Commander 2017 is due to be released in a little less than a month. August 24th, 2017 is the date to begin to seek out decks. The 4 decks being released this year offer a set of distinctly tribal decks. One can play as a mighty terror of Dragons, a cabal of Wizards, a pride of Cats, or a coven of Vampires. Each deck promises a unique and ideal starting point to launch into these tribes and if it is anything like the previous Commander products, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
In this, I think it is best to focus on what I think should be printed and how the products should be released. I could touch on a heavy amount of the spoiled information that was leaked earlier this year, but would prefer to talk about I think should be done. I may be bias in some of my beliefs and will be discussing the financial impact of them printing certain cards.
Now this year, is a strange year. This is the first time they are only releasing 4 decks. Typically the aim is for 5 decks, but I guess they wanted to have people be able to play them against one another in Commander’s best style. A 4 player free for all. That is what we are getting this year for sure.
I love the idea of playing 4 player sealed environment. It is always quite a bit of fun to see which decks are easy to take to, and which require effort to learn. It is fun to get to see how balanced they are in relation to one another, and which ones show the most promise. You learn fast which decks need what to improve or which decks completely collapse without upgrades. I played during the C-2016 product launch and absolutely crushed it with Yidris, winning 2 out of 5 games. The idea of repeating that sounds like a blast.
Once the novelty of playing the sealed decks wears off, players will want to explore playing the individual commanders. The Showcase Commander and the 2 side Commanders available. Personally, I feel that the decks should offer the standard Showcase Commander, 2 back up Commanders, as well as an additional 2 side commanders that fit inside the standard color identity but prioritize certain colors. So if they were to print a 5 color deck, players would get a 5 color Legendary Creature as the showcase of the deck, 2 5 color legendaries that could be used as back up commanders, and 2 that would be dual color or tri color in origin.
Ultimately, additional support Legendary should be offered inside the decks. They don’t need to be massively heavy on them, an all legendary deck would be incredibly idiotic to attempt for a pre-con deck. However, 10 to 15 solid legendary cards would be welcomed. It would give players options to play and potential sub-commanders for other decks if needed. Or it would give players a chance to stock up on some good cards for decks in general.
As far as I am concerned, the pre-cons in the past had fairly good focus. The 2016 decks all had rough outlines for goals and presented a solid set of options for building a multitude of separate decks. If anything, the decks required work to make them efficient. Yrdris for instance was originally a Cascade wheel deck. In order to keep him from being insane, they left out second combat steps, additional turns, pain for wheeling cards, and double strike. Any one of those items would have made it into a brutally efficient deck. They probably had to balance them versus one another, so they couldn’t go entirely ham on one idea.
That said, on a pre-con level, most decks aim to kill via combat damage. It is an easy way to win and isnt ultra complicated. Hitting an opponent until they are dead is a really good tactic I actually agree with that on a few of the pre-cons, but I want to see them attempt to aim for killing via combos or alt win conditions if possible. Most commander decks I have played against, win via alternative win conditions or kill the table through combos.
With that in mind, this is how I think they could approach it. The wizards deck could have a potential storm finisher (casting a ton of spells in a turn,) or with Eminence being a mechanic it would be cool to see the deck prioritize casting massive spells. Perhaps the deck has the ability to tap wizards to add mana to casting instants and sorceries like that of convoke but doubles it for X spells.
The Vampires deck could feature heavy life loss/life gain synergy using sacrifice as the means to keep going. It would be quite powerful and upgrades would be clear. If the Eminence focuses on casting vampires or when vampires enter the battlefield, having each opponent lose 1 life and you gain 1 (or all life lost that way,) it would be on flavor and quite powerful. Tack on a sacrifice mechanic where you gain half (or all) of the toughness of sacrificed creature would be quite awesome.
The Cat deck needs to focus around combat and populating the board with as many cats as possible. That player should be buried up to their neck in cats. It should be a go wide cat deck with a few lords granting needed abilities and buffs to the cats. The finishers on it would make sense to be via straight combat damage using a overrun effect to finish the table, perhaps a tribal one in green where till end of turn all creatures get +1/+1 for each other creature it shares a type with. A global haste enabler in green would also be ideal.
Finally the Dragon list. It just needs to pump out big dragons that wreck face when enough are cast. Frankly, I like the idea of an enchantment that “when a player controls 10 or more dragons, that player wins the game.” If anything the deck could come with a few extra combat step spells and creatures. For instances there is at least 1 dragon that can trigger it, but they could put in more support for it. The Dragon deck will kill over time through value, but should be able to opt for the option to swing out and kill via those extra steps.
Now, I have a particular set of beliefs for reprints. I feel strongly that the Commander products should look to reprint at least 1 powerful older card per product that has a strong value on the secondary market. This won’t collapse that price, but it could affect it by a couple of bucks in either direction. If anything, the reprints that were done for Modern Masters 2017 proved that reprinting needed cards can actually make the cards more expensive. However, there are some major flavor win cards that need to be reprinted and I will note particular legendary or powerful cards that are needed for these tribal decks.
Now, I am going to start at the top and most versatile cards and work down from there for what should be reprinted.
So let’s talk the hard end of the financial end of if any of the $10 and up cards get reprinted. The less expensive cards will maybe affect the total price on those cards by $.50 to $1 overall, where as on the more expensive cards it could tank the price. Yet the reprint market is different and could even see the card becoming a staple and being driven up in price.
Simply put, it will have an effect on the market. Land tax for instance is one I feel should be reprinted. It is a powerful card and I know a player with an incredible 5 color Scion, the Ur-Dragon deck that runs a set of the tri lands, one reliquery tower, and all basic lands. Land tax is the saving grace of that deck. Land tax can be up to $30 depending on where you shop and can be in fairly rough condition. It is a brick of text to explain, but it is a simple card. Go fetch any 3 basic lands on your upkeep of an opponent controls more lands than you.
However, the important thing to note is what that card allows. It is a an expensive card to pick up, but it means players can pay next to nothing for a mana base. A 5 color deck normally wants a set of fetchlands ($200 easy,) a set of shocks (complete set about $200,) maybe original duals (probably $2,000.) I mean a 5 color deck is massively expensive just to get a good mana base, or Land tax can offer a simple solution.
Chromatic lantern also needs a reprint. It was reprinted in only one of the 2016 decks and frankly needs to be in at least one of the decks this year. I actually would choose it to be reprinted over Sol Ring. The ability to tap any land for any color of mana is powerful and goes into any deck 3 color and above.
Now more controversial picks like Nirkana Revenant… That is a different story. That card or cards like it in terms of price would be effected by a reprint. In truth, the card does needs to be reprinted. It should go into the vampire list as a flavor win and as an enabler in the deck. But it is a card that will be worth $20 when the deck is released. It would be an excellent card to see reprinting but may be deemed too powerful.
Additional Commander staples like path to exile; urborg, tomb of yawgmoth; gravepact; and demonic tutor require reprints but maybe deemed too powerful or too expensive. These are needed cards that rarely see prints in any product. Additional cards like call of the dryads, swan song, and fork need to be reprinted. They are powerful but at the same time missing from decks. The cards also possess a high value mainly due to issues of rarity versus a high demand.
The trick would have to be a selection of how to print these cards. Doing just 1 of the $15 and up cards and a couple of near $10 cards would work per deck. The idea of the deck being opened and stripped down for the selling the parts would be really bad. The big box stores wouldn’t care and sell at the MSRP, but actual game shops would struggle. Local trading card game shops or Local comic book shops would be flooded with these expensive cards being sold to them and then would be tough to off load back to customers until the print runs on the decks dried up. Once the supply is gone, then the cards would increase in value. If C-2017 is treated like that of C-2016, then the print run will begin to dry up as far as supply goes in 6 weeks with it being almost entirely sold out within 4 months. That was the point where I notably could not find the decks at all. The expensive cards in those decks have begun to increase in price with many of the needed cards beginning to return or exceed their pre-reprint price. If C-2017 does the same, then players will get to look forward to any of these expensive staples potentially being worth just as much as they had been and will be withheld by players. It would make excellent trade fodder and many players need these cards for decks. That demand should be much greater than the supply.
Now going into tribal staples, there are a host of cards that would spike if reprints aren’t done. Shared Animousity and Mana Echoes would be perfect to reprint. Both are $10 to $15 cards that will see play and can be enablers or finishers. Xenograft would be good to reprint as well. Conspiracy for any of the black decks would be good as well.
Finally, there are 3 essential cards that must be printed. I feel strongly that Coat of Arms should be reprinted inside at least one or more of the decks. It was recently reprinted in the Dual Deck: Mind versus Might. Yet it is still needed for the decks. Door of Destinies should be reprinted as well. With it being a one sided pump for tribal creatures and copies beginning to creep up in price, it is definitely time.
Finally there is Urza’s Incubator. It is the easiest of options to print for a tribal deck and is needed for every deck. Reducing the cost of a particular tribe of creatures by 2 generic mana less is a massive deal. It is an easy enough card to deal with and to cast, but it enables the decks so efficiently. It has to be reprinted.
A final word.
Here on Monday, I imagine I will see what will be going into the decks and get a chance to actually ask directly, what will be reprinted and what direction the decks will be going in. Next week is the start of spoiler season for C-2017 and I am looking forward to seeing what WotC thinks should be in these decks.
I have a feeling that they won’t be doing many of the reprints I want to see, and probably less than half the ones I feel they need to reprint. All I can do is hope that these decks are loaded with legendary creatures, useful lands, ideal tools for tribal decks, and have pretty clear focus on how they want to win.
Anyways, thank you for your time. All artwork and cards shown are property of WotC, the prices were averaged across tcgplayer.com, starcitygames, and my local game shop Comic Town. I hope every has a pleasant weekend and if you are new or interested in Magic the Gathering, my previous post covers a lot of the basics.
Take it easy.