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I'm looking for a way to build an EDH deck that makes sure my opponents have fun while playing against me. In other words I'm less concerned with winning than with doing fun/creative/interesting things with my deck. I want the group to say "Wow, that's cool". I've never tried to build a non-competitive deck that focuses on something other than winning. So what are some mechanics that would be considered fun by the opponents?

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Not sure if this is what your looking for but of course one way to make people happy is to play cards that help everybody, by letting players get mana, draw cards, or any other beneficial "each player" card.

Examples of cards that opponents may like:

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This isn't mechanics specific, but theming is a good way to go. Themes can be based on Magic blocks with poor synergy or underpowered mechanics, like Kamigawa block (which likely will just make people laugh), or themes can be pulled from outside of the game, like trying to make a Lion King themed deck (or something else you like). Themes limit your options while being interesting to watch, especially if other players know the theme. Half the fun of out of Magic themes is in players trying to guess how specific cards fit into the theme.

As an example, I'm currently working on an Apocolypse deck (not the block, the out of Magic concept). The commander will be Child of Alara, with the four horsemen of the apocalypse as Iroas, God of Victory (War), Mogis, God of Slaughter (Death), Phiraka, God of Affliction (Pestilence), and Phenax, God of Deception (Famine). After getting these five cards set, the next step of the deck was to find cards that included the name of the four horsemen, so things like Sudden Death and War Elemental. This doesn't quite fill up the deck, especially if you're avoided hated cards like Death Cloud, so the rest of the deck is made up of mechanics that fit the four horsemen's mechanics. This included some mill for Famine, like Glimpse the Unthinkable, and some extra sacrifice for Death like Cruel Edict.

What you'll notice is that this deck isn't very synergistic and it will play differently every game. Competitive decks are tuned to play identically every time even though you only have 1 of every card. The theming will take away that consistency and will be fun to watch. And generally, you're going to have to put a decent amount of thought into the cards in a theme deck to make sure you're staying on theme, so it's going to take as much thought to produce as a well-tuned competitive deck. This process has the added benefit of causing you to think about Magic in a way you wouldn't normally, and maybe you'll find some playstyle or set of interactions you hadn't ever done before.

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  • This is exactly what I was looking for. Like you said it isn't mechanic specific however this fits perfectly for what I am trying to achieve. Mar 20, 2016 at 1:44
  • @thatdude1087 If you do this, I'd be curious to know what theme you go with. It's always interesting to hear what ideas other people have for decks.
    – SocioMatt
    Mar 24, 2016 at 13:01
  • @thatdude1087 Stupid ideas I'm currently building / I built before : "Hat" themed deck, still debating the general, every card has to have a hat in the art. Similarly, "Hood" deck, with Lazav as a general. Choice deck : every card has to be modal or give a choice to the opponents. Block deck : mainly with the Ravnica guild masters, use only cards from either Ravnica blocks. Phage deck where she's the only way to win in the deck and seriously try to win. Shadowborn apostles deck (various generals are available).
    – Autar
    Mar 25, 2016 at 9:20
  • @SocioMatt I'm kinda leaning toward a LOTR theme but not sure. I have some research to do in order to get all the characters in place. And not sure about my commander. Mar 25, 2016 at 13:22
  • Shadowborn apostles decks can get boring since it is a built in tutor in the deck so might end up just winning in a similar way every time. I wouldn't go to hard into a tutor strategy for a casual deck.
    – Styxsksu
    Aug 22, 2023 at 13:30
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I haven't played much EDH, but I can imagine that these kinds of decks are NOT fun:

  • Mass land destruction
  • Too many counter spells / mass destruction
  • "You can't" decks. E.g. Thalia, Sphere of Safety, etc.

Now, you have to deal with opponents eventually, so here might be some cards that can swing the tides in your favor while being "cool"

Or just play a theme deck that isn't too oppressive. Slivers might be a bit too strong. Elves/goblins/humans/zombies/angels/demons/giants/enchantments/soldiers/whatever.

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  • Whims of the Fates makes me think about the Will of the Council mechanic from Conspiracy which I have been considering doing a deck with alot of this in it. I also thought about doing a deck with alot of instants and then using them to help the opponents against other opponents (e.g. casting prevent all damage spell when a player is attacking a player who is defenseless). Idk. If I don't get an answer more specifically naming mechanics I'll accept this one later. Mar 19, 2016 at 15:21
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This answer focusses mostly on the social/friendly aspect of deckbuilding for and playing MtG Commander, rather than the included cards. When I mention cards, they're meant as examples to illustrate a case, not necessarily that I advocate or disapprove of those cards being played. Most importantly, maybe use this post as a starting point, but pay attention to what you and your group likes and dislikes, and adjust your decks accordingly.

As others mentioned, avoiding interactions that would be annoying for others is always a good start. In my typical group, there's a sort of gentleman's agreement that shuns land destruction, way-too-overpowered cards (there's no banlist, it's more of a hive mind understanding of what's cool to play and what isn't), and overly competitive combo builds, all of which help to set a tone for games that should be enjoyable for everyone. I realize that this isn't a style of gameplay that works for everyone, but the way I play Commander (and the way I think you'd like to play, from what you're saying) isn't to be able to say "Ha, I beat your!" at the end of the night, but to have fun as a primary focus.

Beyond that, I personally like to build my decks in a way that facilitates interesting over powerful interactions, meaning the deck should optimally not play the same each time. This first and foremost means to avoid almost any tutors (meaning cards that allow searching the library for a card and put it into your hand, or even on the battlefield), as decks that do so will generally turn towards some kind of combo mechanic either intentionally or unintentionally over time. Instead, I like to build around interesting concepts, mostly determined by the commander, and just see how the game goes from there.

When choosing removal options, there's different flavors. Cyclonic Rift is a high-impact card, and even though it isn't the most powerful option out there and even enables your opponents' ETB effects, because it only affects your opponents, it isn't necessarily viewed as a very fair card. Play of the Game is much more potent, and you wouldn't include it in your deck if you couldn't afford it, but it nevertheless leaves the battlefield an even playing ground and is more likely to prevent one other strong player from winning than putting yourself in a good position, which makes it a way to balance the game rather than a card that makes you win.

While talking about balancing the game, there's no way to not talk about wheather to play counterspells, and which ones. They're elemental components of Commander to prevent others from getting their combos or just powerful cards out without ever coming to a stop, but they're perceived by many as unfair and aggressive, even when they're everything but... well, unless you play Baral, Chief of Compliance, which by the way you probably want to avoid if you want your opponents to have fun. Again, there are counterspells that will not exactly improve the mood at the table generally speaking, such as a Mental Misstep that will most of the time just counter your opponents' Sol Rings. On the other hand, there's Condescend, which doesn't only require you to pay up if you want to counter something big, but also makes your deck more versatile by getting a 1-mana Scry 2 effect almost any time you need it.

These are just some examples of what I'm considering, and maybe this will help with the question at hand. I'll also mention that I'm still playing Cyclonic Rift and Cryptic Command, simply because they're too useful cards in Commander to pass up... after all, everyone having fun doesn't mean that you need to lose. But I'm including them to complete the deck in a helpful way, for them to be occasionally used for good, rather than them being stamples that are intended to pathraze the battlefield before comboing into a win.

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Look into the decks and cards that people refer to as "group hug" those are the cards that benefit everyone (though generally benefit you most) Some of the most popular group hug commanders are:

There's plenty more, and a lot of other kinds of support cards, things that give benefits to players equally.

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