Last updated on April 6, 2021
I’ve probably mentioned how much I like Commander somewhere before. It’s a great format to play MTG, whether competitively or for fun. So, today I’ll try to give you an idea about Commander 2017, what’s unique about it, and whether you should invest in it or look for another set you’ll fancy more.
Commander 2017 Set Details
Commander 2017 introduced four tribal-themed decks with 100 cards each. It also debuted the keyword “eminence” for legendary creatures, which triggers while the creature is on the battlefield or in the Command Zone.
This makes the commander cards extremely powerful since you’ll be able to gain their benefits without paying their mana costs. And since these decks are pre-constructed around “tribes,” they have incredible synergy and are pretty competitive. You can easily fight head-on with other players even before you get used to your new deck.
There is also the “Curse series,” unique to Commander 2017, which depicts an unnamed, very unlucky planeswalker. There are five different curses, one for each color. Take a look:
With these in mind, it’s better to give a simple answer first and then we can dive into details. Is it worth to get Commander 2017 decks or are you better off getting individual cards? I’d say that except for Feline Ferocity, you can upgrade these decks with a reasonable cost and build a very strong deck. So, yes, it’s worth it.
Let’s jump into each Commander 2017 deck individually, though, and break it down even further.
The Commander 2017 Decks
Inalla, Archmage Ritualist | Illustration by Yongjae Choi
Marchesa, the Black Rose
Vela the Night-Clad
Arcanis the Omnipotent
Azami, Lady of Scrolls
Harbinger of the Tides
Magus of the Abyss
Nin, the Pain Artist
Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind
Merchant of Secrets
Sea Gate Oracle
Kess, Dissident Mage
Mairsil, the Pretender
Magus of the Mind
Taigam, Sidisi’s Hand
Jwar Isle Refuge
Temple of the False God
Path of Ancestry
Wizards are always a good choice if you’re going for control, but this deck can also dish out a lot of early firepower if you’re lucky enough. Your intended commander, Inalla, Archmage Ritualist, has a pretty decent eminence ability that allows you to create a token copy of any nontoken wizard you play, so you can hold your ground until you get the game under your control. Considering there are bazillion wizard-type creatures in MTG, Inalla is a very valuable commander if you’re planning to upgrade Arcane Wizardry. Kess, Dissident Mage is also a great commander if you want to build a spellslinger deck.
However, the deck doesn’t have a clear win condition and you’ll have to play very carefully to make sure you don’t get completely destroyed. You’ll need some luck to dish out early power and the deck doesn’t ramp up very effectively compared to other decks. If you don’t get shut down in the early game, you have a lot of removals and can use cards from your graveyard, but as I said earlier, you need to play carefully.
With these tips in mind, you’ll need to upgrade this deck to play it competitively. Your options for spells are somewhat limited, so you might need to add some decent removals or counters to better control the game. Luckily, Arcane Wizardry is by far the best deck since you have a lot of options like Mairsil, the Pretender, which offers a very flexible playstyle if you want to build around him.
Where to Buy
- Commander 2017 deck – arcane wizardry.
The Ur-Dragon | Illustration by Jaime Jones
Ryusei, the Falling Star
Scourge of Valkas
Atarka, World Render
Bladewing the Risen
Crosis, the Purger
Dromoka, the Eternal
Intet, the Dreamer
Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury
Ojutai, Soul of Winter
Scion of the Ur-Dragon
Silumgar, the Drifting Death
Teneb, the Harvester
Orator of Ojutai
O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami
Ramos, Dragon Engine
Taigam, Ojutai Master
Wasitora, Nekoru Queen
Crucible of the Spirit Dragon
Haven of the Spirit Dragon
Path of Ancestry
I’ve always had a soft spot for dragons, so I can’t promise that I’ll be fair, but I’ll try. Your commander is The Ur-Dragon, which is notable as a 5-color commander. It has a very high mana cost but its eminence ability allows you to cast dragon spells for cheaper, so it’s only fair. Your deck, predictable, consists of a lot of dragons and they hit hard.
Although the deck has a horrible mana base, your opponents will have a very hard time stopping your dragons. The deck doesn’t offer strong control over the battlefield, but Crux of Fate, Fractured Identity, and Fortunate Few can get you out of trouble. Kindred Discovery can help you draw a lot of cards so you’ll have no trouble responding to your opponent if you can establish your mana base.
Draconic Domination also has some great commanders including Ramos, Dragon Engine and Scion of the Ur-Dragon, two great 5-color commanders. Scion of the Ur-Dragon is considered one of the best dragon commanders in MTG and Ramos can be used to bring an epic end to any game. There’s also a lot of legendary dragons, so buying this deck offers the best value among the entire Commander 2017 set, in my opinion. Fractured Identity is a very valuable card, too. This is also the easiest deck to play straight out-of-the-box.
Where to Buy
- Commander 2017 deck – draconic domination.
Arahbo, Roar of the World | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
Jareth, Leonine Titan
Kemba, Kha Regent
Raksha Golden Cub
Spirit of the Hearth
Jedit Ojanen of Efrava
Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith
Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist
Balan, Wandering Knight
Staff of Nin
Sword of the Animist
Sword of Vengeance
Hammer of Nazahn
Path of Ancestry
Temple of the False God
Feline Ferocity is my least favorite. Not because it’s weak but it is somewhat… lacking.
Arahbo, Roar of the World works great for the deck, but if you want to upgrade, you won’t be able to find too many options. There simply aren’t enough cat cards. The deck is also focused on equipment, which is a risky way to play.
Let’s not get too negative, though. There are some good things about Feline Ferocity. Similar to other commanders in the set, Arahbo also has a powerful eminence ability which provides +3/+3 to one of the cats you control until the end of the turn. This allows for some insanely powerful combat power. Since you can also equip your creatures, you can hit very hard and finish the game before your opponents can establish control over the board. Naturally, you’re weak against board-wipes and removals, but you can rush very fast.
Aside from its powerful early game, you can buff your cats to an extent that they can compete with dragons thanks to the equipment theme. Balan, Wandering Knight can single-handedly push your opponents into despair if equipped with Lightning Greaves and Behemoth Sledge early, which both have low mana costs.
In terms of value, Feline Ferocity has Mirari’s Wake, which is one of the most valuable cards in the entire Commander 2017 set with a price of approximately $22. Alms Collector and Lightning Greaves are also quite valuable, so you’ll get a lot of cards that’ll fetch a good price on the market.
Where to Buy
Edgar Markov | Illustration by Volkan Baga
Anowon, the Ruin Sage
Bloodlord of Vaasgoth
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Butcher of Malakir
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
Pawn of Ulamog
Patron of the Vein
Licia, Sanguine Tribune
Mathas, Fiend Seeker
Crimson Honor Guard
Path of Ancestry
The last deck in Commander 2017 is an all-around balanced deck that revolves around swarming your opponents. Edgar Markov has an eminence ability that creates a 1/1 black Vampire token whenever you cast a vampire spell, so you can spawn a lot of creatures to put pressure on your opponent. Combined with Door of Destinies, your army of tokens can become monsters and the only choice for your opponent at that point will be to wipe the board altogether.
To make things worse, Vampiric Bloodlust has New Blood, so you can take that creature your opponent thought would win the game and make it yours. Commander players are known for having strong creatures in their arsenal and turning them on their owners is a cruel but devilishly fun way to win any game.
In contrary to the other creature-based decks, Vampiric Bloodlust has a decent amount of board control with Merciless Eviction and Fell the Mighty as major board wipes and a lot of single-target removals. Your signets along with Black Market will help you build a solid mana base, too.
However, if you fail to get the lead in the earlier turns, the game is pretty much over for you. You need to gather your power before commencing that all-out attack, so if your opponent can prevent you from getting board control early on, you’ll get crushed before you can get your vampires ready for war.
Where to Buy
- Commander 2017 deck – vampiric bloodlust.
The Best Deck
Let’s get to the part where you’ll point out all of my mistakes. But no worries, feel free to do just that!
I think Vampiric Bloodlust is the best choice if you have to pick one of the Commander 2017 decks. I praised Draconic Domination more than the others, but vampires are more flexible overall. Cats can be considered decent if we limit the game to Commander 2017, but you can’t go further than that and still play competitively with Feline Ferocity. Arcane Wizardry has high potential but needs too many upgrades to work effectively.
The main reason Vampiric Bloodlust takes first place is that it doesn’t have an obvious weakness. Other than a board wipe, vampires can hold their place fairly easy against all other decks and can even get the upper hand against dragons in late game. The deck has a decent amount of single-target removal and some powerful artifacts, so you can easily get back on track if you suffer some damage.
Door of Destinies | Illustration by Larry MacDougall
In terms of value, Arcane Wizardry falls behind while the other three decks are almost the same in their combined value. Feline Ferocity is a little ahead with Mirari’s Wake, Mirri, Weatherlight Duelist, and Alms Collector. Keep in mind that the Felines don’t have too many upgrade paths, so you might get stuck if you want to build on them. Vampiric Bloodlust and Draconic Domination are relatively easy to upgrade, but Arcane Wizardry is the most flexible. Maybe also the most expensive if you don’t have a wide collection, though.
My personal choice would be Draconic Domination, simply because I like playing with dragons. You can also easily go 5-color, which is very fun although most people think that playing 5-color commanders is annoying. WotC also likes dragons, I guess, since there are a lot of options if you want to spice up your deck.
Where to Buy
Commander 2017 can be considered old, but you won’t have a hard time finding these decks online. Buying all of them would be pretty expensive, but if you choose a single deck, I don’t think you’ll regret buying it.
Arcane Wizardry is the cheapest, solidly under $100 on Amazon. Prices change a lot depending on your region so take a look at Cardmarket, Amazon, Bazaar of Magic, or eBay to find the best price for yourself. You can also use TCGPlayer to get individual cards if you’re looking to Frankenstein something similar to these decklists with a twist.
Mairsil, the Pretender | Illustration by Izzy
Command a Conclusion
Here’s the final verdict: Commander 2017 decks are pretty decent and are definitely good additions to your collection. The catch is that they’re all tribal-themed decks, so you’ll have trouble finding a place for them in your usual decks. You should keep this in mind if you’re looking to buy them since they all depend on sharing synergy with similar tribal cards.
Dragons, vampires, and wizards are very common in MTG, but cats might be a problem. This year’s sets have some new cats and you can add different mechanics like mutate to create some unique plays, but it’s a risky business. I think MTG will have more cats and dogs in the future, but I’m only speculating.
You also have a lot of other options if you want to play Commander, so the choice here depends on your budget. Newer sets are much cheaper than 2017 and maybe even more compatible with future releases. If you’re looking to expand your collection, you should definitely get one of them. On the other hand, if you’re more focused on getting competitive with a smaller budget, you might get a better deal buying one of the newer releases. Getting all Commander 2019 or 2020 decks would be cheaper than buying one of the Commander 2017 decks, so there is that.
So, what do you think of my analysis? I know some parts might be contradictory (Feline Ferocity is the most valuable despite all my criticism), so let me know in the comments if you think I missed anything!
New Blood | Illustration by Howard Lyon
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