WotC and Commander

I couldn’t find this discussion, so there is a chance I’m misremembering this, but I think it was around a year ago, when SaffronOlive tweeted something along the lines of WotC not understanding Commander. I believe it was Blake Rasmussen who answered that with the success of the products, they must understand it at least somewhat.

And isn’t that the real problem.

I mean, understanding something somewhat is not a good thing, if that is your primary purpose. Back in the day, according to my driving instructor, and he had statistical proof of this, practically everyone believes they are better than average drivers. Obviously, that can’t be true. If everyone is on a curve, half of them must be below that average. Why the discrepancy? Because of what is known as illusory superiority (the Finnish word for this is ‘ylivertaisuusvinouma’ – I do love the Finnish language).

What does that mean? It means that if you don’t know what you don’t know about a certain field, you think you know more about the field than you actually do. For example, if you have only read one book on history, you might think you have a pretty good grasp on the subject, because you have no idea how much there is to know beyond that book. After you’ve read five or ten or hundred, your understanding of the full scope of the subject extends as you start to see the different perspectives, decisions made by the authors, discrepancies between different works, changes to our understanding throughout time and so forth. You begin to understand the scope of things you don’t know.

Now, while Commander Legends did have several missteps…

Jeweled LotusHullbreacherOpposition Agend

… it also seemed like they actually had found a way to make commanders that are fun to build around.

Gor Muldrak, AmphinologistJared Carthalion, True HeirArchelos, Lagoon MysticTormod, the DesecratorTorgo, Goblin Weaponsmith

But now it seems that they’ve actually haven’t learned their lesson. Instead of trying to nurture a healthy and fun Commander environment, they just throw everything out there and hope it doesn’t blow into anyone’s face.

So, I don’t play much Commander anymore. Much of what destroyed the interest within my group was actually the way the Commander products were designed. They were just too on the nose. Cards that were specifically pushed to work well in Commander, and that didn’t make those games any better. Sure, people want to win and thus they would use these cards, but at the same time there would be groans when you saw one of those cards.

The worst is the minigame when a commander hits the battlefield and you know you have to get rid of it somehow. You can’t play your own game or make decisions, because you know you have to get rid of that one specific creature, or that player will just take over the rest of the game. And there’s at least two of these creatures in Kaldheim.

If either of these creatures hits the battlefield, the game is about them. You can’t let Vorinclex live, because if the player plays a Nissa or a Garruk or a Vivien, they can immediately ultimate it. And that’s it. That player just has so much of an edge that most of the players will just scoop or mentally check out. Tegrid isn’t much better. Sure, you can’t do exactly the same and the situation is still salvageable with a simple wrath or something similar, but at the same time, you know Tegrid is coming back soon and then you have to do the same again… if you have those wraths still available.

Why would anyone do this to the format that is apparently the most popular format at the moment? They will keep losing players and the remaining players will keep losing faith in the company’s ability to handle the format. The format was actually much better before the company decided to pay attention to it. What does that tell you? And while there are sometimes signs of some sort of learning, apparently that doesn’t hold very well and those lessons are soon forgotten.

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