Commander 2021 is the 10th formal addition to Wizards of the Coast's yearly Commander release series. It contains product-hover id="235092" product-hover id="235089" product-hover id="235090" product-hover id="235091" product-hover id="235088", each based around one of Strixhaven's magical colleges, and it was released on April 23rd alongside Strixhaven proper. Borderless versions of the brand-new cards from Commander 2021 will also be available in Strixhaven Collector Boosters.
While Commander precons tend to have a large print run and are generally available for the better part of a year after release, one or two of the Commander decks in a given cycle usually end up selling out a lot quicker than the rest. Since stores can only order these decks in groups of five, the "good" decks can become must-buys if you see them available at retail cost. Cards from these Commander Series sets often hold their value quite well over the long-term, too. To this end, it is worth spending time thinking about Commander 2021 whether you play Commander or not. If you skip these supplemental sets, you risk missing out on a lot of WotC's best work, as well as a lot of potential for financial success.
In today's buyer's guide, I'll be covering each of the five 2021 Commander decks in turn. We'll try to figure out which decks are the best buys at current retail, as well as which cards are the most likely to hold their value or gain ground over the long term. I'll tell you which future staples to pick up now, and which cards to avoid until the price comes down. I'll also have some hot tips for you if you are an avid Commander player wondering if it's worth buying these sets at current retail. Believe me, you don't want to miss this one!
Before we get too deep into Commander 2021, however, let's talk about—
In most sets, it's worth paying special attention to each of the mythic rares, even if they seem underpowered at first glance. Because mythics only show up half as often as normal rares, they usually have a lot more financial upside. If a mythic rare ends up becoming a top-tier competitive staple, it can spike into the $40+ range quite easily. On the other hand, it's hard for a non-mythic rare to sustain a price tag above $20 while it's still in print.
In the Commander precons, however, mythic rares and normal rares are distributed at the exact same rate. Mythic rarity doesn't tell you anything about how scarce a card is, and WotC essentially just uses the orange symbol to denote each deck's splashy legendary creatures. By contrast, the cards more likely to end up as universal staples are nearly always printed at rare.
Commander Series mythics also rarely gain ground for another reason: they are best utilized in their own precons. If you want to play with, say, Felisa, Fang of Silverquill, you might as well buy the entire Silverquill precon since you'll also be getting 99 other cards that synergize with Felisa. On the other hand, Archaeomancer's Map can fit into any white Commander deck ever printed. The folks who want to pick up three or four copies of this card for their collection are less likely to simply buy the entire deck; they're just going to go out and pick up the single card they need. Because of that, Archaeomancer's Map has far more financial upside than Felisa, Fang of Silverquill.
It's also worth remembering that Commander Series singles are nearly all going to be long-term plays. Unlike normal sets, where you might have to open several booster boxes to find the card you're looking for, each Commander precon is going to have the exact same cards inside. Since these decks sell for around $40 each, the cards in that deck are either going to have to add up to around $40 or the decks will start to sell out everywhere and become impossible to find. With WotC printing more and more of these decks each year, it's unlikely that any of these decks will end up containing $70 or $80 worth of singles until they're out of print. Thus, if the value of all the cards in a Commander deck add up to $100 or more, it's likely that they will drop in price over the coming weeks.
That doesn't mean that Commander Series cards are a bad buy right now. It's common for the best of these decks to double or even triple in price a few years after release, and the best cards might still increase in price from here as the rest of the cards in the deck drop off. You do have to be patient, though. There are still cards from Commander 2020 that I'm waiting to pay off for me, and I still have faith that it will happen. The same will probably hold true with Commander 2021.
The other quirk with precons all containing the same cards is that these decks often end up being financially top-heavy during the early going. For example, Fierce Guardianship from Commander 2020 is close to a $40 card, which is pretty close to the full price of that deck. Because of that, most of the other cards in that deck aren't worth more than a couple of bucks, if that. The other cards in that deck will eventually gain ground, but Commander 2020 will have to be out of print for a while first. In the meantime, none of the other cards in that deck can rally without directly affecting the price of Fierce Guardianship.
Taking all of this into consideration, here are my personal guidelines for buying cards from the Commander Series, including Commander 2021:
If you're a Commander player, just buy the decks you want right now. It's a completely sound financial decision.
Seriously! Since there's no variance in the contents of Commander 2021, you know exactly what you're getting in each of these decks. While it's possible that some of them will eventually be worth less than their retail cost, most of them will end up being worth roughly what they are right now for about a year before starting to climb in value. That means you can buy these decks, play with them for a couple of years, and then sell them for somewhere between a $10 loss and a $100+ gain. Considering all the enjoyment you'll be getting out of these cards in the meantime, there's no real downside if you've got the cash. You have my blessing to simply buy a set of these decks right here, right now. It's completely fine.
Identify the "good" deck, if any, so that you can buy it on sight.
Let's assume that you can get about $30 for a copy of Fierce Guardianship, after shipping and fees. Since that card is a guaranteed pull in the product-hover id="210825" deck, you know exactly how much you can get back if you pick up that deck and sell a single card on the TCGplayer marketplace. If you see Timeless Wisdom kicking around at your local shop for $40, then, you can pick it up, sell a single card, and then keep the rest of the deck for $10. That includes Ethereal Forager, Arcane Signet, Sol Ring, Sun Titan, The Locust God, and several other exciting cards.
Avoid spending too much money on splashy but narrow mythic rares.
If you want to pick these cards up, just buy the entire deck. You're going to want the rest of those cards, and the price tags of the splashy mythics will inevitably end up being inextricably linked to the overall price of the deck.
Identify the chase rares that are likely to be universal staples going forward.
These are the cards like Teferi's Protection, Dockside Extortionist, or Fierce Guardianship that might end up being worth 80% or more of the cost of the entire deck at some point. These are the cards you want to pick up early on, even if they're somewhat expensive, because every Commander player in the world is going to want multiple copies and the only way to get them right now is to buy an entire deck. These staples tend to be quite obvious, but they still tend to just keep increasing in price until WotC reprints them.
Look for possible long-term sleepers.
I'm talking about cards like Arachnogenesis or Bloodforged Battle-Axe that are somewhat unassuming but end up having a lot of utility in a lot of different decks. Single-colored cards are good, and artifacts are better. These cards generally take two to three years to really get going, but they can end up being worth $20+ if you're patient.
Overall, however, you should feel safe buying Commander 2021 cards, either as complete decks or as singles. These cards rarely end up being complete busts, and can often be incredibly lucrative. I would rather buy cards from this set than from Strixhaven itself, and I highly recommend picking up at least a deck and a couple of singles if you're into Commander at all. Just be smart about what you pick up, because quite a few of these cards will drop in price over the coming weeks.
Luckily, I can help you make smart and informed buying decisions. Let's sort through the five Commander decks one at a time, and I'll give you my favorite buys as well as my overall thoughts about each deck.
This is a solid yet top-heavy list of reprints. It looks pretty unimpressive at current retail, but that's because Commander 2021 is already out and the prices are way down. A few weeks ago, cards like Steel Overseer and Thousand-Year Elixir were worth quite a bit more. This always happens with reprints, and it's why lists like this always look way more impressive two weeks before release than a week or so after they hit shelves.
At any rate, if you're looking for a card to buy ASAP, I recommend Thousand-Year Elixir. I'm seeing signs that the card has already reached bottom and started to rebound a bit. Take a look:
To my eyes, this is a pretty obvious buy. You can see demand start to increase as the price has come down over the last couple of days, with a small uptick on the most recent day of price data that we have. Thousand-Year Elixir is a clear Commander staple with the pedigree of a $30 card. You shouldn't regret snagging a few for right around $12, and the price will eventually end up around $20 again even if it drops more over the short-term.
I love Archaeomancer's Map. It is my pick for the Dockside Extortionist of Commander 2021. Most of the Land Tax-style cards that WotC has printed recently are useless if you're ahead on the board, but Archaeomancer's Map will always let you fetch two basic Plains before threatening to ramp you even further. I have no problem calling this one of the best white ramp spells ever printed, and a future elite Commander staple. It's going to hold its value well. You've got the green light to snag this one.
On the other hand, I don't love Monologue Tax despite how psyched people seem to be for it. It looks a little bit like Rhystic Study or Smothering Tithe, but it's going to trigger far less often than either of those. I'm always skeptical about buying cards that look like powered-down versions of more expensive cards, and early testing hasn't been super impressive, either. It'll see some play, certainly, but I'm not interested in dropping $16 on a copy right now.
I do really like Cursed Mirror, though. Red doesn't get a lot of ramp, and this is a solid mana rock in a color that needs more love. I think it will drop below $7 and I'm going to wait a few months before buying in, but I'm definitely not leaving 2021 without a small stack of these. It's absolutely a future format staple.
I also think Battlemage's Bracers is a fantastic card. It's a combination of Illusionist's Bracers and Lightning Greaves, two all-star Commander staples. The fact that it's red should keep the price down a bit, but this is the kind of card that will randomly be $10 in a few years if it isn't reprinted.
Lastly, Wake the Past is my favorite $1 spec in the entire set. Seven mana is a lot, but this is a deeply synergistic card that will win the game on the spot most of the time it is cast. It's one of the most popular cards in the set according to EDHREC, and it's also one of the cheapest. That tells me that the price is out of line with demand, and it will rise over time. Pick up a few playsets ASAP while they're nice and cheap.
Overall, Lorehold Legacies is one of the stronger Commander decks in the lot despite having a lot more $1 cards than most of the other decks in the cycle. With a couple of really strong staples, I expect it to hold its value well.
Of the five new decks, Prismari Performance has the weakest group of reprints. There's nothing too exciting here, as Pyromancer's Goggles wasn't a chase card before Commander 2021 was released, and Dig Through Time isn't exactly lighting the world on fire right now.
That said, I still think that Blasphemous Act and Etali, Primal Storm are solid buys at current retail. Both cards have been reprinted several times, and they've always managed to rebound because of how powerful they are in Commander. These cards aren't ever going to be worth more than a couple of bucks, and they're probably going to be reprinted again within the next couple of years, but if you've been holding off on snagging either, the current price represents a nice little discount.
I know I said that I wasn't going to be taken in by splashy Legendary mythics, but Veyran, Voice of Duality is an exception—and not the only one we're going to be talking about today. Remember: heuristics are meant to be a starting point, not an endpoint, for analysis. Rules are meant to be broken.
Why do I like Veyran, Voice of Duality so much? It isn't just the top Commander in the entire set per EDHREC, but it's the 5th-most popular addition to folks' existing decks. I usually dislike buying cards like Veyran by themselves because most people who want to build around them are going to pick up the entire deck, but since loads of people clearly want to plug Veyran into their extant Izzet brews, it's likely to hold value beyond Prismari Performance. In fact, I suspect that Veyran will be a strong contender to stay above $10 for the foreseeable future. It might drop a little bit from its current retail price of $16, but it's a very strong card that's worth snagging if you need a copy or two.
Reinterpret is another outstanding future format staple. Late game, you can use this to counter your opponent's game-winning bomb and immediately play your own—all for four mana. This makes Reinterpret one of the stronger counterspells in the format, and it can absolutely maintain a $10 price tag long-term.
Elementalist's Palette is a card I'm hoping to snag in a few weeks for a dollar or two. I don't think there's going to be a ton of immediate demand, and it's not as splashy as a lot of other cards in the set, but it's a must-play in any deck that relies on X spells. WotC will print another "X spells matter" Commander at some point in the next couple of years, and some speculator will buy the internet out of Elementalist's Palette copies as the card spikes to $10+. If you've already picked up your spec copies, you'll be ready to sell into that spike as soon as it occurs.
Overall, Prismari Performance is one of the weaker decks—a surprise for Izzet colors. That's another reason why Veyran, Voice of Duality is likely to hold her value, and I wouldn't be shocked if a few of the best cards in this deck see an increase due to how little value it has overall.
This isn't a bad little crop of reprints. Ezuri's Predation is an excellent card, and it'll be worth buying in as soon as it loses a little more value. There's still a little bit too much price anchoring due to the fact that it was only printed once before, in another Commander set, but you should be able to snag copies for $4-$5 in a few weeks, and I highly recommend doing so.
Rite of Replication is probably worth grabbing now, however. Much like Thousand-Year Elixir, it appears as though it has already bottomed out in the $6 range. Rite of Replication is a supremely powerful card that has proven resilient over the years, so you really can't go wrong snagging your copies now.
Wow. The new card contents of this deck might be worth $96 by the start of 2023, but don't forget that this deck is readily available for about $40 right now. Add in all the reprints, and you'd be paying about $130 for Quantum Quandrix if you bought them by the card instead of just snagging the deck. That speaks to the number of cards on this list—and all of these lists—that will be dropping in price over the coming weeks. If Commander 2020 is an indication, that'll include most of the cards in the $3-$7 range. Like we discussed earlier in this article, Commander sets tend to be fairly top-heavy in value while they're still in print.
That said, there are some truly outstanding cards in Quantum Quandrix, and the deck oozes with long-term financial potential. Take Adrix and Nev, Twincasters, the other legendary mythic that's proving an exception to my rule. Parallel Lives is a $45 card right now, and Adrix and Nev is Parallel Lives on a stick. It might end up in the $10-$15 range while Quantum Quandrix is in print, but as soon as it's no longer available I expect Adrix and Nev to start climbing in value. Remember how Veyran, Voice of Duality was the most popular new commander and #5 addition to existing decks on EDHREC? Well, Adrix and Nev is the #3 new Commander and #4 addition to existing decks. Sleep on this card at your own risk.
On the other hand, Guardian Augmenter is a bit more of a conundrum. Its EDHREC rank is fairly low, but take a look at this price chart:
While most new Commander 2021 card are sinking in price right now, it's pretty clear that Guardian Augmenter has dipped and stabilized already. That's a strong showing of demand for a card that looks extremely good on paper. It's definitely worth running in any green deck with a Commander that must be protected, and the fact that this card has flash makes it incredibly playable. I'm not sure I want to drop $18 on Guardian Augmenter right now with so many other good cards in the deck, but the long-term potential is strong here yet again.
Oversimplify is an amazing card, though. It wouldn't be worth writing home about in white or black, but Simic never gets access to mass removal spells like this. It's an exile-based wrath in green and blue! I'm putting in every single Simic-colored deck I have, and I doubt I'll be alone. I'm hoping it'll bottom out around $4-$5 and I can snag a few copies.
I could keep going—that's how good Quantum Quandrix is. Esix, Fractal Bloom is another "tokens matter" card that will hold its value well long-term. Spawning Kraken price chart looks extremely stable at a staggering $9. Theoretical Duplication is the sort of card I always like to make room for when I'm deckbuilding, and it's a deceptively powerful tool.
Based on all this value, I highly recommend picking up a couple copies of this deck as long-term holds. These cards might all drop into the $50-$60 range over the coming months, but once Quantum Quandrix leaves print, they'll start to head back toward $100-$200. I've heard some Commander players grumbling about how this deck doesn't play as well out of the box as some of the others, like the Lorehold deck, but in terms of Magic finance? Quandrix is the top dog.
Silverquill Statement gives us another slightly disappointing set of reprints, though there are a few solid buys here nonetheless. Windborn Muse probably isn't dropping too far below $4, and Ghostly Prison had been back up in the $4-$5 range before this. If you're in the market for either card, you could do worse than buying in during the current dip.
I'd be more patient with Deathbringer Liege, which will probably drop to $1-$2 once we clear our price anchoring from Eventide. It's a fun card, but demand is going to be lower than the number of new copies about to flood the market.
Inkshield might lose a bit of value to lose before it bottoms out, likely in the $6-$7 range, but it's one of the most popular cards in the set according to EDHREC and I think it has a lot of long-term potential. It's a superbly powerful reactive card that will swing the game in its favor more often than not. I'm hoping to run it in nearly every Orzhov-based deck I have.
I also quite like Bold Plagiarist as a $2 flier pick. I don't know about you, but I've never been in a playgroup that hasn't had at least one player putting dozens of counters on all their creatures. This is a nice little way to get back at them without drawing their ire, and it could end up closer to the $4-$5 range at some point.
I am not a huge fan of most of the other key new cards in Silverquill Statement. Stinging Study is solid in decks with large Commanders, but I haven't seen enough hype to justify its current price tag. I like Cunning Rhetoric more, but I worry that it doesn't scale enough to justify inclusion in decks that aren't already fairly casual. I don't think Tempting Contract is playable at all. It's possible that I'm simply underrating Silverquill Statement and a lot of these cards will end up doing amazing work, but right now it feels to me like this is the weakest of the five decks as well as the one least likely to hold its value.
Alhammarret's Archive! Now that's the kind of high-profile reprint I love to see. The Archive is an absurdly good Commander staple, and I see no reason why it won't be worth $20+ again once Witherbloom Witchcraft leaves print. The price has pretty clearly bottomed out at $9, and buying in now is perfectly fine. If you've been in the market for this card, go ahead and snag it.
On the other hand, Venser's Journal appears to be dropping even further. Take a look:
Most of the charts I generated while writing this article look like this one, which makes me feel pretty confident that a lot of the lower-end cards in Commander 2021 haven't fallen to their post-release lows yet. That's also why I feel more confident in suggesting that cards like Alhammarret's Archive are decently safe buys. When you see a bunch of cards with falling charts and then a few key spells appear to have stabilized, it's likely to mean something other than random variance.
There are some really good cards in Witherbloom Witchcraft, but the two most expensive cards right now are likely to lose value. They fall right into the "if you want this card, just buy the whole deck" camp and will probably end up in the $2-$3 range. Yes, there are a few other decks that can take advantage of Yedora, Grave Gardener and Willowdusk, Essence Seer, but they're just so specific and niche. If I'm speculating on singles from Commander 2021, I want them to be more universal than that.
This brings me to Blight Mound, Veinwitch Coven, and Pest Infestation. These three cards are all quite strong, and I can imagine quite a few decks that should want them. They're all among the most-popular new cards in the set on EDHREC, with Pest Infestation leading the way. It's true that this unassuming piece of artifact and enchantment removal would be a lot better if it were an instant, but enough people are going to run this as removal in their tokens deck that I suspect it'll end up in the $10+ range at some point. I'm definitely buying in sooner rather than later.
Veinwitch Coven is also being underrated right now. Every Aristocrats deck has access to at least incidental life gain, true life gain decks want to bring creatures back, and the Vampire creature type gives this card a lot of universal appeal. Add all that up, and you've got enough variable demand to maintain a price tag in the $7-$8 range.
Blight Mound isn't quite as synergistic, but it's still incredibly powerful. There are plenty of black-based tokens decks that love cards like this, and Blight Mound might be the best Open the Graves variant that we've ever seen. That card isn't super expensive, and it's possible that Blight Mound is overpriced at $8, but it's definitely a card I've got my eye on long-term.
Overall, this Witherbloom Witchcraft is a solid deck. I'd personally rank them:
We'll have to see which decks disappear from shelves the fastest, but if you're debating which to pick up, this is the order I'd use.
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