MTG – Is it worth it to buy a Commander 2018 deck for Magic: The Gathering?

[TCC intro music] Many Magic: the Gathering players ask the question: Is it worth it to buy a Commander 2018
pre-constructed deck? Once the star jewel of Wizards of the Coast, this year’s line has had a significant shake-up in both price and contents, begging the question more so than ever if the now $40 price tag for this once perfect product is still worth it, and if so by how much? So is this price part of a plan for providing players with powerful Commander cards, new and old, or just callously cashing in on a popular product? Let’s take a look! Commander 2018 pre-constructed decks contain
exactly the same basic components of previous Commander decks. One oversized foil card of the main Commander,
100 individual Magic: the Gathering cards that comprise a complete, ready-to-play out of the box deck.
Of those 100 cards, three are premium foils, the primary Commander, and two alternative Commanders. The reason I stress that the contents have not changed; same number of cards, same number of foils, same everything, is that with the $5 price rise we must turn only to the quality of the cards themselves. And no I don’t mean the quality of the cardboard itself nor the foiling processes. I and many Magic: the Gathering players have long since given up on that. Pre-constructed products in particular often have numerous quality assurance issues. Last year, for example, the foils were so bad in the Commander pre-constructed decks that anyone wanting to play with
‘Kess, Dissident Mage’ in a Legacy deck had to make do with proxies.
There were no acceptable copies universally. So that, along with the ever variable cardboard quality, is just par for the course at this point. No. When I speak of quality, I speak of the cards themselves, in terms of their mechanics and gameplay. How good are these new Commander cards?
How powerful are the included reprints? How well are both constructed together? After all, Wizards of the Coast justified this price increase by claiming it would allow them to make the most powerful pre-constructed Commander decks ever, packed full of great cards new and old. But something is gone amiss. These are far from the high quality
we’ve seen in past years. For starters, in my evaluation and play testing,
the decks are not evenly balanced, with ‘Adaptive Enchantment’ being the most powerful of the four, by I feel a noteworthy margin. I found this to be true when playing these decks against established Commander decks as well. Now, of course this will vary
play group to play group, game to game, as Commander is one of the most diverse and unpredictable formats in Magic, so please use these rankings only as a guideline for consideration. Both the ‘Exquisite Invention’ and ‘Subjective Reality’ decks are relatively close in power level, and I’d say they are the most balanced of the four,
although I personally found better success with the ‘Exquisite Invention’ deck, but not by a significant margin. ‘Nature’s Vengeance’ is the weakest of the four,
and in my evaluation the most linear. It’s a basic Jund-em-out style ramp strategy,
can be scary when it gets going early, but lacks significant pay-off and synergy. Compared to previous years, this is extremely disappointing. The 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013 decks are overwhelmingly better, and I can see no option where, had I no pre-constructed Commander decks, that I would purchase the 2018 offerings over
any of the previous years with perhaps one or two debatable exceptions. The only reason to purchase these new offerings
is simply that next to none of the old decks can be found for $40 or less any more. So even with the price increase these are the cheapest offerings. Do not, I repeat, do not pay above MSRP
for any of the 2018 Commander decks. Once you start going above MSRP, you could pick up decks from previous years instead. But hey, Commander is a format where the weakest deck often takes second place, so I guess you can be assured of a steady slew of second-place victories with these lackluster cards. So in terms of overall power, I feel very strongly this year is one of, if not the biggest duds, not justifying the $5 price increase. Not that I understand logically how printing better cards would require a higher purchase price. But since we’re talking price, what about financially? If you were to purchase the individual cards for each of these Commander decks the total cost to assemble them yourself would be above $40. ‘Adaptive Enchantment’ is actually the cheapest of all four, costing $66.92, building ‘Nature’s Vengeance’ from scratch would run you approximately $69.13, ‘Exquisite Invention’ comes in next at $71.75,
no big difference here so far, whereas ‘Subjective Reality’ would cost $101.58, clearly standing above the other three in terms of financial value anyway. But remember, that’s what it would cost you to purchase these cards individually, not sell them. You cannot, I repeat, you cannot go out and spend
$40 on the ‘Nature’s Vengeance’ deck and then get nearly $70 in sales back. That is not possible. Why not? Because the overwhelming majority of these cards are… bulk. Bulk cards are worth less than $1, are usually never played in any refined deck lists and oftentimes include cards valued merely at 10 to 50 cents. But that value is meaningless if you own these cards.
You can’t reliably sell a 35 cent uncommon. 100 of these bulk cards may add up to over $40, but even getting that $40 back is going to be difficult with these decks. Out of all four of them the most expensive
single card is ‘Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow’, the exceptionally popular new Commander from ‘Subjective Reality’. Yuriko is going for a whopping $17.99. Looking further into the ‘Subjective Reality’ deck, the three Commanders are going for
$11.89, $6.99 and $6.49 respectively. But besides these, only four cards from the deck are worth over $3. ‘Magus of the Balance’, ‘Geode Golem’,
‘Silent-Blade Oni’ and ‘Entreat the Dead’. There’s five cards in the $2 to $2.99 range, and a handful — 14 to be exact — of $1 to $2 cards. The remaining 73 cards in the deck are priced below $1 each and essentially bulk. The most expensive card in ‘Exquisite Invention’ is ‘Treasure Nabber’, Valued currently at $10.25, while the three Commanders of that deck are only $7.99, $3.99 and $1.99 each. Besides those cards, only three are worth more than $3 each, and just barely — look at those prices. Four are in the $2 to $2.99 range, and there’s only 10 cards currently selling for $1 to $2 from this deck. The most expensive card in ‘Nature’s Vengeance’ is
Lord Windgrace himself at $8.80, with the alternate Commanders being $2.99 and $2.29 each — ick! and besides these, only three cards from the deck are worth over $3 each, Four are in the $2 to $2.99 range, and 10 $1 to $2 cards. In the fourth deck, ‘Adaptive Enchantment’, we see that
‘Estrid, the Masked’ herself is at only $6.99, While the alternate Commanders are $4.99 and $3.99. Besides these, there are five cards from the deck worth over $3 each, while only three cards are in the $2 to $2.99 range, and a meager eight cards at $1 to $2. The only value here is in the new ‘made-for-Commander’ cards, and that value is likely to drop with time. There are next to no reprints of value in these decks.
Price may have increased but reprints of value has decreased dramatically, and that is such a shame because Commander is a format where there are so many cards desperately in need of reprints and there are cards that don’t see play anywhere else. They’re not played in Modern,
They’re not played in Legacy, they’re played in Commander and they have super-high price tags, they’re begging to be reprinted, these Commander pre-cons are a great place for them, and it adds value and it adds reason to buy these. Not just for a brand new player to Commander but for existing players to purchase, upgrade, to get the cards they need for the decks they want to play. That system is one where everybody wins. Final conclusion, the 2018 pre-constructed Commander decks are the worst in the product line’s history. All value and interest is tied up in the Commanders themselves, and they are the primary reason to purchase these decks. The decks are not well balanced. They are weaker than previous years, and there is less of a roadmap for upgrades… no real reprints of value. Nevertheless, they still remain the cheapest and easiest way for a brand new Commander player to sit down with a fully functioning Commander deck. There’s also a lot of interesting legendary cards scattered throughout, and thus these singles indeed may be a hot buy for established Commander players itching to brew up a new deck. Grade: B-minus. Eww, B-minus… that’s the grade they give you in grad school when you’re failing — ewww… Do not pay above MSRP for any of the 2018 Commander decks, period. If you can get any pre-constructed decks from previous years for the same or near cost, do so instead. If all you want is ‘Yuriko, the Tiger’s Shadow’ to build a kick-ass ninja deck then by the singles you need. And, it, and if you want to sit down and start playing Commander and don’t know where to begin, then yes, you can absolutely buy one of these and play it with friends right out of the box. Hey, you might even take second place! And this video is brought to you by my and many other people’s local game store: Card Kingdom. A brick-and-mortar pillar of this community. As well as the Patreon support of viewers such as you. These are the people that keep Tolarian Community College going and growing strong. So, thank you.

  1. While normally listen to Prof for his reviews. This time I bought the Lord Windgrace deck. I am glad I did. It has been a ton of fun. While I agree financially the price increase was not needed I love my new deck.

  2. I'd just like to thank this channel so much for helping me dive into the pool of Magic: The Gathering. I wanted a new hobby, and I have definitely found it in this game.

  3. do you think wizards is wondering why everyone is so mad at them? they increase prices and give us weaker commanders with bad cardboard quality, what am i paying more money for? when are they going to address there decline

  4. The Saheeli deck is not that bad, I've seen some people do stuff some good stuff with it. So I naturally went onto tcgplayer and bought the deck myself for 26 dollars. not bad for a 100 card deck that needs like 25% of it replaced. Could be a lot worse. Glad I did not pay 40 for it.

  5. I'm not sure if all commanders come from same line but I have noticed drastic increase in quality for this product. Can it be true that foils don't bend anymore? didn't seem to when observed them.

  6. Thought about getting into commander , even if the decks aren’t as good as they use to be, would it be worth it to pick up 2 boxes and play with another friend to learn the format?

  7. I bought natures vengeance, spent about $30 upgrading it, I've been having a good time. If you are established as a player, yeah this is probably useless. But hey, it got me into commander and I bought it from my lgs and bought all the upgrade cards from my lgs.

  8. Wtf happened? The 2017 decks were so strong! I picked up Arcane Wizardry last year, I've added maybe 4-5 cards to it, and it's still one of the most fun and powerful commander decks I've played. And they all had so much value, they were averaging a value of like $150! Gosh darn, Wizards.

  9. I have to agree with everything said here. My friend bought Subjective Realities and wishes he would have saved his money, and I bought Nature's Vengeance. I've been meaning to build a Jund for years, it's my favorite three colors, so I had plenty of cards to add to it and I've managed to make it much better, but I had to remove over half the pre-con cards. Very disappointing.

  10. Well, 3 weeks later here, TCG Player has the decks listed at or under $28. I picked mine up at a little less, closer to $25

  11. The new cards are great, but the garbage reprints tanked the value. If you don't intend to have a play-out-of-box experience you're better off buying singles. Pretty sure if the out-of-box value wasn't included, the Prof would have easily rated this a C.

  12. You can make budget decks for about $25 (the commanders quarters has great videos on that) so this isnt even the cheapest way to start commander

  13. Well I got the Lord Wind Grace deck and it's the most powerful deck I have yet. I made it into a land fall deck, running around 43 lands. Early game the deck is a draw engine which allows me to get all of my board control. Then late game I play from the graveyard like madrotha. One of the most powerful combo's in the deck is Ob Nick's The Fallowing with Scapershift when you have 16 lands in the feild making someone loss 46 life in one shot. And then returning all of your land back from the graveyard to do it again. I have found the deck able to take down decks like red,black,blue,white artifact deck easily. I fine the deck really good.

  14. I just want Nature's Vengeance for having a Urza era planeswalker.

    Otherwise I took Exquisite Invention, Invent Superiority and Built from Scratch, with some random good artifacts I've gotten over the years and token makers, and made Brudiclad my commander. Kinda the newb of the group I play with, so no one quite expected me to turn my army of 1/1 Myr tokens into an onslaught of Wurmcoil Engines. Then they kept ganging up on me afterwards, ha ha.

  15. really felt accomplished by getting second place using the "Subjective Reality" Deck on my first time playing commander ever, especially when it was against seasoned commander players. Now i feel like crap, Thanks Professor!

  16. My LGS sells them for the same price as all the previous ones as far as I remember. In Germany it has always been 35€. Either that or I'm terribly mistaken ^^ I bought the Exquisite Invention since I never had an Artifact themed deck and there were a lot of cards I wanted anyway. Since I'm in a casual playgroup it is not a problem ^^

  17. Exquisite Invention I can see as being the only viable one to buy, due to the fact that with more Izzit cards on the horizon, you could easily mod it into a fully working Izzit commander deck.

  18. I feel like I need to chime in. To a brand new player, these are a great deal. Only $40 bucks and you can hop right into the game. That said, if you want to really compete, you're going to need to buy some singles. That said, $40 is not a lot of money and some of these cards are worth a pretty penny. I bought the subjective reality and it came with some great cards. Easily worth $40.

  19. Would it be possible to buy one of these decks and sell it on eBay or something like that later unopened? Or would it not be worth it? It seems like it could be some money considering all the commander decks I’ve seen so far have increased in price but these are also disappointing

  20. I like almost every card in Adaptive Enchantments, but it’s pretty slow and has very limited removal.

    I suppose it could be used (very roughly) as a base.

  21. my buddies have bought 3 of the 4 (guess which one they didn't get) below market price at the og 35 or 40 CAD each. Pretty silly that you can get the commander decks for less than msrp.

  22. This is the first time I've bought any of the pre-con products… I bought the set (prepaid because a friend was raving about how good the pre-cons have been getting), only to find out after that they sucked… Why oh Why didn't I buy when they did the vampire release…. I will now go write an angry letter to Wizards (in my head)… and just not buy the next one because I got burned so bad on this one. I knew they were bad but the prof confirmed my fears. I haven't even opened them yet and its been months… I just couldn't find the excitement to play them. Damn it Wizards Why You Gotta Be Like That,… all corporate greedy, no finger on pulse and sheet!?

  23. I bought Nature's Vengeance some months ago, and to be honest I've never had big negative issues with it. It might be the weakest among those decks, but I see it as the one that has the potential of becoming the most dangerous (after some minor tweaks).

  24. Subjective Reality is insane if you upgrade it with a blink/ETB triggers focus. I spent maybe $20 extra on this and it's really good. It's still valued under the previous Commander precon decks too. All in all, I spent $65 on this and it is really good. Straight out of the box though, it's pretty crap. Just think of the combo with Aminatou, Oath of Teferi, and Ravenous Chupacabra. You can destroy 2-3 permanents when it enters. It gets nutty.

  25. If you adjust the decks a bit, they can be very powerful. (Nature's vengeance always wins in my group + we changed Estrid for Tuvasa )

  26. I recently bought two of the decks for around 20 Euros (in Germany) each. As a completely new commander player, I think these are quite nice as an introduction. On the other side, I can understand if veterans are quite disappointed by them by looking back at previous editions. But tbh I don't think there is a much cheaper way of getting into commander.

  27. Well, I guess it's a good thing I got several three color legendary creatures over the past few weeks, due to buying so many booster boxes. Now I'll just need to watch the video about making a proper mana base for a three color commander deck again. (Can Nicol Bolas, the Ravager be your commander, even after transforming? Also, I've never played commander…)

  28. You can call me crazy but I love nature's vengeance. I can run it smoothly and can get it running fast. Idk what the problem everyone else is having.

  29. Ok so I haven't played Magic in probably 15 years, but I wanted to get my son into it and was thinking these decks would be a good stepping stone to introducing him to the game. I would use my old decks but they were destroyed in storage when it flooded (plastic totes people! If you don't use them, get them and save yourself some heartache). Am I wrong for thinking the Commander decks would be good for a 10 year old?

  30. I have nature vengeance and adaptive enchantment… Nature vengeance need a bit of fixing but it runs really smoothly… Maybe a bit more cards to play additional lands per turn and creature retrieveal but all in all very good as a newbie opinion… But estrid deck a bit slow on ramping and mana fixing

  31. I've seen these decks going for less than £30 in some online stores. For someone new to commander would these be worth purchasing? or should I just go and build my own from scratch? I already have a few cards that could find a home in a freshly built commander deck if need be.

  32. If I may ask why is the adaptive enchantments the stronger of all the precons I'm fairly new to commander so these are kind of my start point and I personally have looked at a lot of videos and other gameplay showings of these and I've noticed that the Natures Vengence has shown a lot more promise then the others if you could show even just a minor explanation I would love it!!!??

  33. Where do you get your prices from? I know this is old and outdated but im just always curious where people get their prices

  34. I think it mskes sense i mean last years c17 is way to overpriced so i welcome this budget build because people who are trying to sell it for over msrp can swivel on it.

  35. got the saheeli the gifted deck for 4.19 at target because they missed marked the clearly priced 29.99 repackaged box with 3 booster packs and the kiora precon

  36. For bulk cards I think 2ndary market is around 6 to 12 cents a card….just based in online sales listings, not sales

  37. I think the fact that the fact that sol Ring is one of the most expensive reprints/cards in the entire deck says a lot about this product.

  38. I bought estrid the masked, Iv put around $300 into it. I work at a lgs. It’s broken with the right cards. Use chain veil and staff of nin. 1 turn infinite loop of draining life. Set up for infinite mana is a breeze and you can cast and ultimate estrid in the same turn with chain veil.

  39. Damn just got back from my first prerelease though commander may interest me and I find no decent cheapish commander decks

  40. I got 3 of the 4 decks for only $10.23 all together. I am really happy with these decks because of the cheap price I got them for. xD

  41. I never tried the commander format. And the only commander deck i bought was the Draconic Domination deck only to deconstruct it to make a dragon deck.

  42. And an update a year later – of the cards mentioned in Subjective Reality at 7:08, the only one to hold value is Yuriko. The other 3 are all dollar cards or less now.

  43. I just payed 20$ for the windgrace deck and I am pretty happy with what I got out of it. I got some cool singles. I got a cool thing to slap on my wall. And I also got some nice upgrades for my Vaevictis asmadi deck. I am happy with the results myself

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