Why are some commander staples so expensive?

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on July 30, 2020, 9:40 p.m. by King_marchesa

We all know Force of Will, Mana Crypt, Sylvan Library, and Sensei's Divining Top are expensive commander staples. But why are they staples of the format and why are the all 45$+. Most decks don't even have these staples in them due to them not being worth the cost, so why are they so expensive? And if most decks can function without them, than why are they edh staples in the first place? Even with reprints they still continue to hold their price point. What are your opinions on these cards and other expensive edh staples. Are they worth the money? Should they be reprinted more? Should they be staples of the format?

hejtmane says... #2

Small printings on some of them and since their is a limited number and they are used in cedh and high power meta's must runs.

Also as commander has become more popular prices have gone up like I bought sensi in 25-30 range a year ago and it has done nothing but gone up.

On top of that the last printing of Mana Crypt is been mythic in mystery boosters which due to current issue had a smaller print run.

Demand and not enough supply

July 30, 2020 10:04 p.m.

RambIe says... #3

supply and demand
when the demand becomes greater then the supply the prices get jacked
personally i am ok with the older limited prints increasing in value thats what makes it collectible.
its also a reward for continuing to play the game for so many years

nothing disappoints me more then just mass spam reprints in a set release.
i like to see new mechanics and new cards then find new ways to make it work with the old

I dont believe in staples i think everyone should stop trying to be like everyone else and do there own thing in there own way.

and last note: i will admit the majority of the community does not agree with my opinion on this matter
seems like they just want everyone to have the same decks doing the same things

July 30, 2020 10:12 p.m.

MindAblaze says... #4

As someone who has used all four of the cards you listed I can vouch for their power level.

The speed provided by a Mana Crypt can not be beat. So you get bolted every couple turns. You’re not doing “it” right if that’s a problem.

Ever tried to push a combo win through? Sometimes the only way it can be done is through sheer Force of Will. Free counters are always best in a counter war.

Sensei's Divining Top is the card I’ve used the least, but considering how much utility it can give you when you need something/don’t need what your library is offering you, I should be using it more.

Finally, the life payment can hurt when you want some extra cards, but the filtration on your draw EVERY TURN is amazing. I love me some Sylvan Library. So amazing to always draw gas.

Now if you’re just playing with noobs or casuals then fine. I survived for years without a Mana Crypt, but to quote wisdom passed on from generation to generation...

”once you go black...”

July 30, 2020 10:36 p.m. Edited.

enpc says... #5

Asking if something should be a staple of a format isn't going to achieve much. They are what they are and will continue to be run because they're good. As for the specifics of each card:

  • Force of Will gets run in every format that can play it. While EDH has some part to play for the price of this card, you can also blame Legacy and Vintage.

  • Sensei's Divining Top was also a staple of the Legacy Miracles deck up until its banning in 2017. And since the last print run of the card was in EMA in 2016, it makes sense that the price hasn't dropped.

  • Sylvan Library does similar work to Sensei's, albeit with actual draw, not just filtering. And the last printing of the card was again in EMA. There was a time a few years ago where you could pick up a copy of the less desirable artwork versions of the card for like $25. So the price creep is for the same reason as Sensei's.

  • Mana Crypt has actually fallen in price compared to what it used to be. Originally the card used to be over $200 USD and has since had printings in both EMA and the Kaladesh Masterpieces. The price on this has started creeping up a bit since its last printing (the cheapest I have seen this card is around $80 USD) however Mana Crypt has overall come down in price from what it used to be. It's also worth noting that Crypt is a staple in Vintage as well, so it's not just commander which dictates the price of the card.

And while these cards are considered staples in most cEDH lists, a large cross section of EDH decks actually run none of these due largely to their price. So in that context I wouldn't call them staples for the community as a whole.

I would love to see WotC do a run of commander sets with Mana Crypt instead of Sol Ring, however I don't ever forsee this happening.

RambIe: I don't think it's possible to get rid of the concept of staples - while the majority of players aren't looking to just outright copy off each other, most of these players are still looking to improve their decks over time. And since not all cards are printed equal, players will gravitate towards better cards. This in turn just creates a natural convergence towards similar ideas and ultimately similar decks.

So while you can build hipster decks, they generally will underperform since while they might give you hipster bragging rights, it will generally be at the cost of the deck itself.

July 30, 2020 11:27 p.m.

RNR_Gaming says... #6

People like to win. Even if commander is a "casual" format players know what's good and want to play cards that give them the best shot at excuting their plan. Typically, staples are older cards that are powerful, had a smaller print run, could be played in multiple formats (modern/legacy), or are on the reserved list; which makes them finite.

July 31, 2020 2:16 a.m.

SynergyBuild says... #7

I mean, I play cEDH often, and run multiple of those cards. I've played with a real The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale (card was cheaper, in a separate case, and we used a proxy, but owned the original that was kept safe, it was around $600 at the time). This is an expensive hobby, spend what you want, I'll play 20k casual decks and 10 dollar cEDH decks, up to each how they want to pay, the market will reflect that.

July 31, 2020 2:43 a.m.

Caerwyn says... #8

RambIe - I find your entire post rather condescending--particularly your dismissive "seems like they just want everyone to have the same decks doing the same things" line.

Whenever I start out in a new format, I do not look at others' decklists--I break out the pen and paper, go to the Gatherer, and start running old fashioned searches. I go out of my way to avoid learning the format's staples until after I have finished a deck or two, specifically to avoid being prejudiced and to avoid "hav[ing] the same decks doing the same things".

Without ever looking at the staples list, my search for mana accelerators put Mana Crypt on my radar. My search for cheap counterspells found me Force of Will. Repeatable card draw Library and Divining Top. Anyone who is really trying to make a good deck is going to add "staples." That is, after all, how they become staples--their power level is too significant not to include.

Also, I think it would be a good time to point out that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Seeing as you were dismissive of the idea of staples and rather condescending toward those who use them, I took the liberty of looking at the decks and deck fragments you have posted here. Lo and behold, look what I found:

Sol Ring; Talisman of Indulgence; Phyrexian Altar; Vampiric Tutor; Gamble; Strip Mine; Ancient Tomb; Serra Ascendant; Hushbringer; Aven Mindcensor; Land Tax; Rhystic Study; Smothering Tithe; Brainstorm; Enlightened Tutor; Mental Misstep; Mystical Tutor; Path to Exile; Opt; Swords to Plowshares; Counterspell; Cyclonic Rift; Dovin's Veto; Generous Gift; Teferi's Protection; Winds of Abandon; Fabricate; Idyllic Tutor; Mox Amber; Arcane Signet; Rule of Law; Deafening Silence; Arcane Laboratory; Winter Orb; Noble Hierarch; and maybe a few others I missed.

July 31, 2020 2:53 a.m.

jaymc1130 says... #9

Caerwyn

I'm not sure I follow. Nothing about that individual's post strikes me as "condescending" in any way, shape, or form. There are some opinions about staples being presented, acknowledgement of why some cards tend to be on the expensive side, a statement that the individual personally doesn't believe in the concept of staples being a requirement, and finally an opinion expressed (correctly I might add) that much of the edh community is and has been stuck in "group think" in certain respects when it comes to certain topics for many years.

None of that, not a single word, is condescending in nature mate. It might be odd, awkward, or strange, but condescending? Nope, not a chance.

As a side note, to me, as an outsider, a site moderator going out of the way to hunt down information on an individual and then use that information in an attempt to publicly shame that person strikes me as very, very, very poor taste.

We've had plenty of interactions and you know I find you to be a rather pleasurable person to interact and associate with, but you are WAY out of line here bud.

July 31, 2020 3:11 a.m.

SynergyBuild says... #10

jaymc1130 I agree on some point with this, but RambIe did state that they believe the communities intention wants to be homogeneous, which is a statement that seems relatively charged. As well, they aren't necessarily the least outspoken person in the community, taking over other forum posts that weren't related to this, bringing it back to this topic. I agree this might not be the place for Caerwyn.

Both of them I don't think are entirely innocent, as this isn't the place for this discussion, rather the place for discussion on Commander Staple Pricing, however both of them bring fair points to be discussed elsewhere, in which RambIe likes to go against the grain and disagrees with the deck-sharing functionality of the site and what community it breeds and Caerwyn wants more evidence of community intention, or at least less hypocrisy, as both he and the rest of the community he seems to know doesn't fit in RambIe's assumed state of "want[ing] everyone to have the same decks doing the same things."

Again, both valid points, where both put them in the wrong forum post. Claiming either were entirely out of line is slightly untrue, but both weren't entirely well-thought-out in where they had the discussion!

July 31, 2020 3:23 a.m.

jaymc1130 says... #11

SynergyBuild

That all helps provide some context, thanks mate. I didn't mean to insinuate that the discussion itself or the topics were wholly inapproriate, this certainly wasn't the intention at all. The "out of line" statement is explicitly and only referring to the attempt at public humiliation that seems so uncharacteristic. I've no idea if that was the intention, but from the outside perspective it certainly wound up being the ultimate result and this is what seems out of place.

Any how, with all that cleared up, carry on. Interesting discussion.

July 31, 2020 3:29 a.m.

King_marchesa says... #12

I do feel that not all decks need to run these staples but they are generally good cards. Therefore, I think a lot of people run them, even if they aren't needed in the deck. I also really wish that cards like Sensei's Divining Top and Sylvan Library would be reprinted but their power level is pretty high so they only belong in masters sets. I also wonder what reprints commander legends will bring.

July 31, 2020 7:27 a.m.

RambIe says... #13

@Caerwyn Take a few deep breaths and relax.
I am surprised how much my opinion triggered you.
non the less my post was not condescending

@SynergyBuild shame on you
you post on jaymc1130 wall asking them not to defend me claiming that you and i are friends
but then you post on Caerwyn wall taking my words out of context to fuel the fire

@jaymc1130 thank you, but don't let this influence your opinion about the website or Caerwyn
good people have bad days it doesn't have to be any deeper then that

July 31, 2020 7:59 a.m.

jaymc1130 says... #14

RambIe

Pretty hard to change my opinion of some one who I happen to have a very high opinion of just based on the only wild thing I've ever seen them post in the last 2 and a half years. No worries on that account. I merely posted with the intent to keep it all calm and point out that as members of this community we shouldn't be digging through each others "dirty laundry" to air it out publicly. We have the ability to message one another privately to discuss matters of that nature.

I've been interested in the discussion on meta staples thus far and, seeing as I don't feel particularly strongly any kind of way about them, found the conversation quite informative in terms of how these cards are viewed within the community at large.

July 31, 2020 8:11 a.m.

EleshNornsFs says... #15

They are staples because they are good, and if everyone had access to them, they would be auto-includes. If force of will was a fifty cent comman, every blue deck would run it. Every deck would run the diving top. So many decks do fine without because EDH is such a casual friendly format and the community understands as well that not everyone can have all the staple, so even cEDH players know to bring a casual friendly deck to tables and events.

July 31, 2020 8:23 a.m.

golgarigirl says... #16

I don't think people go intentionally looking for staples. At some point in the stream of thought that created a deck, someone simply uses the logic of 'what is the best way to do X', and it happened to be one of these cards. Thus their status at the top financially and in reputation as 'staples'. If people can invest, and want the best, they'll snap them up. If not, there are options.

I went through this process recently with one of my decks...I wanted a way, for as little resource as possible, to draw a second card per turn for Jolrael, Mwonvuli Recluse. Looking through Gatherer and the sparing deck builds for her out so far, what was my #1 option? Sylvan Library, of course. Since I have no intent of picking up a Library for the deck in question, I've got to work a little harder, and jump for a few more hoops for some more lackluster options, like Mind's Eye. See the difference?

July 31, 2020 9:36 a.m. Edited.

kpres says... #17

Sensei's divining top is in high demand in the two most popular tournament formats: Modern and Vintage. MTG has grown in players since Kamigawa, and they haven't really printed more of them, so the price has gone up.

You win money at high level tournaments. I know it doesn't make sense to spend $100 on a card for a casual format, but if you could make $500 by winning a tournament, then you might consider it.

July 31, 2020 10:51 a.m.

TriusMalarky says... #18

Caerwyn interesting. I typically look at a meta, see what decks are there and figure out their play patterns, then build something deliberately different.

I don't particularly care for heavily used cards as long as they're expensive -- I'll throw down a Gprobe any day, if there was a format that allowed it. It's only $1 and I already have the playset. But I limit myself to $5 max w/out trades unless it's a land or something else I will absolutely be able to use forever. Like Sol Ring.

So, I wouldn't run these -- but not because they're bad. It's entirely because I like the challenge of brewing top tier decks with a minimal budget. I'm the idiot who'll run a $30 deck through a Modern tournament just to see how well I can do with that budget.

That said, repeatable colorless Ponder looks hot. I need me a few of those. Depressing pricetag tho.

July 31, 2020 10:55 a.m.

RambIe the intention of the author/poster does not change the first interpretation of the reader. Saying that your comment wasn't condescending in itself seems condescending, and it seems even more so when you are saying they are triggered. I have the same problem in saying things that I don't intend to be condescending or patronizing or rude etc. It is especially bad on the internet where we don't always know the other person's character and interpretations will vary wildly. Hell, even in person things I say to my wife I say with the best of intentions, but didn't realize she would interpret what I say in a way that I seem like a jerk. As a general rule I try to tell people "I didn't intend to be condescending" rather than "I wasn't" because the latter reads as you are denying their interpretation and the former just states your intention.

July 31, 2020 11:03 a.m.

RNR_Gaming says... #20

kpres - top is banned in both modern and legacy. It's only legal in vintage and commander; additionally, high level magic will typically be a net loss. Winning 1k Iqs is not easy and typically people split in the top 8 anyways back when it was easier to do so; now there's something about not being able to split prizes that cannot be split evenly like invites. Its about 30 dollars per event + gas to get to the event unless its online; assuming you're always going to win youd need to win about 3 Iqs to pay off a modern deck. Also, at my lgs we had commander tournments where you could net about 40 bucks coming in 1st. I played every other week and won for 6 months straight and still haven't net a positive on any of my decks lol

July 31, 2020 11:12 a.m.

King_marchesa says... #21

I agree that sometimes things are interpreted wrong through the internet. I also agree with GhostChieftain in that you should try to defuse the situation instead of blowing it up into a big argument.

TriusMalarky

I hate spending tons of money on one card. But sometimes I’ll buy an expensive card because it’s a good deal or I’ll use it for multiple decks.

July 31, 2020 1:28 p.m.

DeinoStinkus says... #22

jaymc1130: Synergy did the same to me at this forum, where he used my forum post where I said I looked up to TypicalTimmy to try to make me feel bad about myself.

Ramble: Again, Synergy once did go behind my back to the designer of the Spellchaser format, GoblinElectromancer, and try to lie about my intentions. Luckily, Goblin isn't stupid and didn't fall for it. At least Synergy apologized to YOU, he just said "K" a whole lot and called me a nobody (I'm the 2nd Decklord and 3rd (?) Helper, but my account isn't upgraded which makes it somehow less knowledgable).

Caerwyn: Your post is a bit distasteful. You probably have better things to do than dig up staples that an anti staple person uses in their decks.

Anyway, here's my two cents.

I personally hate how high the prices are on staples, and I agree with Ramble to an extent, because I do think that net decking is s bit boring, and doesn't encourage constructive play.

However...

Net decking just isn't my cup of tea. I don't see the issue with others net decking, and while I may gripe about staple prices I think they have their place in EDH. Almost everyone uses staples at some point; they're useful. But feel free to differ from my opinion. Nobody's opinion can be wrong.

August 2, 2020 10:53 a.m.

SynergyBuild says... #23

DeinoStinkus are you still on that? Dude you literally asked TypicalTimmy to vouch for you, after lying about everyone, after everyone told you that they didn't appreciate you doing that, after you lied about the rules, then you tried to take the moral high ground and said we shouldn't talk about it and even said you were 'done speaking on the topic.'

You are now out here trying to say I did jaymc1130 wrong, when I already told him I messed up and apologized. Shut up dude, no one cares about you. You lied on GoblinElectromancer's rules, lied about shadow63's comments attempting to make him look stupid, and constantly was arguing. I screwed up when trying to fix a situation I didn't start here, you screwed up starting a situation with lies and deception, trying to bring people from this topic onto that. Go step on a lego brick, this is tiring at this point, you lied again after saying you wouldn't bring it up because you were 'such a great person'.

I'm still sorry to RambIe, and sorry to Caerwyn too because I spoke for both of them when it wasn't my place. No one is sorry for calling you out for being a troll.

August 2, 2020 11:07 a.m. Edited.

DeinoStinkus says... #24

Everyone meaning Daves lab who has essentially forgotten the whole thing and moved on? I didn't lie about shadow's comments, I quoted him verbatim. I apologized already for making him sound naiive, and he already said he didn't care about the topic. We already stopped our spat, I was just saying "I was there too". I apologize for bringing this old thing back up, if Synergy has anything else to yell at me about I would like him to please do it on my wall.

August 2, 2020 11:16 a.m.

ZendikariWol says... #25

So... how bout those commander staples, huh?

August 2, 2020 11:27 a.m.

DeinoStinkus says... #26

I only have Rhystic Study and Sol Ring and two shocklands, so I can't say much.

August 2, 2020 11:29 a.m.

shadow63 says... #27

Poor OP this thread went off the rails

August 2, 2020 11:57 a.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #28

Can we all please stop picking on DeinoStinkus? I haven't been following the drama / controversy much, but come on. Two different threads where people dogpile him? Let things go already, everyone.

August 2, 2020 1:25 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #29

To re-rail this thread, staples are generally considered for three reasons: CMC, impact and speed.

Cards such as Demonic Tutor are solid because they are extremely low cost with basically no downside. Cards such as Diabolic Tutor are not sought after because, while they function the same, they cost a lot more to cast in-game and thus are not able to be played as quickly. Vampiric Tutor costs the most because the CMC is half-that of Demonic Tutor, is an instant and does the same effect. In a game with 40 life, paying 2 is nothing. That's also why shocklands and fetch lands are so popular; The cost of the life you spend is nothing compared to the value you get. Being 1/2 the CMC though is not enough. As Vampiric Tutor is also an instant, it can find you cards at any point in the game, not just during your main phases when the stack is empty.

There are outliers, such as Cyclonic Rift and Damnation, but paying a lot of mana for a reset button is worth it as it brings everyone back down to relatively the same level, more or less.

Cards that push you to win the game (tutors, combo pieces, wincons) are the best because winning the game against three opponents is far more powerful than making a single opponent lose the game.

August 2, 2020 1:32 p.m.

DeinoStinkus says... #30

I think the difference between high and low CMC tutors is that you can use the card you tutor the turn you get it with a low-cost, and the turn after for high-cost. I use high CMC tutors in my Yennett deck because mana cost is irrelevant there, but real-world cost is.

Resetting the board is a tad overrated in my opinion, but one-sided board wipes (such as Timmy's Cyclonic Rift) are decidedly awesome. And I'm glad it's getting a reprint.

And speed is one of the reasons Timmy described. This is why fetchlands (Scalding Tarn) and shocklands (Breeding Pool) are so darn expensive.

August 2, 2020 2:05 p.m.

I love staples! Some of them are a tad expensive, but I absolutely love them! I did take a look at the DeinoStinkus/SynergyBuild controversy, and I can say that it's just a little sad. Synergy seemed to just dismiss Deino, while Deino angrily defended himself, and the two left a trail of destruction in their wake. I'm more on the side of Deino and Ramble here, but that's not what the forums about.

I think ZendikariWol said it best himself. What's your favorite staple?

August 2, 2020 4:04 p.m.

ZendikariWol says... #32

Yup, Chrome, I think we were back on track.

MtG finance is incredibly easy to track. Why? Because it's rooted in one very simple economic principle: supply and demand. The demand for staples is high, by the nature of the word. If the supply doesn't match (and, to be fair, it's very challenging to match demand on some of these cards), the card is just gonna be pricy.

August 2, 2020 9:59 p.m.

Gleeock says... #33

Another reason for the Commander staple price-hike, is the popularity increase & subsequent price hike across all good cards for the format in general. As far as some of the more contentious stuff.. I like some "staples"; however, I get a bit eye-rolling when I see those staples with a high critical mass of optimum only (when I am not playing cEDH). Staples are not a huge problem, it is more when some players seem to be mentally unable to add a friggin petcard in here & there, just because you are packing some high $$ staples does not mean you have to supplement with efficiency/best only. As they keep creatively printing new cards more directed at Commander in general you do see some "staples" actually ease up in use sometimes, so part of this is that they have only printed nice scaling cards specifically for the format for so long.... Now the new staple "freespells" & yes, I'm calling some of them staples, are pricey because of WoTC's mistake with those & the limited foreseeable reprints on them - I posit that that can be rectified by reprinting them stock in several upcoming Commander products (like a much more expensive Command Tower or Sol Ring).

August 3, 2020 12:36 a.m.

DeinoStinkus says... #34

The only reason Sol is more expensive than Tower is because it is in slightly higher demand and it's used in Vintage, to some degree. Sol has gotten more Reprints than Tower and despite that its still 3x the price.

August 3, 2020 8:27 a.m.

Massacar says... #35

I'm a huge proponent of reprinting things into oblivion. I like cards to be affordable to people other than myself, and it makes deckbuilding more fun to not have to constantly try to find cheap replacements for preferred cards.

I know big time collectors are generally against this, and I don't really care as the dragon hoard mentality isn't really helpful for player engagement.

August 3, 2020 1:07 p.m.

Gleeock says... #36

Massacar as someone that has a bunch of duals..etc, totally agree. But, my collection is mainly aimed to play. I find that with the new players in my playgroup Laissez Faire MtG without the feeling of being priced out of the game long ago is the best & I don't really worry about collection value depreciation.

August 4, 2020 2:20 a.m.

ZendikariWol says... #37

Speaking, admittedly, as a total outsider to the collecting scene, I understand why you'd want to be part of it. I get it. It feels cool to have cool cards, especially cool cards that are worth a lot of money. Makes a fellow feel important. But there are so many more players (unsurprisingly, the group I belong to) that can't afford the cards they want.

Whenever I make a deck there's this tiny part of me that constantly murmurs "it'd be better if you could buy this card." And I always have to go "I know, Tom, but if you had all the cards you wanted your deck would cost more than your TUITION."

Now, this isn't the fault of the collectors. This is the fault of WotC for pandering to them. I know that sounded belligerent and I didn't mean for it to but I don't know how I could soften it. WotC pointedly does not reprint cards, entirely because collectors (people who often spend a lot of money on the game and represent a fantastically small fraction of the fanbase) want their cards to be valuable. Once again, not the collectors' fault, they didn't ask for this. But c'mon, WotC. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

August 5, 2020 1:34 a.m.

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