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Hidden Gems and Market Saturation in Commander

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I don't know about all of you, but Legacy hasn't made me much money lately. I was ahead of a few price spikes and managed to sell into prices that are, frankly, a little inflated even for my tastes as a financier, but for the most part, people don't have the kind of money to drop on Legacy cards at their current prices. Standard is a bit "meh" right now and with little in the way of exciting new tech (besides that "dredge" deck that Ari Lax played at the GP... Awww yeah), prices are falling on Standard cards like Desecration Demon, Pack Rat, Hero's Downfall and Master of Waves. Where do we see financial opportunity?



The finance subreddit took to discussing Commander cards that may rebound higher than they are now due to their current saturation. Did we say saturation? Don't put away that umbrella (ella ella ella) just yet- there are two things you need to know about Commander sets.

First is that these were so successful, Wizards wants to do one every year. They tipped their hand slightly by calling the first Commander sets "Commander" and calling this most recent batch "Commander 2013". I missed a crucial announcement and thought this was merely to differentiate the newer sets from the older ones, sort of like calling it "World War 1" retroactively after World War 2. However, back when Commander's Arsenal was announced, Monty Ashley announced that Commander would now be an annual affair. Read here in case you were like me and didn't notice.

The prospect of a set of Commander decks each year excites me as an EDH player but makes me much less bullish on cards like Command Tower and Sol Ring. Still, they can't reprint everything!



Speaking of "printing", Wizards is well aware that people were buying Mind Seize overwhelmingly. That's why the next "batch" of Commander 2013 will be a bit different. Instead of requiring retailers to shell out for a 5 set to get more Mind Seize (I'm reminded of that episode of the Simpsons where Homer kept buying more Neapolitan ice cream and only eating the chocolate), the next box of 5 will contain two Mind Seize decks and 3 other decks.

While I don't expect the other decks to rot away on shelves forever (I am bullish on the Jund colored deck as a long term "keep this sealed" hold), this should encourage retailers to order more because they know they will snap sell the Mind Seize and not be guaranteed to get an equal number of Naya decks that no one is excited about right now. If we thought we were saturated before, we're about to learn the true meaning of the term.



I think prices will rebound, personally. Stuff that is printed in Commander 2014 is obviously going to take a hit, but can Command Tower ever go below $1 and Sol Ring below $3? I don't think so. I still pick those up in trade happily. I maintain that Commander players never take decks apart.  I haven't been writing about EDH very long but I have yet to take apart an EDH deck, even the ones I don't personally like playing anymore. Commander players build new decks.

Maybe you really can sell more Sol Rings to the same people. Regardless of how we feel about those cards that go in every Commander deck printing, are there some cards likely to dodge a reprint that are low now but should rebound higher? Remember, people used to leave the RUG Commander 2011 deck on the shelves when they were upset that the store was out of Counterpunch and now Animar alone is flirting with $15.



Check this list out. It took Kelly a few secounds to do it, but he used Trader Tools to sort the set and filter out every card over $1. What you have here is your very low risk specs. At practically bulk and with a low risk of reprint, there are several excellent targets here. Kelly likes Illusionist's Gambit - a powerful effect with a very affordable price tag. This could see a reprinting in a future Commander set, but it doesn't seem super likely.

For my money, I like the "tempt" cycle. Even the three that are currently not "bulk" are good buys in my opinion. Once the current Commader sets are gone, these will not be easy to find. Commander specific cards don't tend to end up in a competitive player's trade binder so these will likely be sort of rare. With the "temptation" cycle very unlikely to see a reprinting (Commander 2014 is all but guaranteed to introduce a new "mechanic") these cards should rebound.

The Competitive EDH subreddit has alreadty discussed the power of Tempt with Discovery.  It currently has a 38% spread, but that only represents about $0.75 given the affordability of the card. You should be able to offer $1 cash and walk away with these.



I don't hate offering $1 cash on Sol Ring or even Command Tower at this point. And Commander's popularity should increase the price of Commander staples printed in "normal" sets and unlikely to be reprinted in Commander set. I was bullish on Thespian's Stage for months and I am even more bullish now.

Pay attention to this format. There are opportunities here that you might not have expected.

Jason Alt

Jason Alt is a value trader and writer. He is Quiet Speculation's self-appointed web content archivist and co-captain of the interdepartmental dodgeball team. He enjoys craft microbrews and doing things ironically. You may have seen him at magic events; he wears black t-shirts and has a beard and a backpack so he's pretty easy to spot. You can hear him as co-host on the Brainstorm Brewery podcast or catch his articles on Gatheringmagic.com. He is also the Community Manager at BrainstormBrewery.com and writes the odd article there, too. Follow him on Twitter @JasonEAlt unless you don't like having your mind blown.

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6 thoughts on “Hidden Gems and Market Saturation in Commander

  1. I’m still very happy to have made a deal on a playset of all new cards in C13. Traded 1200 crappies in for them. If I get any unique Commander cards in among bulk I am setting them aside and I’ll likely be trying to get another playset like that one for the next release too.

  2. Commander is a real thing. It drives prices in a real way. No longer are the days where edh cards are purely speculative. We can see clearly that when a commander does well, all the cards used for it do well.

    Sol ring is a solid pick up in my opinion. I had 10 edh decks at the height of my fever. Not all of them had a ring. I could see this same thing happening for other people. Many players I talk to have one or two primary decks. The other decks are more casual or works in progress. Picking up $5 Sol Rings doesn’t really seem that bad to them. They buy them all the time, while the $30 c13 decks rot on the shelves.

    Prosh and Oloro are the actual commanders I’m bullish on. These guys get a lot of play at the tables. Prosh is simply an upgrade to Hazezon Tamar, who was one of my personal favorite generals. I expect him to see the most gains. Maybe not like Kalia did, considering supply, but I could see him getting 10-15 in the future. Oloro is being explored more and I expect him to gain steam in the coming months. And with either of these decks being played more, older rares and foils will increase.

    What I am excited for is the next spoiler season for c14. I will try to break any and all new commanders and invest in the cards which enable them the most. These are the cards which will have the best short term gains.

    As for edh foils, there aren’t many which have not spiked dramatically. Especially older ones like Tower of the Magistrate or Rhystic Study. If you have some cheaper staple cards which don’t have a 5-10 times multiplyer, let us know. I just don’t think there are many Kor Haven types of cards left out there undiscovered. Maybe all the Smeogles out there will force the ftv Sol Rings upward.

  3. I really liked this article a lot, but this is just scratching the surface of the topic. The cards that are both Legacy and Commander playable for example have a higher price trajectory. There is tons of space to explore here and I definitely hope to be reading a follow up article sometime soon.

  4. Annual commander decks makes me want to focus on EDH foils if they are going to increase both supply of the non-foil copies and increase the demand for the format staples.

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