Throne of Eldraine spoiler season has begun, and the new cards paint a picture of a very flavor-driven set designed from the top-down. It’s a land of fairy tales and legends, which means lots of legendary creatures - and that means new Commanders. In recent years new Commanders have been among the most important catalysts for Magic price increases. Each new Commander could potentially increase demand for dozens of old cards, some which could see significant price spikes. With many new legendaries already spoiled this week, Throne of Eldraine is sure to have a big impact on the market.
When the set was first teased Chulane, Teller of Tales was spoiled, and it has been followed up with three more three-color legends to complete the cycle of four Commander, each leading a preconstructed Brawl deck: Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King, and Alela, Artful Provocateur. These cards were clearly designed with not only Brawl but the Commander player in mind, and the new Commanders decks they will inevitably spawn will drive demand.
The spoilers have already got some cards moving, but generally, there is a lag time as players figure out what cards they want before they spike. It's led me to start sleuthing to figure out what cards might be next to move. The best resources to utilize are the community and the players themselves, as well as other speculators, so I’ve been looking at initial decklists on EDHREC and scouring places like Twitter, Reddit and the QS Discord for insight into just what these new cards might do to Commander and the market.
Syr Gwyn, Hero of Asvhale might be the most important of the new Commanders in terms of market impact. Its dual focus of equipment and Knight tribal increases demand in both aspects. Commander decks based around equipment are nothing new, with about a dozen Commanders supporting it. Syra Gwyn is unique for dipping into black, while its ability is arguably the most powerful yet for an equipment-based deck.
Especially appealing are equipment with prohibitive equipment costs, making Colossus Hammer a shoo-in. One of the best targets seems like Heartseeker, which has a great effect when it equips for zero and effectively turns all of your creatures into Visara, the Dreadful.
Heartseeker, a fifteen-year-old dollar-rare, feels like a bargain and it’s already showing some signs of minor upward movement this week.
Another good option is Sunforger, which could find plenty of strong spells in a Mardu deck.
The most important aspect of Syr Gwyn is the Knight tribal aspect, which is not entirely new, but for the first time has access to the full Mardu wedge. The tribe should reach a new level of popularity, especially because the spoilers continue to show strong support for the tribe. That means any old Knight tribal card is on the table for speculation, like Knight Exemplar, which has already increased a few dollars.
One of the best plays, or at least what seems like one of the safest, could be Puresteel Paladin, which offers the crossover synergy of being a Knight with an equipment theme. That plus Modern play in the Cheerios Combo deck makes me think Puresteel Paladin will see strong growth into 2020.
Korvold, Fae-Cursed King has a lot of people excited as a really strong commander for sacrifice decks. It's a huge upgrade over Kresh the Bloodbraided that should bring this self-sacrifice style of Jund deck to the next level. There are a ton of applications, but I’ve been most intrigued some unfair ones, specifically a few infinite combos the community has identified and that could drive the market. There are various convoluted ways to go infinite with Korvold, and one simple example is Phyrexian Altar with Words of Wilding to generate infinite +1/+1 counters and enter-the-battlefield and death triggers, so both of these cards could be good targets.
Phyrexian Altar had its price suppressed by Ultimate Masters and is still a bargain compared to the old price. Words of Wilding recently spiked on the back of demand for Ayula, Queen Among Bears and spiked, so a further surge in demand would likely send the price significantly higher.
Alela, Artful Provocateur is a more open-ended card than the other generals in what it asks, so building and speculating around it is trickier, and at this point, I haven’t seen any cards that jump out as specs, so I’m avoiding it for the time being.
Spoiler season has also revealed Throne of Eldraine will contain uncommon legends, and the first so far, Syr Konrad, the Grim, already has Commander players talking. Its ability offers multiple applications, like in sacrifice decks as a A-Blood Artist effects, but what has people excited is using it in a self-mill deck full of creatures. The best and most straightforward combo is the potential to KO an opponent immediately with Morality Shift, which as an old obscure rare from a third set looks like a great spec target at a 50 cent price point.
Syr Konrad also has great synergy with Mindcrank, with each trigger milling the opponent and really punishing creature decks.
Iconic Masters Mindcrankis now over $1, double its price at release, and well on its way towards the nearly $4 the New Phyrexia printing once commanded.
Another target is Mortal Combat, which is a nice alternate win condition for a creature-filled self-mill deck, and another bargain at about $1.
Syr Konrad, the Grim also lends itself to some infinite combos of its own, including one using Phyrexian Altar and Gravecrawler plus any Zombie. Another option is to use Basalt Monolith and Mesmeric Orb, which with an Eldrazi in the deck to prevent decking will deal infinite damage. I’m not sure I’d go and jump on any of these, but it’s another positive for Phyrexian Altar.
Throne of Eldraine spoilers are only beginning, and there will be more important legendaries with Commander applications to come. At this point, they are all fair game and I like casting a wide net, but over time we’ll definitely see some rise above as the most popular. At that point, I’d recommend focusing speculation on diving deeper into these decks as they become more fleshed out and standardized on EDHREC.