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Commander Release Analysis (Part 5)

It’s been a fun four days but all great things must come to an end. In the first four parts of this series I focused on the new cards that Commander brought us. There are a lot of interesting cards that can easily be traded, or sold, to recoup the value of your commander purchase, but that is only half of what makes the Commander sets a great product. The majority of the boxed sets are reprints, and some pretty significant ones at that. I will be looking at the important reprints in each box, and giving you the information you need to get the best bang for your buck out of every box. Although I am out of my writing zone for some of the reprint cards, I am a trader at heart so I do know the trading game outside of Commander.

Heavenly Inferno

New Cards

Archangel of Strife – $4.03
Basandra, Battle Seraph – $4.72
Command Tower $4.74
Dread Cacodemon $1.99
Kaalia of the Vast $10.73
Mana-Charged Dragon$2.71
Soul Snare $2.29
Stranglehold $3.09
Syphon Flesh $2.21
Tariel, Reckoner of Souls $4.34

Reprints

Akroma, Angel of Fury
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.91

Red Akroma is one of the more popular mono red commanders. Monored Commander decks are not at popular as some of the other mono-colored decks, but they are pretty straightforward to build. With the influx of new players coming in I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more mono-colored decks in general around Commander tables throughout our community.

Akroma’s Vengeance
SCG – $1.49
AH – $1.89

I spoke about this card in my debut article. It has now been reprinted twice, the first being Planechase. I believe this has now neutered the price of this card. There is a bright side to this card’s value however; it is an established playable and is pretty much at the lowest it can be. Do not trade this below $2 and don’t be scared to hold onto it until you find someone taking it at that price.

Angel of Despair
SCG $4.99
AH – $2.94

Angel of Despair is the biggest reprint from the Heavenly Inferno box set, aside from Sol Ring (which is by far the most significant reprint for every box set). The best thing about Angel of Despair is she’s an Angel first and foremost, and is a white-black staple that sees some fringe Legacy play. If Modern ever becomes a format, and the lack of Hypergenesis on the banned list stays intact, Angel of Despair will be a heavy hitter in that format as well.

Reprinting her only stunted her growth but will not cause her value to go down. Angel of Despair’s effect is just too good to have coupled onto a flying beater.

Bladewing the Risen
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.07

Every set there is at least one new Dragon. Some are good, some are bad, but the good thing is Dragon collectors really only care about one thing: that “Creature – Dragon” appears on the card. Bladewing is the type of card that gets better with each Dragon printed. As long as they ease off on his reprinting in the future he should continue to maintain his value. Trade him away to that special Dragon lover in your life but don’t lose a penny of value. There is no rush getting rid of Bladewing.

Mortify
SCG – $0.99
AH – $1.06

This is one of those flexible spells that are so vital to making a great Commander deck. Enchantment removal is usually very sparse in Commander, so any chance a deck has to run a spell that deals with Enchantments as well as do something else important they end up being auto-inclusions. Even though it is just an uncommon, it is still one of the better removal options available to any deck playing white-black.

Mother of Runes
SCG – $3.99
AH – $3.47

Mother of Runes is an interesting card to be reprinted as it has held it’s value over the years. I don’t think this reprinting will hurt her value very much. Mom is still a decent card, and she also sees fringe Legacy play. If you don’t have one already I would keep her, but if you already have the [card Mother of Goons]Mom[/card]’s you need then trade her away.

Path to Exile
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.50

Previously a Standard format defining card, Path to Exile will always have value attached to it. It is one of the best removal spells printed to date but only sees limited Legacy play (as Swords to Plowshares is almost always better). I would suggest only trading away a Path to Exile, reprint or original, if you are getting something of eternal value in return, such as Daze, Hymn to Tourach, or Brainstorm.

Lightning Greaves
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.45
Sol Ring
SCG – $7.99
AH – $6.21

Every set has Lightning Greaves and Sol Ring. That’s roughly $10 worth of value already, and I doubt either will change much. They are played in basically any Commander deck that can play them, and should hold their current value due to the influx of players. I always try to hang on to a few of each for desperate traders out there. A smart play might actually be trading them both as a $10 package deal, as Sol Ring will be highly sought after but Greaves may not be “needed” by everyone as there are a [card Champion’s Helm]handful[/card] [card Whispersilk Cloak]of[/card] [card Swiftfoot Boots]substitutes[/card].

New cards Apathy House Total: $40.85
Reprints Apathy House Total: $25.50
Apathy House Grand total: $66.35

Looking at the final price tag, why isn’t everyone piecing out their Commander decks? Well, this is a best case scenario (actually second best). Selling Commander cards at retail price is actually the best scenario right now. This is actually a great thing for the community because local game stores with a casual following are able to get a boost in sales due to Commander being released.

However, unless you own a store you can’t always get away with selling/trading at retail price. That doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made through Commander. Each boxed set has several cards that have a high demand currently, indicated by their inflated prices. I won’t repeat my comments from my previous articles this week as I stand by all of my advice for each of the new cards from Commander: some are keepers, some are cards to dump right away, and some are steady price holders like any Angel ever created in Magic.

Mirror Mastery

New Cards

Animar, Soul of Elements – $6.25
Command Tower – $4.74
Edric, Spymaster of Trest – $10.96
Homeward Path – $9.96
Hydra Omnivore – $4.44
Magmatic Force – $2.70
Riku of Two Reflections – $5.79
Spell Crumple – $1.76

Reprints

Brainstorm
SCG – $2.49
AH- $1.79

Old cards in new borders, and new cards in old borders, always seem to be well received. There are not many that exist, and most are judge promos. Brainstorm is probably the most widely used one, and it’s one of the defining cards of Legacy. No matter how many of these see print, unless it’s in a modern standard set (which is highly unlikely), Brainstorm will always be worth at least $2. Trade these away carefully if you already have your playset.

Fire // Ice
SCG – $1.49
AH – $0.87

Fire//Ice is one of those cards that you may find in bulk bins but is always a welcome sight. Even though it isn’t worth much there is always someone looking for this card. It appeals to competitive players as it sees limited Legacy play. It also appeals to casual players as most split cards do. They just catch most people’s eye while flipping through a binder, and hopefully you can bank on this appeal. Trade it away if you can find a buyer.

Garruk Wildspeaker
SCG – $6.99
AH – $4.10

I was surprised that Garruk was the only plansewalker to show up in the Commander product. Plansewalkers are so good in Commander that I don’t see why each deck didn’t receive one. With Garruk Wildspeaker being replaced by a [card Garruk, Primal Hunter]new version[/card] in Magic 2012, the original Garruk is a decent keep for now: casual players will slowly drive his price up again.

$8-$10 is not an outrageous price to ask for a card Garruk’s caliber, so unless you just want to recoup your money from your boxed set purchase I would suggest holding onto him for the time being. He could be a big powerhouse in some sort of turboland deck for Modern or Extended, especially if Time Warp ever gets reprinted.

Invigorate
SCG – $0.99
AH- $0.32

Even though Invigorate is only a $1 card, this is exactly the type of card you need to sell off to get full value out of your Commander sets. There are actually many other cards I chose not talk about in this article, like the Lorwyn [card Vivid Creek]vivid Lands[/card], Ravnica block [card Izzet Boilerworks]bounce lands[/card], and the [card Selesnya Signet]signets[/card], that can get you anywhere from a quarter to just over $1.

It is played in Legacy in stompy/infect builds that will continue to show up at lower levels of tournaments. It is also played in Pauper, and is one of the more popular decks available. It’s so popular that Invigorate is 12 tickets online (MTGOTraders). This is mainly due to the lack of availability, only available through Garruk vs Liliana, until now.

Simic Sky Swallower

SCG – $2.99
AH – $1.26

This card was on my short list to talk about in my intro article to Commander finance, but in the end multicolor cards do not have a wide enough market to really jump much in price. Feel free to trade this guy away; his price is probably going to be the same five years from now.

Lightning Greaves
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.45
Sol Ring
SCG – $7.99
AH – $6.21
See Above

New Cards Apathy House Total: $46.60
Reprints Apathy House Total: $17
Grand Total: $63.60

Mirror Mastery is top heavy with new cards so it is a little hard to make your money back on it if you are trying to keep some of these sweet new cards for yourself. But if you are not set on hoarding cards or making playsets, Mirror Mastery has decent value and most cards should be easy to get rid of because they are new.

Counterpunch

New Cards

Acorn Catapult – $2.17
Command Tower – $4.74
Celestial Force – $2.18
Ghave, Guru of Spores – $7.99 (SCG price. Unable to obtain price from AH)
Hornet Queen – $4.13
Karador, Ghost Chieftain – $6.99
Scavenging Ooze – $10.37
Soul Snare – $2.29
Syphon Flesh – $2.21
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter – $3.35

Reprints

Attrition
SCG – $0.99
AH – $1.00

This card is somewhat of a staple in black-based Commander decks. Anything that allows you to have a relevant repeatable effect is playable in Commander. It’s also an enchantment, another plus in Commander, so it should stick around for a long time for you to get use out of it. If you can find [card Martyr’s Bond]ways[/card] [card Faces of the Past]to[/card] [card Grave Pact]turn[/card] it’s [card Vicious Shadows]cost[/card] into a [card Fecundity]benefit[/card] it becomes even better. With all that said, the card is old, and has not really made any splash in the finance department. Try to trade this away for something small, but Legacy or Commander playable.

Mortify
See above

Skullclamp
SCG – $2.49
AH – $2.00

The infamous Skullclamp is just as broken in Commander as it was in Standard. It does not need to be included in every Commander deck, but it is hard to justify not running it just for value’s sake. There are always people interested in Skullclamp, especially players coming back to the game who played back when it was around. If my intuition is right you will see at least a few of these players coming back because of Commander. Hopefully you can find one of these players that is still in awe of Skullclamp’s ban-worthy power level.

Lightning Greaves
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.45

Sol Ring
SCG – $7.99
AH – $6.21
See Above

New Cards Apathy House Total: $46.42
Reprints Apathy House Total: $11.66
Grand Total: $58.08

Counterpunch is the worst set to invest your money into. Unless you are dying to get [card Ghave, Guru of Spores]Ghave[/card], [card Karador, Ghost Chieftain]Karador[/card], or Scavenging Ooze, I would suggest just trading for those singles as there isn’t much else worth in the set.

Political Puppets

New Cards

Champion’s Helm – $3.17
Chaos Warp – $13.92
Command Tower – $4.74
Flusterstorm – $15.84
Martyr’s Bond – $4.56
Nin, the Pain Artist – $3.84
Ruhan of the Fomori – $3.46
Soul Snare – $2.29
Spell Crumple – $1.76
Zedruu the Greathearted – $4.33

Reprints

Austere Command
SCG – $1.99
AH – $1.28

I wrote about this card in my first article for Quiet Speculation. As I said in that article, Austere Command is one of the best [card Wrath of God]wraths[/card] for the format. It gives you flexibility, and allows you to build your deck around it, making your wrath closer to a Plague Wind than a Damnation. This will always be playable in Commander so hold it until you find the proper person to trade it to.

Brainstorm
See Above

Ghostly Prison
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.16

Years from now people will still be making [card Zedruu the Greathearted]Zedruu[/card] decks just like they still make Phelddagrif or Kami of the Crescent Moon decks. Wacky, off-the-wall commanders are some of the most popular options in Commander. With Propaganda [card Norn’s Annex]effects[/card] so closely tied to creating a Zedruu deck I would suggest being very conservative in trading these away. You should only get rid of them when you get good value for them.

Howling Mine
SCG – $1.99
AH – $0.78

I was very surprised at the value of Howling Mine. It has been printed several times, but still has above bulk value. This is entirely on the back of the casual market, and really shows how it can affect the price of a card. In case there is any fall back from my Howling Mine comments, I do admit it has seen some limited Standard play. Turbo Fog decks and Runeflare Trap decks are two examples, but those were never top tier decks. I should know, I dabbled with Runeflare Trap for as long as Time Warp was in standard. History has shown Howling Mine’s is as steady as they come so do not be afraid to trade the mine away.

Insurrection
SCG – $0.99
AH – $1.42

This is one of the elusive Red staples for Commander. However, I suggest trading these away any chance you get. It has been reprinted once already so it’s value is pretty much what you see now.

Jötun Grunt
SCG – $1.99
AH – (Unable to obtain price from AH because of those two little dots on top of the o.)

Officially the hardest card to search for along with all the Æther cards, Jötun Grunt sees very limited Legacy play but comes from a set that was opened in very small numbers, Coldsnap. It’s good to see Jötun Grunt get reprinted because it’s price really didn’t represent it’s playability. I’m not saying it’s a bad card, I’m just saying that in any other set this would be probably $1 or less. Get rid of them if you don’t have any desire to build a Legacy deck featuring the Grunt.

Propaganda
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.79

See Ghostly Prison, but Propaganda is known a little more and is more important for blue to have than white. In price they should be around the same, but just keep it in the back of your mind that Propaganda is played slightly more.

Windborn Muse
SCG – $1.49
AH – $1.04
Treat this card exactly the same way you treat Ghostly Prison and Propaganda. Nothing else really to say about these cards except that Propaganda and Ghostly Prison sometimes see play in Legacy, and can possibly show up in Modern/Overextended if the meta is right. Sadly, Windborn Muse is not Legacy playable and therefore does not have the booming Legacy market to help it’s price further.

Lightning Greaves
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.45
Sol Ring
SCG – $7.99
AH – $6.21
See Above

New Cards Apathy House Total: $57.91
Reprints Apathy House Total: $20.12
Grand Total: $78.03

Political Puppets is pretty much the consensus first pick if you are looking to part out the box. However, most of it’s money is loaded in the new cards it contains. You will get very little value from it’s reprints so keep that in mind if you are hoping to keep the new cards and sell/trade off the reprints.

Devour for Power

New Cards

Command Tower – $4.74
Damia, Sage of Stone – $9.25
Mind’s Aglow – $2.43
Sewer Nemesis – $2.99 (SCG price. Unable to obtain price from AH)
Skullbriar, the Walking Grave – $3.38
Spell Crumple – $1.76
Syphon Flesh – $2.21
The Mimeoplasm – $7.25

Reprints

Buried Alive
SCG – $2.99
AH – $3.43

The price for Buried Alive always surprises me but I think this is because I played back when this was a new card. I won my first tournament playing an Ashen Ghoul/Nether Shadow deck featuring Buried Alive. I had tons of them from the Weatherlight boxes we opened so for me it has never been a hard card to find. It was reprinted in Odyssey as well, but still holds a decent value for an uncommon. It is mainly the casual market backing this card, but it could also be limited Legacy play as well.

I’ve seen it used multiple times as a budget Entomb, or as a fifth copy, but I really suggest against both plays. Don’t be afraid to trade these away, but no need rush out and get rid of them. Their value will always be there.

Eternal Witness
SCG – $2.99
AH – $1.67

A staple to Commander that sees extremely limited play in Legacy. If Modern becomes a real format, Eternal Witness will become a player in that format’s  Elf deck. It’s an all around perfect card for green, so any player needs at least one for their Commander staples. The price is pretty much set so don’t worry about trading this one away. You won’t be sitting on a [card Dismember]future gold mine[/card], just a card that is really easy to trade away.

Fact or Fiction
SCG – $2.49
AH – $1.76

This is Fact or Fiction’s second time being reprinted, the first being Jace vs Chandra. That box set recently sold for $99.99 on eBay, so the price of Fact or Fiction should not affected by that reprinting in any way. It’s another card that is a solid steady card so feel free to trade it.

Grave Pact
SCG – $3.99
AH – $3.50

Grave Pact is a pure casual card. I don’t think it has ever been in a tier 1, 2 or even 3 strategy for constructed. But as the casual masses love their griefer cards, Grave Pact continues to be worth a few bucks despite being reprinted numerous times now. I personally like the newest art as opposed to the older arts, and I think that is somewhat the general consensus. But if I were to get a foil, the 8th Edition version is the sauciest by far. In five years, Grave Pact will probably be the same price as it is today; do not be afraid to trade it away.

Living Death
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.57

Living Death’s price is at its lowest point right now. The card used to actually be worth over $5 retail. It could be the reprinting that have affected it’s price, but other cards have been reprinted more than Living Death and have not seen any downward trend in their prices. It could be my fond memories of the card, but I think this is a little undervalued at the moment. I would personally hold onto it because I have faith in this card. I don’t see it going up much more $5 max at this point, and this would be a long hold so trade away if you don’t want to hold onto it for that little gain.

Oblivion Stone
SCG – $3.99
AH – $3.99

O-Stone is a huge Commander staple. Every deck can run it, and every deck usually does, or at least has it on it’s short list. An easy card to trade as there is always someone looking for it. Just remember: keep one for yourself!

Solemn Simulacrum
SCG – $5.99
AH – $4.56

Good old Jens could actually see a rise in price. Solemn Simulacrum is in Magic 2012 as well, but with new art. The card is sure to be played in Standard, post-rotation at the worst. Solemn is also a Commander all-star, and his current price is indicative of that. Some people may prefer the old art, and to those people a Jens version may be worth more than the Optimus Prime version. Try to leverage the old art desire in your trades. With that said, he is being reprinted so be careful with this one. Try to get them out if your collection if you can, just in case. It’s price can only really go down at this point.

Troll Ascetic
SCG – $1.49
AH – $1.73

Troll Ascetic was once a feared card, then he was reprinted in Tenth Edition and we realized how far we had [card Tarmogoyf]come[/card]. Troll Ascetic, and any similar similar creature, is a natural progression for new players who first take a liking to big fatties. After seeing their Craw Wurms die to numerous Doom Blades, ‘trollshroud’ (or as kids call it these days, hexproof) creatures are usually the next line of thought. Try and find a newer player to trade these to as they will get a kick out of it, as everyone else did back the first time around Mirrodin.

Lightning Greaves
SCG – $2.99
AH – $2.45

Sol Ring
SCG – $7.99
AH – $6.21
See Above

New Cards Apathy House Total: $34.20
Reprints Apathy House Total: $31.87
Grand Total: $66.07

Devour for Power has some serious Commander staples, so it is a great box to invest in if you are looking to either start up with Commander or piece out the box to gain some profit. Because most of the cards are already proven casual hits, the price is pretty secure as well compared to something like Political Puppets who’s majority of worth is banking on new, currently unproven cards.

Recap on probable prices you could get from parting out each box:
Heavenly Inferno – $66.35
Mirror Mastery – $63.60
Counterpunch – $58.08
Political Puppets – $78.03
Devour for Power – $66.07

There are still a ton of other cards in each box that can be traded away. Some are even more than a buck but I didn’t want to make this article another week long affair. These totals are realistic amounts you can obtain from trading or selling the majority of your $29.99 investment, or $35.92 in Canada at Wal-Mart.

Well that’s a wrap everyone. Thank you for tagging along with me this week. A special thanks to my editor, Adam Styborski, for helping me along with the whole process of getting integrated to the QS family. Join me next time when I talk about Magic 2012 and what it means to Commander!

BONUS – Bad Seller Alert

I wanted to talk about a bad seller situation I had recently. On the eve of the ban hammer coming down on Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic, I purchased five Primeval Titans at $18.38 each, with free shipping, from ‘gamingetcstore’ on eBay. They had 37 in stock. I was getting five so I could have 2 play sets, as I only currently own only three and share the card pool with my brother.

I have seen “Gaming Etc” branded Monster Binders at events so I thought they were a reputable dealer. But after having my purchase cancelled, without even an email, they have lost all respect in my books. The fact that they didn’t even give me the courtesy of an email with some explanation, even if it would have been a fake, shows how much they actually care about their customers.

On top of losing out on my “deal” I have actually lost money due to the conversion rates because of this “refund”. The funny thing is, Primeval Titan is selling for less than $18.38 on eBay now, but they have it selling at an outrageous price of $33.34. My advice to everyone is stay away from this seller. This type of business practice is not to be rewarded with our support.

Post categories: Finance, Free, Timmy


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Ryan Abcede

Ryan Abcede

I'm from Toronto. I've been playing since Fallen Empires. I used to own a store but now I just work full time playing with trains and trade when I can.

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