There’s are reasons why a Swiss Army Knife is such a well sought out and respected tool. It’s lightweight, portable, and comes in handy in a variety of circumstances. It, and other small multipurpose hand tools, are great for those who like to be well prepared when they’re on the go. They’re jack-of-all-trades tools that aren’t necessarily the absolute best at any of its individual functions, but it gives someone access to those who seek a lot of different options instead.
I’m one of those people. I prefer to be decent at a number of different things rather than spectacular at one specific thing. It’s something that’s been ingrained into me for as long as I can remember. My childhood icons were Ben Franklin and Indiana Jones. I tended to overstock my wagons in Oregon Trail. My character during my three year stint in World of Warcraft was a Druid (Horde side, of course). I’ll always be happy with a Staff of Domination, Obelisk of Alara, or Trading Post. Simply put: I like having a variety of options.
So, when I’m often forced to choose just one answer amongst those options, I find it can be difficult.
Here at the Cardboard Republic, I easily fit into the gaming archetype of Tactician. I like to plan ahead, and I generally don’t like being rushed. I’d rather play a single two-hour game than four 30 minute ones. Usually, longer games allow me time to change and adapt strategies as needed so I can forge a path to victory.
Ultimately, it’s why I don’t enjoy Magic duels nearly as much as I do multiplayer, as my natural inclination is to build decks that have contingency answers. When it comes to one vs. one deckbulding, it’s far better to hone your deck to do what you it to do rather than excessively worry about what your opponent may do. It’s not that you don’t want some kind of answers, but generally, the focus should always be on maximizing your own effectiveness.
However, if your focus is on six opponents instead, the rules change. Ask any Magic player who routinely plays casual multiplayer, and every single one will be able to tell you a story about someone only versed in dueling throwing down their single-player deck, only to have it flail about. Most of the time said duelist knocks a player off really early, thereby getting the rest of the table to focus on them, or they try to diversify their exploits and run out of ammunition. A duelist’s decks are like shotguns: devastating in short rounds and close range, but they’re a terrible weapon for a widespread melee.
Hence why I enjoy the Commander format as much as I do. Fast decks are generally discouraged, giving me time to come up with some grand design scheme – or giving me the tools I need to stop someone else’s from going off. It’s a setting that caters to my play style and my sense of gaming enjoyment in general.
Sometimes, though, in spite of all those inclinations, I do so ever enjoy watching chaos happen. It’s almost a cathartic experience, for instance, watching an entire table twitch as they’re forced to contend with the likes of an Impulsive Maneuvers or a (non-comboed) Confusion in the Ranks.
Yes, sometimes it’s fun for me to simply throw directive out the window and see what happens when you push the random button. It forces everyone out of their comfort zone, and if you’re going to throw logic out the window, I’d much rather see someone cast something “just to see what happens” more than “because I had to do something”. So, let’s look at one such instance.
Today we have: Dovescape
Focus: Counter Magic / Creature Generating
Highlights: There are three ways one can use Dovescape in a game. The first is to use the card to your advantage, whereby you reap the benefit of the card’s effects. This means playing a deck that has loads of spells that you can immediately turn into a flying armada and swarm for an attack.
The second way is to go a creature-heavy route and force the game into being creature-centric. From a Commander perspective, this has the most potential for use. Unlike a lot of other formats, Commander still tends to be spell-heavy. Dovescape effectively nullifies the use of those cards beyond an arms race of flying tokens.
The third way to use Dovescape is to simply throw it out there and see what happens, ignoring the strategic implications of the card at all. Dovescape is notorious for being difficult to get rid of, essentially relying on one of 35 or so creatures that have an Enter the Battlefield trigger that can affect it. Barring access to one of those creatures, it therefore puts players into a quandary of whether they want to take advantage of Dovescape’s token-making effect. Players will have to decide if it’s worth ‘wasting’ their precious spells to get some flyers or to hold on them and use their other creatures (along with disgruntled players) to make the enchantment’s owner disappear instead. Moreover, if you’re in the lead, is Dovescape useful for you keeping you there, or is it preventing you from finishing the job? Likewise, does this help you catch up in a game where you’ve been lagging, or does it essentially take you out of the game all together?
Any and all of these permutations are possible with Dovescape, making it a card that has the potential for one hell of a strange metagame. It upends the apple cart, changing power dynamics, and makes the game far more unpredictable, if only for a little while. And sometimes, that’s quite alright with me.
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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