'Politics' is often used as a term to describe gameplay that features alliances and deals made between players in a multiplayer game of EDH. The word is derived from the way politicians will often interact with one another, attempting to gain favors and manipulating the way others see them. However, the term technically refers to all interactions between players in a multiplayer format; 'politics' includes players using one another as resources, managing the way they play to be more appealing, maintaining social contracts, and more.
Popular Themes & Commanders
- Political gameplay occurs within every color and playstyle, but is most often associated with the following themes:
- Any commander and archetype may be played politically, though some commanders may become more popular for players who specifically wish to use politics during gameplay. Examples of such commanders include:
- There are several mechanics that were created for Commander (or other multiplayer formats) that prominently display political gameplay. Examples include:
- Parley (seen on )
- Will of the Council (seen on )
- Council's Dilemma (seen on )
- Tempting Offer (seen on )
- Join Forces (seen on )
- Assist (seen on )
- Goad (seen on )
- Such mechanics involve granting or revoking choice from one or more players at the table, either through voting, restricting combat opportunities, or contributing resources. Many other cards feature explicitly political gameplay without these mechanics as well, such as the card .
- One of the most popular types of political cards, featured predominantly in Pillowfort style decks, are cards similar to . These effects disincentivize opponents from attacking their controllers, causing opponents to become more appealing targets during combat.
- Effects that grant all players similar resources are also common among political decks, for instance by providing other players with sought-after benefits such as ramp or card advantage or even giving them creature tokens. These abilities may be used to improve relations with other players, sometimes providing others with the resources necessary to assist in the takedown of a mutual enemy from a powerful position. These effects, despite being mostly symmetrical, are often included to benefit the caster more than the other players.
- Politics strategies may also be more proactive in using any type of effect in a political way. Even normal removal spells such as the popular may be used politically, often in quid-pro-quo fashion (i.e. player 1 will use their removal spell on player 2's creature in exchange for a benefit or amnesty from player 3).
Attitudes & Perception
- Politicking can be contentious among the EDH community. Deal-making and alliances may garner vitriol for pitting friends against friends. Alliances can also single out the player who occupies the most favorable position in the game, uniting multiple players against a single opponent. This type of strategy can cause players to feel less like each person is making strategic decision based upon skill and optimum card efficiency, and more like external factors from outside the game are guiding player behavior. This reputation can sometimes cause ill will towards political archetypes or the use of politics during gameplay.