Insider: My Take on Commander Legends

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I'll be upfront and honest, I haven’t cracked an actual pack of Magic cards since I got my Ravnica Allegiance: Mythic Edition in the mail. I’ve seen too many times how opening packs is bad ROI; I’ve been getting my fix by cracking virtual packs on Arena, that I didn’t have to pay actual dollars for. I only mention all of this because I’ve been more bearish than most on a lot of the paper Magic products Wizards of the Coast has released recently. So many reprints and a glut of products have me questioning if anything outside of the Reserved List can ever really retain any value over the long term.

Why bring that up? Well, after all of these incredible Commander Legends spoilers, my faith has been semi-restored. It looks like WotC dug deep for this set and there is just a lot to be excited about, regardless of whether you’re a cutthroat cEDH player or a casual kitchen table player. While I accept that WotC can reprint any card in this set at pretty much anytime, I’m looking at it not from a longer-term speculator viewpoint but for short term opportunities. We seem to have another perfect storm brewing for Commander Legends.

Eligeth, Crossroads Augur

This is actually the card I am most excited about from the entire set. Sure, we have some larger splashy spells and a pseudo Black Lotus in Jeweled Lotus, but we have had the scry mechanic for a long time. It’s become evergreen, which means we’re likely to see lots of cards featuring it in the future. Some of the obvious big winners are:

Being able to buyback Ancestral Recall seems pretty ridiculous.

4 mana for a 1/4 that draws 6 cards also seems insane.

These cards all become absurdly powerful with Eligeth in play. Eligeth is a "build around me" commander rather than just an absurdly powerful one, which are the commanders I personally enjoy the most, and are also the type that cause a lot of cards to jump in value. We have already seen the foil versions of the first two spike. Given that they were Future Sight uncommons, a set from 2007, it isn't that surprising. Preordain is in Commander Legends itself and at common, I don't expect that we'll see any significant gains on other versions, outside of potentially the M11 foil version.

Prognostic Sphinx is the spec I'm most on the fence about; it's incredibly powerful in a deck built around Eligeth and its mana-free, repeatable scry. The biggest problem with Prognostic Sphinx is its Theros foil promo printing, meaning the price ceiling on this card is very low. It may be an auto-include in the Eligeth deck, but you likely won't make much money buying a stack of these.

While my main focus has been on Eligeth's main ability, the fact that they also have partner is actually pretty important. Many of the other powerful multicolored legends spoiled thus far have not had partner. It seems WotC may have learned their lesson from the first partner go-around, as recent spoilers indicate a focus on mono-colored legendaries. I think the obvious partner for Eligeth decks is Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix, so for other speculation targets I'd focus on the Simic color pairing.

Archelos, Lagoon Mystic

The Sultai color combination is arguably one of the most powerful ones for commander. What's especially interesting about Archelos, Lagoon Mystic is that it acts as a Amulet of Vigor on steroids. Building a deck around Archelos, you'll always want to remember to cast your spells before finding a way to tap Archelos, but the ability turns cards like Boundless Realms into insanely powerful spells.

What I love most about Archelos is the first ability. Ideally, you'll find a way to punish all your opponents initially tapped permanents. Given all the crazy, spammable, green land search spells available in EDH, I think the bigger focus of these builds will be finding the best ways to tap Archelos outside of combat, and preferably at instant speed.

With only two printings, neither of which had a large supply compared to print runs these days, this uncommon could easily be a $10 card should Archelos become a popular commander. The only trick is that once you tap Archelos for mana using Paradise Mantle whatever you resolve afterwards will come into play tapped, so save it for your last spell or an instant or sorcery. Paradise Mantle did receive a small reprint in Modern Masters, but likely not enough to meet the possible demand I'm describing.

The days of Springleaf Drum having a home in Modern Affinity builds have long since past, but it's still a great way generate mana while also tapping a creature. As well, you avoid having to worry about summoning sickness like you do with Paradise Mantle. Unfortuntely, a recent reprinting in Double Masters means that the price ceiling on this card is pretty limited, though it is interesting to note that the Double Masters versions go for about half of either the Lorwyn or Born of the Gods versions.

This common already shot up thanks to Zaxara, the Exemplary, so you aren't likely to find them in bulk as often, but it's down about 33% from it's high so there is potential room to grow with its current price.

Wrapping Up

During this pandemic, we've seen that the printing companies WotC contracts have not been able to keep up with the demand for new products. Stores have been getting allocations reduced, shipments delayed, and demand for Commander cards has remained strong. Talking with my LGS owner the other day, he mentioned that when he was initially allowed to put in his allocation request, he requested the maximum amount he could only to be later informed the week of 10/31 that he would be receiving only half of his request.

That's money left on the table by WotC, which they wouldn’t do unless they have to ration the initial supply. This implies that similar to Jumpstart, any cards that have high demand will skyrocket in price. Thanks to the recent spoilers, expect quite a few cards to be on that list. Keep this in mind as we move closer to the release of Commander Legends.

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