EDHREC News Update - 2020 Commander Products

Foresight is 2020

Welcome back to the news desk, everyone! I am your news anchor Matt Morgan, coming to you live with a breaking EDHREC Commander News Update! Yesterday, we had a massive new update delivered to us by none other than Josh Lee Kwai and Jimmy Wong from The Command Zone Podcast, along with Wizards of the Coast's gracious Gavin Verhey. This announcement not only covered the next few months of Commander news, but an entire year of upcoming products designed specifically for Commander!

In case you missed the announcement, you can find it here. Wizards of the Coast also has summarized the video in an article on the mothership clarifying any details that might have been left out. Let's break down some of the details and try to provide some commentary on what this announcement means for the format.

Commander 2020 - Ikoria Commander

Gavin was quick to discuss how much the format has grown since the initial Commander product, and how much has changed since 2011 when the first Commander preconstructed decks were released. As a result, the release schedule will be going through some new changes. Commander 2020 is now going to be tied to the release of Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, a regular set release in mid-April. The set will also shift back to a series of five preconstructed decks, rather than the four decks we've received ever since Commander 2017. 

Best of all, these preconstructed decks will contain an unprecedented 71 new cards.

This is the first time a Commander set will be tied in directly with a regular expansion set release, which means we can expect the themes of Ikoria to heavily influence how the preconstructed decks play and feel. Remember that these decks will be thematically tied to the set; we are unlikely to receive long-lost lore characters like Lord Windgrace and Greven, Predator Captain, and will instead encounter legends unique to the new plane.

More importantly, Wizards is specifically highlighting these decks as a way to build proper Commander decks around themes from the set. Often, new mechanics require a fair amount of support for a 100-card singleton deck, which occasionally makes them less-than-viable in Commander. Gavin specifically mentions Energy as an example in the announcement, though other mechanics like Adventure or Investigate also suffered from lack of substantial Commander support. This part of the announcement is particularly encouraging to folks who enjoy specific new themes and mechanics, as their favorite new entries from Ikoria should be viable in a new deck from day one.

Zendikar Rising Commander Decks

One of the most exciting revelations from this announcement is that there won't just be one set of Commander decks! A second batch of Commander preconstructed decks will be be tied to the release of Zendikar Rising, outside of the traditional one-per-year release of Commander products. These decks will replace the Planeswalker Decks that previously accompany new full-size sets.

Notably, these decks will contain only three new cards per deck - almost certainly the legendary creatures that helm them - while the rest of the cards in the deck will be reprints. Though some may initially hear that line and think, "Only three new cards?", many of us are delighted at the prospect of increasing the avenues for reprints of exciting format staples! Even the Ikoria Commander's return from four decks to five will increase the number of reprintable cards! Though the commanders will be plane-specific, the reprints could come from any set, which leaves us in a sea of possibility.

With the popularity of the Commander preconstructed decks in recent years, the availability of the decks has been an issue for some players and stores. An injection of another round of preconstructed decks later on in the year will surely be a welcome addition for those looking to enter the EDH format, as well as checking a lot of boxes that both new and enfranchised players look for.

Commander Collection - Green

Commander Collection: Green is the next brand-new product from yesterday's announcement. This themed box set will feature only eight cards, each with new artwork. This product is described to resemble the Signature Spellbook product, though directed specifically towards the Commander format. Commander Collection seems to have some hints of the old From the Vault series, potentially offering some reprints of cards that have not yet received a foil version. 

We've received two pieces of artwork from Commander Collection, though we don't know yet which cards they will belong to:

Wizards will be sure to tease us with more info as we get closer to the product's release, but for now, which cards do you think belong to these awesome new pieces of artwork? The EDHREC team has voted Chord of Calling and Seedborn Muse as the most likely candidates (both of which appear on the Top Green Cards page of EDHREC) but what do you think?

Commander Legends

The biggest part of the announcement is dedicated to what could easily be one of the biggest and most impactful products for the format ever: Commander Legends

Commander Legends is a brand new set for Commander players. Not a preconstructed product, but a full-on booster set designed to answer the question, "What if you could draft Commander?" The set will contain not only a ton of reprints, but also a ton of new cards, including a whopping 70 new legends. 

70. New. Legends. Most sets have like 8 legendary creatures! Even Dominaria only had 44! This set will have 70!

Unlike the decks tied to Ikoria and Zendikar Rising, the new commanders from this set will not be bound to a specific time or setting, falling more in line with the traditional Commander sets, full of new characters and old beloved favorites who haven't yet received cards or who are hungry for new and exciting versions.

Speaking of which...

Gavin was excited to confirm one of the legends will be a newer iteration of the infamous Baron Sengir, with truly sick new artwork. We also got a sneak peek at the new art for a planeswalker in the set, largely theorized to be a new version of Jeska, Warrior Adept.

Note the careful wording of the announcement, by the way: these aren't necessarily 70 new legendary creatures, but 70 new legends, which, as we all know, includes the planeswalker card type. While Dominaria had 44 possible legendary creatures to become commanders, it technically had 64 total legendary cards, though most of those include cards like Mox Amber or On Serra's Wings. Commander Legends doesn't seem primed to use those '70 new legends' as enchantments and artifacts, though; those seem like actual leader-of-your-deck card slots. Might some of those legends include planeswalkers that can be your commanders? Only time will tell, but if Will Kenrith and Rowan Kenrith could pull it off in Battlebond, it seems like a very compelling case for Commander Legends indeed!

Gavin has already clarified that the draft rules for Commander Legends will be announced closer to the product's release in late 2020, but we do know the packs themselves will contain 20 cards instead of a normal booster pack's 15, that each pack will contain a foil card, and that there will be two legends in every pack. Might we take two cards per pack, as we did in Battlebond draft? Might we draft more than just the typical three packs per player? We can only speculate!

It will be fascinating to see how this set impacts the Commander format, but one important detail sticks out among what we know about it so far. A Commander set that is designed to be drafted will be forced to use color identity as an additional deckbuilding constraint that is not experienced in normal drafts. It's therefore likely that a degree of flexibility will be required to grease the wheels of the drafting experience. It becomes difficult to imagine fitting that many legends into one set without adding something like the Partner mechanic or some variant of it. Other draft-innovation sets like Conspiracy and Battlebond have played around in these areas, and had enormous ripple effects in EDH, which makes it even more exciting to see what Commander Legends has in store.

Commander Legends isn't done yet! It will follow suit with Ikoria and Zendikar Rising by having two more preconstructed decks to accompany the set! Like the Zendikar Rising precons, these will also have three new cards, and even more reprints from outside the main set. This means we have a total of NINE preconstructed Commander decks coming into the fold in 2020, more than the past two years combined. Imagine if we'd gotten Commander 2016 and Commander 2017 in the same year. That's about where we're at in the year 2020.

2020 is Legendary

A recurring phrase came up often during the announcement video: "It is a great time to be a Commander player." This couldn't be more true; Gavin's excitement is matched only by the sheer number of upcoming products coming in 2020.

It is hard to narrow down what to be the most excited for, especially as there seems to be a product for all levels of players. Ikoria Commander takes the usual precon deck formula and gives it an exciting new twist. Zendikar Rising and Commander Legends preconstructed decks appear to be designed as a readily available, constant gateway into the format, so new players always have starting points year-round. Commander Legends is ready to appease even the most advanced players with their deckbuilding skills as they construct decks on the fly. Even Commander Collections brings a fresh spin to the premium product line. One thing is for sure: 2020 is going to be a very busy year for us EDH players!

Those are the products - now what do you think? Are you excited by the prospect of all the new cards, or is it the potential for reprints that most piques your interest? I know I'm personally excited to see what the design teams have cooked up for the new draft-able Commander set, especially since they've gotten so skilled at creating fun effects for multiplayer formats, like Conspiracy. Which product are you most excited for in the upcoming year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Matt is a member of the EDHRECast, representing the 60-card formats and the Timmy's alike. He appreciates bad wordplay as much as a good alpha strike. A diverse nerd, you might also see him maining Lux support in League of Legends as well or on the deadlift platform at the gym.

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