Welcome back, readers!
I hope you got to play in at least one Eternal Masters draft---they are a ton of fun. Playing in our draft yesterday I couldn't help but see great EDH/Commander cards get passed to me over and over (sadly I actually tried to build a real G/B Elves deck, but ended up getting cut heavily on green in pack 2 and ended up 1-2). That being said I did manage to snag a few late Commander cards (like Ashnod's Altar), and that got me thinking which of the EMA cards would likely be the best pickups in regards to Commander.
Unfortunately, we're long past the days when new product would come out and the Commander staples would fly under the radar for a month or two while those of us who play the format extensively picked them up dirt cheap. Once WoTC started making Commander product part of their repertoire, demand for these staples exploded and now it's much rarer for a Commander staple to fly under the radar for any length of time.
All that being said, with all the focus on the big money Legacy and Vintage reprints from Eternal Masters there is plenty of room to scoop up the Commander staples that many people don't see a ton of value in. Now, I will state that there are many Legacy/Vintage staples that are also Commander cards and I will be including those as well, but the chance to pick them up cheap is likely limited.
To switch things up, I decided to go through the colors backwards. Today I'll cover green, red, black and blue. Next week we'll get to white, colorless and multicolor.
1. Argothian Enchantress
While this card is played in Legacy Enchantress decks, those decks have sadly fallen by the wayside in playability, despite a nigh-unbeatable endgame. Her current price tag of around $10 is really cheap and she should be in any Commander deck that runs both green and a good number of enchantments.
2. Green Sun's Zenith
I probably don't need to tell you how powerful tutor effects are in a singleton format. Tutor effects that put the creature directly into play and then shuffle back into your library to be used later are incredibly powerful. This is easily one of my top choices for stockpiling.
This card is heavily played in Legacy Maverick decks, though thanks to the dominance of UWx Miracles, non-blue-based creature decks have been mostly pushed down to tier 2. (This coming from someone whose first tier 1 Legacy deck was Maverick, which I absolutely loved playing.)
This is a fantastic uncommon and one of those "color-shifted" cards from Planar Chaos, that gives green some solid card advantage. This one has had several printings so the price keeps dropping, but this is still mostly an auto-include in any mono-green or non-blue green Commander decks. I wouldn't go and buy a bunch just yet as I expect many EMA uncommons will continue to drop down over the next few months, but it's a great throw-in to even out a trade.
4. Natural Order
Another of the Legacy staples on this list. This is an incredibly powerful tutor that puts the creature directly into play similar to Green Sun's Zenith. But it can cheat in a much larger creature with a lot less mana investment at the cost of sacrificing a creature (which isn't too hard for the color known for mana dorks and tokens).
WoTC did put this one at mythic so regular copies didn't drop much. I imagine with the limited amount of EMA product the price on this may not drop a whole lot more.
5. Regal Force
While this card is a staple in Legacy Elves it's an auto-include in any green Commander deck that also plays a lot of creatures (read all of them). Another of the rare card-draw machines for green, the fact that this one is stapled to a creature (so it can be recurred or tutored for with either of the aforementioned tutor effects) is just gravy.
6. Sylvan Library
Another Legacy Maverick/Elves staple. Any form of card advantage in green is always something to keep an eye out for. Sylvan Library is perfect for any deck running green---period, no other requirements. Its last major printing was in 5th Edition (19 years ago) and WoTC has been careful about only reprinting this card one time since (in Commander's Arsenal, where it was one of the big chase cards).
7. Xantid Swarm
This card still shows up in Legacy Storm sideboards, but typically it's only a two-of (to help push through the storm kill in the second main phase). It provides a very unique effect and can help any green mage halt one blue mage in his tracks (if there's only one at the table even better).
This is one of those EMA rares I expect to continue to drop in the coming months (thanks to its semi-obscurity). When you only have 99 cards to play with you have to be selective, but it's still a fantastic creature if your local metagame includes a whole lot of blue players. I like this one at the $1 or less spot.
1. Dualcaster Mage
I'll be honest and say I really don't understand why this card hasn't caught on more in Commander. Players love their Forks, Reverberates, and Reiterates. Granted all three of those can be abused with copies of the other, unlike Dualcaster Mage, but the creature version is also easy to recur and can provide a threat to trade with another creature or provide pressure.
I had already been acquiring these to even out trades before EMA came out, so I'll just make sure to pick up more of them now.
Red kind of got the short end of the stick with regards to tutoring as its options are much more limited. Gamble is a cheaper Demonic Tutor with a bit of risk tied to it (the fewer cards in hand the riskier), but people forget it can be used as a sorcery-speed Entomb when hellbent which has its uses as well.
It used to see play in Legacy Lands decks, though most seem to have cut it out in order to run more copies of Thespian's Stage and/or Dark Depths. It's still a tutor effect (in a color with very few) that's great in a singleton format. This card was over $20 before this reprint, so now is the time to pick them up.
3. Price of Progress
I know this card's current value is heavily due to Legacy Burn demand, but it can do a whole lot of damage in Commander for two mana. It's at its best in a mono-red build (or a R/x build that deals more damage than it takes). I like them at around the $2 range.
4. Sneak Attack
Another of our Legacy staples that carries well into Commander, this card is amazing in decks like Mayael the Anima and really any deck that has red in it and wants to cheat fatties into play. I will say the new artwork is worse than the original, but a lot of players will bypass that (especially the more casual ones) and want to acquire these.
1. Blood Artist
This is one of those uncommons that I can never seem to keep in my trade binder. There are so many Commander decks built around sacrificing one's own creatures. This guy can both stop the opponent's self-sacrifice deck from going off or serve as a kill condition for one's own self-sacrifice deck.
This was a $3.50-$4 uncommon before this reprint and I don't think enough EMA was printed to keep the price down for that long. Another great card to get as a throw-in to even out a trade.
There are plenty of reanimator-style Commander decks and this card often acts like a Demonic Tutor that puts the card where you need it (in the graveyard). It is a key spell in Legacy Reanimator decks as well (and I've seen some Legacy Lands builds run it as well), but it's also phenomenal in graveyard-based Commander decks.
Even after the Graveborn copies came out and dropped the original Odyssey prices down, they eventually rebounded until this one hit. I don't expect the price to remain all that low for long (especially because Legacy Reanimator is a very powerful strategy).
3. Malicious Affliction
This card just recently came into Commander via the Commander 2014 decks. It's not hard to get the morbid on this card active (especially since you don't have to be the cause of a creature's death) which makes it an easy two-for-one for problematic creatures. All for just two mana.
The double-black mana cost can be a bit rough in three-plus-color decks, but it's definitely a good choice in any black-based Commander deck. If you doubt my judgment on this one, check out the foil prices (for a sub-$1 card, the cheapest foil currently is around $9).
This card ruined Magic for anyone who didn't like combo decks during its reign. It's incredibly powerful and its last major printing was in 5th Edition (1997). You see it in any enchantment-heavy Commander decks with black in them and pretty much every mono-black deck. The card advantage from this single card is often insane (especially when you start with 40 life).
Foil copies currently only have a 2x multiplier. I believe this is because a lot of people love the original artwork, which you can get in foil for only around $10-$14 (Deckmasters Garfield vs. Finkel).
The last time this card was mass-printed was in Unlimited (in 1994) and there's a reason we don't get two-mana land destruction in any color (let alone black) anymore. This card is very powerful and while mass land destruction is typically frowned upon heavily in Commander, being able to hit one of the many ridiculous lands in this format can often be critical to winning.
6. Toxic Deluge
Black actually has a decent list of wrath effects, but this one has the lowest mana cost and can kill indestructible or regenerating creatures. It found a home in Legacy and it's still a great addition to any type of Commander control deck with black in it.
7. Vampiric Tutor
This is my favorite card on the list today. It's a no-nonsense instant-speed tutor. Sure it puts the card on top of your deck, but you can always do it end of your neighboring opponent's turn or cast it with some form of draw card in hand. This is one of those cards that almost every black Commander deck auto-includes and its one-black cost means it can fit into any deck with black in it.
Vamp was a $40 card for a long time and thanks to being mythic I honestly don't see these staying cheap for long. Pick them up now.
8. Visara the Dreadful
This is a strong mono-black commander as it has a very powerful ability, decent stats and evasion. This is really the first true reprint, as the only other printing was FTV: Legends, and the original printing was in Legions (2003).
This one is a good pickup for now, as WoTC announced that this year's Commander product is four-color---a 3BBB creature is hard to slot into a four-color deck. It's pretty cheap at the moment and I think if you can find copies they're a good medium-term hold.
1. Arcanis the Omnipotent
This guy has had quite a few printings by now which have tanked his price (he used to be around $5). But he generates continual card advantage, is a relevant creature type (wizard) and, let's be honest, the artwork looks awesome.
I won't go out of my way to pick up additional copies, but I wouldn't be unhappy getting him as a throw-in or to even out a trade. At this point, I'm hoping WoTC is done printing him for a while and will allow his price to recover thanks to having him in both EMA and Duel Decks: Speed vs. Cunning.
2. Mystical Tutor
I am always a big fan of tutor effects in EDH, if their main purpose is to find solutions to problems (I'm not a big fan of playing against the decks that run all the tutors just to assemble the same combo every single time). Thanks to being banned in Legacy, this is the cheapest of the reprinted tutors but definitely one of the most powerful options available to blue mages (most pure tutoring is in black).
While many players view the Mirage block tutors as card disadvantage (because the card doesn't go into your hand, but instead on top of your library) the power level of blue instants and sorceries is high enough that you can easily overcome that disadvantage with the card you pick.
3. Peregrine Drake
This card has quickly become a cheaper substitute for Palinchron and/or Great Whale in many budget combo EDH decks. The fact that it has been printed at common actually means that while Cloud of Faeries was banned in Pauper recently...they just got a slightly more expensive (but very similar) option. It's also important to note that the only foil version of this card is from EMA, so they will carry a good premium.
An interesting note about blue is that besides the big reprints of Force of Will and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, it didn't get a whole lot else in the set. Granted Brainstorm and Counterspell are never bad, but thanks to a lot of copies being readily available on the market, I don't see either having much long-term growth potential.
Well, that covers the first---Editor: last!---four colors from EMA. Next week I'll do white, artifacts, gold and lands. I hope you enjoyed my list and I look forward to any comments/feedback.