You Lika The Juice? – EDH Griefer Anonymous

SCG Open Richmond!

Friday, February 19th – In an EDH game, players aren’t locked in to playing against the griefer at the table. They are free to respond in a couple different ways. First, they can gang up on the player to eliminate the griefer before he can get his misery engine going; it’s pretty difficult to stand against a table united against you, especially early on.

First, I’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Glenn Godard who, unknown to me, nominated my Champs-themed column “The Standard Dilemma” for the 2009s Writing Contest where it was recently chosen as Honorable Mention in the Most Poignant category. I’d like to thank the Judges Chris Galvin, Matt Cavotta, and Skaff Elias for their votes, and thanks to the sponsors who ponied up the case of Magic: the Gathering Jones Soda that’s my prize. Pretty cool! I’m humbled and grateful for the honor.

Today’s column was inspired by an email I received recently that I’d like to share with you.

Hey Bennie,

After weeks and weeks of playing with my EDH group in Korea, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a griefer. I’m not particularly proud of it, but I’ve been playing tournament Magic for so long that I don’t really know how to build any other way. Here’s probably my most hated deck so far, I would like to know what you think of it.

1 Ambassador Laquatus
1 Prosperity
1 Windfall
1 Merchant Scroll
1 Personal Tutor
1 Mystic Tutor
1 Braingeyser
1 Stroke of Genius
1 Bosium Strip
1 Mirari
1 Evacuation
1 Inundate
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Extraplanar Lens
1 Howling Mine
1 Font of Mythos
1 Jace Beleren
1 Twincast
1 Magus of the Jar
1 Memory Jar
1 Feldon’s Cane
1 Relearn
1 Turnabout
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Fact or Fiction
1 Memnarch
1 Duplicant
1 Impulse
1 Sol Ring
1 Mana Vault
1 Mana Crypt
1 Grim Monolith
1 Masticore
1 Capsize
1 Eon Hub
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Trade Secrets
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Time Stop
1 Cryptic Command
1 Time Warp
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Tidespout Tyrant
1 Mind’s Desire
1 Forced Fruition
1 Kederekt Leviathan
1 Memory Erosion
1 Mind’s Eye
1 Sundering Titan
1 Impulse
1 Traumatize
1 Archive Trap
1 Brain Freeze
1 Future Sight
1 Magus of the Future
1 Washout
1 High Tide
1 Deep Analysis
1 Frantic Search
1 Flash of Insight
1 Tolaria West
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Glacial Chasm
1 Waste Land
1 Strip Mine
1 Soldevi Excavations
1 Dust Bowl
1 Vesuva
32 Snow Covered Island

Sadly, this isn’t the only one either. I’ve done Karn, Arcum, and Zur, all with the same results. Even when I play Mono-Green, I end up overrunning 15 times in a turn. Where is the balance between playing a powerful deck and having fun with the format? I’ll admit that I’m a Spike/griefer, so most of my fun comes from winning in an annoying way. But I also know that if I keep up my griefer ways, then I won’t be having any fun because nobody will want to play anymore. HELP… PLEASE!


Charles Fletcher

What cracked me up about Fletch’s letter was the confessional tone of it, as if he were a griefer addict who couldn’t help himself, and is looking for assistance in breaking his self-destructive behavior.

“My name is Charles, and I’m a griefer.”
(The audience responds) “Hi, Charles.”

This letter has inspired me to set up a “Griefer’s Anonymous” Clinic here today, with the goal to effect enough change in the griefer’s thinking to bring about recovery from the enjoyment of griefing in EDH.

Some readers might be unfamiliar with the term “griefer;” it was coined to describe online gamers who, instead of trying to cooperate with other players to achieve goals and objectives, instead enjoy irritating and harassing the other players.

Tom Lapille defined a Magic griefer last year:

“…griefers… are looking to experience… their opponents squirming in misery. They are at their very happiest when their opponents are miserable. Griefers cackle with glee when they hit your best card with a Millstone, and they feel deeply cheated when an opponent who has no permanents concedes even though the griefer has no plans to actually win anytime soon. His goal is to make you sad, and he gets a kick out of your sadness.”

Now, a Magic griefer can thrive in a tournament setting because he has a ready supply of opponents who have to play against him unless they want the match loss, and generally you enter Magic tournaments to try and win matches. They are particularly thrilled to be matched against the serious, hard-core Magic players, because these guys will rarely just concede and walk away if there’s even a remote chance of pulling out of whatever miserable board position the griefer has staked out. Magic griefers can accumulate years and years of enjoyment tormenting people in as many tournaments as he find to play in.

Things change though if that player wants to give Elder Dragon Highlander a try. Outside of the rare competitive EDH tournaments, EDH players aren’t forced to play with people they don’t want to play against. Their goals generally are far different than most competitive players and totally alien to what drives griefers – fun is the primary goal, and I’m pretty sure that fun and misery fall on opposite sides of the Magic-playing spectrum. Having a griefer at the table is like someone accidentally adding vinegar to your milkshake – it pretty much ruins the enjoyment.

In an EDH game, players aren’t locked in to playing against the griefer at the table. They are free to respond in a couple different ways. First, they can gang up on the player to eliminate the griefer before he can get his misery engine going; it’s pretty difficult to stand against a table united against you, especially early on. Second, they can just concede to the griefer — “congrats, you win” — and then just continue playing without him, ostensibly to determine 2nd place. Lastly, they can just flat out refuse to play with the griefer, neglecting to let him know about upcoming games, starting up games without him, or just pretending that he’s not there. Even a griefer isn’t having any fun if that happens.

So what’s a griefer to do in order to find acceptance and happiness playing EDH? Here are some guidelines to help.

1. Admit that you have a griefing problem
Like any problem, recognizing you have it is the first step towards finding a solution. In the letter above, Fletch admitted his problem, but other players may not realize they’re griefers until it occurs to them that they keep putting cards and strategies in their decks that everyone else hates.

2. Seek out help
Today’s column will attempt to provide some of that help, but I would also recommend asking your local EDH playgroup for an honest assessment on why they don’t enjoy playing against you. What cards and strategies do you regularly employ that they can’t stand? Listen to what they have to say not as criticism, but as a teachable moment. Learn from what they’re telling you.

3. Learn to play Magic by a new code of behavior
A griefer gets enjoyment from the misery of others; to properly enjoy EDH, one must learn to get enjoyment out of other player’s fun. You need to learn to smile when someone pulls out an obscure two- or three- or four-card combination that produces a game state you’ve never experienced before, even though it may not immediately win the game. You need to find the humor in someone turning your best creature into a 0/1 sheep token. You need to find the value in targeting another player with your card-drawing spell to help him out of his deep and miserable mana-screw. Instead of naturally gravitating towards the most broken and abusive legends for your EDH general, pick one that’s rarely used, strange, or flat-out weird. Learn to value “style-points” by playing silly or obscure cards simply because they’re silly or obscure.

You obviously can’t just flip a switch and enjoy things simply because you want to make a change, but go ahead and make those changes, force yourself to try it out, watch what the other players are smiling and laughing at and work them in to your repertoire. Mahatma Gandhi said a man is the sum of his actions, so start acting like the sort of player you want to be and you’re on your way. If you haven’t already, check out my EDH Primer (part 1, part 2, and part 3), I go pretty well in-depth on how to approach EDH in a decidedly non-griefer manner!

4. Make amends for your past griefing sins
Realize too that your EDH compatriots won’t be able to just flip a switch and accept the new you at face value. They’re going to be suspicious of you and wary of some sneaky, subtle combo that you’ll spring out of nowhere to inflict mass pain and misery. Make amends, play cards that can help others, hand out favors and “take one for the team.” Google “EDH group hug deck” and check out the type of cards people are running in decks designed to help others, and make sure you play a fair number of them in the months to come, and soon enough everyone — even you — will forget your griefing ways.

5. Help others who suffer from being a griefer too
Once you have successfully set aside your griefing ways and are fully enjoying the rough and tumble fun around the EDH table, make sure you keep an eye out for other griefers who find themselves in the same predicament you were in, and offer to help guide them through the process of changing their behavior. As a recovering griefer, you’re an ideal support person for these folks to lean on.

Okay, going back to Fletch’s email, I’d like to go through his deck and pick out all the cards I think could be considered problem cards or flat-out griefer cards, and offer some tips on what to do about them.

Ambassador Laquatus
This general screams annoyance just on its face value, but in Fletch’s deck he’s actually a win condition with his many ways of ramping up his mana and forcing the drawing of cards. But he doesn’t have to be annoying or combo-licious! Nearly everyone plays Sensei’s Divining Top, and if you’re playing Green you’re rocking Sylvan Library. Those cards will occasionally get you to the spot where you’ve got two cards sitting on top of your library that are just plain awful and you can’t find a way to get rid of them. Offer Laquatus’s services “for free” to reset the top of their library and win some friends!

Fletch is trying to deck people, so Prosperity is definitely an unfriendly card. However, if you remove the big mana ramping and make it clear you’re not trying to deck everyone, Prosperity is definitely a card everyone likes to see played.

Windfall is a dangerous card – while some people will be happy to get a new hand, you will also inevitably piss somebody off who really liked their hand. I’d steer clear of it.

Merchant Scroll, Personal Tutor, Mystic Tutor
While tutoring is a valuable part of any EDH deck, make sure you don’t hog up a lot of time trying to decide what to get and shuffling your deck. I tend to lean more towards raw card-drawing than tutor effects, because I think the whole purpose of playing a highlander deck is to increase the variance of your game play. I’d use these tutors sparingly, and for the ones where you need to reveal the card you get, make sure it’s a friendly card and not, say, Brain Freeze.

Braingeyser, Stroke of Genius
Embrace #4 above and find opportunities to Geyser or Stroke your opponent (without trying to deck them, of course).

Until you have successfully put aside your griefer ways, I’d stay away from cards like Mirari that scream “shenanigans” to the table.

Evacuation versus Inundate
Playing Wrath effects in EDH can sometimes be a bit tricky – play too many of them over and over and the game can become long, boring, and tedious. Playing one right before Joe Powergamer swamps everyone with hordes of token creatures backed can make you a hero. Evacuation is particularly helpful because of its instant speed, it answers Eldora Monument, and it sends creature cards to their owner’s hands while getting rid of the token hordes. Putting the creature cards back into their owner’s hands tends to be more friendly than putting them all in the graveyard (or, worse yet, removing them all from the game). Inundate, on the other hand, can be viewed as unfriendly since it’s so unsymmetrical.

Gauntlet of Power, Extraplanar Lens
Get rid of these. They scream shenanigans.

Howling Mine, Font of Mythos, Jace Beleren
These cards are friendly in moderation; too many pile up and they quickly become unfriendly unless everyone has Reliquary Towers.

Very unfriendly. Cut this post-haste.

Also very unfriendly. Capsize with buyback was one of the most griefer plays of all time in Constructed, it is certainly frowned upon in casual play. Cut!

Tidespout Tyrant
Extremely unfriendly! This is like Capsize on crack. Cut, cut, cut!

Sundering Titan
LD is muy mal, cut!

Forced Fruition, Memory Erosion, Traumatize, Brain Freeze, Archive Trap
Decking is very, very, very, very, very unfriendly. CUT!

So what are you going to replace these cards with? There are plenty of fun, crazy and tricksy Blue cards you can add to your deck that are neither griefer nor douchebag cards. To get you started consider: Wonder, Rhystic Study, Spelljack, Clone, Opportunity, Soothsaying, Whispers of the Muse, Body Double, Time Stop, Mulldrifter, and Overwhelming Intellect. For some artifacts check out Sun Droplet, Loxodon Warhammer, Power Matrix, Thunderstaff, Cauldron of Souls, Illuminated Folio, and Phyrexian Splicer.

Bonus EDH Deck From Japan!
Those of you who caught Summon Elder Dragon Podcast #2 may have hear Sean talking about a Reki, the History of Kamigawa EDH deck a friend of his in Japan made. Reki, the History of Kamigawa is a humble, small, inexpensive Green legend that turns all your other legends into cantrips. Yep, that’s a Green card-drawing engine! I was definitely intrigued by the idea and asked Sean if he could share the decklist. Well, I’ve had the list for a while and I kept forgetting to share it with you all, so without further delay…

Beef ‘n’ Gas – An EDH deck for AMERICANS
Brian Hornibrook

1 Reki, the History of Kamigawa
1 Regal Force
1 Meng Huo, Barbarian King
1 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
1 Glissa Sunseeker
1 Kodama of the North Tree
1 Myojin of Life’s Web
1 Azusa, Lost but Seeking
1 Iwamori of the Open Fist
1 Jugan, the Rising Star
1 Sosuke, Son of Seshiro
1 Sekki, Season’s Guide
1 Silvos, Rogue Elemental
1 Bounteous Kirin
1 Kamahl, Fist of Krosa
1 Baru, Fist of Krosa
1 Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
1 Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer
1 Ayumi, the Last Visitor
1 Kaysa
1 Patron of the Orochi
1 Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
1 Lady Zhurong, Warrior Queen
1 Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
1 Masumaro, First to Live
1 Hua Tuo, Honored Physician
1 Dosan, the Falling Leaf
1 Arashi, the Sky Asunder
1 Eternal Witness
1 Woodland Guidance
1 Regrowth
1 Recollect
1 That Which Was Taken
1 Skyship Weatherlight
1 Helm of Kaldra
1 General’s Kabuto
1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Mindslaver
1 Akroma’s Memorial
1 Tsabo’s Web
1 Shield of Kaldra
1 Predator, Flagship
1 Whispersilk Cloak
1 Extraplanar Lens
1 Tatsumasa, the Dragon’s Fang
1 Gauntlet of Power
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Sword of Kaldra
1 Sword of the Chosen
1 Woodfall Primus
1 Rending Vines
1 Krosan Grip
1 Oracle of Mul Daya
1 Time of Need
1 Beacon of Creation
1 Acidic Slime
1 Greater Good
1 Genesis
1 Mystic Melting
1 Tooth and Nail
1 Harmonize
1 Relic Crush
1 Heartbeat of Spring
1 Mana Reflection
1 Primal Command
1 Vernal Bloom
1 Thawing Glaciers
1 Winding Canyons
1 Yavimaya Hollow
31 Forests

I’m definitely looking forward to giving this deck a try! What do you think?

Okay folks, that’s it for this week. Tonight, barring any more sudden blizzards I get to finally give Worldwake Standard a try. I’ve got a deck brewed up that people who read last week’s column won’t be completely be surprised by, but there are some new twists I’m looking forward to trying out the week before the StarCityGames.com Open.

Have a great weekend!

Take care…


starcitygeezer AT gmail DOT com

New to EDH? Be sure to check out my EDH Primer, part 1, part 2, and part 3.

My current EDH decks:
Jacques Le Vert (lots of legends, good stuff)
Tibor and Lumia (copy copy copy copy)
Baron Sengir (Evile Vampires!)
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary (huge creatures, big mana spells)
Sharuum, the Hegemon (Kaldra Lives!)
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund (DRAGONS, RAHRRR!)