New Horizons - Wilds of Eldraine Commander

20 Sep
by Matt Grzechnik

From a High to a Low

The Commander: Wilds of Eldraine product presents yet another pairing of decks to accompany the main set release. Upon examining the available cards, assessing the overall power level, and observing market prices, it becomes evident that this product has many conscious inclusions.

Drawing a parallel to the previous release, Commander Masters, it's worth recalling the obnoxious price hikes that surrounded those decks before decklists were revealed. In stark contrast, the Wilds of Eldraine Commander product offers an accessible purchase point and modest power level. This makes it an excellent choice for newcomers or budding players to the Commander format. Moreover, these decks are thematically rich, leaving ample room for players to explore additional upgrades with many price-efficient inclusions…don’t look at what happened to Faerie Harbinger!

While none of the cards included are designed to break the bank, these decks focus more on reprints, and more specifically cards that have seen recent price increases. Several of the cards are more utility-focused and could serve as easy placeholders across a variety of decks, however, we'll delve deeper into these particulars in the following deck breakdowns.

Virtue, Valor, and Another Color

Virtue and Valor positions yet another enchantment-themed deck to join the ongoing competition for the best enchantment deck of the year. In the context of this release and the preceding Enduring Enchantments deck from Commander Masters, both have taken enchantment themes in distinct directions. Virtue and Valor, however, takes a laser-focused approach to Auras, with the rest of the deck designed to support this theme through discounting cards rather than gaining card advantage. Thematically, the deck excels, staying true to the Aura concept, however, it does leave room for improvement in terms of power and utilization flexibility. While the choice of deck and gameplay remains at the discretion of individual players, this deck provides enough cards to keep a strong white/green shell, while introducing another color into the mix. A Bant enchantment deck, for instance, would fit comfortably with more controlled game-style options.

Returning to the discussion of reprints and new cards, there are relatively few inclusions in this deck. The two cards that have caught my attention: Setessan Champion, notable for its consecutive printing, currently averaging at $2.50, and Retether, receives its second ever printing, causing its price to get knocked down from $7.20 in its original print to $2.50. While Retether serves a highly specific piece of recursion that belongs in decks like Bruna, Light of Alabaster, Setessan Champion is an engine that will grow and generate card advantage in any enchantment-focused deck.

Court of Fae Dominion

Fae Dominion, like the previous deck, is a thematic success that delivers an engaging gameplay experience centering on Faeries, a relatively uncommon creature in Magic.

With both the face commander, Tegwyll, Duke of Splendor, and the alternative Alela, Cunning Conqueror, encouraging a slightly different approach, the deck offers versatility. Whether players focus on the aristocratic effect of Tegwyll or delve into the spell-slinger nature of Alela, the deck performs well out of the box and provides a clear upgrade path potential. 

One new card from the deck that stands out is Misleading Signpost, currently priced at $2.30. Its unique effect combined with its utility as a three-mana rock, makes it a potential favorite among lower-powered settings.

Regarding the reprints in the deck, Kindred Dominance deserves a mention in the same manner as Setessan Champion, as it’s also been reprinted two sets in a row. Following its introduction in the Commander 2017 Vampiric Bloodlust deck, it didn’t see print again until Commander Masters, and now it’s in Fae Dominion, where it's available for $3. Kindred Dominance is experiencing the most substantial price drop compared to its original printing, which consistently approached the $40 mark, with the highest average price reaching just over $38.

Of Courts, Thrones, and Gluttons

Now let's delve into the cards available as part of the Booster Fun experience, separate from the decks themselves. Following the enchantment theme, we find the five mono-colored Courts. Each Court introduces or reasserts the Monarchy to the casting player. However, there's a significant caveat: these Courts don't provide any immediate effects beyond this until the next upkeep. Moreover, the effect is determined by the Monarchy, a minor effect if the player has lost the Monarchy in the interim or a major effect as a replacement or addition to the minor. Between having to wait a turn to get a benefit from the effect and being tied down by the mechanic, most Courts fall short of justifying their inclusion. The potential exception is Court of Garenbrig, which brings two +1/+1 counters each turn and has the potential to double all +1/+1 counters on creatures you control. Currently, sitting near its all-time low at $3, it's expected to climb in the coming weeks, likely reaching the $5-$6 mark.

Turning our attention to the remaining cards, we have two legends and the Throne of Eldraine itself. Regarding the powered-down version of Korvold (Korvold, Gleeful Glutton) and the new Birthing Pod commander Brenard, Ginger Sculptor, both require build-around efforts and aren't poised to warrant significant price fluctuations or spikes.

The real standout is the Throne of Eldraine, currently valued at $8.50 and showing a gradual incline. This card has the potential to reshape how we view mono-colored decks. While its five-mana cost may seem steep, the repeatable effect of drawing two cards each turn is substantial. This won’t replace Sol Ring in terms of place in the 99, but if you're running a mono-colored deck, why wouldn't you play the Throne?

Once Upon a Time

The Wilds of Eldraine Commander decks transport us to a different era in Magic's history, evoking a time when decks and gameplay experiences were simpler and highly enjoyable. These decks embody straightforward themes, staying true to their focus without introducing major outliers. They can be retained as is or serve as an ideal starting point to explore upgrade paths that offer experimentation. Many of the cards featured have seen recent reprints, further reducing their prices or enhancing accessibility to players.

The cards not included in the decks themselves provide a nice bonus, but they don’t significantly impact the overall experience, with the exception of Throne of Eldraine, which is likely to gain popularity over time.

Curiously, these Commander decks associated with the main set release are the first in a line that breaks the trend of feeling like cheap add-ons. Instead, they enhance the set experience. The exact reason for this exception is yet to be determined; perhaps it's the themes associated with them in gameplay, but it has undeniably been a fun experience.

Join me next time for my take on the Fall Secret Lair Superdrop 2023.

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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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