Magic has a lot of rules. By a lot, I don’t mean ‘a big box board game of 30 pages with pictures’ lot. The PDF of Magic’s Comprehensive Rulebook is just shy of 200 pages. It reads like a law book, and it’s about as long as one.
Granted, most players will never have to read the Comp Rules, and the basics of the game can be taught fairly quickly. Yet the massive infrastructure behind it all illustrates that there are a lot of moving pieces – even if the vast majority of the time you’re playing issues won’t come up that require the Comp Rules.
This, of course, says nothing about the decision-making components of the game. Player choices are far less quantifiable, and yet they also make up a considerable part of the challenge to the game. It’s no wonder, then, that there is a decent percentage of the player base who prefers Magic to be as smooth, efficient, and quick as possible. (In MTG-land, this group is usually referred to as “Spikes”.) They take enjoyment in besting their opponent as pointedly as possible, weighing their skills and choices against them in a test of mettle, and they’re perfectly within their right to do so. The idea of the 1v1 duel was the original inception of the game, after all.
However, just as quickly after Magic was released came the idea of multiplayer games. Really, it reads in a manner that’s like many fantasy and sci-fi creation stories:
“At the beginning of time there were only duels, for Magic was there and the universe knew of no other. Yet just moments after that came The Many, and their desire to play with more than one person at at time. . .”
Commander is a more focused subset of that concept, but multiplayer games add in a lot more thinking than a duel. You have multiple fronts, and tactics that work with one opponent won’t work with three. Or four. Or five. It adds another component to the game that isn’t in any rule book; it’s part political posturing, part being a front line general. There’s a lot more thinking involved in your actions, and people often choose cards for their EDH decks that will help them to that end.
Sometimes, though, it’s nice to just take a roll of the dice and see what happens.
Today we have: Puppet’s Verdict
Name: Puppet’s Verdict
Edition: Mercadian Masques
Focus: Creature Destruction
Highlights: I know, I know, it’s a coin flip card. They’re usually, with rare exceptions, relegated to decks based around abusing Krark’s Thumb. I posit that Puppet’s Verdict is decent enough to be one of those exceptions.
Sure, there are plenty of creature-destroying cards in Red. However, few of them are Instants, and of those remaining, only one doesn’t use damage to pull it off: Puppet’s Verdict. Damage-based Red spells are usually more potent – few can argue with how useful Volcanic Fallout, Inferno, or Fault Line is in a vacuum – but damage is only so useful if you’re staring down a 40/40 Kresh the Bloodbraided with trample. Puppet’s Verdict may only give you a 50/50 chance in that case, but that’s far better than zero.
On the other side of the strategic coin, rejoice in how this can throw a wrench into over-thinking players. The Commander format invites that a bit, so sometimes it can be refreshing to throw a little chaos into the mix to shake things up.
Plus, chances are someone besides you is going to be losing creatures. In that case, who can resist a good old “Heads I win, Tails you lose” scenario?
Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.
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