Ultimate Masters has undoubtedly lived up to the hype, and I believe this is due to taking a different route compared to previous Masters sets. Despite the tremendous support towards Modern in this set (which I wrote about earlier this week), Commander and Legacy received some much-desired support as well. Although Commander is more challenging to finance given how vast it is, I’ll be guiding you through the best pickups from this set that you don’t want to miss.

Commander is the most popular casual format around, and a chunk of a card’s value is typically based on Commander application. Casual formats generate more profit than competitive Magic, and it isn’t close. Despite this, financing Commander is tough, and there are plenty of variables that contribute which can be difficult to predict. A typical trend is through content such as Game Knights (The Command Zone) and Commander VS (Star City Games)—given their popularity and clever deck design, a ripple effect happens where people build these decks which create demand and value. A great example of this is Josh Lee Kwai building the B/W Athreos, God of the Passage deck with a Shadowborn Apostle theme. The deck looked powerful and at the time was budget-friendly. After the release of the video, Shadowborn Apostle rose to $6 each because it only had one printing and you can play many more than four copies in one deck. Since then it’s leveled out at rougly $4 each, but it’s a testament to how much influence on value is due to Commander.

This can also happen with new product. If we take this year’s Commander pre-cons as an example, Estrid the Masked is an “Enchantments matter” Commander. When players improved the deck, plenty of powerful enchantments rose in value such as Sterling Grove and Enchanted Evening, not to mention The Chain Veil, which goes infinite with Estrid herself.

It is challenging to speculate and market cards for Commander, as there are too many variables and cards to affect it. The best way is to invest in staple cards that will always be in demand. Ultimate Masters does an excellent job of supporting this, providing a decent opportunity to pick up staples while prices are low. Prices will escalate over time due to the shorter print run compared to other Masters sets, and uniqueness of some of the cards will contribute to value along with demand.

Ultimate Masters contains many of the much-desired Commander staples, especially in the black color pie. Demonic Tutor is the best tutor in Commander and essential in black-based decks. The card now costs $25 each, a fair price given how difficult it was to obtain a black-border variant before and the overall demand for the card. Commander boasts a lot of powerful card combinations, and Mikaeus the Unhallowed is a premier choice alongside Triskelion. As a result, Mikaeus has always been expensive; now it’s a more reasonable $15 than the $30 it was prior. Bitterblossom has plenty of history in Modern and Legacy, but shouldn’t be ignored in Commander if you pair it up with Skullclamp for example. Price is beginning to creep up given its play in other eternal formats, sneaking over $30 is a fair price for an unusual ability such as this one.

Blue also obtained a handful of reprints in the form of Glen Elendra Archmage and Temporal Manipulation. Glen Elendra always had a tricky price point given that Eventide wasn’t popular. Now an Ultimate Masters version is currently priced at $7, which is great value for a blue Commander staple. Time Walk effects are always desired, and Temporal Manipulation is part of a long line of these effects. Now at $24, it’s more affordable compared to the Portal Second Age version, which holds at $80.

Adding to this, Laboratory Maniac provides an alternate win-condition in these style of decks. It had previously peaked at $10, but since the reprint it’s now $1.60 helped by the downshift to uncommon rarity. Back to Basics sees a bunch of Legacy play, but it can be a fine addition to a blue Commander deck as well, depending on your land base. After dropping from $80 to $20, it’s one to consider picking up.

Artifacts are the backbone of Commander decks. Like previous Masters sets, Ultimate Masters brings the big artifact reprints. The key card is Phyrexian Altar. Sacrifice outlets are popular in the format, and generating high amounts of mana is a common strategy as it allows you to end games more quickly. Phyrexian Altar is a compelling card, and at $19 currently is a fantastic price given its Invasion printing was at $55 before the Ultimate Masters release. With this, it wouldn’t shock me to see Phyrexian Altar to creep back up over time as it’s a unique and potent ability which will always see play.

Accompanying this is Mana Vault, a powerful mana rock for explosive early turns in the format. The $30 price may feel similar to the Revised printing, but it’s one to pick up for sure as I expect this version to rise in value. Mana Vault has been difficult to obtain in black border, so I predict there will be a premium on the Ultimate Masters version for this reason.

Ultimate Masters also saw a solid selection of lands which see Commander play. I’ll be honest; I didn’t expect to see a Phyrexian Tower reprint considering the three cards in that cycle are on the Reserved List, resulting in a slow buyout trend in the Urza blocks. Phyrexian Tower is a welcomed reprint nonetheless, now at $14 compared to the $50 back in its peak.

Mana acceleration is an essential element in Commander—that’s why we all play Sol Ring—but Ancient Tomb brings another superb addition to the cause. It’s fantastic mana acceleration for the small penalty of two damage a time, and at $23, it’s an excellent price point on what is a Legacy staple. Adding to the boons of playing black in Commander, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth provides ideal fixing in black-based decks and works well with Cabal Coffers. Now sitting at $12 compared to the $22 before the reprint, it’s a good time to pick it up with some lovely new art.

There are some notable mentions such as Sigarda, Host of Herons. It’s a contextual card but can be good in the correct metagame, and the new $7 price tag makes the card a lot easier to attain than before. And let’s not forget Eternal Witness, which is now half the price ($4) and you can never have enough of them.

Overall, Ultimate Masters has brought a myriad of reprints to Eternal formats. But future Masters sets are likely to be few and far between, which I feel is unfortunate, I do hope Wizards’ push more desired reprints through supplemental product for Commander as there will always be a demand for staples and singles. In the meantime, there is no harm in trading and buying into singles now before circulation dries up, giving you options what to play.

Emma resides in Suffolk, England and started playing Magic back in 2014 when Khans of Tarkir first hit the shelves. She dabbled in Standard for a while then shifted into Modern, in particular playing Eldrazi Tron and Commander where she has found her home. Follow her on Twitter @emmmzyne to join in on the conversation!

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