Strap yourself in for 1,500 words of why the newest Commander Legends darling, Jeweled Lotus, sucks. I hate this card. I hate that it exists, and I hate that we must talk about it.
For those of you out there that haven't seen this abomination, here is Jeweled Lotus:
Their tagline is "Oh yes we did," but it's more like this:
Commander Legends needed a flagship card, so what better way to lay the sucker on the table than to use the likeness of Magic's most iconic card, Black Lotus. There's only one problem:
Jeweled Lotus is a ramp spell for your commander only. That sounds great if you're playing a one or two-color commander. If you're not, this thing loses a lot of luster and probably doesn't even make the cut in your deck. Which brings me to my next point:
One of the worst parts about Commander is when you feel like you must add a card to your deck because it becomes worse without it. Imagine not playing Sol Ring for a moment. What does that do to your deck? You are taking out one of the most—if not the most—explosive pieces of cardboard that you can possibly play. All of a sudden, your commander that costs four can come down on turn two? That is incredible, but it doesn't stop there. Turn-three Gilded Lotus. Turn-two Thran Dynamo. Sol Ring lets you do things that conventional cards would not allow. It is the auto-include of the format, and without it you're making your deck worse by taking away one of the best pieces of acceleration in all of Magic.
Printing auto-includes takes away from the diversity of the game. Why play Charcoal Diamond when you can play Arcane Signet? Sure you can play both, but one is vastly superior to the other, and if given a choice, you're going to pick the Signet every single time. Command Tower is inarguably the best land in all of Commander for any non-mono-colored deck, acting as a painless City of Brass or Mana Confluence. This means it must be included in every deck because it provides you with a perfect source of color fixing during every turn.
This is bad for Commander. When you have to reserve four or five slots in your deck, it's like taking a hundred-card format and turning it into a 96 or 97 card one.
So, what does this mean for something like Jeweled Lotus?
Wizards of the Coast decided to print a possible auto-inclusion in one and two-colored decks. Now, this doesn't mean you have to play it. It just means it's possible your deck will be worse compared to your opponents who have decided to put it in theirs—but I'll get to that later.
As I'm writing this, Jeweled Lotus is preordering at $130 on the TCGplayer marketplace.
Let us look at some other cards that are currently considered "must-plays."
Combined, these cards are going to run you around $7. These can take even the most budget-friendly builds and give them a shot in the arm. Now let's look at Jeweled Lotus:
Ok, now this is a problem.
I've built decks cheaper than Jeweled Lotus.
If Jeweled Lotus becomes a true auto-include, then the Commander community is in serious danger of fracturing into those who can afford it and those who can't. Thankfully, there's reasons to think that won't happen.
The long answer requires a discussion on how you plan on using it. In high-powered Commander decks like Urza, Lord High Artificer, this card is quite good—but is it that strong?
A turn-one Urza, Lord High Artificer can likely net you three mana on turn two, which you can parlay into more acceleration. That's good, but you're going to miss out on one of Urza's best effects for cutthroat games: dropping a huge construct into play that can immediately impact the board and protect your life total. If you play Urza on turn one, that's time you haven't spent setting up with Sky Diamond, Grim Monolith, Mind Stone, and other hallmarks of Urza ramp. Sure, you can attack for 3, but does that really put pressure on the table?
The issue with Jeweled Lotus and a commander this early in the game is that unless you have a way to really, really exploit having them out so early, you're just painting a target on your head. We were discussing this card in my local play group and wondered what happens when one of your opponents snaps off a Path to Exile or Swords to Plowshares. You're down a card, and your commander costs two more due to the commander tax. Was it worth it?
In my humble opinion (and I can't wait to read your comments about this), Jeweled Lotus is a flashy card that will get a lot of emotions going, but it isn't very good. Commander decks need internal synergies to provide consistent results. When you introduce a card that is reasonably only good in the first two turns of the game, is that a card you want to be playing in the first place? I don't think so.
When you draw Jeweled Lotus later in the game, it is functionally a dead draw unless your commander tax is already high enough that you gain value from it. Whereas something like Sol Ring can be used to power out larger spells—Pull from Tomorrow, for example—a Lotus is going to eat up hand space and won't help your game plan moving forward. Sol Ring can help you cast any spell. Lotus can only let you cast one.
Wizards of the Coast knew damn well what they were doing when they printed this card. Purely to sell packs, this card will single-handedly carry the sales of Commander Legends all the way to the moon. Without a reprinting, you're looking at a card that could potentially set a dangerous precedent with power creep and affordability.
Yes, Magic is a luxury hobby. This is how it was, is, and will always be. No one is entitled to any card for any reason at any time. That's just a fact.
But when does it stop?
This hasn't happened in, well, almost ever. A card preordering at over $100 hasn't happened. We don't have a metric with which to rate this, because it's a nearly unfathomable situation. Jeweled Lotus is coming in hotter than multiple Reserved List heavy hitters. A foil version blows Grim Monolith or Gilded Drake out of the water. Imagine that: opening a foil one of these and then trading it for two $150+ Reserved List all-stars. Now alone, Jeweled Lotus doesn't frighten me. It's a Commander exclusive, and hopefully, the price will settle down.
But it's not alone. It's part of a pattern.
Imagine WotC printing something with this perceived power level in Standard or Modern. Something so powerful that four of them are required in almost every deck. We saw this with Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath, which reached up to $50 and was a four-of. We saw this years ago with Jace, the Mind Sculptor when Jace reached over $100 in Standard before it was banned. The general feeling was that Jace had grown too expensive for the most widely played format in Magic, and banning it was the only way to keep the competitive and Friday Night Magic scene in check.
It's possible, even likely, that Jeweled Lotus' price is just hype. Its original preorder price was $40, then it grew to $80, $100, and now $130. When competitive players begin to experiment with it, they may find that Lotus is just bad, and not worthy of deck slots. Players that play semi-competitively like me, with decks in the 5-7 out of 10 power range, may discover that Jeweled Lotus doesn't really add much to our game plan. Then it may fall in price, proving my point that it's not that good in the first place and more of a collector's item.
But regardless, a chase Mythic like this with such an incredible price tag is never good for Magic. Going forward, cards like this worry me.
Is Jeweled Lotus good?
I sure hope not.