Chaos

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The 'chaos' deck archetype is somewhat unique to multiplayer games of Magic. These decks are built with the goal not to necessarily win as quickly as possible, but to create as confusing or complex of a board state as possible. This archetype may be used by the pilot specifically to disrupt powerful opponents by adding elements of chance and unpredictability to the game, which their own deck is better able to navigate, or may simply seek to create unexpected and unique board states that rarely exist in other games of Magic.

Chaos cards are found most commonly in the color red.

Popular Cards & Commanders

Notable Chaos cards include:

Commanders that may commonly use Chaos cards include:

Attitudes & Perception

Though multiplayer games of Commander will often place an emphasis on resonant, mutually enjoyable games instead of prioritizing victory, Chaos decks can be controversial in EDH and can even be seen by some as a violation of Commander's social contract. Cards that force chance and randomness into the game may be at odds with the ways that many players wish to experience games of Magic, especially if those players wish to showcase a unique aspect of their deck's strategy that chaos cards render inaccessible, or if they wish for the game to be won on the merits of skill, rather than chance. Importantly, chaos cards frequently remove a player's control over their own gameplay actions, which is often not seen as a mutually enjoyable play experience.

It is strongly encouraged that players using chaos decks provide that information to their opponents as part of a pre-game discussion, so that those opponents may prepare or determine their comfort level with this style of play.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Chaos decks have extremely high variance, and create fairly unique experiences from game to game. This can be ideal for players who do not enjoy decks with homogenous or too-consistent strategies.
  • Chaos decks can significantly disrupt the plans of their opposition. Because chaos cards may cause spells not to resolve, may switch control of cards in play, or may produce unpredictable consequences from even small actions, chaos cards may level the playing field and reduce an opponent's ability to take meaningful or game-ending actions.
  • Chaos decks can be built with chance in mind, making them better prepared to handle unpredictable board states and allowing the pilot to break the parity of random effects to produce an advantage over their opponents. As an example, Mishra, Artificer Prodigy may use cards such as Possibility Storm to create random game states, but Mishra's triggered ability will allow the player to circumvent that randomness by retrieving any artifact spells that might have been lost to that randomness. This provides extra value that their opponents may struggle to keep up with.

Weaknesses

  • Though some chaos decks may seek to gain advantage over their opponents by being more prepared for random game elements, it is almost impossible for any player to wholly manipulate those random elements. Chaos games can easily slip out of the control of any player and create game states where no player is able to take meaningful action. Some chaos cards may even change the manner in which players take turns, such as the card Timesifter, which may cause some players to be unable to take any turns at all, and not be able to participate in the game properly.
  • Because chaos cards disrupt players' ability to take meaningful game actions and naturally advance their own strategy, this can prevent any player from actually ending the game. Games with chaos cards can therefore take a significantly longer amount of time than other archetypes, which can cause players to become frustrated by the play experience, rather than enjoying it. Chaos effects will also cause victory to be decided by chance, rather than by skill, which many players may also find less enjoyable.
  • Chaos cards, especially when combined with other chaos cards, can create incredibly tricky and complicated rules interactions. Players may find it difficult or frustrating to keep up with the complex consequences that result from even casting a single spell.


Related EDHREC Resources