I’m operating under the assumption that Commander 2016 will be a series of ally-dual-color decks, which I think we established last week is a very fair assumption and is well supported by logic and evidence. Instead of waiting around for them to confirm, something that may take a pretty long time, I decided to get a jump on the “What’s likely to get reprinted” articles because by the time we know anything about Commander 2016, they’ll be previewing cards and we’ll have to deal with that. Being proactive means we can ship or at least take a second look at stuff likely to be reprinted and use reprint risk to gauge whether we should hold off on certain pickups. This worked pretty well last time and we made a lot of bold predictions like Phyrexian Arena, Urza’s Incubator and Black Market that ended up coming true.
I decided to go back to the wiki article that lays out what they expect the different two-color guilds to be good at because they love the color wheel over at WotC and they’re likely to stick to it. We have evidence of that in Commander 2015 – the Golgari graveyard, Izzet instants/sorceries, Boros beatdown, Simic counters/growth and Orzhov enchantments decks all were predictable just based on looking at the wikipedia article last time around. Let’s try our hand this time around and see if we can’t figure a few things out. Once we can guess what’s in the decks, knowing what isn’t in the decks but could be will tell us where to invest our money.
What We Want to Know
We’re at an advantage this time around. Last time my hypothesis was that they were going to try to do a Wurmcoil-esque card in each deck or at least that they could since it was not their intention to have another True-Name Nemesis scenario where one deck sold much, much better than the others. This time we know approximately the value of cards we expect to be in the deck, roughly how strong to expect the new cards to be and what kind of reprints we saw last time. I’m going to look at whether we can pair up the color combinations and try to look at whether we can (or can’t, more likely, but you never know) glean anything. This is half science half art but we’re just getting a feel for the kind of decks we expect and that can usually gives us some clues about what to buy.
What We Learned Last Time
We can extrapolate roughly how the deck will be composed based on a little analysis of the decks from last time and that’s what we will handle this week. I will go into specific color combinations next time, but this week we will look at what we expect based on the decks from last time. Extrapolating that each deck would have roughly a $15 card in it based on the Wurmcoil in the red Commander 2014 deck wasn’t too bad a guess. We got a few cards like Blade of Selves and Mystic Confluence, but there was value in reprints. Observe.
The reprinting tanked a lot of the prices, some more than we’d expected, but the MSRP was mostly made up of reprints before and the new cards surged to make up the values. We expect the same value flip-flops this time around so we know how much we expect cards to tank. That’s pretty important.
Based on Commander 2015, we know a few things that are likely to be true of Commander 2016 as well.
We’ll Have 3 Commanders
Any of these three cards could be the Commander of the deck. The “main” one listed prominently on the packaging will have the mechanics that are unique or peculiar to this set and there will be a “backup” new commander that fits the theme of the deck and also a reprinted creature that does the same. It would be good to be able to guess the reprint based on what we expect the deck to be. Off the top of my head, I’m expecting Trostani in the Selesnya deck, for example since I expect GW tokens and also expect that Rhys would be too expensive. The reprint commanders from Commander 2015 were Teysa, Melek, Jarad, Gisela and Zegana. Of those, only Gisela was really worth anything and it was included because it needed a reprint and the rest of the deck sucked. There will be no shortage of places to jam value in the GW deck this time around so I don’t expect an expensive reprint.
The Mana Base Will Be Mediocre
The manabases are pretty average. I thought we might see some two-color utility lands like Alchemists’ Refuge and instead we got the uncommon cycle last time and for the most part, the mana bases sucked. One deck got both High Market and Command Beacon making it the most expensive mana base by far but for the most part, there isn’t much to write home about. I don’t expect Commander 2015 to buck this trend. I expect a bounceland, a guildgate, 2 vivids, a Command Tower, a Reliquary Tower in a few decks and a lot of basics. It will be hard to predict if we’ll see something like Command Beacon or Homeward Path but it won’t be hard to predict something like Boseiju is somewhat unlikely, although not out of the question. I expected something like Miren the Moaning Well in Commander 2015 more than I do now, for example. It would still be nice, so let’s not rule anything out.
The Theme Will be Predictable
Last time we predicted the theme would be predictable and now we know for sure. That’s an advantage, although last time I was pretty cocksure and just charged ahead with the assumptions mostly because we couldn’t do much else. Now that we have a lot more reason to be sure, we can be a little ballsier with our predictions.
Last week I guessed at the themes:
- Azorius fliers
- Rakdos hellbent
- Gruul fatty ramp
- Selesnya tokens
- Dimir Unblockability/ninjas/maybe mill?
We could be looking at subthemes on a few of these, though. Azorious, for example, could be a sort of lockdown deck with Lavinia of the tenth as the reprint Commander and whose fliers include Archon of the Triumvirate and Lyev Skyknight. Grand Arbiter Augustin IV could be the reprint commander of a pillowfort deck with fliers in the deck just because that’s sort of what blue/white does. There could be a bird subtheme with Kangee, Aerie Keeper as the reprint. We don’t have to nail it exactly to know that Pride of the Clouds is likely in any of those decks and that Intangible Virtue could have some upside. Getting close on the themes can tell us a lot, and for the decks that don’t have as many options we can already pick out a few individual cards to take a look at.
Some Stuff is Safe
By virtue of the decks being likely to be two-color, there are a lot of cards we can rule out. While being able to rule out tens of thousands of cards looks fairly useless, it becomes a little more useful when you look at certain cards that are going to grow steadily absent a reprinting and which are cards that are somewhat clunky to reprint outside of Commander sealed product.
Look at this $10 beauty that doesn’t belong in a two-color deck. When’s this getting reprinted? If they do 4 color decks next year? Will it be in every deck or just one or two? Could this end up in Conspiracy? There is a lot of uncertainty around this card but there is also some certainty. Is this going to be in Commander 2016? Certainly not. The removal of reprint risk gives it some upside if that fact occurs to people and it could give you some time to get ready to unload yours when we’re more certain a reprint is coming, because a $10 mana rock from a recent set is sort of untenable considering how important this card is and how easy to reprint this somewhere it would be. Being able to rule it out and cards like it means we have some more time to experience some growth before we get wiped out, and this gives you ample time to divest yourself if that’s your aim.
Not All Reprints Are Created Equal
Something happened in Commander 2015 that I hadn’t really taken into account when we guessed at which cards would get reprinted. It seemed fairly obvious that High Market was a great choice for a reprinting. It fit in very well with the Golgari theme and seemed like a shoo-in for that deck. That is why I was very surprised to see High Market in the list for the Simic deck. What gives? I realize it’s not totally off-theme to grow a Simic creature very large by granting it a ton of counters and then sacraficing it for enough life to keep us alive, so I guess it made some sense. I was still a little confused. Why wasn’t it in the Golgari deck? It wasn’t until I checked again that I realized – it was in the Golgari deck. It was in both.
Some of the reprints in Commander 2015 were in multiple decks, which doubles the effect of the new copies on the price. This isn’t always super relevant information because we’re trying to figure out what’s going to get reprinted so we can sell ahead of it or make plans to buy when it bottoms out, but knowing how slowly it is going to recover based on how many copies were injected is useful if we plan to buy back in later. A card like Phyrexian Arena wasn’t going to be in multiple decks. Lightning Greaves? Reliquary Tower? Solemn Simulacrum? More likely, right? We need to remember to calibrate our expectations based on how many decks the cards we expect to be reprinted can be in. High Market taught me it’s not always the most obvious deck, at least it’s not always just the most obvious deck.
The Plan for Next Week
Next week I’ll be diving into the colors specificially, starting with Azorius. I have some ideas about what the deck could look like and what we expect to see reprinted and what we don’t necessarily think will be in the deck and which could see some upside when people want copies later. If you have any specific cards you think might be in an Azorius deck and you want a second opinion about reprint risk or want to bounce ideas about what to do with the cards off of me, hit me up in the comments.
Every time someone builds a new deck, they build a new manabase. There are a few lands that could see some upside based on the time elapsed since anyone thought about them and some additional upside.
Some cycles I kind of like.
These are never getting cheaper. I’m not suggesting drop $500 to buy out TCG Player, but I am saying these should go in almost every two color or three color deck you build and with them costing barely more than a Ravnica bounceland, you’re going to be glad you got this utility in your deck, and if you buy twice as many as you need, you’ll likely end up profiting in the end and getting free land. These have to head up eventually.
I’ll bet you had no idea these were trending up. I didn’t either. Low supply, long time since printing, good utility in a two-color deck – these do everything but tap for true colorless, which sucks, but no land is perfect. With the much better filter lands from Lorwyn overshadowing them, these have just chugged upward, undaunted.
Some cards in this cycle, particularly Underground River, spiked for no reason other than speculation that maybe some weird Eldrazi combination would play these. This can work to our advantage. A lot of these copies are now concentrated in the hands of dealers. If they come down, which I expect now that Eldrazi are significantly attenuated in Modern, they will spike much faster because the effect won’t be attenuated by people discovering cached copies instead of buying them from the relatively small number of retail sites which will have them in stock. Watch these. The ally-colored ones have more printings, they’re good in EDH and people will be looking to off-load them.
I feel like I already wrote a conclusion paragraph and a bonus section doesn’t warrant a second one.