Welcome to my buyer’s guide to Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate!
This set did not shape up to be that exciting, from a financial perspective. That isn’t to say that the cards are bad! It’s just that many of the cards in this set are so niche to certain formats or strategies that they won’t see widespread demand. I’ll go over the truths about this set from a macro perspective, and then go over specific cards that are worth keeping your eyes on from a micro perspective.
The Broader Background
Right now we’re seeing the start of a global recession. Cryptocurrencies are plummeting, tech stocks are taking a dive, and inflation is up across the board. This is not just limited to the United States – this is happening in most countries of the world right now!
When inflation rises and everything else takes a dip, the first things to go are luxuries. Magic has proven to be extremely resilient against bear economies, but there has started to be a slowdown on price. The demand on the game is there, but people are tending more towards the cards they absolutely need. That means less demand for singles, which in turn means lower prices overall.
Commander is the format that drives the most demand for Constructed MTG. Even then, the cards that get played in multiple decks usually demand the highest prices, not cards specific to one strategy. You’re more likely to see a value hold on, say, Eternal Witness (which can port into most green decks) than a high-powered green commander (which can only really be used as the commander in one specific deck).
Backgrounds are even more extreme in this regard. These cards just plain aren’t playable outside the Commander format. In addition, Backgrounds are getting extra pack space in set boosters. This means that they will flood the market and have extraordinarily niche demand. It would shock me if any Background from this set had a value beyond bulk for ten-plus years past print.
Reprints and Alternates
Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate also has no marquee reprints. Several previously mid-dollar ($10-$30) cards received reprints in this set. These include the Battlebond dual lands, Kindred Discovery, and Blade of Selves. People were half-expecting Dockside Extortionist. They were also hoping that higher-dollar ($50+) cards would be in this set, like the price on Mana Drain and Vampiric Tutor from the first Commander Legends set.
The alternate card frames in this set are ones that weren’t very well received from the majority of players – the Dungeons & Dragons Rulebook frame. Between that being the showcase frame treatment, and the lack of extra variants of each card, most of the variant versions of cards in this set will not have the usual bump in demand that these cards see.
Judging from the ratio of etched foil cards appearing in Set and Collector boosters, these cards will be as common as, if not more so than, the regular foil versions of these cards! There will be no truly scarce etched foil card in this set. I wouldn’t value them higher than I would any other foil version of the card.
I don’t believe a lot of Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate will be opened in the ensuing months. There are only a couple of cards that have sell-through demand, so vendors will be well-stocked and trying to sell off all the remaining cards from the set. We’ve seen sets perform like this before, and it means that the price of maybe three cards in the set will continue to go up in price, while the prices on all the remaining cards go further and further down. This will be a boom-or-bust set, and one that will have a lot of variance in value during pack opening.
In short, there are maybe a dozen cards in this set worth talking about. If it’s not listed in this article, expect that I feel whatever card it is goes down in price continuously for the month following release.
Three Classic Commons
Let’s start off by singling out three commons: Deadly Dispute, Lightning Bolt and Nature’s Lore. All three sell for $2+ for other editions. This is the second reprint of Nature’s Lore recently, and the first reprint ever for Deadly Dispute. All three are staples, and all three are going to be extremely short-opened due to pack contents.
Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has shifted pack production away from Draft Booster packs and towards Set Booster packs. The majority of vendors who open packs for singles tend towards Set Booster packs as well. While Draft Booster packs usually have ten common cards (Baldur’s Gate has thirteen), Set Booster packs usually top off at four.
Usual sets have 101 commons, and Baldur’s Gate hits a higher mark at 141. Normal Set Booster boxes have 30 packs; Baldur’s Gate has only eighteen. So typically, you’d see 90 out of every 101 commons mathematically in a Set Booster box. With a Baldur’s Gate box, you’re only seeing 54 out of 141. Even if you correct for box size, 90 out of 101 is greater than 90/141. In conclusion, commons from this set will be opened at far lower frequency than we’re used to seeing out of a Standard set release.
Ancient Dragon Variants
The variant versions of these five cards in specific are the rarest cards in the set, due to this cycle being the only cards in Baldur’s Gate that have two non-foil variant treatments. I believe that Ancient Copper Dragon, Ancient Gold Dragon, and Ancient Silver Dragon will all stay above the $10 mark, while the other two will drop.
The Chase Card
White has made quite a huge push in Commander the past few months, and Archivist of Oghma is white’s turn to have a Hullbreacher / Opposition Agent. Given the price history of white Commander staples (see: Archaeomancer’s Map, Smuggler’s Share, Smothering Tithe, etc.), I think Archivist will hit a minimum of $30. The demand is there, and there won’t be many packs opened of this set post-release!
Other Notable Cards
Lae’zel, Vlaakith’s Champion is Hardened Scales on a reasonably sized body. The last time we saw this translation of a unique and popular effect, it was The Ozolith becoming Resourceful Defense. This is one of the few cards in the set I think is currently being undervalued, and among the few midrange cards I’m picking to go up in price.
Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes are a formidable planeswalker! They slot well into any deck that can play Gruul colors, and act as a self-recurring card drawing engine. There is even some talk of Minsc & Boo seeing fringe Legacy play, so we’re looking at one of the few cards in this set that has implications in a one-on-one format.
There are countless three-mana artifacts for Commander players to choose from. Vexing Puzzlebox ranks among the best of them, and the only one printed at mythic rare. While you won’t often get to tutor for an artifact, the effect is undeniably powerful. It also combos well with any deck that cares about moving counters, as with Power Conduit, or specifically the ability to instantly win the game if you can move counters over to Darksteel Reactor.
Wrathful Red Dragon is the Dragon deck’s answer to Blasphemous Act. This is an effect that a specific tribal deck really needed to compete with damage-based Wrath effects. It’s aggressively priced, all upside, and in the right color. It’ll see play outside of Dragon decks as well, but really shines in that particular tribe’s deck for obvious reasons.
One Last Surprise
And that’s it! I think every other card in the set, including Reflecting Pool; Tasha, the Witch Queen; and the Sea of Clouds cycle to go down or remain stagnant from where they are now – with most going down. My advice for this set, more than any other recently, is to buy singles and avoid opening sealed product unless you’re using it to draft.
The big winner I saw from this set, and it’s a card I haven’t seen many other people discussing yet, is Scion of the Ur-Dragon. This card peaked to the $20 range before its reprinting in Commander 2017, but hasn’t seen a reprint since. Given that it needs to appear in a reprint product that supports a five-color creature (ruling out most Commander products), it’s unlikely to get a reprint anytime soon. It still sits at $10, but the five Ancient Dragons from this set have given that commander (and deck) fantastic tools to pitch to the Scion.
See you next week for the Buyer’s Guide to the Commander decks of Battle of Baldur’s Gate!