Commander is a unique format for Magic: The Gathering in that it requires interaction beyond the cards on the battlefield. With three opponents instead of one, working out alliances, scheming, battle plans, and betrayal all come into the fold. If you’ve ever wondered how you can improve your political muscle to better navigate the talky talky involved in every game of commander, read on. These tips are sure to make you a better commander player and won’t, in any way shape or form, prevent you from getting invited back to play week after week. Probably.
Roleplay as the creature your opponents are intending to kill. Really sell the performance.
Cards on the battlefield are just that … cardboard rectangles. Mere representations of something more: an artifact, enchantment, land, or most often, a creature. Perhaps that creature is vital to your game plan and, with no other way to prevent its demise, you may be able to use your newfound political prowess to prevent that creature’s death by giving it a voice, and reminding your opponent that this isn’t just a card they’re murdering, but a living, breathing, thing.
Here are a few tips.
Say the creature’s name repeatedly. Create your character’s motivation, background, or lifestyle. Remind everyone that this sentient creature has a family. Perhaps your opponent would think twice before smiting your dinosaur if they knew it had children or an elderly relative dependent on them. Get up from the table monologue from that creature’s perspective. Really sell it. White pepper can help with tears.
Use cute terms like “Dammie” instead of damage, “Booping” instead of attacking.
Words can mean more than the literal definitions they carry. Tone and context can easily turn innocuous words into something harmful. Additionally, certain words, regardless of your delivery, carry subconscious weight, that may have an impact on your place in the commander political sphere.
Almost all of terms in commander are very aggressive. Kill, attack, exile, wipe, and counter all sound very harsh. If you want to appear friendlier, and thus less of a threat start using words with a cute, yet positive twist. Instead of swinging at your opponent, you’re “booping them”. Yeah, you may be exiling that bomb, but your opponent is going to be a little less salty when you say “they’re going on a time-out”. Finally, the dreaded commander damage feels a lot less hurtful if they’re “commander kisses.”
Get creative! The cuter you can make your plays sound the better chance the nausea you induce will distract your opponents into a misplay.
Don’t barter with handjobs unless you’re positive no one else in the pod is better at giving them.
This is something we learned the hard way. Sometimes when you have nothing else available to barter with, the promise of an old fashioned might be just the trick. However, one thing that you may not have considered is that this offer can be easily outbid by someone who might have more experience handling those tools than you.
If you decide to whip out that bartering chip be sure that no one is able to top you. Get some practice in before pivotal games to be sure no one can trump the ace up your sleeve.