Trading Post: Top 100 (or so) Pimpest Commanders

Welcome to a new feature on Nerd Alert: Trading Post, wherein I discuss the financial side of Commander deckbuilding and collecting. This feature will be an irregular update, unlike the usual Monday Strategies, Wednesday Deck Salad Surgery, and Friday Card of the Week. It will largely be updated when inspiration strikes!

This particular column was inspired by an unexpected discovery I made when I dismantled my Hanna, Ship’s Navigator deck this past weekend. I chose to take it apart, something I rarely do with decks (I’ve done it less than once per year since I started this format), because it was among the least interactive of my decks and was rather boring to play. Mystical Tutor for Tunnel Vision, Tunnel Vision myself naming Open the Vaults or Replenish, cast one of those and win with gross Opalescence combos. I don’t care that much when my decks aren’t fun to play against, but it was no fun to play, either, and after almost a year where I played it probably less than twice, it was time to try something new.

Anyway, I have a personal obsession with having my Commanders foiled. I have chosen commanders like Oros, the Avenger over other options like Tariel, Reckoner of Souls largely because the latter is not available in a premium version. (Granted, that Commander has no interaction with what the deck is doing…) It’s dumb but it’s important to me. I was shocked to learn that the foil Hanna, Ship’s Navigator who’s been at the helm (ha ha) of that deck for a couple of years had jumped from the $10 I’d spent on her to whopping $50! I suddenly became curious where that ranked on the list of most expensive Commanders, and thus produced this list. (It’s #13, by the way.)

Doran, the Siege Tower
Pimpin’ ain’t easy … when the card costs more than the rest of the deck.

I give you: the 100 (or so) pimpest Commander cards! And the winner of Pimpest Commander Out There goes to …… Doran, the Siege Tower extended art promo! This bad boy will run you a meagre $250. Vendilion Clique wins for most expensive pack foil.

This list is particularly interesting to me because the Commander market has had the largest influence on price on premium edition Legendary Creatures. The easiest way to tell if it was Commander that influenced the price on these foils is to check the foil price vis-a-vis the non-foil price. It’s not unusual to see $2 cards with foil editions over $30. On the other hand, premium versions of cards like Vendilion Clique and Griselbrand are influenced largely by 60-card formats. It’s also interesting to note that cards heavily played in 60-card formats are worth substantially more than those even heavily played but only played in Commander. Compare, for example, Griselbrand vs. Sharuum, the Hegemon.  Griselbrand is not playable in Commander and commands (heh) a hefty price tag, while Sharuum is an A-list general by any standard but which didn’t make this list in either of its premium versions.  Furthermore, a premium Commander must not only be heavily played to see an increase in price, it must also be from a relatively unpopular set to see a big spike in value.  Compare, for example, Sharuum again, from a popular base set, to Azusa, Lost but Seeking, from an unpopular base set.

All this says that while Commander does have an influence on the market, it’s not nearly as big an influence as any of the sanctioned formats, and price increases are more tied to supply than demand.

While mostly a curiosity, hopefully list this can help you trade effectively, and more importantly, compare yourself to your friends and rivals.

1. If the version does not list a set release, the card is only available from one set.
2. Everything on this list is at least $15 as listed by Star City Games on July 30, 2012 (non-sale price).
3. These prices are for English cards only. As a result, P3K cards in Foreign languages are less expensive than the prices listed here, and generally, foreign foils of non-P3K cards are more expensive than listed here (especially Russian and Japanese).

Rank Card Price Version
1 Doran, the Siege Tower $250 Extended Full Art Promo
2 Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed $200 Portal: Three Kingdoms
3 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind $120 Extended Full Art Promo
4 Ertai, the Corrupted $100 Alternate Art Foil
5 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero $100 Alternate Art Foil
6 Vendilion Clique $75 Morningtide Foil
7 Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary $60 Foil
8 Diaochan, Artful Beauty $60
9 Hua Tuo, Honored Physician $60
10 Zhang Fei, Fierce Warrior $60
11 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn $50 Rise of the Eldrazi Foil
12 Griselbrand $50 Foil
13 Hanna, Ship’s Navigator $50 Foil
14 Radiant, Archangel $50 Foil
15 Reya Dawnbringer $50 Invasion Foil
16 Kira, Great Glass-Spinner $45 Foil
17 Iona, Shield of Emeria $40 Foil
18 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth $40 Foil
19 Linvala, Keeper of Silence $40 Foil
20 Nicol Bolas $40 From the Vault: Dragons
21 Progenitus $40 Conflux Foil
22 Squee, Goblin Nabob $40 Mercadian Masques Foil
23 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre $40 Rise of the Eldrazi Foil
24 Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed $40 Judge Foil
25 Lady Zhurong, Warrior Queen $40
26 Meng Huo, Barbarian King $40
27 Avacyn, Angel of Hope $35 Foil
28 Azusa, Lost but Seeking $35 Foil
29 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite $35 Foil
30 Geist of Saint Traft $35 Foil
31 Vendilion Clique $35 Judge Foil
32 Yosei, the Morning Star $35 Foil
33 Akroma, Angel of Fury $30 Foil
34 Akroma, Angel of Wrath $30 Legions Foil
35 Azami, Lady of Scrolls $30 Foil
36 Captain Sisay $30 Foil
37 Crosis, the Purger $30 Invasion Foil
38 Gisela, Blade of Goldknight $30 Foil
39 Jhoira of the Ghitu $30 Foil
40 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker $30 Champions of Kamigawa Foil
41 Sakashima the Impostor $30 Foil
42 Sliver Legion $30 Foil
43 Venser, Shaper Savant $30 Foil
44 Zur the Enchanter $30 Foil
45 Angus McKenzie $30
46 Sliver Queen $30
47 Sun Ce, Young Conqueror $30
48 Erayo, Soratami Ascendant $25 Foil
49 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV $25 Foil
50 Llawan, Cephalid Empress $25 Foil
51 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind $25 Guildpact Foil
52 Sigarda, Host of Herons $25 Foil
53 Dong Zhou, the Tyrant $25
54 Gwendolyn di Corci $25
55 Hazezon Tamar $25
56 Lu Xun, Scholar General $25
57 Tetsuo Umezawa $25
58 Akroma, Angel of Wrath $20 Time Spiral Foil
59 Akroma, Angel of Wrath $20 Duel Decks Foil
60 Cromat $20 Foil
61 Darigaaz, the Igniter $20 Foil
62 Dromar, the Banisher $20 Foil
63 Eight-and-a-Half-Tails $20 Foil
64 Gaddock Teeg $20 Foil
65 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni $20 Betrayers of Kamigawa Foil
66 Keiga, the Tide Star $20 Foil
67 Kokusho, the Evening Star $20 Champions of Kamigawa Foil
68 Momir Vig, Simic Visionary $20 Foil
69 Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind $20 From the Vault: Dragons
70 Reya Dawnbringer $20 10th Edition Foil
71 Rhys the Redeemed $20 Foil
72 Scion of the Ur-Dragon $20 Foil
73 Squee, Goblin Nabob $20 10th Edition Foil
74 Thraximundar $20 Foil
75 Treva, the Renewer $20 Pro Tour Foil
76 Adun Oakenshield $20
77 Cao Cao, Lord of Wei $20
78 Cao Ren, Wei Commander $20
79 Dakkon Blackblade $20 Legends
80 Lady Sun $20
81 Lu Bu, Master at Arms $20
82 Nicol Bolas $20 Legends
83 Sun Quan, Lord of Wu $20
84 Yuan Shao, the Indecisive $20
85 Zhang He, Wei General $20
86 Zhao Yu, Chief Commander $20
87 Zhuge Jin, Wu Strategist $20
88 Zuo Ci, the Mocking Sage $20
89 Myojin of Night’s Reach $16 Foil
90 Progenitus $16 From the Vault: Legends
91 Rith, the Awakener $16 Invasion Foil
92 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre $16 From the Vault: Legends
93 Guan Yu, Sainted Warrior $16
94 Arcanis, the Omnipotent $15 Foil
95 Arcum Dagsson $15 Foil
96 Braids, Cabal Minion $15 Foil
97 Bruna, Light of Alabaster $15 Foil
98 Darien, King of Kjeldor $15 Foil
99 Empress Galina $15 Foil
100 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn $15 Release Promo
101 Godo, Bandit Warlord $15 Foil
102 Jenara, Asura of War $15 Foil
103 Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund $15 Foil
104 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker $15 From the Vault: Legends
105 Kokusho, the Evening Star $15 From the Vault: Dragons
106 Lin-Sivvi, Defiant Hero $15 Foil
107 Mikaeus, the Unhallowed $15 Foil
108 Oona, Queen of the Fae $15 Shadowmoor Foil
109 Rafiq of the Many $15 Foil
110 Rakdos the Defiler $15 Foil
111 Teneb, the Harvester $15 Planar Chaos Foil
112 Treva, the Renewer $15 Invasion Foil
113 Kong Ming, “Sleeping Dragon” $15
114 Lu Meng, Wu General $15
115 Lu Su, Wu Advisor $15
116 Ma Chao, Western Warrior $15
117 Rasputin Dreamweaver $15
118 Zhao Zilong, Tiger General $15

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