*Disclaimer: This post is made under the assumption that most readers will be familiar with Magic: The Gathering, but if not, and are interested in learning more, I could possibly write some posts on a more basic, fleshed out level. Just let me know!*
Once upon a time in a blog far far away...
...I had rough drafts being prepped, highlighting different aspects of Magic: The Gathering, that were never complete and thus never saw the light of day. Some topics light and fun, while others were a bit more serious and controversial.
One major topic, focusing on the "Vault" prize support for Avacyn Restored's pre-release (or was it the release... or both? Either way, this may give you an idea of just how far back these entries were originally mocked up), triggered my passion to write about the game I had come to love. I was brimming with thoughts and opinions! That motivation sputtered, fearing I wouldn't be able to express myself coherently. That surge — then sputter — of motivation iremained quite prevalent.
Then a Commander/EDH debacle rekindled this passion on and off since my very first game/experience with the format. I've shied away for years, but I feel the cup of my ambition to finally cross into that realm of blogging about my not-so-subtle addiction has runneth over.
Unfortunately, the debate and news of this subject matter is all but moot now. Rulings were cast down from above. It is what it is. However, I'm using this topic, which I was very vocal about among my playgroups, to springboard my writing about Magic: The Gathering.
That would be the discussion of Tucking.
The Art of the Tuck
Tucking was the term coined for the action of placing a card in a player's library (generally from play). Sometimes near the top, sometimes near the bottom, sometimes shuffled in.
In the Commander format, "Commanders" are used, which dictate the make-up of what a player's deck may consist of. Furthermore, a new zone called the Command Zone (where Commanders begin the game) was created. These Commanders have the special feature of being relatively always available. They are cast from the Command Zone, and after each casting of the card, if the Commander would be placed back into the Command Zone, a 2 colorless mana taxation (increase to it's casting cost) is applied. This is an accumulative cost.
How can a Commander be placed back into the Command Zone? Being countered is one. Also, just about any other circumstance that removes it from play during the course of the game. Death. Exile. The controller of an affected Commander can decide to place it into said zone or to return it to the Command Zone, incurring the 2 colorless taxation, but being able to cast it again when able.
The two zones where this rule didn't apply was the Library and Hand. If a Commander was sent to either of these locations it was final. Now, granted, a Commander being sent to one's hand isn't all that bad as it allows it to be cast without its, thus far, accumulated taxation cost. Being placed in one's library, however, was a little more problematic.
If a Commander is Tucked into your library, there is a good chance that not only will you not come across it again, but be greatly hindered by the loss. It was a staple of the 100 card deck you assembled after all. A staple you assumed you'd have consistent access to.
To Tuck or Not to Tuck
This is what I encountered in my very first Commander match. At the time (who am I kidding, still to this day) I didn't have my own Commander/EDH deck built, so I would use extras my friends had. I picked the notorious Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind (I didn't know it at the time, but this is a Commander that many feel is degenerate, a factor that would come into play later when arguing my case). I had never played with the card before and I was excited to give it, and the format, a shot!
Not too long into the game, however, it seems I made myself a target and I was exposed to my first Tucking. I believe it was Bant Charm, courtesy of an opponent's Rafiq deck. Boom. Niv-Mizzet down and out. Call a medic! But it was too late. Sucker was Tucked and lost to me. From there on out I tried to play the unfamiliar deck to the best of my ability. This entailed a slew of cards making players draw and discard. Technically, that was my only hope for finding my Commander again. It was also the only thing in the deck I had coming up to play.
This created some Feel Bads across the board. People were annoyed I was making them discard their hands and drawing new cards and that I wasn't simply giving up. Like, I was feeling really lousy I was still trying to win, and I kept apologizing for my plays. I've never been one to just scoop, though, much to the chagrin of others. Just not my style. Plus, we had a game of like six people going, and we quickly learned that those games can go on for hours. The first one or two knocked out of the game have a lot of sitting around to do.
Eventually I was slain before I came across my Commander again and the whole ordeal really left a sour taste in my mouth. I discussed my experience and my opinion of the rule with the group and thoughts were split pretty evenly for and against the Tucking rule. I would be lying if I said it didn't get a bit heated, but I felt the discussion was very constructive.
I was hard pressed to believe that this wasn't a topic of debate among many players and so I sought out information online and, sure enough, I happened across it...
The Tucking Wars
I definitely wasn't the only one making my arguments against Tucking, but it seemed I was among the minority. I read many threads on forums and articles and anything I could find. It was during this time that I was heavily inspired to blog on the matter. Instead I stuck to reading material and discussing with friends.
On one side, players felt Tucking was a necessary evil to prevent degenerate Commanders from running amok. They also believed that there were enough ways to "dig" through your library to find a Tucked Commander and that a Commander deck should be able to stand on its own without access to the card. A deck failing to do so was poorly constructed.
On the other side, players felt it was counter-intuitive to have different effects for different circumstances in the game, which lead to the same result: the Commander being removed from play. Many argued that it shouldn't matter which zone it was being sent to, that it should all be uniform. Another argument was the belief that Tucking destroyed the "heart", or purpose/theme, of the Commander format, which was to always have access to your Commander to help lead your deck to victory.
There were plenty of other points made on both ends, but I won't go into them all.
Amid the chaos, the Rules Committee stood their ground upholding the rules for how Tucking worked...
Ding Dong the Tuck is Dead
(The planned blog entry title I wanted to write and post the day of the announcement)
...Until 2 months ago, in a shocking turn of events, the Rules Committee updated the official Commander/EDH rules! Tucking now functions the same as any other instance where a Commander is removed from play. The player controlling the affected Commander may now opt to place it in the Command Zone instead of their library (this also applies when your Commander is potentially sent to your hand).
I was ecstatic when hearing the news. After years, the "problem" (as some saw it to be) with Tucking was addressed. Players preferring the original Tuck rules took up arms, preaching their cases, swearing to quit the format, but as it was for those against Tucking before the rule change, their cries were ignored. It is what it is.
Naturally, playgroups may always make house rules, most already do. I'm sure many pro-Tuckers will continue to play by the original rules. I am of the mindset, though, that the change was for the best and creates more uniform, intuitive gameplay. It also creates an environment that encourages temporary alliances to take down player that may be running away with the game, rather than relying on Tucking their Commander, which could potentially ruin the gaming experience for that individual.
Ah P.A.C.T. All the things I had planned for you. A dedicated site and/or forums. A logo. T-shirts bearing said logo with random Tuck phrases/quotes. To say that my first Commander/EDH experience was a disappointment would be an understatement. It fueled the debates over Tucking amongst playgroups, it fueled my use of Tucking methods so that other players could "feel my pain" (becoming the thing I hate!), fueled my desire to blog about the topic, and fueled the creation of P.A.C.T.
Players Against Commander Tucking
I was going to build an army and crush Tucking once and for all! Oh what lofty dreams I sometimes have. Instead, I kept to discussing the matter among friends and as I mentioned above, resigned to the belief that if people were going to join my "cause" they were going to have to experience my "pain" in the Tucking world that existed at the time. It wasn't pretty. I still remember an infamous double Tuck I pulled off. The cries of a friend who said they had always agreed with my view on Tucking. Another friend in disbelief that I was Tucking at all, given my stance. The third pro-Tucker merely shrugging. And my maniacal laughter all the while...
In the end it all worked out...
Are you a fan of the Commander/EDH format? If so, what are some aspects you love about it? What are some of your favorite Commanders to use? If not, what turns you away from it? And naturally, do you agree with the Rules Committee's Tucking rule change? Where did you stand during the "Tucking Wars"?
And I haven't checked yet, but is it still raging?!