Top ways to spice up Game Night
18 Oct 2021 - 10 min read
Episode 45 of the Hexdrinkers Podcast dives into some of the myriad of ways we’ve tried to add a little more spice to our Commander nights, highlighting everything from interesting variants of the format to more specific and indvidualized customizations. While we go into greater detail on the pod, we thought it might be helpful to provide a spruced up “link-list” for some of the resources and tools we mention during the episode.
Even a 100-card singleton format can use a little bit of variety now and again, so here are our three favorite variations:
Two-Headed Giant might be the format we mention that you’re most familiar with, but maybe not in the context of commander - there are a couple different rules worth repeating:
- Each team starts with 60 life
- Commander Damage is unchanged (21)
- Starting team doesn’t draw
While not seeing a new product since 2012, Planechase is perhaps the most universally beloved Commander variant among the Hexdrinkers. As Oakley describes it, “It’s like adding a 5th player who loves group hug but occasionally dives into stax.” For an official format breakdown, check out this. We also mention the fan initiative “Planechase 2019” on the show, an absolutely delightful custom set of Plane cards set everywhere MTG has gone from 2012 - 2019. You can find the original Reddit post that introduces the expansion here (and a huge shout-out to u/ExPointReddit and team who helped make this possible).
If this all seems interesting and you’d like to try out planechase classic, 2019, or both with your friends and playgroup - we gotchu! Head on over to planeswalk-app.com where we’ve put together a custom Planechase companion app to make the process absolutely seamless.
Commander Dungeons and Dragons
While a little rough around the edges, “Commander DnD” as we’ve been calling it is a Hexdrinkers original! Born as a fun Hexdrinkers’ Olympics event (You can find a link to that episode here), we’ve been doing some work to build the format out and make it more enjoyable with more impactful effects. The basic premise is like Planechase: you’re given access to a die that can trigger events from outside the game. Only in this case, it’s a d20 with effects based off of the You come across… cycle from AFR. Our official format page is just a Google spreadsheet right now but check it out! Recently we’ve been playing with adding classes (Eric had a ton of fun running the Bard Class with his mono-green legends deck)…but let us know what you think!
Again referencing the Hexdrinkers Olympics episode, having other goals besides victory in your game can lead to some very interesting (and fun!) plays. I believe Commander Vs shows off this idea best.
Sometimes the best way to get out of a deckbuilding rut is to force yourself to explore cards outside of your traditional picks. Here are the ways we’ve limited ourselves from the Cyclonic Rifts and Avengers of Zendikar of the world:
One of the easiest ways to limit a deck from going off the rails is imposing a budget. We’ve all been building for a while and have amassed sizable collections, but every once in a while it’s good to see what is the best you can do with $50, $30, or $20 - and with current reprint policies you’d be surprised! Check out some of our more recent Group Brew episodes where we usually have someone taking a budget approach.
Planar Commander/Themed Decks
While we call out Planar Commanders on the pod, we’ve had a lot of success with our “Commander Precons” Podcast episodes exploring theme limits on deck building. Most recently, this has taken the form of DnD Campaign-themed decks but I have a feeling something new is coming out soon too…
We’ve been doing a LOT of PDH recently and it’s been an absolute blast. Limiting yourself to 99 commons with any uncommon creature in the command zone forces some really interesting design decisions…and makes some approaches a lot more viable. While we provide a lot of base format information (and will continue to do so) when it comes to top cards from recent sets or some deck techs, the format home page is at pdhhomebase.com. If you’d like to dig into the budding competitive scene we recommend checking out The Tryhards who are doing amazing things for cPDH and maintain a tierlist!
Hopefully this article and accompanying podcast have given you some inspriation to try out something new with your playgroup too! If you have any fun ideas or try one of these and want to tell us how it went - hit us up in the comments below!
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