By: Cliff Daigle
It’s here! It’s here! I’m terribly excited to say that a week from today, Commander 2014 is for sale.
These decks are going to retail for $35, and will likely sell out in the initial wave. These decks are mono-colored, and that makes three sets now in which Wizards hasn’t given us the four-color legends that Commander diehards have been waiting for.
Mono-color is a wrinkle, but there’s some bigger issues to talk about.
First of all, the Planeswalkers. Each deck has a Planeswalker commander. These cards explicitly say “This can be your Commander.” How long until that text is present on other cards? It’s design space that has been toyed with before casually. I’ve seen games played this way, and depending on the ‘walker used, it can be a big deal or not a big deal. Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker is not a big deal since it’s an 8-drop, Jace Beleren was pretty damn annoying over and over. I’ve also seen a Genju of the Realm deck, and that was actually pretty cool.
Lieutenant is a mechanic that I love love love love. I have decks that focus on the commander, and decks that sort of care, and decks which don’t need it at all.
Before I talk about specific cards, I want to reiterate some points about C14’s financial outlook:
- The upper limit is about $40, barring something truly amazing. True-Name Nemesis is the outlier, and even its price has gotten to a reasonable level. There might be some cards that are crazy-hot immediately, and you should sell into that immediate hype.
- The prices of all the C14 cards will drop over time. Wizards has no interest in having these boxes be hoarded and saved and chased. These are wide-release, casual-targeted printings and Wizards showed us last year that they will print more and more to meet need.
- These five decks are being released during the time that holiday gifts are given. This is also taking place right before Fate Reforged. How many dollars can you spare for Magic?
- I do not think that keeping sealed product is going to be a winning play. The 2011 Commander products had a much smaller print run and a smaller player base. It’s true that Heavenly Inferno sealed goes for four to five times its retail price, but the cards inside it are worth about half that…if you can find someone to give you full retail for Mana-Charged Dragon and its kin. If you’re looking for long-term (and in this case, several years!) investments, pick less-bulky singles over sealed boxes.
- Here’s a dirty little secret: For a lot of people, buying the decks will not make sense. If you’re into building and rebuilding decks, then go ahead and buy the decks. But just as I did last year, I’m going to be selectively getting singles, either through purchase or trade. Keep in mind that only fifteen cards per deck are going to be new–everything else has been printed before.
- Speaking of reprints: Expect that there will be some sort of foil promo of some of these cards within a year or two. Commander’s Arsenal was a one-time thing, they say, but FTV: Legends 2 is probably not far off, plus judge foils, plus special promos (Force of Will, judge lands, PTQ Liliana), etc. When those foils land, it will depress the price of the nonfoils.
With all these things in mind, let’s look at some of the spoiled cards. I’m going to make some predictions. Remember, nearly everything is going to go down in price, except for one or two that tick upward.
Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury – I love everything about this card. I love that it makes mana dorks. I love repeated Naturalize. I love an ultimate that just grants gas, especially now that you’ve made some green creatures that tap for mana! I also appreciate the subtlety of her starting at an odd loyalty and all of her abilities being even. She will always have a leftover point, or you can’t do her thing.
February 1st: $15
Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath – Well, I thought this would be Leshrac, but here we are. The plus ability is great for reminding people that you need to die, and the minus helps you return such favors. The ultimate is interesting, but the card draw is far more relevant than the gained life. Remember that you’re unlikely to sacrifice the biggest creatures, you’re just attacking with them!
This is another odd-starting, abilities-are-all-even loyalty planeswalker.
February 1st: $12
Teferi, Temporal Adept – The first card spoiled, people have had a long time to think about him in their decks. I doubt he’ll actually see much Legacy play, but most people with a ‘superfriends’ deck will want this. The issue for me is that with Teferi being the early spoiled card, it made us think we were getting lots of iconic characters from the past…and then we didn’t.
February 1st: $10
Daretti, Scrap Savant – We get a goblin planeswalker, perfect for red’s subtheme of “I love to build and I love to break!” Sure, it’s Goblin Welder for free, but it’s really unexciting as a card. Nothing on this card gets you ahead, it’s all even exchanges.
February 1st: $5
Nahiri, the Lithomancer – For me, this is the biggest miss of the set. This should be Serra. This should be an angel-oriented planeswalker like Nissa Revane is for the elves. I’m hoping they were just saving her for the next time they do this…in a few years. Alas. I honestly see Nahiri as an excellent tool in a Kemba, Kha Regent deck. As a commander, getting just one token a turn is kind of sad. An ultimate this this is awesome for the unique flavor, but I’m too hung up on what could have been.
February 1st: $10
Jazal Goldmane – 4/4 first striker for 2WW is some outstanding base stats. The ‘attack with a bunch of creatures and pump them all up’ is awesome too, but it’s very much a ‘win more’ card.
February 1st: $4
Gravesifter – While it’s fun to get a lot of creatures back, in most games, this isn’t going to do as much as you want.
February 1st: $1
Dualcaster Mage – So far, this is my pick to be the riser, the Legacy breakout card. Key to this card is that it answers counterspells, as well as copying anything worth copying and leaving behind a 2/2 body. I can see this getting play in Delver decks as well as burn decks. Can you imagine this in Delver decks running Treasure Cruise? 1RRU: Draw six cards. Put a 2/2 into play. Another fun interaction is how you can copy their spell, let the copy resolve, and then counter the original. There’s a lot to do here, and I think the price will reflect it.
February 1: $30
Myriad Landscape – A neat mana accelerator, built into your lands. Certainly an upgrade over Terminal Moraine.
February 1: $1
Reef Worm – I don’t know how many of you played with Mitotic Slime way back in Magic 2011. It was fun to be so resistant to sweepers, and especially so with something like Parallel Lives or Doubling Season. This is just a fun design, and one that players will want.
February 1: $5
Angelic Field Marshal – Love it lots, as a 5/5 vigilance flying when your commander is out. It’s a fun addition but it’s not going to break the format.
February 1: $3
Feldon of the Third Path – The Brothers’ War is one of the best magic novels. You might also enjoy The Thran. It is a true delight to old people like me to see Feldon get his own card, and it is a very strong card. Reread the card–the creature you targeted does not get exiled. All that happens is that you can re-target it again. You can do this as an instant. Add some method of untapping if you want real shenanigans (Add Prophet of Kruphix in a Temur shell, perhaps) or whatever crazy combo you want. This is going to have some long-term growth potential.
February 1: $7
Stitcher Geralf – Speaking of shenanigans, I love what this offers. Specifically, you can mill out Eldrazi or Blightsteel Colossus with this. Their abilities are triggered when they hit the graveyard, but Geralf’s ability has to finish before those triggers go on the stack. You will indeed be exiling their mega-threat and putting one into play of your own. Sneaky-good.
February 1: $4
Ghoulcaller Gisa – I’m trying to decide if she’s good enough to go into my tribal Zombie deck. She’s flavorful, and powerful, and the ‘dark bride’ art is fantastic. I’ll likely add her to most Black decks.
February 1: $8
More previews and more cards are being revealed daily. I’m going to stop here, and next week I’ll have some thoughts on the rest. See you then!
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