Q&A Time Again!

Sheldon dives deep into the mailbag this week, answering readers’ questions about Commander, the Rules Committee, the Banned List, and excellent cheese. (Actual cheeses – not Tooth and Nail with Entwine.)

Every few months, I take the time to ask for questions from the Commander fan base. Given the response I usually get, I’m going to have to consider maybe doing it a little more frequently. Let’s dive right in.

Is Prophet of Kuphrix on the Watch List?

See, right out of the gate someone is trying to trick me into admitting there’s a Watch List.

Are you completely done with the commentator duties or are they just on hold until your current academic endeavors are done?

Both, in a way, or at least one has implied the other. I’ve stepped aside so that I could pursue going back to school. By the time I’m done in late 2016 or early 2017, I will have been away from the professional game for several years. I won’t be able to just say “I’m ready to come back,” I’ll have to demonstrate that I’ve maintained the requisite expertise to be considered for one of the highly-competitive slots on the coverage team. I’d probably have to shake off the cobwebs by doing a few GPs first, leading up to the PT. For the time being, I’m officially not a member of the coverage team. We’ll see what happens down the road.

Since 80% of the EDH I play is draft now, I was curious if you ever Cube your EDH?

I have not, but I’ve thought some about it. After I’m done with the Chromatic Project, Cube is probably something I’ll attack.

The Cube format has already made an appearance in the Player’s Championship series. Will Commander ever be featured in the same way?

I’m not any longer privy to discussions about high-level organized play, but I highly doubt that Commander will make such an appearance. It would undermine the whole purpose of the format.

Do you think we’ll get four-color legends soon?

This answer will serve for all the “do you think we’ll get X?” or “Is WotC considering Y” questions. I have no idea. In the cast of four-color legends, I sure hope so.

How can I get an invite to Scott’s MTGO Commander group?

You’ll have to ask him, but I imagine that DBAD applies.

Is there a card which you wish had more functional or near functional reprints in order to combat a particular strategy? For example, ETB doesn’t really have much of an answer outside of two specific cards.

Torpor Orb, Stifle, Trickbind, Voidslime, and Humility is more than two, but I get the point. I’d like to see more cards that interact with triggered abilities — either countering them or redirecting them if they’re targeted. Reroute for triggers would be cool.

Is there a dead horse you wish players would just stop beating? In other words, is there a card or rule that’s never going to change and you wish we’d just accept it and move on?

Yes, all the rules which are foundations of the format: 100 card decks, color identity rules, commander damage, and colored mana restrictions. I think that changing any of them would rob the format of its uniqueness.

Additionally, Hermit Druid. The card is not getting banned.

Easter is coming up. What’s your favorite color jelly bean?

I’m not much of a candy fan, but Sweet Tarts has these delicious high-quality jelly beans. I particularly like the red ones.

O-dice used to be very active both here and on the Official forums but initiated radio silence once he became a RC member, and many people have expressed concern. Can you kick him off the committee so he’ll be active again?

Devon got a really exciting job opportunity that’s kept him super busy. He’s still involved in all our discussions but has for the time being had to reduce his online presence. I’m sure he’ll be back in short order.

As a Wizards employee, is Scott approached by other employees or does he suggest ideas to other employees about things that he’d like to see in Commander? Do designers ever show him card designs to get his opinion on the potential impact?

Yes. If you go back to the RC Half Moon Table articles from a few weeks back, he talks about it a bit (Part 1 and Part 2)

How much interaction do you have with Wizards regarding EDH anymore in general? Do they ever playtest new EDH format cards with you?

Not much. They occasionally ask our opinions on directions they might want to head and potential land mines.

What is your opinion on the increasing amount of cards that interact with the Command Zone? Do you like the trend or think that interaction with Command Zone should be kept to a minimum?

I love it. I wouldn’t want it overdone, but I think there’s some interesting design space there.

Have you listened to the new Numero Group comp, Darkscorch Canticles, yet? It’s perfect for EDH and D&D.

I have. It’s awesomely ’70s. Put me in mind of Led Zeppelin meets Creem meets Kraftwerk meets Genesis (before Phil Collins started singing and they started sucking).

If you could choose to make one creature legendary or make an entirely new legendary creature what would it be? Why?

The Nephilim. If I had to pick one, you’d think it’d be Yore-Tiller Nephilim, but I’d actually take Dune-Brood Nephilim because it makes Sand creatures.

Other than Scott, do you guys give Wizards any feedback on the Commander Products in the development phase?

They’ll ping us every now and again to get our thoughts on something. The last one I remember is the new legendary rule and how it might impact the format.

Are you happy about the health of the format as a whole right now? If not what is wrong, and what would you do to fix it?

I’m particularly happy with the health of the format. As we discussed in the aforementioned Half Moon Table, ramp is of some concern, but if the end is just big, splashy stuff and not miserable game states, then we’re happy. At the moment I don’t see any troubling cards or disturbing trends. Yes, there are some decks that kind of suck, but I think they’re fringe cases.

What do you think the format needs? Everyone has their frustrations about cards and combos, such as with Sylvan Primorial. What are your frustrations with EDH/Commander?

I currently don’t really have any. There are plenty of cards that I’m bored with (most of the stuff that goes into goodstuff.dek), but that’s just from wanting to see new, fresh ideas.

Do you think we ever see a colorless basic land (Barry’s Land) in a future Commander-only product ?

Absolutely no clue. Like I said, I’m nearly completely out of the loop these days (and back when I was important, I was still only tangentially aware of stuff in the design and development phases).

What’s your favorite type of cheese? Part of me sees you as a sharp stinky cheese guy, but I’m betting it’s the softer gooey ones that win you over most often.

Hard, aged cheesed. Parmigiano reggiano is the undisputed King of All Cheeses. Five-Year Aged Gouda and Gouda Robusto have a special place in my heart. I’ve kind of lost my taste for softer cheeses (like brie and cambazola). I’ll have a bite or two of them occasionally, but mostly it’s cheese with crystals in it for me.

As a judge and magic veteran you have quite literally seen it all. Out of all the games you have under your belt what is the absolute coolest, most satisfying way you have ever LOST a game?

Anthony, one of our Armada regulars, once killed me out of nowhere with Commander damage —from Riku. Riku attacked as a 2/2. He cast Mercadia’s Downfall and copied it. Boom, dead. It was awesome.

Tell me all your thoughts on gods.

I assume you’re still talking Magic and not philosophy. I like the idea of gods. They’re difficult to deal with, so they cause players to think differently about the format. I’m all for that.

In my playgroup, while we haven’t banned any cards that weren’t already on the official ban list, there are certain strategies that we simply acknowledge shouldn’t be played more than once in a blue moon, such as mass land destruction and prison decks. Are there any such strategies in your metagame that are generally discouraged even if not explicitly forbidden?

Only hyper-fast combo and MLD. They’ll both get you negative points in the League (as will taking too many turns in a row and drawing more than 10 cards in a turn cycle).

On average, how many decks do you generally have built and ready to go?

I currently have 28. I won’t be taking them apart any time soon. When the Chromatic Project is done, I’ll be at 32, because I’m definitely building Roon of the Hidden Realm even though I already have a Bant deck.

The Rules Committee designs the ban list with social play as the predominant consideration, sometimes to the chagrin of more competitive players. Do you believe that competitive multiplayer Commander has a place, and has the RC ever toyed around with the idea of designing a more competitive-focused list?

Yes, competitive multiplayer has a place (although I think it’s tucked away in a corner of the format’s fan base). No, we have not — and likely will not — consider a more competitively-focused list.

How do you think Mike Mangini has worked out so far in Dream Theater as a replacement for Mike Portnoy? Would you have chosen one of the other drummers that Dream Theater scouted as a replacement?

Mike Mangini is the only guy not named Neil Peart that could have replaced Portnoy. I was skeptical beforehand, but after listening to the two albums with him, I’m super-impressed. I wonder if even Portnoy could play the intro riff to “The Enemy Inside.” By the way, I think that song sounds like it could be a Metallica song, with the obvious caveat that there’s no way Lars Ulrich could approach what Mangini does.

Do you yourself play any musical instruments? If so, how would you describe your skill level?

I play the piano and keyboards. I would describe my skill level as “rank amateur.”

Recently it has felt like making multicolored cards has become more of the norm mostly in part due to what blocks we have been in. How do you feel the increase in multicolored spells has impacted the game as a whole and the feel of these cards?

I like them. I think multicolored spells are a way of fooling around a little with the color pie without breaking it.

Are there any cards you like unbanned for purely selfish reasons?

Not especially. Maybe Time Walk, since it was the rare in the first pack I ever opened.

Dogs or cats?

I love dogs; I love cats even more. My wife, when she’s not doing rocket science things for work, runs the largest cat rescue in the county and has helped cut the euthanasia numbers from over 35,000 in 2010 to around 10,000 last year. We have five of our own: Dasher, Cupid, Comet, Vito, and Vixen.

Do you have any regrets with your Magic career so far?

I missed going to Worlds 2002 in Sydney because I was off fighting a war. On the whole, Australia would have been better than Saudi Arabia.

As far as things that I was actually involved in, I wouldn’t call it a regret, but I would have liked to have come up with a creative way to not DQ Charles Gindy at Worlds in Rome. Gindy is one of the good guys in Magic. The situation was clear that DQ was appropriate given our tournament rules at the time, although I never considered him a cheater (there’s definitely a different between “committing a DQable offense” and “being a cheater”). During the consultation with other Level 5s at the event, I was the one that argued most strenuously against it, although I was mostly playing devil’s advocate with myself. It was a difficult call to make, but I was in that position because I had the capability to make the call.

Top RPG video games?

For you old-schoolers, The Bard’s Tale. Heroes of Might and Magic III (which is so good that I’m playing it 15 years later even though there are later versions of the game), and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Then standing head and shoulders above the rest, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. No contest.

As a judge, what are your thoughts on re-errata-ing Serendib Djinn so that it destroys a land rather than sacrifices? Do you feel it would be the ‘right’ thing to do or is the current wording actually more appropriate and correct?

Sacrifice is appropriate. The current wording is right IMO.

If you could change the color(s) of a current Legend, what color(s) would you change it to?

It would make no sense at all, but I’d love to add blue to Glissa, the Traitor so that I could have another deck in that wedge besides The Mimeoplasm.

In your past articles, you’ve often mentioned playing EDH poolside. With spring weather finally arriving, do you have any specific tips for playing EDH outdoors?

Finally arriving? I live in Florida. It’s already been here a while!

Play in a shaded area that can block the wind, which the screen around our lanai does. Have an overhead fan for when it starts getting too warm. Have an outdoor sound system so that you can play the rock and roll music while battling. And have drinks. Plenty of cold drinks, even the non-alcoholic kinds.

Is there a particular theme you would like explored in a future set?

I’d like to see things that interact with opponents’ commanders. Cards that make them easier or more difficult to cast. Things that buff them or make them smaller.

Do you think there should be more legendary tribal support such as Day of Destiny or Heroes’ Podium?

There is no “should be” except what is. That said, yes, I’d love to see more things that interact with legendary creatures. As mentioned, I’d love even more seeing stuff that interacts with commanders.

What do you think is the prettiest foil card (personal favourite is Plasm Capture)?

There’s something about Rhystic Study that really does it for me. There are way too many cards that are awesome in foil to pick just one.

How is the Chromatic Project going? What color combinations do you still need a deck and what Commanders/themes are you looking at pursuing for those colors?

All I have left is mono-green, colorless, and five color. I’ll use Nylea for the first, and will likely explore something that takes advantage of her abilities. I have yet to decide whether I’m going with Karn or an Eldrazi for colorless, although the silver golem is the front-runner. Five color will involve some deep exploration of the history of Magic — maybe one card from every set or somesuch, which I tried a while back.

Does your group at Armada Games still utilize the Points System? If so, is there a link to the current point list? Is there ever an issue with players gaming the points system? And if somebody is gaming the system, is that ever really a problem since the points are supposed to be for things that the group wants to encourage anyway?

We do, and you’re right. Gaming the system really isn’t that big of a deal, because the prize structure is pretty flat and it encourages friendly play.

What are your thoughts on off-color cards, as in cards that totally mess with the color pie (i.e. Hornet Sting, Sunlance, Withering Boon)?

Withering Boon is such a blowout every time that it gets played that I love having it around. I think stronger adherence to the color pie in current sets and for the future is a good idea.

What is the meanest, most unfun (for your playgroup) Commander deck of all time that you have built? Do you regret building it, is it still together, and if not, would you ever bring it back, albeit in a different, “nicer” form?

My current Intet, the Dreamer deck rebuilt as Riku of Two Reflections, and I don’t think there’s a nice way to build it.

What is the longest Commander game you’ve ever been a part of, and what made it so long?

Back in the ancient days, sometime in 2004 or 2005, I remember the Virginia group having a single game that lasted our whole Sunday session. It involved everyone playing white, damage prevention, and high life totals — plus a far less aggressive available card pool.

Are there any lyric misinterpretations you’ve had with a song you like? In that, “Hold me close, tiny dancer” song I always heard, “Hold me close, I’m tired of dancing” until a friend corrected me.

Two come to mind. The first happened when I was a teenager. I was in the car with my mother and Alice Cooper’s I’m Eighteen came on the radio. The first line started: “Lines form on my face and hands…” She asked “What’s lion’s foam?”

The next was with my ex-wife, shortly after we met. I had introduced her to Rush and see was rocking out to “Limelight.” When it got to the part “Living in a fish-eye lens,” I heard her sing “Living on a fish island…” I now sing “fish island” every time I hear the song.

What is the perfect number of people to have in a game? Do you think having too many or too few player a detriment to a game?

Four. Four is perfect. Five is okay if you’re playing star/allies. Three makes it too easy for one person to get and keep an advantage. Six plus is just too many to be interesting.

Have you ever read a book/a comic or perhaps even a movie that just reminded you so much of Magic you had to put it down and play some Magic?

I can’t say that it has, but that brings up an interesting phenomenon that happens to me and I wonder if it happens to anyone else. Whenever I see someone on TV or in a movie drinking dark liquor, like bourbon or scotch, I immediately crave one. I’m usually able to resist the urge, but it’s weird because there’s no similar urge with wine, beer, or light liquors like rum and vodka.

Is there a card that puts a giant grin on your face when someone plays it against you?

Possibility Storm.

Is there a card that always puts a giant grin on your face when you play it?

Still Possibility Storm.

Will you ever endorse Un-cards?

I hereby endorse Un-cards, unless you mean “as legal for the format,” in which case I say talk to your local group. For the format as a whole, too many of them are too broken.

Are the new Commander products (specifically the generals) in keeping with what you think the format is and should be, or are some of the things people are doing with commanders like Derevi and Marath pushing the limits of what a commander can and should do for a deck?

Pushing the limits is exactly what we want designers to do for us. That means sometimes they cross the line, but that’s preferable to not giving it a try. So long as they’re not griefer cards, I’m okay with them. Stranglehold is a good example of a card that could have been great if they had just made it for all players instead of opponents.

Can we take Deadeye Navigator out of EDH and put Sylvan Primordial back? These guys are best buds, but I think the Navigator is worse since it abuses so many enters/leaves-the-battle effects. If not, why did you go after one ETB guy instead of the king of abusing ETB effects?

I (and the rest of the RC) disagree with you on DEN being worse. Sylvan Primordial isn’t about the enters-the-battlefield trigger as a concept, but about what the trigger does.

What’s your favorite beer?

It’s a toss-up between Leffe (a Belgian), Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, and Rogue Dead Guy Ale.

How often do you think about EDH in your daily life?

Every single day.

Have you or the Rules Committee play-tested starting life totals at 30 instead of 40?

I certainly haven’t, and none of the other guys have mentioned it. We’ve never even talked about it.

Do you play on MTGO? If so, do you play public games or just with your private playgroup? What do you think of the atmosphere of public games on MTGO?

At the moment, I don’t. Now that I’m not an L5 judge or coverage team member, I don’t have the appropriate account any more — although I understand that may change for those of us on the RC. If it does, you’ll probably catch me playing with Scott’s MTGO group every now and again and forming one of my own.

On public games generally, do you think the community’s increased awareness of EDH has made more common certain strategies that are difficult to disrupt? If so, are you satisfied with the way public games are currently playing out given this widening array of expectations among players? What are your plans, if any, for making EDH more approachable for groups who don’t have the benefit of prior play experience with each other?

“Untrusted” games are the worst. People will lie to you about the contents of their decks. “Yeah, it’s Rafiq, but it’s not that bad.” People also don’t care about the social contract when 1) they don’t know you and 2) they’re not face-to-face with you. I don’t think there are any easy solutions here other than individuals trying to find their own online groups just like they find their own IRL groups.

I’d be curious to hear how you go about collecting information about the player base. For example, how do you determine whether or not the format is healthy, or if it needs changing? I’m assuming you can get a litmus test from MTGS and the mtgcommander boards, but what about the kitchen table demographic?

We don’t collect data. That would be expensive and time-consuming. At the moment, there is no budget for the RC. We read nearly everything on MTGS and the official forums, and we’re confident that we can accurately reflect the ideas of the kitchen table demographic because to some extent, we are the kitchen table demographic.

EDH is arguably the best variant format of Magic ever, but it too has its own variants. Horde Magic, Pauper, and other EDH adaptations are starting to gain in popularity. Have you ever played, or plan on playing any of these other forms? Did you like them, or are you excited about any of them? Why or why not?

I have played Horde, and it’s been a fun change of pace. I haven’t played Pauper, but I’m not against the idea. I simply haven’t had sufficient motivation (like having other friends that want to play it) to do so.

I too love hosting games at my home. You often mention hosting yourself, so do you have any insightful suggestions or hilarious horror stories to share? Perfect Magic-related pairings, or things to avoid during gaming?

This goes against the generally inclusive message of the format, but when it comes to bringing people into your home game, err on the side of exclusion. Make sure you have the right people. That way you have fewer horror stories. Groups like to expand, so it’s worth trusting your friends that someone they’d like to bring in fits in with your group.

During your home games, avoid serving alcohol to minors and people who have demonstrated an inability to handle it. Do not serve foods that are likely to make the cards sticky, like monkey bread.

My last question is more of a curious compliment. I’ve been playing Magic for many years, and EDH has breathed a whole new life into the game for me. The Commander thread is often one of the most viewed threads on this site, and some people play EDH as their only preferred form of Magic. Do you hear enough admiration for the game from its followers, or are you mostly weighed-down by complaints?

The former, for sure. The fans of the format, the people who appreciate what we’re doing, are the voices that I choose to let affect me emotionally. They help make the effort quite rewarding. I recognize that there will be complainers, I listen to them, but I don’t let them get under my skin. There’s a difference between disagreeing and complaining. If you’re just going to carp about things without offering reasonable debate or solutions, I won’t listen very long.

Since SCG has been doing a commander VS series, do have any interest or plans in possibly playing in one of the videos? I think 99.9% of use should love to see the father of EDH/commander in action.

Probably pretty likely, maybe as school takes a break (although I’m taking a full load of summer classes this year).

Do you discourage alcoholic beverages from games?

I do not, although as I say above, I discourage them from minors and people who have shown they’re problem drinkers. I wouldn’t carry a hip flask to my local game shop.

Have the existence of the gods changed the answers you play?

Not really, because I’ve long been a proponent of exile over destroy. I might tick up the number of cards in future decks which exile things, but it’s not really a new concept.

Is there anything in the lore of Magic that bothers you? For example, I find it a bit egregious that a squirrel token has the same power/toughness as the average human soldier and most of the time I put things in terms of “it would take X number of squirrels to destroy that creature.”

I had never thought about it, but now I’m irked. How dare they! Stupid squirrels.

I am a huge proponent of Commander at my local game store because it creates a fun, friendly atmosphere, and I often use it as a tool to make new gamers feel welcome. How much responsibility do you feel a player should have for making sure everyone in the game feels involved?

A great deal. That’s the spirit of the format right there.

With the growing popularity of EDH in environments where house rules are not possible or appropriate (such as online play, or random games with strangers at tournaments), does the RC take those environments into account when constructing its banlist, and if not, will it ever? What would it take?

I don’t think it will change our approach. We’re already crafting the list based on the bigger picture. We’ll take care of the broad based and encourage local groups to take care of themselves.

If you could change (minor change) one rule in MTG to make the EDH experience better, what would it be?

I want reverse trample or “blample.” If I attack with a 4/4 and you block with a 6/6 that has blample, I take 2. That’d be awesome.

Any updated thoughts to changing the Hybrid mana rule? I think it would open up some interesting interactions and doesn’t seem to be the kind of restriction that breeds creativity.

None. This is another one of those things I’d rather have people let die, because the arguments have been exhausted. And for any who will ask, I very much like Mark Rosewater, and I very much disagree with him on this as regards the format.

What is the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything? If a Prodigal Sorcerer is tapped in the woods, and no one is around to see it, does it still deal one damage to target creature or player?

I like that you’re asking what the question is instead of the answer. I think the answer is something we need to find on our own. There’s nothing for Prodigal Sorcerer to target, so you can’t active its ability — especially since you aren’t there.

Has the recent banning of Sylvan Primordial (a card clearly designed for multiplayer formats) affected your opinion of Wizards designing cards directly for the format at all?

Not in the least. I love the fact that there are clearly multiplayer cards coming out of R&D in non-multiplayer sets. I say cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

Dice, beads, number counter, pencil and paper for life totals?

Dice for Commander, pencil and paper for all other formats. If I get my way, Dino Dice will be the official method of determining who goes first in games.

When the zombie apocalypse comes will you use shotguns, burning oil, chainsaws or something else? Who(living or dead) would you want to have with you?

Flame thrower will be my weapon of choice. Who do I want with me? Chuck Norris, of course. Of non-real people, I want Aragon. Dude is a complete badass. Or Lagertha from Vikings, because I’m human.

Have you ever thought of designing special T-shirts for Commander events as prizes (or does this already occur)? I thought this would be cool, especially at something like GenCon gunslinger EDH events to have something fun to commemorate the event.

I have now. This is kind of a cool idea that I’d like to find some sponsors for and explore. The sad fact is that organizers are less and less likely to pay for gunslingers to come to events these days. Justifying the expense for an unquantifiable return is a tricky proposition at best. On a completely urelated note, contact Alan at Pastimes and tell him how much you’d love for me to come to GenCon.

Are you planning on getting a lot of Conspiracy?

There is no conspiracy.

How much do you think a “multiplayer-focused booster set” will affect the Commander format?

There is no conspiracy.

Do you feel that there’s any kind of possibility that Conspiracy could lead to some kind of Commander-drafting format and/or future Commander-drafting product?

Under advice of counsel, I repeat that there is no conspiracy.

Are there any specific cards you dread seeing across the table? Specific cards you love seeing other people play? Which of your own decks would you most readily lend to someone to play against you? Which one would you lend the least readily?

I don’t know about dread, but Omnath can get pretty scary. When I see someone cast Erayo, Soratami Ascendant (and yes, I’ve seen it played as 1 of 99) I have to ask “Do you really want to be that guy?”

As previously mentioned, I love seeing people drop Possibility Storm. I would most likely lend out Animar because it creates the wildest board states. I am least likely to lend out Intet because it’s just mean. I rarely like inflicting it on anyone; I’d hate to give it to someone else to inflict on anyone.

With the mammoth upswing of a large number of card prices, is there ever going to be a time when some cards deemed too pricey would come off the banned list, and be replaced by others?

I’ve said before that it’s unlikely we ever add new cards because of only that criterion. It’s not just price, it’s availability. If Mox Pearl got reprinted in M16, it would have a shot at getting off the list.

Do you think the current state of the secondary Magic market is healthy or unhealthy for the format (Asked while specifically looking at the current prices for fetches + duals)?

I think free market economies are generally healthy, although they have downsides. I’m not sure my views on them are particularly valid for two reasons. One, I don’t have a degree in economics. Two, I’m impacted by where I stand on the income scale. It’s hard to be upset about stuff when I can afford it and equally difficult to be judgmental about folks who can’t. All that aside, you don’t need duals and fetches to play the format. There are plenty of common land fetchers like Terramorphic Expanse that will get your mana base healthy. Are duals better? Sure. Are they required to be able to play? No.

Given the near constant ban/unban strife, wouldn’t it make sense to institute a simple polling site to get a real picture of the mood of the community?

No, because the people who would respond wouldn’t necessarily reflect the mood of the community. I’ll point you to the philosophy of the vocal minority.

If you could kick one person out of the RC, why would it be Alex Kenny?

I asked Alex himself to answer this question. Here’s what he had to say:

“66.6 million years ago, S’Hell Hodon last walked the Earth. He stood on the throat of Gaea and gathered the qi of the terrible lizards that ruled the world. They gave it willingly; this was the event for which they were created. The earth rumbled and the sky darkened for 40 days and 40 nights, as Hodon rode slowly into the sky on a quartz hypercube of limitless proportion.

“The annihilating vacuum of space couldn’t silence the voices. He remembered his future. He was known as Shulmanu then, when he emerged from the ocean depths to capture the oracle: Deborah the prophet, the old man of the sea, the wizard of the coast. As Shulman held her in his arms, she put her disgusting lips against his ear and whispered the only secret he sought. The rage it ignited blazed for hundreds of years, and destroyed Lemuria, Paititi, Agartha and Pompeii.

“The passing epochs have allowed the natural forces of the cosmos and countless battles for power to hammer Sheldon’s quartz prison into a sphere. Still, there he prevails, observing every timeline of humanity through his fractal/dimensional lenses. In every one, the oracle’s prediction rings true. The destiny of the Kenny clan is intertwined with his own. Alexander, son of Bruce, son of Gerald, a simple highlander Gael, will ride his dragon to Sheldon’s qi-forged moon and the fate of Sol will be decided. In every timeline, Sheldon’s prison is made his tomb. Every timeline, save one. There can be only one. Sheldon prepares.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Kenny.

If EDH is like fine wine to you, would Cube be like craft beer? Furthermore, which format would be Zima?

Sure, I suppose. Continuing the analogy, Rochester backdraft would be Zima.

Have the RC got a collective favourite card, a poster child, if you will?

Not really, since we all have different play styles.

There’s a lot going on about “the spirit of the format” and the social contract, but those concepts are apparently too abstract for a big chunk of the player base. I feel something like your Armada points system could solve this by giving competitive players some deck-building constraint. How would you feel about adapting a points scoring system to determine the winner of a game in the official rule set?

It would be impossible to maintain. For one, we don’t want to load the player base with too much of a burden like that. For two, it would require frequent updating, which is additional overhead for the RC. I think individual groups publishing theirs as examples for other folks is a great idea.

To you, what’s the minimum number of turns / minimum elapsed game time that should take place before it’s acceptable for a giant haymaker* to kill the whole table in short order?

Ten. Once we’re in double digits, all bets are off.

Which of the new C13 legends do you think are most harmful to game enjoyment for other players when used as commanders?

I don’t think any of them are particularly harmful. If I had to pick one, it would Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, because it’s in colors that ramp well, and the inevitability of it is oppressive.

If you could errata one card, which card would it be, what would your errata be, and why?

Karakas. “Karakas may not target commanders.” Then it’d be playable.

What are your top 5 pre-Modern cards nobody remembers, and why?

Mercadia’s Downfall, as mentioned above. Mirror Strike, because despite my constant stories of killing people with it, still no one plays it. Aura Thief, because it’s awesome. Eastern Paladin, because it solves many problems. Tradewind Rider, because it used to be the bomb, and now no one knows what it does.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

While I was in the Air Force, I did computer security for Dick Cheney while he was Secretary of Defense.

Do you ever try for obscene amounts of damage in a finishing attack? If so, what’s the most damage you’ve ever assigned to an opponent?

I once attacked someone for 23,000+ with Serra Avatar after having it and Wall of Reverence in play for many turns. I actually try more for exactsies when I want to finish them off. It’s more of a challenge.

If you (you, Sheldon, not some card you control) could have protection from any color, which one would it be?

Blue, because it’s the color of lies.

You are presented with a cheese plate of doom. Tête de Moine, Époisses de Bourgogne, Point Reyes Blue, Brillat-Savarin, Manchego, Papillon Perail de Brebis, Maytag Blue, Pecorino Sardo, Robiola, 14 year aged Wisconsin cheddar, farm fresh cheese curds from Quebec. Pick 5 cheese and 2 wine that costs under 30$ per bottle. You shall be forever judged / admired for this decision.

Great question to finish with, since cheese is the perfect thing to end a meal (I actually prefer it to a sweet dessert). I’d start with the farm fresh cheese curds from Quebec, sprinkled over top some gravy fries—poutine is mana from heaven. I would pair a creamy stout with that. Then I’d go to the two bleu with a Rieussec Sauternes. Next comes Manchego with a 2005 Numanthia. I’d finish with the aged Wisconsin cheddar and either a Graham’s 20 year old Port or the eminently-affordable RL Buller & Sons Fine Muscat. To keep the $30/bottle restriction, I would go with a bottle of Château de Saint-Cosme Côtes du Rhône Les Deux Albion (a great bargain at under $20) with the Manchego and Aged Cheddar, swap the bleu to next-to-last and go with the Buller Muscat.

Thanks to everyone for the great questions. Feel free to send me questions at any time, not just when I’m doing one of these. I’ll happily either save them up or answer them straightaway.

If you want to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987), ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.