There are lots of different playstyles in Commander that invoke ire. Control doesn’t often go down well. Combo, despite being common, can be loathed if it’s too consistent, and Stax is likely to get you yeeted from your playgroup.
However, there is one playstyle, in particular, that one-ups all of these most of the time. One single way of playing EDH that is so morally bankrupt and ethically repugnant, that only the truly abhorrent delve into it. We are, of course, talking about land destruction.
What is land destruction in Commander?
Land destruction isn’t specific to Commander, not at all, but it’s one of the places where it’s most abhorrent as the games tend to go on for a long time anyway. It’s a way of playing that aims to simply destroy lands, and therefore restrict mana. You can think of it as a variant of Stax, but one that’s incredibly aggressive, and somehow more aggravating.
Losing your land is akin to being sent back in time in EDH. You’re suddenly left with a bunch of cards in your hand you can’t cast, you’re unlikely to have the same percentage of lands in your deck due to ramp, and you’ve got one player sat there smugly just grinning or laughing like a fool. It’s intensely grating, and if you’ve not come across it yet, then we’re sorry to inform you that it’ll happen eventually.
Now, despite this being an annoying strategy, it does come in two distinct flavors, and generally speaking, we prefer one to the other. It might seem odd to make a distinction between the two, but few things in life are inherently evil, so it’s important to look at how it’s being used to determine whether or not it’s good or bad.
Is land destruction in Commander good or bad?
Let’s break this down. Land destruction can be for two reasons. The first is to specifically deny your opponents the resources they need to carry off their game plan, and it’s designed to make it harder for them to play, and therefore easier for you to win. It is, as a result, often used in decks where you’ll be using a lot of mana rocks, or you have some other plan to still allow you to make the most of your spells. This is the good version of land destruction. It’s still annoying, sure, but it has a purpose.
The other version of land destruction is the one that’s pure evil. The other version is never targeted, and instead focuses on wiping everyone’s land out. However, while the first iteration has a game plan built around this, this one doesn’t.
Instead, the aim with this style of play isn’t to win, but to annoy everyone and keep the game going. There’s no plan beyond that. Any strategy that causes this level of disruption without intending to win, and ideally very quickly, simply elongates the game. With some EDH games comfortable lasting over an hour, and that’s us being conservative, this style of play sucks. So, there you have it. There is both good and evil in land destruction, though we still kind of hate both.
Read More: Commander Challenge – Doom Foretold