Commander 2019 Themes and Speculation

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Yes, we’re going to have a fall set named Thrones of Eldraine, and apparently, all the Faeries cards in existence are getting bought up. That’s the most recent news.

Two days before that, though, we got word via a product information page that the four decks will focus on mechanics, rather than tribes. That product information page has been changed, so this is unofficial, and I’m keeping that in mind as I think about what I want to buy in anticipation.

The mechanics are flashback, madness, populate, and madness. We don’t know the colors of each, which is a shame, but a little work with Scryfall and we can see where the most likely color overlaps are and go from there. 

In a way, I’m really glad that Eldraine was previewed right now (instead of the plan on Saturday) because now most people are caught up on Faeries and the Commander themes aren’t as obvious now.

One caveat about my method: I’m going for the number of cards that actually have the mechanic, not popular enablers. (e.g. Burning Vengeance, one of the best reasons to be on Flashback cards, won’t be on this count) 


MadnessPopulateFlashbackMorph
White251628
Blue702452
Black2402027
Red1603029
Green222436
Multicolor1 (BR)6 (all GW)07 + 4 colorless

By these numbers, it looks like BR Madness, GW Populate, RUG Flashback, and UG Morph.

Wizards isn’t confined by this data when it comes to Commander. In fact, this probably isn’t right at all, because black is only represented once. Flashback and Morph have a significant presence in all five colors, so I fully expect something wacky there. It’s been a while since we got four-colors, and maybe we’re getting new Partner commanders? We will find out soon, but even with this basic data, there’s a few picks I’m making.

Foil Avacyn’s Judgment ($0.50): Because Madness requires a setup card (some way to discard it on demand)  you’re almost always operating from behind. You really, really want some way to make up for what you’re losing, and this is one of the best X-for-1 cards out there. This feels like an excellent card to be included in the deck itself, which means I want to have some foils at my disposal.

Foil Welcome to the Fold ($1): Also at about $1, supply is a bit shallower on this one which means it’s more likely to go up. All the reasons from Avacyn’s Judgment apply here, though there’s less chance of Blue being in the Madness deck. Lower supply does mean that people have bought more of this over the years, and it’s not hard to see why. Drawback is that this card is awful when not done for its madness cost.

Foil From Under the Floorboards ($0.50): Completing the cycle here is another sub-$1 foil, and this is a backbreaker of a card if you can do it at instant speed, then it’s your turn and you untap. A shame that you can’t ambush blockers, but it’s still very good and at this price, very low risk.

Foil Dralnu, Lich Lord ($10): As of this writing, there’s no NM foils available on TCG, and only 30 foils overall. Supply on a Time Spiral foil rare was never really extensive, but EDHREC shows this as a pretty unpopular card. I’m leery of it too, but when the decks are spoiled, and the Flashback deck is at least Dimir colors, this will go up just because it has the word on it. It’ll come back down in price pretty quick as people realize the inherent drawbacks, but I’m just trying to keep you ahead of the trend.

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Mind over Matter ($20): This is easy money. First of all, it’s a Reserved List card, so it’s pretty unlikely to go down in value. Second, it’s a combo enabler all over the place. It’s an instant kill with Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, and there’s a bunch of creatures that let you draw your whole deck with this out. Third, it’s awesome for Madness (because you discard) and Flashback (because you discard) at instant speed with zero mana invested. Just a little attention and this will go through the roof. Doubling up seems like a safe bet, but it might go all the way to $60 depending on the Commanders and cards that get revealed.

Foil Deathmist Raptor ($4): There aren’t a lot of value engines in a Morph deck, but a lot of them are in green. It’s nigh impossible not to get this back over and over again, and while we don’t know for sure what the colors are for the decks, this is a mythic from a smaller-run set and is unlikely to lose value over time. If the morph deck has green, this will jump to $10, perhaps $15, and you want to be able to sell into that hype.

Foil Ixidron (Now about $20): This was a lot less a week ago. Don’t buy into it now. It’s got a long history of being one of the most annoying cards at the Commander table, since it turns off almost every other creature. If the Morph deck is blue, this will be in the deck but there’s no profit to be made buying in at $20. 

Foil Mischievous Quanar ($6): This hasn’t spiked yet, and that’s good for us. It requires a ton of mana but it’s a reusable effect and is a lot of fun. This is an old-border foil, supply is low, and it’s already in the Commander decks that want to do the copying thing.

Foil Obscuring Aether ($0.75): If you think the Morph deck is green, this is a great pickup. Three mana for a 2/2 always feels a little bad, and this enables turn two Morph plays. 

Foil Weaver of Lies ($2): the buyout has begun on this card, but if you get in soon, you’ll find some NM foils still around. Again, this presumes the deck is blue, but there’s not a lot of ways to turn creatures face down and re-use their abilities.

Foil Mastery of the Unseen ($1): It’s white, but manifest and morph play well together.

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Foil Secret Plans ($0.50): If you’re willing to bet on UG in the Morph deck, there’s nothing you want more. I’m not comfortable going that far, but this is going to hit $5 if the Commander is the right colors.

Foil Olivia, Mobilized for War ($5): BR seems like a pretty safe bet for the Madness deck, and Olivia v.2 gives a pretty great way to discard for value. Note that it’s any creature coming into play, so a token will trigger her ability. 

Pack Rat ($2/$5): I’m in on the foil if you can, but if this isn’t in the Madness deck it’s going to pop. There’s generations of players who don’t know how absurd this card is, and perhaps it’s your turn to show them.

Skirge Familiar ($3): There’s no foils of this available, and the cost is pretty high at five mana. This enables a few different combos, and is a potential reprint in the Commander deck, but I will keep a close eye on this. 

Tortured Existence ($1.50): If you’ve never seen this card loop things you hate to see looped, well, you’re in for it now. The problem is that if it’s reprinted, there’s no foils of this. Also, it requires the madness card to be a creature card. I wouldn’t get a ton, given those constraints.

Foil Altar of the Lost ($0.35): No matter the colors of the deck, this will see consideration if the deck is this focused. Plus it’s super cheap, a trait that always makes me feel better about a spec.

Foil Increasing Confusion ($3): This is already three bucks because people love mill strategies, and this is a neat flashback card too. Increasing Ambition is too costly for my taste, and the rest of the cycle is underpowered. 

Foil Metallurgic Summonings ($5): If the flashback deck is spells-based, as seems likely, this is one of the best ways to get amazing value from spells you’re playing. Note it cards about converted mana cost, not what you paid, so Lingering Souls when flashed back would get you a 3/3.

Foil Secrets of the Dead ($5): This is already a $5 foil because there’s a lot of ways to enable it, and it’s a very strong candidate to be in a Flashback-based deck. I expect the foil to double, and if the card isn’t in the set, the nonfoil will go from fifty cents up to a couple dollars.

Foil Budoka Gardener ($8): Populate makes one copy of a token. I won’t be shocked to see a spell that has multiple instances of Populate on it, but we want to have big creature tokens for it to copy. This card is absurd early and late, and if it isn’t in the deck, the nonfoil could pop a bit too.

Foil Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter ($1.50): Again, she’s good early and late, and I mostly prefer for the X/X tokens to be static rather than constantly changing. (e.g. Voice of Resurgence’s token)

FTV: Lore Phyrexian Processor ($2): Yes, it’s ugly FTV foiling but this is the only foil version available. There’s a lot of risk in a card like this (Unless you’re clever and have Trostani or Angelic Chorus out) but if you’re looking for big tokens, this’ll get you there.

Foil Wurmcalling ($2): Finally, a card near and dear to my own heart. It’s overcosted as compared to other X-sized token spells like the one-shot Slime Molding, but it’s repeatable and requires a counterspell to be dealt with permanently. 

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.

MTGPrice helps keep you at the top of your game with our daily card price index, fast movers lists, weekly articles by the best MTGFinance minds in the business, the MTGFastFinance podcast co-hosted by James Chillcott & Travis Allen, as well as the Pro Trader Discord channels, where all the action goes down. Find out more.

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4 thoughts on “Commander 2019 Themes and Speculation”

  1. Another really great article.

    I’m personally wary of speccing too hard on the Commander announcement. As we’ve seen in the past, the Commander decks can be either loosely based around their themes or work hard at making the themes work in unusual ways.

    I would err on the side of picking up enablers for the mechanics rather than cards with the mechanics themselves. Which is what you’ve done here. Oviya Pashri is a great call for Populate and Metallurgic Summoning is pretty inspired for the Flashback theme.

    Keep’em coming Cliff!

    1. I thought about adding that but it’s already started to go up, and I was already at 1500 words to boot.

      Excellent point though, as an established morph cost of 2U is pretty great.

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