Welcome back, readers!
Last weekend I managed to play in one prerelease event for Hour of Devastation. I went BWg thanks to Pride Sovereign, Ramunap Hydra, and Grind // Dust (though in all fairness the card that won most games was my promo God-Pharaoh's Gift). But the card in my pool that caught my eye was one I didn't even play: The Locust God.
I started thinking about how I don't have any blue-red Commander decks and realized that The Locust God could be a lot of fun. What I really like about him is that he provides a win condition based on something you want to do already, which is draw a lot of cards. The Locust God is one of the few Commanders who can do this (the other obvious one being Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind).
We've already seen several legendary creatures from a new set create spikes in older cards, especially when the new creature is unique. We saw it with Omnath, Locus of Rage, Thalia and The Gitrog Monster, and most recently Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons. I think The Locust God will likely follow suit.
In fact, a card with many of the same synergies was the catalyst of some Commander spikes a few years back: Nekusar, the Mindrazer. The Locust God pairs with a slightly different set of cards (it triggers off of your draws, whereas Nekusar triggered off of the opponent's)—but clearly there's a precedent for interest in this type of card in the Commander community.
A lot of players are excited about The Scarab God because it plays well with a blue-black Zombies deck and its second ability can be very powerful against the right decks. However, we already have a lot of great blue-black Zombie generals, so most auto-includes in those types of decks are already valuable. That second ability can also be underwhelming against creature-light decks (like Mizzix of the Izmagnus).
But back to The Locust God. Reviewing EDHREC, there are some very strong auto-includes for the deck. The signature cards (as of 7/14) are:
- Purphoros, God of the Forge
- Bident of Thassa
- Ashnod's Altar
- Arjun, the Shifting Flame
- Impact Tremors
- Coastal Piracy
- Whirlpool Warrior
- Unexpected Windfall
- Alhammarret's Archive
- Teferi's Puzzle Box
- Jace's Archivist
- Winds of Change
Some other cards, while not considered "signature card" yet in the archetype, have a good chance of becoming auto-includes if it takes off. In my opinion, that includes the following:
- Wheel of Fortune
- Blue Sun's Zenith (top card, but not a signature card)
- Reforge the Soul (top card, but not a signature card)
- Time Reversal (top card, but not a signature card)
- Pull from Tomorrow
- Kozilek, Butcher of Truth
- Molten Psyche
- Stroke of Genius
- Time Spiral
Combined that's a pretty sizeable list of cards. However, many of these are already very expensive, so the potential for massive gains on them is pretty limited (if a card is $40 and gains $5 then your gain is only 12.5%, etc.). Luckily, that's not the case for all of them.
As I've mentioned in previous articles, when I spec on Commander cards I tend to put an emphasis on 1) How long ago was the last printing? 2) Does it have any reprints? and 3) What rarity was it printed at?
Time Reversal is my top pick for spec targets for The Locust God; it has two printings, both of which were at mythic in core sets (which tend to sell worse than block sets). It was last printed in M12.
Regular copies can be had for under $1, nearly bulk status for mythics. More importantly, foils are sitting in the $5-ish range (and they are absolutely stunning). I looked to pick up some extra copies and found most websites were sold out and there were only three on TCG Player (for both printings combined). I bought 13 copies from Cardkingdom while writing this article.
While there aren't any foil versions of Arjun, the Shifting Flame, it has a single printing in the Mizzix Commander deck back in 2015. The ability is extremely powerful, especially when your win condition is based off of card drawing, so the fact that you lose what was left in your hand isn't as detrimental (though it can lead to awkward or difficult decisions).
This card is currently sitting around $1 as well, so the investment cost is low. It is important to note that WoTC did state that the new Iconic Masters set will include Sphinxs (and this card is a Sphinx) so there is some reprint risk.
As I missed the original Ravnica block when it came out (I was on an MTG hiatus during college) I didn't even know this one existed. It's currently a bulk rare, so the buy-in is extremely low. Unlike Arjun above, it has the benefit of being an enchantment, which tends to be harder to get rid of than creatures.
Interestingly enough, while the regular version is a bulk rare, foils have recently spiked. They now have a 10x multiplier and are sitting in the $5-ish range, with just four copies on TCGPlayer. This indicates that demand for the card is on the rise; regular copies could easily be soon to follow suit.
Here we have another bulk rare that could show some very solid gains. it currently only has a single printing from Scars of Mirrodin (which came out almost seven years ago). Foils are currently sitting in the $2 range.
This one is interesting because it can also serve as a win condition (given the propensity of wheel effects in this archetype). I did find that getting the necessary number of artifacts to turn on metalcraft was a bit more difficult than I expected (my version plays mostly instants and sorceries), though I plan on making tweaks to my version in the upcoming week.
Yet another bulk rare (they can be purchased for under $0.5 each). This card has three printings, but two of those are Planechase and Planechase Anthology (neither of which were particularly large print runs). The original print run was all the way back in Apocalypse, which released in 2001 (16 years ago).
Foils have about a 10x multiplier (and are sitting in the $5 range), which shows that there is definitely strong demand for the foil versions. However, if The Locust God takes off and this remains a "signature card" showing up in over 50% of the decklists published online, the foil could easily double or triple up from its current price.
I actually like the idea of the regular version as a nice "penny stock" given it could easily double or triple up. Unloading large quantities of penny-stock picks is often difficult, but picking up a few at their current value to trade later isn't a bad decision.
So I know I'm beating the same drum here, but I'm a big fan of bulk-rare picks because the investment cost for a decent size position is low, and there's a lot of upside and a relatively low floor (especially if you're trading other bulk rares for them).
This card has three printings. Two of them are Commander printings (in 2013 and 2015) and there is only one foil printing (Magic 2012) which was five years ago and again in a core set. Foils are sitting around $3 or so, so the multiplier is in the 4-5x range; but it's popular in other decks as well (like Nekusar, the Mindrazer and Mizzix of the Izmagnus).
Stroke of Genius used to sit in the $5 range and has slowly slid down to the sub-$2 range (thanks to reprints in Commander 2014 and 2015), but my pick here is actually the judge foil version. It's the only foil option and retains the original artwork, which is somewhat iconic thanks to the Tolarian Academy decks of old.
This is actually one of the original judge foils from back in 1998, in the same series as Gaea's Cradle and Lightning Bolt. So the argument is that the number of judges back in 1998 who received this card is likely a lot fewer than the number of judges who receive promos nowadays.
I honestly didn't realize this card was a judge foil (as I hadn't seen anyone play it), but it's definitely a great Commander card. It can act as both a source of major card advantage or a kill card (with enough mana), and has obvious synergy with The Locust God.
There we have some of my favorite picks for The Locust God Commander speculation targets. There are likely a lot more (as Magic has a very long history of card-draw spells), but these are the ones that came most readily to mind for me. Got any other good picks? Let me know in the comments below.