Magic: The Gathering has announced 2023’s Masters set that will directly cater to players of the trading card game’s Commander format by reprinting old, rare and expensive staples while also delivering a quartet of preconstructed decks featuring brand-new face cards.
Commander Masters was described as “the first Masters set tied explicitly to the Commander format”, according to a February 21st blog post, which isn’t necessarily untrue, but it is odd given last year’s Double Masters set was, for all intents and purposes, a Commander-focused Masters set. For those unaware, MTG has developed a history of releasing a yearly masters set aimed at reprinting highly sought after and popular cards to satiate the ever-growing number of players brewing up 100-card singleton decks.
The preview showed off a few singles that will be found in all the normal array of booster packs - hefty draconic commander The Ur-Dragon was joined by Jeweled Lotus, which many consider one of the best Mana rocks in the game. But Commander Legends will reach far back into the trading card game’s timeline and pull forth venerable additions such as Capture of Jingzhou and print them in modern frames.
It wouldn’t be a Commander-focused release if it didn’t also include a spate of preconstructed decks, and this one has four on offer: Eldrazi Unbound (Colourless), Enduring Enchantments (White/Black/Green), Planeswalker Party (White/Blue/Red) and Sliver Swarm (White/Blue/Black/Green/Red). All of these are sure to appeal to hardcore fans, as they represent the long time strategy of Enchantment affinity, the slightly newer “Superfriends” strategy that drills down on Planeswalkers, and two oddball creature tribes that haven’t received much love of late.
Wizards of the Coast’s Blake Rasmussen clarified on stream that each preconstructed deck will include 10 new cards, including the face commander (and is that Commodore Guff we see on one box?!) while booster packs will contain only reprints, the same as past Masters sets. Product previews showed the possible inclusion of Zacama, the three-headed dinosaur, and Innistrad’s favourite angel, Avacyn.
The average player should hold on to their wallet until they see how much Commander Masters will run. Last year’s Double Masters set sold for a mint due to the inherent value of anything pulled from the reprint-laden booster packs, and Wizards of the Coast’s rejection of MSRP and other shelf-stable pricing means secondary market speculation picked up the slack. To that point, Amazon is currently listing a draft booster box at $312 and set booster box at an eye-watering $360.
A Commander-specific Masters set is an overall good thing for those who want the format to remain healthy as Wizards of the Coast continues its more towards the multiplayer mode as the dominant way to play. But that listing price simply reflects the company’s assurance that its customer base will shell out when offered the slimmest chance. When they control both the supply and the demand, players should stop and consider why the cost of a single booster pack - regardless of content - seems to always find new ways to cost more every year.
Commander Legends previews begin on May 16th, right alongside the release of March of the Machines - it'll be a busy month for us cardboard kiddies. WPN Premier game stores will host preview events on the weekend of July 28th ahead of a tabletop launch on August 4th.