Yesterday, Commander Legends preview season kicked off. It’s an awesome-looking product, one that combines Limited’s peanut butter with Commander’s chocolate. It seems reminiscent of the wild, quirky fun of Conspiracy, one of my favorite draft formats. So much fun is possible when multiplayer politics enable ludicrously powerful designs and outlandish board states. I will never forget getting three copies of Hymn of the Wilds passed to me and apologizing to my three very nice opponents for unintentionally turning a Conspiracy draft into a very brief game of Archenemy.

Unfortunately due to the pandemic, Commander Legends isn’t going to be able to played as it was intended for a while. When the crisis finally subsides, Commander Legends will be one of many products suddenly available and competing with the new hotness, further decreasing its chances of getting played heavily.

Commander Legends will of course make plenty of players happy with its new designs and reprints. It’s all but certain to sell well despite limited Limited demand. We’ve already seen this with how Double Masters pivoted its marketing to focus on Constructed staples rather than Limited play. But it’s sad seeing a product that would have been the triumphant end to the year of Commander instead be a bitter reminder of all the gathering we couldn’t do in 2020. History’s largest CommandFest won’t happen to celebrate its release, just as there was no Double Masters Grand Prix and won’t be a Time Spiral Remastered event next year. Cards like The Prismatic Piper won’t get their time to shine.

As a player, I’m sad for all the wacky fun times I won’t be having this year with Commander Legends. As a game designer, I feel terrible for the designers denied the joy of seeing their brand new format in action.

But to look on the bright side, the crisis is going to pass. Hopefully sooner rather than later, the sun will dawn on a safer, saner world. In the meantime, I’m going to buy a box or two of Commander Legends and save it to draft with my friends when that time comes (okay, and probably crack the second box, because cracking boxes is fun). I’ll be buying from my local game store so that I’ll still have a community to play in. I’ll still formulate a draft guide, since Commander Legends will be draftable on Magic Online. And hopefully, next year’s innovation product will be similarly awesome but available for in-person play. Until then, I hope you’re all taking care of yourselves, and if you’ve got some energy to spare, a few of the people around you. Here’s hoping you enjoy Commander Legends, however and whenever you get to play with it.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

Zachary Barash is a New York City-based game designer and the commissioner of Team Draft League. He designs for Kingdom Death: Monster, has a Game Design MFA from the NYU Game Center, and does freelance game design. When the stars align, he streams Magic (but the stars align way less often than he’d like).

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