History, Restapled - True Value

19 Sep
by Steve Heisler

Welcome back for another History, Restapled, a Commander-focused column that attempts to validate a newer card’s status as a staple by looking at how cards that are similar, synergistic, or competing have fared in the past financially.

Wilds of Eldraine has brought some of the most flexible and dynamic cards to the Commander format, many of which immediately found themselves homes in established archetypes. I’ve covered a few of those below. Additionally, I wanted to call out a few cards from The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth that have snuck their way into a surprising number of decks.

Kellan, the Fae-Blooded

The featured player on one of the most busted planeswalkers in existence, Oko, Thief of Crowns, sired a child whose card represents all things Boros. The opening act is an Open the Armory making way for a headliner that can go equally wide or tall, Equipment- or Aura-based. At five total mana, players get the Adventure effect, then receive a 2/2 double striking creature that buffs your team's power for the number of Auras and Equipment attached to him.

Similar Boros representatives, both enabling card advantage and paying off attachment shenanigans, remain cheap for the moment, including Astor, Bearer of Blades and Jor Kadeen, First Goldwarden. Keep an eye on Kellan, only at $2 now, as its level of flexibility is high, its keywords are all meaningful, and its mana cost can be paid over two turns.

STATUS: Staples of Eldraine

Decadent Dragon

According to EDHREC, Prosper, Tome-Bound is the 10th most popular commander of the last two years, and the most popular Rakdos commander by a mile. And for $3, Decadent Dragon represents most of what Prosper wants to do - roughly 2/3rds of a Gonti, Lord of Luxury (bulk) and Goldspan Dragon ($11) in one card. I’m not entirely convinced the unpredictability of playing an opponent’s library or the potential lack of value off the Dragon due to summoning sickness will anoint this card as a full Rakdos staple, but Prosper is going to love this card forever; it’s a staple for anyone looking to upgrade the precon.

STATUS: Adventures in the Stapled Realms

Gruff Triplets

Commander is chock full of token doubling staples like Parallel Lives, Primal Vigor and, of course, Doubling Season - and these cards carry high price tags due to their power and high demand. Given the reprints of these three cards in Wilds of Eldraine, it wouldn’t be surprising if a number of Commander players snagged them in packs or picked them up on the cheap and decided to finally build that token deck they’ve been talking up for so long. We’re already seeing price drops, as well. A year ago, Parallel Lives was more than twice its current $25 price, Doubling Season was $90 only a few months ago and now runs $40, and Primal Vigor went from almost $30 to a price bordering on bulk rare.

Even without any support, Gruff Triplets is a steal: 50 cents, six mana, three bodies, and nine trampling power with potential for nine more over the course of the game. Once tokens start doubling, however, Gruff Triplets rises from being a strong card to a powerhouse capable of taking over the game. Throw in an effect that doubles +1/+1 counters - like, oh say, Doubling Season and Primal Vigor - and the game’s likely about to end. Green creatures that produce multiple bodies are plentiful and will keep getting printed, but Gruff Triplets benefits from some excellent reprint timing.

STATUS: Triple double staple trouble

Great Hall of the Citadel

This utility land from Lord of the Rings seems innocuous enough, but has proven itself to be quite powerful. It enters untapped and produces mana on its own, then helps you cast commanders with highly specific pip requirements. Great Hall is like the cycle of filter lands (e.g. Fetid Heath, Twilight Mire, and the like, all carrying a decent price of $5-$10ish) for any deck that’s more than one color. The card is printed at common, so it’s highly unlikely it’ll surge in price to anything meaningful, but I could see this hitting a few dollars in the not-so-distant future, as well as becoming a harder-to-find card at local game stores due to lack of supply.

STATUS: A staple of legends

Stone of Erech

Good lord, does this card do a lot for only a single mana. I’ve witnessed it shut down three opponents at once - more commanders care about creatures dying than you’d expect - forcing a player to burn a perfectly good removal spell on something so cheap only to have the player sac it and draw.

Stone of Erech represents the best kind of Commander card: it’s cheap and sits on the battlefield forcing players to rethink their strategies even before it has any effect on the board state, and can be cashed in later for value. Aside from effects on lands like Bojuka Bog or Scavenger Grounds, graveyard hate is rarely this efficient or sticks around for this long.

STATUS: Staple all the way to the grave

Kellan, the Fae-Blooded
Decadent Dragon
Gruff Triplets
Great Hall of the Citadel
Stone of Erech

Social Tedium

I’m in the process of giving my Twitter account the X, as the site is skewing, let’s say, away from my tastes. Please join me on Bluesky at the handle @steveheisler and let’s talk Commander! Would also be curious to know which of the Wilds of Eldraine commanders are the most exciting for you to build around. I’ve had my eye on a Kellan deck, but the player base may have better ideas.

Check out these other articles:

Featuring Features by Jason Alt

Modern Times - Wilds of Eldraine by Corey Williams

Hidden Gems - There's No Place Like Homelands by Adam Berg

Steve Heisler
Steve Heisler

Steve Heisler is a writer and pop culture journalist covering comedy, games, television, film and the tech industry. His work has been published in Rolling Stone, GQ, Variety, The AV Club, Fast Company and the Chicago Sun-Times. He began collecting Magic cards during Fourth Edition and plays Commander and Modern primarily. He also enjoys tennis, the Dark Souls family of video games and supporting live comedy. He lives in Chicago with his cat, Rosie.

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