Last updated on May 20, 2022
Arcane Lighthouse | Illustration by Igor Kieryluk
Remember 2014? Khans of Tarkir just dropped, everyone was clamoring to build Commander decks using the new wedge-aligned 3-color creatures, Siege Rhino was a menace in Standard, and WotC was releasing their third ever Commander product. This was, of course, the Commander 2014 precon decks: a slew of five mono-colored 100-card decks with the first ever planeswalker commanders.
Wizards confirmed they’d been designing cards with Commander players in mind since 2007 when it was officially recognized as a format. With seven years of sprinkling Commander cards throughout the main sets, R&D had a good idea of how Commander players wanted to push the format. We’ve seen new design space explored in each of the Commander-only sets released since 2011.
But what about Commander 2014? Let’s talk about that.
What is Commander 2014?
Commander 2014 is unique in that it was the first and only precon set with only mono-colored decks included. Every Commander 2014 precon featured a new mono-color planeswalker with the clause that they could be your commander. Players had been wondering how planeswalkers could be designed to helm EDH decks, and this was WotC’s simple response.
Similar to Commander 2013 and the original Commander 2011 precons, 2014’s decks saw the release of 15 new Vintage-legal cards per deck with a total of 61 new cards across all five (the most to date). Seven of these cards were colorless spells or lands shared across each deck, most notably Commander’s Sphere, Arcane Lighthouse, and Myriad Landscape. These three in particular have become staples in the Commander format, justifiably included in almost any deck that can spare the space.
These precons also came with a cycle of five new and five reprinted legendary creatures to serve as alternate commanders for each deck. The coveted Medallion cycle was reprinted as well in addition to two new cycles: the Offerings and the Lieutenants. The Diamond cycle of mana rocks, the Karoo lands, and two different cycles of cycling lands were also included in the decks.
Nahiri, the Lithomancer | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
Mentor of the Meek
Kemba, Kha Regent
Angelic Field Marshal
Angel of the Dire Hour
Masterwork of Ingenuity
Mask of Memory
Sword of Vengeance
Commander, Themes, and Strategy
Forged in Stone is the mono-white deck headed by the planeswalker Nahiri, the Lithomancer. It features Jazal Goldmane as the new legendary creature and Kemba, Kha Regent as a reprint from Mirrodin. Nahiri’s abilities are all about equipment: it makes tokens to attach swords to, puts swords into play from your hand or graveyard, and creates the mythical Stoneforged Blade token.
Forged in Stone generally wants to play lots of little creatures and buff them up with equipment and anthem effects to win with combat damage. Angelic Field Marshal, True Conviction, and Cathars’ Crusade are great ways to buff your field while cards like Benevolent Offering and Deploy to the Front stabilize your board to prepare you for a big swing with Jazal Goldmane.
Forged in Stone saw the first printing of Containment Priest, a hatebear creature that shuts down your opponents’ free creature spells and cheeky reanimates. It’s almost as good a hatebear as Grand Abolisher, and hey, that card got a reprint in this deck too! It’s the most expensive single left in the deck so it wins the number one “best reprint” spot.
The deck has a slew of other interesting new cards: Comeuppance, Assault Suit, and Hallowed Spiritkeeper to name a few favorites. Suit feels like a weird choice in this deck. I usually see it in Xantcha, Sleeper Agent decks nowadays and I’m not exactly sure what it’s optimal target is in this list. I guess WotC felt they should include it because it’s a new piece of equipment?
And, of course, Forged in Stone includes the Pearl Medallion, which hovers around $19 to $20.
Forged in Stone plays an overall fun match at most tables. It needs refinement like any of the precons; I’d suggest making a choice whether you want to “go wide” or ”go tall” in this deck. Decide whether you’ll focus on an army of heavily-armed soldiers or give a few evasive creatures the biggest sword around.
Teferi, Temporal Archmage | Illustration by Tyler Jacobson
Sea Gate Oracle
Sphinx of Jwar Isle
Sphinx of Magosi
Sphinx of Uthuun
Lorthos, the Tidemaker
Artisan of Kozilek
Crown of Doom
Commander, Themes, and Strategy
Teferi, Temporal Archmage was the first time we saw the ability to activate your planeswalkers’ loyalty abilities during your opponents’ turn. Even if it’s a -10 ultimate, it made a huge splash when it was spoiled. Since each of your opponents’ turns counts as a new turn you could activate an ability up to three times before your next untap step!
Despite this, the blue precon feels even less focused than the others. It has a draw subtheme and a cloning subtheme, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s optimized in either direction. It runs a few board wipes including Nevinyrral’s Disk, but it doesn’t seem to have an endgame besides to tick up Teferi and cast a big creature like Deep-Sea Kraken, Sphinx of Magosi, or the previously mentioned Lorthos, the Tidemaker.
Besides those, Stormsurge Kraken, and your three commanders, the deck is mostly blue staples. Which aren’t bad to have around! If you’re looking to start playing blue this is a great buy.
Like the others, Peer Through Time needs some focusing. I’d start by deciding how you want to generate advantage and stick to it. Stitcher Geralf wants to play completely differently from Teferi, Temporal Archmage and Lorthos, the Tidemaker. Slim the deck down to focus on milling cards, controlling the board with planeswalkers, or generating huge mana to activate Lorthos’ ability.
Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath | Illustration by Daarken
Skirsdag High Priest
Disciple of Bolas
Magus of the Coffers
Demon of Wailing Agonies
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Pontiff of Blight
Reaper from the Abyss
Butcher of Malakir
Overseer of the Damned
Commander, Themes, and Strategy
Sworn to Darkness is a deck built around death, dying, and being dead. In classic black form it showcases removal spells and sacrifice outlets to kill just about everything it can. The deck’s face commander, Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath, takes its place as evil overlord of the deck supported by Ghoulcaller Gisa and Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief.
This deck rewards you for killing or sacrificing creatures every turn with the morbid mechanic. We’ve all seen Tragic Slip, but Commander 2014 introduced Morkrut Banshee and Malicious Affliction as well.
It also includes Reaper from the Abyss, an absolute monster I still see players underestimate today.
Ghoulcaller Gisa is the real star here, though. For mana and a tap it’s going to exponentially increase the number of zombies you have on the field. It’s like a black Krenko, Mob Boss with a better token, and we all know how ridiculous goblin decks get. An iconic card like Ghoulcaller Gisa deserves its spot in the new Commander Collection: Black.
Sworn to Darkness also includes the Jet Medallion, currently the most expensive of the cycle.
Maybe I have a soft spot for a good villain, but Sworn to Darkness effectively captures the iconic black Magic deck. It kills stuff, makes risky trades for the Promise of Power, and trades in its (honestly kind of valuable) creatures for things like Xathrid Demon.
I kept Sworn to Darkness together unmodified in its original box for years so I could use it to teach new players how to play Commander. It’s an excellent deck for beginners because it covers almost all the main concepts and interactions that’ll happen over the course of a game and most of the cards aren’t incredibly complex to play around.
Ob Nixilis is also an over-the-top grimdark character, and I love him for it. As part of the promotional material for Commander 2014 WotC published a short story about his origins, in which he kills his entire home plane to ignite his spark. No other human in Magic has done a genocide on this level, except maybe Urza if you count that whole “destroying Serra’s plane to power his spaceboat” thing.
Built from Scratch
Daretti, Scrap Savant | Illustration by Dan Scott
Tuktuk the Explorer
Feldon of the Third Path
Bosh, Iron Golem
Spine of Ish Sah
Commander, Themes, and Strategy
Built from Scratch is the mono-red artifact-themed deck from Commander 2014. It’s led by Daretti, Scrap Savant with the help of the all-new Feldon of the Third Path and reprinted Bosh, Iron Golem. Okay technically Tuktuk the Explorer is included as well, but it’s definitely not meant for the command zone.
Daretti’s great. Its first ability loots, its second ability returns artifacts from the ‘yard, and its ultimate makes your artifacts effectively immortal. This deck wants to loot all its nasty artifacts like Wurmcoil Engine and Myr Battlesphere into the graveyard and return them to the battlefield with cards like Goblin Welder. Using Spine of Ish Sah and mana generators like Caged Sun can ensure your opponents’ threats are under control.
Built from Scratch gets Ruby Medallion, the third most expensive Medallion and probably the least useful in this deck on account of all the colorless spells it’s effect “misses.” Still, it’s value at the time was similar to the MSRP of Commander 2014, so it was a worthwhile investment.
Next you’ve got Wurmcoil Engine. A terror on the battlefield since its inception, Wurmcoil has been a staple in EDH for as long as I can remember.
Between just those two the deck has outpriced itself and there’s still Caged Sun, Blasphemous Act’s first reprint, and other staples. It’s death trigger interacts great with the sacrifice outlets and reanimation abilities spread throughout the deck. Getting multiple copies of those tokens with Wurmcoil returning to the field makes for a game-ending board state.
Built from Scratch is a great introduction to Commander. It’s the most focused of the five 2014 decks with a balanced curve that’s just a little faster than the other four. It’s got a generalized artifact focus instead of Forged in Stone’s equipment specific theme, but it still wins with a definitively Timmy-style finisher, dropping Tyrant’s Familiar or Steel Hellkite to beat your opponents to death.
Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury | Illustration by Adam Paquette
Priest of Titania
Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Drove of Elves
Wren’s Run Packmaster
Lys Alana Huntmaster
Titania, Protector of Argoth
Soul of the Harvest
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
Commander, Themes, and Strategy
There was a time (if you can believe it) when Wizards couldn’t go one release without printing some elf tribal thing in a supplement somewhere, and Guided by Nature filled Magic’s yearly quota for elves in 2014. Led by Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury alongside Ezuri, Renegade Leader and Titania, Protector of Argoth for some reason, the deck revolves around (you guessed it) elf tribal!
This deck wants to play one elf on turn 1, two elves on turn 2, three on turn 3, and so on until you simply overwhelm your opponents. It includes some classic payoffs; Overwhelming Stampede, Overrun, and Beastmaster Ascension have all become venerated win conditions in mono-green decks.
You’ll never need creatures or mana since Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury can make a Llanowar Elves token every single turn. The consistency of that alone makes it very fun to play. Throw the regular elf tribal support package on top and you’re really cooking!
Guided by Nature clocks in as the cheapest of the Commander 2014 decks.
This deck’s selling point is the reprint of Sylvan Safekeeper, a stellar 1-drop in EDH. Safekeeper is one of the best ways to protect your commander in green decks since it’s ability requires no mana to activate, meaning you can safely tap out to cast your commander without worrying about a removal spell waiting in the wings.
On the flip side the precon also includes Song of the Dryads, one of the best ways to shut down an opponent’s commander. This card shuts any creature down by changing it into a Forest land and removing its other types and abilities. This means your opponent can’t just choose to return their commander to the command zone to recast; they’ll have to kill that Forest land or remove the enchantment themselves.
Guided by Nature also includes the “worst” medallion, Emerald Medallion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad card. But you’re spoiled in green for choice for a 2-mana ramp spell and while Emerald Medallion sticks around there are easier ways to ramp in green without having to worry about protecting an artifact.
Guided by Nature is a great introduction to Commander or even Magic as a whole. It showcases a classic tribe with classic tribal synergies. These mechanics are easy to understand and powerful in their simplicity. I recommend tribal decks whenever I’m teaching the game to new players and still use the Kaldheim Commander deck, Elven Empire, to do so.
I have to award Guided By Nature with the honor of being the most powerful Commander 2014 deck. It has the most internal synergy out-of-the-box, it’s the easiest to play, and it’s much faster than the other four decks.
The best value in a Commander 2014 precon came with Sworn to Darkness. Buying the singles for this deck individually will run you about $170 since its Jet Medallion is still the most expensive of the cycle. Pretty good considering its $34.99 MSRP!
Sylvan Safekeeper | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve
So how does you get your hands on a Commander precon from nearly a decade ago? You have a few options.
Or you can do what I’m about to do: scour your collection for any prints of the cards in the decks and then fill out the missing pieces with a singles order from any online retailer. If you’ve been playing as long as me (or at least since 2014) this will save you a few bucks for sure.
Containment Priest | Illustration by John Stanko
I love the 2014 Commander precons. They play a great match against each other in a vacuum and can continue to “hang” with the original Commander precon, Commander 2013, and even the Commander 2015 decks. They provide a good base for any new player excited about the format and had a fairly high value at the time compared to their MSRP. Plus they’re easy to modify, preloaded with all the staples you’d need. Definitely pick one up if you see them lying around the trading cards section of your local Target.
What do you think? Will you be ordering the singles for these decks or scouring the web for a sealed set? What upgrades would you implement to improve each deck? Let us know over on our Twitter, and why not check out our other Commander precon reviews while you’re at it?
That’s all from me. Stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands!
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