Politics in Commander can be polarizing.

Some people love it, as it can firmly dictate the pace, gameplay, and outcome of a game. Others hate it because they’d rather the games be decided by their own skill or deck/card choices. I’ve even seen some players build their decks with politics in mind. Some people will do everything they can to not engage in politics, hiding behind their hand, waiting for the right time to strike.

Which, if you think about it, is a political move in and of itself.

Now, I don’t believe there’s a real right or wrong way to go about things. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. Some people are more social, which plays more into this. Personally, I lean a bit against the political aspect of Commander. I think that’s because my deck, which is extremely Stax-heavy, will typically do the talking for me.

My point is clear, and I don’t really need to do much more past that until I either win or lose. I don’t have access to counterspells, and I don’t need to do much to progress my gameplan. This is by design, as I want to make sure I’m grounded in my deck’s goal. I don’t care much for convincing people that I’ll make the game more favorable for everyone but that player. My entire deck affects everyone, all the time. I’m okay with this. Is this a weakness? Am I sabotaging myself?

I don’t believe so.

One of the big strengths of having a deck that isn’t really quip to politics is how, at least in my mind, reactive political strategies are basically whatever to me. They allow me to not worry about a lot of that talk. I can focus on making the best play I can, at most times, and not having to alter my play much. Of course, this isn’t completely foolproof, as there will be times I need to figure things out with other players, like a Thassa’s Oracle hitting the board and priority going around. 

I’ll admit, navigating the multiplayer space is definitely unfamiliar territory for me. It’s going to take a ton of time for me to get used to that, if I get used to it at all. This unfamiliarity was why I initially wanted to build a Commander deck that focused on isolating players and trying to play a game with less players, when they aren’t eliminated yet. While I still think that kind of deck is possible, I also recognize it may not be at the competitive level I want it to be, at least not yet. It’s still very much something I want to dive into more, and how the way I approach things interacts with people who have been doing this forever. Maybe playing a deck or adjusting my existing deck to play more into politics would help me improve at it. Maybe continuing in my path of staying out of it as much as possible will help me pay more attention to the goings on. 

How much politicking is too much?

I don’t think it’s a bad thing to try to talk your way into or out of things. I don’t think doing it, even to an annoying point, is a bad thing either. I don’t see this being much different than a board game which allows such negotiation. It certainly won’t do you many favors socially, but I think there is a fine line between trying to talk your way into a win, and talking your way into becoming a target. I think it’s important to understand what the limits are, and to know when and when not to push for things, even if it’s beneficial to you.

At this point, I’m fully invested in the intricacies of Commander, both casual and competitive. There will be more regarding aspects as politics and the like, and I’ll likely try to pay more attention to how these interactions play out!

Anthony Lowry (they/he) is a seasoned TCG, MMORPG, and FPS veteran. They are extensively knowledgeable on the intricacies of many competitive outlets, and are always looking for a new challenge in the gaming sphere.

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