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August 30, 2016

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10 Commander Staples That Were Cheap in 2012

Since I started playing Magic in the summer of 2012, I have always been looking for the most affordable way to do it. In those early days, Commander jumped out at me as a way to play lots of magic with as many friends as possible while still cashing in on the occasional game of limited. Needless to say the late summer days of 2012 are long behind us and now only the cold, hard realities of 2016 remain.

I wish we could go back to the cream-filled year of 2012. Season 5 of Breaking Bad was smashing us in the face, The Hunger Games franchise kicked off in theatres everywhere, and that guy did a skydive from outer space into a giant pool of Red Bull!*

*I assume.

Way back in 2012 we paid half the price for our Doubling Seasons, Cryptic Commands and Solemn Simulacrums! But did you? Did you really? We all tend to remember the past with a rose-coloured (Urza’s?) glasses, so let’s take a look at 10 Commander staples and how exactly the price have evolved over the last four to five years and see if we were, in fact better off in back in the glorious year that was 2012.


$$$$$ – MORE

While we were all busy being tricked into thinking Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Night Rises was a good movie, we were also being treated to Path to Exiles for around five dollars. Not bad, considering currently you can’t find a Path for less than $14 dollars and now our Batman is Ben Affleck. I guess it’s not all bad, at least that show Bunheads isn’t on anymore.


$$$$$ – MORE

Mystical Tutor is a must in any blue EDH deck, being able to find that Counterspell or Rite of Replication at just the right time is essential. Almost as essential as ignoring the scores of inaccuracies in the Oscar winning film Argo in order to enjoy it. But thanks to a recent Eternal Masters reprint, Mystical Tutor (now $7) is much closer to its 2012 price of $5, but still not exactly a budget card mostly because of the heinous Canadian dollar.


$$$$$ – MORE

Believe it or not, the Avengers came out in 2012 and at the same time you could buy a Phyrexian Arena for $3. I know what you’re thinking, how has Marvel put out so many movies in the four years in between? Well, as far as I can tell Kevin Feige must have won some sort of fiddle duel with the devil. As far as Phyrexian Arena goes, $3 is a dream of a price even for a card with two very recent reprints that is currently on sale for $6.75 here in Canada. The good news is I expect the (insanely fun) Conspiracy: Take the Crown set to really drag down prices, even of cards like Phyrexian Arena, so we’re still holding out hope on this one!


$$$$$ – MORE

In 2012, Damnation cost around $24. It currently costs around $80 or $90. Do yourself a favour, if you want to revisit the days when Damnation was anywhere near reasonably priced, watch David O Russel’s delightful rom-com dealing with mental health issues, Silver Linings Playbook. I’ve never seen it, but Robert DeNiro wears a football jersey in it and you just don’t see that every day.


$$$ – LESS

Finally, we have a red Commander staple! Red Commander staples are a bit rarer these days, but Chaos Warp is an excellent way to deal with pesky gods, Avacyns and commanders. In 2012, you could still use Chaos Warp to tuck a commander which is possibly one of the reasons we saw this card hit over $5 (and in 2014 over $10!). But thanks to the Commander Rules Committee and a much needed reprint, Chaos Warp can be found in most places for around $4. Despite the rules change, Chaos Warp is still a great way to get rid of persistent threats in a colour that often struggles to do so.


$$$$$ – MORE

When the smash hit show 666 Park Avenue starring Vanessa Williams and the old guy from Lost hit the airwaves, you could pick up a Doubling Season for $24. Currently, much like ABC’s failed experiment, 666 Park Avenue starring Terry O’Quinn and the lady from Eraser you just can’t find it (at that price) anymore. Even after being inserted in two Modern Masters sets, Doubling Season is sitting at around $50 and shows no signs of slowing down (Unlike the massively unliked 666 Park Avenue).


$$$$$ – MORE

Thanks to Eternal Masters, we all received a reprint of this beloved colourless Commander staple, but if you want to find this card for even cheaper than it’s current $7 price tag, you’d have to get yourself a DeLorean, pop in Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 debut album “Kiss,” and get up to 88mph because in 2012 you could pick this beauty up for under $4.


$$$ – LESS

The Commander staple to end all staples! Thanks to Wizards understanding what a bomb Sol Ring is at the beginning of a game of Commander, they made sure everyone would have one and for the low cost of around $3. Because of this, you can tell 2012 to “Eat My Shorts” because back then a Sol Ring from the original Commander set would run you over $5. The future is now!


$$$ – LESS

Our little buddy the sad robot has seen a lot of reprints over the years. Being able to be run in literally any Commander deck will do that to you, I guess. Especially when you are one of the best creatures ever created on top of that? 2012 saw two reprints of Solemn Simulacrum, the original started in Mirrodin, then Magic 2012 and Commander were added on top of that. At the beginning of 2012 you had to dish out $8 or $9 for our little buddy, but currently thanks to more and more Commander product, the price has dropped considerably and you can grab him from most sources for around $4 or $5! Right in budget range.


$$$$$ – MORE

Finally, another colourless card that can easily be dropped into just about every Commander deck ever, Lightning Greaves. Is 2012 the haven we all now probably think it was for Magic: the Gathering prices? Yes, yes it was. In 2012, Mirrodin and Commander versions of  Lightning Greaves were both going for around $2. Then Wizards got really afraid of Shroud for some reason and started shoving Swiftfoot Boots down our gullets. Finally someone mentioned to Wizards of the Coast, “Hey, some people still have cards that say Shroud, we’re really hosing our newer players here by only giving them worse versions.” So in 2015 we got our Lightning Greaves reprint, which is helping hold the price down at around $5 these days.

I’ll be honest, aside from a few of these cards, I really expected most of the prices to be either the same or cheaper than they were in 2012. But that’s just not what is going on, obviously there were fewer people playing Commander and Magic in general back then, so there was much less demand, not to mention much less supply. But while we all certainly long for the days of watching Wreck-It-Ralph while listening to Gotye and marvelling at the spectacle of the Diamond Jubilee, rest easy in 2016 knowing that by all indications the folks over at Wizards really are trying to give us enough reprints (and great new cards) to keep us poor budget players alive and well in our playgroups and Commander nights.