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Insider: Conspiracy: Take the Crown Review (Commander)

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Welcome back, readers! Last week I reviewed Conspiracy: Take the Crown for Legacy playables. Today's article is all about what Commander gold (or EDH for the purists) can be mined from the new Conspiracy set.

I really love this set from a Commander standpoint. There are both noteworthy reprints and some exciting new cards. Let's start with the reprints first before we get a look at our new toys.

It's important to keep in mind that these reprints are far less likely to spawn a huge demand for other cards, unless they are in extremely short supply (and thus players who wanted them before shied away due to price). I will be focusing only on cards that were pushing $5 or more prior to the reprint.

Reprints

1. Burgeoning


I'll openly admit I didn't expect this one at all (in fact I had a couple copies in my speculation box which had almost doubled in price), but I'm very happy about it. I may lose a bit of value on future gains, but I can pick up the new ones cheap and get copies for my "big spell" green Commander decks (read: all of them).

This is one of those cards that I love to play because many newer Commander players have never heard of it and it makes a splash. It's often better than Sol Ring on turn 1 (or 2) as long as you can keep getting lands in your hand. Numerous times I'd play it, have my opponents read it, then look up at me in awe and ask if I have any extras for trade. When I told them I did, some would shy away due to the price but the more competitive players would still offer to trade for them.

This set will offer the first foil version available, which is a big deal. While the regular copies can be had for around $4 (currently), foils still command over $30, a 7.5x multiplier.

2. Dragonlair Spider


This is a really powerful card for any green-red deck that gets out of hand quickly. I will mention that this one hasn't been above $5 anytime recently (so it might not technically meet my initial criteria), but I remember how difficult it was to find someone willing to trade me any copies even as recently as June of this year. It's a very underpriced powerful card with limited printings (up to this point).

This set looks better than the original Conspiracy from a value point of view which means that more players will likely crack boxes, and prices will tank. But if this ever hits $2 I'm picking up a good number of them for the long term. Though it could obviously be reprinted again, I don't see WoTC doing so outside of a Commander product, and even then I can't see this ever being near "bulk rare" status.

3. Horn of Greed


Here's another Stronghold reprint I wasn't expecting but am happy to see. With the printings of The Gitrog Monster and Omnath, Locus of Rage, Commander players have been on the hunt for cards that abuse multiple land drops for the past year or so. While this card does affect all players, these land-based ramp decks are good at playing extra lands per turn (and thus drawing additional cards) and this one plays extremely well with the aforementioned Burgeoning.

The new copies are already under $2 in price (compared to the old ones which are still above $6 for NM copies). I will probably target these heavily if/when they hit $1.

4. Gratuitous Violence


Commander players (myself included) love cards that double anything. The beauty of this card is that it doubles creature-based damage but isn't double strike, which means a creature with double strike deals quadruple damage (that seems like an achievement I now need to unlock). This also means that creatures that deal damage via non-combat methods can deal double damage like, say, Borborygmos Enraged.

The original printing from Onslaught is now 14 years old (which means some players today weren't even alive when these packs were being cracked). I remember cracking those packs heavily digging for fetches, which gives you a hint at how old I am.

5. Platinum Angel


This is one of the single-most requested cards I get asked about from all types of players. She's not only a Commander all-star but also has a home in both Modern and, at one point, even some Vintage decks (though I don't know how far those got).

With this one being a mythic we will likely not see nearly as many enter the market. Her current price of $5 hints that she could eventually hit $3.50 or so if this set is widely cracked. At that point I'm a big fan and will try to acquire a couple playsets for myself.

6. Birds of Paradise


This mana dork is good enough for Modern and it's good enough for Commander. Despite numerous large printings, the price always seems to bounce back. Other versions have remained above the $5 mark, while this version is already nearing $4.

I've seen dealers at GPs selling Birds in large quantities in the $2 range (granted this was last year) and with this reprinting I won't be surprised to see them do it again. When they do, I'm a buyer.

7. Phyrexian Arena


Here's another card that sees a whole lot of Commander play. This one has new artwork and is another option for players who like to foil out Commander decks. It's interesting that they included this one after we just got a reprint in the last Commander series.

New Toys

That was a fun trip down memory lane, but now it's time for the new stuff. We'll begin with the new options for commanders as these tend to offer the most opportunity for gains.

1. Leovold, Emissary of Trest


Sultai is arguably the most powerful of the tri-color combinations in Commander. You have green for ramp, blue for counterspells and card draw, and black for tutoring. Enemy wedge-colored generals have always been in short supply, so the introduction of a new one is always worth a look.

Leovold's first ability is the most interesting because it specifically affects only opponents, unlike something like Spirit of the Labyrinth. This is important because Magic has a catalog of cards whose power level was kept in check by benefiting the opponent as much as oneself. Leovold decks will likely want to run cards with the Howling Mine effect.

We've already seen Anvil of Bogardan jump by $1 thanks to it being on the Reserved List and harming the opponent without benefiting them (with Leovold in play). However, that jump seems minor if these decks take off. If you need a copy I suggest you pick it up now.

Other options for potential gainers are Howling Mine, Dictate of Kruphix and Rites of Flourishing, but these three have a lot more copies in the marketplace (whether due to multiple print runs or recent large print runs). Finally, there are a few one-shot cards like Prosperity, however these tend to be uncommons so the room for growth is limited.

2. Queen Marchesa


This one is pretty interesting in that giving her haste doesn't really seem to go with what the card wants to do (become the monarch and stay the monarch), but deathtouch is nice. I personally feel that the original Marchesa, the Black Rose is a more powerful commander with a lot more options, but this version could be good if you cram in a lot of the other Mardu monarch-themed cards from this set.

I can see her being the commander of a Mardu control-style deck (with Moat or some other ways to keep you safe while allowing you to draw the extra cards from being the monarch), but I can't really think of any major gains to be had from her.

3. Selvala, Heart of the Wilds


The original Selvala, Explorer Returned actually made for an interesting commander. One player around here built a deck that looked like it was trying to help everyone out (giving them cards) but then used the mana to get ahead on board and cast cards like Armageddon.

This version is the epitome of a mono-green commander. It promotes playing bigger and badder creatures, helps you ramp them out quickly and provides card advantage. I can't wait to build a version with the new Selvala.

Being mono-colored is beneficial (in that it can go in a lot of decks) though if you want it as a commander your card selection is a lot more limited. I think the best creatures for this type of deck are any of the X-mana creatures (often hydras) that scale as your mana progresses. In theory you could chain them turn after turn as long as you have enough of them. My favorites:

  • Lifeblood Hydra - With a single¬†printing and a very powerful death¬†trigger, this one had a smaller print run due to¬†the fact that the green Commander 2014 decks weren't¬†in all that high of demand.
  • Protean Hydra - This one grows whenever it's dealt damage (and doesn't die) and has only two¬†printings: Magic 2010 (as a mythic) and Magic 2011 (as a regular rare). So the most recent copy is at least five¬†years old and both were in core sets.
  • Primordial Hydra - Another hydra with a doubling effect built into it. Casual players were already a big fan of this one (keeping it's price above $7 despite limited play) and it fits well into the Selvala deck, allowing for ridiculous amounts of mana for the next hydra cast each turn.
  • Genesis Hydra - This one saw a lot of Standard play, and apparently getting a giant creature and¬†a virtually uncounterable threat from your deck is pretty good in a singleton format. This guy is near bulk status and with a single printing (again in a core set, though it's important to note it was also a promo), it¬†has a good bit of room to grow should this style of Selvala deck take off.

4. Expropriate


Everyone knows that Time Stretch is good in Commander; now we have a version that costs one less that can potentially give a whole lot more than two turns. This card alone would make me consider running Illusion of Choice, Brago's Representative and Ballot Broker, and it fits perfectly in a deck built around the council's choice and council's dilemma voting mechanics.

I'm glad they put the exile clause at the end of this one or else it would likely have to be banned in Commander. It's also interesting to note that the "money" option doesn't actually target a permanent so you can gain control of hexproof or shrouded permanents.

I expect this to show up in a lot of local Commander decks (and I'll be looking to acquire a few copies for my own decks). Foils will command a very high premium (they are currently around 8x more than regular copies in pre-sales).

5. Subterranean Tremors


Plenty of mono-red Commander decks play Earthquake as a form of mass removal. This is an overall upgrade unless you yourself are running a bunch of artifacts (which, to be fair, red decks do tend to do). I like that this one does provide versatility, acting as both a mass creature removal spell and a mass artifact destruction spell and sometimes putting a threat on the board to boot.

6. Stunt Double


While I occasionally see Clone in some Commander decks it isn't really a staple in the format. Stunt Double is a strict upgrade thanks to the addition of flash, which is very powerful in a multiplayer environment. Its versatility means it will likely find a home in a lot of blue-based decks, especially considering the wealth of enters-the-battlefield creatures in the format.

7. Selvala's Stampede


This is another card I can really get behind. The card has a potentially insane power level that is nicely tempered by the randomness of the "wild" vote, though if your hand is full of huge creatures surprising your opponents when they vote "free" will be really fun.

The downside is obviously if you have a small hand (or worse, no hand) then you're paying six mana to put a random creature from your deck onto the battlefield. Regular copies are currently pre-selling for around $2 but foils have a 5.5x multiplier.

8. Regal Behemoth


This one was already covered pretty well by Mike Lanigan in his his review of Conspiracy: Take the Crown, but I'd be remiss if I didn't also bring it up. Green is the ramp color in Commander and the ability to add extra mana from every land has always been powerful. The fact that it turns you into the monarch also means that in theory it can replace itself the turn you play it.

9. Capital Punishment


While at first this card just seems expensive for its abilities and the fact that some decks (like token decks) won't be that affected by one of the votes, it does provide a lot of potential card advantage in a format heavily influenced by card advantage. I wouldn't go out and buy a bunch of these, but I'll be setting aside any copies I get and holding onto them.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my Commander breakdown of Conspiracy: Take the Crown. The set has a lot of cool Commander cards in it (both new and reprinted) and I look forward to drafting it a few times. For those who didn't draft the first Conspiracy, be aware that you only get to play one game per draft, but it's definitely a blast.

2 thoughts on “Insider: Conspiracy: Take the Crown Review (Commander)

  1. Burgeoning

    This card is a terrible draw later in the game. Granted, many people don’t see that, but it’s an exciting card more than a good card. Only a deck tuned for drawing many extra cards will still gain benefit from Burgeoning and in that case, does it really need all those extra lands in play?

    Queen Marchesa

    Aparently assassins from her school have haste, as also evidenced by the token. Haste on a commander has the advantage of having a good chance of getting a hit in after mass removal, something her colors are particularly good at.

    Expropriate

    Why would it likely have to be banned without the exile clause? Blatant Thievery exists and is fine, as are other cards that give you extra turns. While I agree it’s better to have the exile clause on there I think you are overestimating the likelihood of a card getting banned in commander.

  2. I hope anyone who wanted to play Leovald got their Anvil of Bogardan’s when this article went up…they already went from $5 to almost $15.

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