“How Not to Get Punched” or EDH Etiquette

This Week in Popculture’s Cube: “How Not to Get Punched”

Savage PunchHere at The MTGYou, we recently got a question from a loyal listener asking if there is any particular etiquette involved in playing Commander/EDH – that is, any unwritten rules outside of those printed in the foldout “How-To-Play” document that comes with your standard pre-constructed EDH deck these days.

Indeed, there are a lot of unwritten rules concerning Commander/EDH. And, herewith, are the ones that I tend to think are most important.

1. Don’t Cheat
This should go without saying. But since there seems to be an endless stream of idiots who, apparently, think it’d be cool to be caught breaking the rules while playing on live-streaming Magic tourneys the world over, it sadly must be said. So, here goes: Don’t cheat. You’ve been warned. Cheatery can make you subject to tarring, feathering, severe chastisement, or being run out of town on a rail.

2. Avoid the Quick Kill
This can be difficult depending on what commander and strategy you’ve picked but, in a highly social, multiplayer format like EDH, it is often considered gauche to knock off your opponents too early in the game. This usually happens with big-time aggro strategies with commanders like Kresh the Bloodbraided or Omnath, Locus of Mana. It’s best to hold back a bit and allow the other players to actually play their decks before destroying them.

3. No “Power Nine”
Just don’t. No Moxes, no Black Lotuses, etc., etc., etc. Even if they’re proxies. Yes, they look cool in your deck and cause other players to “Ooh” and “Aah.” But they also make you look like a power-mad tyrant of blood. Avoid being a blood-tyrant if at all possible.

4. Know Your Group
Playgroups in EDH are perhaps the most variable out there – their policies are based on what works best for particular players and have usually been time-tested and approved by Inspector 21. Do they allow particular cards in the EDH Ban List to be used? Do the disallow certain commanders or cards that are otherwise legal? Do they utilize other “house rules” (such as Scry 2 prior to a mulligan)? Find out, lest ye be judged.

5. Consider Ban List Cards to Be Banned
…unless they aren’t. I’ve played with folks who essentially ignored ban lists and played whatever they want. I’ve played with others who consider Ban Lists largely gospel. Mostly I’ve found that folks are pretty easygoing when it comes to “banned cards” – for instance, in my mono-green EDH, I’ve put in both Sylvan Primordial and Primeval Titan after consultation with the group. Next up: trying to convince them that letting me put in a Griselbrand in a BW deck is OK.

6. Board Wipes and Land Destruction?
Some folks find board wipes to be unfair, believe it or not. And often land destruction can be looked upon as just this side of a capital offense, especially if a deck depends on a particular non-basic land. Use then sparingly.

2 thoughts on ““How Not to Get Punched” or EDH Etiquette”

  1. You forgot…
    If you’re going to combo off, make it quick. Your friends probably don’t want to sit around and watch you play a game with yourself. Trust me…I know.

  2. My and my friends have a unique way of playing EDH/Commander. If it was printed, its allowed. This makes for some chaotic games, and sometimes means people tweak their decks to specifically take down other decks. I actually built a deck specifically around unglued and unhinged cards for a great crazy game.


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