Course 1: What is Competitive Multiplayer EDH/Commander?

What is Competitive Multiplayer EDH/Commander?

EDH, Elder Dragon Highlander, Casual/Regular EDH, or Commander is a multiplayer format of Magic-The-Gathering that uses decks made with 99 cards and 1 legendary creature for a total 100 cards. The format was started by Sheldon Menery around 2003 and it also consists of: Promoting social games of magic, variety, epic games, fond memories, fair play, interactivity, and house rules. It's played with non-competitive decks that cater to: themes, epic lengthy games, player expression, and overall enjoyment. This is called the “Spirit of EDH” or Philosophy of Casual EDH. Now for what Competitive Multiplayer EDH Format is...

Competitive Multiplayer EDH/Commander is about playing powerful multiplayer EDH decks, commanders, and strong cards with the sole intention of winning at all costs.

So there are EDH players who enjoy powerful decks, winning at all costs, and don’t like house rules, unfair play, socialization, and other things that come with casual EDH. Both formats do use the same banned list, there was an attempt to create a separate banned list for competitive multiplayer EDH but it was later decided that they didn’t need a different banned list. So competitive multiplayer EDH players just stick with the regular banned list over at used by the other EDH players. Additionally cEDH players use the strongest cards available to them legally with the banned list and almost all of the cards aren't welcome in regular EDH games because they're too "unfair" and "unfun". Lets take Winter Orb or Wildfire for example these two cards create unfun and unfair games states, and make it easy for the "Stax" player to win the game. Powerful one sided effects like Grasp of Fate exiling opponents' nonland threats in play or Fire's Convent killing all of your opponents' creatures. These powerful multiplayer effects are frowned upon by casual EDH players. One such example is that Sylvan Primordial was banned for the fact it can destroy lands and create intense powerful card advantage; even getting 3 or more forest (includes forest dual) lands from your deck directly into play. All of these powerful cards with the exception of Sylvan Premordial are played in cEDH and Competitive Multiplayer EDH where they're used for the purpose of solely winning the game.

Breaking Common Myths about cEDH Multiplayer:

  • cEDH Multiplayer is unfun and degenerate: This isn't true first of all once you learn how to build a good deck that is capable of winning, learn good strategy, and create a strong deck you will experience winning. Winning cEDH games can be very fun, and you will also find playing powerful decks, cards, combos, and commanders to be fun as well. Of course the commanders, and decks can seem degenerate but they're actually just very powerful. Playing powerful commanders and decks is part of the fun.
  • cEDH Multiplayer decks use dumb broken and degenerate cards: Since the goal of competitive EDH decks is to win their games they must use the best strategies and the strongest cards available to them legally. This results in playing with a powerful deck. Players that aren't used to playing against competitive decks will be overwhelmed by strong cards and effective cEDH strategies. But that is part of the challenge you have to play on a equal level, play with strategy, and also play a powerful deck too. You can't just sit there and complain about the best decks in multiplayer EDH being strong or you won't ever beat them.
  • cEDH Multiplayer plays with infinite combos and instant wins that are infuriating and dumb:  Without any strategy, understanding, or a good competitive deck you will lose easily to infinite combos, and instant wins. They're a necessary part of the format and without them games would go on for many hours. People could argue why not just use other methods of winning, but the reason is that instant wins and infinite combos are the most effective way of ending multiplayer magic-the-gathering games. There are many ways to disrupt and stop infinite combos and instant wins for example: Playing removal, control, prison, and stax cards, using good strategy, playing powerful decks and winning faster than the combo are methods to deal with combos in Competitive EDH.
  • cEDH Multiplayer is just a race to see who can combo off first: This is the biggest myth first of all because not all competitive EDH decks are trying to combo first. Stax, Prison and Control decks are designed to prevent combo decks from winning and take them out of the game. These decks can also play a combo or instant win spells as well, but that is just because the cards are the most effective way to finish the game once you have control of the game. Part of the fun of playing those types of the decks is stopping combo decks from winning.

The history of the Competitive Multiplayer EDH Format:

It starts with that a small percentage of EDH players didn’t really enjoy EDH as it was, and they preferred to play EDH their way with strong decks, strategy, and trying to win at all costs. I was one of those players and I was more fascinated with what the best EDH deck would like. I believed that it would use all the strongest cards of each color in theory being Five-Colored, and probably a control deck, but of course the popular strong deck was 5 Color Angry Hermit Druid combo at the time.  There was another group of EDH players who didn’t think that multiplayer EDH should be played competitively and started 1vs1 Traditional EDH. Later the French community developed Duel Commander 1vs1, and became the first recognized competitive EDH format. So basically before 2011 some EDH players played competitively and it was gaining momentum. During this time I was still highly interested in discovering the best deck and I was just not satisfied with the hermit druid combo deck I learned about. I made my own decks and tried to make new decks. Then Nov 01, 2011 I decided I would try to make a tier list on Wizard’s Community Forums called “Top 25 Commanders EDH” by Pinhead and try to rank commanders and create discussion. This comes to be known as Competitive Multiplayer EDH’s First Tier List. Next this helps push this small crowd of EDH players more towards cEDH Multiplayer by creating discussion on the best competitive decks for multiplayer and opening up more interest in the format. From there I decided I wanted to make a Facebook Page to continue to create attention for the format and write about it that is where Top Commanders came from. Top Commanders is the first Facebook page created for Competitive Multiplayer EDH and was founded on June 8, 2012. Who started Competitive Multiplayer EDH? Well no one really, there was a small number of EDH players playing EDH competitively at the time and it just so happens that I was one of the people who created a lot of attention for the format because I enjoyed it. So no one really helped create the format, but there were people who helped it flourish and develop. Another huge contributor to Competitive EDH, and in general Multiplayer Competitive EDH is the Competitive EDH Reddit started by ShakeAndShimmy founded around 2013. He helped Competitive EDH thrive on Reddit and today it is the largest Competitive EDH reddit page. So during the creation of these pages on Facebook and Reddit Competitive Multiplayer EDH exploded during 2012-2013. Nowadays there are online tournaments, tournaments at LGS, and Commander Side Events at Pro Tours played with competitive decks. So there you have it!


Thanks for reading and also check out the next course!

Orb Institute

Written by Paramount