Commander Legends is Awesome! Believe the Hype!

Mikeal Basile
November 02, 2020
“Magictating” is defined as getting into the zone with your Magic the Gathering collection--thinking, planning, organizing, reminiscing about past games, and imagining future games. It is a combination of hard thinking about the game and calm meditation, reveling in the joy it brings you.


You didn’t think I’d start off by saying something with “Legends” in its name is legendary did you? I don’t go for such low hanging fruit, but perhaps I should. Commander Legends previews have begun. As I’m writing this I know there will probably be so many more cards spoiled, and I can’t possibly predict what today’s hotness will be. I do know that there are over 1,500 combinations to be had with the return of the Partner mechanic. That is a bit mind boggling, but numbers aside, I have been waiting for this set since before we got any true details about it. I can honestly say that there is no other set I have anticipated as much.


Reflections on Expansions and Making Memories:

I’ve been around for most of Magic’s expansions (I missed the actual releases of Arabian Nights, Legends, and The Dark). I still hunted down every Legend I could find, as they were just too darn exciting not to want to play with. They were gold cards (no others existed at the time) and when they reprinted many of them in Chronicles I was part of the group that was over-the-moon about it. I have fond memories of opening Nebuchadnezzar, Nicol Bolas, and Sol'Kanar the Swamp King as a kid on Christmas morning. Later on, I was excited about the first “Dragon Set”—Scourge, and I anxiously awaited the guilds in Ravnica. I basked in the glory of nostalgia during Time Spiral block, and was so excited for the all-multi-color set Alara Reborn, that I preordered multiple boxes. By comparison, I didn’t think Zendikar Rising was going to be something I’d be interested in. I was right. It has some great items for Commander, but it’s nothing I’m chomping at the bit to buy. Meanwhile, I have been saving my money for Commander Legends. It is going to be a blast to play drafts and sealed decks with it. It’s also going to be extremely fruitful for brewing up my next fifty Commander decks! I honestly don’t know if I can purchase enough of it. I ordered boxes of Commander Legends before the spoilers even hit. Why? Am I a Magic: the Gathering whale? Nope, I just know that this set will be exactly the type of product that I (and other Commander players) want in large quantities. The hype for this set, my fellow Commander players, is real.


Is Commander Legends Worth the Price of Admission?

This set is one of the best deals going right now. When Double Masters came out I was pretty excited, but not overly so, because I already owned almost every card in the set. I had written an entire article about why and how that set would be a good pick up, but I never finished editing it in a timely manner. On top of that, I felt others had already weighed in enough on its value. This is my attempt to right that wrong. I honestly believe that Double Masters was a good deal. Double Masters was a set that anyone who was missing plenty of those cards could have had loads of fun opening up packs, drafting, or simply cracking a box. I often buy a box of each set when it comes out, and lately I’m inclined to buy sets of commons or uncommons as well, but Commander Legends is an amazing opportunity. I imagine that each box you purchase will be, no joke, hours upon hours of fun. I’m not even speculating on the prices of cards or the “expected value” of cracking open a box. I literally mean the time value of your money is so high for this set. As a limited (draft and sealed) set it will be very fun, and Commander constructed will have the single largest influx of innovative, creative, and premium cards it has had since the format took hold.


“I’m an average Commander player, and I want to know if this set is worth it.”

Will Commander Legends offer the average player worthwhile cards? If you play Commander, then my answer is an emphatic yes. This set is so loaded with creative and interesting cards that you will have no shortage of brewing possibilities. As a deck builder, I am honestly a little overwhelmed by all the choices I will have to make as I develop new decks. The variety of deck building choices available in Magic has always been a large part of what makes this game the best card game ever made. Now, the most popular casual format will receive a tremendous influx of new cards at a bargain of price. The commons and uncommons from this set will be extremely useful cards, and will undoubtedly be workhorses for most constructed Commander decks. The average Commander collector should definitely pick up at least a little of this product. If you can somehow do a couple drafts, then go for it (responsibly of course). If you cannot draft it, then consider holding on to those packs. We will draft again IRL… I know we will. The preconstructed decks will also be a great option to pick up. I preordered mine the day put it up (because I’m that guy). I don’t even care what’s in those decks, because Wizards, and in particular Gavin Verhey, knock those things out of the park on such a consistent basis that I just pick them up no matter what. I fully intend to break them down into component parts, but even if you like to simply swap cards out, then those are always an excellent deal for your money. In short, buy as much of this as you can: this is all about fun-time-value of money.


“What if I am into collecting the Premium Cards?”


Will the Collector Boosters be worth it this time around? Well, I guess that really comes down to what you want out of those. If you want flashy foil and full art treatments on your cards, then you should absolutely pick some up. Why not? If you just want your cards to be functional, then I’m going to suggest you opt for drafting, buying a box or two, or even just picking up the pre-constructed decks. However, these new foil etched cards are pretty cool. If you like to foil out your Commander decks, then you should be looking to pick up a box of the Collector Boosters for sure! I’m not usually one to go for these, but I’m totally buying one with my brother. I’ll be splitting one with him, and that’s always an idea for those of you out there that can’t afford to buy a whole box. Try opening a box with a friend (or sibling) and drafting the cards back and forth at the end. My brother and I will just split it between who wants what, and not become overly worried about resale value. Those cards are getting played with; I’m a collector, not a seller!


“Won’t this set ruin Commander?”

Are you upset, because you feel that power creep and Commander products will ruin Commander? Is that possible? Sure, but it is also possible that it doesn’t. I am not a typical gloom and doom player. Each new mechanic and “upgrade” is not something that I insist on using in order to optimize my decks. I want to play decks that are fun to play, and hopefully fun to play against. Sure, I want to crush my friends with a few of my decks and make their experience miserable from time to time, but I think that’s normal. I also want to see my deck and other people’s decks do their things. It’s exciting to play a match where everyone does their thing and someone climbs to the top of the heap at the end of it all. Winning in Commander is not about optimization of card choice, but optimization of playgroup choices. Winning isn’t winning when you do it wrong. Ruining everyone’s time is not really a win in Commander. Trust me, I won’t be inviting you over to play with my group if all you do is make everyone else watch you play Magic. You need to police your own playgroups and determine what’s best for your playgroup’s health. Will Commander Legends make games against brand new people awkward or less interesting? I’m not sure how that will be the case as long as new cards and old cards are allowed to interact with one another. If anything, we will probably start running into an even wider variety of decks. People playing color combinations with Commanders and cards we may not have played against yet, and that’s not a bad thing at all. Will some cards replace others? Perhaps, and perhaps people decide they do not want to “strictly optimize” their decks. I am a proponent of both innovation and creativity. Your decks should be fun, new, old, nostalgic, and yours.


Spoilers! No, I’m not going to give away any new spoilers here. Just think…

As each new card gets spoiled from Commander Legends I can’t help but get excited for how these new cards interact with older ones. This is just how my personal Gleemax works. I can’t stop thinking about secret synergies that I can brew up or delve into. Creating new decks is one of the most fun parts of Magic. However, if you are not feeling confident enough to build your own deck yet, then that’s fine too. Borrow a few deck lists from people or start with any of the excellent Commander preconstructed decks (yes, I mean literally ANY of them). I will also be sharing some new deck techs and lists with you as soon as Commander Legends is officially released, so stay tuned! Additionally, I’ll be providing a guide to spicing up the Commander Legends preconstructed decks as well, so you may want to pick those up. The Commander Legends preconstructed decks are a serious bargain right now!


“Hey Mike, should I draft this set?”

In short, yes! Should you draft Commander Legends considering the circumstances we are in during this pandemic? I would suggest being a bull; pick up as much of this as you can, so when you can actually draft this IRL with your friends you have it. Battlebond was a blast to draft, and I anticipate Commander Legends will be at least as much fun. Having drafted both Conspiracy sets several times, I can tell you that drafting multiplayer decks can be incredibly rewarding. Gavin Verhey was the lead set designer of Battlebond, and I think that was a highly underrated Commander set. There are so many fun cards from that set, and if you don’t believe me, then search up and read through the rares and mythics in your favorite color. I bet you walk away amazed at the possibilities for your Commander decks. Drafting this set with my friends is going to be amazing. I plan on holding on to several boxes of this for as long as I have to. I am committed to experiencing this draft format sometime in the future. I’m not speculating on the monetary value, but the fun value is going to be mythically awesome.


“I’m on a tight budget, so is it really worth the hype?”


If you don’t have the budget to buy boxes for drafting or sealed, then I suggest you pick up singles. Obviously, that’s the only option left, but the prices of many staples in the format will definitely be dropping. I’m certain there will be some incredible reprints, and as I’m writing this more are being spoiled. I’m not only talking about rare or mythic reprints, but more importantly, the budget friendly commons and uncommons. The play value on these reprints will be incredibly high. I would like to stress that I’m not delving into the resell of reprints, but I’m more concerned about the playability of these reprints. The entire set is focused on Commander. That means that every common and uncommon card in this set will likely be in just about every budget Commander list for the next several months, or even years. This set is a boon to all players on tight budgets. You will soon have access to so many quality cards. Commander really is a very budget friendly format. You can get into it, with an entire deck, from anywhere between $20-$40. Hours upon hours of fun for under $50 is an incredible value. I will be making a new deck list for you each month, so keep your eyes peeled for new Commander Deck techs. I will be sure to include a budget version of each deck.


Legendary Number Breakdowns

Commander Legends will have a ridiculous number of Legends: 103 in all. That’s 69 new ones and 32 reprints. This is going to be the best set for Commander since original Legends. The 55 original legendary creatures were printed in Legends, and the 5 original Elder Dragon Legends are what began this format. Commander was originally known as Elder Dragon Highlander (EDH). This format owes its original namesake to original legends from the Legends expansion. Wow… that’s a legendary mouthful. Anyway, the closest set to come anywhere near this was the nostalgic and glorious return to Magic’s first plane of existence, in a set named after itself: Dominaria. Dominaria boasted a whopping 44 Legendary Creatures. That was a tremendous influx for Commander players. Typical higher legendary creature numbers for a set would be somewhere around 25 as we’ve seen in sets like Double Masters, Jumpstart, Ikoria, Theros Beyond Death, and even Masters 25. The nostalgia filled and keyword bonanza that was Time Spiral block included 45 legendary creatures over 3 sets of cards. Likewise, Ravnica and Invasion block only hosted 20 each over the course of 3 sets a piece. Commander Legends has over triple that number in new legends alone. It dwarfs even Dominaria’s incredibly large offering. When you combine these facts with the guarantee of opening 2 Legendary creatures in every pack (not counting the rare), then you have a recipe for making Commander players like me swoon in delight. If you enjoyed opening Planeswalkers in War of the Spark, then imagine opening Legendary creatures at twice that rate. Yes, I just preordered another box after writing that paragraph.


Closing Thoughts:

I know this set is getting even better as I type this. I also know that my faith in Gavin Verhey was well placed. To be fair, he and Mark Rosewater have both earned my trust. In short, my friends, I highly recommend you buy this set, and do so knowing that you are picking up tools to create years of fun. You will be remembering these packs and pulls for years. I can’t say that I remember pulls from several recent sets, but those sets I’ve mentioned in this article are clearly still with me. Commander Legends is not a flashy cash grab, and it is not something to be ignored. It took over six years for this set to be fully developed. It shows with each spoiled card, and I suspect it will really shine through once we get a chance to experience it in limited as well as constructed. I remember the original preconstructed Commander decks, and I knew then they would be great buys. In hindsight, calling them great buys was a gross underestimation. Commander Legends is also a great buy. So, enjoy yourselves and best of luck cracking those Commander Legends packs. May your packs be mythic and your drafts epic. Take care, and have fun making legendary memories.