Commander Deckbuilding and Strategy for Magic: The Gathering
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.)
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.
Notes 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).