Jaya’s Phoenix | Commander Masters
19, Jul, 23

MTG Players Outraged by $85 Non-Premium Decks

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Ever since the set was first announced back in February, it has been no secret that Commander Masters is expensive. In fact, with Set Booster Boxes selling for over $400, it may be the most expensive MTG set in history. While less than ideal, technically, this exceptional price tag wasn’t the end of the world.

Should it provide enough high-value reprints, which Commander has in droves, Commander Masters could still be a stellar MTG set. Unfortunately, however, despite the price tag, many MTG players have been left disappointed by the reprints, and their suspect value. Following the reveal of two $85 preconstructed decks, this feeling has only become more pronounced.

Understandably, given the price tag, many MTG players have been wondering what was on earth was going on. Thankfully, to give insight into exactly that, Wizards of the Coast has recently revealed why these products are worse than expected. The answer, however, is not one that players wanted to hear. 

Not So Premium Precons

Commodore Guff | Commander Masters
Commodore Guff | Commander Masters

Yesterday, Wizards of the Coast officially revealed the brand new Planeswalker Party deck from Commander Masters. Debuting ten brand-new cards, alongside a plethora of reprints, there was a lot to enjoy from this deck’s 99. Unfortunately, however, not every single card in the preconstructed deck was a highly prized, and valuable, Commander staple. 

Thankfully, in the Planeswalker Party deck, there are some reprints to delight players, such as The Chain Veil. Alongside a fair few Planeswalkers like Chandra, Awakened Infurno the deck definitely has value-based merit. Unfortunately, however, the deck also contains a lot of far-from-ideal chaff. 

Between cheap Planeswalkers such as Saheeli, Sublime Artificer and creatures like Fog Bank it’s safe to say that not every card is a needed reprint. This is especially true for the deck’s mana base, which is loaded with slow lands like the Theros Temple cycle.

While Planeswalker Party does have a few compelling lands, such as Mystic Gate from Shadowmoor, there’s a lot of cheap chaff. Unfortunately, this deck is hardly the first to have this problem. The previously revealed Sliver Swarm deck, for instance, also had a dismal mana base, leaving many MTG players understandably frustrated. 

In theory, these rather lackluster mana bases are nothing new for preconstructed Commander decks. The Commander Masters decks, however, cost a lot more than the usual offerings from a Premier MTG set. Clocking in at $85 on average, this set the expectation a lot higher for many MTG players. 

Despite the elevated cost of these decks, apparently, this expectation from players was rather misguided. That appears to be the implication, at least, following a new statement from Wizards of the Coast about these rather controversial decks. 

Commander Masters Decks Aren’t Premium Products?!

As usual, following the main reveal of the Weekly MTG livestream, host Blake Rasmussen began the usual Q&A segment. Here, Rasmussen and guest Corey Bowen detailed many of Wizards’ design decisions that helped craft the Planeswalker Party deck. Alongside these development tidbits, Rasmussen also addressed a copypasta from justifiably frustrated fans.

“What makes this a premium deck? Why isn’t there more love for the mana bases in these precons? This isn’t a question about cost, this is a question about justification of calling something “Premium” without premium contents.”

In responding to this question, unfortunately, Rasmussen didn’t provide a concrete answer addressing the concerns. Instead, this question was answered with another question, as Rasmussen asked “Can someone in chat flag to me where we’ve called this premium? We might have, I just honestly don’t know about that tag.” 

From this statement, it appears that Wizards of the Coast doesn’t believe Commander Masters’ decks are a premium MTG product. Understandably, considering the elevated price of these decks, this has quickly caused outrage among the MTG community. After all, if a product is over twice the price of a normal deck, surely it’s premium, no?

Across social media, many MTG players were quick to make this point, while lamenting the seemingly ever-increasing prices. For many players, this all started back in 2019, when Wizards removed MSRP’s from their products. In theory, this move was meant to mitigate confusion since MTG is a global game now, however, arguably the opposite has happened. 

Through the lack of official pricing from Wizards, MTG players have witnessed product prices climbing higher and higher in recent years. As Reddit user u/basscape recounts, for instance, Commander decks used to be £30, however, they’ve now been pushed up to £50. Worryingly, many MTG players are predicting Commander Masters’ $85 decks are just another step in this saga. 

“The last few years have absolutely and nakedly been a show of WotC testing the waters to see how high the prices of their products can be pushed without outcry. “

u/basscape

“Regular eighty dollar precons incoming”

u/The_Bird_Wizard

Upgrades, People, Upgrades

Biogenic Upgrade | Ravnica Allegiance
Biogenic Upgrade | Ravnica Allegiance

At the end of the day, there’s no denying that the price of the new preconstructed decks is a little hard to stomach. Yes, they do contain new cards (which also appear in Set Boosters) but $85 isn’t cheap! That being said, however, preconstructed Commander decks don’t always need to be the best of the best. 

Rather than having to be cEDH viable and jam-packed with reprints, preconstructed decks should first and foremost be fun. Ideally enjoyable to play with decks new and old, these products are primarily for casual players. Because of this, sometimes lackluster mana bases and reprints can be due to balancing, rather than purely Reprint Equity. 

Even with the lackluster reprints in the reconstructed Commander Masters decks, they’re still a good deal, even at $85. Looking at the new Planeswalker Party deck, for instance, even when excluding the new cards, this deck is worth around $140! Considering that most preconstructed decks tend to offer about double their value in cards, however, this is still disappointing.

Ultimately, however, despite the value, balancing can obviously lead to preconstructed decks being disappointing for veteran players. That, however, is a solvable problem, as players are always free to upgrade their deck. Should you think that Planeswalker Party needs a copy of Ichormoon Gauntlet, you’re welcome to use it. At the end of the day, that’s one of the greatest things about MTG.

While this freedom does allow preconstructed decks to be useful for a variety of players, the price is obviously still a sticking point. Currently, we can only hope that these $85 Commander decks won’t be a grim portent for the future. Whether or not they are, however, remains to be seen as there’s no telling how well they’ll sell right now.

Read More: Wizards Confirms Two Future MTG Sets, Angering Fans

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