A Reprint Roundup for Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate Preconstructed Decks
Stolen Strategy | Illustrated by Dmitry Burmak
Here's a little pop quiz for you : since this time two years ago, how many preconstructed Commander decks have been released? Don't look it up.
Give up? If you're counting the upcoming Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur's Gate preconstructed decks, then the answer's 28.
That's a lot of copies of Zetalpa, Primal Dawn.
We're joking of course. We like to have fun here at Commander's Herald, and what's more fun than complimenting and lambasting Commander deck reprint choices in the same breath? Today, we're going to take a look at some notable reprints from the latest quartet of precons, and indeed there are some notable ones.
Of course, in hindsight, my guess that we were going to get a Repercussion reprint this time around seems a little foolish, but hey, did you see that new art for Consuming Aberration?
First off, let's take a look at everything that, as of each deck's full reveal, were listed online for purchase at more than $10.
Calculating Lich has only appeared once before, exclusively in foil in Game Night 2019. That particular release was a box set containing preconstructed 60-card decks almost entirely comprised of reprints, save for our math-loving Zombie Wizard here, as well as Highcliff Felidar, Sphinx of Enlightenment, Fiendish Duo, and Earthshaker Giant. Even with its relevant creature types and powerful ability, its price jumped up above that $10 threshold only recently. Still, it's a welcome addition to the Party Time deck. Maybe with more copies floating around, it'll get played more than its current usage on EDHREC indicates, where it's logged in fewer than 1,000 decks.
Should Fiendish Duo have been reprinted as well? Maybe, but we'll take what we can get.
Creeping up in price since January to average around $11 on the day of Party Time's reveal, Sevinne's Reclamation returns to us from its original, and to-date only printing, in Commander 2019. Even with the double-digit price tag, it's played in more than 30,000 decks on EDHREC. It also provides mono-white decks with a way to generate card advantage, which is a feat that until recently seemed nigh impossible. Perhaps with this reprint, Sevinne's Reclamation will join its partner in "resurrect small things" crime, Sun Titan, as a go-to fetch-land fetcher.
Can you believe that Skullclamp is still north of $10? That might be different soon with its inclusion in Party Time, but we've seen the world's most uncomfortable hat several times over the years. The banned-in-multiple-formats-but-not-Commander Skullclamp appeared originally in Darksteel before seeing reprints in SEVEN Commander releases as well as Mystery Boosters, The List and From the Vault: Exiled. Make that eight Commander releases now, actually, with its presence in the 99 of Party Time. Every one of those printings is more than $10. Still one of the best ways to draw cards in plenty of decks, we see Skullclamp played in almost 170,000 decks on EDHREC. Many a Birds of Paradise have been clamped for the greater good after they've outflown their usefulness, and with yet another reprint, that's not going to change.
Mutavault can be anything; it can even be a $10 card despite a few previous printings. A perfect rehash for the Party Time deck with its creature-type themes, this'll be the fifth time we've seen Mutavault, but the first time in a preconstructed deck. Originally printed in Morningtide, another set that cared about creature types, it was reprinted in Magic 2014 as well as not one, but two promos, namely for Grands Prix and for 2007's Champs Promos. Its previous iterations are all in the $10 ballpark, save for that Champs Promo version; that one will run you a bit more. Pretty much an auto-include for a tribal deck that isn't trying to go bonkers with its manabase (I'm looking at you, Atogatog), Mutavault sees play in a shade more than 11,000 decks logged in EDHREC.
Remember way back in the halcyon days of Commander Legends when many a player looked at Jeska's Will as an innocuous little sorcery that didn't deserve much more than a cursory glance? That was November of 2020, and shortly after the release of Commander Legends, Jeska's Will could still be had for a buck or two. Since then, the card ballooned to nearly $30 before drifting back to a slightly more reasonable $15 or so. But now, it can be had for the price of the Exit from Exile preconstructed deck. As you might have guessed, players quickly discovered that Jeska's Will was worth inclusion in pretty much any deck that can play red, and as a result it's played in nearly 90,000 decks, as per EDHREC. That's 17% of all decks that can play it, in case you're counting, which is good for the 91st most played card in the past two years.
This one was admittedly a bit of surprise, as I had no idea it was hovering around $12 at the time of Exit from Exile's reveal, but thinking about it, it makes sense: it had only been printed once, in Battlebond, and it's certainly popular, appearing in about 10,000 decks in EDHREC. People just love stealing stuff from other players' libraries, and the hyperbolic among us may or may not have referred to it as the "red Phyrexian Arena" when it was first printed. But there's a reason why Etali, Primal Storm is beloved, and it also synergizes very well with a certain Tiefling Warlock that shall remain nameless (it's Prosper, Tome-Bound, I'm talking about Prosper).
Curse of Opulence
First appearing in Commander 2017 alongside a cycle of Curses (Curse of Bounty, Curse of Disturbance, Curse of Verbosity and Curse of Vitality), our hero "Curse Guy" returns in the 99 of the Draconic Dissent* deck ready to bribe the table with Treasure. Unlike the rest of that cycle, however, Curse of Opulence required more than pocket change to acquire, creeping up to around $15 in recent months. As someone who has cursed many an opponent with Opulence in my day, I can assure you that it's worth it, especially if it's your play on the first turn of the game. Just pick whichever player's jib you don't like the cut of, and curse away. You're playing red; you don't have to explain yourself. At least that's the mindset behind its inclusion in more than 25,000 decks on EDHREC.
*Is it just me, or is it incredibly bothersome that Descent of the Dragons was not included in the Draconic Dissent preconstructed deck? No, just me? Fair enough.
Here's a fun one. Hunted Horror hasn't seen the light of a printing press since way back in Ravnica: City of Guilds, or in human calendar terms, October 5, 2005. It was a part of a cycle: Hunted Dragon, Hunted Lammasu, Hunted Phantasm and Hunted Troll were all in season on Ravnica back in 2005, but only Hunted Horror breached that $10 ceiling. Hunted Horror joins most of its cousins on the reprint train, 17 years later, and now only one, Hunted Phantasm, remains un-reprinted.
Also, if that cycle are all cousins, then what does that make Hunted Wumpus?
Herald's Horn | Illustrated by Jason Felix
These cards might not have been too expensive on their own, but they're certainly nice to see. Remember, reprints serve a greater purpose than to irritate speculators: they're also key to introducing new players to old favorites.
Mother of Runes
Of all the cards reprinted in this round of Commander decks, I've probably played Mother of Runes the most. It's great in nearly every deck I've put it in, from Karlov of the Ghost Council, to Alesha, Who Smiles at Death, to Saffi Eriksdotter. And undoubtedly, it'll be great in Party Time. Mom has been in two draft sets, four preconstructed sets, has spent time in Mystery Boosters, and has four separate Secret Lair versions. There's also an FNM promo that'll run you about $40. That's all to say that I'm happy that with this most recent printing; anyone who wants a copy should be able to get one, and if you want to get fancy with it, that Urza's Legacy foil looks pretty nice.
Here we have another member of a cycle, specifically a land cycle from Onslaught that cares about creature types. While the fetchlands might be the land cycle from Onslaught people like to talk about, Starlit Sanctum (and its friends Wirewood Lodge, Seaside Haven, Goblin Burrows and Daru Encampment) formed an interesting uncommon cycle, and while they might not be as powerful as fetchlands, they're certainly more fun. Sure, outside of tribal decks, they're virtually useless, but that's the fun of tribal decks: playing cards that are objectively bad outside of your synergy. What, you think I'm playing Purple-Crystal Crab because it's good?
Once upon a time, Three Visits was more myth than reality. Originally appearing in Portal: Three Kingdoms, the white-bordered Forest-fetcher was an excellent ramp spell that hardly anyone used or had even heard of. Functionally identical to another ramp-blast from the past in Nature's Lore (which is also seeing a reprint in the Exit from Exile deck, and in the main Baldur's Gate set), Three Visits (and its borderless variant) was welcomed by players as a reprint in the first Commander Legends, so much so that even at uncommon, the card was still hovering around $6. You can still show off with the Portal version, which is still around $50 and will likely remain that expensive even with a second black-border reprint, but it's nice to allow more players access.
Laelia, the Blade Reforged
Sometimes, preconstructed reprints just make sense, as is the case with Laelia, the Blade Reforged. With Exit to Exile's theme of, well, exiting from exile, Laelia fits perfectly, and as an immediately popular commander upon its release last year in Commander 2021, there's no reason not to include it here. It's already managed to hit upwards of $7 despite being only a year old, and with the glut of exile-related cards we're seeing lately, that price might have crept up even more without this reprint. Nothing feels worse than falling in love with a commander only to realize it's needlessly expensive (a la Angus Mackenzie), so keep 'em coming.
Goblin Spymaster is an interesting case. Appearing once, in Commander 2016, the card could be had for about a dollar for much of its existence. Suddenly, in early 2021, its price jumped up considerably, at one time reaching double-digits. Why is that, you ask? The same reason it's been included in the Draconic Dissent deck: it's great with goad. Forcing attacks is the new cool thing to do, and embedding Goblin spies among your opponents' battlefields is an interesting way to do just that. There's a reason why the top commanders for the card on EDHREC aren't Goblin tribal legends, but attack-loving ones, like Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs (who is also reprinted in the same deck) or Karazikar, the Eye Tyrant.
If you forgot that Spellskite is a Horror, you remember now. Included in the Mind Flayarrrs Horror tribal deck, Spellskite returns to annoy a new generation of players with its "look at me" ability. This'll be the first preconstructed reprint for New Phyrexia's Spellskite, but it's seen plenty of other versions over the years, including a Secret Lair, a couple Masters sets, and an extremely excellent Judge Promo. A long time ago, Spellskite's primary responsibility was to live in the sideboard of Modern decks to counteract Splinter Twin combos, but it's also just fun to "borrow" the enchantress player's Mantle of the Ancients. Spellskite's only played in around 14,000 decks as per EDHREC, so hopefully its inclusion in this round of preconstructed decks bumps up those numbers a bit.
I was a stanch apologist for the Undaunted mechanic when it debuted in Commander 2016, and that hasn't changed six years later with the inclusion of Curtains' Call in the Mind Flayarrrs deck. As a Vial Smasher the Fierce player, any spell that provides both an inflated casting cost and its own built-in discount is perfect, especially if it's an instant, and even if you're not trying to absolve yourself from the responsibility of targeting opponents via a random damage trigger, convincing new players to play more targeted removal by including fun kill spells in preconstructed decks will always get a thumbs-up from me.
Eight-and-a-Half-Tails, Selfless Spirit, Order of Whiteclay, Jazal Goldmane, Maskwood Nexus, Vault of the Archangel, Xenagos, the Reveler, Return of the Wildspeaker, Brash Taunter, Avatar of Slaughter, Rowan Kenrith, Will Kenrith, Domineering Will,Plague Spitter, Nemesis of Reason, Hullbreaker Horror, Drown in the Loch, Mindcrank, Herald's Horn, and River of Tears.
New Looks, Old Favorites
As is tradition, a number of reprints received new art to mark their inclusion in a new preconstructed deck. One might expect that new art to be in some way relevant to the theme and setting of Baldur's Gate, and one would be right. Let's do a lightning round of new art on old cards.
Regarding Hornet Queen, while this art has been seen before, on the version of the card present in Amonkhet Remastered, this'll be the first time we see it on a paper card.
A Reprint Reprise
As we head into the back half of 2022, it's likely we're about to see more reprints than in any year in Magic's history. We've still got Dominaria United and Double Masters 2022 slated for the next few months, as well as Jumpstart 2022 and The Brothers War in the few months after that. Two of those sets will be comprised almost entirely of reprints. So for those lamenting the fact that this card or that card wasn't reprinted here, patience might be the name of the game.
What are your predictions for the rest of the year?