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Insider: Speculating on Zaxara, the Exemplary

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I am really liking the new Commander 2020 products and similar to my previous article on Gavi, Nest Warden I will continue to focus on one of the new commanders. This week it is Zaxara the Exemplary.

Warning Commander 2020 Spoilers ahead!

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We have already seen two price spikes because of this new commander.



While both spikes occurred because of Zaxara, they likely occurred from different groups.

Pemmin's Aura allows Zaxara to generate infinite mana AND it also can protect Zaxara from spells and abilities. This is the type of auto-include in any competitive build of Zaxara. Our first speculation target would go in the same type of deck.


This is another enchantment that allows Zaxara to generate infinite mana. While Pemmin's Aura is an uncommon with a single printing back in 2003. Freed from the Real was originally printed as a common back in 2005 and had a single reprint in Masters 25 as an uncommon. This would imply that the price ceiling for this spec is certainly lower than that of Pemmin's Aura, but thanks to the singleton aspect of Commander, "worse" versions of cards are still desirable.

Pemmin's Aura is sitting at around $10 as of me typing this up, so it's fair to imagine that a card like Freed from the Real could easily be a $3-$5 card thanks to being a "worse" version and having more copies in the supply.

Currently, copies are sitting at around $1.50 and we are down to less than 12 pages of sellers on TCGPlayer, which thanks to COVID-19 is one of the few marketplaces people still have available to purchase cards from. This seems like a pretty easy "double-up" type of card. Full disclosure I did buy 13 more copies of this card after Zaxara was spoiled.

A search of the gatherer doesn't appear to have any other similar effects in Sultai colors that can be used repeatedly and for less than 2 mana.

There are a lot more options if you're willing to go to 3 cards for infinite mana. If you have something that increases the mana production of Zaxara in play like Mana Reflection or Nyxbloom Ancient, then you can use cards like;


and


Sword of the Paruns is nice because it provides a buff to your other creatures as well as an infinite mana engine. Crab Umbra gives your commander a totem armor so it can survive a wrath or targeted kill spell. I do view these types of options much lower than Freed from the Real and Pemmin's Aura because 3 card combos are a lot more effort to pull off than 2 card combos.

Now let's look at the other half of Zaxara, the part that caused the Unbound Flourishing spike.

Hydras seem to occupy an interesting niche market in the Magic community. We can look at a card like Khalni Hydra which was $4 or less during it's time in Standard and is now sitting at $12+ dollars despite not being in any competitive format decks and listed in only 893 decks on EDHRec.


Casual players just love Hydras and they are an important group in the MTG finance realm. So let's look at some interesting specs that players who want to focus on the bottom half of Zaxara would likely want in their decks.


Genesis Wave is actually a card that would likely be included in either Zaxara build thanks to it being extremely powerful game over card when you get infinite mana, but also playing really well with Zaxara's second ability too. There have only been 2 printings, the original Scars of Mirrodin and an Iconic Masters printing. Scars is old enough that we have seen significant growth in the playerbase since the set's printing and masters sets tend to add less into the supply than many actually think.

TCGPlayer has only 3 pages if you set it to 50 sellers per page and many on page 3 are foil copies. It also helps that this card occasionally breaks out in janky modern decks. It's current $4 price tag could easily double to $8 should Zaxara prove a desirable commander, which I think it will.


So normally I avoid standard legal cards when looking at Commander specs, however, Steelbane Hydra is an interesting option because it doesn't come from standard Throne of Eldraine packs. It was included in the Wild Bounty Brawl deck and I believe can be found in collectors edition packs, so there are likely fewer copies floating around, again setting sellers to 50 per page nets 3 pages of total sellers on TCGPlayer. Copies are in the sub $2 category so the buy-in is pretty low.


This is actually a card I spec'd on back in 2016 when I looked at Conspiracy: Take the Crown potential specs. Back then it was a $1.5 card. Now it was reprinted in Commander Anthology, but honestly that adds very little to the supply. The card is already sitting in the $4+ range and is another card that could easily hit $7+ should it be high on the "auto-include" list for Zaxara.


A card so powerful it's still banned in Modern, when it was first released it helped create the Maverick archetype in Legacy, by providing incredible consistency. Not surprisingly, Commander is another format that likes consistency and repeatable tutors are quite valuable. Now this one has a buy-in that is honestly higher than I typically prefer for non-reserved list specs with most copies in the $7-$9 range. I have to think this is an easy auto-include in any version of Zaxara because like Green Sun's Zenith it plays well with both Zaxara's abilities.

Conclusion

One important thing to keep in mind with speculating on any of the cards on this list, especially the green ones, is that 2020 is not only the year the world falls apart, but also the year of Commander according to WoTC. I could easily see some of these green specs being potential inclusions in the specialty green-based Commander supplemental product and/or could be included in the draftable Commander product. To me that's the biggest risk for any of them, I feel like any cards on this list that do dodge both those products will likely see solid growth in the coming year.

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