Commander 2018, what happened? Did everyone forget? That’s what a lot of people are thinking and I have to say I definitely agree. This year it looks like they just forgot about putting in some harder to get reprints and just went with some pretty stock lists filled with cards that have cratered in value because they’ve already been reprinted many times. From the “Don’t Forget Me” perspective, this is almost a complete disaster. I want to discuss each deck and take a look at what inclusions could have been made but weren’t.
I want to be as nice as possible but some of the card choices here are borderline insulting. I know you can’t include exclusively rares and mythics in every deck (unlike self-made Commander decks) but at some point you begin to wonder. There are better land choices in the recent Duel Deck: Elves vs Inventors than there is in this deck. Would it really have been so hard to include a Sulfur Falls, Shivan Reef, Wandering Fumarole, or Temple of Epiphany? I understand they don’t want to put Ravnica shocks in every deck, but after we got some rare duals the past few years I assumed we were on the right road. I can’t understand how in a two color deck they couldn’t find any rare lands to include. There are a lot of utility lands like Academy Ruins, Desolate Lighthouse, Inventors' Fair, and Sanctum of Ugin that cover a lot of different price points and add a lot more depth and value than the 27 basic lands currently in the deck.
Outside of the really lackluster lands, I’m really surprised they didn’t use this opportunity to reprint some pretty high demand and quite good artifacts. Most Commander decks have 1 big flagship reprint and here would have been a good for Blightsteel Colossus ($35) or Wurmcoil Engine ($20). Instead, we got Unwinding Clock ($8) as the most valuable reprint in the box. This is an artifact deck about copying artifacts and they didn’t include Sculpting Steel ($10) or Phyrexian Metamorph ($9). I’m honestly not even sure that the reprints here are even better than the Inventor’s duel deck which included a Darksteel Plate ($5). Even as I’m writing this article I’m trying to wrap my head around how half of a $20 product has the same level of exciting cards as a $40 product. It’s not entirely as clean cut as that but this could have also been a great time to do a Talisman like I suggested in the first Don’t Forget Me. With the amount of mana rocks in this deck, this would have also been a great chance to reprint Thought Vessel. Finally, if they wanted to juice it a little more for Modern players than just Wurmcoil Engine, they could have included Steel Overseer ($18) or Master of Etherium ($5). I’m also peeved that this wasn’t used as a conduit to reprint odd token making cards like Titan Forge or Desolation Twin. Overall, I think this theme had a lot of great potential for reprints but falls very short of what I think players have come to expect from Commander products.
I won’t harp on the mana again for too long but this deck also for some reason wasn’t allowed to include rare lands. I’m really concerned that out of the box this deck might be colossally slow with 21 of its 40 lands entering the battlefield tapped. As far as reprints are concerned, we have a similar problem to Exquisite Invention as the premier reprint is Entreat the Angels ($5) and not much else exciting. This deck would kill for a Scroll Rack (which was $30 on July 20th but is now $50 if you can even find them) or a Sensei's Divining Top ($18). Even if they didn’t want to include both, they could have included a more budget version in Soothsaying.
My biggest problem with the construction of this deck is it seems to be pulled in two very different directions and I’m not sure why that decision was made. There are some cards that work with the miracles and the 2 Commanders that care about the top of your library but there is also Silent-Blade Oni, Ninja of the Deep Hours, and Serra Avatar. I don’t get it. I understand they wanted to include Yuriko (and she’s a really cool Commander), but they didn’t include a lot of ways to enable the Ninja theme like Baleful Strix, Looter il-Kor, or Invisible Stalker. Overall, I don’t really know what this deck was trying to do and I’m not sure Wizards knows either. I’m at a loss as to what they really should have included in this deck but I would have probably started with Talisman of Dominance ($1.50) and Talisman of Progress ($3.50) to help with the tapped land problem. Almost any deck could use a Solemn Simulacrum and this deck has a bunch of ninjas which could benefit from it. People often don’t want to block Solemn because they don’t want to kill, giving it has pseudo-evasion.
I think this deck could have been executed better if they went all in on the saboteur theme and included a bunch of sweet and expensive ninjas. I understand this was a chance for them to make a black miracle spell but that could have been fine as a value spell without trying to make a deck revolve around it. Sakashima's Student ($7.50) and Sakashima the Impostor ($19) would have be pretty great reprints. We’re also honestly overdue for a Grave Titan reprint and he’s pretty great at enabling ninjas.
This is the third time and I really should stop complaining about the mana but really? Sulfurous Springs was breaking the bank? At least this time we got one rare land and it’s Grim Backwoods which is the first land almost everyone is going to remove from this deck. This deck needs the duals the least (since it’s a Green based ramp deck) but it could have also used some creature lands to help give it things to do with all of its mana if it gets flooded. Raging Ravine would have been on theme and very welcome in this type of deck.
This deck once again seems all over the place, like the Esper deck. While I can see what it was trying to do, I feel like it really failed to include some key cards for the archetype. No Life from the Loam ($15) or Seismic Assault ($3) really confused me. I assumed those were going to be the staples of the deck and you could round it out with cards like Borborygmos Enraged. Even if that wasn’t the theme of the deck, I thought for sure they could use this as an opportunity to include expensive accelerators like Exploration ($22), Oracle of Mul Daya ($30), Azusa, Lost but Seeking ($17), Burgeoning ($6), or Lotus Cobra ($6). What I’m trying to say is they had a lot of choices of cards to reprint that could have made people happy. I know a lot of people were expecting this to be a mash-up of The Gitrog Monster deck and an Omnath, Locus of Rage deck. I’m surprised to see that it doesn’t include either card in the 99. Overall, I’m disappointed the premier reprint is Avenger of Zendikar after it wasn’t reprinted that long ago. I think people would have been unhappy to see it missing from the deck but it isn’t the kind of card that will sell the deck alone.
This is the deck I’m most happy with. We still didn’t get any duals that we can search for with Krosan Verge which is a real bummer (Prairie Stream, Canopy Vista, Scattered Groves, and Irrigated Farmland are pretty good budget lands that it could have searched for). Overall, the mana isn’t the worst but I would have liked a Utopia Sprawl in there somewhere.
As far as reprints are concerned, there are two pretty good ones. Bear Umbra was $15 before being reprinted here. Enchantress's Presence was also a $15 card and from Onslaught so it has been a while since we’ve seen it. Past that, Hydra Omnivore is $4 which is close to the best card in most of the other decks. I think a lot of the necessary cards for this style of deck were included with the exception of Mesa Enchantress, Verduran Enchantress, Argothian Enchantress, and Eidolon of Countless Battles. The only one that isn’t a bulk rare at this point is Argothian Enchantress at $6. I’m not sure it will stay that way, so if you’re thinking about picking up this deck and building on it, I would suggest grabbing one of those sooner rather than later. I’m a little disappointed, but not entirely surprised they elected not to include Thassa, God of the Sea, Heliod, God of the Sun, Nylea, God of the Hunt, Karametra, God of Harvests, Ephara, God of the Polis, and Kruphix, God of Horizons. They would have been on theme and are at varying price points and in need of a reprint. None of those 6 gods have been reprinted in any capacity. If we want to get more nitpicky, I’m surprised this deck doesn’t have Propaganda, Ghostly Prison, Sphere of Safety, or Collective Restraint as defensive options. Collective Restraint in particular is quite old (it’s from Invasion) and not particularly expensive yet at $8. Overall, I think this deck is reasonably good. It hit some high value reprints and seems like a pretty cohesive experience.
This is a bit longer than most of my articles but I had a lot to say about each of these decks because I’m very passionate about reprints and Commander. I think there were some good ideas bringing new cards to the table but the balance of reprints was sorely lacking. Hopefully someone from Wizards will read this article, and maybe your comments below, and make a concerted effort in the future to address the reprint needs of the community!