Over the years I have jokingly identified myself as Spock. I have a tendency to look at the analytical side of things. One way to categorize personalities is through the Myers-Briggs personality types and true to form I tested out with a personality type called the Logician. Myers-Briggs has listed sixteen different personality types. Luckily in Magic we do not have that many to track. Most say there are three types of Magic players, but I believe there are four. By knowing what type of player you are it will help you understand what type of decks to build so that you can enjoy your commander experience more when you sit down at the table. It will also save you some money so that you do not build a deck you think is neat and discover you do not enjoy playing it and you never pull it out to play again. It also can help you interact with others at the table. The personality types originated out of Wizards of the Coast to describe players. They wanted to personalize the player archetype so they gave them names. The four personality types are, Timmy, Johnny, Spike and my addition Richard.
Timmy sounds like he is someone young but he does not have to be. He is the player who wants to win big. The Timmy personality type wants the big splash cards that wreak havoc on the board. He is the type of player who plays goodstuff or voltron decks or likes to play Eldrazi like Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and swing away. He also could enjoy playing Kiki Jiki and Zealous Conscripts to create an infinite number of tokens with haste and swing out with them all. Squeaking out a win is not enjoyable enough for Timmy. Timmy might not even care if he wins a game of commander as long as he was able to dominate the game for awhile and take somebody out. For Timmy it is quality not quantity of wins. EDH attracts Timmy because it gives him time to play his big splashy cards.
Johnny is often called the “combo player” but that designation does not do the Johnny player justice. In commander the designation is more aptly named Johnny Deck Brewer. Johnny is a creative soul. He is about the card interactions and how they synergize and string together to create a winning board state. Johnny doesn’t care if he dominates. He is content to squeak out a win if he pulls off something cool to just barely beat everybody. For example Johnny may have a weak board state and other players are far closer to a win but he has ridiculous mana and is able to play Approach of the Second Sun twice in one turn out of nowhere to steal the victory. Johnny also doesn’t always care about winning if he can do some cool stuff. If his deck worked Johnny is happy. Deckbuilding is integral to the Johnny personality. In fact it is just as fun or more so to build a new original deck than to sit down and play commander. Commander with it large card pool and larger design space per deck attracts a lot of Johnny players
Spike wants to win. Winning is what matters it is quantity over quality when it comes to wins. Spike is the player most likely to net deck. He will look for the most powerful deck try to create it and play it. If Spike can afford it he will play the dominant expensive deck like Hermit Druid. He also will need to win more than he should. In a four player game where players should win one out of every four games a Spike would like to win at least one out of three games if not win 50 percent or better of the games he plays. If Spike is not winning he is not having much fun. Spike is also the player that is most likely to have one commander deck only and he keeps investing in it to improve the deck and make it as efficient as possible. Everybody has a little Spike in them to some degree. To Spike winning is not everything it is the only thing. Casual Commander may not be the best format for Spike but you can still find him at the table.
This is a personality type that I have quantified as opposed to Wizards of the Coast. Richard is best summed up from a movie line from Alfred in The Dark Knight. He said, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” Richard may like to win but he mostly likes to play decks that shut things down for his opponents. Richard also causes chaos and slows down the game for no reason. While many players may have a control deck or a chaos deck that they play from time to time, these decks are all that Richard owns or is his preferred deck. Other player types may have chaos cards like Possibility Storm or Winter Orb in their deck with a way to play around them for a tactical advantage, Richard has a deck packed full of these cards to disrupt the game as much as possible. Often it is the shutting down of the board or the chaos his deck brings that is fun for Richard. There are less Richards than there are the other three personality archetypes.but you still may encounter them.
Armed with these personality type descriptions ask yourself do you prefer playing?Is it a combo for a win, just straight up attacking with creatures? Could it be answering other players threats, playing politics? Do you enjoy building a pillow fort and sneaking in for the win after other players used all their resources? These things give clues to what type of player you are and what type of decks you will enjoy playing. While Spike may disagree, commander is a game and it is meant to be fun. It is important when you sit down at the table that you are playing a deck you will enjoy. Otherwise why play the game?
If you would like to read a little more about player archetypes you can read an article by Mark Rosewater here.