Awesome Magic Reprints In Commander Legends: Battle For Baldur’s Gate

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate is full of important reprints for Commander MTG fans. Sheldon Menery shares his Top 10 and brings in guests to assess Baldur’s Gate’s ranking as a reprint set.

Reflecting Pool
Reflecting Pool, illustrated by Alayna Danner

Missed in the mayhem and constant grind of set releases recently is the fact that Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate is an outstanding set with reprints for Commander.  We’ll get to that full argument a little later, although I’ll tell you my first-pass impression is that it deserves discussion among the best.  First we’ll focus on what I find to be the ten best reprints in the set.  Afterward, we’ll evaluate it against some other sets—and I’ll bring in a little outside help to do so. 

Reprint Sets VS Masters Sets

We’ll have to define what we’re calling a set with reprints here.  For the purposes of this argument, it’s any Magic set or large product—like group of Commander decks or even a Core Set—which has both new cards and reprinted ones.  It’s not a Masters set, which is nothing but reprints; I figured that, for the purposes of this discussion, a set that was 100% reprints would clearly win, since there are just so many more of them.  What I want to talk about are the sets and products in which reprints are a secondary feature.

The additional factor there is that Masters sets have cards cultivated for synergy with the set in the bigger picture.  Most of the contenders are going to be Commander sets in which many of the cards are there by virtue of the fact that they fit into the corresponding decks.  While that can sometimes give us some cool choices, they’re not going to be as splashy as the cards in a Masters set.  Masters sets aren’t card price-limited the way preconstructed decks are, meaning they can print absolute bombs in them.  Product with preconstructed decks need to toe a more conservative line; you don’t want to upset the economy by making them worth more than they cost (since the cards then tend to fall into the hands of the speculators instead of the players, or simply price out the folks who just want to put the cards in their decks).    

The Criteria

I’ll confess to going in thinking that either Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate or the original Commander Legends would come out on top here because they’re larger in raw numbers than other choices.  That said, I’m open to the idea that there are other products that might beat them on out because of better density of cards for Commander. 

The criteria I use will be a little subjective, a little objective.  The primary thing is that we’re getting more copies of fun and interesting cards into the hands of Commander players.  A card jumps up the list a little bit the fewer reprints that it’s had.  It also jumps up if the card’s price point has stayed high, regardless of being previously reprinted or not.  Then there’s just the fun factor: this is a cool card to give to Commander players and they might not have previously known about it. 

Honorable Mention

Desolate Lighthouse Disrupt Decorum Domineering Will Extract from Darkness Hunted Horror Memory Plunder Midnight Clock Nature's Lore Sandwurm Convergence Urabrask the Hidden

10. Plague Spitter

Plague Spitter

I have a particular fondness for cards that have never been reprinted before (I’m not counting the gold-bordered stuff here) and Plague Spitter qualifies.  Back in the olden days, we’d give Plague Spitter lifelink for some major profit.  You can also see how it’s a battlefield sweeper by giving it deathtouch.  Being able to grab a more affordable foil copy will mean an even better chance of riding the nostalgia train and dropping it into a deck.

9. Selfless Spirit

Selfless Spirit

Battlefield sweepers are common in Commander, so we like to have ways to protect our teams.  Selfless Spirit follows on from the tradition of Dauntless Escort (which happens to have gotten a rare reprint in Double Masters 2022).  It seems like Eldritch Moon wasn’t that many sets ago, but six years have passed since we saw Selfless Spirit’s original printing.  It was the right time.

8. Magus of the Balance

Magus of the Balance

Printed only once, in Commander 2018, Magus of the Balance provides players with a glimpse of the power of the other card from whence it derives its name.  Although it’s never been a particularly expensive card, I think folks might be underrating it a little.  Hopefully this reprint makes them reconsider its value.

7. Mother of Runes

Mother of Runes

A card that has seen a number of reprints over the years, Mother of Runes is about nostalgia combined with a card that’ll do lots of work.  Its presence means that someone is going to need to work extra hard to use targeted removal on our best creatures.  While they’ve chosen to go with the card’s original artwork for this set, the Secret Lair version by Magali Villeneuve is quite something. 

6. Kindred Discovery

Kindred Discovery

It’s nice when a card whose price has crept up gets a reprint.  It’s even nicer when we can get a foil or special treatment version now (the card was printed in Commander 2017).  In fact, I’d pick “wasn’t previously available in foil” as my top single criterion for highly rating a reprint.  The card itself does work.  Sure, you have to play a tribal deck in blue, but after that, it’s all upside.  One of my favorite thing about the card triggering on attacking is that a creature sent into combat for a mission intended on trading creatures will get replaced, making our combat better than a simple one-for-one. 

5. Geode Rager

Geode Rager

Rightly expensive to cast at six mana, if Geode Rager survives, it will do loads of heavy lifting in preserving our life total.  Weirdly, although goad is meant to be an aggression-based mechanic, I most often think of it in defensive capabilities—both in not getting attacked and in there eventually being fewer opponents’ creatures on the battlefield on subsequent turns.

4. Dissipation Field

Dissipation Field

We’ve waited twelve years for a Dissipation Field reprint, although its relatively low price has kept it available to most players all along.  This is another one where I hope the reprint inspires more players to pick up a copy and give it a whirl.  Note that it doesn’t just bounce creatures that damage us in combat, but any permanent—so get out of here, Staff of Nin!

3. Greater Gargadon

Greater Gargadon

Not only one of my favorite reprints in this set, but one of my favorite cards of all time.  It’s been a mainstay in my Kresh Into the Red Zone deck since it came out in Time SpiralIt provides a zero-mana sacrifice outlet for all the things I might do in that Kresh, the Bloodbraided deck or just keep folks from stealing our stuff.  It can also be part of the road to recovery after a battlefield sweeper.  Just sacrifice whatever is getting wiped out down until there’s only one time counter on Greater Gargadon.  During our next upkeep, we’ll have a hasty 9/7 ready to battle. 

2. Dross Harvester

Dross Harvester

Speaking of waiting a long time, I’ve played a fair amount of Dross Harvester over the years.  It’s been in my Altar of Thraximundar deck since I initially put together the deck (and it was one of my first five decks); it’s also in the relatively new Karazikar Goad is GOAT.  Folks always want to read the card and mention they’ve never heard of it.  Losing four life at the beginning of our end step is nothing compared to all the life we’ll gain, especially when there’s plenty of creature attrition going on.  I like the card because it’s not something most folks would consider playing, until they see it in action and want to give it a whirl themselves.

1. Jeska’s Will

Jeska's Will

There’s no doubt that Jeska’s Will is the class of this class.  Whether we’re capable of casting both modes or only one of them, it’s a card we’re always going to be happy to see.  It’s strong without being able to run away with the game by itself.  Instead, it’s a valuable cog in the machine.  Although we have to be a little careful with mana-positive cards, Jeska’s Will has enough of a self-limitation (the size of the opponent’s hand) that it’s not problematic. 

Where’s Hullbreaker Horror?

Hullbreaker Horror

Some folks will no doubt notice that I didn’t mention Hullbreaker Horror in my Top 10.  It’s a strong card.  It’s very good in Commander and at a certain power level is a completely reasonable card.  Even though I got very excited about it in my Innistrad: Crimson Vow set review, that excitement has dampened a bit.  I see that the play patterns it leads to might be something that folks in the broader format aren’t all that excited about.  At least it can’t hit lands, so it’s a safer version of Tidespout Tyrant.  My reservations aside, it’s a card worth mentioning when talking about the set’s strength relative to other sets with reprints them.  If we were talking about raw power, it’d probably be number four or so on my list.

The other thing I want to mention about the set is the collection of good lands.  From the Battlebond lands like Beautiful Promenade to utility lands like Vault of the Archangel to Alayna Danner’s brilliant rendition of Reflecting Pool, the set is chock-full of lands that both raise our interest and the set’s stock. 

Is Baldur’s Gate a Reprint All-Timer?

The bigger question is where Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate sits in the reprint pantheon.  To help answer that question, I brought in a few friends for some research and discussion on other sets.  One is Callahan Jones, who you might also know as Cal from Playing with Power.  The other is a team of two mods and big thinkers from the Commander RC Discord server, Carson Masse (cmassive) and David Battel, known as daedalus on the server.  They put together a few words and ideas for us. 

Cal’s Take

First, here’s what Cal had to say.

Unsurprisingly, many of the sets with the best Commander-focused reprints are found long after the first Commander preconstructed decks were released in 2011. Most notable sets I found came after 2013, with Magic 2021, Commander 2020, and Commander Legends standing out from among many non-Masters options. But first, an honorable mention.

Strixhaven: Mystical Archive offers a unique opportunity to easily open up impactful, awesome-looking noncreature spells alongside your standard legal cards. Some of the most impactful reprints, many for the first time, included:

Then there were some less expensive, but no less impactful choices:

Core Set 2021 was a relatively unassuming set upon announcement, as all Core Sets are. However, this one brought with it many special surprises, including both the first of many beautiful borderless printings for many social Commander all-stars alongside their normal treatments. Since Core Sets can be so flexible in the cards they include, printing classic Commander cards just makes sense here. Some of the most important cards included:

  • The first reprint of Heroic Intervention, a go-wide all star that had become hard to obtain. This reprint more than cut the price in half.
  • The first reprint of Massacre Wurm, a popular battlefield wipe and win condition in one which caused the price to drop from $18 to $5.
  • Azusa, Lost but Seeking’s second reprint and its first reprint in a non-Masters set, allowing the price to drop from $30 to $10 nearly overnight.
  • Grim Tutor, albeit in a weird on power level spot, reprinted for the first time, dropping the price from $200 to $15!

Beyond these cards that were harder to obtain, there were also a great range of classically playable Commander cards present in the set that it would be great to crack in a pack (especially in the new extended art treatment) which included:

Commander 2020 brought with it some excellent Strixhaven-themed fun alongside a range of incredible reprints. Besides the obviously and perennially important additions such as Sol Ring, Arcane Signet, and friends which are in just about every precon deck, we also got some true heaters:

Commander 2020 boasts some of the more powerful and well-built of the preconstructed decks, bringing with them a great range of playable cards right out of the box alongside those notable reprints. Picking these up would be a great thing for any player.

Easily the most important set in Commander history was Commander Legends. It had bundles of incredible reprints. The fun started with Arcane Signet’s first major reprint at uncommon, finally making this valuable rock accessible to many players. The fun continued from there:

Add to this all the Signets and commanders with partner, and the list of historical playable cards that was in every pack of Commander Legends created a way to easily expand your Magic: The Gathering collection with very little effort.

Cal makes a compelling case.  I’m already sold on the fact that the density of cards which players like is excellent in Commander Legends.  The impact seems to have been to drop prices on lots of cards which players wanted for their decks—and could now afford additional copies for the new decks they built.  Some of the big hitters, like Mana Drain and Vampiric Tutor, are there as well, pushing the set to the top of the list for the moment. 

Now let’s see what cmassive and daedalus have to say.

Carson and David’s Take

When considering the best reprint set of all time, several contenders come to mind. It feels natural to start with preconstructed decks.  There, Commander 2014 and Commander 2016 stand tall.

The former was notable for reprinting essentially every mono-colored commander staple in a single set of decks: 

There were these individual cards as well as a solid balance between well-loved themes like Mono-Green Elves and (at the time) novel themes like Mono-Red Artifacts.

Meanwhile, Commander 2016 went in the other direction, with four-color themes that managed to achieve a solid balance between high reprint value and playability. Even ignoring the exciting new mechanics like partner, each list was packed full of splashy, powerful, and expensive good-stuff reprints like:

What about the best draftable reprint sets for Commander? Here, again, Commander-centric sets loom tall. Magic 2021 was released during 2020, the official “Year of Commander.” It wasted no time reprinting lots of spicy commander staples: even beyond the big money card Grim Tutor, Commander players might open any of the following (not to mention the shiny, new treatments):

Moving to supplemental products, Battlebond offered a unique multiplayer experience and plenty of powerful reprints to serve that theme. With Diabolic Intent finally earning a proper reprint after seventeen years, not to mention Seedborn Muse, Doubling Season, Land Tax, Greater Good, Mycosynth Lattice, Mystic Confluence (originally from Commander 2014!) and True-Name Nemesis, it was a good time to be opening packs. And what’s more, players no longer needed to sell their kidneys to afford a foil Skyshroud Claim

That said, not even Battlebond could compare to the first Commander Legends. The list of reprints is long.

The list also includes every single partner printed to date – most of which were $50+ before this set. No matter what archetype you prefer, or which commander is your pride and joy, Commander Legends had several great reprints to excite you in every pack.  It’s a clear winner.

Carson and daedalus lay out an argument similar to Cal’s and it’s difficult to refute either of them.  The sheer density of high-quality cards puts it head and shoulders above the rest.  That’s even before we look at the number of really splashy cards that were included.  It’s easy to form the consensus that Commander Legends rules when it comes to reprint sets for Commander.

Sheldon’s Rating

As far as Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate goes, I rate it fourth behind Commander Legends, Strixhaven, and Battlebond.  While it has some cool stuff and cards that I’m happy to get into the hands of Commander players (the lands really pushing it upward), it doesn’t quite have the same punch at the high end as the best sets of all time.  There’s still plenty in the set worth picking up, especially since their printing in this set has made them even more affordable.

Remember, we have a channel on the Commander RC Discord server dedicated to discussing my articles.  If you think we’ve overlooked a particular set’s reprint value, drop on by the channel and let us know what you think.  We’re always up for a lively discussion. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my Signature Decks, the Chromatic Project, and more!