So what the hell, right? Did you read the title of this article? Usually I'm incredibly full of vitriol and hatred, but Commander Legends has me feelin' some kinda way.
Commander is my format of choice. After years of grinding tournaments, Standard can kiss my grits. I'm happier slinging hundred-card decks.
How does Commander Legends fit in with my favorite format?
When I first saw the previews coming in (because remember, the leaks sucked) I immediately began falling in love with this set. There are so many flavor wins, intriguing build-arounds, and high-value reprints that this is likely the most important set in the history of Commander—maybe Magic in general. Because Commander is the lifeblood of Magic. It keeps the game afloat and breaking records from year to year. Modern, Pioneer, Standard… they're all big, but Commander is the true juggernaut.
I have many favorite cards from this set, but I narrowed it down to a few which I will maintain, on the record, do not suck.
While not a new card, Mana Drain might be the biggest shocker of the entire set. One of the best counters ever printed, Mana Drain power cannot be understated. But the cost has always been prohibitive.
At Mythic, Drain will be expensive. We know that. However, with the mass opening Commander Legends is absolutely going to have, the dynamic changes. The market price for Iconic Masters versions was sitting at $137, but all of a sudden you can pick them up for $80. That's a $57 drop. Huge. Meanwhile, preorders for borderless copies of Mana Drain are $159. That's a small premium to pay for such a coveted card when compared to what the price was on a regular one.
What makes this such a big deal is availability. Mana Drain is one of the best cards for the format, but it's so hard for casual to semi-competitive players to afford. When you see them dip down to $50, you're going to see a lot more of these at your local tables. Great reprint from Wizards.
Yes! Nevinyrral is here!
One of the most iconic sweepers ever, Nevinyrral's Disk has historically been the budget board wipe of choice for every Commander deck without access to white. Now the master is here.
Nevinyrral, Urborg Tyrant is really, really good. Having hexproof from creatures is already awesome, but not being targetable by Oblivion Ring or Cast Out or Grasp of Fate is huge! His ability to make Zombies is incredible when you cast him following a sweeper or a big combat step. Finally, and most importantly, Nev's final ability turns him into his namesake Disk, which means casting him puts a ticking time bomb on the board. Can you imagine having a commander nobody wants to destroy?
Nev is going to cause huge headaches in many pods, and is one of my favorite cards from the set.
Hellooooooo Dolly. As if a commander isn't a big enough deal when you cast it, imagine dropping a five-cost Commander into play and then hitting a board-warping four-drop. Two-for-ones are always good, and following up your Flamekin Herald with a big commander is going to change the dynamics of games. It only becomes better the more accelerators you land early, because once you untap with this thing, you're going to see fireworks.
The first deck I ever had a huge tournament finish with was the old Orzhov Tokens deck from Lorwyn/Shards of Alara Standard. That translates really well to Commander, because Wizards has continued to print support for white-black tokens strategies. Teysa Karlov decks are strong, but now we have a general who supports this archetype like nothing before her.
Creating multiple tokens over your turn is easy—look at cards like Lingering Souls, Spectral Procession, Raise the Alarm, and a host more. Combine them with all the anthem effects like Glorious Anthem and Intangible Virtue, and you already have a deck worthy of competing with most reasonably powered pods. Now Thalisse, Reverent Medium rewards you for dropping a ton of tokens into play by doubling what you played that turn. Even better? They have flying.
Thalisse, Reverent Medium is a huge sleeper in the set. Expect to see her.
I mentioned Mana Drain earlier, and while I think that's the most important reprint in the set, these four are also huge.
The prices of Rings of Brighthearth and Staff of Domination (both reprinting at rare) are going to tank the way we saw with Engineered Explosives a few years back. This opens up a wealth of possibilities for decks that benefit from them, like Krenko, Mob Boss in the case of Staff, or various Superfriends builds with Rings of Brighthearth.
Scroll Rack coming back as a mythic feels worse, but remember, the volume at which this set is opened is going to be a big deal for knocking down the $80 price tag Scroll Rack used to have. We've already seen it drop. Lastly, Vampiric Tutor is being reprinted after its appearance in a Masters set just a few years ago. Cheaper is always better, and you'll see the dip again that Tutor once had. This is great for black decks.
My favorite additions from this set, by a wide margin, are the "bond" lands. I cannot stress how important these are to the health of Commander. Acting like true dual lands in pods, these cards are massive for casual players. They go from anywhere between $7-10 dollars, and they add a lot of depth to a land base. Look for these to boom and shake up manabases for Izzet, Boros, and Orzhov decks that, without green, have historically been harder to build.
You have gotta be kidding me. Three Visits? THREE VISITS? You mean Portal: Three Kingdoms Three Visits? Prepare my fainting couch, because I never thought I would ever see this reprint as long as I lived.
A Nature's Lore that once cost upwards of $300 due to its scarcity, this excellent green acceleration spell is back as an uncommon. Green decks are going to love this reprint, and it will be another huge boon for one of the best colors in Commander. Expect this in almost every green deck you'll ever see going forward. Geez. Three Visits. Wow.
Aw hell yea we're making Salamanders. What a crazy politicking tool this card can be. "Want a 4/3? Hey bud. Don't play a creature this turn, and it's all yours." It doesn't matter how many 'manders you spawn around the table, because they can't hurt you or your cards in play!
For flavor, this card is absolutely delicious. Build your Salamander decks with confidence.
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There you have it! My list of cards that don't suck. But I want to leave you with one last hot take that's more on-brand for me:
This stupid card sucks. Throw it in the trash can.