December 7, 2015

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The 75% Commander Deck, and What That Means

Every EDH player has the age-old “competitive versus casual” debate at least once a month or so. This is because you have players who want to play grindy tournament-ready decks all the time, and people who think that their pre-con with only five cards added should be “allowed” to win. I find myself often being the rare middle-man in these arguments, and thinking that every deck type should be able to flourish if played properly and piloted correctly.

The Competitive Mindset

Many players in my playgroup run a mix of silly casual decks, and completely stompy competitive ones. The issue that arises from this is when players want to play their new deck of one type, and some or all of their opponents want to play a deck of the other type. I find that unless it’s a completely 50/50 split in a multiplayer game, this never goes well. The often underlooked issue, is that many competitive players feel that they shouldn’t have to scale down their playstyle or deck for the sake of others. Because ultimately they have less fun if they have to gimp themselves.

The Casual Mindset

Many times casual players build theme decks for the sake of fun, such as my Lorthos, the Tidemaker deck that was featured in a previous article, or play less strong decks due to budget constraints. The issue here, is that casual players often see the need to bring other players to their level to have a hope of winning, and that isn’t fun for many people. Some people I know, such as fellow contributor Pierre Dupont, will pilot decks that are completely silly and not actually care if they win. Although I respect Pierre for his fun-loving mindset, it isn’t a very common one.

The 75% Mindset

” 75%” Deck building” is going to be a term that is new to a lot of readers. To me, it sums up the philosophy I’ve had for the format for years, simply being given a name. Basically, a 75% EDH deck is a deck that is built optimally, but purposely avoids being built for a 100% flawless game. Sometimes it’s for the sake of fun, sometimes it’s for the sake of budget. In my experience most 75% decks will be able to play in a competitive environment with little to no trouble, while playing casual games without feeling too strong or too weak. This leads to what I feel is a generally more enjoyable experience to everyone in the game.

What Does This Kind of Deck Look Like?

The neat thing is, that many people I know who play 75% decks don’t realize that they are doing so. They simply have simply observed themselves learning how to cause the most enjoyment of the format.

For example, one of my friends at the local college plays a Derevi, Empyrial Tactician deck that is by many means competitive, but not the way people expect it to be.

-It’s not a “Stax” deck

-But it does run infinite combos

-But they don’t get tutored for

-But it is rather tedious to stop them

These types of points are what 75% tends to be about in my experience. The deck is more than capable of winning with ease, but it’s not broken enough that the newer players have no hopes of winning. I was able to beat one of this guy’s other 75% decks using the Daxos the Returned pre-con with only five cards added.

Is It Okay to Still Build Stronger/Weaker Decks?

Absolutely! I still have two decks that some people would call “100%” because I like to play in tournaments from time to time. The way I handle playing those decks against casual players is simply opting not to use my infinite combos. I actually get a great deal of enjoyment out of this, because although my Lyzolda, The Blood Witch deck that I featured last week tends to be grindy and mean, it’s still a lot of fun to simply smash people’s faces in with Kothophed, Soul Hoarder or a bunch of Faerie Tokens. On the flip side, I still enjoy playing silly decks regardless of whether they win or not, such as a Zurgo Helmsmasher list that I’ll be featuring in a few weeks or so.

In Conclusion

I know that not everyone will agree with this philosophy, but I thought that it might be interested for people who are struggling to find a consistent enjoyment to the format. Hope you all enjoyed the read, I’ll be back next week with another deck list article.