Magic: The Gathering’s new Commander decks are a good thing for every player
More dedicated products for the popular format means fewer cards elsewhere - and that helps everyone.
If you’ve been playing Magic: The Gathering for a while, then you’ll likely be aware of the criticism that there are too many Commander cards in most sets. Commander is an exceptional format for sure, but it’s also in need of very different cards to most other MTG formats due to the generally slower pace and more multiplayer tendencies. What’s good in Commander is often terrible everywhere else, so having a surplus of these in a Standard set - or even one meant for Modern and beyond - often detracts from the number of cards that’ll actually see play in that format.
That’s not all though; these cards often take the place of Rare and Mythic Rare cards, which means you end up with cards that should be game-winning in a draft being utterly useless to you, and that never feels good. It’s been a problem for a long time, and was one of the most consistent complaints you’d see about a new set.
However, there’s now been a big change to how Commander cards work. Rather than having one Commander set a year, we now get a whole batch of preconstructed Commander decks alongside every Standard set. This is possibly the best thing that’s been done for Commander players for a long time, but it helps out everyone else too.
For Commander players, this means we get a lot more cards every year. They’re usually a little bit easier to get your hands on too, because you can just buy an entirely new deck. It also means you have an excuse to buy a new deck - and while we often don’t need that excuse, it’s still nice to have.
That’s not the only benefit, though. Along with the fact that these decks are made for Commander, which means you can pick up a deck to tweak as much as you want from then on, they’re also a better place for reprints than Standard sets. Take a card like Doubling Season, for example, which is an essential Commander card, but currently obnoxiously expensive. You can’t really print this in a Standard set, but you can definitely put it in a Commander pre-con.
Strangely enough, the people who benefit from this new change of tactics the most aren’t Commander players, but those who are sick of seeing Commander cards everywhere. With these new Commander cards being consigned to pre-cons instead of full sets, it means that sets like Kaldheim, Strixhaven and Adventures in the Forgotten Realms can stay focused on the other constructed formats.
While power creep is still undeniably a thing in MTG, the last few sets haven’t felt like that. While there have still been issues with how some cards interact with older MTG rules, such as Tibalt from Kaldheim and the cascade mechanic, these have been based more on rules rather than cards themselves.
This means that sets feel more reasonable overall, and hopefully that the power creep in the game can slow down a bit, which should also lead to older cards remaining playable for a longer time. It should also mean that the competitive metagame in every format can be more varied, and therefore healthier. If cards that came out a couple of years ago are still viable, then you can build around them just as easily as you can around the newer cards.
Not having to print cards for Commander players in every single set means that everything can be a little bit more surgical and precise. That means that everyone gets more of what they love, and less of what they don’t. It’s definitely trickier for players who want to play every format, but for those who’ve found a couple of formats they love and are happy there, they can simply try and tune out the irrelevant products.
As we see things, that’s all thanks to this new approach to Commander decks. Sure, Wizards of the Coast is selling even more Commander products every year, but if that leads to better situations for both Commander players and those who don’t want to play the format, then it’s got to be a good thing.