Top Ten Reprints for Commander 2023 (Really This Time)

Nick Wolf • December 19, 2023

It Keeps Repeating

Let me hit you with some numbers really quick. 

According to Scryfall, the calendar year of 2023 saw 5,869 reprints. That's not entirely accurate, of course, and we can refine that number a little bit. If we eliminate Arena exclusives, we get that number down to 5,390, and if we excise promo reprints (like, for example, Abuelo, Ancestral Echo and other "reprints" in semantics only), then we're down to 4,806. For reference, the total number of cards printed in cardboard in 2023 that aren't promos is 8,372, so more than half are reprints.

But we can keep going. What is the true spirit of a good "reprint," anyway? I'd wager that one of the requirements would be ease of access, which brings into question Secret Lairs. On one hand, reprints contained in Secret Lairs are print-to-order, and when you plunk down the cash to order one you know you're getting a specific half-dozen or so cards. But you're not going to open a Secret Lair reprint in a pack, which makes those contained within a Secret Lair more expensive. That's the opposite of what we want in a solid reprint. By that logic, we can also eliminate any serialized reprints, because they don't benefit anyone other than the person who comes into possession of one. Now we're down to 4,709. 

But how do we count Special Guest cards? The Lost Caverns of Ixalan was the official debut of Special Guest cards, a concept that will be with us for the foreseeable future. Therein, we saw not one, not two, but seven versions just of Mana Crypt. Are they all discrete reprints? What are we even doing here anymore?

The proliferation of reprint sources has really thrown a wrench into what used to be an easy concept. Draftable sets had a few reprints of cool older cards, which ones were the best?

Maybe I'm being flippant. In truth, despite sometimes struggling to discover just how a card was reprinted, we can't argue that there are more reprints out there than ever, and that's a good thing for new players and old veterans alike. So what were the top ten reprints of 2023? I can promise you that Arcane Signet does not make the list.

And in case you're new to this, all prices mentioned below are in American dollars, and all usage data is "borrowed" from EDHREC. Don't tell them, we got a good thing going here and we don't need them ruining it.

10. The Great Henge

Did we need it?

Technically this one was reprinted twice: once as the big ol' tree we knew and loved from October 2019's Throne of Eldraine, and once cosplaying as The Party Tree, which I'm told is something tangentially related to Hobbits.

Despite Throne existing near the start of seeing every rare and mythic rare in a set featured four times (regular, full art, planeswalker symbol, and prerelease promo), The Great Henge jumped to more than $60 around the release of Kaldheim in early 2021, and only started coming back down to earth around the releases of The Lord of the Rings Commander and Commander Legends. In other words, we desperately needed a reprint, though it could be argued that even twice reprinted isn't enough for the big tree. If I were you and a betting man be, I'd throw a fiver on seeing another version pretty early on in 2024.

Did we want it?

The Great Henge is one of those cards that is never a bad card to play. Sure, it costs nine mana, but not really. Despite its outrageous price as a single, we see it played in 10% of all decks that can include it (i.e., decks running green); that's 155,435 decks. If you're playing green and use even a few creatures that can contribute to providing a discount on The Great Henge's mana cost, there's really no downside. We definitely want more copies out there in the wild. Shoutout to all 359 of you playing The Great Henge in a Jund Vial Smasher build (with Gilanra, Caller of Wirewood), I see you out there. You're players after my own heart.

9. Force of Will

Did we need it?

The signature card of villains and tyrants, Force of Will sees play everywhere from the upper echelons of competitive EDH to games so casual that the blue card being exiled from the hand to cast the Force of Will is Dichotomancy

Returning to us thanks to Dominaria Remastered, we actually got three reprints at once: the one already linked, as well as this one and this one. All three are great of course, as you can't go wrong in commissioning two Magic art masters in Richard Kane Ferguson and Donato Giancola. Of course, I'll be petty and point out that I actually prefer the Scott Fischer version from 2020, but that's not relevant to this conversation.

Force of Will has been around a hell of a lot longer than The Great Henge, and the price history of the card certainly reflects that. For example, the Alliances version is currently around $65, which is the lowest price since roughly 2011. That said, you'd be hard pressed to find any "legal" versions of the card for less than $50 despite being reprinted now seven times since 2016. 

In essence, yes, we needed the reprint, and we need more still. We all need a Force of Will so we can embrace our villainous side now and again.

Did we want it?

Speaking of villainy, EDHREC reports that 182,255 decks contain a Force of Will, good for 11% of all decks running blue and 19th best in the color. It turns out that people want "free" counterspells that won't murder them for being absent-minded. 

I'm sure that number saw a bump after the release of Dominaria Remastered in January, which seems like eons ago. Technically, that was almost a year ago, so I'd say we're due for another Force of Will. Maybe the carrot to get you to buy July's Assassin's Creed crossover? 

8. Greymond, Avacyn's Stalwart

Did we need it?

This one makes the list not so much for what it is, but what it represents. Don't get me wrong, from a financial standpoint, seeing Rick Grimes age a few decades, don a tricorn and grow a sick mustache did a bit to soften the price tag that's been slowly creeping up for a while now, as does apparently wielding the symbol of Avacyn's church. Rick, Steadfast Leader was one of eight cards contained within the Walking Dead Secret Lair, and by far the most expensive, sticking to close to $60 for much of its lifespan thus far. Seeing him debut in Universes Within as Greymond has helped lower that price by about $10.

But what's more valuable than money (not really) is what this reprint means to the game overall, specifically when it comes to Universes Beyond. That Walking Dead Secret Lair dropped in 2020, and for much of the time after, Wizards of the Coast was reticent to say that we'd ever see in-universe functional reprints of Rick, Michonne, Glen, Negan and the other guy. Oh, and there's also Gisa's Favorite Shovel, a stand-in for Negan's baseball bat, that also got a Universes Within printing. Though this isn't the first time that these in-universe versions of Universes Beyond cards have been created -- we've seen it with Stranger Things and Street Fighter as well -- the Walking Dead in particular represents a change in reported policy, and a welcome one at that. Especially if you were like me and really, really wanted to build a deck around Negan but didn't want Jeffrey Dean Morgan smirking at you every time you sat down at Commander night.

Did we want it?

As of the time of this writing, Greymond is the commander of 269 decks on EDHREC. That's .008% of all decks logged on the site. There are a few reasons for that, of course. One, everything I said up there in the last paragraph; the thing's expensive, and until recently it was a guy from the UK pretending to be a guy from Georgia. Two, its iteration as Rick (along with his Walking Dead friends) was banned in Commander before it was even released and didn't become legal until Greymond hit the scene only a few months ago. And three, despite its occasional meme-able utility in other formats, there are other, more interesting commanders if you're looking to play humans. So while we didn't want it in terms of the spirit of this segment, I would say we did want it for what it represents going forward.

7. Jeweled Lotus

Did we need it?

An alternative title for this article could be "Ten Cards That at One Point or Another Made Very Reactionary People Swear Commander as a Format is Dead," as you'll see moving forward, and perhaps none were so controversial as Jeweled Lotus. Originally appearing in Commander Legends, Jeweled Lotus fittingly returns in Commander Masters, this time in a couple versions -- etched, full art and textured foil -- to go along with the "regular" version.

As far as the reprints' impact on price goes, the card debuted in Commander Legends in late 2020 at $200, so anything is an improvement from that. Shortly thereafter, the price for the first printing settled down around $100, dipped to $75-ish early this year, and when Commander Masters came out in August, didn't budge. The regular version from CMM is also roughly the same price. Like other in-demand Commander cards (like the one at No. 5 of this very list), seeing a reprint so soon is heartening, but it's only a first step of what will likely need to be many. Or, maybe they can just put it in a precon, that usually does the trick.

Did we want it?

Everybody wants at least one Jeweled Lotus, I'm sure of that. The uses are myriad, from cheating in a powerful commander in a competitive setting to helping lessen the burden of being obsessed with playing an Iname as One deck, but we all want one. It's included in 7% of all EDREC decks, which might not sound like a lot but you have to remember that there are a lot of decks on EDHREC, so 7% is still a quarter-million, give or take a few. It's most commonly seen in cEDH lists, but not exclusively. If only Braids, Cabal Minion were legal in a Commander world with Jeweled Lotus, could you imagine how fun that would be? 

Seeing a reprint this year of Jeweled Lotus is certainly welcome, but I'm hoping we don't have to wait three more years for the next one.

6. Cavern of Souls

Did we need it?

It's a rarity these days to get a solid reprint in a boring ol' main set release, so it was definitely refreshing to see Cavern of Souls pop up in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan. It makes a hell of a lot more sense there than it did in Innistrad when it debuted in Avacyn Restored, that's for sure. 

We've seen Cavern of Souls a lot over the past few years. Since 2022, the card has seen print in one form or another 16 times, though that number is a bit misleading. Ten of those reprints are from Lost Caverns of Ixalan alone, coming in a variety of colors and other promo stylings. Also this year, we saw it appear as Paths of the Dead in Tales of Middle-earth Commander not once but thrice, including surgefoil, a treatment I still haven't seen in person and until I do am not convinced of its existence.

At one point (a.k.a. during the spike in prices during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-2021), the original version of Cavern of Souls would run you nearly $100. Nowadays, it's half that, and I'd like to think that the aggressive reprinting lately has had an influence on that.

Did we want it?

As a land that can make any color, Cavern of Souls can go in just about any deck, and according to EDHREC, "just about any deck" is 188,814 total. If you're playing a creature deck, it's likely you have or have wanted a Cavern to keep those pesky blue players from meddling with your Slivers/Dragons/Jellyfish. And even if you're not themed around creature type, just having a land that guarantees you'll resolve your commander is worth it on its own a lot of the time. And with all these reprints, Cavern's easier to get than ever. 

5. Smothering Tithe

Did we need it?

Smothering Tithe is one of those cards that might not have started as a "Commander card," per se, but quickly became so entwined with the format (for better or worse) that it's now appeared in more Commander-specific products than not. What began in Ravnica Allegiance way back in (checks notes) three-and-a-half years ago has seen print in Double Masters 2022, a judge promo, and this year, both in Commander Masters and the Wilds of Eldraine: Enchanting Tales bonus sheet. There's pretty much a version now for all types of Magic player: flat fantasy fanatics, fans of close-ups of hands grabbing at money, supporters of a guy puking out coins like he's possessed by the spirit of a change machine at Chuck E Cheese, and of course, anime girl appreciators. I think that encompasses pretty much everyone who plays Magic, more or less.

The Ravnican version hit heights as high as $50 for a time, but after all these recent reprints, you can get it for around half that, much like most of the nonfoil printings. That's the mark of a good reprint right there. Of course, the borderless anime confetti foil will run you around $304 at the moment, so use that information how you see fit.

Did we want it?

If a deck's playing white, there's a 26% chance that there's a Smothering Tithe somewhere in the 99. Like Rhystic Study, the value of the card skyrockets in a multiplayer setting, especially among libertarian playgroups that don't believe in paying taxes. Nearly 400,000 decks on EDHREC feature the card, placing it as the third-most popular white card of all time, behind Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile.

Say what you want about what Smothering Tithe might do to the game itself in practice, but it's firmly the poster child of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." And now, after this year, that's pretty easy to do.

4. Sylvan Tutor

Did we need it?

Among my personal playgroup, I'm known to be staunchly anti-crossover. It's just not for me. But I'm not here to yuck anyone's yum, and outside of Dungeons & Dragons, the sets centered around The Lord of the Rings are probably closest to your average Magic setting, so much so that I can see the appeal, if I squint, so while my knee-jerk reaction when seeing that they reprinted Sylvan Tutor with a new LotR paint job wasn't favorable, I came around. 

Two things helped with that. One, Detroit natives Greg and Tim Hildebrandt are credited with the art, and the pair are probably in my top ten or so favorite fantasy artists of all time. Speaking of which, the art on the card is actually quite old. Tim passed away in 2006, but this particular piece was painted for a LotR collection by the brothers in the mid-70s. I don't care if it's a crossover with seminal 1995 sci-fi show Sliders starring Jerry O'Connell, you slap some Brothers Hildebrandt on a card and I'm there. 

The other thing that I came to appreciate is just how rare a reprint of Sylvan Tutor actually is. The card originally appeared in Portal, and since then it was reprinted exactly once, as a judge gift card in 2020. Each print is successively cheaper, as the Portal version still costs around $60, but this year's reprint is $35. There's a lot to like about this one, even if it is technically a Universes Beyond exclusive reprint.

Did we want it?

A high price tag, the fact that it comes from a nearly 30-year-old set, and the divisive nature of tutors all limit this one's play data. On EDHREC, we see it used in only 14,435 lists, or roughly 1% of all decks playing green. Compare that to Worldly Tutor, which is almost the same card with a slightly different name and is played in 223,630, and you can start to see how impactful good reprints can be. 

3. Cyclonic Rift

Did we need it?

A lot of the chatter about Cyclonic Rift I could probably just copy and paste from the entry about Smothering Tithe. It debuted in a set based on Ravnica. It wasn't initially a Commander card but has since forced its way into being one of the most ubiquitous cards in the format. It's unnecessarily expensive, even though a lot of people hate it.

Cyclonic Rift has been a part of our lives for more than a decade, and has seen four reprints between its debut in 2012 and now. Unlike many of its friends in Commander Masters, we didn't get new art, and outside of the etched version we didn't get a fancy border. I wonder why that is.

No I don't, because I know the answer, and the answer is Ravnica Remastered. We can't technically talk about it here, since it comes out on January 12, 2024, which is not, as my fellow calendar aficionados have no doubt spotted, in 2023. All these reprints, however, and the card is still $25, which admittedly is an improvement over the $40 it at one point demanded. And I bet that price will dip further soon.

Did we want it?

It might not be Sol Ring, but chances are pretty good that if you're playing a deck with blue mana, you've got a Rift hiding in there somewhere. And by "pretty good" I mean specifically a 30% chance, because nearly a half-million decks on EDHREC include it. Only Counterspell is a more played blue card than Cyclonic Rift.

Oh, and fun fact: Cyclonic Rift is also the 14th-most salt-inducing card, exactly what you want in a card that everyone plays.

2. Capture of Jingzhou

Did we need it?

There are a few five-mana blue cards that say "take an extra turn," like Temporal Manipulation, Time Warp, or evenTemporal Trespass under the right conditions. But outside of a judge gift card in 2017, only Capture of Jingzhou went almost 25 years between printings.

If a reprint isn't designed to sate high demand by raising supply, then the other hallmark of a worthy reprint is unearthing a forgotten gem, and that's exactly what we have here. Sure, the Portal Three Kingdoms version is still $350 and that's not going to change, but now if you absolutely needed to play Capture of Jingzhou, you can for much, much less than that. It's even got the original Jack Wei art, so kudos for that.

We saw similar resurrections of P3K cards when Imperial Seal, Imperial Recruiter, Sun Quan, Lord of Wu (in Commander Masters as well) and Three Visits are all common sights now, among others. Then there's also Corrupt Court Official, reprinted in Streets of New Capenna and no one cared because it's a bad card and functional copy of a Ravenous Rats

I'll take a Kongming's Contraptions next if we're honoring requests.

Did we want it?

Officially, Capture of Jingzhou is in 0% of decks on EDHREC. In actuality that's 7,942 total lists, but so few that it doesn't really register statistically. So now, we didn't want it necessarily. Unless, of course, you play Narset, Enlightened Master and you just have to have another spell that gives you a free extra turn. You know who you are.

1. Demonic Tutor

Did we need it?

We have Demonic Tutor at the top of the list because it could be anything. Reprinting Demonic Tutor is like reprinting 98 other cards in your Commander deck, right? Basically. 

Even though Demonic Tutor has been around since Alpha, it didn't see a reprint you could open in a pack until Ultimate Masters in 2018. Since then, it's popped up on The List, as a judge promo, as one of those Strixhaven Mystical Archive dealies (in English and Japanese), appeared in Mystery Boosters, and saw a reprint in the 30th Anniversary Edition that people bought, I swear. That brings us to this year, where it appeared in Commander Masters in three versions: two very good Zack Stella depictions with one regular and one spicy, and the utterly amazing Donato version.

The biggest issue I have with this particular reprint is that its rarity was set at mythic, which outside of some supplementary set appearances marks the first time for such a rarity on the card. Because of this, the price won't be as impacted as it would have been had the card been rare instead of mythic. Even still, it's a classic card and when it's reprinted, we notice. 

Did we want it?

Like mentioned above, tutors are divisive. Some swear by them as a way to make games faster instead of hoping/waiting to draw that perfect card. A tutor is effectively a second copy of anything you want, which means you have twice the chance to rip that Hypnox off the top. Others claim tutors reduce the variance of a Singleton format, thus violating the spirit of the game. Either way, you probably still play Demonic Tutor, it just depends on whether you're willing to admit it.

According to EDHREC, 25% of all decks running black include a copy of Demonic Tutor, which is pretty good for a card that has never really been under $30 since Commander as a format was invented. If you're wondering, the fact that it's logged in 428,284 decks means it's comfortably the number one most popular black card of all time, beating runner-up Dark Ritual by almost 80,000. 

Beware the Generosity of Reprints

It's been a long and winding road but we got there. Was there anything on this list you think should have been replaced by something else? There were a lot of reprints over the course of 2023, so naturally your Top Ten list probably looks quite different than this one. Your favorite reprint of 2023 was probably Arcane Signet, wasn't it? You can tell me.

See you next year!