Commander 2019 Financial Set Review, Part 2

Chas Andres examines the Mystic Intellect and Merciless Rage decks from Commander 2019, gives his thoughts on the release as a whole, and lays out This Week’s Trends!

Welcome to the second and final installment of my Commander 2019 financial set review. If you missed Part 1, where I dove deep into an analysis of the Naya and Sultai decks, check it out here. I’d also suggest checking out last week’s article if you want an in-depth look at my approach to reviewing Commander sets.

Otherwise, allow me to quickly recap the basics:

  • 99% of the new cards from Commander 2019 aren’t making it to Legacy or Vintage, so don’t worry about competitive play unless you think you’ve found the next True-Name Nemesis – or at least the next Kess, Dissident Mage.
  • Rares tend to be underpriced during the pre-order period, at least compared to mythics. They seem scarcer, but due to the distribution patterns of these decks, they aren’t.
  • Artifacts and other general utility cards that will have demand outside one or two niche decks make for the best specs because a lot of people will want them for decks they already own.
  • Conversely, the commanders each deck is specifically tuned to promote rarely make good specs, since folks who want to play with them tend to just buy the whole deck and modify it from there.
  • Many of Commander 2019‘s best financial opportunities will actually come from buying the old, underprinted cards that are will spike due to excitement surrounding some new commander. Don’t forget to check for secondary spikes!

With all of that in mind, let’s get to today’s set of decks.

Mystic Intellect

Let’s begin with a look at the relevant reprints in Mystic Intellect. Here’s every card currently selling for $1 or more on Star City Games:

Total – $41

Last week’s decks had relevant reprints adding up to $54 and $58, so a total of just $41 is kind of disappointing. Most of these $1-$2 cards aren’t very exciting, either – good luck getting full value for Storm Herd, Pristine Angel, or Zetalpa, Primal Dawn. Heck, even Ral Zarek is about as dull as it gets with a $5 planeswalker.

On the glass-half-full side, Ghostly Prison is a great inclusion. This card always ends up back in the $8-$10 range after a reprint, and I see no reason to believe that it won’t happen again this time around. One good reprint does not make for a bumper crop, but at least this deck isn’t a total dud.

Dockside Extortionist – $8

Dockside Extortionist is one of the most obviously powerful cards in Commander 2019. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a lot of games where this Goblin Pirate isn’t making me five to six Treasure tokens every time it enters the battlefield. The fact that you can blink him for value is absurd, and I’m even willing to break one of the axioms that I began the article with and state that I think Dockside Extortionist will be at least a fringe player in Legacy or Vintage Storm.

The only reason I’m a little hesitant to give Dockside Extortionist my full and unequivocal recommendation is that I was nearly as high on Treasure Nabber in Commander 2018. That card seemed like a slam-dunk from last year’s set, but it’s still just $5. Red really is the least popular color in Commander, and it’s not very close.

The big difference between the two cards is that Dockside Extortionist is a lot more proactive than Treasure Nabber. Even though both creatures rely on your opponents doing things with artifacts, this one will give you access to a bunch of mana right away – regardless of what your opponents do. That’s a big game in a format like Commander, and I expect this card to be wildly popular for years to come. $10 seems like the floor, and there’s $15-$20 upside, especially considering how weak the reprints are in this deck.

Elsha of the Infinite – $6

Elsha of the Infinite is very strong. Her prowess triggers probably won’t come into play all that often, especially in a competitive setting, but getting to go off with this Future Sight-ish ability on your commander seems amazing. This card is great with library manipulation and tutors like Sensei’s Divining Top, Soothsaying, and Mystical Tutor, though cards like that are already very good in Commander, so I don’t know how much any of them are likely to increase in price. We may also see foil copies of Kykar, Wind’s Fury start to spike a bit, since that card is a perfect addition to an Elsha deck.

I’m still not spending $6 on Elsha right now, though. She might end up in the $6-$10 range eventually, but she’s definitely in the “if you want a copy, just buy the deck” camp for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s hovering closer to $2-$3 at this point next year, despite the fact that it’s so good, and I’d rather focus on other cards from Mystic Intellect.

Sevinne, the Chronoclasm – $5

At the end of this section, we’ll discuss all the flashback cards that might spike over the next couple of weeks thanks to Sevinne, the Chronoclasm. For now, there isn’t much to say. Sevinne is pretty good, but you shouldn’t buy him for $5 since the entire Mystic Intellect deck is tuned to support him. Either buy the whole deck for $35 or wait until next year and grab him for $2-$3.

Pramikon, Sky Rampart – $4

Pramikon, Sky Rampart is a very weird card. I suspect it’ll be the least popular of these three commanders by a fairly wide margin, and I see it as a future bulk mythic. It probably won’t even cause any weird Walls to spike, since Arcades, the Strategist is a better “Walls matter” commander, and you can’t even play that in the same deck as Pramikon unless you’re running a five-color general.

The one spike I do see happening thanks to Pramikon? Mystic Barrier. You definitely want a copy of that card for your Pramikon deck so you can really mess with combat order, and I’m not surprised that it’s sold out at $1.50 right now. $5+ seems likely, and I’m happy to nab these out of bulk bins for the next couple of weeks.

Sevinne’s Reclamation – $4

Sevinne’s Reclamation is a pretty sweet three-for-one, and I’m definitely going to shove it into most of my Orzhov and Boros decks. It’s not really doing much unless you’re planning to flash it back, but I can see it gaining a decent amount of popularity in any white-based deck that’s either playing out of the graveyard or running a lot of techy low-mana permanents.

My worry about Sevinne’s Reclamation is that it’s one of those “eh, this would be nice” cards that is going to get axed from my final 100 almost every time. Unless it plays specifically into whatever plan I’ve got going, it’s probably going to be one of my last cuts more often than not. $4 is a fair price to pay for this card, but I suspect it has a higher chance of being a $1-$2 rare next year than it does of hitting $8-$10.

Empowered Autogenerator – $4

An artifact, you say? One that generates mana, you say? And a combo piece at that?

So why don’t I really like Empowered Autogenerator?

My issue is simple: unless you’re adding counters to Empowered Autogenerator through some sort of unfair means, the rate of return is awful. I’ll take cards like Thran Dynamo and Gilded Lotus over it every single time. Empowered Autogenerator seems to compare more to Astral Cornucopia than anything else, and that card has never been all that exciting – or all that expensive.

That said, this is still a mana-generating combo piece, and I strongly suspect that this one will be on next year’s list of Commander 2019 gainers even if it isn’t all that great outside of a few specific circumstances. People will try to break Empowered Autogenerator in half, and they’ll be doing so in all sorts of shells that have nothing to do with the Mystic Intellect deck. I’m guessing this is a $6-$7 card by the time I write next year’s article, even though I don’t really like it all that much.

Mandate of Peace – $3

Mandate of Peace is basically a more limited version of Orim’s Chant, right? I guess it works on all your opponents instead of just one, but it’s going to be functionally similar a lot of the time. I’m sure there are some other small differences that I’m missing, but I don’t think I’ve ever had Orim’s Chant played against me in a game of Commander, and I can’t imagine that Mandate of Peace ends up being a whole lot more popular. It’s certainly broad enough to end up being a $7-$8 card if it does catch on – I just don’t think it will.

Backdraft Hellkite – $3

I love Backdraft Hellkite. Past in Flames is a really fun card if you can make it pay off, but you have to use a bunch of mana to cast it…and then you need a bunch more mana to spend on whatever you’re flashing back. Actually connecting with Backdraft Hellkite is going to be hard, admittedly, but you can cast a lot more of your ‘yard if you do actually get through. That’s a big game.

So yeah. Flashing back cards is popular. Dragons are popular. Creatures that effectively have the ability “kill me right now or things go really bad for you” are popular. So why is Backdraft Hellkite just $3 right now? This card should be $5-$6 next year, and it’s the card I’m most excited for out of this deck other than Dockside Extortionist.

Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero – $2.50

Does your Boros deck need a way to prevent Wrath effects from ruining its day? Of course it does. Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero seems great, especially compared to other cards like it. Twilight Shepherd costs two additional mana and only returns things to your hand, not directly to the battlefield. Plus, a 3/3 with first strike isn’t even all that bad in a deck that probably has a decent amount of Equipment.

There’s combo potential here too, of course – who’s up for Eggs in Commander? – and I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of different folks want to build around Gerrard. I don’t think we’re looking at a $10+ card here, but $3-$5 seems eminently reasonable.

Thalia’s Geistcaller – $2

Thalia’s Geistcaller is yet another reason why I like buying foil copies of Kykar, Wind’s Fury right now. In fact, so much of Mystic Intellect seems designed to work with our old pal Kylar. As for Thalia’s Geistcaller itself…I’m going to pass. It’s just too narrow and underpowered in most circumstances to get me excited. Future bulk rare.

Wall of Stolen Identity – $2

Wall of Stolen Identity is fine – it’s basically a Dungeon Geists with more upside – but this is not the kind of card that ends up being worth all that much. It’s neither super-powerful nor super-essential to any currently popular style of Commander deck. Future bulk rare.

Mass Diminish – $1.50

There are quite a few cards like Mass Diminish in Magic already, and none of them are that sought-after. Mass Diminish is a little better than most since you can flash it back, but the $1-$2 range seems fair to me. I’m expecting to get blown out by cards in a game at some point, but there’s not enough upside here to excite me from a financial perspective.

Ignite the Future – $1.50

On the other hand, Ignite the Future is the exact sort of dart-throw spec I like. Again, I’m generally down on red cards relative to cards of other colors, but this is still probably one of the better red card-draw spells in all of Commander. The fact that you’ve got until the end of your next turn to play out the cards you draw is being overlooked, and I’m going to at least consider Ignite the Future this as a pure utility spell in my red decks from here on out.

It’s certainly possible that Ignite the Future doesn’t pan out – perhaps red mages are just going to dip into another color for card draw, or perhaps the advantage here isn’t as big as it seems – but the buy-in is just $1.50, which is nice and low. And if it pans out, Ignite the Future will become a $7-$8 staple. I like those odds.

Bloodthirsty Blade – $1

Bloodthirsty Blade is an above-average uncommon. Cards like this always seem to be worth $2-$3 eventually, so you can snag a couple of these for $1 if you want them. I’d rather chase upside elsewhere in my spec targets, but I’m happy to snag these if the opportunity is right.

Potential Secondary Spikes

Other than Catalyst Stone, which spiked from bulk to $10 a few weeks back, I haven’t seen too many cards climbing in price because of this deck. There will be at least a couple more secondary spikes due to Sevinne, the Chronoclasm, though. Past in Flames seems like the most obvious choice, and it has increased in price by about $1 since last week – look for that trend to continue.

Otherwise, I’m looking at retrace cards like Waves of Aggression and Call the Skybreaker, as well as cards that play well with instants and sorceries, like Reiterate and Reverberate. Mizzix’s Mastery seems solid as well, though that card is already almost $20.

I can’t imagine there are too many spikes due to Elsha of the Infinite, but Sensei’s Divining Top and Soothsaying should both see small bumps. Proteus Staff could be due for another jump as well. There are some infinite loops with Thought Lash too, though that card has spiked before without ever really doing all that much. Even still, Thought Lash is a Reserved List card, so it wouldn’t take much for it to hit $20+.

Merciless Rage

Let’s move on to Merciless Rage. Here are the relevant reprints in the new Rakdos deck:

Total – $47

$47 worth of reprints puts Merciless Rage above Mystic Intellect, but below both of the decks we looked at last week. Each of these four decks ended up with a solid reprint in the $5-$10 range, and Solemn Simulacrum is Merciless Rage’s key inclusion. As with Seedborn Muse, Lightning Greaves, and Ghostly Prison, this card is going to remain reasonably expensive for years to come, providing you with at least one decent reprint that has a solid value floor.

As for the other cards here, Geth, Lord of the Vault is also quite good. It’s certainly better than Mystic Intellect’s Ral Zarek, and I expect Geth to remain at or above $5 as well. Chaos Warp should stick in the $2+ range, and there are a few decent lands here as well. Otherwise, Merciless Rage has the same smattering of mediocre $1-$2 rares that all these decks seem to have.

K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth – $10

Oh geez. I’m not sure exactly how to break the universe with K’rrik, but I’m pretty sure we can all agree that Phyrexian mana is one of the most broken mechanics in the history of the game. Making spells free to play, whether it’s through using life as a resource, untapping lands, or dredge, has gotten WotC into trouble time and time again. I mean, heck, we’re not even half a year removed from Hogaak.

The wild thing about K’rrik is that there are possible combo potentials with almost every black card ever printed. Seriously, there might be a few dozen infinite K’rrik-related combos here that we haven’t found yet. Allowing you to spend Phyrexian mana on nearly everything is bonkers, and I can see why this card is sold out at $10 right now.

That said, I don’t want to get trapped into thinking that K’rrik is going to see a ton of eternal play. This card isn’t Modern-legal and spending four mana plus six life is a lot in any format where you’re not starting at 40 life. I think some folks will try to break K’rrik in Legacy, but it’s far from a slam-dunk.

Regardless, everybody loves absurdly broken cards, and K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth certainly qualifies as one of those. There’s high end upside here – think $40-$50 – especially if I’m wrong about the card’s viability in Legacy and Vintage. I also feel like this card has a fairly high floor as a casual oddity, perhaps in the $6-$7 range. I’m not going to speculate on K’rrik myself but buying a personal copy at $10 seems fine to me. This card has more breakout potential than any other card in all of Commander 2019.

Anje Falkenrath – $7

Anje Falkenrath is the perfect madness commander. Amazing art, cheap mana cost, haste, a powerful ability…it’s perfectly designed.

The problem with Anje is that madness cards tend to be underpowered in Commander, and the Commander 2019 decks didn’t do enough to change that. Most madness cards are cheap and balanced for Limited or one-on-one aggro play, which is not where most folks want to be in a format that’s defined by large splashy creatures. I actually like Anje fine as a Reanimator commander, though limiting yourself to Rakdos colors for that deck is kind of rough.

At any rate, this is the “face” commander of Merciless Rage, and as with Sevinne, the Chronoclasm, I’d rather just buy the whole deck if I want this card. I feel like Anje will be $2-$3 next year, though it’s got some decent long-term potential that should make it a good buy at that point. At some point over the next four to five years’ worth of Magic sets, madness will return. And when it does, Anje will likely see a spike in both price and demand.

Chainer, Nightmare Adept – $6

Potential K’rrik shenanigans aside, Chainer, Nightmare Adept is the legendary creature from this deck that I’m the most excited about. During the mid-to-late game, Chainer turns every card you draw into potential gas. You can’t totally go off with card draw since you can only use his ability once per turn, but rebuying your best dead creature every turn is great, and things only get better once you add in a reanimation subtheme or a bunch of evoke creatures.

Ingot Chewer and Shriekmaw, anyone?

Financially, Chainer has a better shot at breaking out than most of the other legendary creatures from the Commander 2019 decks because he’s only in two colors instead of three. Not only can all the Rakdos mages play Chainer, but so can all the Mardu and Grixis mages. That increases this creature’s overall financial potential, and it makes me higher on the card overall. You also don’t need to build around Chainer to get value out of him – in fact, I’m probably going to slot this card into all of my existing Rakdos-plus decks. $4-$5 seems like the floor here, and the ceiling is $8-$10.

Bone Miser – $4

You probably aren’t sticking Bone Miser in a Reanimator deck – getting a free 2/2 every now and then isn’t all that powerful, especially since this five-drop creature is vulnerable to 95% of removal spells – but I can see this card doing work in Lord Windgrace or The Gitrog Monster decks that involve a lot of discarding or cycling through lands. $4 seems pretty steep for a card that’s actually kind of narrow, though, and I’d guess it ends up closer to $2 over the long haul. I’d like Bone Miser a lot more if it was an enchantment like Waste Not.

Sanctum of Eternity – $4

Sanctum of Eternity might be the safest spec call in Commander 2019. Not only does this card protect your commander from Control Magic type effects, but it can reset all of your enters-the-battlefield effects. I probably wouldn’t slot it into every Commander deck I have, but I can see an argument for it in more than half of them. That’s the sign of a future format staple.

At minimum, Sanctum of Eternity will be a $5-$6 card next year. More likely, it’ll be somewhere between $10 and $15. If you’re going to buy any card from today’s article at current retail, this is it.

Anje’s Ravager – $3

I’d definitely run Anje’s Ravager in any of my red-based aggro Commander decks…if I had any. That strategy isn’t particularly popular on the 100-card circuit, though it does have its advocates. Anje’s Ravager is also pretty solid in any deck that wants multiple Wheel of Fortune effects, too, though connecting with this evasion-free creature is going to be difficult. I wouldn’t expect to trigger this thing more than once per game.

I can see why Anje’s Ravager is $3 – it’s great in the right situations – but I don’t think there’s enough demand to keep it above $1-$2 over the next year. Feel free to grab a personal copy, but I wouldn’t speculate on this one.

Aeon Engine – $3

I don’t know if Aeon Engine is actually good, especially because it’ll be wildly unfun for everybody at your table where you’re actually going off with it, but it’s a unique artifact with a decent wow factor, and that’s good enough for me. Aeon Engine seems like a future $5-$6 card, which is where a lot of the odd Time Warp-ish cards tend to sit. $3 seems like a fine deal if you want one.

Greven, Predator Captain – $2.50

Greven, Predator Captain seems really solid, though you do have to do quite a bit of work to make him good. You’re not getting anything out of Greven unless you’re attacking with him, which is not always where you want to be with your expensive ground creatures. There are some pretty sweet Greven combos that will draw you a lot of cards and deal a lot of damage, but I’m not sure that this card has broad enough appeal to make it one of the set’s breakout stars. Future $1-$2 rare.

Nightmare Unmaking – $2

Giving black the power to exile creatures instead of just destroying them is nice, but Nightmare Unmaking is kind of clunky in every other respect. It’ll see play, but will it end up being a format staple when there are so many other mass removal spells in black that are also $1-$2? It wouldn’t shock me, and there is upside here, but I’m betting it’ll remain a $2 card.

Wildfire Devils – $2

Wildfire Devils is too random for this card to end up finding a home in most of my Commander decks. Unless I’m specifically angling for chaos at my table, I’d rather play a creature that’s going to do something predictably powerful. Wildfire Devils is the kind of card that I wish Commander had more room for – heck, it’s the type of card that the format was created for – but in reality it’s going to get cut for something more synergistic nearly every time. Future $1 rare.

Archfiend of Spite – $1.50

Pass. Annihilator-style effects are great, but Phyrexian Obliterator forces your opponent to sacrifice permanents while Archfiend of Spite does not. In practice, your opponents will either choose to lose the life or kill this thing another way. It’s certainly fine to keep Archfiend of Spite in your Merciless Rage deck if you’re keeping the madness theme alive, but this creature is underwhelming in all other contexts. Future bulk rare.

Curse of Fool’s Wisdom – $1.50

You can copy most of my Archfiend of Spite paragraph, change the card names, and paste it here. Curse of Fool’s Wisdom is fine for your madness deck, but if you’re planning on building around madness, just buy the entire Merciless Rage pre-con instead of looking at these cards piecemeal. In non-madness contexts, this card is underpowered and overpriced for what it does. Future bulk rare.

Skyfire Phoenix – $1

Skyfire Phoenix isn’t a total bust – it’s excellent in decks with Phyrexian Altar shenanigans and other ways to build recursion/mana generation loops – but those applications are going to be pretty narrow. For the rest of us, Skyfire Phoenix is just a somewhat annoying 3/3 flier. Future bulk rare.

Mire in Misery – $1

I didn’t like Mire in Misery at all until I realized that it said “each opponent,” and then I got a little more excited. This card is pretty close to unplayable one-on-one, but if you’re regularly playing with three or four opponents, the value here is quite good. You may not actually destroy any enchantments when you cast this spell, but even destroying a handful of creatures for two mana is nice. The fact that Mire in Misery bends the color pie makes it pretty unique, and I can see it ending up in the $2-$3 range long-term based on that fact alone.

Potential Secondary Spikes

There are quite a few interesting Anje Falkenrath specs that haven’t spiked yet. Anvil of Bogardan is on the Reserved List, and it looks like it plays quite well with all these fun new madness cards. It may also finally be time for Devastating Dreams to take off – its counterpart Insidious Dreams jumped from $3 to $10 last fall, but the red member of the cycle is still worth less than $1.

That’s the kind of high-upside flyer I really like. You’re also going to need some cards to discard to Anje. Gibbering Descent and Big Game Hunter both seem like pretty easy inclusions. I’d snag foil copies of Falkenrath Gorger, too.

Overall Thoughts on Commander 2019

Even though a lot of people seem down on Commander 2019 because it doesn’t contain any high-octane reprints, I rather like the set. Between Commander 2019 and Modern Horizons, it seems pretty clear that WotC has currently pivoted away from using high-value reprints as carrots in order to sell sets. (Don’t worry, I’m sure this will change again in the future.) Instead, they want you to buy Commander 2019 because you’re excited about the new cards.

This may have backfired a bit with Modern Horizons, but I feel like they did a better job here. This is one of the best crops of new Commander cards we’ve seen, and you won’t regret nabbing the full set at current retail if you’re so inclined. There are more lucrative ways to invest $145, but if you want to play with these decks a bunch, hoard the staples for a few years, and then sell them? You’ll do fine.

Otherwise, I feel like the following cards are the best buys at current retail:

Let’s see how well I did when we take a look at Commander 2020 next summer!

This Week’s Trends

Do you even need me to tell you that the Standard market was down this week? Unless you’re a diehard competitive player, you might not even know what’s good in Core Set 2020 Standard at the moment. (Bant Scapeshift and Orzhov Vampires, plus something like five to six other viable decks. It’s actually a pretty sweet format.) People just don’t play a lot of Standard during the dog days of August, which leads to incredibly low prices. I’ll be writing my yearly “summer buying season” article at some point over the next couple of weeks, and we can try to figure out which cards are likely to spike once Throne of Eldraine previews begin.

Things aren’t that much better over in Modern. Once WotC said that they weren’t going to be emergency banning Hogaak ahead of MagicFest Las Vegas, most people sort of checked out on Modern, too. Don’t worry – Hogaak will almost certainly be getting the book when the next B&R announcement drops next week, and we can start looking at Modern again then. For now, though, the market is just kind of stuck in neutral.

There was one piece of great news this week, though. WotC announced their plans for Organized Play in 2020, and the community reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Many people still have some serious questions and concerns, but considering the normal apocalyptic doom-and-gloom that pervades every announcement like this? I was really impressed. Between a solid OP foundation and the Netflix series coming in 2020, I expect another excellent year for Magic finance is right on the horizon. Don’t sell your collections just yet, friends!