Welcome to part 2 of my 5 part series where I analyze the Commander set and give you tips on how they should be worked in or out of your collection. If you missed yesterday's article prefacing this review series, you can be found here.
Box - Heavenly Inferno
StarCityGames (SCG) - $1.99
Apathy House (AH) - $1.99
As I stated in a previous article, Wrath’s that “do something” are very good in Commander. Wiping the board is usually good enough, but getting value on top of it makes an all-star. This is a one-sided wrath with a creature added on to the mix. Many black or black-heavy decks have their top kill plan as Exsanguinate, so they are built to make large amounts of mana. Assuming that style of deck, Cacodemon should not have any trouble seeing play. Being a creature also allows more chances of recursion, although depending on how you recur this monster you may or may not be getting a wrath out of the deal. Not a huge money card by any means, but if you can get these on the cheap as throw ins, there will be buyers. Reiver Demon and Plague Wind both see play in Commander, so this card will easily show up in some decks.
Box - Devour for Power
SCG - OOS $2.99
AH - Not updating correctly for this card, but a recent look on eBay shows lows of $1.35 and highs of $3.50.
There seems to be a lot of graveyard enablers in the Commander box sets. Foreshadowing to Innistrad? Possibly, but part of it is probably to strengthen graveyard archetype decks. The bad thing about graveyard focused decks is relying too much on a graveyard strategy will lose you more Commander games than win. Every decent deck has at least one graveyard hate card, possibly more because graveyard strategies are some of the more consistent ways to win in Commander. Facing down a graveyard hate card from each player is not a fun time waiting to happen.
With my main Commander deck, Wort, the Raidmother, I abuse the graveyard more than most decks, but I would really recommend against putting all your eggs in one basket. Sewer Nemesis seems like one of those all in kind of cards. Too hard to fight the hate and abuse this guy at the same time. That said, he has a small possibility of showing up in graveyard decks in Legacy so I would try to hang on to him just in case, but I am not actively looking for this card in trades either unless the deal is really solid.
Box - Heavenly Inferno, Counterpunch, Devour for Power
SCG - $1.49
AH - $2.21
This card is a decent card for Commander but just like the other cards in [card Syphon Mind]this[/card] [card Syphon Soul]cycle[/card], it can get you unnecessary enemies depending on how your players react to this sort of thing. I still think it's worth it to play because getting multiple bodies from one spell is always good. The art is also very disturbing, which makes it very memorable. If you find a buyer I would get rid of these, but don't rush with this one and undersell yourself. The card is just not splashy enough to gain traction, but it is playable enough that it should hold its value.
Box - Political Puppets
SCG - OOS $19.99
AH - $13.92
Time for the statement that will either make or break this article: Chaos Warp is the most significant card to come out of the Commander decks. It gives red access to the ability to kill any type of permanent, even enchantments. I am pretty sure this is the first time red has been able to deal with enchantments except for complete [card Apocalypse]board sweepers[/card], but please correct me if I am wrong. It is also very red flavor-wise, with the random element being a vital part of the card’s balance.
Comparisons to Beast Within are warranted and I believe both cards are excellent, well balanced cards. Kudos to Wizards on both cards; years ago these would have six mana and been sorceries to boot!
Chaos Warp is 100% playable for Commander, as flexibility is what makes or breaks a card in Commander. There are only a handful of red cards that I look at as true Commander staples, so getting a new card to put on that list is pretty significant. I think it is more a problem with red’s identity than with the power level of red’s cards. One can only have a certain amount of "deal X damage" variants before they all start looking the same. I think this is a step in the right direction for red and hopefully Wizards bridgess from Chaos Warp and creates more cards that feel the same.
Chaos Warp’s power and popularity in Commander would be enough to keep this card at a high price, but it’s possible viability in Legacy is what could cause its price to sky rocket. Chaos Warp has many things going for it in Legacy. While there is a random element to the card that cannot be controlled, look over a good percentage of Legacy lists and see that there is usually a higher concentration of non permanents vs permanents. This is a good sign for Chaos Warp’s Legacy playability, and in turn its price tag. However, do not misquote me here. Chaos Warp is not a Legacy staple or a format defining card; it simply gives red-based decks another option. More than likely it will probably see limited sideboard play, or possibly show up as a 1- or 2-of in main decks.
Either way, Chaos Warp’s playability in Legacy is just gravy when you take it’s undeniable impact to Commander. That said, if Chaos Warp does pan out for Legacy and if the Commander sets are not reprinted into oblivion, then I think in a year or two Chaos Warp is going to be a big money card.
My financial advice for Chaos Warp is to hold on to them for now until we find out more about the print run of Commander, it’s Legacy playability, and if any Commander cards are actually printable in future sets. I’d rather lose a little bit on the value of a card instead of missing out on huge possible gains in the future. I am currently trying to trade for these when I can, and I am picking up any Political Puppet sets that I can find at MSRP. I think this is what anyone interested in trading should be doing, especially if you have Commander players in your area. The current value of Political Puppets when broken up is way over the top.
Box - Mirror Mastery
SCG - $2.99
AH - $2.70
This is the third card I was talking about earlier that completes the Naya end of a possible Verdant Force cycle. Out of the three, Magmatic Force is the strongest. Getting a Lightning Bolt every upkeep is still huge in a multiplayer game. What is really interesting about the card is in a multiplayer game, what you don’t target with Magmatic Force may be more relevant than what you do. This is where the political aspect of Commander can come into play. If played right, this card can seize control of the entire game all by itself by making deals and obtaining favors from all players at the table in exchange for protection. Until your new found slaves decide to revolt. Magmatic Force is close enough to Inferno Titan that they may fight for the same spot in tight Commander decks, so I wouldn’t see the price going up much at all. Trade away if you can unless you need him for your Commander deck, or play in a very political play group.
Box - Heavenly Inferno
SCG - OOS $2.99
AH - $2.71
After burn of all kinds, big nasty Dragons are the other hallmark of typical red Commander playables. Flameblast Dragon is arguably the best of the bunch, and Mana-Charged Dragon does not seem like he will take over Flameblast's spot in my decks. However, Mana-Charged Dragon does present some interesting game states, and is on the short list of cards I will be adding to my decks. He’s by far the strongest of the join forces cards because he operates very differently from the other four. He is good on his own as a fire-breathing Dragon, but also gives players the option to easily team up to kill another player once he hits the table. Trample gets around any potential blockers but haste would have been really nasty on this guy. I guess this is Wizards’s way of making us work for our brokenness. I do not see this being printed anywhere else but Commander sets due to the keyword use, so this could potentially be a highly sought after card down a few years from now. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to trade this dragon off. There are many dragon collectors out there and they will always over-value unique Dragons. And since there are several Dragon themed commanders there should always be a demand forDragons on the market.
Box - Heavenly Inferno
SCG - OOS $3.99
AH - $3.09
This card’s value will totally depend on the playgroup of whom you are trading with. In my playgroup no one really has an infinite turn deck, or anything close to taking extra turns for that matter. This is because we use an achievement point based system similar to the point system Armada Games uses. There is a negative achievement that punishes players who take more than three turns in a row.
However, in a kitchen table atmosphere you may run across some unbelievably ruthless metagames. To these play groups, players looking to combat the infinite Time Stretch combo will love this card. They may be hard to find, but I am sure if you look hard enough you will find a buyer for Stranglehold but find them sooner than later. Stranglehold’s value is going nowhere but down once the buyers out there all have their copies.
In my opinion, black didn’t really receive anything too exciting with this set. Since it already has a lot of high powered cards in this format, that could be a reason why. It could be my lack of confidence in heavy graveyard-based decks for Commander.
Red, on the other hand, is really lacking in power level for the format. The Commander set seems to have helped that out a little bit, especially with my favorite card, Chaos Warp.
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for my review of the green, artifact, and lands cards from the Commander release. You will not want to miss my crash course into the world of 80’s cartoons!
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