Welcome to the second part of my financial set review for Commander 2018! If you missed the first part of my review, where I covered all the cards from Nature's Vengeance and Adaptive Enchantment, you can find that here .
Before we get back into the cards, let's take another look at our rules for Commander pre-constructed deck speculation. Here they are:
- Try to find the breakout card that people are going to want to build around. There might not be an Atraxa, Praetor's Voice in Commander 2018, but if there is, we need to know about it ASAP.
- Pay special attention to the artifacts and mono-colored multi-deck staples. If a card is going to be good in loads of different Commander decks, demand is going to start outstripping supply really quickly.
- Look for cards that are proactively good in the most popular Commander archetypes. Anything having to do with counters is a slam-dunk.
- Ignore narrow support cards. Kestia, the Cultivator is only good in a deck with a bunch of other Bant-colored enchantments, and anyone who wants to build a Bant enchantment deck is just going to buy the entire box set. So who are you planning to sell your spec copies to?
Onto our final two decks!
Non-Bulk Rare Reprints:
- Blasphemous Act - $2.99
- Unwinding Clock - $2.99
- Sol Ring - $2.99
- Mimic Vat - $2.49
- Soul of New Phyrexia - $1.99
- Duplicant - $1.99
- Chaos Warp - $1.49
- Mirrorworks - $1.49
- Swiftfoot Boots - $1.49
- Seat of the Synod - $1.49
- Great Furnace - $1.49
- Commander's Sphere - $1.25
There aren't any high-end reprints in this deck, but Exquisite Invention gives us a deep bench of solid casual cards. Mimic Vat has needed a second printing for a while now, and Duplicant is one of those cards that's always worth having a few extra copies of. Blasphemous Act needed this reprint as well and Exquisite Invention should help keep that card in the $2-$3 range long term.
New Cards in Exquisite Invention:
Saheeli, the Gifted - $9.99
Saheeli, the Gifted might be the most powerful of the four new planeswalker commanders, and I suspect that she'll have the most long-term value. I'm excited to run her with a bunch of expensive colorless cards like Darksteel Forge and the Eldrazi. There are loads of ways to go infinite with Saheeli, she makes tokens, and she makes big stuff cost less. That's the trifecta of things that Commander players love. I don't think there's a ton of upside at $10, but if you're going to pre-order any of these Planeswalkers, choose Saheeli, the Gifted.
Treasure Nabber - $4.99
This is exactly the sort of card that you should be pre-ordering out of these sets. While Treasure Nabber won't get as expensive as it would have if it were blue or green-red is pretty clearly the worst and least-popular color in Commander-I can imagine trying to jam this into literally every red deck imaginable. Either it prevents your opponents from accelerating, or (more likely) it gives you a ton of mana acceleration for free. Treasure Nabber will be at least $10 a year from now with a solid chance at hitting $15 or $20. Get your copies ASAP.
Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice - $3.99
Well now. Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice is an Izzet mage's dream card to build around, and I expect it to be one of the most popular cards in the set. You're going to hate seeing it on the battlefield across from you after a couple of months, but that won't stop people from going infinite in the meantime. $8-$10 seems like a very real possibility to me.
If you're looking for some cards to spec on in the meantime, Sands of Time, Paradox Engine, and Kurkesh, Onakke Ancient are some good places to start. Paradox Engine is already quite expensive, but the other two could see some financial action once more people see how awesome Tawnos really is.
Coveted Jewel - $3.99
What, this card has another line of text? Oh. Okay.
In all seriousness, I don't think the sharing clause is as bad as it seems. In fact, Coveted Jewel plays best as a political tool that you can share back and forth with a nominal ally, each getting to draw cards and share mana as your opponents fall further and further behind. Yeah, there will be some games where Coveted Jewel is going to just put a big target on your head that'll cost you the win, but I like how good this card is when you're ahead as well as when you're behind. I can see this ending up as a $7-$8 format staple once the dust settles on Commander 2018.
Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer - $2.99
While most token decks are white and/or green, Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer gives us a way to make a really good U/R tokens deck as well. It's obviously great with Helm of the Host, and I had an entire paragraph here about how Mimic Vat was going to be an awesome spec for Brudiclad. I had to delete it once I learned that Mimic Vat is in this deck, but it's worth noting that you're going to want to play these two cards together.
At any rate, this is yet another card from Exquisite Invention with a bright long-term future. People love playing tokens in Commander, and Brudiclad is a way to make the deck work in U/R instead of either W/G or Jund. While not every spell from this deck can be $8-$10, obviously, this is yet another card that seems wildly underrated to me.
Echo Storm - $2.49
Despite the fact that Echo Storm has neither storm nor echo, I like what this card is bringing to the table. Rite of Replication-esque effects have proven quite powerful in the past, though five mana for a sorcery that isn't good without a good artifact or two already on the battlefield is tough. I don't see this one becoming a format staple, but it'll find enough of a home to stay at least slightly above bulk.
Vedalken Humiliator - $1.99
Vedalken Humiliator seems powerful. Yeah, you're going to need an artifact-heavy deck to play this, but after that…well, you don't even need to combine your Humiliator with anything before it becomes a massive threat that'll take three creatures out in combat at the very least. Plus, the fact that this card evokes a classic spell-Humility-gives Vedalken Humiliator an aura of cool that some of these new cards don't have. I can easily see this one being worth $5 long-term.
Enchanter's Bane - $1.99
Enchanter's Bane is cute, but I don't think it's any good. Punisher cards are almost always a trap, and Enchanter's Bane is only worth considering if your opponent has a significant number of 4+ mana enchantments and you think you'll survive them long enough for the damage to matter. Future bulk rare.
Saheeli's Directive - $1.99
Is it possible that Commander 2018 will be the set that finally allows red to develop more of a foothold in Commander? Perhaps. Genesis Waves are always worth a look, and this one is pretty good with commanders like Feldon of the Third Path and Daretti, Scrap Savant. I worry that a card with RRR in its casting cost will have a hard time being worth more than $3-$4, especially with so many other good cards in this deck, but from a power level perspective I feel like this is a reasonable buy at $2.
Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor - $1.99
Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor looks a little narrow at first glance, but I've already seen a bunch of threads pop up in the Commander forums as people try to find the best way to build around her. There are plenty of ways to turn all your opponents' creatures into Survivors, and even just blinking Varchild works well. Oh-and it's a fantastic political tool for multiplayer.
I'd be higher on Varchild if it wasn't a red card, but her power level mixed with her uniqueness is too much for me to think that this one's heading toward bulk. $3-$4 seems about right to me.
Oh-and watch out for Varchild's War-Riders. It's a Reserved List card that plays well with Varchild, which means that we're looking at $20 easily. I think that ship has already sailed, but check your local shop for any underpriced copies.
Ancient Stone Idol - $1.99
Even though "big dumb creature" is just about the biggest trap in the world for Commander, I kind of like Ancient Stone Idol. It's solid in a tokens deck, and you'll be able to play this as a gigantic Ambush Viper often enough for me to be intrigued. The fact that it gives you a second creature when it dies isn't nothing, either. I can see this one maintaining its $2 price tag.
Endless Atlas - $1.99
This is far from a bad card, but the fact that Endless Atlas doesn't have a thread on r/EDH yet is pretty telling. Cheap card draw is hard to come by in colors like mono-white, though, and I do suspect that this one will find a home somewhere. I'm just worried that nobody seems super into it yet. At the very least, I'll probably wait and see if it'll drop below $2 before I think about buying in.
Retrofitter Foundry - $1.99
I want to love Retrofitter Foundry since it's an artifact and it makes tokens, which are all the things that make for a valuable Commander card. The power level just doesn't seem like it's there for me on this one, though. I'll run it if I'm playing Thopter tribal or if I need a place to stuff my infinite mana, but Retrofitter Foundry just isn't going to make the cut for me most of the time. Feel free to tell me that I'm wrong for going against my rules when this thing is $8 next year, but I'm going to pass.
New Uncommons in Exquisite Invention:
Loyal Drake - $0.99
Loyal Drake would be unplayable without the "at the beginning of your combat" clause, but it's pretty decent if you can get at least a card or two out of it. I've seen some people comparing Loyal Drake to Phyrexian Arena, which isn't fair-Phyrexian Arena is far better, even before you factor in blue's greater ease at finding card draw effects-but I've played Wall of Blossoms and Carven Caryatid in U/G Commander decks before, and I can see myself playing Loyal Drake, too. I'd like it more if it were a rare, but at uncommon I expect it to end up around $0.50.
Geode Golem - $0.75
Geode Golem is worth considering in any deck where your commander costs more than five mana to cast, but I'm probably not actually going to find room for this unless I'm playing Iname as One or something. This thing doesn't help you cheat the Commander tax, and it's a terrible lategame draw, too. The fact that it's an artifact might keep it in the $1-$2 range, but I'm not sold on this being a format staple.
Loyal Apprentice - $0.49
Forge of Heroes - $0.49
Current Retail Value of Significant Cards in Exquisite Invention: $69.25
Non-Bulk Rare Reprints:
- Entreat the Angels - $3.99
- Silent-Blade Oni - $2.99
- Sol Ring - $2.99
- Terminus - $1.99
- Army of the Damned - $1.99
- Return to Dust - $1.49
- Command Tower - $1.49
Whelp, that was underwhelming. While Exquisite Invention and Adaptive Enchantment had decent (if unspectacular) reprints inside, Subjective Reality's haul reminds me more of the meager haul inside Nature's Vengeance. The miracles are pretty decent, but there's not much other than that. Ah well-maybe the new cards will be good!
New Cards in Subjective Reality:
Aminatou, the Fateshifter - $11.99
Aminatou, the Fateshifter is certainly the most unique new planeswalker, though I'm not sure how much demand there's actually going to be for it. Its first ability is fun in a "miracles matter" sort of deck, but I don't think it has a ton of practical utility beyond that. And its ultimate is going to require the right group to play with. I feel like I might just scoop 'em up at my local shop if this thing ever goes off, and I've heard many others echo those feelings.
Really, then, Aminatou lives or dies based on its second ability. Flickering permanents is a Commander favorite, but this typically happens in Bant, not in Esper. Part of the cleverness of these pre-cons is that WotC is opening up peoples' favorite existing strategies into slightly different color combinations (tokens in U/R, flicker in Esper), but I'm not sure which ones are going to be successful yet. I'll hedge my bets a little here and guess that Aminatou, the Fateshifter ends up in the $6-$7 range like Lord Windgrace.
Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign - $4.99
Yennett, Cryptic Sovereign is too narrow to be worth more than a couple of bucks. For every person who saw this card and immediately wanted to build around it, there will be at least two or three people who buy Subjective Reality and won't want to go to all the trouble to make an "odd cards matter" deck. Future bulk mythic.
Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow - $4.99
Yuriko, on the other hand, has the look of an $8-$10 card, and she should end up as one of the most popular cards to build around in all of Commander 2018. Casual players love their Ninjas, and this card is cool enough that I suspect most people who buy Subjective Reality will want to hold onto their copy. Meanwhile, demand from people who don't want to purchase the entire deck just to get ahold of this card should be strong.
It's too late to snag cheap foil copies of the other sweet Ninjas in Magic, many of which are about to double in price, but there could still be some decent deals out there. For example, Sakashima's Student is an interesting low supply card, and Higure, the Still Wind has only been printed in Betrayers of Kamigawa and Planechase. I wouldn't mind snagging a few of each just in case.
Varina, Lich Queen - $3.99
Varina, Lich Queen is also fantastic. While most Zombie decks haven't traditionally been Esper-colored, I feel like Varina does enough to break that mold. She filters your hand, allows you to fill up your graveyard, gives you some incidental lifegain, and provides token generation. It's the complete package!
Entreat the Dead - $3.99
I'm not quite sure how good Entreat the Dead actually is. It's awesome if you can cast it for its miracle cost, of course, but paying five mana for a single Zombify and seven mana to bring two creatures back…yeah, that's not a great rate. Plus, you must be able to pay BB with some sort of regularity. The fact that this is part of a cycle now with Entreat the Angels could keep it out of bulk rare range, but I'm not sold on Entreat the Dead as a future format staple.
Isolated Watchtower - $2.99
I'd certainly consider playing Isolated Watchtower in any non-green mono-colored Commander deck. It's not amazing, but your non-basic lands don't really have to do a lot to make the cut in those particular brews. If others agree with me, this'll end up in the $5-$6 range. If not, it might drop toward bulk. It's worth snagging a copy if you're excited about it, but there's too much risk and not enough reward for this to be a good spec target.
Magus of the Balance - $1.99
Balance is one of those cards that I know is inherently broken, probably one of the four or five most broken cards ever, and yet I'm almost never in a situation where I can really take advantage of it. Even in a powered Cube, I'm rarely ever able to either make Balance work or in a position where someone else's Balance gets me. You really must build around it and then set up your game to take advantage.
The point I'm trying to make is that I think sculpting a perfect Balance is even harder when you're playing Commander, having to pay seven mana for it, and have to wait around for a full turn while everybody else knows what you're up to. This is a cool card, but I think it's a future bulk rare.
Aminatou's Augury - $1.99
You're not sticking an eight mana sorcery in your deck unless you're either planning a way to cheat it out or you can ramp to infinity. This is pretty powerful as far as eight mana sorceries go, but I don't think demand will be high enough to keep it above the $1-$2 range.
Primordial Mist - $1.99
I don't think Primordial Mist is good enough to play on its own, but it's an auto-include in any deck with more than a couple of ways to manifest things. These should be easy enough to pick up in the $0.50-$1 range if you need one later on.
Skull Storm - $1.99
And now we have a nine mana sorcery. For nine mana, I want my spell to win me the game, or at least come close. Skull Storm is far too weak and conditional. Future bulk rare.
Boreas Charger - $1.49
I have no idea why Boreas Charger is cheaper than the unplayable Skull Storm, but take advantage of that fact ASAP. It's easy enough to flicker or kill this card for value, and the fact that Boreas Charger gets any Plains instead of just Basic Plains is very clutch. I'll be running this in all my aggressive and equipment-based white decks from now on, and it should end up around $5-$6. This is a no-brainer spec target.
Night Incarnate - $0.99
Night Incarnate has nice synergy with Muldrotha, the Gravetide and Meren of Clan Nel Toth. Those are both popular commanders, which could mean that Night Incarnate ends up in the $2-$3 range. I don't see much upside beyond that, though.
Sower of Discord - $0.99
Sower of Discord is going to be great in Kaalia of the Vast decks, and any sort of damage doubling card is worth at least a second or third look regardless. Much like with Night Incarnate, this card could end up in the $2-$3 range, and I like it better than some of the stuff in this deck that's currently selling for more. Sower of Discord isn't high on my list of favorite specs from this set, but buying a copy or two for personal use is totally fine.
New Uncommons in Exquisite Invention:
Geode Golem - $0.75
Loyal Subordinate - $0.49
Loyal Unicorn - $0.49
Forge of Heroes - $0.49
Current Retail Value of Significant Cards in Exquisite Invention: $63.75
Overall Thoughts on Commander 2018
While the forum-dwellers seem pretty down on Commander 2018, at least compared to Commander 2016 and Commander 2017, I still really like this set. In fact, I feel like Commander 2018 will have more expensive and memorable staples than last year's iteration.
That is not to say that I don't have some complaints with Commander 2018. For one, the lack of high-profile reprints is somewhat frustrating. There's no Mirari's Wake this time around. There's no Chromatic Lantern. This might not have been as big a deal if WotC hadn't raised the MSRP from $34.99 to $39.99, but being asked to pay a little more while getting a little less always feels kind of lousy.
Are any of these decks worth snagging for MSRP here on StarCityGames? That's up to you. All these decks sell for less than the combined value of their singles, so if you think that you're going to use most of the cards, buying the deck makes sense. Exquisite Invention is my favorite from a value perspective, and Adaptive Enchantment looks like it'll be a lot of fun to play.
Otherwise, I'd stick to the singles. There are plenty of amazing cards in the $2-$5 range, and lots of them are almost certainly undervalued right now. Not only do several cards from this set jump from $2 to $10 every year, but there's more equity to go around in 2018 since there aren't many good reprints and the MSRP is higher. There's plenty of money to be made here-you just must be smart about it.
This Week's Trends
- Finally, there's some upward movement in the Standard market! Grixis Dragons has begun to gain more ground in the current metagame, and it's a cool enough deck that people who might otherwise choose to pass on a format this close to rotation are starting to buy in. The result is that Sarkhan, Fireblood and Nicol Bolas, the Ravager have both jumped about $5 this week, and those trend lines are still pointing up. I wouldn't be surprised if they continue to slowly and steadily gain value as July turns into August.
- Also trending up: Thorn Lieutenant, a versatile card that is almost certain to see play in whatever the dominant green deck ends up being for the next year and a half or so. Grab your copies now.
- Over in Modern, Engineered Explosives gained about $10 this week. This is a price correction based on the fact that it's simply a required card in many of Modern's best decks right now. From Hollow One to Jeskai Control to U/W Control and even to Bant Spirits, you need a copy or three of this extremely low supply card. $100 seems pretty close to Engineered Explosives' limit, and it'll drop down to about $30 if it's reprinted, but it's worth nothing that this current spike is based entirely on player demand, not buyout shenanigans.
One of the biggest reasons for Explosives' gain is the rise of Ironworks. That deck's namesake card has been trending upward for weeks now, and it could end up near $30 at some point. In the meantime, it looks like some folks started buying out the 9th Edition copy of Defense Grid last week. The 8th Edition copy hasn't seen the same gains yet, and this is generally just a sideboard one-of in the deck. It might end up rising in price by a couple of bucks, but I don't see massive growth potential here.
- Over in the world of Commander, there's a ton of interesting stuff happening right now. Arcades, the Strategist is still causing "Wall tribal" cards to spike, with Meekstone and Wall of Junk being the latest nonsense cards to jump in price. As always, sell your extra copies into the hype-they'll end up stabilizing quite a bit lower than they're at right now once the Commander community moves on to their latest batch of cool new toys.
One of those new toys? Bant-colored enchantments matter cards. Enchanted Evening and Greater Auramancy were the latest to pop off in price, with Privileged Position looking primed to be the next to go. Keep your eye on all these cards, as the spikes should continue for the next month or so.
The Gitrog Monster is also on its way up, thanks to the fact that it wasn't included in the Jund "Lands Matter" Commander deck where it really should have been reprinted. It wasn't, and now it's on its way to $10. The Chain Veil continues to surge in price as well; it was $5 just a couple of weeks ago, and it's $25 now. Not only does this card combine well with the new planeswalker commanders, it's pretty easy to go infinite with this and Estrid, the Masked. I've long expected this card to end up in the $20 range, but it's pretty susceptible to a reprint at any point. I'm selling my extra stashed copies into the current hype.