Because EDH is mainly a social game, the play experience can be a bit different from other MTG formats. Most Commander players are familiar with the Rule Zero conversation: a method that helps to keep the format’s focus on the play experience. Well, a Commander Rules Committee member provided a list of hot takes, and a lot of them could be used to help improve your Commander experience! Among them is an incredible take that may suggest an official Commander spinoff format!
Dockside Extortionist is the Best Mana Accelerator in Commander (Even Better Than the Ban List)?
Before we get into the most play-experience-oriented takes, let’s take a look at the spiciest take among them. It’s no secret that Dockside Extortionist is one of Commander’s best cards. Even among the Commander Rules Committee, it is one of two cards they’re watching most when considering a ban. That said, this spicy take from EDH Rules Committee member Tim Willoughby suggests that Dockside Extortionist may be better than we all thought. On a feed of ‘spicy takes’ he wrote, you can find the following quote:
“Dockside Extortionist might well be the best mana accelerant in Commander. Including everything on the banned list.”
As you may imagine, replies immediately mentioned Channel as a card Dockside would have to be better than. Dockside needs a bit of setup, but being able to produce colored mana is a massive upside over Channel. That said, the ability for Channel to create almost 40 colorless mana in most Commander games for the cheap cost of two mana gives this take a bit of competition. This is still, according to this take, superior to Fastbond and Primeval Titan, which also seem like incredible mana accelerants. I personally do not think Dockside Extortionist beats cards like Channel and Black Lotus but to each their own.
Commander May Ban All Reserved List Cards!?
Now that we have one of the many controversial cards in Commander out of the way, here’s the most interesting of these hot takes: Tim Willoughby mentioned that judging from where we are as a format right now, there is a chance that all Reserved List cards are going to be banned from Commander in the near future.
As you may imagine, some MTG players weren’t too happy with this statement. Twitter user Morgan Goodrich immediately replied to this ‘spicy take’ stating that “”ban the reserved list” is a terrible take. What you mean is “ban these specific 10ish cards on the reserved list,”. Considering most of the reserved list doesn’t impact anything (or viewed as “this cool thing” that is positive to the format), it would be stupid to ban all of it.”
Elaborating on this point, Twitter user QED2 restated the ironic position of the current Reserved List:
“The tragedy of the RL is that so little of it matters, but the ones that do matter so heavily. By my count, the RL is:
- 67 cards the Commander format cares very much about;
- 18 that are banned anyway;
- 22 that are pricey but too weak to shed any tears over;
- and 464 that are less expensive than non-RL staples (even while Reserved, indicating low interest).”
Essentially, both of these users are bringing up the awkward statement that many cards may be getting banned for the sins of a select few. 464 cards, many of them being unplayable, could hit the ban list due to a few powerful cards, like Gaea’s Cradle, that are very pricy and incredibly hard to find as a result of not being reprintable.
Why Might This Happen?
Willoughby did reply to Goodrich, saying that there is a more significant reason as to why this would be happening, but did not elaborate much:
“I’m not good at being succinct, but will write up longform notes on this in the future. Key points include – this would be a spinoff, not the whole format, would fix reprints, likely not directly impact most games, but futureproof all of them.”
Even though Willoughby does not say much here, it suggests a lot. Firstly, banning the Reserved List is more focused on ‘futureproofing’ future versions of Commander than solving problematic cards in the present. Reprintability is most likely the most significant concern here. If MTG continues to grow at its current rate, Reserved List cards may only get more expensive as we get more and more new cards. Allowing for a Commander alternative where Reserved List cards are banned should enable equal accessibility to all game pieces within the format… outside of other paywalls, that is.
The other significant point here is that this ban list would be a spinoff and would not limit players who really wanted to play with Reserved List cards. Honestly, because of the spinoff nature of this suggestion, this just feels like a more extensive Rule Zero conversation, which is already happening.
Rule Zero Isn’t Good Enough
Another hot take from Willoughby may clear up the need for a separate Reserved List ban list. Willoughby believes that, while Rule Zero is a safety gauge to ensure that everyone has a good play experience, it shouldn’t be an extensive conversation at the beginning of every game. An alternate Reserved List ban list can somewhat mitigate the need for an extensive Rule Zero conversation, but this seems pretty niche. Honestly, the futureproofing reasoning of keeping game pieces accessible to all players seems like a more relevant reason to have a Reserved List ban list, but this is still an interesting hot take to consider.
Communicate Game Knowledge
I, generally, am a combo player. I like finding weird synergies that do bizarre things you would not expect, even though some don’t necessarily result in a kill. This take from Willoughby is already a house rule in many of the pods I engage with. If you want to play a combo deck, let your opponents know when you can and will go for the win. This prevents situations created by a lack of game knowledge at the table. In a competitive game of Magic, it is absolutely the right of the player to know the opponent’s win conditions. Still, if we’re focusing on the gameplay experience, it’s better to let players know when the game may end out of nowhere and allow them to stop it.