I love role-playing games, and one thing I’ve found myself doing a lot lately is watch other people play these games. It all began with the Acquisitions Inc. podcast and then the irregular live shows, and now I regularly watch Critical Role, have since the first campaign.
Back in August 2017, I backed this product on Kickstarter as an early birthday present, under the impression it would’ve come in time for December that same year. A handful of delays with design and printing eventually led the EU fulfilment to happen this September.
Was it worth the wait?
What is Commander?
Commander is one of the most popular formats for Magic the Gathering and, like most good things in Magic, it started because of bored judges.
That’s not entirely true, but it’s an amusing thought.
Commander – or Elder Dragon Highlander, named after the early ‘Commanders’ being creatures with the “Elder Dragon” type – is a format thought up of within the Magic community. It quickly spread to being played by judges after officiating a Grand Prix or Pro Tour, which soon spread to staff at Wizards of the Coast (WotC) themselves.
Despite this popularity, official Commander pre-built products weren’t created until 2011, and it wasn’t until 2013 where these pre-built decks became an annual fixture in the release schedule.
How is Commander played?
Commander follows specific deck building rules compared to regular constructed play:
- Your deck must have a Commander/General, which has to be a Legendary Creature (2 Legendary Creatures if both cards have the “Partner” ability) or a Planeswalker containing the specific line of text “*this Planeswalker* can be your commander”
- All the cards in your deck must be within the colour identity of the Commander (colour identity is determined by the colours in the card’s mana cost and rules text)
- The deck can only have one copy of each card (besides basic lands)
- The deck must be 100 cards total, which includes your Commander card(s)
- The only non-specific rule is that cards from all of Magic’s history can be used, aside from the ban list
Commander is traditionally a multiplayer format, with games between 3-4 people, though 1v1 Commander is popular in some circles. Players start on 40 life (30 for 1v1 games) and if a player is dealt 21 damage by a single commander, they lose automatically.
The commander card(s) themselves are kept in a separate zone of play called the “command zone”, which can be cast anytime you could cast a creature. Each time a commander is cast from this zone, the next time it is cast from the command zone it costs 2 colourless mana more (an effect often referred to as “commander tax”.)
Why do I like Commander?
I started playing Magic seriously about a year ago, but never started playing constructed formats until the start of this year, where Rivals of Ixalan ignited my passion for Standard Merfolk and Commander Dinosaurs. Due to time and motivation the Commander deck didn’t get taken out that much and was eventually de-sleeved.
However, a few months passed. I had grown tired of Standard and had more cards at my disposal with which to build a deck (thanks past Murray!). So I invested in some Eclipse sleeves with which to start this project, and my Dinosaur deck was revived alongside a completely new creation, taking after my Standard deck: the Axolotl Paradox (named after a card which I didn’t have at time of construction).
Playing with these decks with friends and at my Local Game Shop (LGS) managed to revitalise my spirit for playing Magic, as well as igniting my spark for wanting to build for Commander more often. I have kept a full list of deck ideas hidden amongst .txt files on my laptop and my brain seeing cards thinking “That could work really well in Muldrotha/Asmadi/Shu Yun”
I will admit as well…
I kinda like playing politics in Commander?
A large aspect of a multiplayer format, like Commander, is being able to make deals/pacts with people in exchange for immunity from effects, or attacks. This can sometimes draw scathing looks from the rest of table if you side with someone already in a good position.
Personally, I like making a deal with someone not to attack them… and then just cast burn spells and removal on them! Because that’s not attacking them, I never said anything about casting stuff.
How easy is it to get into Commander?
As mentioned in the intro paragraph, WoTC offer pre-constructed commander decks on a yearly basis. Debates about quality aside, these are the easiest way to get into the format. Just unbox, sleeve, shuffle and you’re ready to go.
If you’re a pre-existing Magic player, it’s likely you already have the components to build a pretty good deck, so you could go down the pre-built route, or you could make your own custom creation.
Struggling to make choices? EDHREC has your back. In my opinion this is the best resource for anything relating to Commander, from card choices to theme ideas and in some cases finding out about cards you never realised existed, but would be perfect for your deck.
If your LGS has singles for sale and a Commander community, go pay a visit. Not only will you be doing an important service by supporting the store, you’re also going to find out more about potential deck ideas, possibly from someone who plays a similar deck to your concept.
A huge thanks to Murray for his contribution today – And if you’re a fan of EDH/Commander, or if you’d like to share your experiences, then let us know in the comments. Are you a fan of the format, or do you prefer a different Magic format? Share yur thoughts and opinions below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.
In the midst of the Steam January sale, I spotted a gem that I’d been keeping my eye on, waiting for the day it hit the sale rack. Planet Coaster is an exciting, roller coaster/theme park simulation game. I had been dithering over whether to buy it or not, I absolutely loved Theme Park back in the day, so this was exciting to say the least.
Cosplay has been a passion area in my life for quite some time, from gushing over cosplay pictures online to meeting cosplayers at conventions and expressing my compliments to them in person.
Before this experience; I had only done one cosplay. A Team Magma Grunt from Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire & Emerald. A fairly simple design with minimal bells and whistles attached. So, the next phase from this is obviously going for a busty gyaru type character, right?
Join me in this adventure of new experiences, mildly annoying struggles, and pant-soiling excitement – as I put together a cosplay of Junko Enoshima from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Twitch.tv; the name evokes the image of men and women sitting in front of their screen playing video games for their audience. Yet since last year, when people decided they would spend a night watching a man compose and play melodies on his piano, or even a weekend reliving the magic that was Bob Ross, the “Creative” tag for streams has been growing in popularity.
The continuation of our guest post from Ed Brown of last week which has had to be split into two parts, in which Ed explores Marvels major story-arc, the Secret Empire. We left mid-discussion about Captain America switching sides to H.Y.D.R.A and the fact that it put a lot of people off…
You’re a man with a shield, enhanced strength and agility, and some of your friends can fly real fast, have strength vastly surpassing your own, and have a nasty tendency to do things like beating Tony Stark into a coma while walking away completely scot-free. While he’s wearing Hulkbuster armour. Yeah. That happened.
So of course, you need a plan. And at the very start of Secret Empire, you get to see one exceptionally hastily constructed plot point that freezes New York and its population of crimefighters out of the equation, and one more carefully developed plot point that walls of Earth from outside influence while most of the galactic-powered characters are up in space. Inhumans are corralled into a prison in their own ‘city’ of New Attilan, and Mutants are expelled from the USA and forced into an independent province on the west coast. There’s more to all of that, which was explained in individual books, but the set-up, in all honesty, was compelling. (more…)
The title does seem a bit generic, so I’ll clarify.
When I’m talking about a ‘multiplayer (with friends)’ game, I’m talking about a game that can be played as a single player game quite easily — It’s designed in such a way that one person can progress normally. But the design is also in place to make the experience infinitely enhanced with the addition of your friends playing with you, either as allies, enemies or neutral parties (Read: Potential backstabbers).
So how about starting with a game where a friend can go through all three of those positions?
Sid Meier’s Civilization V (or Civ 5 for short) is a 4X strategy game1 where the end goal is “to build a civilisation that will stand the test of time”. You do this through various means — Researching new technology, developing your culture to build social policies and, when it comes to it, nuking the ever loving hell out of anyone who wrongs you.
Playing Civ 5 with friends is an interesting experience, to say the least. You can act amicable at first, sharing embassies, helping each other out through simple trade and maybe killing some barbarians, with the threats being only very vague and passive-aggressive in nature…
…then you’ve declared war on every AI player and your friend, just so you can say you’re at war with everyone.
Those are just the two far points of the spectrum of evil deeds during multiplayer in Civ 5 — You’ve also got imposing taxes on your friends to use your borders, or giving salt after a brutal war to, well, rub salt in the wound and — possibly the most brutal act your friends can commit — of nuking your capital city into the dirt when you’re playing as Venice, so that the only city you have left standing is a little city state that has nothing in it.
Salty? Me? No.
As much as I’d like to ramble on about when you get backstabbed by an ally, even during all-out war, I still have this element of joy flowing through me. Thinking about what move my friend will make next; what soldiers may be coming out from behind the frontlines; are the frontlines just a ploy to distract me? Combining that with all the previously mentioned elements, Civ 5 is a multiplayer game that can consume literal hours with a group of good people.
And now, to give my editor flashbacks.
Ahh… only a few people are going to get that, and that makes me happy.
Terraria should be familiar to quite a few people reading this, due to its similarities to Minecraft and how both games shared a good amount of popularity during 2011.
The advantages of Terraria come in the form of more of a set structure, with more armour tiers to advance through, biomes becoming harder as the game progresses and an incredibly diverse selection of boss fights.
As someone who has spent a small time…
…playing Terraria, I can vouch that the game has a veritable gold mine of possibilities for multiplayer.
Of course you can progress normally by gathering materials and building a large castle, all to slowly carve your way up to the Moon Lord, the Cthulhu inspired final boss.
However there are also options for PvP modes, with plenty of maps available online to download for these purposes, alongside inventory/character editors so all your friends are as powerful as each other, regardless of whether you use a mage, fighter or ranger build.
A random game to play in multiplayer that I made up involves mining. You get a Spelunker Potion (which reveals ores and treasures with a glow for a brief time), a Teleportation Potion (which teleports the player character randomly once around the map) and a high level pickaxe/drill.
The objective? Mine as much as you can before the Spelunker potion runs out. The person with the most ores and treasure wins. Simple, yet surprisingly competitive.
With the previous two games, the amount of players in a single session can go up to sixteen and even higher. The next game is a bit smaller by contrast, on a scale as grand as the starry sky.
Being one of the more obscure multiplayer titles to pick, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky, is a JRPG developed by Level-5 and released for the Nintendo DS. The game follows the classic four person party composed of different classes with different abilities, going through a large open world completing quests, delving into dungeons and battling giant spear wielding cucumbers.
The difference here is that the four-person party doesn’t have to be party members recruited at a tavern. They can be your friends in local multiplayer (recruiting these at a tavern is optional).
DQ:IX handled multiplayer through a drop-in, drop-out system. In the main hub tavern of the game, there is a portal which you use to start connection with nearby DS systems, either opening your world to other players or trying to find the world of your friends.
This system is downright amazing — and honestly I believe it’s the best way to play the game, even during the campaign.
Sure, it is possible to soft sequence break your own world, by going into a friends world with more towns open and buying the better equipment there.
But that ignores how ridiculously fun and satisfying it can get exploring the world as an actual party; the conversation you share in real life being the snarky comments actual adventurers would have in the face of monsters.
Martial Artist, Armamentalist, Luminary and a healer character from that persons own party made up my band of adventurers, meeting up on the weekends to take on the harder bosses…
…only to take up a lot of turn time using an attack with a pointlessly long animation, which, at the end of the day, didn’t even do that much better damage than a regular attack.
That’s been my summary of a few multiplayer games I’ve enjoyed over my life. I’ll admit, I don’t play these with other people much these days, so a lot of my thoughts and ideas are from pure memory.
But that’s the point of playing games with your friends; creating the memories that last.
Be it sitting in a living room, making sure not to move too far away so the DS infrared connection doesn’t break, sitting in bed as suggesting Terraria as a game night idea goes horribly wrong, even to the people who prefer tabletop, gathered round a table playing Magic and D&D for hours on end.
We’re all geeks here, building a community around these sorts of things is why we’re here.
Thanks for reading, this was a good article to write because it reminded me of a lot of good times in my life, if you’re one of those people who I shared that time with, thank you. Got any multiplayer stories you’d like to tell? Or maybe you’ve got a game in mind which is just perfect for this kind of multiplayer? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.
A small disclaimer before I start this review. I don’t have a huge beast of a machine, in fact I awkwardly run a Mac and an old(ish) one at that. It has an Intel HD 3000 video card built in and is definitely not built for running intensive games. Saying that, I was quite surprised at Dungeons II and how it ran, of course I had to turn everything down to low but it ran. First of all some vital statistics.