Last updated on March 28, 2024

Iroas, God of Victory - Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Iroas, God of Victory | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Yep. Commander 2016. Most of our product reviews come out a little bit before their release date, but we at Draftsim haven’t covered Commander 2016 yet. With Commander being an eternal format (meaning it isn’t subject to rotation), now’s as good a time as any to review it and see if it’s still worth buying!

Maybe you and your EDH playgroup want to find a nice set of balanced decks to play against each other or maybe you’ve seen some Commander 2016 precons advertised on Amazon and you’re looking to snag a deck of cards for a good price. Whatever your motives, I’ll cover everything you need to know about this set from what makes it stand out from the rest of the Commander series to which decks pack the most value.

Spoiler alert: Commander 2016 is filled to the brim with all sorts of interesting new mechanics and cards. As someone who’s read up on all the precons from the Commander series, I can safely say that Commander 2016 was the most ambitious EDH-related product WotC ever made.

Let’s dive into the details of the set to see what it’s all about.

What is Commander 2016?

Forbidden Orchard - Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren

Forbidden Orchard | Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren

Released in November 2016, Commander 2016 was the fifth installment in Magic’s Commander series. The set consists of five unique 4-colored preconstructed decks that are ready to play right out of the box. Each deck contains 100 cards including 3 foils along with an oversized copy of the deck’s commander.

How Does Commander 2016 Compare to Other Products?

Each Commander 2016 deck has four colors which already sets it apart from other products in the Commander series since they’d only featured decks with three colors or less until then. This is significant because having more colors in your deck puts a strain on your mana base and creating a mana base that supports a 4-color deck is a tall order in precons where duals, fetch lands, and other expensive pieces of cardboard are nowhere to be seen.

Each Commander 2016 deck contains fewer basic lands than usual as a result. It also features the partner mechanic which allows you to have two commanders as long as both have the “partner” keyword.

Should I Buy Commander 2016?

The Most Fun
-
Magic: The Gathering - Commander 2016 Stalwart Unity Deck
MtG Commander 2016 Invent Superiority Deck
Magic: The Gathering - Commander 2016 Stalwart Unity Deck
MtG Commander 2016 Invent Superiority Deck
$170.44
$259.95
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
The Most Fun
Magic: The Gathering - Commander 2016 Stalwart Unity Deck
Magic: The Gathering - Commander 2016 Stalwart Unity Deck
$170.44
Amazon Prime
-
MtG Commander 2016 Invent Superiority Deck
MtG Commander 2016 Invent Superiority Deck
$259.95
Amazon Prime

Commander 2016 may be one of the best sets ever printed in the Commander series but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a single precon for MSRP. If you can get your hands on one for MSRP or even a little bit more than that, I’d buy the deck without even thinking twice.

But I’d start looking more closely at the decklists and calculating whether buying singles is cheaper than buying the whole deck as prices start to creep up. In most cases, buying singles is the cheaper option.

That being said it’s always a good idea to know each deck’s strengths and weaknesses value- and fun-wise so that you can make your own decision on whether picking up a Commander 2016 deck is the right decision for you.

Entropic Uprising

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder | Illustration by Karl Kopinski

Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder | Illustration by Karl Kopinski

Commander, Themes, and Strategy

EDH 2016 - Entropic Uprising

Entropic Uprising is all about chaos and playing lots of high-value cards while disrupting your opponent’s gameplan at the same time. The deck’s commander, Yidris, Maelstrom Wielder, is at the core of this deck’s chaotic nature, giving your spells cascade for a turn after it deals combat damage to a player.

Cascade reads: “When you cast this spell, exile cards from the top of your library until you exile a nonland card that costs less. You may cast it without paying its mana cost. Put the exiled cards on the bottom of your library in a random order.”

Adding to the theme of chaos, Entropic Uprising includes six(!) Wheel of Fortune effects and several other cards with cascade. There isn’t much strategy to playing this deck other than abusing the cascade mechanic to play several cards for the price of one. If Yidris is ever allowed to connect with your opponents, then the other players at your table will soon find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer number of threats you control.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Burgeoning

The most valuable card in Entropic Uprising is Burgeoning, a 1-mana enchantment that allows you to quickly ramp up your mana. It’s particularly useful in Commander since its power increases as the number of players at the table grows. Nearly every Commander deck running green wants to play Burgeoning so the card is in high demand.

Thrasios, Triton Hero

Up next is Thrasios, Triton Hero, one of the new cards in Commander 2016 that features the partner mechanic. It’s one of the most popular partner commanders in Magic thanks to its cheap mana cost and activated ability. It serves as a particularly useful mana sink for competitive players generating infinite mana from a Food Chain combo or other infinite loops.

Waste Not

Third on the list is Waste Not. This is an interesting discard-themed enchantment that was originally printed in Magic 2015. Forcing your opponent to discard is already useful and getting bonus effects on top of that can be game-breaking. Plus it synergizes really well with this precon’s Wheel of Fortune effects.

Vial Smasher the Fierce

Entropic Uprising has an impressive collection of value cards but I’ll round off the list with Vial Smasher the Fierce for the sake of brevity. Vial Smasher was another new legendary card with the partner keyword. Its effect isn’t exactly broken but it’s the only partner commander in the game and that alone is enough to drive its price up.

The Verdict

While I wouldn’t recommend Entropic Uprising in a competitive environment, this certainly looks like a fun deck to play thanks to its chaotic nature and non-linear strategy. Its wacky cards can sometimes blow up in your face but you’re bound to experience some exciting gameplay if you’re okay taking that chance. The mana base, although not optimal, seems to get the job done well enough if you’re looking to cast all your spells on-curve.

Open Hostility

Saskia the Unyielding - Illustration by Greg Opalinski

Saskia the Unyielding | Illustration by Greg Opalinski

Commander, Themes, and Strategy

EDH 2016 - Open Hostility

Open Hostility is all about aggression and combat damage. Aggro strategies can be especially difficult to pull off in Commander because each player starts with 40 life and you often have multiple opponents to take care of, but Saskia the Unyielding effectively serves as a damage multiplier for your creatures.

It turns the task of reducing three opponents down to zero life from daunting to feasible. Cards like Iroas, God of Victory also grant your creatures some form of evasion, improving your odds of executing a successful attack.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Conqueror's Flail

Conqueror's Flail earns the spot as most valuable card in Open Hostility. Preventing your opponents from casting spells on your turn means you don’t have to play around Settle the Wreckage and other annoying cards when planning your attacks.

Tymna the Weaver

Number two on this list is Tymna the Weaver, yet another card with the partner ability. The most popular partner combo in competitive Commander is Thrasios, Triton Hero alongside Tymna the Weaver so it makes sense that they’re both featured as value cards to look out for. Tymna the Weaver is also a good source of card draw so it won’t be sitting in the command zone all game if you pick it as your commander.

Stonehoof Chieftain

Stonehoof Chieftain is the third most valuable card in this precon. I don’t have much to say about it except that it’s a big card that does big things. I don’t really have a reason for it being so expensive except that it’s in low supply to be honest.

Iroas, God of Victory

Finally we have Iroas, God of Victory, a card originally printed in Journey into Nyx. There’s quite a bit of text on it and most of that text is useful. Iroas, God of Victory turns all of your attacking creatures into unstoppable threats, a great way to advance the gameplan of Open Hostility.

The Verdict

Many players like to tout aggro decks as being too linear and boring to play, but Open Hostility says otherwise. Saskia the Unyielding’s ability to send extra damage to an opponent of your choice gives you a sneaky way to circumvent that player’s defenses while Alesha, Who Smiles at Death and similar cards give you graveyard synergy for that extra value.

Maybe its gameplan isn’t as multi-faceted as some of the other decks in Commander 2016 but that doesn’t make it a boring deck to play. I think any game involving Saskia is bound to create some interesting player dynamics.

Stalwart Unity

Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis - Illustration by Willian Murai

Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis | Illustration by Willian Murai

Commander, Themes, and Strategy

Stalwart Unity

This one’s a bit interesting. Stalwart Unity is a group hug deck, which basically means that it plays several cards that benefit several players, even opponents. Its commander, Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis, draws a card at the end of turn for not just you but everyone else at the table as well. If you’re the diplomatic type who lets others do the dirty work for you, then you’ll love Stalwart Unity.

You’ll find that group hug effects like this benefit some players more than others if you’re cunning enough. Drawing a card for everyone will typically benefit the empty-handed player more than it will the player with seven cards in hand. You can even mount an advantage over your opponents without them noticing if you use similar tactics in-game. This deck’s power lies not in the cards themselves but in the player who pilots them.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Forbidden Orchard

The priciest piece of cardboard in Stalwart Unity is Forbidden Orchard, a reprinted land from Champions of Kamigawa. The Orchard can tap for any color of mana and its downside of giving your opponent a creature can be mitigated by giving it to the player who can do the least amount of damage with it. Plus you’ll make a friend at the table and such a generous act might benefit you later on in the game.

Homeward Path

Another land to look out for is Homeward Path, a reprint from the very first Commander set. This is one of those utility lands that only comes in handy in rare circumstances. But its ability justifies its inclusion in the deck when it does. Stalwart Unity often yields control of its permanents to other players and you can snag them all right back by simply activating Homeward Path’s ability. If someone in your EDH group is fond of including Mind Control effects in their deck, this card can be the silver bullet you need to thwart their plans.

Benefactor's Draught

Last up is Benefactor's Draught. Combo players love running this card to refresh their creatures’ tapping abilities. It can be used for drawing purposes too and replaces itself for two mana in a worst-case scenario. None of its effects are ridiculously overpowered but its flexibility is what makes it a good card.

The Verdict

Stalwart Unity isn’t my favorite but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. I can be somewhat of a vicious player when it comes to Magic and I personally don’t like group hug strategies, but maybe that’s just because I lack the diplomatic skills that some of you more nuanced players have.

Either you love this deck or you hate it. If you’re someone who likes the idea of playing cards that benefit all players, then you’ll find Stalwart Unity to be a well-designed deck equipped with all the tools you need to navigate your way through the politics of EDH.

Magic: The Gathering - Commander 2016 Stalwart Unity Deck
  • Magic the Gathering 2016 Commander STALWART UNITY Deck

Breed Lethality

Atraxa, Praetors' Voice - Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Atraxa, Praetors' Voice | Illustration by Victor Adame Minguez

Commander, Themes, and Strategy

No products found.

No products found. is all about counters. +1/+1 counters, -1/-1 counters, charge counters, you name it. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice allows you to proliferate each turn to scale up the abilities of any cards with counters on them. This effect can either be used to bolster your mana ramp, increase the stats on your creatures, or even decrease the stats on your opponents’ creatures.

It really doesn’t take a whole lot for this deck to get going. One proliferate effect is sometimes all you need to transform your cards from minor nuisances to critical threats.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Atraxa, Praetors' Voice

The most expensive card in Breed Lethality is its commander, Atraxa, Praetors' Voice. This is a commander that enables several popular strategies whether it’s Superfriends, where you pack your deck full of planeswalkers and proliferate their loyalty counters, or infect, where you hit your opponents for infect damage once and proliferate their infect counters. Some commanders have a widespread appeal to Magic audiences and Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice is one of them.

Kalonian Hydra

Our other value card is Kalonian Hydra, a reprint from Magic 2014. This creature truly does grow your creatures at an exponential rate and anyone who knows a thing or two about exponential growth knows that it can get out of control really fast. You can guarantee that it’ll be the number one must-kill target for your opponents. If you ever manage to cast it.

The Verdict

Although I haven’t played with any of the decks myself, Breed Lethality seems to be the most powerful and most consistent of the five precons. Nearly all of its cards synergize with Atraxa, Praetors' Voice and you can consistently always cast your commander on turn 4 with an excellent mana base.

Not only does Atraxa provide a near immediate benefit but it’ll continue to pose a problem for your opponents if they don’t have an answer for her. Both the idea and execution behind Breed Lethality impress me.

No products found.

Invent Superiority

Breya, Etherium Shaper - Illustration by Clint Cearley

Breya, Etherium Shaper | Illustration by Clint Cearley

Commander, Themes, and Strategy

Breed Lethality

From what I’ve seen nearly every Commander set has an artifact deck and Invent Superiority is the one for Commander 2016. Unlike most other Commander precons, this deck doesn’t depend on its commander to accomplish its gameplan.

Instead, Breya, Etherium Shaper serves as a value card that’s always available in your command zone. Cards like Sharuum the Hegemon and Hanna, Ship's Navigator provide graveyard synergy as a secondary strategy to retrieve the artifacts you sacrificed to Breya, Etherium Shaper.

Notable Cards: Reprints and $$

Faerie Artisans

Faerie Artisans is the one and only value card to look out for in Invent Superiority. Artisans was a new card from Commander 2016 and really makes your opponents think about how they want to sequence their spells.

It may look like a powerful card but it won’t end up doing a whole lot if your opponents are skilled Magic players. Cool for casual play but not recommended for competitive EDH.

The Verdict

I might be getting tired of these artifact-themed decks in the Commander series. Don’t get me wrong, Invent Superiority was well-executed, but the idea behind it was somewhat unoriginal. Without much monetary value or any unique strategies to showcase, this precon is probably the most disappointing of the five Commander 2016 decks not because it’s a bad deck but because the other ones are just so much better.

Best of the Best

The Most Fun
-
Magic: The Gathering - Commander 2016 Stalwart Unity Deck
MtG Commander 2016 Invent Superiority Deck
Magic: The Gathering - Commander 2016 Stalwart Unity Deck
MtG Commander 2016 Invent Superiority Deck
$170.44
$259.95
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
The Most Fun
Magic: The Gathering - Commander 2016 Stalwart Unity Deck
Magic: The Gathering - Commander 2016 Stalwart Unity Deck
$170.44
Amazon Prime
-
MtG Commander 2016 Invent Superiority Deck
MtG Commander 2016 Invent Superiority Deck
$259.95
Amazon Prime

I’ve already expressed my approval of some decks and disapproval of others. Let’s look at the best decks in Commander 2016 based on value, fun, and competitive potential!

The Best Value

EDH 2016 - Entropic Uprising

If you add up the prices of all 100 cards in each Commander 2016 deck, Entropic Uprising is the most expensive. The demand for its high-value cards like Burgeoning and Thrasios, Triton Hero also isn’t going anywhere and, unless they experience a surprise reprint, their prices will continue to rise steadily over time.

The Most Fun

Stalwart Unity

I know I said I didn’t like group hug decks, but the most fun deck in this set looks to be Stalwart Unity. It challenges its pilot in more ways than one and offers psychology and subtlety as a means to victory. I think its power level is a bit too low for competitive play but it’s a great way to have fun during a casual EDH match.

The Most Competitive

No products found.

No products found. is the best deck if your goal is to win games at all costs. Atraxa, Praetors' Voice is capable of carrying games at any level of play with the right deck. Whatever game aspect you need to improve whether it’s mana, cards in hand, or stats in play, Atraxa will help you get there. Sometimes all you need is a good commander and enough supporting cards to make an unstoppable deck.

Where Can I Buy Commander 2016?

Commander 2016 is not only an older product but it was a highly popular one as well. The chances of finding a copy at your local game store for MSRP are next to nil. If you want to buy an entire precon with the packaging still intact, your best bet is to look around on Amazon or eBay.

You still won’t find anything there for MSRP and you’ll have to haggle with the seller to get a reasonable price, but you’ll get your deck. If you’re willing to build the precon from the ground-up, you’ll have better success buying the singles individually.

Commanding Conclusion

Faerie Artisans - Illustration by Tony Foti

Faerie Artisans | Illustration by Tony Foti

I’ll go ahead and say it: Commander 2016 may be one of the best sets in the Commander series. I didn’t think Magic could pull off a 4-color mana base in a precon without duals or fetch lands when it was first announced. But I could immediately see that a tremendous amount of time and effort went into fine-tuning every detail about Commander 2016 when the decklists were released. Sure some decks stand out more than others, but even their weakest ones (in my opinion) manage to pull their weight to make Commander 2016 a great product.

Do you like Commander 2016 as much as I do? Is it underrated? Overrated? I’d love to know what you think about it. You can start a conversation in the comment section down below or talk to us through Twitter, Facebook, or any of our other social media.

Until then, I’ll see you next time!

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2 Comments

  • Avatar
    SoundofText October 22, 2023 2:36 pm

    Great breakdown of the Commander 2016 decks! It’s helpful to have this information before diving into drafting or building my own deck. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jake Henderson
      Jake Henderson October 25, 2023 1:36 pm

      Thanks for reading!

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