Today, Kristen takes a look at how Pioneer affects Commander. Is card availability an issue? How will the market react? Find out her thoughts below. 

The newest kid on the block, Pioneer, is Magic’s latest non-rotating format. Not since Modern has an official new format generated this much buzz; and Wizards seems keen to push Pioneer, with three Pioneer MagicFest events lined up for Q1 2020. If you’d like to read more about Pioneer, you can check out our Pioneer news post, and Zach’s great write up about Pioneer manabases. In short—Return to Ravnica onwards Standard sets, in a new non-rotating format.

Whether you’re excited to play this format or not, it’ll have an impact on the Commander format if it sticks around. The immediate effect on card prices will settle, but it’s likely that card prices won’t be the same again for a lot of cards that had enjoyed a much needed dip after rotating out of Standard.


Always start with the lands. As Zach has already discussed in his article, the Pioneer manabase will feature an assortment of dual lands. The ones most EDH players will be incorporating into their manabases are Shocklands, Temples, Checklands, and Tangolands, e.g, Hallowed Fountain, Temple of Triumph, Isolated Chapel, and Canopy Vista.

The best times to buy any of these lands are following a reprint or rotation out of Standard. The biggest impact I see on Commander here is that Pioneer will make “budget” Commander manabases more expensive. To many players who can’t afford Fetchlands and original Duals, the lands available in Pioneer format are their bread and butter. With increased demand outside of Standard, the times of $5 Shocklands may be behind us. It’ll depend on the success of Pioneer, of course, but for now I’d keep it in mind.


I’m not going to be giving advice on potential cards to invest in here, or what will work and what won’t for the new format. What I will do, though, is go over some popular Commander cards that may see a price hike from Pioneer demand, or, hell, even speculation. So yeah, whilst Abrupt Decay is likely to spike upwards, outside of some competitive EDH metagames it isn’t played much in Commander (or shouldn’t be, at least—too narrow).

I’m also not going to cover cards that have remained expensive and will continue to increase in price regardless—cards like Liliana, the Last Hope. If you don’t want to spend the money on one now, you probably won’t unless it sees a reprint.

Return to Ravnica through Core Set 2014

The most obvious one here is Supreme Verdict. It was reprinted in Iconic Masters, but Modern keeps it in demand already. Adding Pioneer demand means it’s now unlikely to return to the relative lows we saw after the reprint. If you don’t have any and want them any time soon, I’d suggest you look for a deal while you can.

Scavening Ooze also comes from this time. It saw a surge in availability after Modern Masters 2017, but has begun to creep up in price again. Ooze provides great graveyard hate for Commander, it’s highly likely to see play in Pioneer, and still does work in Modern.

Aside from the lands that we’ve discussed already, there are two great sideboard cards from this time. Wear // Tear will slide right into Burn or Red Deck Wins decks sideboards, and Rakdos Charm is I believe a sleeper for the format. It answers the Saheeli Rai & Felidar Guardian combo, and destroys artifacts like Aetherworks Marvel, Smuggler’s Copter, and Grafdigger’s Cage. It does all of that in Commander, too—if you want a cheap copy, get one now.

Theros through Core Set 2015

Lands are the big hitters in this block. Outside of the Temples, we have Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Mana Confluence. It’s likely that you’ve already been putting off buying Mana Confluence for a while anyway with its higher price tag, but Pioneer means that won’t change any time soon.

Nykthos pumps out mana for devotion-style decks, so if you see a cheap one, grab it. It’s reasonable to expect that these two lands may see a reprint in the future, especially if Wizards want to push Pioneer, but I’m not confident that will come as soon as our return to Theros in Theros: Beyond Death.

Swan Song saw a lot of play in Standard at the time and counters a useful category of cards for one mana. It’s seen a reprint, but hasn’t been much under $5 for a while. Pioneer could keep this trending upwards.

Chord of Calling and Phyrexian Revoker are both great cards for Modern and Commander, and they’re likely to see play in Pioneer too. Revoker is still pretty cheap, too. And if you wanted to pick up Eidolon of the Great Revel for your Torbran,Thane of Red Fell list, it’s probably now or never.

Khans of Tarkir Block

Kolaghan’s Command and Monastery Mentor are the big ones here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kolaghan’s Command spiral upwards. Monastery Mentor has been trending downwards after the Judge promo reprinting, so it’s probably a good time to grab one before somebody figures out how to make it work in Pioneer.

Outside of those, Reality Shift can answer problem creatures in colors that want interaction. Dragonlord Ojutai finishes games with the best of them, and it will likely rise in demand. Dragonlord Silumgar may see some play too. Impact Tremors is probably one of the priciest commons in Pioneer—if you need a couple copies for EDH, I’d grab them now.

Finally, Clever Impersonator enables the “Oops, all Siege Rhinos” deck if you’re being ambitious with your manabase. It’s probably better to play Vampire Sovereign, but hey.

Origins through Oath of the Gatewatch

Day’s Undoing is a popular Wheel of Fortune effect in Commander, especially in decks like Elsha of the Infinite. Alongside its best friend in Pioneer, Narset, Parter of Veils, expect the demand for Day’s Undoing to rise.

Hangarback Walker, long a staple of artifact-based decks, has seen a quiet period; expect that to end soon. Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, from the same time period, will probably see play too. And Oath of Nissa could enable Super Friends archetypes in Pioneer, so if you need one for Atraxa, or even Oathbreaker, grab it soon.

I’m not sold on the Eldrazi without some of the Modern lands, generally speaking. One Commander-playable member of Kozilek’s brood, though, is Eldrazi Displacer, which will likely see play in Pioneer one way or another.

Black decks will want to test Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Drana, Liberator of Malakir. Both fit great into aggressive or vampire based strategies, and are likely to rise a little—Kalitas in particular due to the graveyard hosing and token production.

Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon

Tireless Tracker has been flirting with affordability lately, but I expect this value engine to fluctuate a bit more before finding a new floor.

If Pioneer plays slowly enough, Archangel Avacyn and Anguished Unmaking are two EDH all-stars that will likely rise in demand and value. Nahiri, the Harbinger will also go up, as will Tamiyo, Field Researcher.

If you’ve been considering tribal zombies, Cryptbreaker and Relentless Dead may be good pickups too.

Kaladesh and Aether Revolt

These sets have a lot going on. The major Commander playables that seem relevant for Pioneer are Aetherflux Reservoir, Baral, Chief of Compliance, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Disallow, Heart of Kiran, Heroic Intervention, Inventors’ Fair, Metallic Mimic, Panharmonicon, Smuggler’s Copter, Torrential Gearhulk, and Walking Ballista.

A bunch of these are guaranteed to be brewed around, and many are still dirt cheap. Keep this block in mind—it could be the block the breaks open Pioneer. Aetherworks Marvel, anyone?

Amonkhet and Hour of Devastation

The Scarab God.

Well, alright then. Ramunap Excavator too, I guess.

Ixalan through Core Set 2019

Field of Ruin will become a Pioneer staple, as will Unclaimed Territory. Stock up accordingly. Mox Amber and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria enjoyed a brief reprieve before seeing their prices rise again. They’re unlikely to go back down for quite some time.

Search for Azcanta could be one to watch, as I mentioned in my September Budget Blitz. It will fuel delve and fix draws for many Pioneer decks, especially with Ramunap Excavator and Crucible of Worlds legal.

The main value from Core Set 2019 are Crucible of Worlds, Scapeshift, and Omniscience. All Modern reprints, all potentially Pioneer-playable. Outside of those, Liliana, Untouched by Death may see some play if a serious Zombies deck emerges, and Cleansing Nova is one of the better sweepers outside of Supreme Verdict. Both are playable in EDH, particularly the board wipe—it’s a second copy of Austere Command in a lot of cases.

Current Standard

Pioneer will have an impact on current Standard cards, too. Cards that would ordinarily be dipping in price as Commander players await eagerly at the sidelines are now twitching with new signs of life. Some cards will simply not go down in price after the next rotation if Pioneer picks up.

Assassin’s Trophy could become the premium removal in Pioneer, and so will likely hold a strong price. Knight of Autumn also seems primed for Pioneer play, even if only in sideboards. Both of these cards are great Commander options, and at least with Knight of Autumn, now’s a good time to get some. Vraska, Golgari Queen, Electrodominance, and Hydroid Krasis will also likely see some amount of brewing.

War of the Spark arguably offers the most to Pioneer, with Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, Narset, Parter of Veils, Narset’s Reversal, Karn the Great Creator, Teferi, Time Raveler, and Nissa, Who Shakes the World. They are great pickups for Commander decks.

Overall, I’d say keep an eye on the horizon. Use your best judgement—some of these cards won’t come back down, but after the initial surge in prices you’ll likely see a good opportunity to pick some Commander bargains up before the Pioneers have begun to map out the format. Most of these price spikes will be caused by speculators and finance inclined people – thankfully, the print run of the sets in Pioneer is much higher than for sets in Modern, so prices should stabilize.

The sky isn’t falling by any means, as the vast majority of Commander staples are either cheap enough, old enough, or unplayable-in-constructed-enough that this won’t shake our boat too much. Lands are the main things to be concerned about, and my advice in regards to those is the same as ever. Trade aggressively for them, pick some up when they’re reprinted, and draft sets with good lands in more often than sets without.

Core Set 2020 remains an excellent investment. If you follow one piece of advice from this article, it’s to look into that set now. It’s been criminally under-opened and has a rare land cycle in the Temples and also a reprint of the Leylines – like Leyline of the Void – which could easily port over to Pioneer. And that’s before you get to the other playables in the set.

Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. Based in the UK, she works as a software developer, and her love for the Legion is second only to her appreciation for Lord of the Rings and Mass Effect.

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