Going Infinite – $ay Hello to Commander

Monday, December 6th – The announcement of Wizards to support the Commander (EDH) format is great news for traders and players alike! Jon Medina tells you why.

Wizards of the Coast
made an announcement last week

that has a lot of EDH players excited. The first thing that I noticed about the announcement is that the name was changed from EDH to Commander. I usually like to buck authority and stick it to the man, so my typical response to the name change would be, “Long live EDH, down with the name Commander!” but I’m also OCD, and I’ve never liked the name Elder Dragon Highlander, because I’ve never used a Dragon as an EDH general. I’m happy with the name change and the announcement, which is going to open up a lot of opportunities to gain value.

Death by Dragons

For those who didn’t read the announcement, here’s the basic gist. Wizards is now going to officially support Commander by making Commander preconstructed decks with new Commander-specific cards (check out Death By Dragons) and new Commanders for each previously neglected color wedge. This information may seem innocuous especially if you don’t play Commander, but there’s a lot of opportunity here. Let’s look at some of the specifics of the announcement.

There are 51 unique new cards spread across the five decks (some cards appear in multiple decks). These are real, black-bordered


cards that will be legal in Eternal formats (Vintage and Legacy) as well as casual games the world over.”

In gang vernacular, the acronym TOS means to put a hit out on someone. It stands for
Terminate On Sight.

I’ve adopted the acronym for the world of trading — no it’s not for when I need to take out a competing floor trader; I use a different term for that. I’ve adapted the acronym to mean
Trade On Sight

— it’s the equivalent to a snap-keep. Typically when I go through a binder, I search for deals by asking my partner what he (or she) values different cards at. I pull cards on the TOS list without asking for the value because I’m prepared to trade for them at full value, sometimes more.

These 51 cards from the Commander precons are on my TOS list, and I don’t even know what they are yet. I know that there are going to be Commander players who want these cards but don’t want to buy the whole precon. I plan on buying some of the precons just to get some of these cards in my trade binder. There’s also a possibility that some of these cards may even be playable in Legacy or Vintage (they’re legal in these formats) and naturally that would drive the price of these cards.

Wedge” is a term we use for three-color combinations consisting of an allied pair and their shared enemy. Examples of famous “wedge” cards are Lightning Angel and Doran, the Siege Tower. These combinations have been woefully short-supplied on legendary creatures, so each deck contains the corresponding Planar Chaos Dragon (such as Intet, the Dreamer) as well as two new legendary commanders in those colors, plus oversized foil versions of all three.”

I had to read this part over again. “Plus oversized foil versions of all three.” Oversized foil commanders! These will be crazy popular. It allows pimpers to keep a foil Japanese copy of their commander in case it gets Condemned or Hindered to the bottom of your deck and now have an awesome foil oversized version in English for other players to read. I expect that some people who buy a precon will only use one of the oversized foil commanders, and I’ll be looking to trade for the ones that they’re not using. I’m even buying some of the four-slot pages for my binder so that I can start filling them with foil, oversized commanders.

Most Likely to Succeed: Commander

These precons are going to bring more people into the format, and now is the time to start picking up Commander staples. To be honest, the most profitable time to “start” picking up Commander staples was a year ago, but now is a fine time to start as well. The support Wizards is offering now is the first step before we see sanctioned Commander tournaments; if the format ever does become sanctioned, then a lot of these cards will rise even higher in price.

Before I jump into the list of Commander staples, you should know that the prices can be affected by what’s in the precon. If some of these cards are in the precon, then naturally the cards will go down in price because of the reprint, unless the demand exceeds the supply (which could happen). Also keep in mind that foils of these cards are going to become even more expensive. The Commander culture has adopted the pimping mentality; they like to pimp their decks.* Lastly, because Commander decks are multiple colors, the best staples to stock up on are the staples that aren’t color dependant.

Brittle Effigy — There are a lot of scary monsters roaming the Commander tables. Some of them stop you from playing certain colored spells (Iona, Shield of Emeria), and some have protection from spells (Emrakul, the Aeons Torn). This is a perfect and tutorable (Trinket Mage, Enlightened Tutor) solution to these type of creatures.

Crucible of Wolds — This can be seen as a Commander D-bag card when combined with Strip Mine, but it also can be used as a defensive card. It fits in every deck and enables different engines and play styles.

Lightning Greaves — This is prime way to protect your commander and give it haste; this is particularly important for commanders that tap for powerful effects. It’s one of the few cards that’s a must-include for all commander decks.

Nevinyrral’s Disk and Oblivion Stone — Some colors don’t have ways to deal with certain issues; these answers are perfect additions to Commander decks that are based on colors that don’t have access to mass destruction spells. I often see them in mono-black or mono-red decks.

Sensei’s Divining Top — This combos nicely with Counterbalance, but it also helps you to smooth out your draws through your 100-card deck. This also sees a lot of play in Legacy; it’s a strong investment in general, but I expect the price to slowly rise as Commander gets more popular.

Sol Ring — This is the single most asked for card when it comes to Commander. It goes in every deck. It’s tutorable (Trinket Mage, Enlightened Tutor), and it enables you to power out a quick commander. This still has its Vintage price tag, but it’s sure to go up as more people start playing Commander.

Solemn Simulacrum — This guy has already felt a price bump with the popularity of the format. Commander is all about card advantage, and this guy provides it in spades. Want to see something awesome? Check the price of this in foil Japanese.

Strip Mine — Sometimes you want to mana-screw the guy across from you because he was a d*** in the game before, but sometimes you have to kill a land to keep someone from comboing you out of the game. This is a pretty standard addition to all commander decks. Last year they were trading at $1; now you can trade them at $2 or $3 all day long.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth — This is a great addition for decks with a colorless Commander. It lets utility lands like Maze of Ith tap for colorless. It also combos with cards that care about Swamps; I run it in my Linvala, Keeper of Silence deck with Kormus Bell.

Wasteland — This plays the same role as Strip Mine, but it also happens to be a Legacy staple so this makes the initial investment price high, but it also ensures a steady price increase.

There are many other colored staples in the Commander format; cards like Bribery, Life from the Loam, Burgeoning, and Damnation are very common in most decks, but if I wrote that list out, then I’d be here all month. Instead, we’ll talk about a few power commons and uncommons that may rise in price as more people start to enter the format. Here’s a list.

Crystal Shard — This allows you to keep your opponent off his creatures, but most importantly it allows you to recur old-school Venser or “enters the battlefield” (ETB) creatures.

Krosan Grip — There are a lot of blue mages at the Commander tables, and this ensures you resolve that important removal spell; this easily trades for $1, and the FNM promo goes for $3 or more.

Mirage fetchlands — These are cost-effective replacements for the Onslaught fetchlands. They can fetch a dual land, and they’re fitting in Commander because the format is slower. If you have some boxes of old cards, dig these out, and throw them in your binder. They should score you a buck each.

Rhystic Study — This is so good that it’s banned in some Commander circles. I sold a handful of these to a dealer at GP Nashville for a dollar apiece. You know that a common has teeth in the market when dealers are buying it for a dollar. The foil versions of Rhystic study goes for about $9, which is pretty strong.

Swords to Plowshares — This is a Legacy staple, and it’s a strong removal spell in Commander. These easily trade for four to five dollars at the trade tables. It’s one of the few cards that trades high even with a white border.

Yavimaya Elder — This is great for getting your splash color in your green Commander decks. It also gives a good amount of card advantage for a green card. I’ve traded these for up to $1.5. The foil of this card is exponentially higher than the non-foil version. The foils trade pretty easily for $10.

That’s all I have for today; get out there, and start building that Commander stock. See you next week. Thanks for reading.