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Insider: Finance Lessons from Building in Commander

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Multiple different groups of Magic players that I socialize with recently decided that they wanted to play Commander. Go with the flow, right?

Today I'm going to share my experience of building a new Commander deck and some Magic finance perspective that I picked up along the way while working on my new deck.

Why I Built "The Rock"

My philosphy on building a Commander deck is as follows:

1. I'm not interested in playing one-v-one Commander games. There are better highlander and casual formats for that kind of thing. Heck, I'd rather just play Danger Room.

2. I never want to have the "most Spike" deck at the table, nor do I want to have the "most Timmy" deck at the table. I'm there to have fun and enjoy the experience of multiplayer. With that being said, I don't want to get squished every game either! Nor do I want to be the guy who makes everybody else groan in disgust because my deck is all uninteractive combos.

3. I like to play with old cards that I don't get to play with very often anymore. A good way to sacrifice "raw power" or "unfun brokenness" is to simply replace busted cards with nostalgic cards you like.

One good way right off the bat to ensure you don't have the "most Spike deck" at the table is to not play blue, which is exactly what I did by building a Rock deck. I want to be the player who is just grinding around, making impactful threats and messing with the board. I'm not really trying to win really hard so much as I'm trying to have a lot of play in the game!

The Bug Brew

For the most part I always seem to gravitate towards building insect-themed Commander decks. It has kind of been a pet project of mine for years now where I just throw together some random "Swarmyard" deck and use that as the mechanism that constrains me from being "too broken."

I haven't payed too much attention to Commander stuff in the past year or so and I was pretty blown away when I saw the card:


Not only is this card a legendary insect commander, but it is actually a remarkably good Magic card. My last "Team Insect" boss was Xira Arien, which is a significantly worse leader!

Team Insect, by Brian DeMars

Since my commander has an uber ability of beefing up my team whenever anybody sacrifices a permanent, my deck has a lot of sacrifice synergies, and ways to force opponents to sacrifice things, built in.

Another thing that I didn't realize when I started working on the deck is that with my commander in play, a persist creature like Puppeteer Clique or Woodfall Primus plus a free sacrifice outlet allows me to loop those creatures infinitely, just like the Melira Company deck! So, I do randomly have a few combos built into my deck---though I didn't build specifically just to combo.

"The Rock" Commander Specs

I actually learned quite a bit more about Commander prices in the past week, purely from trying to assemble a paper copy of my deck. I don't own a lot of these random cards because I'd never play them in Constructed---however, when it comes to a casual deck these are cards that I certainly wanted to use!

These were the cards that I was surprised had smaller current price tags that I would have thought. All of them are ones to think about picking up.

1. Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest


I went to three separate stores trying to track down a copy of this creature and simply couldn't find one. I saw that they were $3.00 on SCG and even less on TCG but I couldn't find a single copy all week long. I finally decided to just buy the card online. I was pretty surprised to find a dealer who was selling the card for $1.50 with free shipping on eBay and I actually went ahead and bought 10 copies.

When I actually stumbled across the card searching for green-black insect cards (I was trying to build an Ishkanah, Grafwidow Commander deck at the time but scrapped it when I found Mazirek), I was pretty shocked the price wasn't significantly higher. I know the card is in the new Commander deck cycle but I still expect it to see significant gains.

It is also worth pointing out that every local store I went to was also sold out of the green-black Commander deck but still had all of the other ones! I probably would have impulse-bought the deck if somebody had one for sale at the time.

2. Worst Fears


Worst Fears is a mythic rare from Journey into Nyx that's gives you one Mindslaver activation for eight mana. I like Mindslavering people in Commander and so should you!

At around a buck I think this is the kind of card that should steadily grow into a more expensive Commander gem in the years to come. The effect is extremely unique, splashy, and very likely to carry cachet with casual players.

3. Phyrexian Arena


Phyrexian Arena had virtually the same price tag three years ago. It is an auto-include in basically every single black Commander deck, which puzzles me as to why the price hasn't increased at any point. It isn't exactly like there are fewer Commander players on the planet.

4. Wake the Dead


I actually stumbled across a copy of this card while I was sorting cards and was pretty blown away. What good fortune to find a card like this right in the middle of building a "sacrifice / synergy recursion" deck?

The card is basically a bulk rare that is actually really good! I like this as an investment card because it literally has nowhere to go but up.

5. Thawing Glaciers


Thawing Glaciers was another card I was excited to put into my deck, but I was also a little bit scared to think about what the price might end up being... Fortunately, the price was much smaller that I feared. It is also worth noting that Thawing Glaciers is a casual competitive Commander card that is currently on the Reserved List. I really like Glaciers as a possible investment opportunity right now.

Aside from being a good grindy Commander card, it is also a very iconic Magic card. We've seen several iconic cards really spike in the past few months.

6. The Great Aurora


The Great Aurora is a wild spell and you haven't really lived until you've cast this in a six-player game...

Not only is the card buck wild---it is also extremely powerful in a token deck. I feel The Great Aurora is similar to Doubling Season with regard to who wants it and what it does. Obviously, there is a big difference in supply for Ravnica rares compared to Standard-legal mythics. However, I strongly believe that The Great Aurora is likely at its all-time basement bottom price and will continue to grow in the coming months and years.

7. Sidisi, Undead Vizier (Foil)


I was pretty surprised to see this card floating at about $4. It does make sense when you consider how busted this card is in a format like Commander. Having Demonic Tutor attached to a creature body that can be recurred over and over again is pretty unreal.

I also noticed that the foil ones seem low compared to the price of the regular ones and so I like the foil versions as an investment right now. It makes sense since there is also a high demand for foils in the Commander community.

8. Lifeline


I was excited to play with this card for a few reasons. First, the card is sweet and leads to some epic things happening in a multiplayer game. Secondly, it is aptly named after my favorite childhood G.I. Joe character!

Did you know that Lifeline is also on the Reserved List? I think that looking for gems among Commander Reserved List cards may be where it's at right now for investing. It just makes sense. The cards have a high demand and cannot ever adjust with regard to supply. In the case of some of the Commander cards that haven't seen a lot of growth, we would be speculating that the demand would eventually grow (with the growth of Magic players and cards being lost) to adjust into the new price.

~

Anyways, I've got my stash of Commander cards now thanks to a few purchases, trades, and cashing out some local store credit. The deck is a blast to play and I'm very happy to be on Team Insect for the time being. Commander is a blast and has always been a treasure trove of opportunity for the cunning investor.

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