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Intro to cEDH

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Morganator 2.0:
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.

nickelphoenix:

--- Quote from: Morganator 2.0 on November 01, 2018, 02:33:46 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.

--- End quote ---

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:
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
12 to 16 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.

Soren841:
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 ;)

Soren841:
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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