Commander Legends Sealed Review

Mikeal Basile
December 04, 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.


I had a chance to play a little of the Commander Legends sealed format over the Thanksgiving break. I can say that I need to formally thank all the Wizards that worked on this set. I had an absolute blast playing this format, and I cannot wait to play it again. The only thing that would’ve made it better was if we were playing in-person instead of over Spell Table (which was actually good enough to replace Zoom). The ability to play and keep track of life totals and look up cards quickly on the same exact tab as I was playing on was excellent. I don’t mind having multiple tabs open in a browser, but when I’m trying to play Magic digitally, I find it’s nice to be able to cut out as much multitasking as possible. I digress, let’s get back to what the game play is like when playing Commander Legends Sealed Deck.


Deck Construction Rules:

The rules are similar to Commander, but different enough that you need to know them. You have to build a deck of at least 58 cards and 2 commanders with Partner (Prismatic Piper can be one of them even if you didn’t open one) or 59 cards and 1 commander. You usually want to play around 25 lands, I bumped it up to 26 because I had several 9 mana spells in my deck (yes, you actually get to this point, but more on that later). Your deck must only contain cards that match your commander’s color identity (the colors of mana that appear in the cards casting cost and on activated abilities the commander might have). Unlike “constructed” Commander, you can use more than one copy of any card in your deck. This makes it easier to fill out the deck with commons. Since you are using the contents of 6 packs, you probably won’t have that many doubles of any single card anyways. However, it’s nice to know that you can toss in doubles or triples of a card to reach your 60 card threshold. I only ended up with doubles of Ghastly Demise, so it was a bit like having two bad removal spells in my deck instead of just one (yes, it wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been in other decks).


Deck Building Tips:

When you build a sealed deck, it’s a bit different from drafting. You don’t build as you go, but instead build with what you’ve been dealt. I suggest that you separate all the cards by color first. Once you’ve done that, then you want to look at your mythics, rares, and uncommons in each color. Those will help point you in the direction you most likely will want to go. Barring heavy synergies that jump out to you from the common level (like elves perhaps), you are mostly looking for which color offers you the most powerful spells and creatures. You want a couple pieces of removal, and some big swinging spells or creatures to help you kill off an opponent or two in a hurry.

To help narrow down color choices look at how well the two color combinations work together. Additionally, you can look at what Commanders you’ve opened and see which colors play to those commander’s strengths. This will usually knock out one or two colors right away. You then try to make some sort of decision based on what remains. If you have lots of fixing and rocks or ramp, then go ahead and get greedy: play three colors! My choice is generally determined by the legends themselves. I ended up playing black as my second color in one instance, because it had the best cards out of the other four colors. Green was also too good to pass up, as Kodama of the East Tree is really good. So, I simply grabbed myself the only black legend I opened, Armix, Filigree Thrasher, and partnered it with Kodama of the East Tree. I would’ve played the Prismatic Piper too, but thankfully I wasn’t that desperate. Let the legends and the power of the cards determine your path. If you are really stuck, then try reading over that handy draft sheet that comes in the box. It clues you in to the best supported archetypes for drafting. These aren’t always as possible in sealed, but can serve as a way to help you see some synergies you may have missed.  


Tips for Enjoying your Sealed Experiences:

I enjoy trying to squeeze every ounce of fun out of my sealed pools. I always enjoy playing in pre-release tournaments, and especially when I have no idea what a set has in it. If you ever want to try out a fun experiment, then I suggest avoiding the spoiler season, and then playing with the cards for the first time at a pre-release. It’s an absolute blast! Surprise, intrigue, and many lessons learned all in a few hours of play. Now, Commander Legends offers all of these emotions as well. I am pretty familiar with this set. I’ve written several articles about it, read through the spoilers obsessively as they trickled out, and I’ve cracked a box and slowly gone through every single card (all 480 of them) in order to allocate which deck or decks those cards may or may not be played in. After spending hours on this set, it still had a few fun surprises in store. The joy of watching the cards clash and crash together with four players is not to be underestimated.


Politics is Real Fun (in Magic at least):

I couldn’t help but offer my brother a great deal during one of our games. If he let me hit him for another 6 damage, then I would cast something that would be so worth his while. He took the bait! No, I didn’t switch it up on him. I simply used Profane Transfusion to switch his now even lower total with James’s considerably higher total. I happened to also net a 22/22 out of the deal, but why shouldn’t we all benefit from this deal? Before you go feeling sorry for James, I want you to know that many turns later he proceeded to cast Profane Transfusion himself and swapped my considerably higher life total with my brother’s whopping total of 5 life. These types of crazy swings and politics are abundant in Commander Legends limited. My point is that you should be playing politics if only to add another level of hilarity and complexity to the game we all love so much. We even had a game where there was a period of time when we just kept killing Kamahl, Heart of Krosa to see how many times he could die. He was cast 8 times from the Command zone that game… seriously. It was awesome for everyone but the guy casting him…over and over and over. Watching someone spend 16 mana on recasting their commander is the type of thing you expect to see in constructed Commander, but not in a limited environment. It is just one of the many pleasant surprises from Commander Legends.


Should You Play Sealed Commander Legends? 

Yes, go pick up 6 packs right now and schedule your next sealed game immediately. I’m not kidding. Why are you still reading? Oh, you wanted to hear me wrap things up more officially? Alright fine, finish up this article then go pick up packs and have an awesome time!

Seeing as how we are still in the midst of this pandemic we are struggling to find people to draft with. However, using Spell Table and other online apps to play remotely is working out. Drafting remotely is not possible. But, playing sealed is, and it is so worth it. Opening packs is fun, and then being able to immediately play with the coolest cards from the packs you opened is super fun. You start building memories and testing out cards in a Commander-style format before you even slot a single card into an existing deck. Before you have even begun to brew your new decks, you get a taste of what these cards are like in play. That is so much fun. The play isn’t nearly as grindy as I’ve heard others remark, and the way the environment is balanced it makes rares feel rare, mythics are splashy and exciting, and the synergies are cool and strong enough to beat out bombs. I can’t wait to play again, and I’ll be sure to share a few builds with you next week as well. I think there’s a case here for replaying these Commander Sealed pools a couple of times. It really is just that fun. Well, until next time, may your packs be loaded with fun and your games loaded with mythic plays!