Commander 2014: A Financial Review

With the release of the newest Commander decklists, we are greeted with a few potent new cards, but also one of the nicest group of reprints in a sealed deck product in a long time.  I’m here to break down what you may have missed about this spectacular release!

decks

The New

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The new centerpiece of these decks is a set of five mono-colored planeswalkers that all have an extra line of text: “~ can be your Commander.”  While the EDH/Commander governing body has stated there are no plans to allow other planeswalkers to become your commander, it would not surprise me if that stance is changed in the future (source).  These walkers will be highly sought after for their uniqueness in the casual format. None of them are playable in Modern, but there has been some interest in Daretti in Legacy and Vintage. Having a hasted [card]Goblin Welder[/card] (or as I would more accurately call a combo card of [card]Faithless Looting[/card] and [card]Trash for Treasure[/card]), is apparently a big deal. Its single red mana cost also makes it very effective in red prison-style decks (which already rely on [card]Blood Moon[/card], [card]Chalice of the Void[/card], and [card]Trinisphere[/card]).  I don’t know if this card is better than [card]Goblin Rabblemaster[/card] in those decks, but it’s something to keep on your radar. Daretti is pre-ordering for $18 or more on most retail sites, and unless it has a very dominant weekend, I don’t expect it to stay that high a month after release. None of these planeswalkers are particularly impressive and will likely not carry huge price tags after release.

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The new legendary creatures (save for the white one, Jazal Goldmane) are all really unique and pretty strong build-around commanders. There is a precedent here, and those style commanders tend to be popular and good. These guys are much more in the realm of [card]Kaalia of the Vast[/card], [card]Animar, Soul of Elements[/card], and [card]Nekusar, the Mindrazer[/card] and less like [card]Basandra, Battle Seraph[/card] and [card]Oloro, Ageless Ascetic[/card]. One or more of these could become very popular, and I think they will all hit at least $5 long-term—the current $2 or $3 each seems unusually low.

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The lieutenant cycle is interesting, but I think these three are the most powerful.  One has haste, one has an ability that effectively has haste, and the last has hexproof.  The problem with the other two is that they have no way to affect the board before your commander comes onto the battlefield. They are much more just like big-stat sticks than anything else. [card]Tyrant’s Familiar[/card] is pretty oddly a non-bo with [card]Kaalia of the Vast[/card], but I think the upside most times is going to be so good that it won’t matter.  I think these guys can become staples of their respective decks, but it will take a while for them to become popular. Keep an eye out for bulk or near-bulk pricing to pick these up after Christmas.

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These are the standouts for eternal formats.  [card]Containment Priest[/card] does a fine job of hosing powerful combo cards (such as [card]Goryo’s Vengeance[/card], [card]Through the Breach[/card], [card]Show and Tell[/card], [card]Sneak Attack[/card], [card]Reanimate[/card], etc).

[card]Song of Dryads[/card] could catch on if there is a need for flexibility. This card has so much utility that it’s hard to immediately write off a three-mana green sorcery speed removal. The only thing I see that might stop this card from seeing play is if all of your targets can also be killed by [card]Krosan Grip[/card]. The fact that it is equally effective against [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], [card]Griselbrand[/card], [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card], [card]Counterbalance[/card], [card]Batterskull[/card], and [card]Grove of the Burnwillows[/card] is a big deal. If there is a resurgence of Maverick-style green decks in Legacy, I could see this card seeing as much play as [card]Council’s Judgment[/card].

[card]Masterwork of Ingenuity[/card] is a very unique card.  There haven’t been any cards less than three mana that could copy equipment ([card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/card], and [card]Sculpting Steel[/card]), and one-mana artifacts are especially important because they can be searched up via [card]Trinket Mage[/card]. What does all this mean? Not much right now. All of the cards are pre-ordering for too much and are not necessarily slam-dunk picks. Wait until January before picking them up for cheap.

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This last set of cards are new and have a lot of uniqueness, which drives card prices.  I think [card]Commander’s Sphere[/card] especially will be a very popular card.  It’s a [card]Darksteel Ingot[/card] with a lot more upside and probably will be played in every Commander deck going forward.  I don’t see a world where these aren’t $3-4 cards by the time Commander 2015 comes out. [card]Command Tower[/card] has four printings and still has a retail price of $2 to $3.

[card]Siege Behemoth[/card] is a very odd card because it plays a lot like an [card]Overrun[/card] but also has a lot of power and hexproof.  I expect this to join [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card] and [card]Triumph of the Hordes[/card] as finishers of choice in green Commander decks.  [card]Lifeblood Hydra[/card] joins the other supporting cast of great hydras post-Theros, including [card]Genesis Hydra[/card], [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card], [card]Hooded Hydra[/card], and [card]Hydra Broodmaster[/card].  I don’t know if it dethrones any of them as the top hydra, but it gives them a run for their money.

[card]Angel of Dire Hour[/card] doesn’t have fateful hour (as seen on all-stars such as [card]Faith’s Shield[/card]), which is a flavor fail. But it also has a clause that doesn’t not allow you to pair this with [card]Deadeye Navigator[/card] for a creature shield. It’s one-time effect is still extremely powerful and will likely find a place in most decks with Plains in them.

[card]Reef Worm[/card] (which is notably not a wurm, which is a flightless dragon) is a very flavorful card and sure to be very popular among Cube enthusiasts and casuals alike. I don’t think the demand will be very high initially, but its uniqueness will make it a great long-term hold. There are also tokens included in these decks for the fish and the whale, which I would suggest picking up immediately. As the only two non-dollar rares, [card]Dualcaster Mage[/card] and [card]Scrap Mastery[/card] have obvious parallels in other colors ([card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] and [card]Living Death[/card]), but being in red is a big difference. You don’t often get cards this powerful in red and I hope to see more in the future. But right now, their prices are too high. Keep an eye on them, and if they drop off a lot and then start to creep back up, then it’s probably time to buy in.

Reprints!

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While [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] is the most headlined reprint, it’s important to note that this is the first non-foil printing of [card]Goblin Welder[/card] in a modern border. It’s a no-brainer at this point to ship all non-foil [card]Wurmcoil Engines[/card] as this will make them worth 30 percent or less of their current value.

Notable new modern border additions:

[card]Stroke of Genius[/card], [card]Dregs of Sorrow[/card], [card]Collective Unconscious[/card] (in black border), [card]Desert Twister[/card] with Noah Bradley’s Vintage Masters art, [card]Predator’s Flagship[/card], the original Karoo lands ([card]Karoo[/card], [card]Everglades[/card], [card]Coral Atoll[/card], [card]Dormant Volcano[/card], and [card]Jungle Basin[/card]), and [card]Priest of Titania[/card]

Notable cards with new art:

[card]Exclude[/card], [card]Sacred Mesa[/card], [card]Sylvan Safekeeper[/card], [card]Wellwisher[/card], [card]Cathodion[/card], [card]Skullclamp[/card] with Vintage Masters art, the cycle of 5 diamonds (ex [card]Sky Diamond[/card], and 5 medallions (ex [card]Sapphire Medallion[/card])

All in all, this release seems to be chock-full of value, but I think the hype train is too strong right now for there to be any financial gains at this point. Give it a few months and then comb through the prices again to find the gems in the rough.

About the Author
@Phrost_     -     Email     -     Articles Jim is a software developer and an avid blue planeswalker. He spellslings in Jacksonville, Florida, and you can feel free to contact him on Twitter at @phrost_.

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