Tensions Rise Over PlayEDH & cEDH Discord Merger

Queen Of Cardboard • April 4, 2024

Hostile takeovers seem more fitting in the business world than the communities of Magic the Gathering, but that appears to be what happened between PlayEDH and the Competitive EDH Discord server. But how could this happen over a discord server?

The facts are as follows:

  • In the Summer of 2023, the admin team behind PlayEDH met with two members of the Competitive EDH Discord server admin team over a potential merger. According to PlayEDH, the talks did not amount to any agreement and ultimately were discarded at this time. One of the issues that could not be overcome was getting approval from the remainder of the admins on the Competitive EDH team.
  • After the closing of cEDH Nexus in January 2024, that member approached the PlayEDH team again about a potential merger. This time, an agreement was signed between PlayEDH and at least two members of the Competitive EDH team. 
  • The entire admin team of Competitive EDH was in agreement of this merger at first.
  • On February 11th, 2024 the admin team of the Competitive EDH team notified their staff, the moderation team, of their intent to merge with PlayEDH.
  • Ownership of the Discord server was transferred on February 28th, 2024.
  • The PlayEDH team was told that the moderation team of Competitive EDH were given more details about the merger on the 1st of March.
  • The Competitive EDH moderation team was not informed of major server changes by their admin team before this agreement was planned.
  • The Competitive EDH community was not asked for their opinion before this agreement was put in place by either the outgoing or incoming teams.
  • The Competitive EDH moderation team, some of the admin team, as well as the founder of the Discord attempted to encourage PlayEDH to divest and give back ownership of the server
  • Negotiations to have PlayEDH divest from the discord server were halted on the 28th of March, 2024.
  • On  April 2, 2024, the Competitive EDH moderation team had their moderation permissions removed.

Who is PlayEDH?

According to their website, PlayEDH is the "premier online play space for paper commander." First formed less formally as a chat group on Skype and then moving to Discord in 2017, PlayEDH today offers a matchmaking service via their discord server, a monthly online tournament with prizing, articles, and content on Twitch, as well as Merch sales. This business is a little atypical, running under a profit share agreement where all staff are paid the same amount.

This is not the first time PlayEDH has faced controversy with some players struggling to appreciate their power-level deck checks and paywalls to play the most popular format of Magic, commander. Despite this, the team seems to be experiencing great success, bringing on two new staff members in the last year. 

Who is Competitive EDH?

The Competitive EDH Discord was created first as a subreddit, r/competitiveedh by ShakeandShimmy in 2013. When the community wanted a way to play matches, the server was formed, a few months after Discord was launched as an online platform in 2015. Today, the server boasts over 15,000 members and has one of the most cEDH games matched according to the community. The subreddit also hosts 86.2k members though the team of both platforms have gone through some leadership changes between their founding and present day.

The former logo for the r/competitiveedh Discord server.

In 2019, ShakeandShimmy transferred ownership to Shaper, citing a need for engaged leadership, a role he felt he was failing at. The admin team under ShakeandShimmy shared the duties of the community leadership but Shaper held ownership of the Discord server itself. Their moderation team handled a lot of the day-to-day moderation tasks and was arguably the most engaged of the team to date. At this point before the merger for many, the Competitive EDH Discord was a hangout place, where players came together to talk about cEDH, life, joke, and catch games on Cockatrice.

The Merger

The PlayEDH team was approached not once, but twice, about merging the server. A member of the admin team shopped the discord server not only to PlayEDH but also to Ka0s tournaments, the organization that took over cEDH Nexus. Though the reasoning is not entirely clear, the idea was presented as a way to improve the server, host more tournaments, and bring on a larger more engaged staff. Two members of the admin team signed agreements with PlayEDH, though no written agreement was ever made with the actual owner of the server, Shaper.

It is clear that Shaper willingly transferred ownership, though was unavailable for an interview. Between the time that the agreement was signed and the end of February, when ownership transferred, it became more and more clear that there was pushback from the moderation team and members of the community. admins from Competitive EDH Discord stepped away from the agreement, one who had signed on to work directly with PlayEDH even resigned. ShakeandShimmy even came back from a long hiatus to ask questions and provide a dissenting voice to the merger. By March 4th, PlayEDH and the remaining Competitive EDH admin were struggling to control the narrative and the former moderation team.

A survey was put out to the larger community by one of the admins who had originally been in agreement with the merger against PlayEDH's wishes. The survey appears to be damning, but the truth of the matter is, while there is a dissenting voice, only 177 submissions were made from the over 15,000 member community and due to anonymity there was no way to validate the entries. In addition while there was a dissenting voice, about half of the participants were neutral in most of their answers. The moderation team put out an internal survey amongst staff with results varied, only 5 of the 18 members voted in favor of the merger. It is unclear who exactly participated in this survey.

The biggest issue that the moderation team has with PlayEDH is the new team making changes to the server, poor communication from their own admin team, having their own valued moderation privileges removed, and ultimately the loss of their home. Legally, it appears that PlayEDH has done nothing wrong. The fault seems to lie primarily in the hands of the admin who originally proposed the merger to other organizations. Other sources show that the admin may have had the power to make this move, the admin team had fallen off in activity and it was causing stagnation in the server.

PlayEDH does not feel that these problems lay at this particular admin's feet, citing sources that he may have had permission outright to make these moves, and have since brought him on to their own staff. In some ways, the moderator team was left to handle the massive server on their own. The reasons why the majority of the admin team were on board and then pulled out are not entirely clear, some sources claim it is the way the merger was handled with changes being implemented that they didn't sign on for, feeling more like a takeover than the merger they imagined. What is clear is that the moderation team wants their server back.

For them, this is more about their home, than it is a business agreement. In their minds, they have lost a place where they enjoyed time with friends. It didn't cross their mind that they would be taken over by an organization who wanted to the server to be something more. ShakeandShimmy stated that if he had known, he would never have transferred ownership in the first place.

The Fallout

The PlayEDH team was eager to share its side of this sticky situation both with a lengthy interview and proof that they not only had an intensive plan set with multiple members of the Competitive EDH Admin team but they also attempted to bring on members of both the former admin and moderation teams to their staff. They provided access to private documents, agreements, their public and private discord servers, and those respective audit logs.

Though they admitted that they may not have had all the information before the merge that they have now, they are determined to stand by what they committed to, the successful merge of their organization with one of the biggest Magic discord servers around. When discussing divesting, Cryptic, one of the PlayEDH admins, said while they had originally been open to the idea, the team was unwilling to work with a group they couldn't trust.

A clear breakdown of communication between PlayEDH was exacerbated by personal issues and several staff taking part in the conversation with several other members of the Competitive Discord EDH at separate times. The moderation team acting out of desperation put together an ultimatum, return the server or else, the "or else" being murky. Initially, PlayEDH responded with a list of terms for a successful divestment and while the Competitive EDH team felt they were willing to meet those terms it did not result in an agreement by the parties. 

PlayEDH offered to entertain interviews from former staff, but only 2 responded to the offer and it has not been determined if any will be brought on as of the writing of this article. One of the major reasons that PlayEDH has stuck strong in their determination is that upon gaining control of the server they found a large amount of content that was in direct violation of Discord's ToS and their own beliefs as an organization.

While some of this content was deleted outright, after outrage from some of the existing community they are more slowly removing channels that contain this material by archiving old channels and adding new ones. A few searches show that the PlayEDH team was likely correct in removing the material and that as an official organization, the server was not held to a sufficient standard, some of the content that was removed was unprofessional to say the least and extremely unsavory.

Due to this above content and PlayEDH already making several major financial decisions regarding Competitive EDH, they are interested in making the server something more than a casual hangout. Their 2024 goals include a new playmat for cEDH, a unified community ban list, tournaments, and a ranked LFG queue. If they were able to pull this off it could be something special for the cEDH community, a safe space for all players with quality competitive play. 

Next Steps

Despite having lofty goals, the way this merger went down leaves much to be desired and a channel that received questions from the community was shut down on March 22nd. While there is sympathy for the former staff, PlayEDH claims they bear no responsibility themselves and instead would direct the former moderators to the admin who passed off the server. Cryptic going so far as to say, "Just because people got cold feet because of a little bit of pushback, that's tough."

PlayEDH has also stated that they are not completely against divestment, but they're not looking to give up the server just yet. They want to leave the community improved, and will only return the reigns if they feel there is nothing further their team can do to. When asked if they felt it was the right move to take over the server, both Cryptic, and Chief, of PlayEDH, said "yes, absolutely". While the fate of the Competitive EDH Discord may be sealed, it doesn't answer questions about the former moderation and admin team.

PlayEDH has stated they do not want any part of the subreddit, so there may be an opportunity to rebuild. It's not the answer the moderators want, but it may be their only option. Was this a hostile takeover? The moderation team and some members of the Competitive EDH discord feel the answer is yes, but what is clear is that this discord was transferred legally from the admin team of Competitive EDH to the PlayEDH team. Where it goes from here, we'll have to see.


Beth is a casual Commander player who's passionate about silly decks, creating safe community spaces, and crowns. She loves to travel and play magic with friends. When not playing Magic, she's probably snuggling her dogs or playing some video games.