Commander Masters Predictions

Commander Masters Predictions

Chris CornejoCommander

Commander Masters previews are starting, which means it’s time to get a few predictions for the multiplayer-focused set in under the wire! Given the nature of the set and the four Precon decks that are coming with it, here’s how this is going to work: I’ll make one prediction centered around each of the four separate Precon decks, and then one overall prediction for the entire set. Sound good? Let’s go! 

1. The Eldrazi deck is going to make waves in Legacy. 

It’s been a while since the Eldrazi made a major appearance in Magic, but the last time they did (starting in Battle for Zendikar), they caused some problems. And not just in the storyline — cards like Reality Smasher, Thought-Knot Seer, Matter Reshaper and Eldrazi Mimic (alongside the older Eye of Ugin) formed the basis of decks in Modern and Legacy that dominated those formats until a series of sweeping bans nuked them from tournament prominence. 

Those decks still exist but lurk in the fringes of the older formats. But a brand-new wave of Eldrazi and colorless-matters cards has been just what those decks have been waiting for, and the all-colorless Eldrazi Unbound deck is almost guaranteed to cause a spike in those decks being played in Legacy, at least for a little while. 

All it will take is one card to break through to Constructed playability for those decks to get the boost they need to come out of the shadows. And if more than one truly impactful card comes along, expect to see Wastes all around at any given Legacy gathering.

2. Commodore Guff will bring along at least one of the other Nine Titans we haven’t yet seen. 

Commodore Guff
Commodore Guff

Honest show of hands now: who knows what I mean when I talk about the Nine Titans in Magic? This is some relatively deep lore from a long time ago, so no worries if you’re drawing a blank. 

The Nine Titans were a group of Planeswalkers assembled by Urza to destroy the Phyrexians. It didn’t work in the end, but it was a good idea at the time. Beyond Urza, we’ve seen a few of the Nine Titans already in Magic: Freyalise, Tevesh Szat and Lord Windgrace.  

Commodore Guff was also part of the team, and I’m betting he’ll be bringing along at least one of the remaining four Planeswalkers, if not more. Given this is a three-color deck, not all of the remaining walkers might fit, given their personalities. But I’d be shocked if Guff didn’t bring along at least one friend from the old days — mostly because outside of a set like Commander Masters, I don’t know where else they’d ever show up. 

3. Virulent Sliver will not be reprinted here. 

Slivers has long been feared at tables of various power levels, and with a five-color Precon based around the dreaded creature type being printed, players old and new are going to have a chance to know that feeling firsthand. Sliver decks can be tuned up and the power scale if you know what levers to pull, but one card can quickly take the deck from a casual creature deck to a blazingly fast aggro threat: Virulent Sliver

Giving every sliver (and changeling, let’s be real about how these decks are built) Poisonous 1 might not seem too ridiculous by itself, but that’s kind of the deal with Slivers. You can never think about how a sliver will be “by itself.” 

These creatures snowball and get out of hand fast. Even a small handful of slivers can be deadly with a fast enough start. 

Normally in Commander, the fact that a sliver player has to take out three opponents all with 40 life gives the rest of the table a chance to find a wrath, take out a few key pieces and generally do something to make the deck a bit of a glass cannon. But Virulent Sliver cuts the clock for each player by 75%. Then add in a card like Shadow Sliver and things get unreasonable really quick. 

The upshot of all this is I’m going to guess that, in the interest of balance alone (let alone fun and the feeling of fairness for newer players), Virulent Sliver might skip this particular deck and set. 

4. We’ll get an “updated” Serra’s Sanctum. 

For a good primer on what I’d expect to see in the Enduring Enchantments deck, I’d take a look at old Legacy Enchantment lists. Now, those decks are way too mean and have too many lockout elements for me to think this deck will be based directly off those strategies, as Wizards of the Coast likes their Precons to be at least a little interactive. 

However, there is one card that really ties those old decks together: Serra’s Sanctum. From the same land cycle as Tolarian Academy, Serra’s Sanctum taps for X amount of White mana, where X is the number of Enchantments you control.  

You can see how that would be a killer card in an Enchantment-based deck. Only one major, glaring problem with getting the card reprinted here: it’s on the reserve list. Whether or not you think the Reserve List should be broken, the fact remains that it exists, so we’re not going to get a reprint of Serra’s Sanctum here, or even a new card with the same effect. 

But a new card with a similar effect is certainly on the table, and there are two cards we can look to for recent reprintings that could serve as a good template here: Cabal Coffers and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

A Coffers/Nykthos-style effect where you have to pay mana into the card first before you get a ton of mana based on a certain criterion is different enough that it wouldn’t violate the spirit of the Reserve List, would still be incredibly effective and would bolster the archetype in Commander games everywhere. Serra’s Day Spa, maybe, since you have to pay to get in? 

5. No Partner Commanders. 

Partner is a contentious mechanic. On the one hand (in theory), it allows for an unprecedented level of customization in deckbuilding, mixing and matching color identities and abilities for a staggering amount of freedom and creative expression. On the other hand (in practice), it has really pushed a few broken combinations to the forefront of the format and allowed for the proliferation of a generic, “good stuff”-style of deck that can be stifling for the format at all power levels. 

The intention of the mechanic was good, and the designers’ hearts were in the right place. But the step from “Partners with” to “Partner” proved to be a little much. 

For better or worse, Partner is a part of the format now, and barring a Companion-esque power-level errata coming sometime in the future (extremely unlikely, given that Partner has no real effect on Constructed formats, which is what drove the Companion errata), it will remain difficult to balance and a point of contention. 

So, I don’t think we’ll be seeing Partner in the set, or for a while in general. And I’m perfectly fine with that. 

End Step 

Previews for Commander Masters are about to be in full swing, and Card Kingdom’s presale is live! Whatever your predictions for the set are, you can grab anything you need from the set over there!