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Seven Deadly Commanders — Lust


Lust was the most troubling of the seven deadly sins to conquer—I mean, for this series, of course.

There is little value to a deck filled with Magic cards with salacious artwork—not to mention, what is salacious differs from person to person. Well, there’s that, and it frankly just seems kind of . . . cheap, don’t you think?

Jace, the Mind Sculptor
That’s when my boss, Evan, wrote me a great e-mail. He said, “what about the cards that players lust after? How much is that Russian foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor anyway?”

Thanks, Evan! (Oh, and it’s about $13,333, by the way. Talk about the opposite of cheap.)

So, in true Seven Deadly Commanders fashion, let’s build a deck in which every single card will make the table drool with lust—the most rare, the most valuable, the most unusual. While we’re at it, we’ll go through the deck differently than normal – sure, it’ll play, and it could win, but the goal is just to strut our stuff—so let’s talk more about what makes specific cards valuable. I’ve added a few zeros to my normal $75 budget. (Also, a bunch of these cards have debatable values—I’ve done my best to find a reasonable cost for each individual card, but your findings may vary.)

Of course, we need a commander. A lot of readers wanted a five-color commander, but we have a five-color coming up, and few commanders have more lust value than this Bant-aligned guy:

Angus Mackenzie

Let’s start at the beginning: Limited Edition Alpha. In 1993, Magic: The Gathering began with the first set, known as Alpha. The game was much more popular than expected, so Wizards couldn’t keep up with demand—there wasn’t much Alpha printed. Alpha is well known for hugely overpowered spells and woefully underpowered creatures—(Serra Angel was later removed from base sets for being “too good”!), but, y’know, the Moxes and Black Lotus were things—and they really were too good, and they were banned. So, from that set, we’re going to start with some basics: a Tundra and a Tropical Island. Mana Vault bumps us up, and Forcefield, Counterspell, Wrath of God, and Swords to Plowshares all keep us alive. Berserk can actually give us a random win with an attack, which would be surprising but awesome.

Two months after Alpha came Limited Edition Beta, which had seven more cards than Alpha. Interestingly, some cards from Beta are worth more than Alpha—Alpha had more rounded corners than all other cards, and because initially decks needed to have unmarked cards without sleeves, they couldn’t be played! We have some choice cards from Beta—our third original dual land, Savannah plus a Birds of Paradise.

Fast-forward to the summer of 1994. Revised was having its first printing; it was filled with errors and recalled, but some packs got out—ergo the super-rare Summer Magic. Several cards have mistakes that make them much more collectable. We have a beautiful Sol Ring—worth $3,000—and a Hurkyl's Recall, which is a silly card to be worth two grand. The most expensive is a misprint—a Hurricane with a blue frame, worth $10,000.

We start moving around sets a lot now, so let’s just talk about what the cards do and their origins. Consecrated Sphinx in foil from Mirrodin Besieged does a lovely job of drawing plenty of cards, and a foil Sensei's Divining Top is great for selection while being nearly impossible to kill. And that original Worldwake foil JTMS—in Russian, of course—is quite valuable. (Don’t, y’know, lose it.)

Our single most expensive card is a common but misprinted Brainstorm worth $20,000. Put it on Isochron Scepter, if you have the chance.

Russian-language Planeswalkers make good threats, so we have a Russian Elspeth Tirel, Gideon Jura, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, and Nissa, Worldwaker, all foil. Four Gods join the fray, while a foil Blatant Thievery gives us the best of everyone else’s stuff. Craterhoof Behemoth, Kozilek, Butcher of Truth, and Iona, Shield of Emeria are all beautiful and beat face. Angelic Arbiter—in Magic 2011 foil—is only $1.99, but it is just too good in combat to leave out, and the contrast highlights the more precious cards.

The table should like the Japanese foil Batterskull (searchable by the foil Stoneforge Mystic—when you go Mystic into ’Skull, it’s pretty lusty), and the judge promo of Elesh Norn.

Judges receive special promo cards in thanks for their (volunteer!) work running Magic tournaments large and small. They are well-deserved and earned, but they are also rare. One of the most beautiful ever is this $550 version of Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, with all the text in Phyrexian.

We also have foils of all the Swords of X and Y—three judge promos and two foils. Load up all five on that Elesh Norn, and the table should have a pretty tough time dealing with her.

A Karn Liberated in foil is both sexy and effective. Mana Drain in its original printing is a bargain at $195, and a foil Korean Innistrad Snapcaster Mage is around $465. A judge Force of Will should surprise someone—even Modern players will want to see that.

Moat—from Legends—is a wonderful card that slows the game way down, giving more opportunity to play awesome cards. We have a ton of cheap spell to go on that Isochron Scepter I mentioned. Mana Drain is particularly strong. Our From the Vaults: Relics version isn’t worth too much—around $10—but is lovely and worth having here. We have a judge-promo Regrowth and a $70 Enlightened Tutor from the Arena League.

The Arena League started in 1996 and ran through 2007. It was a bridge between casual and tournament play—as a chance to play in organized competition without the rigor and pressure of high-level tournaments. Wizards encouraged people to play by offering promotional cards—one of which was that Enlightened Tutor. (We also have a Plains and a Forest, both foil, from the 1999 Arena League.)

Our mana accelerants do work, and are cards people are going to wish they had for their decks. The judge foils of Noble Hierarch and Land Tax are almost as special as the Urza’s Legacy foil of Grim Monolith. Candelabra of Tawnos is really more of a combo piece, but here, it’s just to make folks gasp.

Each land is pretty special, too. Our original duals will draw a lot of attention, but we also have a Russian foil Scalding Tarn from Zendikar and an Onslaught Japanese foil Polluted Delta (we’re running every fetch we can, just, y’know, ’cause we can). The extended-art foil promo of Mutavault is worth almost $650, and the judge-foil Maze of Ith is worth more than $100. The rest of the fetch lands—plus a number of others like Wasteland, Strip Mine, and Ancient Tomb—all come from Zendikar Expeditions, with prices from about $40 to over $300.

Even our basics are unique: two judge-foil lands join with the Arena League ones, an Unhinged foil Plains, several Guru lands (including a signed one), and a misprint.

The Guru program was a short-lived attempt by Wizards to encourage current players to teach new players how to play. A “guru” would sign up for the program and use promotional materials; when the new player sent the materials to Wizards, the guru would receive points, which translated into booster packs and free Guru lands—special basics, all illustrated by Terese Nielson, showing various stages of a double eclipse. We have a Plains, an Island, and a Forest, in addition to a signed Island (worth over $300), and what’s called the “Drowning Man” misprint Island, worth two large. (A few Guru lands had the “Guru” expansion symbol printed on the wrong side—so it’s upside down in the artwork. It looks like a drowning man, hence the name.)

And finally, we have an Urza’s Saga Island misprint that lacks an expansion symbol. It’s not worth that much—$60 or so—but still, it’s quite unique and makes for a cool story.

Angus Mackenzie ? Commander | Mark Wischkaemper

  • Commander (0)

If you’re playing with a group that isn’t worried about the banned list, there are a few other cards worth considering. An Alpha Black Lotus is worth $16,300. An Alpha Mox Emerald rated PSA-10 is worth $3,717. Professional Sports Authenticator is a third-party grading system for collectible cards. A 10 rating means the card is in pristine condition and therefore worth more.

Mox Pearl
While we’re at it, let’s get to a really special card. Occasionally, a card will be crimped by the packaging machine. A Beta Mox Pearl, crimped by the machine, is worth $1,900—that’d be really neat here. It may seem weird that the imperfection increases value, but lust works that way sometimes.

If someone actually wants to build this deck, well, I hope you do it seated at a solid gold recreation of the Iron Throne in your mansion in St. Tropez while drinking thirty-five-year-old Yamazaki bourbon (the bottle is $27,000) while fueling up your private Triple 7. And invite me to play. Remember the real goal is just to leave people pop-eyed, lusting for each card, and not really to win. Still, Angus Mackenzie should help keep us alive long enough to play a bunch of our cards, and maybe the opponents won’t kill us so they can see more. I suppose with Mana Drain on the Scepter, one might be able to keep people off enough spells to hold on—especially with Moat and Forcefield out—to win with some weird combination of Elesh Norn, Luminate Primordial, and Craterhoof Behemoth, but hey, who cares, amiright?

What card do you lust for? Did I miss anything egregious? Next time, we’ll be back to the normal budget for Pride—any suggestions?

If anyone is interested in the prices I found for the deck, here’s a link to a Google Doc with all the cards and the prices I found.

Oh! One more thing.

Total cost: $78,810.43

Take a look at the previous Seven Deadly Commander Articles:

  1. Greed
  2. Gluttony
  3. Sloth

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