Some of the first memories I have from my childhood are of the epic Thundercats show. My favorite part about Thundercats were the different animal races. Lion-O, the main character, was particularly amazing and he started my love for the cat type that carried over to Magic.
When I started playing, many of the cards reappearing in the Commander 2017 deck, "Feline Ferocity," were just being released. So, basically, I grew up not only with the cat superhero TV show, but also with the Cat tribe unfolding and growing in Magic. All in all, however, the tribe had minimal support. I love that my favorite tribe is getting some love with this release and I hope that means Wizards will be providing some more support to this tribe in the future.
What you're really here for is a treatment of the cards in the deck itself, so let's jump right in. I'll outline where I see each of these cards playing a role, whether in Commander, casual, or constructed, and explain where I see them headed pricewise.
Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
Let’s start with Mirri’s new variation, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist. First of all, it’s great that Wizards is shouting out to the old-school Cats as well as the cool old storylines with this printing. She may not be breaking the bank at $4, but she is one of the defining cards of the deck. I also really like her Silent Arbiter ability. I was thinking she was similar to Crawlspace too, but she’s even better than that. A three-power three-drop is decent and her ability is potent.
A lot of the price trajectory will be determined by whether or not Death and Taxes picks this creature up as a maindeck or sideboard option. I think it would be better for this Legacy strategy to stick to one color but there is definitely merit to adding green. It could make the deck back into more of a Maverick strategy. Either way, I think the price seems stable, with a little fluctuation possible.
Arahbo, Roar of the World
Let’s not forget about the main commander for the deck, Arahbo, Roar of the World. All of the new commanders have the eminence ability, which I like to call the Oloro ability after the first card that had it. Your commander granting you an ability while it’s in the command zone is super powerful. You don’t even have to do anything yet you still get the ability!
Every turn you get a free Giant Growth during your attack phase to any Cat. That makes any Cat you want to play better right off the bat. So even your Elite Cat Warrior will seem elite and your Sacred Cat or Adorned Pouncer will be ridiculous. Arahbo gives this ability while he’s in play too, which is great in case you actually want to cast him.
If you do put him in play, you can make your Cats even bigger and give them trample. If you have tons of mana, you can even use the ability like a pseudo-Overrun.
The low end on this commander is $5, but I think supply will dry up and it make it back to towards the $10 mark. Many writers are unimpressed that Wizards chose the Cat tribe, but Cats are an important part of Amonkhet and could see more printings in the future. This is a tribe that is super cool and has a lot of room to be expanded upon. I think this deck will be the hidden gem of the cycle.
I like this commander a lot, and based on previous Commander price trajectories, I think he could increase but it will likely be long-term. What we need is more great Cats to get printed so that more and more players are drawn to build this type of deck. I believe this will happen, but nothing is certain. Either way, this is definitely the type of card I always want to have a couple of in stock, because there will always be players looking for it.
Balan, Wandering Knight
I love that Wizards includes extra legendary creatures in these products. Sometimes players even buy one of these decks for the alternate commander. This could be true for Balan as well.
When I think about archetypes in casual Commander, equipment decks are one genre I think of that get overlooked. Personally, for as many times as I've sold out of cards and decks, I always keep a deck built around equipment on hand, and a lot of players are the same way. It provides all the excitement of Voltroning up a creature with enchantments or spells, without the downside of losing everything to removal.
Balan, Wandering Knight is perfect for this type of strategy for a bunch of reasons. First of all, at four mana, he’s reasonably cheap. Don’t get me wrong, I love Raksha Golden Cub, and I’ve had him as a commander a couple of times now, but that’s seven mana. Balan is only four, and cheaper is better with this type of strategy.
Secondly, Balan fits so well because his two-mana ability let’s you take advantage of all the equipment you’ve played all at one time. You get a huge discount in price with this cheap ability. Last of all, gaining double strike for something you’re already going to do is a sweet bonus.
$2 or $3 won’t last long for this cat. I could see that doubling easily. There are a lot of options for equipment-based commanders and there are a lot of cool cards that you can play to go along with your equipment. Balan happens to be both. That makes him more desirable because more players will need copies of him. I definitely think Balan has a lot of promise and I like him a lot as a buy right now.
Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith
Maybe it's just me, but Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith doesn't feel like a mythic rare. He's great with equipment, but not every Commander deck will be both green and white. I think this is the first time we’ve seen green be important with equipment. In the past, red was the pairing color with the white cards that go with your equipment.
Maybe I’m undervaluing the tutor effect for equipment but he costs six mana. I guess Taj-Nar Swordsmith usually costs that much because you’re paying for the tutor effect. Do Taj-Nar’s ever get anything other than Skullclamp though?
In the end, Nazahn is really cool and full of flavor. He also lets you tutor for your equipment, and whether that’s his hammer or a sword, all of that sounds great. Oh, and you can tap guys when you attack too to ensure you get the combat-damage abilities of your equipment.
His cheap price is probably accurate, but he’s listed as a mythic so players could put more stock into him and therefore raise his price. Nazahn seems like a cheap card because what you're getting for six mana seems reasonable. Maybe we expect more than what we should, but I think this expectation will keep his price low.
Hammer of Nazahn
Going right along, we come to the Hammer we can grab with Nazahn when we cast him. I think many times you’d get another equipment but since it comes into play for free and you get the Hammer's ability when it comes into play, it's combo-tastic like Godo, Bandit Warlord.
The best part about Hammer of Nazahn is that you don’t need Nazahn himself to make the Hammer great. This equipment goes in every equipment deck because it auto-equips itself and future equipment! Don’t let the current price fool you—Darksteel Plate is now $17. Commander players value indestructible on their commanders. This Hammer does the same thing, for one less mana.
It seems like sellers are messing with the shipping cost on TCGplayer to lower the mid price, but the price on this equipment is really like $9. That makes sense to me, because of the constant demand for Darksteel Plate.
Nazahn may seem like he will stick around a lower price range, but his hammer on the other hand seems destined for greatness. Sure the Hammer itself isn't indestructible like Darksteel Plate, but it's cheaper and also gives you a power buff on top of that. Throw in that this is an artifact and you have a recipe for a Commander all-star. We'll be talking about this one in a year and wishing we'd have picked up more copies. Get them now.
First there was Bonesplitter, then came Darksteel Axe, and now you have a replicating axe with Bloodforged Battle-Axe. This is a completely new take on equipment and I love it. I’m not surprised this unique equipment is $6. I think the appeal of this equipment will fade, though its price should remain the same.
In a tribal set, Heirloom Blade could be in every deck. It’s not, but it could be. This blade can also go in any tribal Commander deck and would most likely fit well. Getting you another creature from your tribe isn’t the most impressive ability, but it’s definitely card advantage. In this deck, you’re getting another Cat which you can equip and that’s pretty cool.
I could also see Heirloom Blade being used in a combo deck to get combo pieces, but they would all have to share the same type so maybe that’s unlikely.
Even though this equipment is listed as an uncommon, I think it has a wide appeal. If I'm going to build a tribal Commander deck for someone, this should be on my short list of automatic cards to consider. Cards like this that stick out as auto-inclusions tend to have steady value and I think that should be the same for Heirloom Blade.
Curse of Bounty/Vitality
I’ve never been a fan of cards like the Curses. They have a very Commander feel to them, and sometimes they can be powerful, but they are usually the first cards I cut from these preconstructed decks.
These new curses do a better job of getting players to attack someone in particular. I think this new cycle is like being the Monarch. Everyone wants to be the Monarch because it’s such a huge boon every turn. These curses make players want to attack someone in particular a lot because they will be allowed to do things like untap their permanents, gain a bunch of life, make 2/2 Zombies, get an extra mana, or draw a card.
Each deck has two or three of these, so games with the decks right out of the box could get a little crazy. That might appeal to a certain group of players. I don't think any of the curses are likely to increase in value but if you find them fun, pick them up. They might go down a little in price but not much.
Okay, so why do we have Elves in the background of this card in the Cat deck!? Obviously because Kindred Summons would be insane in an Elf deck, but it would be insane in any tribal deck that supports green. Sure it’s seven mana, but that’s what Commander is all about.
It seems like every card in this deck is $4-6 and this is no exception. This seems like an automatic hit in the Commander community. If Elves in any format adopts this card, we could have a huge hit here. In the case where that doesn't happen, I still think a minor price increase is likely.
Traverse the Outlands
Traverse the Outlands doesn’t seem particularly suited for this deck, but since your cats are getting buffs from Arahbo, it will always be decent. I think this ramp spell has applications in many other Commander decks though. Also, it’s another $6 card.
Contextually, I think Traverse the Outlands is hard to place. Where do we really want to use this spell? If someone figures that out, the price might go up drastically, but more than likely we should just be playing the cheaper Explosive Vegetation or similar cards. This seems more like a $2-3 card to me and will likely fall after release.
Love it or hate it, Hungry Lynx is another $5 card. Sure it’s cheezy or whatever, but Commander players love this kind of thing. Why do you think there are Squirrel enthusiasts? It’s cheap and decent for a Cat and it will also have collector appeal. Because lots of casual players will want this card due to its uniqueness, I think $5 is a completely reasonable price to pay. It seems like it will stick around that value to me as well.
Stalking Leonin is potentially Legacy-good. For three mana you get a 3/3 that also lets you exile one of their guys later on. Sure, they must be attacking you and sure, they could kill it before attacking you, but it's still a Fiend Hunter variant with a bigger body.
This is yet another $5 card. I'd compare Stalking Leonin's future price to that of Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist. If this starts seeing play in Legacy, then buy copies ASAP. If not, I think it will be pretty stable in the under-$5 range.
Now we finally get to one of my favorite cards from this release, Alms Collector. I’ve always loved Notion Thief. While Alms Collector isn’t quite as good, you don’t have the restriction of playing blue and black. Now Death and Taxes can play this guy. Terrifying. He’s also $6, but if he actually gets picked up by the Legacy deck, that’ll go up for sure.
I love this card and just like so many others in this deck, I think it would be great for Death and Taxes. Can you imagine flashing in this guy in response to their Brainstorm? How that should work is that you both draw a card and then they put two cards back on top of their libraries. Wow, what a beating. I'd say this should fall in the Containment Priest range of close to $15.
The last new card of the deck is Herald's Horn. Any deck can play this colorless artifact and all the tribal decks could benefit from the cost reduction as well as the potential card advantage ability. Before I look this up, I’d guess it’s going to be right in our price range as well. Yup, we guessed it, $5.
This is another generic tribal card that will be great to keep in stock. Any of these cards I've mentioned should sell really well because players are always dreaming of new tribal Commander decks to build. Cards like Herald's Horn will come up repeatedly as ones players are looking for. I think the price on this one will fluctuate but end up somewhere around this $5 price point.
A note on these generic tribal-matters cards. If you are buying or trading cards from players, pick them up because players for all of time will be building tribal Commander decks. Herald's Horn and Heirloom Blade may seem innocuous, but every future tribal deck can play them.
Reprints of Note
This section will be brief because the reprints aren’t what make this product great. Sure, most of the reprints are bulk rares, but that’s because they’re Cats. If I were making this deck for Wizards of the Coast, I’d design almost the same exact deck. They hit all of the awesome Cats that exist and if they’re not worth money at least they’re awesome.
Mirari's Wake is the best reprint in the deck. It’s creeping back into double digits and without this printing would’ve hit $20 this year, I think. Doubling your mana is good no matter where you’re trying to do it, and always will be.
Outside of those, only the typical Commander artifacts should make your “good” stack. I’m talking about cards that every player wants like Skullclamp, Sol Ring, and Lightning Greaves. Even though it’s an uncommon, Myriad Landscape applies in this category as well and we should buy them aggressively out of this reprint.
There are a couple lands you want to pay attention to. Despite its million printings, Command Tower is still great to have on hand because it will sell no matter what price it’s at. After this release, we will think the same of Path of Ancestry. This new land is a Command Tower that also lets you scry one when you use it to cast a creature of the same tribe. That’s auto-include in my book. It’s better than any triland, that’s for sure. They’re in all four decks and right now they’re $6+.
Everything Else in the Deck
As you can see, the rest of the deck contains what I'd consider the obvious inclusions. These are the Commander staple cards as well as the Cats that are good and makes sense with this deck. The land base is generically good as well. If I were building a Cat tribal deck for someone, this is pretty close to what my shell would look like as well. There are only so many options for each tribe and Cats are not as supported as other tribes.
If you want to buy this or any of the new Commander decks card by card, they will all be over $100. This one is $120, but I think that’s deceptive. If we focus on only the cards that are worth money, we get a more realistic total of about $80.
You definitely won’t be able to buy this deck and then buylist it, but you might be able to buy it and flip it if the supply is low enough on the first print run. There is a stigma about this deck being only for casuals though, so keep that in mind if you’re trying to do this.
Play Guide: Easy Upgrades
This deck seem great out of the box if you are looking for some casual Commander fun. I think many players will want to upgrade, so let’s talk about some options real quick.
Finally, I think some players will grab new commanders and use them for other strategies entirely. Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist could make for a great GW Control deck. Also, Balan, Wandering Knight and Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith seem designed for equipment decks (but different styles from one another).
There are a ton of options but I think a lot of players will jam this deck right out of the box. It has all the main Cats that are awesome and it seems like a ton of fun.
Is this the deck you’ll be buying? Why or why not, let me know in the comments.
Until next time,
Unleash the Force!