We now have the full decklists for Commander 2018, and it's safe the say the response from the community was… tepid, at best. With an increase in the MSRP of the decks, people had high expectations for what the set would contain – surely there would be a few high-value reprints, right? At least, that's what many in the community seemed to think.
Remember, of course, that they did once dabble with high-value cards. Wurmcoil Engine went over well, but True-Name Nemesis was a disaster, causing the deck it was in to sell out everywhere as it spiked to $30-40, and leaving stores in a weird spot that to get more copies of the deck everyone wanted, they had to buy a bunch of extra copies of the other decks since they sold as a bundle, essentially wasting money on product they couldn't sell as much of. It was a bit of a small-scale disaster, and Wizards is desperate to avoid a repeat.
There's always going to be complaining on the internet, and with the increase in MSRP it was easy enough to see the backlash coming. And while some of that may certainly be valid – the initial value of the singles in the decks certainly doesn't seem to be commiserate with what was expected after a price increase – that isn't to say there weren't some nice reprints contained in the set.
If you've spent some time around MTG social media over the last week you've heard plenty of the criticisms, so today I want to focus on some of what went right with the sets. I think the themes for this year's brews were original and made for interesting gameplay, even if maybe the cards in the decks don't push the theme as much as some of us may have liked. Still, there were some nice reprints in this year's decks, and today I want to highlight the most impactful ones.
Possibly the most important reprint in this deck. Not only was Unwinding Clock a surprising $7 already, it was well on its way to $10 before its first reprint effectively cut the price of the powerful artifact in half. Given how strong and unique an effect the Clock brings, I wouldn't be surprised to see this one bounce back relatively quickly given how strongly artifacts were pushed in this year's deck, so take advantage of the discount sale on these while you can.
There was once a day where red decks basically had no way to interact with a wide board – that is to say, outside of Insurrection or a Fireball and a lot of mana, red decks struggled against a board gummed up with creatures.
That changed with cards like Blasphemous Act and Chain Reaction (both are included in this year's decks), and Blasphemous Act is the clear standout. It will surprise many players just how little mana this card costs in a typical game – I've certainly seen it cast for one mana plenty of times. Sure, the pricetag of $4-5 before this reprint wasn't exactly breaking the bank, but this is a unique and crucial effect for red to have access to, and bringing it back in Commander 2018 after a few years' hiatus from the preconstructed decks is a welcome development.
This is actually the first reprint Mimic Vat has ever received, and it comes at the perfect time. The card has never been expensive but it was steadily increasing in price every year. By reprinting a colorless card with a novel effect that can go into any deck, Wizards has done a great job at both reintroducing a cool card to players and nipping it in the bud before it climbed up to the $5-10 range.
This might come as a surprise, but Dimir Signet actually had what was a ridiculous pricetag of $2 before the release of Commander 2018, and it was even worse before it got hit in Modern Masters 2017. A combination of playability and dodging of a high-volume reprint set before last summer had what most people expect to be a 50-cent card hovering at much more, and knocking it down another peg here can't hurt.
Ninjitsu is a popular mechanic and has been for a long time, but the only reason this card was ever as high as $5-7 is because of scarcity – only being printed in Planechase and Planechase 2012 will do that. With the inclusion of TCGplayer's exclusive preview card Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow, Ninjas are sure to see another bump in popularity, and a reprint of Silent-Blade Oni comes at the perfect time to put this card's price where it belongs.
Well, I never knew I needed an "Entreat" cycle before this set, but alongside my own preview card Entreat the Dead, it seems we now have a cycle waiting to be finished.
But in all seriousness, Entreat the Angels is a fun card with applications across formats. It's no longer the bomb it was in Legacy thanks to the Sensei's Divining Top ban, but with that format shaken up, Jace the Mind Sculptor now in Modern and Top still plenty legal in Commander, putting Entreat the Angels into players' hands came at the right time.
I'm grouping these for two reasons. One, they weren't exactly chase cards before Commander 2018, and two, because I bet most people reading this don't realize exactly how expensive these were for non-rares.
Mulldrifter has been printed – and this is true – a squillion times (shoutout to Riley Knight). Despite that, the Elemental still commanded a $2 pricetag thanks to its ubiquity in Pauper and the recent rise in that format's popularity. While this reprint isn't likely to dent that price too much, it's still nice to get more out into the wild. Return to Dust, meanwhile, climbed as high as $4-5 at one point despite several printings. Like Mulldrifter, Commander 2018 isn't going to tank its price, but it's a needed reprint nonetheless for a really powerful Commander card.
There's a bunch of these so I'll just list them all together:
Nothing crazy here – except maybe that Sakura-Tribe Elder has remained $2 despite a ton of printings. For a set of cards that go into almost every green deck ever conceived, you can never print these cards enough.
I've been losing to Avenger of Zendikar for a long time. I remember it getting me back in the days of Green-Blue Turboland during Worldwake Standard, and it's killed me dozens of times in Commander ever since.
This is also a really solid reprint from a value perspective – this was an $8 card on its way to $10 before this reprint, which will be its fourth overall printing. Considering Commander 2013 was five years ago and Duel Decks: Zendikar vs. Eldrazi was a small print run, Avenger is a home run as far as reprints are concerned.
Possibly the best repeatable green or black card draw this side of Phyrexian Arena. The Conspiracy uncommon spiked up to $2 last summer and has been only climbing ever since. Not only is this a decent reprint based on that, but it's also just a really cool card that a lot of players will be seeing for the first time with this year's slate of decks.
Few cards sum up Commander much better than this Hydra. It screams multiplayer in every way, and it carries an effect rarely seen but awesome whenever it does pop up. The fact the card had been climbing in price doesn't hurt either, but in general I think this is a perfect card for the Commander format and I'm excited to see it make a return to preconstructed world, where it was last seen in the original Commander.
Talk about a throwback. The staple Enchantress effect hasn't been reprinted since all the way back in Onslaught, and it's a true superstar here given its pre-reprint price of $15. More important than just its previous price is to consider exactly what would have happened if the "Enchantments matter" deck had released without including this card – the price would have gone crazy and likely doubled over the course of a week and priced players out. Instead, everyone who buys a copy of the precon gets to play with an iconic Magic effect and we get to see a lot more copies hit the market and become accessible for players.
Speaking of $10-15 cards, Bear Umbra is terrifying every time it hits the Commander table, and as a rare from Rise of the Eldrazi – which came out eight years ago now, making me feel incredibly old – the scarcity on this one was a real concern.
It also doesn't hurt that it's a bomb, and totem armor gets around the typical drawback of creature auras. Of all the themes released in this year's deck, I feel like the Enchantments deck has some of the sweetest reprints, though I admit I'm a bit sad that I'll be getting attacked by more Bear Umbra'd creatures in the near future.
The new set releases on August 10, and whether you plan on buying one or all of the preconstructed decks or just picking up the singles that excite you, there are certainly some cool cards both new and old coming to Commander. Which reprints are you most excited for? What were the biggest misses by Wizards?
Thanks for reading,