In most senses, I’ve known how to play Magic the Gathering since I was in middle school. I never had any cards of my own (I had Pokemon cards when those were new) but I knew the rules somewhat and I could play at a very basic level. Most of my Magic experience remained theoretical until I got Duels of the Planeswalkers (the first one, in 2009) on a whim and really enjoyed it. At the same time, I never really got into “competitive” Magic. I was (and still am) uninterested in putting in the time and money it would take to get “good” at any of the constructed formats. Draft is also a skill I just never picked up.
Fast forward several years, and I find out about the Commander format. For those unfamiliar, this is a format usually played with more than two people, using decks containing 100 cards where you can have no more than one of anything other than basic lands, and using a legendary creature as your “Commander”. This is a card you have access to at all times that also determines what colors of cards you can include in your deck. (The original Commanders were the Elder Dragons from way back in Legends, so that’s where the original name “Elder Dragon Highlander” comes from.) Commander games tend to be quite a bit longer and crazy things can happen that are unlikely to ever see any use in a normal game. The multiplayer aspect is also relevant, because it encourages playing politics if someone is getting ahead.
I started with the pre-constructed deck featuring Atraxa, the rather ridiculous card pictured above. I’ve since tried building my own decks, some of which have been more successful than others. It’s definitely re-kindled my interest in the game, and this more casual approach has helped other podcast members get into it as well.