Commander 2018 Financial Set Review: Part 1

As a very special treat for the Commander players out there, Chas Andres is providing all his excellent finance expertise for the SCG Select audience this week!

Welcome to part one of my financial set review for Commander 2018!
Join me this morning as I take a deep financial dive into Nature’s
Vengeance and Adaptive Enchantment, two of the four new pre-constructed
Commander decks that will be released to the world on August 10th. I’ll be
back later in the week with the other two decks, Exquisite Invention and
Subjective Reality, as well as my analysis of this week’s overall financial

My apologies for the wait, but I guarantee you that it’ll be worth it. I
have so much to say about these cool new decks, and I didn’t want to
short-change a single card.

At any rate, speculating on cards from pre-constructed decks like Commander 2018 requires a different approach than we use to
speculate on cards in normal Magic sets. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t
plenty of money to be made, but it’s worth paying attention to the specific
elements that might cause one sweet Commander 2018 card to spike
while another ends languishing in the bulk bin for the next couple of

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the cards from Commander 2017 that have increased in value since their release

None of this should come as much of a surprise to anyone who read my Commander 2017 financial set review. I did a pretty good job of
nailing most of the set’s breakout cards last year without sending you down
too many bad paths. In fact, it might have been my most successful set
review ever. Seriously-
go check it out.

When I wrote my review last summer, I included four goals for analyzing and
evaluating cards in a Commander set. Let’s take a look at them one at a
time and see if we need to modify them based on what we’ve learned over the
past year:

  1. Try to find the breakout build-around. There might not be an
    Atraxa in

    Commander 2017, but if there is, we need to know about it ASAP.

Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice was by far the most popular build-around card in Commander 2016. It went from $10 to $20 during its first year of
being in print, and it’s up to $30 now. Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist was
probably the closest we got in Commander 2017, a set that didn’t
really have a breakout build-around on the scale of Atraxa. Even still, we
should be looking for this type of card in Commander 2018.

  1. Pay special attention to artifacts. If a card is good in half
    of all the Commander decks that exist, demand is going to start
    outstripping supply really quickly.

This is what caused Hammer of Nazahn and Herald’s Horn, the two best
artifacts in Commander 2017, to be two of the set’s biggest
financial gainers. The same thing happened with Crystalline Crawler and
Conqueror’s Flail the year before. It’ll probably happen again this time
around, too.

I’d like to modify this rule for 2018 to include non-artifact cards that
are likely to be multi-deck staples. Traverse the Outlands and Teferi’s
Protection are examples of this type of card; they might not be colorless,
but they’re both splashable and flexible.

  1. Look for cards that are proactively good in the most popular
    Commander archetypes. Anything having to do with counters is a

This rule clearly applies to tribal cards as well, which is why the Kindred
spells did so well last year. And yeah, any cards that play with tokens and
counters should always be on your radar.

  1. Ignore narrow support cards.

    Arahbo, Roar of the World

    is only good in a deck with a bunch of Cats, and anyone who
    wants to build a Cat deck is just going to buy the entire box
    set. So who are you planning to sell your spec copies to?

This rule absolutely held true with Commander 2017. Arahbo, Roar
of the World dropped from $6 to $1.50-bulk mythic range-for exactly the
reason I just stated. Expect it to hold true for many of the coolest (but
narrowest) cards in Commander 2018 as well.

With all that meta-analysis out of the way, let’s get to the decks!

Nature’s Vengeance

Non-Bulk Rare Reprints:

Yuck. There’s nothing wrong with Avenger of Zendikar, but this deck is
chockablock with bulk rares beyond that big green boy. While none of the Commander 2018 decks have any truly exciting reprints-something
that we should keep in mind, because it means that there’s more value to go
around for the new cards-Nature’s Vengeance does not have a very exciting
crop of returning staples.

New Cards in Nature’s Vengeance:

Lord Windgrace – $11.99

It’s worth noting straight off the bat that the online Commander community
seems pretty low on this entire crop of new planeswalkers. That isn’t to
say that they’re all bad, or that they’re all going to end up being
unpopular, but it’s worth noting that people’s initial reaction to the lot
is that they’re all a tad underpowered.

With that said, Lord Windgrace is perfectly fine. The people who want to
build a Jund “lands matter” deck can go nuts with card advantage here,
though I don’t know how different this is going to be from the existing
Gitrog Monster decks. Maybe it’ll encourage more people to go in that
direction, which should mean good things for The Gitrog Monster’s price
tag-I’d want to slot him right into a Lord Windgrace deck, after all.

Otherwise, I don’t feel like Lord Windgrace screams, “play me!” the way,
say, Atraxa does. Long-term, I expect the card to end up in the $5-$7
range, which is where most unique, moderately popular, casual-only
planeswalkers end up

Gyrus, Waker of Corpses – $3.99

There are a weirdly high number of restrictions on Gyrus, Walker of
Corpses, and they make me worried that this card will end up being
frustrating far more than it’ll end up being cool. The fact that you need
to spend Jund mana to play Gyrus will prevent it from being used in most
reanimation decks, and I’m not sure that most those decks are going to want
Gyrus anyway considering the fact that it only pulls from your graveyard
and exiles your best utility creatures after a single use. Oh-and you have
to wait a turn to attack with Gyrus before it does anything. I’m not sold
on this one being more than just a bulk mythic.

Thantis, the Warweaver – $3.99

Thantis, the Warweaver is neat, I suppose, but its ability is antithetical
to the axis that most Commander players like to plot and play on. As
thankful as I’d be if most Commander games were half as long as they
usually are, most of the expensive cards in the format are about
discouraging attacks, not encouraging them. Thantis is likely to end up as
a bulk mythic.

Fury Storm – $2.99

Fork effects have proven to be pretty effective in Commander, and four mana
isn’t too much of a tax to pay for one that can scale as well as Fury Storm
can. You’re probably getting at least two copies out of Fury Storm
regardless, which might make it my new favorite Fork in the entire format.

I’m a little wary about going too deep here since red is the weakest color
in Commander, and red Commander staples tend to be worth less because
demand is so much lower. On the other hand, this is one of the strongest
cards in Commander 2018‘s weakest deck. All that value must go
somewhere, which might cause Fury Storm to end up in the $6-$7 range.

Windgrace’s Judgment – $2.49

Flexible removal and card advantage? Yes, please! Windgrace’s Judgment is
obviously not worth your time unless you’re playing in 4+ player matches on
a regular basis, but isn’t that what Commander was made for? I feel like
every multiplayer deck that runs green and black will at least consider
throwing this in, which means that demand should easily outstrip supply.
Expect Windgrace’s Judgment to be a $5+ card at some point.

Bloodtracker – $1.99

Bloodtracker seems like a solid pickup as well. Vampire and Wizard are both
incredibly relevant creature types, and the card is a fairly powerful card
draw spell in its own right. Things get even nuttier once you combine
Bloodtracker with any sort of +1/+1 counter shenanigans, and we all know
how much Commander players love doing that. There isn’t a ton of upside
here, but Bloodtracker should be at least a $4 card eventually.

Turntimber Sower – $1.99

Turntimber Sower seems fairly priced at $2. It fits in far fewer decks than
Bloodtracker does, though I can easily imagine that it’ll become a fast
favorite for anyone building a land shenanigans deck like Borborygmos
Enraged or The Gitrog Monster. This is a solid pick-up if you need a copy
for your own personal collection, but there are better spec targets.

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent – $1.99

Xantcha, Sleeper Agent is one of the coolest and most unique cards in the
whole set. I’m not sure how good it is with Lord Windgrace, but I can
imagine that there’s a home for Xantcha in loads of angry Rakdos decks as
well as any sorts of “politics matter” brews that run both red and black.
Xantcha is narrow enough that I don’t see a ton of upside here, but cards
that are this cool don’t end up as long-term bulk rares. This one should
rise in price, but you might be waiting a while.

Reality Scramble – $1.49

Reality Scramble is being completely underrated right now. Retrace is way better than you think it is, and the fact that this is a
Polymorph that can work on any type of permanent means that the door is
wide open for crazy shenanigans. Only have one planeswalker in your deck?
As your commander, say? Reality Scramble it for a second activation every
turn. Heck, you can even run this in Legacy in some kind of Omni-Tell
shell. I know it looks like a crappy red chaos card, but Reality Scramble
is so much more than that. I’m grabbing several copies for $1.50.

Emissary of Grudges – $0.99

Emissary of Grudges is one of those cards that’s really cool in theory, but
it’s always going to end up on the cutting room floor for a card that’s
more on-theme for whatever I’m trying to do at the moment. Future bulk

Nesting Dragon – $0.99

Whoa, Nesting Dragon is amazing! I get that you aren’t going to have a ton
of lands left in your hand by the time you play this, but any deck that
likes to sacrifice either creatures or tokens is going to at least consider
Nesting Dragon. It’s solid in any sort of tribal Dragon strategy as well as
any kind of deck that’s looking to get a ton of lands onto the battlefield
quickly. At just $1, there should be plenty of upside.

Crash of Rhino Beetles – $0.99

Crash of Rhino Beetles is very big. Unfortunately, so are lots of other
creatures. I’d rather play with the next card down, because it actually
does something beyond being arbitrarily large.

Whiptongue Hydra – $0.99

I don’t know why more people aren’t on the Whiptongue Hydra bandwagon yet.
My “big green dumb stuff” decks rarely run any fliers, and this thing is
going to be close to a one-sided wrath in a lot of the games it shows up
in. It’s also a really nice critter to have in any sort of creature-based
toolbox deck. This seems more like a $2-$3 card than a bulk rare.

New “Uncommons” in Nature’s Vengeance:

Forge of Heroes – $0.49

Since Forge of Heroes is a common, it’ll show up in all four of the Commander 2018 decks. It’s quite good in any build where you have
a planeswalker as your commander, but I don’t think it’s a must-play across
the format, especially in decks that run three or more colors. $0.50 seems
reasonable to me.

Loyal Subordinate – $0.49

Loyal Subordinate is going to be good in decks like Rakdos, Lord of Riots
and Sygg, River Cutthroat, but I doubt it’ll find widespread appeal beyond
those strategies. It’s a fine buy at $0.50 if you need a copy, but there’s
no real upside here.

Loyal Guardian – $0.49

Loyal Guardian is a steal at just fifty cents. While paying five mana for a
4/4 is rough, this card’s Lieutenant ability makes it the perfect addition
to any sort of “go wide” tokens strategy. This is the number-one thing that
leads to Commander value spikes, so feel good about buying in on this one.
Remember: “uncommon” in this case just means that the card will be included
in two of the pre-cons instead of one.

Considering one of last year’s uncommons is a $16 card now
, Loyal Guardian has some room to grow.

Loyal Apprentice – $0.49

Loyal Apprentice is pretty awesome as well. Any red-based tokens deck will
want this. For that matter, so will all the “artifacts matter” decks as
well as anything looking for either an artifact or a creature to sacrifice.
I can see this one ending up in the $2-$3 range at least.

Current Retail Value of Significant Cards in Nature’s Vengeance: $51.75

Lord Windgrace, Gyrus, Waker of Corpses, Thantis, the Warweaver.

Fury Storm, Windgrace’s Judgment, Bloodtracker, Reality Scramble, Nesting
Dragon, Whiptongue Hydra.

Adaptive Enchantment

Non-Bulk Rare Reprints:

So yeah. As we learned when we looked at Nature’s Vengeance, the Commander 2018 decks aren’t giving us a ton of expensive reprints.
This kind of makes sense-WotC knows that what we’re really after are the
cool new cards, and they can save their reprint equity for future core sets
and Masters releases.

That said, Enchantress’s Presence and Bear Umbra are both solid inclusions
that should hold their value fairly well. Both cards were quite a bit more
expensive a few days ago, and I doubt we’ll see either one drop too far
below the $5 mark.

New Cards in Adaptive Enchantment:

Estrid, the Masked – $9.99

Estrid, the Masked seems to have the Arahbo problem: she’s awesome as an
“Auras matter” commander, but there should be plenty of copies of Adaptive
Enchantment to go around for everybody who wants to actually brew that one
up. This is not an Atraxa situation where everybody has a slightly
different idea of what they want to do with it. Expect Estrid to end up in
the same $5-$7 range as the other new planeswalkers.

As for Estrid-related spec targets, foil copies of Utopia Sprawl seem like
a solid target. Greater Auramancy could tick up a little bit more as well.
Most of the good “enchantment matters” cards have been spiking for weeks in
anticipation of these decks, though: Opalescence broke $30, and Serra’s
Sanctum is approaching $200. I doubt there’s too much more room for any of
these cards to grow, at least over the short term.

Kestia, the Cultivator – $5.99

Kestia, the Cultivator is awesome. The art is incredible, and her design is
even better. I suspect she’ll end up being used as the “Bant enchantment”
commander almost as often (if not more so) than Estrid, the Masked.

But that does not mean that Kestia will remain expensive. As with Estrid,
you might as well buy the entire deck that Kestia comes in since all the
other cards in Adaptive Enchantment play really well with her. Because of
this, she’s likely to end up settling closer to $1.50 or $2 than her
current $5 price tag.

Tuvasa, the Sunlit – $4.99

You can pretty much copy my Kestia, the Cultivator paragraph and paste it
here for Tuvasa, the Sunlit. Tuvasa is likely going to be the better “Bant
enchantment commander” choice for anyone who wants to focus on non-Aura
enchantments, but those folks are probably still going to just buy the deck
so that they have access to all the tools inside. Future bulk mythic.

Myth Unbound – $4.99

Myth Unbound is probably not nearly as good as it looks, but it’s the sort
of card that’s going to inspire a lot of people to try it out in literally
every deck that runs green. Myth Unbound is especially intriguing in decks
like Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, where re-playing your commander over and
over again is incredibly beneficial.

While I believe that Myth Unbound is overrated, that doesn’t necessarily
mean it’s not a reasonable buy at $5. At least over the short-term, I think
demand will far outstrip supply and we could see this one end up at $10 or
even $15. On the other hand, the card is going to actually have to be good
to sustain that level of growth for more than a couple of weeks. The risk
of this one ending up as a bulk rare is just too great for me to recommend
buying in.

Estrid’s Invocation – $2.99

Geez, Estrid’s Invocation is a good card. Copy Enchantment is $12-$15, and
Estrid’s Invocation is almost strictly better (you can’t copy your
opponent’s enchantments, but the auto-bounce is terrific). Granted, Copy
Enchantment hasn’t been reprinted in a while, but that just tells you what
sort of upside we’re looking at here. The fact that this card is called
Estrid’s Invocation makes it hard to reprint, too. At just $3, this might
be the biggest no-brainer spec target in the whole set.

Genesis Storm – $2.49

Eh, I’m not a fan of Genesis Storm. It’s an awful card to have in your
opening hand, and it’s only going to be worth the six mana if you’ve cast
your commander three or four times already. I like the Commander Storm
cards that are good early and good late. In green, there are loads of
lategame cards I’d play over this one. Future bulk rare.

Empyrial Storm – $1.99

I have the same problem with Empyrial Storm. If I’m paying 4WW, I need more
than a couple of 4/4 Angel tokens. This card is probably a little better
than Genesis Storm since a 4/4 flier is probably a little better than the
average non-land permanent in Commander deck, and I feel like there will be
some tokens strategies that want this regardless, but I’m underwhelmed.

Heavenly Blademaster – $1.99

My biggest worry about Heavenly Blademaster is the fact that I pegged
Balan, Wandering Knight as a decent spec target for “equipment Voltron”
decks last year, and the now-bulk Knight was one of my only poor picks.
Heavenly Blademaster reminds me a lot of Balan, only I think this card is
quite a bit better. It’s bigger, it flies, and it works with auras as well
as equipment. I can certainly see this one maintaining a moderate level of
demand for quite some time.

Ever-Watching Threshold – $1.99

I didn’t like Ever-Watching Threshold at first. The more I think about it,
however, the more enamored I am.

It’s true that Ever-Watching Threshold isn’t ever going to stop a major
attack like Propaganda, and it’s not going to draw you a billion cards like
Rhystic Study, but it’s a fine early game deterrent: during that “hmm, who
do I attack next?” phase, you’re either getting skipped or you’re getting a
card. That’s not bad.

And the card is solid in the lategame, too. It’s not going to help against
any sort of “whoops, I win!” attack, but if you’re simply getting beat
down, this is going to give you three or four extra chances to draw an

Most importantly, everyone who likes “pillow fort” cards is going to need a
copy of this. $5 seems like a completely reasonable place for Ever-Watching
Threshold to end up.

Ravenous Slime – $1.99

Ravenous Slime is absolutely sensational. Forget the fact that this sucker
is going to get really big really fast and focus on the fact that Ravenous
Slime both shuts off opposing death triggers and keeps creatures out of
their graveyards. It’s not quite a replacement for Scavenging Ooze, but it
works incredibly well alongside that other green staple. Why this card is
just $2 baffles me. I’m in for a couple of playsets.

Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle – $1.99

I absolutely adore Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle. It’s the exact kind of
weird cool card that WotC should be making for these decks. It’s not
powerful enough to be worth more than $1 long-term, but I’m so glad that it

Octopus Umbra – $0.99

It’s a sea creature two-fer! Build-your-own-Lorthos is my personal favorite
card in all of Commander 2018. This isn’t the sort of card that’s
going to end up being worth more than a buck at any point, but I love it
just the same.

Nylea’s Colossus – $0.99

If you’ve got a Xenagos, God of Revels or Uril, the Miststalker deck,
you’ve got to be feeling pretty good about Nylea’s Colossus. Otherwise,
this thing is a little too slow and expensive. Future bulk rare.

New Uncommons in Nature’s Vengeance:

Loyal Unicorn – $0.49

If you’re playing a white-based aggro deck with a Commander that likes to
attack, you’re going to want to at least take a look at Loyal Unicorn. The
downside is non-existent at just $0.50, and I can see this one ending up in
the $2-$3 range at some point.

Loyal Drake – $0.49

Loyal Guardian – $0.49

Forge of Heroes – $0.49

Current Retail Value of Significant Cards in Adaptive Enchantment: $67

It’s worth noting that the singles in Adaptive Enchantment are currently
worth about $15 more than Nature’s Vengeance. At the moment, that extra
value is almost entirely due to the better reprints in this deck. Beyond
that, however, Adaptive Enchantment also looks like more fun to play
straight out of the box. If you’ve got a choice between buying one of these
two over the other, I’d take this one.

Estrid, the Masked, Kestia, the Cultivator, Tuvasa, the Sunlit, Myth
Unbound, Genesis Storm.

Estrid’s Invocation, Ravenous Slime.

That’s all for now! I’ll see you in a couple of days for the second part of
my Commander 2018 set review, where I cover Exquisite Invention
and Subjective Reality. Are either of those decks better than Adaptive
Enchantment, and are they also full of interesting spec targets? Come back
soon and see for yourself.