Because spoiler season never ends anymore, we got our first look at Commander Legends over the weekend. We've only seen a tiny fraction of what's to come in the set but already I have a lot to say.
Love: Completing the Battlebond Land Cycle
Just last week I said the Battlebond land cycle should be completed and printed into oblivion.
Well, I'm getting at least half my wish! Happy birthday to me. The enemy-colored Battlebond lands are in Commander Legends. This was a no-brainer, so much so that Gavin Verhey said that the remaining five lands were already in the set before the first five were even spoiled for Battlebond itself.
These lands are the best things to happen to Commander in a long time. They're a slam dunk for any multicolored deck. Now, as for that pesky "printed into oblivion" part...unfortunately the ally-colored lands are not getting reprints in Commander Legends. That's a shame. Since this is (allegedly) a draft product first and foremost, it only makes sense to give players access to all ten color pairs. Additionally, these lands need to be much cheaper than they are and that means they need reprints. Lots of them. Here's hoping that, with the cycle soon to be complete, they'll start appearing in Commander precons as a rule.
Love: No Fetchlands (Probably)
Look. I want fetchlands reprinted as much as anyone. I barely own any and I received those as gifts. But I've been saying for months that I didn't want them to be reprinted in Commander Legends, and I'm glad they aren't. (I think. The messaging is muddled but seems to indicate fetches are not coming; let's proceed under that assumption.)
I didn't want fetches in this set because I wanted to be able to afford this set. While fetches are great for Commander, they're not primarily Commander cards; they're much more important for Modern, Legacy, and Vintage where players have to be able to fix their mana on turn one.
Moreover this set didn't need fetches in order for it to sell. It's called Commander Legends. It's gonna sell just fine. My major concern was that including fetchlands would have caused demand to skyrocket - demand from non-Commander players - which would cause the price of boosters and boxes to rise commensurately. Leaving fetches out should help keep Commander Legends at a reasonable price point.
Like (For Now): Affordability
I say "should" because the end of MSRP means we never really know what new products will cost. Draft booster boxes for standard sets have, so far, stayed the same as always, but other ancillary products can be all over the board. Remember when the Throne of Eldraine Brawl Decks were going for $50 or more? You can get them for less than $20 now. We knew Double Masters would be pricey and yet it turned out to be even pricier than we thought.
For the moment there's reason to hope Commander Legends will be easy enough for players of all ages and incomes to get their hands on. Draft booster boxes were listed on the official Magic storefront on Amazon for $125, with Collector Booster boxes coming in at $240. This is encouraging. But who knows what may happen as more cards are spoiled. We know there will be a significant number of reprints in this set. If they're biggies, it's entirely possible prices will rise leading up to release.
I'll remain cautiously optimistic, emphasis on the "cautiously."
Like: Legends in Every Pack
For a set with dozens of new legendary creatures, it's good to know we're sure to get some in each draft booster pack. Based on the small handful revealed last weekend we know there are uncommon, rare and mythic legends, as well as one common designed explicitly for draft.
As for the legends themselves - the ones we've seen so far are intriguing!
Let's start with the long-awaited return of Baron Sengir. This dude is a HOSS. Picking up two - not one, TWO! - +1/+1 counters each time a creature dies has the potential to be incredibly powerful. With good ramp, it's not inconceivable to spend the first two or three turns casting cheap creatures and/or token generator spells, then getting Sengir, the Dark Baron out by turn four or five and then getting to work on killing all the little sacrificial lambs. Your opponents could be staring down a one-shot commander damage death before they know it, especially with help from things like Prowler's Helm or Whispersilk Cloak.
We've also got two new arrivals from Innistrad. Alena, Kessig Trapper and Halana, Kessig Ranger were featured in Magic story - hey, remember Magic story, when the lore was free and competently written and not monetized in the form of atrocious and regrettable novels? Good times, those - but haven't had cards of their own until now. For that I'm very happy. This is a perfect set to delve deep into Magic's history and set Vorthos hearts aflutter.
But there's something about Alena and Halana that I very, very much do not like.
Hate With the Fiery Passion of a Thousand Dying Suns: Partners Return
Why. Why. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!
I mean, listen, I know why. It's because Commander Legends is meant to be drafted, and having mono-colored partners allows for a lot more versatility in the drafting and deck-building process. That doesn't at all change the fact that partners - not "partner with"s - are bad news for this format.
I've talked about this before. The original batch of partner legends from Commander 2016 have turned out to be problematic in a number of ways. None of them are truly bad and some of them are very good, to the point that they've become the dominant force in cEDH decks following the Flash ban.
We now know that we're getting several dozen new partners, all mono-colored, in Commander Legends. I'd love to give the designers the benefit of the doubt, but I just don't know if I can. Partners do make a ton of sense for draft, but in traditional Commander they could create massive chaos. Just look at Alena and Halana. If they're both on the table, you can cast - or cheat into play - a big creature, have it smack and likely kill an opponent's creature with Halana's ability, then tap Alena for a boatload of Red mana and do it again. Given that Red and Green both have plenty of ways to cheat creatures into play for free or cheap, this - just this single combination of two partners - could lead to some pretty borked play patterns. Who knows what the White, Blue and Black partners will do? What I do know is that it'll take Commander players about 48 seconds to break them all in half.
I'd love to be able to come back in six months or a year and admit I was wrong, that my disdain for and panic over partners was overblown. Frankly, I don't trust Wizards enough to believe that'll happen.
Jury's Out: Everything Else
There are hundreds of Commander Legends cards yet to be revealed. We know there will be one new mechanic, but we don't know what it is. Dozens of partners are waiting in the wings. We know nothing of what the reprints in this set will be, beyond format icons Command Tower and Commander's Sphere.
If Wizards itself is opening the bidding at $125 for a draft booster box, it's hard to envision this set containing anything close to the number of bomb cards that Double Masters did. I do, however, hope it contains cards like these, which have been creeping upward in price in recent years and are in desperate, desperate need of reprints:
These are just a handful of examples; off the top of your head you can probably think of a dozen other cards that just shouldn't be as expensive as they are. I hope we see a lot of them here.
So what will the legacy of Commander Legends be? Who knows. We'll see more cards soon enough. Until then, let's just cross our fingers.
In Other News
Last week was my birthday, and as a lover of fun things, I thought it would be fun to ask Twitter to give me their takes on my signature commander: Hot Daxos (Daxos, Blessed by the Sun). I got some really interesting brews - everything from Walls to stax. But this one from Quad9s, a Loyal Friend and True, was the runaway winner for me. Be sure to peek at her notes at the bottom:
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun | Commander | Quad9s
- Commander (1)
- 1 Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
- Creatures (36)
- 1 Ajani's Pridemate
- 1 Alms Collector
- 1 Archangel of Thune
- 1 Banisher Priest
- 1 Blessed Orator
- 1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
- 1 Bulwark Giant
- 1 Cartographer's Hawk
- 1 Charming Prince
- 1 Doomed Traveler
- 1 Evangel of Heliod
- 1 Fiend Hunter
- 1 God-Eternal Oketra
- 1 Guard Dogs
- 1 Heavenly Blademaster
- 1 Hero of the Pride
- 1 Imposing Vantasaur
- 1 Knight of the White Orchid
- 1 Loxodon Restorer
- 1 Mentor of the Meek
- 1 Noble Templar
- 1 Oathsworn Giant
- 1 Oketra the True
- 1 Oreskos Explorer
- 1 Paragon of New Dawns
- 1 Reverent Hoplite
- 1 Rhox Faithmender
- 1 Rumbling Sentry
- 1 Selfless Spirit
- 1 Serra Ascendant
- 1 Strongarm Monk
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Veteran Armorer
- 1 War Behemoth
- 1 Watchful Giant
- 1 White Knight
- Instants (9)
- 1 Disenchant
- 1 Enlightened Tutor
- 1 Path to Exile
- 1 Pollen Remedy
- 1 Renewed Faith
- 1 Resupply
- 1 Swords to Plowshares
- 1 Teferi's Protection
- 1 Unbreakable Formation
- Sorceries (9)
- 1 Allied Reinforcements
- 1 Austere Command
- 1 Captain's Call
- 1 Cleansing Nova
- 1 Increasing Devotion
- 1 Proclamation of Rebirth
- 1 Solemn Offering
- 1 Timely Reinforcements
- 1 Wrath of God
"Happy 36th Birthday, Davie! I present: Hot Davie, Birthday Jank Edition!
36 Creatures, 36 Lands, 3 Artifacts + 6 Enchantments, 3+6 (=9) Sorceries + 3+6 (=9) Instants
There are 3+6 (=9) creatures with power/toughness = 3/6
The total static buffs created by permanents in the deck increase P/T by +3/+6
The average deck CMC without lands is 3.6
The following cards are in the deck because they characterize Davie: Tattoo Ward, Strongarm Monk, Enlightened Tutor, Charming Prince, Selfless Spirit, Hero of the Pride, White Knight, True Conviction, The Birth of Meletis, Proclamation of Rebirth, Allied Reinforcements [my best friends/roommates, Olivia & Jon], Guard Dogs [My niece-dogs, Lulu and Momo]"