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Last updated on August 11, 2022

The Mimeoplasm - Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

The Mimeoplasm | Illustration by Svetlin Velinov

Commander has quickly grown into one of the most popular and casual-friendly formats in all of Magic. Many large-scale tournaments hold Commander side events and thousands of game stores across the country have adopted a “Commander Monday” night for their players. The format’s success has humble beginnings in its first preconstructed decks, which came out nearly 11 years ago.

Today I’m going to dive into Commander 2011 and explore everything from the design philosophy, what made the decks stand out among the crowd, and which ones hold their own in terms of power and value.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

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Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
Magic The Gathering - Commander Deck - Counterpunch
Magic the Gathering - Commander Deck - Heavenly Inferno
Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
$324.99
$549.95
$289.99
Magic The Gathering – Commander Deck – Counterpunch
Magic The Gathering - Commander Deck - Counterpunch
$324.99
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Magic the Gathering - Commander Deck - Heavenly Inferno
$549.95
Top Pick
Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
$289.99

What is Commander 2011?

Riku of Two Reflections - Illustration by Izzy

Riku of Two Reflections | Illustration by Izzy

Commander 2011 refers to the first set of Commander precon decks released by Wizards in 2011. These are five 3-color EDH decks that each come with some unique extras and never-before-printed cards.

Each deck is one of the wedge color groups which includes Mardu (), Temur (), Abzan (), Jeskai (), and Sultai (). They each contain a total of 51 new cards that were legal in eternal formats at the time, plus some hard-to-find reprints that were needed for EDH.

Commander 2011 vs. Other Commander Precons

These first-generation Commander precons were listed with an MSRP of $29.95, which is significantly cheaper than the typical $40 price tag we know today (with some exceptions). They were released during a period of multiplayer-focused product development that included the popular Planechase and Archenemy cards.

Each precon comes with the classic oversize foil commander cards, a copy each of Sol Ring, Command Tower, Lightning Greaves, and three legendary creatures that could serve as your commander, one of which was a dragon. Nowadays these oversized foils are no longer included and have been replaced with a foil copy of the deck’s commander, which is I think is a tragedy.

Each commander precon has some kind of new mechanic or keyword unique to the set, and in Commander 2011’s case that ability was “join forces.” This mechanic essentially allows multiple players to spend mana to bolster a card’s effectiveness and power level.

Alliance of Arms

Alliance of Arms is an example of this. This card calls for each player to spend any amount of mana, then gives every player a number of 1/1 soldiers equal to the amount of mana spent. This kind of group-hug mechanic was very unique to Magic and supported the core multiplayer theme that Wizards was trying to encourage with the release of so many multiplayer products.

Are the Commander 2011 Decks Worth It?

Zedruu the Greathearted - Illustration by Mark Zug

Zedruu the Greathearted | Illustration by Mark Zug

Judging whether or not the Commander 2011 decks are “worth it” depends on how much you end up paying for them. These precons are very hard to find sealed for anything close to a reasonable price, which isn’t surprising. The decks released well over 10 years ago and go for hundreds of dollars on sites like eBay.

Whether the Commander 2011 decks are worth it comes down to how much you can buy the sealed deck for in comparison to individually buying the 100 singles and just assembling the list yourself. But if you do manage to find these decks for anything even close to the MSRP (or even double that), they’re definitely worth it and something you should immediately pick up.

Despite the Commander 2011 precons’ overvaluation on secondary markets, the decklist’s themselves haven’t appreciated as much as you might think. They only cost between $100 and $140 in total if you build one yourself. If you compare that to the scalped price of $200 to $400 from other sellers, it’s absolutely not worth it to buy these decks sealed.

#5. Counterpunch

Counterpunch Commander 2011 precon

Commanders, Themes, and Strategy

Ghave, Guru of Spores

Counterpunch (sounds almost like a blue deck) is the Abzan-colored graveyard shenanigans deck that looks to create mana and board advantage with sacrifice and group-sacrifice effects that it benefits from. The primary commander is Ghave, Guru of Spores who works as a sacrifice outlet as well as a token generator.

The alternative commanders are Teneb, the Harvester, who reanimates creatures for when it deals combat damage, and Karador, Ghost Chieftain, who essentially gives your creatures flashback.

The deck’s core components are its reanimation engines, like Golgari Guildmage and Footbottom Feast. Sacrifice-themed spells also go hand-in-hand with graveyard recursion cards.

In terms of sacrifice outlets, you’re looking at playing Golgari Guildmage, Nantuko Husk, and Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter. For sacrifice fodder, you have a variety of token generators like Selesnya Evangel and Selesnya Guildmage as well as creatures that like to die including Yavimaya Elder and Symbiotic Wurm.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Counterpunch is one of the cheapest Commander 2011 decks with a price tag of just under $100 if you were to buy all of the cards individually. The most expensive cards are Skullclamp, Attrition, and Lightning Greaves.

In terms of notable staples that are worth being happy about, there’s Sakura-Tribe Elder, Cultivate, and the Signets.

The Verdict

This deck is the worst of the five but still good as a precon overall. The sacrifice and graveyard themes need a lot of expensive pieces to be powerful both in terms of reanimators and things to reanimate. But I think the general theme of creating weak creatures to sacrifice for the greater good is still well represented and a great way to introduce players to the format and the strategy.

Magic The Gathering – Commander Deck – Counterpunch
  • Magic the Gathering – Commander Deck – Commander – Counterpunch
  • Three Oversized foil commander cards & A 100-card singleson deck
  • Deck Strategy insert with rules for the commander format
  • 5 New Commander Decks (Each Sold Separately)
  • NOTE: This product can ONLY be shipped the United States, Puerto Rico, APO/FPOs and USVI.

#4. Mirror Mastery

Mirror Mastery Commander 2011 precon

Commanders, Themes, and Strategy

Mirror Mastery is the Temur deck and does classic Temur things like duplicate spells and cast big creatures. This deck is very fun for any casual player since it promotes doing things most players find very cool when they start playing Magic: cast extremely big and scary spells.

Riku of Two Reflections

The deck’s commander, Riku of Two Reflections, really promotes this strategy by duplicating your instants and sorceries with its first activated ability (an effective Galvanic Iteration) and copying your nontoken creatures for .

Your alternative commanders are Animar, Soul of Elements, which leans more into the creature side of the list, and Intet, the Dreamer, which gives you free cards off the top of your library whenever it deals combat damage to a player. Riku is undoubtedly the most powerful of the three since there are plenty of creatures and spells to duplicate.

Most cards in this deck get better the more you have, like Hunting Pack to rapidly fill your board through Storm, Magmatic Force to generate continuous value, and Ray of Command to make your opponents wish they never played the game in the first place.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

The money cards in this list are Homeward Path, Lightning Greaves, Ruination, its three commanders, Garruk Wildspeaker, and Collective Voyage.

There are also some great Commander staples in here that don’t carry too much of a price tag but are still worth mentioning. Those cards are Brainstorm, Sol Ring, Kodama’s Reach, the Signets, Fire // Ice, and Cultivate.

The Verdict

I’m ranking this deck at number four overall. Big stuff is a great strategy, definitely a very fun one, but it has its weaknesses.

This list very dependent on big mana, you need to hit five/six/seven mana as soon as possible, and this deck could use some more mana dorks to make sure that happens, especially being in three colors. The deck only has five creatures under four mana and only six early ramp cards outside of mana rocks. This number just needs to be higher to make this deck stronger.

If you’re looking for upgrades I’d suggest some inclusions like Birds of Paradise, one or two mana dork elves like Elvish Mystic and Llanowar Elves, and some better lands to make sure you’re hitting your colors (and enough of them).

The scry lands are fairly cheap and would be a great swap for some of the basics. You’re specifically looking for Temple of Epiphany, Temple of Mystery, and Temple of Abandon.

#3. Political Puppets

Political Puppets Commander 2011 precon

Commanders, Themes, and Strategy

Zedruu the Greathearted

In the middle of the pack at third place is Political Puppets, the Jeskai Commander deck led by Zedruu the Greathearted. This deck is a donate-your-stuff build with plenty of ways to exchange control of permanents with your opponents.

Your commander allows you to give away permanents for just three mana, and it hits everything including lands. The concept here is giving your opponents cards that will only benefit you once they’re given. Think something like Nine Lives or a nearly-depleted Nine Lives.

The alternative commanders you can chose from are the legendary dragon Numot, the Devastator, who blows up lands when it deals combat damage, and Ruhan of the Fomori, a 4-mana 7/7 who attacks random targets.

You have a few good options as secondary ways to gain control of permanents to draw more cards or if your commander just gets shut down one too many times. Dominus of Fealty takes control of any permanent for one turn at the beginning of your upkeep, Reins of Power switches control of creatures with an opponent, and Insurrection gives you control of literally every creature and untaps them with haste to get them ready to beat one unlucky soul into the ground.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Trade Secrets

One notable inclusion that isn’t worth much at less than $1 a pop is Trade Secrets. The card is actually banned in Commander. Yep, you read that right. An official Commander precon includes a card that’s banned. Obviously Trade Secrets was banned long after its inclusion in the product. It was banned because it gave unreasonable card advantage to two out of four the players at the table.

This deck is actually one of the most expensive and includes some pretty valuable spells. Ruhan of the Fomori, Howling Mine, and Lightning Greaves are all just under $10. Insurrection is almost $20, and Champion’s Helm is over $30! This deck has a lot of value in it and you’d be very happy to have this list intact if you bought it way back in 2011.

The Verdict

I like this deck a lot, but donating trashy permanents can only go so far. A lot of this deck’s strength comes from constantly trying to keep your 2/4 super target commander alive. If Zedruu drops dead too many times and you’re not able to bring it back again and again, you’re going to get shut down pretty hard.

All of a sudden your card advantage engine is gone and you’re not able to create legitimate threats since your primary method of creating them is gone.

#2. Heavenly Inferno

Heavenly Inferno Commander 2011 precon

Commanders, Themes, and Strategy

Kaalia of the Vast

Heavenly Inferno is the Mardu angel-demon-dragon Commander deck and it’s led by one of the most famous Commanders in Magic’s history, Kaalia of the Vast.

Its alternative commanders are the dragon Oros, the Avenger and Tariel, Reckoner of Souls. Oros purges non-white creatures while Tariel reanimates creature cards from your opponent’s own graveyards (fun!). This is one of the more powerful of the original five; let’s look at why.

This deck’s theme is essentially just angeldemon-dragon tribal with supporting creatures that want to beat opponents to death. It’s a very simple strategy that’s easy to understand but also doesn’t lack depth in its combat tricks and interaction.

Some of the most powerful cards you’re looking to get out for free are Avatar of Slaughter, Bladewing the Risen, Angelic Arbiter, and Angel of Despair. Creatures that have powerful enter the battlefield effects are the most powerful overall since you’re getting the effect and the body for free.

Be careful when choosing what you cast and what you get out for free. Certain cards have the key phrase “if you cast it from your hand,” which is not the same as casting itself. Putting into play and casting without paying its mana cost are different things even though they seem very similar. This means if you were to put Dread Cacodemon into play from your hand with Kaalia of the Vast’s ability, its enter the battlefield trigger won’t kill all of your opponent’s creatures.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Stranglehold

The most expensive card in this set worth nearly two-thirds of the deck’s original MSRP is Stranglehold worth over $20. This stax piece is incredibly potent in EDH thanks to the prevalence of card draw and spells that search the battlefield.

Kaalia of the Vast

Your primary commander, Kaalia of the Vast, is also worth over $20 on secondary markets and is a very popular commander in its own right. Kaalia is actually the 14th most popular commander.

Lightning Greaves

Finally the copy of Lightning Greaves is just under $10, and a Commander staple.

The Verdict

I’m placing this deck in second place. Higher because it has a strong creature base that synergizes well, but not the best since it has a lot of early creatures that just don’t synergize with the theme. Obviously not a lot of angels/demons/dragons cost less than four mana, but having so many little creatures that just fly or make tokens is kind of a waste.

If you’re looking to improve this list’s power level I’d suggest looking into some better early game and a couple other great inclusions. I’m specifically talking about Giver of Runes, Esper Sentinel, and Grand Abolisher for the early game and Burning-Rune Demon and Razaketh, the Foulblooded for later.

#1. Devour for Power

Devour for Power Commander 2011 precon

Commanders, Themes, and Strategy

The Mimeoplasm

Here in first place we have Devour for Power, the Sultai graveyard deck. This list’s main commander is The Mimeoplasm. Mimeoplasm gives you a hint as to what this deck is doing the most of: taking advantage of cards in the graveyard.

The precon’s alternative commanders are Vorosh, the Hunter and Damia, Sage of Stone. Vorosh gains six counters every time it deals combat damage to a player while Damia draws you up to a hand of seven every upkeep at the expense of your draw step. The Mimeoplasm is better since it takes advantage of the various sacrifice outlets and targets in the deck and extracts additional value out of your already-present graveyard synergies.

There are lots of great cards for The Mimeoplasm to take the form of, but I think the most powerful in this list are Artisan of Kozilek and Damia, Sage of Stone. Artisan presents an epic threat with annihilator and brings back an additional creature to diversify your board. Damia generates additional card advantage as long as you’re able to untap with it and reach your upkeep before your opponents manage to kill it.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Grave Pact

This deck is not only the most powerful, it’s also the most expensive when it comes to the total cost of cards in the deck. The most expensive card is Grave Pact, which is a must-have in any sacrifice or aristocrats EDH deck.

Living Death, Damia, Sage of Stone, and Lightning Greaves are all valuable cards.

Wrexial, the Risen Deep

Wrexial, the Risen Deep is also up there in terms of price. While these cards all together aren’t much in the grand scheme of things, there are lots of cards in this list worth $1 to $3, which is considerable since there are 100 cards in the deck.

The Verdict

This deck takes first place overall since it has strong graveyard synergies and bountiful recursion effects. The commander choice is also extremely powerful and has plenty of great creature combinations to choose from as the game progresses. I think this deck is absolutely sweet and can easily be transitioned into a higher power Sultai reanimator deck given the right upgrades and love.

Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
  • Includes 100 standard Magic cards and 3 over-sized cards

Best of the Best: Best Value and Most Competitive

Devour for Power Commander 2011 precon

Devour for Power is the strongest deck in terms of power level and value out of the box. If you able to buy this deck for its original MSRP of $30 then you’re looking at a 480% return on investment, which is great.

If you’re just looking for a good precon that has potential for upgrades and works well at the casual table, Devour for Power is still my recommendation. This deck is also my personal choice. I really like the Sultai color combination, especially when it involves control and graveyard interaction.

Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
  • Includes 100 standard Magic cards and 3 over-sized cards

Where to Buy Commander 2011 Precons

The best option if you’re hellbent on playing one of the Commander 2011 decks is to assemble the deck yourself by buying all of the singles off a secondary marketplace like TCGPlayer or ChannelFireball. You can still buy a sealed product on a site like Amazon or eBay, but you’re going to be paying far more than the $100 cost to assemble them yourself.

As far as I can tell most listings are around $50 more than the price of the cards with the occasional listing for a decent price. The listings that go at or slightly around the price of the individual cards seem to sell pretty quickly, though.

My official recommendation is to just buy the cards yourself. That allows you to make some changes and upgrades and possibly get some different versions of cards that you’ll like more. There’s no reason to buy a sealed version unless its cheaper than the alternatives.

Commanding Conclusion

Kaalia of the Vast - Illustration by Michael Komarck

Kaalia of the Vast | Illustration by Michael Komarck

In the end, I think Commander 2011 was a great start to a long line of strong Commander precons. Each deck had multiple commanders that represented the overall strategy, some great inclusions that made you feel like you were getting your money’s worth, and a solid set of artifacts that just don’t match up what we get today. Looking at you, Swiftfoot Boots.

Top Pick
Magic The Gathering – Commander Deck – Counterpunch
Magic the Gathering – Commander Deck – Heavenly Inferno
Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
Magic The Gathering - Commander Deck - Counterpunch
Magic the Gathering - Commander Deck - Heavenly Inferno
Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
$324.99
$549.95
$289.99
Magic The Gathering – Commander Deck – Counterpunch
Magic The Gathering - Commander Deck - Counterpunch
$324.99
Magic the Gathering – Commander Deck – Heavenly Inferno
Magic the Gathering - Commander Deck - Heavenly Inferno
$549.95
Top Pick
Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
Magic The Gathering Commander (EDH) Set Devour for Power Green, Blue Black
$289.99

That’s everything there is to know about the Commander 2011 decks. What do you think of these precons? Did you get to play with them when they first came out, or were you introduced to Commander sometime after? Let us know your EDH origin story and what you think of these decks down in the comments or over on our Draftsim Discord.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!

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2 Comments

  • Avatar
    Vincent January 17, 2022 5:49 am

    You might need to reread Zedruu 🙂 He aint’ stealing stuff anytime soon.

    • Jake Henderson
      Jake Henderson January 24, 2022 9:30 pm

      Thanks for this!

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