Embracing The Chaos – Meet The Committee

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Thursday, November 26th – It started as a tiny little format in a small community in the largest state in the union, and now we’re in the Comp Rules. Since all but one of us were in Rome for the World Championships (a bit of serendipity, certainly unplanned), it occurred to me that you might like to meet some of the folks that are the caretakers of your favorite format.

It started as a tiny little format in a small community in the largest state in the union, and now we’re in the Comp Rules. Since all but one of us were in Rome for the World Championships (a bit of serendipity, certainly unplanned), it occurred to me that you might like to meet some of the folks that are the caretakers of your favorite format.

The story of EDH isn’t particularly long. It was invented in its original form by Adam Staley, one of the folks who used to hang out with our group in Anchorage, Alaska. In addition to playing Magic every Friday night and having an RPG group on Sunday, we would all pile over to “The Place to Be,” the apartment of Alaska Magic’s first couple David Phifer and Ariel Jones. That’s where I first saw it.

It wasn’t much, I must confess. Five folks had Elder Dragons as their Generals, each player started the game with 200 life divided by the number of players in the game, and even basic land was singleton. There were no other rules save for the 21 General damage.

At first I was a little ambivalent about the format, but then I saw what kind of fun the gang was having, so I became interested. I watched a bit, and I realized that with a little tweaking, this format could be something. I suggest a few banned cards, and we were off to the races. The little group expanded some, but it was still nothing other than an occasional Monday night diversion at TPTB, in between painting minis and Risk 2210.

When I moved to Virginia in 2003, I hooked up with a local group of casual Magic players and introduced to them the format. We started playing all the time. I wrote an article about it on this very site in August in 2004, complete with a “build a Lord of Tresserhorn deck” contest (the guy that won had Hivis of the Scale in his deck!). When I brought it to the Pro Tour judges, it was like tossing a match in a gas can, and here we are today.

The fire was burning brightly sometime in 2005 when L3 Gavin Duggan suggested a website. I actually remember few of the details about its generation and maintenance. I know that it’s been hosted and maintained by Canadian Darren Gamble (TigTigger on the forums) for many years, so he’s the first person I’d like to profile.

NAME: Darren Gamble
AGE: 33
OCCUPATION: System Architect
BORN IN: Fairview, Alberta, Canada
LIVES IN: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Darren added that the lifetime achievement award for Uncoolest Card Lost To is Mindslaver. He said he used to really like it for some of the fun stories it generated, but it’s just gotten old.

Originally, the Rules Committee, such that it was, was me, Gavin, and L3 judge Duncan McGregor. Duncan got busy, and we eventually added forum regular Alex Kenny to replace him, then L5 Judge Toby Elliott, L4 Judge Kevin Desprez, and most recently DCI Tournament Manager Scott Larabee. We meet quarterly to discuss the health of the format and decide on bannings, releasing updates for the 20th of the month. We used to maintain a Watch List, but it seemed like too much administration without a great payoff. Of the RC, Kevin is definitely the Spike, and Toby considers himself the most Timmy. That said, it was Toby who introduced us to the brokenness that is Vicious Shadows. The rest of us are somewhere in the middle, leaning toward the Timmy side.

Here are the current Rules Committee members:

NAME: Sheldon Menery
AGE: 48
OCCUPATION: Trophy Husband
SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Gretchyn, an aerospace engineer (married 4 years)
BORN IN: Fort Meade, Maryland, USA
LIVES IN: Tampa, Florida, USA
COOLEST CARD LOST TO RECENTLY: Tie between Leyline of Singularity and Sparkmage Apprentice. There’s actually one of the latter running around my local playgroup inscribed with “I KILL L5s!”

I’ll eventually talk enough about myself that I don’t need to do extra here. Except to say that Living Death is the coolest Magic card ever.

NAME: Gavin Duggan
FORUM NAME: Genomancer
AGE: 32
OCCUPATION: Computational Biochemist
SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Sarah (getting married in 2010)
BORN IN: Toronto, Ontario
LIVES IN: Calgary, Alberta
FAVORITE GENERAL: Nath of the Gilt Leaf

Gavin added the following bits:

Philosophy: Social interactions are about the similarities between people. Competition is about the differences. The EDH rules try to find a balance between the two.

Role: My general role is that of arbitrator between elements of the RC, and trying to keep its competition balanced between different points of view.

If it weren’t for Gavin, we wouldn’t have had the formalized versions of the early rules sets and the web site. He remains a keen Magic mind, and one of the primary ambassadors of the format.

NAME: Alex Kenny
FORUM NAME: Anonymous
AGE: 24
SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Nope (I am too dorky (girls scare me (cooties)))
BORN IN: Ottawa, Ontario
LIVES IN: Calgary, Alberta
FAVORITE GENERAL: Stonebrow, Krosan Hero

Alex came along when Gavin and I were looking to add a sensible voice to replace Duncan’s. He’s been with us since almost the beginning. He chooses to remain anonymous on the forums, but if you pay attention, he’s one of the people always making the most sense.

NAME: Toby Elliott
AGE: 39. Gulp.
OCCUPATION: I work for Mozilla, writing code to scale our services infrastructure, particularly on the Weave project.
SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Jennifer, an IP Attorney (married 16 years)
BORN IN: A little suburb in North London
LIVES IN: Los Altos, California (a little suburb in Silicon Valley)
FAVORITE GENERAL: That’s like trying to choose a favorite child! I guess I’ll go with Ulasht. Playing the deck is pure Timmy fun.
COOLEST CARD LOST TO RECENTLY: Manabarbs. I had Bloodchief and Luminarch Ascensions go active, but I was at 4 life with the Furnace of Rath plane in play. Never got off the plane, and never managed to benefit from either!

Toby adds: I’m the Timmiest member of the RC. As I play more EDH, more and more tutors disappear from the decks. Live off the top!

Toby would be happy being a member of “Team Lives in the Red Zone. ” As mentioned, he showed us all about Vicious Shadows (and especially as it combines with Wheel of Fortune). His other favorite General is Ghost Council of Orzhov—so you can see that he really likes generating tokens and then doing stuff with them.

NAME: Kevin Desprez
AGE: 28
OCCUPATION: Secretary, Federation Francaise de Magic the Gathering
SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Claire Dupré, a L2 Magic Judge, student and artist (who has done some really cool card mods for me).
BORN IN: Rouen, Normandy, France
LIVES IN: Tours, the new capital of Mordor
FAVORITE GENERAL: Vendilion Clique

Kevin adds: I’m almost only playing 1vs1 EDH. In France, we’re running a different ban-list that fits more 1v1’s pure power.

Kevin was added to the Rules Committee to look after the interests of the 1v1 players. He often just shrugs in amusement when we ask him to play with us. He’s certainly the most accomplished player among us, with multiple PT invitations and appearances in his career.

NAME: Scott Larabee
AGE: 41
OCCUPATION: OP Program Manager, Wizards of the Coast
SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Deedee, a cosmetics consultant (married 12 years)
BORN IN: Newport Beach, CA
LIVES IN: Renton, WA
FAVORITE GENERAL: Teneb, the Harvester
COOLEST CARD LOST TO RECENTLY: “All the cards I lose to are not cool”

Scott then added this:


Scott was the first of the great proponents of the format at Wizards of the Coast. I’m reasonably sure he infected Aaron Forsythe and Lee Sharpe, to mention a few. He keeps whispering “Four-Color Legends” in Forsythe’s ear, to no avail. It was the contest-winning Lord of Tresserhorn deck that got him addicted (at PT: Atlanta 2005), and he’s been an addict ever since.

We’re all on the same page for the most part (though perhaps different areas of the page), although there’s a notable exception: the rule that prevents Bosh and Memnarch from being Generals. The vote has continued to split, and it will continue to be discussed. I can’t see any new arguments being made, which means we’ll probably maintain this state of détente for a while, perhaps until new members of the RC are elected, which may swing the balance one way or the other.

I’m itching to sling the 100-card decks, since I haven’t played in quite a while. I carried my decks with me to Worlds (and the holidays two weeks prior), and never took the opportunity to play. Managing the largest-ever staff at the largest-ever World Championships Main Event took enough of my time that I just couldn’t break away to play (although I did hear tales of insanity at the judge hotel). Armada Games’s EDH League is on break for Thanksgiving, so it looks like another week until I’ll be able to run with the big dogs. That means I have enough time to ask you all which deck I should play to make good on my promise of playing a different deck each week of the League: Merieke, Lord of Tresserhorn, or Rith. Fellow Team Lives in the Red Zone member Todd Palmer has Rith as his only deck, so if there’s a cool General in the same colors (that’s reasonable to play without changing the “Hey, look at all the tokens” nature of the deck), feel free to suggest one.

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the U.S. and to everyone else, keep Embracing the Chaos!