Set Review: Commander Masters

Harvey McGuinness • August 2, 2023

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Commander Masters sure is a set shaping up to be... something. With sealed Draft boxes going for nearly $350+ on the open market, but with limited heavy hitters in comparison to Masters sets prior, the price spread on this set is quite the shocker. I'm not sure about you, but it's not only Wizards' advertising language that is giving me Iconic Masters flashbacks this go-around. That all being said, this set is certain to do something: absolutely annihilate prices across the board.

Before we get into the noteworthy cards we'll see this spin around the premium pack block, it's worth briefly talking about the two primary reasons for a card's price to collapse post-reprint. The first is supply-side: these are the cards with a limited demand, but a supply base that is even smaller and can't support the market (think Grand Abolisher, or the Medallion Cycle). Cards of this sort are the most heavily impacted by reprints, as their prices reach a more natural equilibrium once the new supply balances out with demand. On the other end of the spectrum are the demand-side reprints. These are the cards which have more substantial supply bases but have such a vast demand that the market quickly absorbs any reprints. Cards like these (Jeweled Lotus, etc.) are less impacted by reprints and make quicker rebounds. To clarify, these two categories aren't solely a reflection of one card's demand or its supply, but rather the ratio between the two: Sol Ring has a million printings, but you won't see it get much cheaper with each subsequent Commander deck printing.

So, other than anticipating market dynamics, why is it important for us - as players (and likely pack openers) - to understand this? Because, as we will see over the course of the set review, Commander Masters is stuffed to the brim with supply-side reprints. Demand-side? Not as much.

With our brief economics lesson out of the way, let's talk about Magic cards!


Demand Side

Smothering Tithe, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, Land Tax

While Commander players may have their fare share of concerns about the distribution of powerful effects across the color pie - or lack thereof, in white's case - it's safe to say that white got its fair share of heavy hitters in Commander Masters. Smothering Tithe, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, and Land Tax are all incredibly powerful and popular cards, each commanding a hefty price tag, which I'm certainly happy to see this year. Another thing they share - something which is likely going to keep their prices propped up - is the Mythic rarity.

Expensive booster packs, limited print runs... these are nothing new to Masters sets. The reason this issue particularly impacts cards like Smothering Tithe, however, is that it further diminishes the impacts that reprints have on them. Not every white deck is running Avacyn, Angel of Hope, nor is it running Land Tax, but Smothering Tithe is certainly pretty ubiquitous. Even so, Land Tax and Avacyn are able to maintain inflated reprints because - no matter how many Mythic reprints we get - it will never quite equate to the demand for flashy cards like these. Upshifting Smothering Tithe to Mythic only makes matters worse, and its for this reason that I'm confident that none of these three are going to see a significant downturn over the long-haul.

Supply Side

Loyal Retainers, Steelshaper's Gift, Heliod, Sun-Crowned, Flawless Maneuver, Grand Abolisher

As with most of the other supply side sections on our list, white received plenty of first-time reprints, some upshifted, some not. Each of these cards in their own right is an interesting case, but overall I want to use this first set as an example of a more general phenomenon: a lot of supply side cards, be they first time reprints or not, are generally more specific use cards, as opposed to general purpose. Grand Abolisher is an incredibly powerful card, but it doesn't quite see much play outside of cEDH circles. Similarly, Steelshaper's Gift is great in any sort of Equipment-focused deck, but beyond that it is far from being an auto-include.

Once these cards start to overwhelm the market with modern-era copies, I'm sure we'll see a significant downfall in their prices. We've already started to notice it in the case of Flawless Maneuver and the like, so now it's only a matter of time for the rest. Out of all the cards in white's reprint selection, I'd keep the closest eye on Loyal Retainers: now that's a card with limited supply.


Demand Side

Cyclonic Rift, Urza, Lord High Artificer

The case of blue reprints this go-around is a bit of a strange one: unlike in Masters sets prior, the biggest-ticket reprints here are in the supply side, while the two more in-demand reprints have actually come down in price in recent years due to a steady uptick in supply. So, what stands out?

As much as Cyclonic Rift is a format staple in Commander, it is doubly important due to its status of being a flagship card. When you picture Commander, what do you think of? Sol Ring? Command Tower? Cyclonic Rift? It's because of this combined ubiquity and notoriety that Cyclonic Rift has established a relatively solid price floor, for a modern-era card, that is. This has been tested by various reprints over the year - all small scale, but significant when taken together - and is enough to support a moderately high price tag going forward.

Urza, on the other hand, is a completely different case. Associated with Commander almost solely due to his Vorthos appeal and status as a legendary fixture from Magic lore, Urza, Lord High Artificer is a much newer card than Cyclonic Rift. It has also had a significant reprint less than a year ago, courtesy of the far cheaper Dominaria Remastered. This pummeled the price of Urza, and I don't see the limited injection of new copies via Commander Masters as having much of an effect going forward. Urza has been brought low, and there isn't much more room to fall.

Supply Side

Capture of Jingzhou, Spellseeker, Sun Quan, Lord of Wu, Fierce Guardianship, Personal Tutor

This is where things really pick up. Two of the set's heaviest hitters, in terms of pre-reprint price, can be found here, thanks to the absolutely abysmal print numbers on Portal Three Kingdoms. Beyond that, we've also got a card from the original Portal set - Personal Tutor - which players have been clamoring for over the course of recent years. These three cards are all set for some of the most substantial price drops of the set, as they are the pinnacle of limited supply. Then there comes Spellseeker: another first-reprint (outside of Secret Lair), the demand for this card throughout the whole of Commander is a bit lower than that of other Mythics in the set, meaning that the extra copies will have an outsized effect on the market. We've already seen the price fall courtesy of a specialty reprint; now it's time for a Masters set to shine.

Obvious cases aside, I also want to take a special moment to talk about Fierce Guardianship. This card has incredibly high demand, but - like Dockside Extortionist before it - was limited to solely a Commander deck precon printing. Thankfully, this one hasn't been upshifted, meaning there will certainly be more copies of it floating around. We've already seen prerelease prices fall near fifty percent over the past few months, so I'm not too sure on how much farther this will fall, but Fierce Guardianship here is certainly a card to keep an eye on.


Demand Side

Demonic Tutor, Grave Pact, Toxic Deluge

Immediately, two cards from black's selection stuck out to me as definite demand-side picks: Demonic Tutor and Toxic Deluge. While neither has seen a substantial reprint, they have each received a handful, Toxic Deluge most notably being included in multiple precons as well as the Commander Collection: Black. Similar to Urza, Toxic Deluge is a card with plenty of copies lying around and plenty more people willing to spend a few bucks to pick one up, so its inclusion here likely won't drop the long-term price too much. Demonic Tutor has a similarly broad appeal, but with a shorter supply being increased by an even shorter amount this go around, courtesy of it being upshifted to Mythic. This limited reprint will make a momentary dent for sure, but not enough to satisfy the growing desire for the original tutor.

But what about Grave Pact? Similar to Grand Abolisher from our white discussion, Grave Pact is a card with a bit of a more specific application, coupled with a limited supply. The difference, however, is which group of players want cards like Grave Pact. Far and away from being any sort of competitive staple, Grave Pact appeals to the broader audience - i.e. the bigger audience - that is casual Commander. This puts some extra pressure on Grave Pact's price, something which likely won't dissipate all that easily.

Supply Side

Archfiend of Despair, Razaketh, the Foulblooded, Imp's Mischief, Bloodchief Ascension, Kindred Dominance, Deadly Rollick, Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

Oh boy, we've got a lot to cover here and not a lot of room to do it, so let's move quick. Archfiend of Despair, Razaketh, the Foulblooded, and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed are all splashy win conditions in their own right, cards which have grown near and dear to many players hearts but without anything close to the supply necessary to reach a natural equilibrium. Sure, these may still be Mythics, but first reprints usually have an outsized effect on a card's price, and I certainly expect that to be the case here. Similar things can be said of Bloodchief Ascension, but the three cards to pay particular attention to are Deadly Rollick, Kindred Dominance, and Imp's Mischief. While Razaketh, the Foulblooded and the like had the benefit of being printed in full size, recent sets, Deadly Rollick and Kindred Dominance are both precon-only cards, while Imp's Mischief hasn't been seen since before Mythics were invented. Put simply, one has time on its side (and with time comes supply erosion), while the other two never had much chance to be opened in the first place. Seeing those three at rare should slash their prices substantially, while Mikaeaus and co should see a steady, albeit not as substantial, decline in the months to follow.


Demand Side

Purphoros, God of the Forge, Balefire Dragon

When it comes to red, there isn't much to say about its demand side of the equation. That's not to say that it didn't get anything cool - Purphoros, God of the Forge and Balefire Dragon are both welcome reprints for certain - but neither represent a particularly interesting financial case. Both are incredible damage engines, one a powerful Commander and the other a massive dragon (come on, who doesn't love a good dragon), and both have only ever been Mythics. Balefire Dragon has been reprinted before, giving us a bit of foresight when it comes to its price behaviour - small fall in the immediate days following release, followed by stabilization and a gradual uptick. Purphoros has seen his fair share of specialty reprints, courtesy of Secret Lair, and that didn't cause too much of a plummet, either. All in all, two solid cards to grab soon if you want a copy.

Supply Side

Insurrection, Savage Beating, Deflecting Swat, Neheb, the Eternal

Basically copy and paste everything I said in Black's supply section, and you might as well have red's story. We've even got another card from Hour of Devastation, plus Deflecting Swat in place of Deadly Rollick!

Insurrection and Savage Beating are worth getting into with a bit more detail, however, because - say it with me now - upshifts, people, upshifts! Both of these cards have inflated prices almost solely due to lack of supply, being splashy end-game cards but not nearly as popular nowadays as they once were. They're each a prominent case of price memory assets holding value mostly because people remember them as being valuable - being insulated by limited supply. This makes things a bit tricky when it comes to predicting price collapse, as the smaller print run Mythics hold might not be enough to shake the memory, or it could absolutely shatter it. In a very Red way, I'd call this the biggest coinflip of the set.


Demand Side

Doubling Season, Craterhoof Behemoth, The Great Henge, Heroic Intervention

First off, let me say that if we hadn't just had The Great Henge in Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth courtesy of the Realms and Relics promotion, I would have likely put it in the supply side of the discussion. But, supply has increased, and the price fell only a little bit, so now it's time to see what a real reprint does to this card. It has incredibly demand, but this reprint is sure to have a bigger impact than LotR. Expect to see more of a fall this time, but not enough to make it widely accessible.

Coming next to Doubling Season, Craterhoof Behemoth, and Heroic intervention - each of these are what I expect to happen with The Great Henge if it was just a couple years older. Plenty of reprints between Masters sets, Commander precons, and even a Jumpstart product, but still standing strong and valuable. Each has earned its price tag, and give Commander Masters' price I don't see these falling as much as we'd hope. Grab them while they're hot, because these won't be on the market for long.

Supply Side:

Ohran Frostfang, Omnath, Locus of Mana, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, Finale of Devastation

Similar to The Great Henge, Finale of Devastation is here - in part - because I'm especially anxious to see what a first time reprint does to this card, as well as to what extent the key to its value is simply supply erosion over time. This is certainly a strong card, something worth running if you can, but it feels a bit more like Chord of Calling than Craterhoof Behemoth (and yes, I hear you saying that the +X/+X does matter in plenty of games, but I'm sticking to my point with this).

Omnath, Locus of Mana, and Selvala, Heart of the Wilds meanwhile are both very popular Commanders that make it a bit easier being Green. Each has seen a few reprints here and there, each time knocking the price down a peg, something which I expect to see happen again this go around.

Finally, on to the card that catches my attention the most out of this entire set: Ohran Frostfang. Oh boy, do I have thoughts on this card, but to sum it up neatly, Ohran Frostfang epitomizes a significant collection of the rares in this set. Cards which, before being reprinted, commanded price tags in the $10-30 range, almost solely due to lack of supply. Sure, demand exists - Ohran Frostfang is a good card. But is it a $20 card? No. The same can be said of the once-$10 Nesting Dragon, now hovering ever closer to sub $5. Reprints like this are good, certainly important for the game, but when the bulk of the set is cards of this nature it can leave a paradoxical impression on consumers: would you rather see reprints of cards that maintained something close to their pre-reprint value, post release, because people want them that badly, or would you rather see prices slashed across the board because the cards in the set were primarily propped up due to supply issues? Commander Masters definitely has a mix of both, but I'd be remiss not to point out the vast outnumbering of high-demand reprints by their Ohran Frostfang-like counterparts, especially in a product that costs this much.


Demand Side

The Ur-Dragon

Our one-and-only pick for demand side multicolor reprints is The Ur-Dragon, a card that just barely crossed over from its supply side brethren. While its true that The Ur-Dragon has a high price tag largely due to its limited supply, the net popularity of dragons as a theme is so substantial that any extra copies of this card are absorbed by the market almost instantaneously. This balance means that The Ur-Dragon is among our candidates for most volatile price swings; expect a bit of a crash once new copies hit the market, but any discount will be short lived.

Supply Side

Zacama, Primal Calamity, The Scarab God, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow

The rest of the Commander Masters' more expensive multicolor legends, like The Ur-Dragon before them - share a similiar history of limited printings, but none quite pull the same allure like dragons do. As such, their price drops should all be more sustainable. Zacama, Primal Calamity in particular should see a substantial decrease in price, as it is among the few downshifts in rarity across notable - i.e. expensive - cards in the set.


Demand Side

Jeweled Lotus

Time to talk about this set's flagship card: Jeweled Lotus! Like many of the other expensive cards across this set, Jeweled Lotus is a Mythic that was only printed once. Unlike many of the other cards, however, Jeweled Lotus was printed in a relatively recent, print-to-demand set. Couple that with its...polarizing relationship with Commander players (love it or hate it, the card is powerful), and Jeweled Lotus is a card with an actually decent pre-reprint supply to demand ratio. We've already seen the price come down a solid 30% since first being announced as a reprint, and I don't see much more room for the card to fall. That's not to say this is the cheapest it will ever be, but I certainly don't expect $20 copies anytime soon. Commander Masters had the effect of "resetting" Jeweled Lotus's price to what it was closer to the original Commander Legends release, and it will take a lot of copies hitting the market for the Lotus to fall much more. Not impossible, but tricky for a Mythic.

Supply Side

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Kozilek, the Great Distortion, Extraplanar Lens, Morophon, the Boundless, The Immortal Sun, Hammer of Nazahn, Champion's Helm, The Medallion Cycle

When it comes to the supply side of the colorless discussion, there are three primary categories to talk about: Eldrazi, Medallions, and all the rest.

Separating out the Eldrazi first is important because their prices are going to be heavily correlated with the popularity of the Eldrazi Unbound precon Commander, deck which is being released alongside Commander Masters. Even though Ulamog and friends are getting reprinted, chances are that they will actually see an increase in price - or, a substantially reduced decrease - as players race to upgrade their new precons. This shouldn't have much staying power, however, and the Eldrazi should all return to natural price levels in the months to follow. It will take them more time than any other card in the set, however.

On to the Medallion Cycle. Last seen in Commander 2014, and Tempest before that, these helpful rocks are certainly popular and powerful, but not so in demand so as to command the prices they once were. Thanks to their reprints as rares here, we've already seen their prices slashed by nearly 50% across the board, a trend that doesn't show signs of stopping.

Finally, there are the odds and ends. These cards - Extraplanar Lens, Morophon, the Boundless, The Immortal Sun, Hammer of Nazahn, and Champion's Helm - are far less ubiquitous across the format, nor do they have the same popularity correlation with a new preconstructed deck, but they do have dedicated homes. If I had to pick one, I'd argue for Morophon to be the one which holds its price the strongest, given that it has the healthiest supply and has shown a sustained price over the years, but as for the rest I wouldn't be surprised if we see more volatility going forward.


Demand Side:

Vault of Champions, Training Center, Undergrowth Stadium, Spectator Seating, Rejuvenating Springs

While this cycle may not be the most expensive set of lands, they certainly are a welcome reprint. Each has fallen around $2-4 so far, representing around 15-25% price reductions before cards even hit shelves. Not half bad. That being said, given their relative affordability both pre- and post- reprint, I wouldn't be surprised to see them bottom out and then start climbing back up sooner rather than later. These are among the most widely played lands in Commander, after all, so there will certainly be players who want them.

Supply Side:


Wrap Up

That concludes our review of Commander Masters! The set is full of expensive cards - some of which are primed to crash - as well as some less expensive staples which look more fixed in their value. We've also got plenty of cards that were once a pretty penny that should be, well, more like a penny once the market is flushed with new copies, so get ready to pick up your Ohran Frostfangs! I hope this overview has helped to highlight some of this year's more interesting Masters reprints, as well as maybe clue you in on what makes the market move. Good luck cracking packs, but never forget to BUY SINGLES!

Harvey McGuinness is a student at Johns Hopkins University who has been playing Magic since the release of Return to Ravnica. After spending a few years in the Legacy arena bouncing between Miracles and other blue-white control shells, he now spends his time enjoying Magic through cEDH games and understanding the finance perspective.