Another Friday means another issue of What You've Been Playing here at Dicebreaker. We’ve had plenty of chances to sink our teeth into some tabletop games - and chocolate eggs - over the Easter weekend, so there’s lots to talk about.
There is most definitely a running theme in this week’s edition of What You've Been Playing, with the entire team sharing their experiences playing trading card game format Magic: The Gathering - Commander. What’s even more special is that everyone who contributed to this article is writing about the same game of Magic: The Gathering, as we were able to play together, in the same room!
With our US-based freelance writer Chase currently in the UK, there will hopefully be even more opportunities for the full Dicebreaker crew to play together - meaning more editions of What You've Been Playing like this one.
If you’ve also been playing Magic: The Gathering - Commander, or even anything else tabletop, let us know in the comments below or tweet us @joindicebreaker.
What You've Been Playing - April 14th 2023
Magic: The Gathering - Commander
Magic: The Gathering is not something I’ve played much of, largely because it takes a fair amount of time to learn how its vast number of gameplay mechanics work. However, the arrival of our freelancer writer Chase - and his sizable collection of Magic: The Gathering Commander decks - provided the perfect opportunity to get stuck into the trading card game.
Commander is an alternate gameplay mode of Magic: The Gathering that sees players using a deck of 100 cards, alongside a leader card, to defeat their opponent/s. Commander decks should be built around their leader cards, with matching land types and cards that work well with their abilities. Another highly unique aspect of Commander decks is the fact that they have a maximum card limit for their decks, unlike standard Magic: The Gathering decks - which means that players will need to think carefully about which ones to include.
The deck that was bestowed on me by Chase was a green and black deck whose leader was a legendary fungus creature who specialised in producing Saprolings, small token creatures. Other cards featured in the deck included cards that enable players to enchant other creatures, summon additional Saprolings, grant card draw whenever a creature died and buff existing creatures with shared typings.
This combination of cards made for a relatively uncomplicated deck that could still very much pack a punch, mainly by allowing the player to spawn many smaller creatures who could be buffed into significantly more dangerous ones.
The other decks in play were themed around dungeon-delving, treasure collection and pirates, with each deck offering its own unique approach to the Commander format. As someone who doesn’t have much experience or knowledge in Magic: The Gathering, it was extremely convenient to have a deck already made for me - thanks Chase! - and exciting to see all the other decks in motion.
Perhaps I’ll play some more Magic: The Gathering - Commander in the future!
Magic: The Gathering - Commander PART 2
I have played a lot of Magic: The Gathering, but outside of a match of Brawl or two (the weird commander-esque spin off on Arena), I’ve pretty much never tried Commander! After a quick draft Commander game over lunch with the aforementioned Texan freelancer, Chase, I immediately started rummaging through our pile of Magic cards in the office attempting to create something.
It’s big, it’s unwieldy, and it’s full of treasure and dragons, but it’s mine! And as someone who’s largely played all of his Magic: The Gathering online, mostly because I got into the hobby during lockdown, it felt cool as hell to finally build an honest to goodness deck in real life. Chase has fully given us all the bug, so expect to see me talking about Commander on Dicebreaker’s YouTube channel very soon.
Magic: The Gathering - Commander Finale
Hi, it’s me - the Texas freelancer who has inadvertently plagued the Dicebreaker offices with a serious case of Commander-itis. My, it sure is a lucky thing I brought all of my precious decks with so that the entire time, some of whom are new but eager Magic: The Gathering players, can get a taste of Kitchen Table Magic at its finest.
As Wheels and Alex have stated above, MTG can be an unwieldy game by virtue of its vast, vast body of rules, and Commander gives players access to very nearly the whole shebang. That staggering design possibility space can intimidate most players who are likely just looking to shuffle up and play with their friends. That’s why my already constructed decks - and more broadly the preconstructed ones sold by Wizards of the Coast - create a much easier onramp into the format.
It was both hilarious and gratifying to watch the team immediately glom onto Commander’s inherent politicking and temporary alliances, oohing and ahhing at each new bomb or successful combo. It reminded me why this format has been my favourite for bringing friends together, even if only for the space of a lunch break.