Welcome to the first part of my Commander Legends financial set review. Over the next two weeks, I'm going to be reviewing every rare and mythic in the upcoming Commander Legends set, which hits shelves just two weeks from now. After that, I'll be publishing a full buyers' guide with my overall thoughts on the best cards in the set, the best supplementary pick-ups, and my take on the edged foil subset and Commander Legends Collector Boosters.
For now, though, I'd like to focus on the set's expansive array of rares and mythics. A lot of you are making your Commander Legends pre-ordering decisions right now, and there are quite a few cards in this set that look like fantastic early purchases. Of course, there are also a few exciting new cards that you should stay far away from until the price comes down, and we'll talk about those, too. I also want to spend some time investigating potential secondary specs—cards that could see large price surges thanks to how well they'll play with Commander Legends' most exciting new Commanders.
Let's get to the cards, and of course there's only one place to start:
We'll kick off this parade by talking about the most hyped card in all of Commander Legends: Jeweled Lotus.
There are, essentially, two competing schools of thought on Jeweled Lotus' Commander playability. The first is that Jeweled Lotus is essentially a Black Lotus for the Commander format, and there's no deck in Magic that wouldn't rather have a Black Lotus than not. They imagine a world where Jeweled Lotus is a must-play in virtually every Commander brew, much like Sol Ring and Arcane Signet. Since this is a mythic rare, that should keep the price almost catastrophically high.
The second school of thought believes that Jeweled Lotus is being wildly overrated because Commander is a multiplayer format that privileges long and complex games. Combo potential aside, Black Lotus is so powerful in large part because it lets a single player "cheat" on three mana early in the game, getting such a fast start that they can basically win on the spot. Dark Ritual is a somewhat similar card that would also see a lot of play in competitive formats were it legal in more of them, but nobody plays rituals in multiplayer Commander. Sol Ring will give you access to two additional mana all game long, but Jeweled Lotus will essentially just cost you a card to play your Commander early once. If the rest of the table stops you, then you're just down a card and you'll have to pay the Commander tax to get your best card on the table again.
Which school of thought is correct? I tend to side with #2, though I do think a large number of people are going to want to play Jeweled Lotus anyway. Black Lotus is a super fun and powerful card to play with (thought not to play against), and I can imagine folks putting a slightly suboptimal card in their deck simply because getting your giant Commander out on turn two or three is going to feel amazing. This card is also going to be incredible in cEDH, and I expect it might earn a ban in that format sooner rather than later.
Right now, however, enough people believe in the first school of thought that the card is selling for a whopping $130. As you can see from this chart, preorder demand has slowly started dropping off, but the price has not. That's because you don't need to convince everybody that it's worth $130 right now—you just need to find enough people who do believe it to keep the price this high:
The odds of Jeweled Lotus still being worth $130 by mid-January are very low. I don't know how far it will drop, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if it's closer to a $30 card than a $100 card by year's end. A hundred and thirty dollars is so wildly expensive that Jeweled Lotus can end up being the most expensive card in the set AFTER experiencing the biggest pre-order price drop of any card in the history of the game. The card is good, but not this good. Don't go anywhere near Jeweled Lotus during the pre-order period.
Commander Legends doesn't have very many reprints, but the ones it does have are real doozies. Vampiric Tutor has been reprinted before—most recently in Eternal Masters—but this is definitely the largest-scale reprint that the card will have had since 6th Edition. Vampiric Tutor's price is already falling, too. Take a look:
Where will Vampiric Tutor end up? Probably not too far below $20, but closer to that figure than $50. Here's what happened when Vampiric Tutor was reprinted in Eternal Masters:
This is a pretty small drop for a reprint, with the price barely dropping below $25 in 2016 before surging up toward $40 by the end of 2018. A drop to $25 would still mark about a 50% loss of value compared to today's price, though, so it's possible that this powerful mythic will end up bottoming out closer to $30 or $35 this time around. Either way, I wouldn't buy in just yet, especially with cards like Jeweled Lotus and Mana Drain sucking up the set's total EV and depressing the eventual price of many other cards.
Eight mana is quite a lot for a 6/6 flier, but Sphinx of the Second Sun does get you 80% of an extra turn on each of your turns, so I guarantee you it will have a pretty large fan base. Time Warp variants are always in high demand—even the high-CMC ones—and I'm definitely slotting Sphinx of the Second Sun into any of my decks that are chock full of Time Warps. Its pre-order price is currently pretty stable in the $8-$10 range, and that seems about right to me. You should be able to snag a copy for $4-$5 if you're patient, but this feels like a $10, maybe $15, mythic long-term.
If you're looking for cards that might spike thanks to Sphinx of the Second Sun, may I recommend Braids, Conjurer Adept? Here's what's going on with Braids' foil price right now. It would be a vastly better spec if it hadn't just been printed in Double Masters, but some folks are clearly speculating on it right now and I don't think it should be so readily available for less than a buck:
Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign is another card that plays really well with Sphinx of the Second Sun. There hasn't really been a surge of demand here either, but Unesh is an excellent Commander mythic with a $2-$3 foil price tag right now. I'd at least grab a personal copy right now if you don't have one yet:
On the one hand, Jeska, Thrice Reborn is an aggressive card in Commander's least popular color. Very few people play aggressive red decks in the format because it's really hard to win a multiplayer game like that, and there's less of an opportunity to do something unique and cool if you're just beaten down.
On the other hand, Jeska is a partner Commander, and a planeswalker at that. History has shown that partner Commanders end up being far more popular (and expensive!) than their individual playability might indicate. Jeska's -0 is also extremely capable of killing somebody out of nowhere, which is the kind of effect you need in a red deck in this format. I definitely think that Jeska will see some real play.
Financially, $8 seems fine for a mythic rare that's also a planeswalker and a partner. It might drop into the $3-$4 range if you're lucky (or if Jeweled Lotus really does end up sticking around the $130 range, squashing the value of every other card in the set), but long-term this has a shot at becoming a $10-$15 card. Buying in now is okay if you really want a copy, but otherwise, I'd wait.
Stupidly high mana costs are a theme for the mythic rares of Commander Legends, and it's the biggest thing that will keep their values low. This version of Kamahl provides you with a free(!) Overrun effect, but you're going to have to pay eight mana for the privilege. That's not very hard in green, and I didn't pan Sphinx of the Second Sun for having the same issue, but I still think that Kamahl, Heart of Krosa is probably going to be a fairly niche card in the format.
That said, the word "partner" is what redeems this card. This card can win the game quite quickly with Jeska, Thrice Reborn and the fact that you can partner Kamahl with a cheaper Commander and simply hold it back as your eventual win condition isn't half bad. I don't really want to pay the current $7 retail price on this card, but I'm definitely picking up a copy for a buck or two in a couple weeks.
Mnemonic Deluge is super powerful, but it costs nine mana. Even in Commander, that's a whole lot of mana. Remember: this is a format where there are a roughly infinite number of "cast this very expensive spell and win the game if nobody stops you" cards, of which Mnemonic Deluge certainly qualifies. I don't think this card is a whole lot better or worse than any of the others, either.
Right now, this card is selling for right around $6 on TCGplayer. My guess is that it ends up closer to bulk mythic range when the set hits high supply, before rebounding back up to its current value at some point over the coming years. This card is a mythic rare, and it will see enough play to sustain a $5-ish price tag eventually, but I'm not going to buy in quite yet.
Profane Transfusion is black's gigantic nine mana card, and it's just about as good as Mnemonic Deluge. You've got to build more around this one, though – it's not the sort of card you want to jam in every deck, though it will play quite nicely with cards like Selenia, Dark Angel and especially K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth. In fact, Profane Transfusion is enough of an auto-include in a K'rrik deck that I wouldn't be surprised if that card sees a small spike in demand:
Other than that, Profane Transfusion is not a great card, destined to end up a $2-$3 mythic.
Ugh. White has gotten the short end of the stick for several years in a row now, and this mediocre mythic rare isn't going to help anything. Not only does Seraphic Greatsword require a six-mana investment before anything happens, but it doesn't do much if you, the white player, have the highest life total on the table. Even if you have a solid opponent to attack, the 4/4 Angel token is just going to run into something and die a lot of the time. Oh—and Seraphic Greatsword doesn't provide any sort of evasion, so you'd better have something good to stick it on.
I can see some people sticking Seraphic Greatsword in a deck designed to cheat equip costs, since it's a lot better if you can waive that additional 4 mana investment. Otherwise? There are easily three or four dozen better pieces of equipment out there. Future bulk mythic.
Opposition Agent is absurd. Unlike Jeweled Lotus, I don't think this card is being overrated at all. Not only can you flash this card out for value quite easily, but it shuts down many of Commander's best cards and strategies. Opposition Agent is also at its strongest against powerful decks full of tutors, making it a good creature to take into battle in cEDH or against your friend with that $3,000 Bant deck that never loses.
As you can see, Opposition Agent is one of those rare cards that has actually started to climb again during the pre-order period. $30 might be a little optimistic in the short term, but this does seem like a card with a floor in the $18-$20 range so you could do worse than buy in now. Regardless, expect Opposition Agent to be a scourge at your Commander tables for years to come.
Before we move on, I just wanted to point out that this card is generating so much excitement that it has already caused a couple of spikes. Here's Maralen of the Mornsong:
And here's Scheming Symmetry:
Both of these cards appear to have leveled off since their spike, so you can go ahead and sell your extra copies into the hype without worrying about missing any future gains. It's also worth noting that I like Maralen to hold its value more than Scheming Symmetry: even though both cards saw massive buyout spikes, the average quantity sold for Maralen was 1.1, while it was 3.3 for Scheming Symmetry. That tells me that more copies of the latter card are in the hands of speculators, who are likely going to be putting them back on the market ASAP.
Promise of Tomorrow
Promise of Tomorrow is a solid card in a deck that has a bevy of mass removal spells and very few ways to recur cards from the graveyard. It's also a decent inclusion in blink-based decks, like Roon of the Hidden Realm. Beyond that, I don't really see it. Reactive cards like Promise of Tomorrow rarely make the cut for me, and the risk of losing your whole board to enchantment destruction is real. Picking this card up for its current price of about $1 is fine, but that's mostly because buying dollar rares rarely goes terribly wrong.
I don't really like Slash the Ranks. For five mana, I want my wrath spell to be slightly more unconditional than this. There are certainly situations where this card will leave you with your Commander in play and the rest of the board empty, but it'll be just as common to be sitting there with a useless five-man spell in your hand while your opponent's best creature is running roughshod across the battlefield. Future bulk rare.
Plague Reaver is too cute by a mile. It's not bad as a 6/5 for three that can wreak some havoc early in the game before dying, but losing three cards to maybe wipe most of an opponent's board seems impossibly bad. That's a ripcord that I basically never want to pull, and having access to that is not worth the price of sticking a random 6/5 dork in my Commander deck.
That said, I can imagine slotting this card into a deck that needed a bunch of discard outlets. If I'm putting two large creatures into my graveyard by choice and getting to wipe an opponent's board as a bonus? Well that's a Plague Reaver of a different color. Because of that, it's possible that this card is a little but underpriced at its current $1 price tag. I'm not going to speculate on this card, but I am going to pick up a few personal copies.
Court of Cunning is one of my favorite speculative buys in the set right now. Passive mill is incredibly good, and effective mill cards almost always end up outperforming their preview prices. Not only is Court of Cunning a must-play in virtually any mill-based Commander deck, it's also practically a must-play in self-mill decks as well. You can find Court of Cunning for $2 or less right now, and long-term it looks like a $5-$8 card to me.
I don't like [[Court of Ambition quite as much as Court of Cunning, but it will find a home in decks like Tinybones, Malfegor, Mogis, God of Slaughter, and Sygg, River Cutthroat. That should be enough demand to keep this card in the $1-$2 range, even if it doesn't see widespread play beyond that.
Obeka, Brute Chronologist
Obeka, Brute Chronologist is an incredibly fun-looking card that should inspire a lot of varied design choices. I've already heard some rumblings about Obeka and some sort of crazy Isochron Scepter enabled infinite loop, but I like her better as a political Commander that can stop shenanigans as soon as they start.
As with a lot of these rare Legendary Commanders, the non-foil is going to be fairly cheap (in this case, at or under the $1 mark) while the foils are going to hold their value a lot better. While I rarely advocate investing in foils these days thanks to Collector Boosters, I'd opt for those if you're planning to stockpile unique and cool cards like Obeka. It's certainly possible that this card will never catch on, but the buy-in is low enough that I'll probably grab a copy or two as soon as possible. Messing with time is always a good recipe for value.
Ghen, Arcanum Weaver
Most "enchantments matter" decks to this point have been in Bant colors, not Mardu, which means that Ghen, Arcanum Weaver has a shot at enabling an entirely new archetype. This card is quite a powerful Commander, and it plays well with black pact-style enchantments like Treacherous Blessing that rarely see much play in Commander. As with Obeka, I'd focus on snagging a few of the etched foils if they're cheap enough. The regular version is available for just a buck, though, and that doesn't feel like a bad long-term hold. If you want a copy, feel free to snag one now.
Archelos, Lagoon Mystic
You can do a lot with Archelos, Lagoon Mystic. As long as you've got a way to tap this big turtle before the end of your turn—Opposition Agent, Pemmin's Aura, Honor-Worn Shaku, etc.—you can slow your opponents way down while speeding yourself up. I'm not sure if that'll be enough to cause any of these cards to spike, but I wouldn't be shocked if foil versions see some movement. That hasn't happened yet, though—here's the chart for foil copies of Pemmin's Aura:
There's been a similar lack of increased interest for foil copies (or non-foil copies, for that matter) of Honor-Worn Shaku, so I'm not sure how much effort people have put into breaking Archelos in half yet. This is a powerful card regardless, though, so keep an eye out on how these brews start to develop. At some point Archelos will cause a secondary spike or two.
Is Colfenor, the Last Yew interesting enough to spawn a new Abzan archetype? I'm not sure. This card feels like the missing link between Doran-style Abzan decks and the more classic recursion-based Abzan decks, and it can easily slot into either or both of those brews, but other than that? I'm not sure how many people will be inspired to build around this massive Treefolk.
On the other hand, it has been a while since we've been gifted a new "toughness matters" Commander, and all the Doran staples should see a little bit of an uptick in response. Here's what Doran's price tag has done over the past month, for example:
That's not a huge gain, but it is meaningful, especially because there has been no sign of speculation here—just players buying in. If this continues, expect a small uptick in price for cards like Indomitable Ancients, Sapling of Colfenor, Tree of Perdition, and Timber Protector.
Belbe, Corrupted Observer is being somewhat underrated right now. This card can generate a lot of mana in the right multiplayer game, and it's quite good to stick in your deck as an accelerant, regardless of whether or not you've built around it. I definitely want to try this card out with Glissa, the Traitor, and it's something I'm at least going to consider in all of my Golgari-based Commander brews. If you're going to start picking up $1 rares from this set, I'd add Belbe to your shopping cart as well.
Amareth, the Lustrous is one of my favorite Commanders in the set. That's because you can build around it in so many different ways: as an "Enchantments Matter" Commander, as an "Artifacts Matter" Commander, as a flicker Commander…I can keep going. It's not as powerful as Chulane, Teller of Tales, but its ultimate impact should be a lot more varied, and it should lead to better overall gameplay.
Will Amareth ever be worth more than $1-$2? I don't know. Financially, it's in the same tier of other rare Legendary Creatures from this set that are pretty good but fairly narrow. Pick them up if you want to play with them—the price is right—and grab etched foils if you're banking on long-term speculation.
Zara, Renegade Recruiter is probably not the kind of card you want to stick in your deck at random—the power level is just not there—but if you've got a way to build around her? This looks like one of the more fun cards in the set. Sundial of the Infinite is my pick, especially since that card is 9 years off from its only printing, though Conjurer's Closet and Proteus Staff are solid as well. This looks like a future bulk rare to me, but it's one that could cause a couple of small secondary spikes in the process.
Like most of the remaining legends, Yurlok of Scorch Thrash seems quite good in a Yurlok deck and not all that interesting if you're not building around it. I probably don't want risky four CMC accelerant creatures in my regular Jund decks, so if I'm playing Yurlok, I want to at least be running cards like Belbe, Corrupted Overseer and perhaps combo pieces like Umbral Mantle + Leyline of Abundance, which should win you the game on the spot. Speaking of, Umbral Mantle has seen some increased demand over the past few days, but its price hasn't spiked yet. Seems like just a matter of time, though:
As for Yurlok itself, this is probably a future bulk rare. Grab a personal copy if you need one, but otherwise you can leave it alone.
Unlike most of the reprints in Commander Legends, Nevinyrral's Disk has actually seen a small uptick in price this week. Take a look:
This won't last. The card is fun, but it's not one of the more powerful cards in the set, and it has been printed several times already. I might buy this uptick if the latest version were a mythic, but it's not—it's a normal rare. There are too many expensive cards in this set for the disk to remain above a buck or two. If you want a copy, I'd hold off for now.
There still aren't that many spikes in the world of competitive tabletop Magic. As COVID-19 cases surge in the US and most of Europe, the dream of playing Magic at large events seems farther away than ever. I still believe that small tournaments will be able to start up again in 2021, but I don't blame people for not wanting to jump from deck to deck to deck right now. Auriok Champion has started to tick up a little, but that's about it for this week. Here's what Auriok Champion's chart looks like:
This isn't a major surge in demand, nor is it a major surge in price. The card is seeing more play in Modern Humans decks, and the supply is pretty low, so it might keep going up a bit, but I wouldn't expect a major spike again. Buy in if you'd like, but there's no real pressure on any of this stuff right now. November/December is generally a bad time for competitive Magic prices in general, so you should have a few months to take action if you want to pick up cards for the future.
Most of the other spikes this week were related to cards from Commander Legends. We already talked about most of them today, including Maralen of the Mornsong, but I did want to briefly mention Krark's Thumb:
We'll be discussing the reason for this spike, the Commander Legends card Krark, the Thumbless, in more detail next week. In the meantime, it's worth knowing that there was a pretty large price spike in most of Magic's key coin-flip cards, including this one. Expect these new prices to last for at least a couple of weeks, and possibly longer.
Lastly, I wanted to take a peek at Gaea's Cradle. This card was all over the Magic Finance news back in June, with people predicting that it might keep on climbing toward the $1,000 mark. Five months later, its price chart looks like this:
As you can see, Gaea's Cradle hasn't kept climbing. In fact, it has fallen off a bit from its early summer peak. As (almost) always, selling into the spike would have been the right call.
What does this mean for the future of these high-profile Reserved List staples? It's unclear. People who were freaked out about Gaea's Cradle back in June will point out that this card's price is still a lot higher than it was to start 2020, and it hasn't eroded all that much from mid-June. People who preached moderation back then will point out that the card has lost a decent amount of value over the past few months, and that price erosion will likely continue for some time to come. Either way, I'm not looking forward to the next time we have to have discourse about this particular card or the cursed list upon which it resides.