Pop Quiz, Do You Have an Answer for That

I have a local game shop where I play commander regularly for the last several years. When you are consistently attending a store you get to know a lot of the people that cycle in and out of the game shop and the players who attend. Most EDH players are Johnny Deckbrewers and they love showing off their decks. In a lot of those cases they love to show off and talk about their decks. Being that I love to talk shop I look forward to these times. 

Ben brews some very synergistic decks. The way that the cards of his decks work together is quite impressive. If left unchecked his decks can get out of hand and you can find that our game is over quite quickly. I respect him and what he builds. One night he was showing me one of his new builds and as I was looking through the deck. Despite being a white deck it was short on removal. I asked him about it and his response was “Yeah, my deck doesn’t do that.” 

This little anecdote has a lesson in it. It isn’t “Make sure your deck has removal”. That is too easy. Often it is correct. Ten pieces of removal is a good place to start because it allows you to interact with the battlefield. Instead, it’s keep in mind is each of your opponents is giving you a pop quiz. Each threat they play is a question. You need to have an answer for it. Most decks will use removal as the answer. Other decks the answer may be to take out your opponent so quickly that they are not able to ask a pertinent question. 

This brings us to synergy decks. Often synergy decks will include answers but they will be with cards that synergize with what they want to do.  If your deck wants to play creatures you can put your removal on creature spells. But sometimes you should take a look at sacrificing removal for some additional cards that will synergize with each other that will create a battlefield state that is difficult to crack open and can downright end games. These decks are often quite aggro in nature. In this way, aggro decks answer is much like Jeff Dunham’s Achmed the dead terrorist’s response, “I kill you!” 

In conclusion, whenever you build a deck, keep in mind your opponents will play threats that ask you to have a response. Think about the players in your meta what do they like to play and be ready to have a response to the types of threats they are commonly going to play. It could be a card or it could be a play style. Either way, have a plan for it if it is common in your meta. This concept is simple but it can often be overlooked when we build our decks or get involved in a game night with our friends. This way we will be ready to ace what pop quiz comes our way at the commander table.