It’s no surprise, if you’ve read anything I’ve written regarding EDH, that I strongly prefer high powered decks, much more than some constructed formats. I find the games interesting, fun, and much more focused on not just winning, but doing so in a way that you can express. All the while, you’re pushing what you’re doing to the limit. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the fun of cEDH in particular isn’t necessarily the metagame itself, but taking your creation and seeing it through to its fullest. 

Something I’ve been thinking lately is how this doesn’t necessarily apply to anything high powered. I think low-powered games are interesting in a similar way I like low-powered cubes. They convey a different style of addition by restriction: putting limits on yourself to test how much you can do within said limits. Some of the best cubes I’ve ever had the privilege of playing are full of cards which have zero place in a powered, and powered-up, environment. If you’re familiar with Le Mans’ racing, it’s like watching each class of car compete. The expectations are different, but the track, cars, racing styles, and engineering, are all radically different. I think the same can apply to all power levels of Commander.

With all of that said, I think the way to go about it might be misconstrued as increasing the power level.

I think one’s interpretation of power is subjective. After all, what may fly in one group may not be okay in another. I’m not really talking about that though. What I want to focus on is how to make decks much more streamlined, without making it stronger. 

What’s the difference? 

Well, a couple of things.

To provide examples: Streamlining would be replacing Shock with Lightning Bolt because you simply catch more targets with Bolt. Yes, the latter is stronger, and yes, you can make a decision like this with the intent of streamlining, but also increase the power of your deck.

But it’s midnight and I’m too tired for semantics!

A power creep move would be to drop your Lightning Bolt for any form of multitarget X spell, because you’ll have another outlet for an infinite mana combo. A more elaborate example would be replacing two colorless utility lands for, say, a Triome in your colors and a creature land. Even if those colorless lands might technically give you more, having your lands more color accessible will help the rest of your deck function. The additional, albeit less useful utility may come in handy in less situations, but we’re making a deckbuilding decision that will help out our deck entirely, rather than harm us sometimes for more powerful effects.

Now the countertopic’s application would be replacing that Triome and creature land for fetch lands because you’ll get all colors on demand, at anytime. Is this a more useful thing for a deck? It depends of course, but in a vacuum, likely not. This might sound kind of silly, but making a move for power creep purposes may not always give you a more powerful result. This is also an example of a more powerful decision not necessarily being streamlined.

In low-powered EDH, I often see a lot of cards being played for the sake of being low power. This doesn’t actually have to be the case. I think it’s a lot more about keeping the goal of your deck. and to a greater extent, the path to victory with your deck, at a low power. But, maintaining the most streamlined way of getting there is still key. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s a mono green vanilla creatures-only deck, or the most blistering fast combo deck you can think of. There’s always a way to streamline things, and you do not have to take away, nor put in power to do so.

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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