Insider: Financial Value of Commander 2016

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Commander is a fantastic format that draws an audience from many differing player groups. Competitive players love it because they can use all their old cards to create high-powered combo machines. Some of these decks include Legacy all-stars or interactions slightly too slow for that format. On the other side of the coin are players who dislike infinite combos, land destruction, and extreme effects on the game like Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur or Cyclonic Rift. (I think both of those cards should be up for consideration for the banned list, but that’s a story for another day.)

My favorite part about these Commander decks, as well as other products that have been released, is that they included cards for both of these types of players. There are high-powered cards that can be combined with other cards to create potent synergies, but there are also fun cards for the less hardcore crowd. Although it’s difficult to cater to everyone, I think Wizards is doing a phenomenal job.

One fact you may not know about me is that from time to time, I build Commander decks for players. New players tend to be intimidated by the build requirements of this format, and for some reason, they don’t want to purchase a preconstructed deck. I’ve also built decks for established players because they know I have a bigger card pool to pull from. These are usually more casual players looking to have fun with their friends rather than build the best deck they can.

The reason I bring this up is because this is my standard for judging products like this. For a while, I think players came to me for this service not only because they didn’t have the cards, but because the decks I built were so much better than what they could buy. The reason I like these new decks so much, and some from the past as well, is not just because they are fun and synergistic but because they are also good. They don’t sacrifice card quality very much. The cards may not be the best or most expensive ones out there, but they are all reasonable cards to play in a Commander game. This has not been the case in the past.

My topic for today is going to be a little different than the construction of a Commander deck, though. Today I want to take a look at the financial impacts of Commander 2016. Let’s dive in.

When I decided to write this article, I immediately started thinking about how I would break it down. What I came up with was to group the important cards into three groups. Today we will be looking at Eternal playable cards, commons and uncommons, as well as good Commander cards.

Eternal Playable Cards

The cards in this group are all reprints that have relevance in Modern or Legacy. This group of cards features some previous financial hits, but due to reprints, this group's new prices range from $2 to $5.

The most important thing about the cards in this category is not their current price, but rather their future price. Despite multiple reprints of these cards, they still continue to bounce back. Similar to how Path to Exile is still $8 minimum, cards like Baleful Strix and Scavenging Ooze still bounce back because of their power level in Eternal formats.

With the supply being so high on these cards right now, the prices of the older versions should come down a bit, but don’t let that scare you. These dips in prices should only be temporary. When possible, acquiring cards from this list should net a profit in the future.

There are a couple cards that stand out to me on this list, so let’s look at them in detail.

First up is Boros Charm. This burn spell with options is always going to be a Modern staple. Players love their burn decks and burn will likely get better as more cards are released and not worse. This makes Boros Charm a long term home run. I know even after it rotated out of Standard, I’ve always had a hard time keeping this charm in stock. The Commander release should help with that but once the stock starts taking a hit again, the price will bump right back up a couple dollars. This is a card I wouldn’t mind having a bunch of copies to hold for a while.

Since the release of our aggro Eldrazi friends like Thought-Knot Seer, the allied pain lands like Karplusan Forest have been much more in demand. Before that archetype, the old pain lands were a dollar or two each, but now they command a much higher price.

Being one of the more played lands from that cycle, Karplusan Forest was in need of a reprint. I’m surprised we didn’t get all five lands from this cycle, but the only other old pain land we got was Underground River.

Karplusan Forest is an important card for the deck’s it’s played in, but it's also as a budget option for Grove of the Burnwillows. I’ve had a lot of players asking for these lands, so the added supply should help drastically.

Finally, the last important card from this group is Thopter Foundry. This artifact is best known for its combo with Sword of the Meek to gain X life and make X 1/1 thopters, where X is the amount of mana you can generate.

Although previously banned, this combo has been searching for the right deck design since its reintroduction to the format this past year. Even without a home in Modern, these two combo pieces have remained at steady prices. If someone finds a competitive list, I expect this to be a breakout card.

Commons and Uncommons

Often overlooked and written off as worthless are the commons and uncommons. I’m sure by now that the finance community knows that even though Command Tower, Lightning Greaves, Reliquary Tower, and Sol Ring have been in virtually every Commander product that they are all still worth picking up. They will never again be double-digit heavy-hitters, but they will always draw a couple bucks from buyers. There are a couple more standouts from this product release that I want to touch on.

One of my favorite cards from Commander 2014 is Myriad Landscape. This uncommon land can fit into any Commander deck. Widely applicable cards like this are great investments because the demand is so much higher. I’ve always seen this double fetch land as a more generic version of Krosan Verge, which is one of my favorite lands to play in Commander. When you can get your lands to function as spells, you have plays to make throughout the entire game.

Myriad Landscape allows you to ramp your mana without expending a card from your hand. It also helps fix your manabase and is a very affordable option to do so. There is a lot to love about this land.

Initially, I thought this land would only show up in the landscape of mono-colored decks, but I think it’s great for any deck. You can only get two of the same basic land type, but it still accelerates you and can help fix your mana. It’s not as strong in multicolored decks, but it's still great. I will be picking up as many of these as I can get my hands on.

The second card from this list that needs to be discussed is the new cycling land Ash Barrens. Aside from my constant misspelling of the word Barrens as "Barons," I love that Wizards still thinks about old mechanics like cycling. This land may not be relevant to many players, but to some it will be crucial.

Surprisingly priced at over a dollar, this common might find a home in some powerful decks. I’ve considered Ash Barrens for Eldrazi variants as well as Lands-style decks.

There are other perks as well, like being able to play this land in any Commander deck, and I’ve already stressed how important that is. I love the flexibility that this land gives you. Either you just play it as your land drop and let it be a colorless source, or you pay one mana and go get the color you need. Love it. Pick up every copy of this card you see, too.

Commander All-Stars

Just like cards from the previous category, Chromatic Lantern and Solemn Simulacrum are obvious picks because of their wide range of applicability. Solemn is one of my favorite cards of all time, and although I’ve loved the card since its first printing, the sad robot has love for everyone. Regardless of what deck you want to play, he can provide your deck with his awesomeness. I buy and sell this rare more than most other Commander playables. I’m glad they brought back Chromatic Lantern as well, because it’s an amazing mana fixer that is hard to get a hold of because no one in my area wants to sell them. It will be great to have both these cards back in stock again. They are great trade bait because many players need copies.

One of my big pet peeves is reprinting half of a cycle of cards. Wizards has done that many times within Commander 2016 and the Odyssey lands are no exception. Many players didn’t even know this land cycle existed, because it’s well before when most players started playing this great game. We got three of the five from this cycle and they are all great for any deck featuring the two colors they support. I’ve included lands from this cycle in many Commander decks for myself as well as for some of the ones I’ve commissioned. Being out of print for so long, they weren’t very high in price, but they are high in functionality.

Atraxa, Praetors' Voice might be the one getting the most hype, but the most powerful general to me is Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder. Giving all of your spells cascade is so much card advantage. You can just flood the board with your free cards and drown your opponents in tempo. Maybe players aren’t getting on board with Yidris so quickly because there’s no clear direction to take the deck in. With Atraxa, you know you want cards that generate counters so you can proliferate them. Yidris might actually be a little harder to build around because you need ways to force though damage, but you want to cast spells after combat too so you get the free cascades. Maybe what we want is an equipment-based build so we can power up Yidris and still keep our mana free. Something like Sword of Feast and Famine seems like a great pair with this general to do exactly that. I think this general is underrated and a great pick up right now.

Deepglow Skate and Kalonian Hydra are great because they double your efforts. No matter what you are pairing them with, they are another version of Doubling Season. In Commander, we have time for Doubling Season effects to be some of the most potent in the format.

Not only is Deepglow Skate one of the most expensive cards in the set, but it’s also my favorite. You can pair this Mulldrifter-esque creature with planeswalkers or creatures with counters as well as many other places. Initially I thought you only doubled the counters on one permanent, and I thought it was great. The fact that you get to double all your counters is amazing. I could see this card increasing in value even from where it is now.

I wanted to mention Magus of the Will briefly because it has generated some hype for eternal formats. While I don’t think this creature is fast enough for the brutal Legacy format, I do think it will be a popular addition to Commander. Most of the Maguses are fun creatures to run in the format, and even if the creature version isn’t good enough for Legacy, it’s a fine card to add to any black Commander deck. I’d expect it to dip to $5 and then maybe tick back up a couple bucks.

There was an error retrieving a chart for Crystaline Crawler

The last great Commander card I want to discuss is Crystalline Crawler. This card is pretty amazing, and again, it’s widely applicable because it can go with any commander deck of multiple colors. It helps you fix your mana and ramps you all at the same time! There is no requirement for how many counters you can remove at once, so you could play Crawler and another four-drop in the same turn, similar to how you could with Koth of the Hammer. There is a lot to love about this card, and I’m buying aggressively.

So Which Deck Do I Buy?

The last thing I want to do today is break down where you can find all of these cards I’ve highlighted today. Knowing the value and the possible future trends of cards is great, but being able to know whether the product they originate from is a good buy or not is also critical.

Let me first say that regardless of the price breakdown, the best seller is overwhelmingly Breed Lethality. This is the GWUB deck featuring Atraxa, Praetors' Voice. Priced at $50 online, I can tell you that players are willing to pay this outrageous price for this deck. My store has sold some near this price point and raised our shipping costs on these decks to accommodate the increased demand.

Let’s break down each deck and see where the money cards fall.

Entropic Uprising UBRG

Yidris, Maelstrom Wanderer $6
Thrasios, Triton Hero $2
Vial Smasher the Fierce $4
Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix $4
Runeborn Hellkite $2
Chaos Warp $2
Past in Flames $3
Chromatic Lantern $5
Burgeoning $3
Ash Barrens $1.5

So our first deck has minimal cards of value which total only $32.50. With Command Tower and Sol Ring as well as the other dollar cards I didn’t type up, you basically make your money back with this deck and get some cool new cards, too. In terms of value, this is on the low end. I referenced MTGGoldfish for some quick numbers on these decks as well and they say the deck is worth $77 once you add in all the basically bulk cards. I don’t like calculating those types of cards when I’m figuring out how much these products are worth, because I think that line of thinking can be misleading. Here is the link for reference, though.

Open Hostility BRGW

Saskia the Unyielding $3
Tymna the Weaver $2
Iroas, God of Victory $2
Ravos, Soultender $3.5
Stonehoof Chieftan $2
Boros Charm $2
Conqueror's Flail $4
Lightning Greaves $3
Ash Barrens $1.5
Karplusan Forest $4

Unless I missed something, this deck is even worse value than the first one. Unless you were getting a good deal or really liked the cards from this deck, I’d stay away from this color combination and just buy a couple cards individually. Other than the new commanders, what does this deck really offer anyway? The MTGGoldfish total on this one is also $77, but you would never get that kind of money out of this deck.

Stalwart Unity RGWU

Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis $2
Selfless Squire$2
Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa $2
Collective Voyage $3
Tempt with Discovery $2
Prismatic Geoscope $3
Oath of Druids $2
Ghostly Prison $2
Ash Barrens $1.5
Forbidden Orchard $4

While this deck seems similar to the previous one, there are a ton of dollar cards hiding in it that help bring up the value. Even the cheap cards are still good, like Hushwing Gryff and Blazing Archon. There were many cards that fell just under my range of calculations, so I think this deck is better than what the above list list indicates.

Breed Lethality GWUB

Atraxa, Praetors' Voice $10
Scavenging Ooze $4
Reyhan, Last of Abzan $3
Crystaline Crawler $2
Deepglow Skate $10
Ghave, Guru of Spores $3
Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper $3
Kalonian Hydra $5
Reveillark $4
Darkwater Catacombs $2
Underground River $2

With just two cards, this deck nearly overtakes the other decks in value. It also has many other good cards in it, too. There’s a reason that this deck is selling for $50 online and the top end of the deck really highlights the demand it is generating.

Invent Superiority WUBR

Breya, Etherium Shaper $4
Akiri, Line-Slinger $3
Baleful Strix $3
Magus of the Will $8
Master of Etherium $5
Silas Renn, Seeker Adept $2
Faerie Artisans $2
Solemn Simulacrum $3
Aethersworn Adjucator $2
Daretti, Scrap Savant $2
Ash Barrens $1.5

Before I knew about the Breed Lethality deck crushing online sales, this is the deck I thought was going to be the top of the curve. It has nearly as many valuable cards, but it’s missing the top end like the other deck has. Don’t forget every deck has Command Tower and Sol Ring to bump them up a couple dollars as well.

As a side note, my friends and I have been referring to these decks by the color they are missing. So this deck would be the non-green one. It’s tough to compare decks when they don’t have understandable names, so maybe that will help you too.

I hope this shortened version of the deck’s value was helpful. You can always look up all the prices individually, but when dealers aren’t buying the majority of the cards in the deck, I think it’s more useful to break them down this way rather than being misled by false values.

If you liked or didn’t like this break down, let me know in the comments. Is there another way you’d like to see this information? Hope you enjoyed the article this week. As always, I’ll be back for more next week.

Until next time,
Unleash the Commander Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter

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