for obscure weird cards to suit my needs. The last thing I thought was gonna happen this Friday was to sit together with a bunch of us and build and tune our decks.
But I’m very, very happy we are. And the best part? I, for a change, am not even the most enthusiastic one of the bunch.