Coming from a MTG tournament player’s background, I’ve always had a spot in my heart for tournaments. I love the excitement of doing well and the thrill of competition, and it’s always been a blast to compete. Hence, every year, my little EDH playgroup has hosted a massive EDH tournament between our decks, to crown a champion. This tournament is called The EDH Battle Royale, and this year will mark the sixth time we have done this.
And of course, it is time for us to begin our war once again! The competition has been changed this year, but the spirit of the competition has not.
It’s time for The EDH Battle Royale VI!
THE HISTORY OF THE EDH BATTLE ROYALE:
Five years ago, roughly around this time, in the big lull between the fall big set and the February expansion, I set up a swiss-style tournament between all of our EDH decks that I called “The EDH Battle Royale.” The concept was simple: To find out which EDH deck would prove to be the best of the best, from among 32 of our decks in a massive tournament.
The first battle raged fiercely for three-quarters of a month, and when the dust cleared, Sedris, the Traitor King was our ultimate winner of the first ever EDH Battle Royale event.
Since that initial tourney, we have done the Battle Royale event several more times, and each time, it’s been a blast. For The EDH Battle Royale II, we had a whopping 64 decks, and in the end, the plucky Selesnya general Saffi Eriksdotter took the crown. We did the whole thing a third time with The EDH Battle Royale III, with even more decks (a massive 81!), and in the end, Maga, Traitor to Mortals harnessed the power of ultimate evil and stood tall among the fallen as our third champion. For the fourth year, we changed things up and added a play-in division for decks that had never won before, and all told, had a ridiculous 94(!!) decks total; in the end, the quirky Rasputin Dreamweaver pulled off a miracle and prevented Saffi from becoming a two-time champ. Finally, last year we went back to 81 decks, and the event was dominated by upstart challenger Isperia the Inscrutable, who managed to win the whole thing with “flying tribal.”
So the question becomes, can Isperia successfully defend her title this year? Will any of the other previous champs win, and become two-time champs? Or will we have a new champion? All good questions, and we will find out soon!
Two years ago, one major change we did was to add a Play-In Division, for all the EDH decks that had never won a match in the Battle Royale before. This was what I’d said about it at that time:
The Play-In Division:
“This year, we’ll be doing something a little bit different. I know going in that we’ll have somewhat more decks than we have slots in the 64-deck tournament, so we’ll actually be doing a play-in bracket in December, where some of our worse decks will have to win a qualifying match to advance into the actual Battle Royale. My plan is to give each deck that has at least one win in previous EDH Battle Royales a bye, putting them right into this year’s event and letting them skip the qualifying matches. This will allow me to still run many of the bad or experimental decks I normally build for the event, while also rewarding those decks that have done well in the past.
Competition will be stiffer than ever before, as to win, a deck has to make it through three preliminary rounds to make it to the final four. If one of the decks going through the play-in bracket actually wins the event, they have to win four rounds to get to the final four! This will be an exciting event!”
While the Play-In Division was a good idea, I had cut it from last year’s event as it added too much time to what was already a long tourney.
Two years ago, we also experimented with giving the previous year’s champion a first-round bye. While I liked the idea of rewarding the champ for winning and making it harder for other decks to dethrone them, this bye also made the tourney more complicated than it had to be. Last year, we did the tourney without the first-round bye.
I mention both of these things (a bye for the champ and the play-in division) as this year, we’re bringing them back. But in a different way!
For this year, I knew going in that I wanted to bring back both the play-in division and the bye, but in a special way.
The issue is that as the years go by, my playgroup has constantly built more and more new decks. Over and over, adding to the total of decks we’d have to add to the Battle Royale if we wanted them all to compete. And of course, the more decks we have in a tourney, the longer it takes to finish the entire event; last year, with 81 decks, took us three months to finish, which is way too long. This year, if we added in everyone’s EDH decks, we were looking at an event with almost 90+ decks, which is an enormous amount of work to play through.
Hence, I am cutting down the total number of decks in this year’s tourney. In total, we are only going to be using 15 decks from each player, plus last year’s champ — that’s 46 decks total. In theory, this year will play much quicker than the previous years. Let’s take a look at how this year will work.
THE NEW PLAY-IN DIVISION:
This year, we will once again be using a play-in division to determine which decks get to battle in the main event. However, we’re going to do this in a special way.
Each player will be choosing 15 of their own decks to battle in the play-in division. What is different here is that these 15 decks will only be battling against the rest of that player’s decks to qualify; this will leave each player with 5 decks qualified for the main event.
Hence, for the main event, there will only be 15 decks total, which will greatly speed things up. That leads us to…
THE MAIN EVENT:
I’ll admit, I’ve based this year’s main event off of a wrestling tournament, the G1 tourney held in Japan each year.
The idea is, there will be three blocks of five decks each, and each block will be holding a separate mini-tournament to decide a winner that moves on to the finals. Each player’s five decks will be randomized into the three blocks. Now, unlike my normal tourneys, where everything is single elimination, in the main event this year a loss will not get a deck kicked out; each deck will end up playing against each other deck in that block. The one deck in each block with the most victories will move on to the finals.
To illustrate what this will look like, here’s a quick layout of how this will work:
For Block 1, we have five decks:
To play Block 1, we pair each deck up like so:
Deck A vs. B vs. C
Deck A vs. B vs. D
Deck A vs. B vs. E
Deck B vs. C vs. D
Deck B vs. D vs. E
Deck C vs. D vs. E
And we play out those matches. There will be six matches per block, with the one deck that has won the most moving on to the finals.
Of course, that is just to get to the finals. What happens once the three block winners get there?
It’s simple enough: the finals is going to be a fatal four-way match, between the four block winners, and Isperia the Inscrutable, who is getting a bye all the way to the final match.
That’s right, we’re also bringing back a bye for the champion, but this is a pretty big deal here, letting the champ skip all the way to the last match. Dethroning the champ is going to be much tougher this year, as a deck first has to qualify for one of the three blocks, win the most in that block, then beat Isperia in the finals.
If we keep this tourney format going forward, I feel that this kind of bye is a worthy thing for the champ to receive; winning one of these tourneys is not easy, so it should be hard for someone to dethrone them.
MY FIFTEEN CONTENDERS:
So having said all that, who will I be throwing in the ring this year as my contenders to the throne? I deliberated for a long while about which of my decks was worthy of this honor, and who I would want to send into battle.
I knew that I wanted to use a wide variety of decks; I didn’t just want to use control decks, or aggressive decks, or combo. I wanted to mix it up, and just let the best move on.
This is my list of participants this year:
1. Saffi Eriksdotter – a midrange deck, winner of The EDH Battle Royale II
2. Maga, Traitor to Mortals – control, winner of The EDH Battle Royale III
3. Rasputin Dreamweaver – Flicker effects, winner of The EDH Battle Royale IV
4. Ezuri, Renegade Leader – tribal Elves, winner of The Tribal Throwdown
5. Bruna, Light of Alabaster – combo/control
6. Wort, the Raidmother – mana ramp into big spell combo
7. Nekusar, the Mindrazer – painful Wheels
8. Mayael the Anima – really big creatures
9. Keranos, God of Storms – blue control with counterspells
10. Breya, Etherium Shaper – artifacts matter
11. The Gitrog Monster – lands matter
12. The Mimeoplasm – reanimator
13. Queen Marchesa – playing politics
14. aggro deck 1
15. aggro deck 2
This gives me a very wide mix of deck styles, with lots of generals that are both strong, and that I enjoy playing. The only two decks I’m unsure of are which two aggressive decks to fill those last two slots with (I’m leaning towards some combination of Saskia the Unyielding, Krenko, Mob Boss, Xenagos, God of Revels, Captain Sisay, or Edric, Spymaster of Trest). We shall see which two I decide to add; either way, this should give me an excellent mix!
So there you have it, that is the setup for the sixth annual EDH Battle Royale!
I am looking forward to once again seeing how everyone’s EDH decks perform this year, and I can’t wait to see exactly which deck can run the gauntlet and win the whole thing. In subsequent articles, I will be going over the various games that we play in this tournament; what wins, what loses, any epic plays made, and our ultimate victor.
Odds are not in Isperia’s favor to retain the title (even though she’ll have a bye to the finals, greatly increasing her chances of winning, we’ve never had a repeat champion before).
Can Isperia beat the odds and become our first ever two-time Battle Royale champion? Soon, it will be time to find out!