New Horizons - LOTR Commander

05 Jul
by Matt Grzechnik

Commander: The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is a recent offering from Wizards of the Coast that coincides with the release of their main The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. The product includes four new EDH decks, with a total of 80 new cards, along with valuable reprints. These decks provide a fresh perspective on well-known characters from the Tolkien series. Importantly, each deck includes at least one notable reprint of a card valued at $10 or more, such as Door of Destinies, Reanimate, Toxic Deluge, and Heroic Intervention. These cards possess significant utility and can be used in a wide range of deck strategies.

Including cards that were previously available in limited quantities helps maintain reasonable prices and enables newer players to participate in a slightly more competitive gameplay experience. As previously mentioned in my review of the main set, many newcomers to the hobby are attracted by the Middle-earth theme and are likely to purchase one or two of these decks in order to delve into the world of Magic. This aligns with Wizards' current emphasis on promoting the EDH format and explains the growing number of players who have yet to explore traditional 60-card formats.

Lord of the Nazgul

Lord of the Nazgul possesses several distinctive characteristics that set it apart. Firstly, it belongs to a rare creature type, with only a total of 11 wraith cards ever being printed. Currently it’s considered the go-to choice for a Commander deck focusing on the Wraith theme. Its ability allows players to generate additional Wraiths through the spell slinger subtheme, enhancing their basic attributes in a flavorful manner. However, due to its narrow focus, players may face challenges in customizing the deck according to their personal preferences. It’s also worth noting that the inclusion of the nine Nazgul (0332) cards, which have experienced a significant rise in price (as discussed by Corey), may further contribute to the increased cost of acquiring the Lord of the Nazgul card.

Following some initial adjustments, the price of Lord of the Nazgul is currently trending back to around $10. Upon careful examination, it’s likely that this trend will continue towards $15, as the Hosts of Mordor Commander deck is presently the most expensive option available. Consequently, this may limit the availability and distribution of the card in the short term. In the long run, however, it’s expected that the price will follow a similar pattern to that observed with the Universes Beyond: Warhammer 40,000 decks and individual cards, resulting in a downward trend.

Lord of the Nazgul
Lord of the Nazgul (Extended Art)
Nazgul (0332)

Heroic Intervention

Heroic Intervention, featured in the Elven Council deck, is the final card discussed in the introduction. Remarkably, this is the card's second time to appear in a Commander preconstructed deck. Initially released in Aether Revolt at a modest price of $1.25, Heroic Intervention has experienced a significant surge in popularity. It’s primarily used in EDH, and has had a profound impact on shaping the format and establishing a standard for protective effects. As its price peaked while gaining widespread recognition, many players began seeking alternative cards that could fulfill a similar function. In many cases, players turned to single-target spells like Tyvar's Stand or Tamiyo's Safekeeping.

Both the original copies and subsequent reprints of Heroic Intervention have shown a recent downward trend, dropping from $19 to an average of $15.90. The new printing of the card in the Elven Council deck is available for just over $11.60. When comparing the price graphs of this pre-constructed deck and the Commander: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms version of the card, some similarities can be observed. The AFR version also initially showed an 11% price difference compared to its predecessors before stabilizing over the following months. Therefore, it’s likely that similar patterns will emerge for the new printing as well.

Wizards of the Coast has employed the strategy of enhancing the power level of pre-constructed decks, as these decks must cater to both novice and seasoned players. Over time, reprinting essential cards like Heroic Intervention will enable players to engage more freely in the game without being constrained by budgetary limitations.

Heroic Intervention
Heroic Intervention
Heroic Intervention
Tyvar's Stand
Tamiyo's Safekeeping

Cavern-Hoard Dragon

Cavern-Hoard Dragon represents the growing collection of indispensable red cards in the realm of EDH. Similar to the ubiquitous presence of Sol Ring in 84% of all Commander decks, which is due to its inclusion in pre-constructed decks and its essential role as a fast mana source, certain cards have gained a reputation as automatic inclusions over the years due to the immense power they bring to the table. One such card, specifically associated with red, is Dockside Extortionist. This aggressively-costed creature offers a low mana cost but possesses enormous potential for generating value. However, the limited number of printings has significantly inflated its price.

With an average price of $19.50, Cavern-Hoard Dragon offers a comparable experience to Dockside Extortionist, but with additional steps required to achieve a similar effect. The first limitation is the higher mana cost, which relies on the number of artifacts controlled by a single opponent. However, this limitation is not particularly significant in the current environment, where there are plenty of options to create food, treasures, and clues. The second limitation arises from the requirement to connect with an opponent in combat to reap the benefits. Notably, the creation of treasures is tied to the opponent's artifact count, rather than being based on the potential three opponents you may face.

While comparing it to Dockside Extortionist with extra steps might seem somewhat harsh, we can examine a comparable card with slightly fewer conditions: Ancient Copper Dragon. Although lacking trample or haste, this dragon's treasure creation is determined by a random chance, falling within the range of 1 to 20. Given the current average price point of $56 for Ancient Copper Dragon, there is a strong argument for Cavern-Hoard Dragon's potential to continue increasing in value as time progresses.

Cavern-Hoard Dragon
Cavern-Hoard Dragon (Extended Art)
Dockside Extortionist
Ancient Copper Dragon

Conclusion 

The preconstructed Commander decks for Tales of Middle-earth present a compelling value proposition appealing to both novice and experienced players. The inclusion of valuable reprints, along with a significant number of new cards, has caused a minor disruption in the current Magic finance landscape. Personally, despite the proliferation of Commander products in the market, this particular release stands out as a refreshing change, both thematically, and in terms of value.

There are still more releases on the horizon for Commander, such as the upcoming Commander Masters in August and the Universes Beyond: Doctor Who decks scheduled for October. Naturally, we’ll delve into these topics in greater detail closer to their respective release dates.

Join me in the next chapter of my series 'New Horizons' as we collectively share our discontentment with the Secret Lair Series Summer Superdrop.

Check out these other articles:

The Big Things - Arabian Nights Speculation by Harvey McGuinness

How I Read a Top Commander Page (And So Can You!) by Jason Alt

Where Are They Now? - June 2023 by Ryan Cole

Matt Grzechnik
Matt Grzechnik

Matt Grzechnik started playing Magic with the release of Dragon's Maze. Since then he has tried and experimented with all of the formats before discovering his love for EDH and Pauper. Piloting the same Jund deck for the last 10 years, he now tries to both understand and break Sealed as a format.


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