As a non-competitive EDH player, there is a different approach to playing Magic. As the group of players at the card shop has moved away from duel format EDH as their primary mode of competition and has adopted the standard format as the tournament and competitive mode of play, EDH play has become the fun “post tournament” activity. It’s also the way that competitive players bring new people into the gaming scene. It’s far easier to make friends when the decks are being loaned out, there is nothing on the line, and there is a large group of people laughing and throwing insults at one another while huge decks are being shuffled and rifled through.

I got an invite to show up for some casual trading and games today from one of my EDH buddies. He was looking for a particular card he knew I had, and I am always up for a few trades and games when I can fit it into my work schedule. I left work a little early, got the house cleaned, picked up my cards and went out for some games. I didn’t know how long I was going to stick around, but after I ran into several Korean friends at the shop, I was able to get some EDH games together.

One of the coolest things, as you learn to play the format more extensively, is that social interaction is as much a part of the game as the events on the board itself, and being able to build friendships and alliances is a key to winning with some of my newer decks. I’ve selected slightly less powerful cards that don’t always win when facing an aggressive opponent, that can, with some collusion from my allies, turn the game in my favor completely if played well.

For example, one of the cards I traded for today allows me to select an opponent and give him my card to use. If he decides to use it, he can give it to someone else. I can select an ally to help when they are struggling to get the right combination of cards, and through cooperation we can both get ahead. It’s mutually beneficial for him to return that card right back to me if he wanted to be assured he would get it again, so that there is trust built between us. He could simply back-stab me and pass this card between my enemies instead, but then he wouldn’t necessarily get it back. Traitors don’t gain any benefits.

It’s pretty cool to realize that this interaction plays out off the table, but impacts the game. My newest deck is built on all kinds of these reactions, and it’s a lot of fun to play. When you play with new players, they often take the competitive mindset into the game thinking that everyone is their enemy and must be defeated. I don’t need to beat everyone, just the second to last player. If I’m not viewed as a direct threat, and I go to great lengths to convince people I’m not, I can usually surprise people the first time they encounter my deck. It’s fantastic to see them go from laughing at my particular card choices to wondering how they lost.

I accomplished several goals with my new deck, but ended up losing to a new player that was borrowing one of my decks. Even though I lost, I had some epic plays, and I ended up having made the deck that won anyway. I got to meet some new foreigners, and I met some new friends, saw some old friends, and got lots of powerful new cards. Solid all around.