Let’s Discuss EDH: Adapting Your Deck For Your Playgroup

Something often discussed in EDH is the notion of playing competitively VS casually. While that does play a roll into adapting your deck for a play group, we are not going to extensively discuss that idea in this article, if you want to read more about that, please check out our other article: Let’s Discuss EDH: Competitive vs Casual.

Anyways, as discussed in Competitive vs Casual, the main issue that befalls EDH is when there is a commander group where players are all playing different powers of decks. Often times that leaves the players playing weaker decks feeling like the other person is being too oppressive, and sometimes it leads the person playing the more powerful deck to not have much fun because their opponents provide no challenge. Basically in an EDH pod it is important to all be playing decks of relatively similar power levels, or at least be playing decks that can answer each other sufficiently. So today we are going to discuss how you can adjust your decks power level to fit with your playgroup.

While this seems like a fairly easy task, it can actually become quite tricky to balance a deck properly, and sometimes if you play a tier one strategy you may have to change your entire deck’s construction to make it fair to other players. Now without further ado, let’s get into the different types of situations you could find yourself in, and explain what you could possibly do in each one to make everything fair for everyone.

Your deck is way more powerful than everyone else’s decks

If you find yourself playing a deck that is way more powerful than everyone else’s decks, it may not always be an issue for you. However, consider how it makes your group feel to always play against the same broken deck, it’s just not considerate to play a vastly more powerful deck against a group of people that would rather just play EDH for fun.  First consider what combos are in your deck, are they incredibly oppressive? Very fast? What about your deck makes it so hard for your group to deal with? By figuring out this, you may even be able to play the same combo or win condition and just simply take out the parts of it that make it unfair for your group.

For example if the only issue is that your deck is just simply to fast for people to deal with, then take out the acceleration. You could even leave in the same combo’s and win conditions and make it vastly more fair by taking out what makes it so fast.

Now if you find that the actual combo itself is something that your group just can’t deal with, it might be a better option to just take out the combo entirely and find either a less powerful combo, or a slower way to play.

If you are playing a very powerful stax deck, then it might be a good idea to take out a lot of the land destruction effects, and more oppressive things. Instead opting to play a more fair pillow fort oriented deck which would give a less powerful meta a better chance against it.

By no means do you need to completely destroy your list, and in most cases you can continue to play the deck you like. But just find the things that your group can’t deal with and work on ways to make it fair for them to play against.

Your deck is way weaker than everyone else’s decks

If your deck is weaker than everyone else’s deck you don’t necessarily have to alter the entire list. Sometimes you can incrementally add more powerful cards that specifically target their strategies in order to balance everything out. In this case don’t play into your opponents, build your deck to make them play into you and bring them to your level. Usually this will involve adding more pillow fort and stax type cards to your list, including Defense Grid, Null Rod and Crawlspace.

There is a catch however… This won’t always work with every deck, some commander lists are just too tight to alter into a more controlling deck. In this case it is best to start exploring your decks weaknesses, and your opponents strengths. Figure out the answers to questions such as: What is making my deck lose against the meta? Why are my opponents decks so powerful? What are the weaknesses to those powers? What can I do to my deck to bring its power level up?

By answering questions like that you should be able to get a fairly good idea of exactly how to change your list to keep up with the powerful decks the rest of your group has opted to play.

Or you could always just ask your group if they wanted to start a more casual league as well, which would give everyone a chance to just play more casual and laid back games of EDH.

Your friends deck is way more powerful or weaker than everyone else’s decks

The same concepts discussed above apply to this situation as well. However you can do things yourself to lower or raise your decks power level to accommodate. If your friend doesn’t do anything about it, but also doesn’t look like he/she is having much fun, then maybe bring up the issue to your entire play group and say that it might be good to do something about the vastly different power levels in your group.

Your EDH group is skewed half and half, some of the decks are way to over powered and win every game while the other decks just struggle along.

If this is the case then everyone in your group is probably going to have to alter their lists. In this situation it is best to just have a heart to heart conversation with your play group and say “guys we need to balance everything out, it’s just not fun when everyone is playing such vastly different powered decks.” Usually everyone will be willing to at least in some way change how they play a little bit to accommodate for everyone. Basically just work together as a group to make a more fair meta, and decide if a specific combo or strategy is way to powerful for your group.

In no way are we saying that you can’t play the decks you want to play, but we are saying that you should just be considerate of other players wishes when playing EDH. It’s no fun for anyone to play against a deck that they have no chance against, and visa-versa. Just be mindful of what other people in your group are playing, and if you really must play a specific strategy, then talk to your group about it and see if they maybe would be willing to make multiple EDH decks of varying power levels so that everyone at least sometimes gets to play whatever they want to. Not to mention trying to up a decks power level, or lower it while still keeping it functional can be a really fun challenge for those who like to do deck brewing and building.

I hope this article was helpful in some way to you! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns feel free to leave them in the section below.

And as always, happy gaming!



Sylvan Studies Team
- A swords a day keeps the goyfs away.

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