Wizards of the Coast gave players their first look at the upcoming Commander Legends set on today’s “Future of Commander” panel at CommandFest Online 2. The set contains 361 cards, 71 new legends, a unique draft format with 20-card packs with two cards per pick, and will release later this Fall on November 4, 2020.

Don’t miss our coverage of today’s full reveal of Commander Collection: Green.

Traditionally, Commander is a constructed format with 100-card decks (and 60 cards for Brawl). But Commander Legends is the first ever Commander product to provide a Limited variant for the game mode. It is focused on Draft, though it can be support Sealed as well—you just might need a few more than six packs to make it work.

The set pulls cards from any place or time in the Multiverse. It includes four non-evergreen mechanics, similar to a normal expansion set, one of which is brand new. As such, Senior Designer Gavin Verhey (the architect of Commander Legends) said that the set is not intended to be a Commander version of Modern Horizons, so the design team didn’t mash together a ton of different mechanics in weird and powerful ways.

While Wizards no longer provides MSRPs for their products, Verhey said they expect Commander Legends boosters to be more expensive than normal booster products, but less expensive than Masters product boosters. That assessment appears to have been fairly accurate as booster boxes are being sold for around $125. Verhey also said that Commander Legends will not have a limited print run.

So…how are we going to be drafting Commander decks?

Commander Legends packaging

The Draft Process and Deckbuilding

Commander Legends comes in 24-pack booster boxes—perfect for drafting in the recommended eight-person pods. Each pack contains 20 cards, with two legendary slots and a foil slot, and players will draft two cards from a pack with every pick.

The set is intended to be drafted in eight-person pods, but Verhey said that it also works well in four-person pods. After drafting, players will build 60-card decks that follow the color identity rules of their chosen Commander(s)—more on that below—but without the singleton restriction, then break up into four-player groups to play a multiplayer match. Similar to constructed Commander, each player will start with 40 life and Commander damage rules will apply.

Wizards expects a full draft and multiplayer game to take around two hours, total.

Verhey is very cognizant that some Commander fans might feel like the draft format isn’t really Commander given the 60-card deck size and lack of a singleton requirement. He tweeted a very thorough thread after the panel in which he explained the design team’s reasoning for the changes but is confident the changes were necessary for the product to work.

The Return of Partner

Bringing the Partner mechanic back for Commander Legends, and introducing Magic’s first mono-colored Partners, were also decisions made specifically to ensure that players have a playable deck at the end of the draft.

Partner was originally introduced in Commander 2016 on 15 multicolor cards. Wizards expanded on the mechanic in 2018’s Battlebond with the less flexible “Partner with” on 22 additional cards, which only allowed players to partner specific legends together.

In Commander Legends, Verhey and his team were worried that players wouldn’t be able to change colors in the middle of the draft if their first color gets cut off and still build a playable deck. Their solution was to bring back the original version of Partner and put it on mono-colored cards for the first time. Verhey said that they believed that these mono-color Partners would allow players to switch colors by finding a second Partner and more easily draft a cohesive deck.

The Prismatic Piper is a special Partner with art by Seb McKinnon.

And if you somehow manage to finish a draft without a playable Commander or set of Partners, Commander Legends provides The Prismatic Piper in one of every six packs as a just-in-case-of-emergency fallback. You can even partner two Pipers together if things really went off the rails during the draft.

Of the 71 brand new legends in the set, 40 are mono-colored partners (plus the Piper), with the other 30 being non-Partner multicolor legends. The mono-color Partners include Halana, Kessig Ranger and Alena, Kessig Trapper, two women from Innistrad that have previously been mentioned in the flavor text of 12 cards and now get their very own cards.

Halana and Alena finally get their own cards in Commander Legends.

Partner is a very controversial mechanic in Commander and has had a tremendous impact on the format ever since its introduction in 2016. Verhey acknowledged the community’s concern with the return of the mechanic, especially on mono-colored cards, tweeting: “Yes, partners are powerful. Really powerful. And so we spent probably the most time on this aspect of the set than anything.”

“We playtested them a LOT,” he continued. “We not only brought in external folks to work on them, but we played them tons. And not just in Limited, but lots in Constructed too. We even brought some of the game balance and play design folks to look at them. A TON of care was put in here.”

In fact, Verhey said, “We literally pushed the set back so we could have more time to keep testing these. A big mantra [during testing] was, ‘Let’s not make more Thrasios or Vial Smashers.'”

Thrasios, Triton Hero and Vial Smasher the Fierce from Commander 2016 were among the first Commanders with Partner.

“Is it possible some combination will end up incredibly powerful?” Verhey asked. “Yes. We are human! Us and the [Rules Committee] will keep an eye on them. But we tried to err on the side of caution here. We are hyper aware of the huge impacts the originals had, in both traditional Commander and competitive.”

But, he continued, “Partner is truly KEY to making the draft environment work. ‘Partner with’ wouldn’t do that here.” So the design team decided to go the extra mile on Partner to make it work as safely as possible.

A New Baron Sengir

One of the very first things we knew about Commander Legends way back when it was announced last October was that it would include a new Baron Sengir. Verhey showed off new art featuring the Baron on stream and couldn’t contain his excitement when he confirmed who it was.

The art featuring Baron Sengir that was previewed last year.

Baron Sengir is a very popular character from Magic’s past that was introduced in the Homelands, Magic’s fourth expansion set, in 1995. Homelands was lauded for its excellent setting, story, and characters, including the vampire Baron Sengir who was busy taking over the plane.

Well, Verhey finally got to reveal the full card today. Meet Sengir, the Dark Baron, a legendary Vampire Nobel with Partner.

Sengir, the Dark Baron from Commander Legends.

But the story Sengir, the Dark Baron comes with a twist.

The original Baron Sengir in Homelands was illustrated by Pete Venters, and when the art for the new card was previewed last year, he contacted Wizards to see if he could paint an alternative version himself as a callback to the original. Wizards said yes—but the set had already gone to print so it was too late to include the art in the set.

The alternative art for Sengir, the Dark Baron, by Pete Venters.

The solution was to use the art for a prerelease promo. The version below, featuring Venters’ art, will be available at your local game store during the various Commander Legends celebration events.

The prerelease promo of Sengir, the Dark Baron.

The Enemy Battlebond Dual Lands

Commander Legends has its own cycle of dual lands: Rejuvenating Springs, Spectator Seating, Training Center, Undergrowth Stadium, and Vault of Champions. The enemy dual land cycle of “crowd” lands finally completes the cycle that began with the five allied lands that premiered two years ago in Battlebond.

The enemy crowd lands complete the cycle that started in Battlebond.

According to Verhey, these five lands were actually the first cards into the Commander Legends card file when the project was greenlit, which was well before Battlebond was released with its allied cycle.

Unfortunately, he also confirmed that the allied cycle will not be reprinted in Commander Legends.

Are There Fetchlands in Commander Legends?

The Magic community has been waiting for Wizards to reveal where they will be reprinting the allied fetchlands—Bloodstained Mire, Flooded Strand, Polluted Delta, Windswept Heath, and Wooded Foothills—ever since the enemy fetches were announced in Secret Lair: Ultimate Edition in March. At the time, Wizards promised that the allied fetches would be reprinted in 2020, just not in a Standard-legal set.

Commander Legends is the last supplemental set that has been announced for 2020 so it seems like one of the final places for the fetches to be printed. Verhey didn’t preview any fetchlands during the panel, but he left the door open as to whether they’re in the set. “I don’t have anything to say about them at this time, and I didn’t feel like just saying that would be particularly useful,” he tweeted after the panel.

However, the collector numbers on the lands previewed today virtually confirm that the allied fetches will not appear in Commander Legends proper. Vault of Champions has a collector number of 360/361, and Verhey confirmed that the set has 361 cards, meaning that there is only one card after it in the set. Collector numbers are ordered alphabetically by color, and both Windswept Heath and Wooded Foothills would come after Vault of Champions, which means both cards aren’t in the 361 cards that make up Commander Legends—and it is highly unlikely Wizards would only print a few of the allied fetches by breaking up the five-card cycle.

Another possibility is that the allied fetches could be in the Commander Legends Commander decks. When the set was announced last year, Wizards said that it would be accompanied by two Commander decks with three new cards in each deck and a bunch of reprints.

The contents of the two Commander decks that will accompany Commander Legends.

The only announced release that remains in 2020 is Zendikar Rising, the Fall set, and its associated products. Zendikar Rising will be Standard-legal, so the allied fetches won’t appear there, leaving the Zendikar Rising Collector and Set Boosters, the Zendikar Rising Commander decks, or perhaps a yet-to-be-announced holiday product as the only remaining places for the allied fetchlands to appear.

Wait, There are More Legends?

As if 71 brand new legends wasn’t enough, Commander Legends will also include 32 more popular legends from Magic’s past. They will only be available with a new showcase frame and an “etched foil” treatment that can be found in Collector Boosters and very occaisionally in Draft Boosters—where they can be included in your draft deck.

Verhey showed of one such legend, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher:

Prossh, Skyraider of Kher, in the new Showcase frame (with an etched foil treatment) from Commander Legends.

Showcase Frames with Etched Foil, and More Extended Art Cards

All of the legends in Commander Legends, along with the 32 that aren’t officially in the set, will be getting versions with the new Showcase frame and “etched foil” treatment. These variations will be most readily available in Collector Boosters, though they will occasionally drop in Draft Boosters, as well.

“We did [Collector Boosters] here because Commander players love blinging their decks and cool versions of cards,” Verhey tweeted, “so it made a ton of sense to have a place you could easily get these treatments!”

He also showed off the four other legends revealed today in their showcase frames:

Verhey later tweeted a video of a physical Prossh card with the etched foil treatment. The new foiling gives the card a sense texture and a shine that is clearly unique from the normal foiling process, though he said that the effect is purely visual and the cards don’t feel any different than a normal card.

Similar to previous Collector Boosters, those for Commander Legends will be the only place to find extended art versions of cards. This time, though, it won’t just be rares and mythics getting extended art. Some commons, like Command Tower and Commander’s Sphere—which are also in the set—will be getting extended art versions, as well.

Examples of the extended art variations in Commander Legends Collector Boosters.

Strengthening White in Commander

Finally, Verhey and his team discussed the plight of White in Commander.

One of White’s biggest strengths is filling the board with creatures and buffing them, which just doesn’t work when your opponents have a combined 120 life and often pack multiple board sweepers in their decks, said Magic designer Jules Robins, who led the final design of Commander Legends.

But one of the main ways to rebuild your resources in Magic is to draw extra cards—something that White historically hasn’t been allowed to do.

“Giving White card draw isn’t something as simple as taking Divination and changing that Blue mana symbol to a White mana symbol,” Robins said. “We want to give it card draw that feels uniquely White.” Wizards has done a similar think with Red over the last few years with the “impulsive draw” mechanic that exiles cards that can only be cast within the next turn or two. Examples of this effect can be found on Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Light Up the Stage.

But, “What does White do?” Robins asked. “We have a bunch of ideas on that front and you’re going to see several experiments in that vein over the course of the next years.”

Mangara, the Diplomat from Core Set 2021 is the first card to be released in this experiment, “but there are other experiments coming up,” Robins continued. “And it’s going to take a while, you know, our timelines are not short, but we’re playing the long game.”

Other strategies Wizards is using to strengthen White is to give it more persistent and recurring threats that aren’t as vulnerable to the all-to-common board sweepers in Commander, as well as ways to protect those threats, and more ways to just win the game. Another possibility is to give White “some form of ramp…some way to keep up with decks that are spewing out tons and tons of lands so you don’t fall too far behind on mana,” Robins said.

“Some of these are going to be actual changes to the color pie,” he continued. “We’re literally going to say, ‘We couldn’t print this before but now we’re saying we can.’ Others are just going to be like a shift in philosophy in how often we print various effects. These changes are going to take years—don’t expect to see them all in the next few months, but you will see things here and there.”

The next example we’ll see of these experiments is coming in Commander Legends in the form of Keeper of the Accord, which was revealed during today’s panel:

Keeper of the Accord gives White a form of scalable ramp.

Keeper of the Accord may not address the card draw portion of strengthening White, but it takes the Land Tax and Knight of the White Orchid form of ramp that already exists in White and scales it up to be even more powerful in multiplayer Commander games.

Commander Legends releases later this Fall on November 4, 2020.

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