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Author Topic: Intro to cEDH  (Read 488 times)

Morganator 2.0

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Intro to cEDH
« on: November 01, 2018, 02:33:46 pm »
While commander was designed to be a casual format, you can make decks that are really high powered. These are referred to as "Competitive Commander" decks or "cEDH" for short. This means stronger decks, new challenges, and much more strategizing in both deck building, and play. For this thread, I aim to explain how you can get into cEDH, and to resolve many of the misconceptions that people have about cEDH. Anyone else that is familiar with cEDH can feel free to jump on this topic. If you have any questions, don't be shy; ask away!

First off, let me emphasizes this: You do not need to spend lots of money to make a cEDH deck. If you're good at examining the decks you'll be facing, and good at threat assessment, you can bring these competitive decks down to size, even on a budget. Quick tips to deal with combo decks: Krosan Grip, Sudden Spoiling, Extract, Bitter Ordeal.

Second most important thing: Even cEDH is casual. This could just be my experience, but most (sensible) people don't care if you take back a move. Experienced players are happy to lend a hand to new players. And again, budget decks can topple powerful ones.

So, meat and potatoes time. How should you build a cEDH deck? Step 1, choose a Commander. If this is your first time, I would suggest one of the following, because they're really easy to make.
Yisan, the Wanderer Bard
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Godo, Bandit Warlord
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Brago, King Eternal
These ones are mono-coloured (except Brago, see below), so you don't have to worry about the land base. If you have any doubts about picking a commander, just remember these points.
1. Mono-white and mono-red don't really have good commanders, with only a handful of exceptions.
2. Make sure that the win condition of the deck is not combat damage. Only a few commanders can win this way (Najeela, the Blade-Blossom is a good example).
3. 3-color commanders have a large pool of cards to choose from, so deck building is easier.
4. There are lots of online lists for the best commanders. But they are mostly opinion-based, so take them with a grain of salt... or a tablespoon.

The first thing you should ask yourself after choosing your commander is "How do I win?". If you try to win with combat damage, make sure you can churn it out on a massive scale. You can also try a combo. There are simple ones like Bloodchief Ascension+Mindcrank or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker+Felidar Guardian, or more complicated ones involving cards like Doomsday, Protean Hulk, or Paradox Engine.

Next up, mana ramp and card advantage. You need to be able to cast stuff, and get stuff to cast. For mana ramp, as a safe guideline, anything over 4 mana is bad, 2 mana and under is probably good, and 3 mana is a toss up (Example: Coalition Relic and Chromatic Lantern are good, Cultivate and Darksteel Ingot are bad). Then throw in some card draw and search effects, and you're set... mostly.

Finally, you want interaction. Turn 3 wins generally don't happen. This is another misconception. When you're trying to combo early, there are 3 people ready to stop you. Your interaction is your creature removal, artifact removal, enchantment removal, and counterspells. These should all be 2 mana or less, because that's often all you will have left at the end of your turn. Three mana is doable, but it has to be something special (Example: Sudden Death can cause a Laboratory Maniac player to lose the game instead of win).

Alright, question time! If you have any questions, whether it's something I haven't covered, if your commander would work for cEDH, or what cards you should/shouldn't use, ask away.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 04:58:24 am by Morganator 2.0 »

nickelphoenix

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Re: Intro to cEDH
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2018, 04:47:32 pm »
Recently I've been seeing a lot of people talk about competitive commander (cEDH) on this site, so I figured I'd make this thread a stepping stone into cEDH. I aim to explain how you get into cEDH, and to resolve many of the misconceptions. Anyone else that is familiar with cEDH can feel free to jump on this topic.

First off, let me emphasizes this: You do not need to spend lots of money to make a cEDH deck. If you're good at examining the decks you'll be facing, and good at threat assessment, you can bring these competitive decks down to size, even on a budget. Quick tips to deal with combo decks: Krosan Grip, Sudden Spoiling, Extract, Bitter Ordeal.

Second most important thing: Even cEDH is casual. This could just be my experience, but most (sensible) people don't care if you take back a move. And again, budget decks can topple powerful ones.

So, meat and potatoes time. How should you build a cEDH deck? Step 1, choose a Commander. If this is your first time, I would suggest one of the following, because they're really easy to make.
Yisan, the Wanderer Bard
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Godo, Bandit Warlord
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Brago, King Eternal
These ones are mono-coloured (except Brago, see below), so you don't have to worry about the land base. If you have any doubts about picking a commander, just remember these points.
1. Mono-white and mono-red don't really have good commanders, with only a handful of exceptions.
2. Make sure that the win condition of the Commander is not combat damage. Only a few commanders can win this way (Najeela, the Blade-Blossom is a good example).
3. 3-color commanders give lots of options.
4. There are lots of online lists for the best commanders. But they are mostly opinion-based, so take them with a grain of salt. Or a tablespoon.

Next up, mana ramp and card advantage. You need to be able to cast stuff, and get stuff to cast. For mana ramp, as a safe guideline, anything over 4 mana is bad, 2 mana and under is probably good, 3 mana is a toss up (Coalition Relic and Chromatic Lantern are good, Cultivate and Darksteel Ingot are bad). Then throw in some card draw and tutors, and you're set... mostly.

Finally, you want interaction. Turn 3 wins generally don't happen. This is another misconception. When you're trying to combo early, there are 3 people ready to stop you. Your interaction is you creature removal, artifact removal, enchantment removal, and counterspells. These should all be 2 mana or less, because that's often all you will have left at the end of your turn.

Alright, question time! If you have any questions, whether it's something I haven't covered, if your commander would work for cEDH, or what cards you should/shouldn't use, ask away.

I do agree, some “budget” decks can be more competitive then others. One of the players from one of my playgroups built a “voltron”/Pauper deck with Zur that is very difficult to score wins against, and is extremely fast to get going. So there is some truth in the comment on budget. However that being said, I’ve been around this game (on and off) for a very long time. The schtick hasn’t changed all that much since the days of 4th edition, traditionally speaking elevated budget gives you access to higher quality in individual cards. I’ve been saying it since my early 20s, there should exist a tournament friendly constructed format such as Pauper that puts a $$ cap on decks, but with a bit more flexibility then commons only... Sure it woudn’t be as popular or exciting as the all in, no limit. But it might appeal to a great number of folks that can only play on a “hobby” budget.


Morganator 2.0

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Re: Intro to cEDH
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2018, 06:37:18 am »
Now that this is a sticky topic, I'm turning it into a much more general guide, where you can also ask questions. If you ask a good question, that I think more people should see, I'll edit this post to include it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to spend lots of money on my deck?
No. Not at all. Almost all decks will be made better by adding in cards like Gaea's Cradle, Mox Opal, Mana Crypt, and Imperial Seal, but they are not a necessity. You can make some strong decks with a modest budget of $100 to $200. If you have the core gameplan (your combo, your supporting cards) the rest is gravy. While Mana Drain is strictly better than Counterspell, go with what you can afford. Many playgroups will also be okay with proxies.

Do I need to spend lots of money on my land base?
This is a variant of the previous question, but it deserves special attention. The answer is no, but you do have to focus the land base. If you can't afford shock lands (Steam Vents), fetch lands (Windswept Heath), or the original duals (Tundra), don't buy them. Instead, focus on lands that give more than one color and don't unconditionally enter the battlefield tapped. Exclude lands like Boros Garrison, Swiftwater Cliffs, Seaside Citadel, Rupture Spire, Evolving Wilds and Bojuka Bog. Include lands like Inspiring Vantage (fast lands), Caves of Koilos (pain lands), and Rootbound Crag (check lands). And remember; basic lands work well too.

Does my deck have to constantly win turn 2/3/4?
Nope. Turn 3 or quicker wins are mostly dependent on luck. There are decks that can consistently try to win turn 3, but it doesn't always work. There are three opponents, each with counterspells, removal, stax effects, or even a timely Containment Priest. Just because a deck can win on turn 2, doesn't mean it will win on turn 2.

However, as a general rule, you want to get the ball rolling on turn 3. Turns 1 and 2 are setup to play mana ramp, protection, supporting effects, and stax effects. Turn 3 is when you start doing big moves. Often this means casting your commander. Start setting up to win the game, and/or prepare to stop other players from winning.

How many lands should I use? What about mana ramp? Creature removal?
This is a harder question to answer, because it really depends on the deck. Some decks want lots of removal, some want more ramp. I tend to use this guideline, but these are not hard-fast rules; there are many decks that go outside these ranges.
28 to 35 lands
8 to 12 forms of mana ramp
3-5 forms of targeted creature removal
3-5 forms of targeted artifact removal (if possible, get it to hit enchantments as well)
2-3 boardwipes (in a creature-heavy playgroup)
4-8 forms of card draw (mono-white and mono-red decks will have trouble with this)
2-3 forms of grave-hate (if you have graveyard decks in your group)

How many counterspells should I use?
This one requires special attention. Counterspells are actually card disadvantage, because you are going one-for-one with an opponent, and you had to leave mana open. So use them sparingly. Red decks should use Pyroblast and/or Red Elemental Blast, and white decks should consider using Mana Tithe. If you're a run-of-the-mill blue deck, 3 to 5 counterspells is enough to both protect your combo/boardstate, as well as disrupt opponents. If you want to make a counterspell heavy deck, you'll want at least 10 counterspells, and a commander that gives massive card draw, to make up for the loss of card advantage. To date, I personally have only seen 5 commanders that could effectively do this (Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Baral, Chief of Compliance, Damia, Sage of Stone, Edric, Spymaster of Trest, and Rashmi, Eternities Crafter). Counterspells should damn near always be 2 mana or less, with only a few exceptions (Rewind is not one of them).

What is stax?
The term originated from the card Smokestack. The release of this card lead to decks being made with titles like MoonStax (Blood Moon) or ArmageddonStax (Armageddon). In cEDH, stax is used to describe any card that slows the game down. Winter Orb, Cursed Totem, Aven Mindcensor, even Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, these are all stax cards. While you might not like that stax decks make the game harder to play (many will even argue that they make the game less fun), stax effects are excellent at stopping combo decks from winning.

What is the easiest cEDH deck to build?
I can think of two. First, Godo, Bandit Warlord. Godo makes infinite tokens and infinite combat steps if he's equiped with Helm of the Host. The deck is a race to 11 mana so you can cast Godo, and equip him with the helm. Using cards like Sol Ring, Treasonous Ogre, and Desperate Ritual, you ramp fast to cast Godo as soon as possible. You'll also want utility and protection, such as Hammer of Nazahn, Defense Grid, and Welding Jar. Your mulligans are super important, because you need a good starting hand to succeed.

Another really easy one is Yisan, the Wanderer Bard. Super consistent gameplan, with lots of ways to work around stax and disruption. The deck ramps fast, and finishes the game with cards like Craterhoof Behemoth, Temur Sabertooth, Umbral Mantle, or Staff of Domination. You can use untap effects like Quirion Ranger, Scryb Ranger, or Wirewood Symbiote to get multiple triggers off of Yisan on the same turn.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 05:43:07 pm by Morganator 2.0 »

Soren841

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Re: Intro to cEDH
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2018, 03:56:07 pm »
To add on to that, specifically "does my deck have to consistently win turn 2/3/4?" The answer is yes and no (for fast combo at least, midrange and stax do their own things). Yes, you should consistently goldfish wins by turn 4, but in game it won't happen because of the other 3 players. Important distinction. Obviously different decks will have varying degrees of consistency or speed issues, hence the tier list, which should be taken as a loose guide at best. Best budget decks are Godo, Yisan (like Morganator said), as well as mono g Selvala and Marwyn, which cost around $1200 including cradle. Yisan shares a lot of pieces with Selvala and Marwyn (which are close to identical, Marwyn may be cheaper because no Phyrexian Dreadnought). So if y'all like having multiple decks, there's an easy way without breaking the bank :) also proxies are fine with like 99% of the cEDH community.

Another important note is that, while playing stax in a more casual pod draws hate, part of cEDH is playing optimally. They probably wont hate because you're playing stax unless it's stopping them from winning. You should also strive to play optimally, not just because you don't like what they're doing. The happy side effect of this is that playing stax is not taboo in cEDH, for all you degenerates out there ;)
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 04:07:08 pm by Soren841 »
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Soren841

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Re: Intro to cEDH
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2018, 07:33:03 pm »
http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/list-multiplayer-edh-generals-by-tier/

Here's the tier list, it's the only one anyone ever uses, when it is used.Again, it'sa loose guide at best.,
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Morganator 2.0

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Re: Intro to cEDH
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2018, 03:18:47 pm »
Common Combos

When you're building a deck, you will most definately want to put in a game winning combo or two. I'm going to list some of the more common ones, as well as the minimum colors required to make the combo work, and some ways to stop the combo. Note that there are different ways of doing these combos (often involving more colors), but I'm listing them in their simplest form.

Kiki-Jiki combo
Minimum colors: Red
Description: Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker can make infinite copies of certain creatures, so long as those creatures have a way of untapping him. The creatures you can use are Zealous Conscripts, Combat Celebrant, Great Oak Guardian, Felidar Guardian, Restoration Angel, Pestermite, and Deceiver Exarch. Because he gives the copies haste, you can launch a massive attack to win the game.
How to stop it: Anything that stops creature abilities (Cursed Totem) or massive attacks (Peacekeeper) stops the combo. Alternatively, remove Kiki-Jiki as soon as he taps to make the first copy.

Birthing Pod combo
Minimum colors: Green, Red, White
Description: This is an expansion of the Kiki-Jiki combo. Start the combo with Birthing Pod on the battlefield, 3 mana, and any creature with CMC 3. Sacrifice the CMC 3 creature to Birthing Pod, and get Felidar Guardian, which blinks and untaps Birthing Pod. Sacrifice Felidar Guardian to get Karmic Guide, which brings back Felidar Guardian, which "untaps" Birthing Pod. Sacrifice Felidar again to get Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Tap Kiki-Jiki to copy Karmic Guide, bringing back Felidar Guardian, who blinks and untaps Kiki-Jiki. You can now make infinite copies of Felidar Guardian.
How to stop it: This combo is super vulnerable to artifact removal, creature removal, grave-hate, Cursed Totem, Aven Mindcensor, and Containment Priest.

Mikaeus, the Unhallowed
Minimum Colors: Black
Description: Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Triskelion go infinite together. Remove two +1/+1 counters from Triskelion to deal damage to a player, and then remove the last one to get it to shoot itself. It dies with no +1/+1 counters, so the undying ability (from Mikaeus) brings it back. Loop until all opponents are dead. This also works with Walking Ballista, but you need a sacrifice outlet (Viscera Seer, Ashnod's Altar, Varolz, the Scar-Striped).
How to stop it: Graveyard hate is the best bet with a deck like this. You can also use creature removal to get rid of Mikaeus.

Protean Hulk combo
Minimum Colors: Green, Black.
Description: Basically, if Protean Hulk dies, you win the game. There are many different ways of winning from this, but the one I'm about to describe is the simplest version. When Protean Hulk dies, grab Body Snatcher, Viscera Seer (or any 1 mana sacrifice creature), and Sylvan Safekeeper. Sylvan Safekeeper just protects the combo. In response to Body Snatcher's enter the battlefield ability, sacrifice it to Viscera Seer. Bring back Protean Hulk. Sacrifice Protean Hulk to get Mikaeus, the Unhallowed and Walking Ballista. You now have to the combo described above.
How to stop it: if you can eliminate graveyards (Rest in Peace), search effects (Aven Mindcensor), or use Containment Priest, the combo is neutralized.
Special notes: the most powerful version of the Protean Hulk combo involves Flash, so it can consistently occur on turn 2, assuming the deck has tutor power. If white is added to the mix, Grand Abolisher locks everyone out if Protean Hulk's ability resolves.

Necrotic Ooze combo
Minimum Colors: Black.
Description: Cast Buried Alive to put Necrotic Ooze, Phyrexian Devourer, and Triskelion/Walking Ballista in the graveyard. Use something like Reanimate, Dance of the Dead, or Necromancy to bring Necrotic Ooze to the battlefield. Use Phyrexian Devourer's ability to start milling yourself, which puts +1/+1 counters on Necrotic Ooze. Once you have enough, use the ability of Triskelion/Walking Ballista to remove the counters to deal lethal damage.
How to stop it: No one in their right mind would cast Buried Alive with grave-hate on the battlefield.

Hermit Druid combo
Minimum Colors: Black, Green
Description: this is one of the more expensive combos, because you're not allowed to have any basic lands in your deck. The combo takes three mana to start. Activate Hermit Druid, milling your entire library (because you don't have any basic lands). Unearth Dregscape Zombie, and then regular cast Gravecrawler. Flashback Dread Return by sacrificing your three creatures, bringing back Necrotic Ooze. The relevant creatures in your graveyard are Wall of Roots, Blighted Bat, Devoted Druid, Channeler Initiate, and Walking Ballista. Put a -0/-1 counter on Necrotic Ooze to get one green mana (from Wall of Roots). Use that green to give Necrotic Ooze haste (from Blighted Bat). Tap Necrotic Ooze for 1 green, and put a -1/-1 counter to untap it (Devoted Druid's abilities). Then tap it and remove the -1/-1 counter to add one mana of any color (Channeler Initiate). You can now generate infinite mana, put infinite +1/+1 counters on Necrotic Ooze (Walking Ballista's ability), and then remove those counters to shoot everyone to death (also from Walking Ballista).
How to stop it: This combo is super fragile, until Necrotic Ooze comes out. Prevent this by killing any of the creatures, stopping Hermit Druid before he can activate, or strategically countering the Dread Return. This combo can happen early game, which is really what it has going for it.

Isochron-Dramatic Reversal
Minimum Colors: Blue
Description: Imprint Isochron Scepter with Dramatic Reversal. Then all you need is non-land permanents that tap for 3 or more mana to generate infinite mana. Because blue has lots of artifact and instant tutors, this combo is really easy to assemble. Just remember that infinite mana on its own does not win the game.
How to stop it: Blue has counterspells, and a good blue player wouldn't start this combo without a counterspell, so if you use artifact removal, make sure it's Krosan Grip (Trickbind also gives you a turn). Otherwise, cards like Rule of Law or Null Rod stops the combo from starting.

Umbral Mantle
Minimum Colors: Green (this is for the most common versions of Umbral Mantle combos. Similar stuff can be done in other colors)
Description: Attach Umbral Mantle to a creature that taps for 4 mana (Priest of Titania, Marwyn the Nurturer, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds) to generate infinite mana. The good thing about this, is you also get an infinitely big creature in the process, so this can function as a win condition.
How to stop it: Usual suspects; creature and artifact hate. Linvala, Keeper of Silence works especially well, because mono-green doesn't have a lot of creature removal.

Helm of the Host
Minimum Colors: Red
Description: We are still learning the potential of Helm of the Host, and I anticipate we'll see many combos with this card in the future. For the time being, it goes infinite with Godo, Bandit Warlord, Combat Celebrant, and Aurelia the Warleader.
How to stop it: Remove the Helm on equip. That way, they've invested the mana before they lose it. Red doesn't have many good ways of protecting a boardstate.

Helm of Obedience
Minimum Colors: White or Black.
Description: You'll need either Rest in Peace, or Leyline of the Void. Target an opponent with Helm of Obedience, where X=1. Because it is impossible for any cards to enter the graveyard, their whole library gets exiled.
How to stop it: The players who are left have a lot of time to deal with this combo. Artifact removal is very common in commander.

Food Chain
Minimum Colors: Green
Description: Food Chain can sacrifice creatures to exile to help with mana ramp. But, if that creature is Eternal Scourge, Misthollow Griffin, or Squee, the Immortal, you can generate infinite mana, because you can re-cast them from exile for one less mana than what they give. Once more: infinite mana on its own does not win the game.
How to stop it: This combo is not instant-speed, so time your enchantment removal. Cast it when your opponent goes to cast the creature. Other then that, this combo dodges most stax, so Extract, Praetor's Grasp, and Nevermore are good solutions.
Special notes: the most common commander for this strategy is General Tazri. She can search for a win condition from the command zone, and has access to all five colors.

Alright, my fingers hurt. As I remember more combos I'll add them. Just remember; these are the simplest combos, that can be used across multiple decks.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 05:33:41 pm by Morganator 2.0 »

Soren841

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Re: Intro to cEDH
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2018, 04:40:36 pm »
There's also food chain combo. I can't format like Morganator can so look up Food Chain Tazri (: Also, storm is usually considered combo if you're more into that. Helm of Obedience is also entirely unplayed because it isn't good (maybe it used to be idk)

Important to know that most combo decks do not just have one of these combos. For example, Sidisi is Food Chain, Hermit Druid, and Flash Hulk. Breakfast Hulk is Flash Hulk and Hermit Druid. Najeela is Flash Hulk, Birthing Pod, Razaketh, and Kiki-Jiki (my own build also runs Boonweaver Giant combo, which was big before Protean Hulk unban).
A large part of building new combo decks is finding new combos that take less dead slots and layer well (look up Shuffle Hulk for the community's newest innovation, which is currently dominating the cEDH Discord' league)
« Last Edit: November 12, 2018, 05:07:12 pm by Soren841 »
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Morganator 2.0

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Re: Intro to cEDH
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2018, 05:09:56 pm »
There's also food chain combo. I can't format like Morganator can so look up Food Chain Tazri (: Also, storm is usually considered combo if you're more into that.

I tried to avoid complex combos, because they're harder to describe (storm, Doomsday, Ad Nauseam), as well as combos that are specific to one commander (Paradox Sisay, Paradox Arcum). But Food Chain is one that I missed. Adding it now.

Soren841

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Re: Intro to cEDH
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2018, 05:14:01 pm »
Also if anyone is really interested, PM either of us and there's a join link to the cEDH Discords on the comeptitiveEDH Reddit.
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