I think I’m over the EDH league at Twenty Sided Store, and from talking to the rest of my usual playgroup I am probably not alone in this. Maybe if I was playing the type of Commander that I liked in these events it would be worth sticking through a dwindling female base of players and Spikes who whine their way into their combo kills. But I am not having fun. And the people I like to play with aren’t having fun. So it seems like it’s not worth coming back to play again.

Here’s how it went down. In the first pod I was paired against Ertai, the Corrupted, Saffi Eriksdotter and Hanna, Ship’s Navigator. After having had success with the deck earlier this weekend (which I will discuss in more detail below), I ended up running Maelstrom Wanderer, my big dumb RUG ramp deck. Ertai played a turn one Serra Ascendant, and then pulled the whole “oh, I am going to attack you all equally so you can’t get mad at me.” I despise that particular style of “diplomacy,” since it’s not strategically useful and it’s a particularly cowardly way of trying to avoid aggro. Ertai then stumbled on land while Hanna took over the game, keeping off the aggro with Propaganda while controlling the flow of the game with Aura of Silence and Telepathy. Telepathy is shockingly annoying in EDH. So Ertai started to hit Hanna with the Ascendant, before Hanna wrathed… and then Saffi dropped the first Sylvan Primordial. Fun fact about that card, the targets are mandatory, which means if a player has no non-land non-creature permanents, it bombs their mana base. Ertai was in this position, so despite being at 80 life (and ending the game at 45 when he finally scooped), he began incessantly whining about the damage we were doing to his mana. Which, I get how it’s not fun to get locked out of a game, but it’s also not fun to have an opponent batter you around starting on turn one. And it’s definitely not fun for a control deck, with Austere Command in hand, to keep avoiding casting the thing because someone else will deal with the threats.

Anyway, being threatened with negative points for land destruction, I held off copying the Primordial twice with Spitting Image, and it resulted in Hanna living about three turns too many and Saffi getting those turns to go off with Seedborn Muse and Winding Canyons. It was filthy, and absolutely no fun to play against, especially when he was playing with his food instead of taking Hanna out. Finally Saffi killed Hanna, and Hanna admitted that on untap his plan was to play Enchanted Evening and Opalescence to win the game. Again! Filthy! But Ertai killed me off next with my own general, and with a minute or so left in the round he scooped to Saffi’s board position. I ended up with a single point when all was said in done, and it was just an unpleasant game. The only good thing to come out of the game was learning about Soothsaying, the newest random weird card I need to find to try out in the format. It seemed really good, and would probably do well in the Wanderer, let alone Azami, Lady of Scrolls.

I broke from my game to find out my friend, who was the only other woman playing in the league that night, had her own horrible evening and had completely soured on the store. Turns out all it takes to make a place toxic is mansplaining and gang-rape jokes. So that weighed heavily on my mind when I sat down for my next pod, only to find out that one of the jerks from her pod had ended up in mine. He overheard me talking to Giaco about the incident, and basically made an argument for the inoffensiveness of his joke that came off as, “It was just a joke, don’t be thin-skinned.” Ick. Giaco seemed as put off by this behavior as I was, so the game descended into a bit of a two-headed-giant scenario.

Giaco was running Yeva, Nature’s Herald, while I had switched over to Dana’s Sigarda, Host of Herons deck. Rounding out the pod was the one guy playing Ghave, Guru of Spores, and a fourth player rocking Cromat for the color. On turn two I dropped Kor Spiritdancer and on turn three I put Unquestioned Authority on it, and I kept swinging in at Ghave until Cromat wrathed the board. And as great as it was playing with Giaco (quite great), the game was won because we kept up the aggressive pace. I played out Vigor and Troll Ascetic post-wrath, and kept swinging at Ghave. Giaco picked up the pace by bloodrushing Skarrg Goliath onto Yeva, and after I dropped Ghave down to three Giaco scored the victory.

This left us against Cromat, who had in the meantime managed to spit literally every basic land in his deck out onto the battlefield, copied and then killed my Vigor, and was doing filthy things with Maelstrom Nexus (the card I most wish wasn’t five-color). After he dropped Leyline of the Void I realized my window of opportunity was closing, so I Opened the Vaults, sliding a ‘yarded Faith’s Fetters onto his Sylvan Primordial and dropping his shields in the air. Sigarda and a giant Hornet token managed to knock him down to size quickly, and when he found his answer he had too little mana untapped to stay alive. Giaco got his second kill, but when he passed his turn I dropped Daybreak Coronet onto Sigarda to balance out her Unquestioned Authority. It was enough to kill him, and the game ended.

While part of me was happy to have finally managed to get a win in this thing, it was immediately offset by several factors. I mean, my first win only came about because I was playing a really aggressive form of EDH while feeding the player to my left (Giaco) several kills. And the deck that got me that win wasn’t even one of my own durdley decks, it was one of Dana’s vicious ones. So sure, if I play decks that don’t do fun things and I play aggressively, instead of taking my time and being social, I can win at this thing. But at that point, why am I even playing EDH?

Certainly not for the right reasons. So I think I am done with the Commander league for the foreseeable future. It’s a shame, because over the weekend I met up with a casual-playing friend, who wants nothing to do with the store. We played several games of three-player EDH, and despite the gigantic power level of his decks and the disgusting way he took both Dana and me to pieces with his Omnath, Locus of Mana monster, I had a ton of fun. I had more fun there than in any of these sanctioned games of EDH. That held true for the pickup games I had been playing with my friends before the start of the official tournament as well.

And that’s why I am done with this league. It’s a great experiment and I am thankful for the Twenty Sided Store’s attempt to finally try their hand at Commander programming. It just seems like the type of EDH they’ve ended up with is not the type that I want to play, and I don’t want to have to open a new front against misogynistic conduct in the game. I know I’ll go back there again. It will probably be as soon as Friday. I know too many people who play there and it is still the best environment that I’ve found in NYC. But I think I am going to keep my EDH-ing only to friends in the future. The more 20SS catches on the harder it is to keep the vibe that I like about the place, and what should have been an attempt to broaden the audience to more casual players ended up creating something more toxic than the competitive side. It’s telling that attendance dropped from almost ten women last week to only two this week; it’s more telling to know that the two of us there this week won’t be there the next.

So, for the time being, I think I am sticking to draft. I have faith that things will change in 20SS’ EDH league, as the store is owned and run by people who do not truck with the misogyny—but I can’t get invested every time this happens. Sometimes I just want to enjoy a space, and it’s hard to do that and police it at the same time.

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