How Much Playable Value is in Commander Legends?
“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 did a little experiment. The evidence is a bit anecdotal, but it provides us with a look into what makes this latest set, Commander Legends, such a great product. I know I’ve spoken about how great this set was going to be, and who doesn’t like saying, “I told you so,” but I want to highlight a few reasons why this set is so legendary. Rather than going through the set color by color we can get a sense of what this set is like by cracking some packs, and separating those cards out into their likely uses. I love buying singles to build my decks, but this set is something entirely new, and it offers us all a fresh take on what it means to buy a box and crack all the packs without drafting. Before it sounds like I’m advocating you do that, please be aware that I always recommend you draft a box with friends (whenever possible). It’s the best way to open a box, and when everyone knows there is no prize pool or rare drafting, then people are totally free to draft experimental ideas and not be punished. So, draft if you can, but crack if you must.
When you crack a pack from a normal Standard set, let’s say Ikoria, you might get something like this:
I might be able to utilize that Dark Bargain for some card draw, and maybe I can slot Unlikely Aid in a deck as a spicy include, but the rest of these cards are probably only getting played in either a mutate deck (narrowly focused), or not at all.
If we move into the uncommons from the pack we have Porcuparrot, Parcelbeast, and Alert Heedbonder. Now, I’m not saying these aren’t really cool cards for one or two different Commander decks, but that’s all I see any of those three ever fitting into. I’m probably not going to run Porcuparrot in any of my mutate decks. I do have an odd ball Infectious Mutators deck that’s red, black, and white, so Porcuparrot may slot well into that, but that’s about it. Otherwise, I guess a vigilance-matters Commander deck could use Heedbonder. I might use Parcelbeast in a mutators deck, but that’s about the only place you’ll find me running that particular card. From the uncommons in this pack—I’ll probably only play one of them.
Now onto the rare in the pack, Gemrazer. I am keen to toss this into any deck that’s not human based. Blowing up artifacts and enchantments while beefing up a mana dork (Fyndhorn Elves comes to mind) is great. So I ended up walking away from this Ikoria pack with 2-3 cards I could play in my Commander decks. This is assuming I have some pretty specific and odd ball themed decks to put these into. That’s not a very good value, and it’s indicative of what you get when opening Ikoria packs as a Commander player. Overall, I felt Ikoria was a solid set for Commander, but it honestly can’t hang with a set that’s literally made for Commander. Nothing can.
What does the playability of a Commander Legends pack look like? When you crack a pack you get 20 cards, and what might you find is actually pretty amazing—5 or 7 commons that I already use in several decks. I can always use more of those types of cards as I’m bound to be building more decks (more on that in just a moment). The uncommons usually have at least 2 out of the 3 that are worth playing in most Commander decks. Meanwhile, the rare slot can be a bit of a wild card. After that, there are 2 legendary creatures in every pack, so I’m definitely going to be getting at least 1 if not 2 potential build-around Commanders in every pack. This is just the beginning of the value train.
Consider the price of the box, and then consider the number of cards you are getting—480 cards in each box of Commander Legends. That’s a fantastic rate when you consider that a box of Commander Legends is priced at nearly the same amount as a standard booster box. Both boxes give you 480 cards, but Commander Legends packs them all into 24 packs instead of 36. You get a minimum of two legendary creatures in every pack (that’s not counting the rare or foil slots). This means that every box of Commander Legends comes with a minimum of 40 Legendary cards. That’s one box. Now, when you start parsing out commons that are playable, you are looking at somewhere over 200 playable commons to build your future Commander decks. You will likely walk away with nearly 40-60 playable uncommons as well! Your 480 cards will be so full of playable cards, that you are more likely to use most of the cards in your box than you are to file them away and forget them. Forget “draft chaff” and say hello to a “box bonanza” you won’t ever forget. You can likely build five or six brand new Commander decks just from one box of Commander Legends. I’m not kidding. You will need to provide the basic lands, but other than that you open enough unique cards to actually build multiple functional Commander decks. That is a staggering value! Buying a set of Commander preconstructed decks has always been a great deal, and now just buying and cracking a draft booster box of Commander Legends provides almost all of the same potential and then some. That’s incredibly exciting for both new and established players. New players can get incredible value, and established players are suddenly free to build more and more decks. When you consider that a standard booster box nets you at most 150 playable cards per box, and Commander Legends provides more than double the amount…the price point seems unbelievably good. I’m still in shock about what a great deal this set truly is.
Building decks from cards in Commander Legends is incredibly exciting for everyone. The range of Commander styles available covers all archetypes. There is a Commander in this set for every player out there, and that’s not hyperbole. To further demonstrate my point, let’s look at a sample pack and break it down to see exactly what I can do with these cards, aside from using them as bike spoke decorations and noise makers (does anyone even do this anymore because if so, you need to send me pictures).
I’m going to open a pack right now, as I’m writing this, and see what I get…
Portent of Betrayal, I will likely not use this card. I already own some, and unless I’m building a deck that steals people’s creatures and sacrifices them, I’m not running this card. This is a card that was probably included because it works well in a draft environment. 0 Playables / 20 Cards
Lifecrafter's Gift is definitely a card that is going to be played in several of my decks. Hydras? Yes, please. Reyhan? Yes, please. Any +1/+1 counter deck is using this all-star common. 1 Playable / 20 cards
Supernatural Stamina is a fantastic combat trick that allows you to usually make a trade your opponent wasn’t banking on. It also enables your creature to come back for some extra enter-the-battlefield trigger action. All that for one mana is exactly the type of sneaky stuff I love having in any Commander game. 2 Playables / 20 Cards
Trusty Packbeast is more of a roleplayer in draft style Commander decks, but could very well have a place in white blue builds that need a way to get important artifacts back into your hand. It’s an outside chance I’d play this, but a newer player will certainly welcome this into their fresh 99. 3 Playables / 20 Cards
Flood of Recollection is an easy include for spells decks that wish to abuse extra turn or untapping cards. This exiles itself, because it is just way too efficient not to. An excellent common that definitely has a place in many spells matter decks. 4 Playables / 20 Cards
Staunch Throneguard is a great way to enable any deck that’s drafting to snag the Monarch for a turn or more. At the kitchen table (or perhaps zoom table), this might be worth including if you have the right build for it. I will definitely be slotting this into a handful of different decks to see how it shakes out in practice, but I expect it to probably only work well in a couple of those decks. I also expect it to work well in a few decks I’m currently working on. 5 Playables / 20 Cards
Ninth Bridge Patrol seems like a solid card for blink decks, aristocratic sacrifice builds, and black white tokens as well. It is the type of card that grows out of control quickly and provides a powerful effect for only a two mana investment. I’ll be running this card for sure. 6 Playables / 20 Cards
Filigree Familiar is a bit of a stinker outside the draft table. Is it useful in an oddball artifact build. Is it likely to make an established player’s 99 most times? No, probably not. 6 Playables / 20 Cards
Trove Tracker is a pirate, and so has a decent chance of being played for that reason alone. The Encore ability seems solid for Commander draft, and I’m curious to see if it actually matters in constructed Commander. I’ll be trying it out in a pirate deck for sure, yar! 7 Playables / 20 Cards
Farhaven Elf is awesome. The only people not playing with this card are those that don’t own them. 8 Playables / 20 Cards
Boarding Party has that pirate thing going for it. It is also an interesting card in that it has both haste and cascade. The large power makes this a card worth considering in many hasty and aggressive builds. I bet this will be worth slotting into decks that go beyond the hearty pirate theme. 9 Playables / 20 Cards
Eyeblight Cullers is a card that has a lot of interesting effects and should help sacrifice decks and token strategies do some silly things. I have a few decks in mind that could probably utilize this five mana 3/3, which is more than I want to pay for my 3/3’s, but with the three tokens as a bonus I’m interested. 10 Playables / 20 Cards
Terramorphic Expanse is a solid card, and of course I’ll play with it. 11 Playables / 20 Cards
Thirst for Knowledge is a card I run now, and I’m sure this copy will get used as well. 12 Playables / 20 Cards
Faith's Fetters is a solid removal option for white decks. It has been outclassed as a creature removal spell, but its flexibility to shut off Planeswalkers and Non-basic lands keeps it a card worth considering for most of your white builds. I like to run it in several decks, so yes, another winning uncommon. 13 Playables /20 Cards
Shimmer Myr lets me play artifact spells as though they had flash, and so it is going in every artifact heavy build. Why wouldn’t it? This is an awesome uncommon. 14 Playables / 20 Cards
Akroma’s Will is a solid rare. I will be running this, and the hardest part will be deciding which deck gets to try it out first! 15/ Playables / 20 Cards
Colfenor, the Last Yew is going to be very fun toughness-matters and reanimation abusing deck. A really flavorful and fun card to build around. Woohoo! 16 Playables / 20 Cards
Alena, Kessig Trapper is absolutely going to be a Partner Commander deck, and will probably be a card I use with Prismatic Piper as well. There is so much to play around with on a card like this. This is super fun. 17 Playables / 20 Cards
Foil Thorn of the Black Rose is something I won’t be playing with. I say this, because I plan on trading it. I’ll be using a non-foil one for sure! I’m excited by getting such a highly sought after common in foil, and that’s also a part of having so many great commons. When you open a foil for them it’s still pretty exciting. I can’t say that I’m often excited by my foil commons, but this set will certainly be changing that reaction. I was very happy to open this, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to snag some useful uncommons or a silly rare by trading it to a friend. 18 Playables / 20 Cards
Copy token card. Sure, Tokens are fun, and better than a lousy advertising insert. Hurray for bonus tokens!
There you have a single pack broken down into its potential uses for both established and new players. Overall, this is what I would say is a fairly average pack. It’s not overloaded with expensive cards, but it also represents the depth of play each pack offers you. Will there be cards in each pack you won’t play with? Yes, but those cards will be the minority and not the majority. I’m looking at playing with nine out of every 10 cards I open in Commander Legends. Seriously, even if this rate dips by 3 or 4 cards we still have an amazing opportunity to build up the useful part of our collections. This set flips the table on our expectations for finding new cards to run in our Commander decks. We will be swimming in both new cards and useful reprints as well. I’m going to crack an entire box next week, and I’m going to break the cards into two piles: cards I plan on playing in my decks, and cards I plan to file away. I suspect the piles will be incredibly uneven. I anticipate having to make two piles for the keepers and when I go to sort the rest away, it should take me much less time than filing away my extra Core Set 2021 cards.
Commander Legends is going to be the hardest set to hold onto for drafting. I say this because safely drafting during this pandemic is a clear issue. I plan on playing sealed with my friends over Zoom (or maybe spell table). However, I also want to draft it in-person. It’s tough not to crack a box knowing that there’s so much sweet Commander goodness waiting inside. I am glad I have an iron will and that I will be able to abstain from cracking all that I have ordered. However, I’m also glad that I’ve decided to slowly open an entire box just to build new decks with. I’m so happy I splurged on this set, because the return in play value is ridiculously high. I honestly believe that even if you only play particular colors that you can easily trade away the colors you don’t play and pick up plenty of cards you’d like. I hope you enjoyed this little dive into what it looks like to crack into a pack that provides so much playability. Just imagine if you had been drafting this box, and then after those hours of drafting for fun you got to tear all the decks apart and then build constructed Commander decks. This is a wonderful time to a Commander player, and a wonderful time to be playing Magic. Until next time, may your days be full and your packs loaded with fun cards!
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