The War Report: Experimenting With 2HG

For the past couple of weeks my playgroup was down a man, and as such we took the time to hone a few decks and introduce a few. Well, I did the honing of my own decks, putting in a small order with Card Kingdom to pick up some of the remaining cards from Hour of Devastation that I knew needed to go somewhere. That meant turning my Zombie deck into a Scarab God deck and adding cards like Razaketh to my Kaalia deck. The other two guys actually put together something new, one making a mono-black sacrifice/recursion deck that was rather frustrating, and the other putting together a mono-blue merfolk deck. Neither sounded overly impressive but both were able to do some interesting things. My personal upgrades were fun and it was nice to pull out Razaketh and to use the Scarab God (to great effect), but the FFA 3 player games just aren’t as fun as 4-player.

Recently I had been trying to convince the guys that we should play something that is team oriented instead of always doing a 4-player FFA match. FFA is great for when you want politics to play a role in the outcome of the game, but it can result is some games where you push the wrong buttons at the wrong time and someone is scooping at best or going home at worst. Our playgroup of nearly a year has seen it all but we still come back together for the love of the game. Hell, I’m going to live with one of the other members very soon, so it’s likely this will be a regular occurrence for a long time to come (or one would hope given the investment).

When I presented the idea, I said we should try a different format or just try to break things up in general. At some point it was said that we should draft, but to me that’s just not what Magic is about. Sure, people go to drafts and it’s a thing, but it’s just not really my thing. I want to play constructed, and honestly I’m sort of beyond caring about Standard or any of the other formats (modern, vintage, etc.). I want to play EDH. We want to play EDH. Luckily, people have thought about this and provided other formats.

Beyond the standard variant of EDH, there is also Pauper, 2-Headed Giant and Tiny Leaders. Aside from the latter, each is basically already a format elsewhere, and has been restructured to work with EDH, though there really aren’t concrete rules. So these are all house rules sorts of setups, basically how we used to do it in the old days before formats were a thing. So, just to be clear, normal EDH goes like this:

99 cards + 1 Commander which must be a legendary creature.
Besides Basic Land, no more than one copy of a card in the deck (has own ban list).
Must use colors from commander’s color identity in the deck only.
40 life, 21 commander damage, 10 poison counters, or can’t draw a card and you’re out.
Multiplayer format, can be played 1v1 or with a whole table of players.

Pauper EDH is the same as above, but:

Commander must be an uncommon creature.
All other cards must be commons.

Sounds like an interesting twist, right? I know I have a shitload of commons laying around collecting dust because most of them aren’t competitive enough and are typically only used as draft fodder or in standard decks where it just happens to fit alright (lack of better options). This one is still on the table, but no one has built anything for it yet. I mentioned Tiny Leaders at some point, but it’s not as good (IMO):

The Tiny Leaders format was conceived in 2013 as a format for those who enjoy a challenge when deck building, and love EDH. The rules are simple- 50 card decks, including your “Commander”, with no more than one of each card (a “Highlander” format), and no card shall exceed converted mana cost 3.

The last two choices were that we could either play a 2v2 where it was played the same as a normal FFA but where the teams would cooperate and take alternating turns, hopefully sitting alternately. Or, we could try to play 2HG EDH. This is what we did last weekend when we got together.

There aren’t official rules for 2HG EDH, but with our understanding of how it is supposed to work, we made up our own house rules and rolled with it. Kitchen table Magic is the best! So here’s what we came up with. Same rules as traditional EDH, but:

Shared life total of 60 per team.
Simultaneous turns per team.
Global effects like enchantments effect the whole team.
We nixed commander damage, and didn’t have anyone playing poison. 

It went really well! I ended up winning 2 out of 3 games played and showed that my Locust God and Scarab God decks are no joke. These are the kinds of games that help to break up the experience for those times when you’ve been playing the same decks for ages and can’t afford to get something else going each week. Don’t get me wrong, I love Magic no matter the form, but having these variants really keeps you invested and livens up game nights. We’re all looking forward to Commander 2017 releasing this week, and I’m sure after the move we’ll be going over my Vampire deck and how it’s performed. Until then!