Welcome back, readers! This past week the full Commander 2016 decklists were revealed. There's a lot to take in, so let's get right to it.
There are quite a lot of decent reprints in this set (greater than $3). Usually each Commander series has a good number of them, so that's not too surprising. What is interesting is which ones they picked. I'll go card by card and offer my thoughts on what each reprinting means.
This card showed up in the original Commander decks and immediately skyrocketed to $40, thanks to Legacy Maverick decks. The recent M14 reprint brought the card into Modern, where it has served as a powerful anti-graveyard threat with incidental lifegain and the ability to grow big.
I love this card in Modern, but it honestly doesn't see a ton of Commander play (at least around my area). Most green players prefer to spend their mana going over the top. Without much casual demand to prop it up, this reprinting really hurts any growth Modern speculators were hoping for in the near future.
I've previously called out Burgeoning as a great spec opportunity thanks to its reprinting in Conspiracy: Take the Crown. It is an extremely powerful Commander card, allowing players to ramp ahead of opponents very quickly (assuming they don't run out of lands in hand). It also scales very well with more opponents.
The fact that this card is getting reprinted again, just on the heels of the last reprint, is a bit disturbing from a speculator's view. We typically expect that once Wizards reprints a valuable card, they will give it some time to recover in value. Granted they've never stated this policy explicitly or anything, but it was implied based on previous actions. If this represents a shift in philosophy it may have much larger effects on speculation down the road.
Homeward Path is very much a Commander type of card, and one that I'm sure a lot of Commander players were eager to see reprinted. It's shown up in two previous Commander printings (original and 2013). As with those printings, they've elected to keep it to a single deck. I honestly don't see the price shifting a whole lot unless Stalwart Unity happens to be the most desirable of the new decks.
Daretti, Scrap Savant
Perhaps WoTC realized that they've tended to give red the shaft when it comes to planeswalkers, so they are just going to make sure red mages have them more readily available. This guy is a fun commander, but his price was already barely above $3 before this reprinting. None of the new four-color commanders has a strong artifact theme to pair with Daretti, so to me this just seems like a bit of an odd reprint choice from WoTC.
Odyssey Filter Lands
These lands are pretty spot-on for a Commander reprint. They were hard-to-find $3-$6 lands that help fix mana, and are perfect when you need a lot of different colors. Odyssey only had allied-colored versions, and I'm curious if WoTC will finish the cycle in the future. Keep in mind that only three (Darkwater Catacombs, Shadowblood Ridge and Sungrass Prairie) appear in the Commander 2016 decks.
I'm curious how many of you knew that the painlands originated in Ice Age. For a while they were only available in allied-colored pairs, until Apocalypse finished out the cycle. They've largely been relegated to Standard play over the years, but that changed this year with the arrival of our Eldrazi overlords. Many have since gone up dramatically thanks to the fact that they provide mana fixing and colorless mana in Modern, Legacy and Vintage.
However, I've typically seen most Commander players shy away from painlands. Even though your starting life is much higher than in a normal game, there's just so much mana fixing available throughout Magic's history—it's not hard to get perfect mana painlessly.
As with the Odyssey filter lands, we're only getting three reprints here (Caves of Koilos, Karplusan Forest and Underground River). As a Modern player who traded his personal sets off long ago, I'm not unhappy to see these back so I can finish my playsets cheaper. That said, some of the more expensive ones (Adarkar Wastes, Brushland) might actually go up in value, having missed the reprint train in this set.
I've always appreciated this card and its uniqueness (and I'm secretly hoping WoTC finishes this cycle as well). It does seem like a fantastic card to include in a set where one might need four different colors of mana consistently on turn four. Bosk can provide up to three of those (assuming you're playing Abzan plus something else).
Hanna, Ship's Navigator
This Invasion block legend has been a favorite of many Azorius combo players throughout Commander's history. She's a powerful card, but not so over-the-top to be unfun to play with or against.
This is her second reprinting (though her first was a low-volume judge promo). I'm glad they kept the artwork of the judge promo because Terese Nielsen just does some amazing work and the original is pretty bland-looking.
Iroas, God of Victory
This one was a bit surprising, given that it's still a pretty recent card. This was one of those speculation targets I really liked long-term as a lot of the gods are very powerful Commander cards and the fact that they can be your commander definitely means they can be built around.
It's interesting that this is the only god from Theros block that's getting a reprint. So for now your other god specs are safe, but take this as a warning that even plane-specific cards like this can easily appear in supplemental products.
I buylisted all my extra copies of Chromatic Lantern at the first Grand Prix after they announced that the next Commander set would be four-color. This is a fantastic Commander card, and although it's relatively new, the fact that it could give any player perfect mana as quickly as turn three just screamed auto-include in four-color Commander decks.
Lantern only appears in one deck (Entropic Uprising), but it will still lower the ceiling a good bit. If you don't have any copies already, I'm not sure I can recommend it as a spec at this time.
Beacon of Unrest
Another Commander favorite with multiple reprintings that still manages to maintain a $4-plus price tag. I know a lot of players love the fact that you can "re-use" this later (as long as you can draw or tutor for it). It's also very flexible, hitting opponents' graveyards and targeting both artifacts and creatures. I expect this card to stay in demand.
I'm a bit surprised with this reprinting only because it has double black in the mana cost. I would have thought with four-color decks they would try to keep any double-mana requirements to an absolute minimum.
Zedruu the Greathearted
Zedruu the Greathearted originally came out in the first Commander set in the most desired deck (the one with Chaos Warp and Flusterstorm). He quickly grew to be a casual favorite, as there have been a lot of Magic cards printed that harm the owner after providing some benefit.
Zedruu is perfect for giving all those cards to other players after the benefit has been granted, and he even nets you extra cards for doing so. He's also great in any deck that features a lot of symmetrical effects like Howling Mine, that affect all players regardless of ownership. I honestly doubt we'll see him drop much in value, thanks to the fact that he's such a hit with casuals and only shows up in one of the decks.
Oath of Druids
How many people were aware that Oath of Druids wasn't on the Reserved List (or that the only Oath in the cycle on it is Oath of Ghouls)? This is a huge Vintage card with only the original printing and a judge printing.
It's perfect for Commander decks that want to cheat in big creatures or fill their graveyards (or both). More than anything, I think it plays well in casual Commander decks, since it introduces a random element (unless you can control the order of your deck or limit your creature count to only the biggest and the baddest) and it does affect everyone.
One of the big takeaways from Commander 2016 is that WoTC clearly has no issue with reprinting cards that were recently printed (or reprinted) if they feel they fit one of their deck ideas. While they have always had this option, we typically haven't seen them use it. I suggest that all of us who have a speculation box crammed full of Commander cards rethink our long-term hold strategy moving forward.
A long time ago I did an article on the effect reprints have on a card's price. While that was focused on a Standard-legal set reprint, which likely has a larger print run, these Commander reprints will hurt some prices and greatly reduce any long-term growth potential of some cards. For example, I had thought the gods from Theros block would be allowed to age and slowly grow in value before being reprinted—that's an assumption I will likely have to change moving forward.
One last note on the lands in the new Commander product. I didn't mention the inclusion of the M10 buddy lands. As with the Odyssey and Ice Age/Apocalypse lands, only three versions were included: Dragonskull Summit, Rootbound Crag and Sunpetal Grove (all appearing, strangely enough, in the same deck, Open Hostility). As I explained above in the section on painlands, anything in these cycles that dodged a reprint could be slated for an increase.