Last updated on November 10, 2020

Geode Rager | Illustration by Caio Monteiro

Geode Rager | Illustration by Caio Monteiro

For almost a decade, Wizards of the Coast’s official Commander decks have been a mainstay in the MTG product line. From Magic The Gathering: Commander to Commander 2020, the product has rarely changed. Boasting five exquisitely crafted 100-card Commander decks in the $40 price range with a concoction of both highly sought-after reprints and new inventions from the mothership, who can blame them?

This all changes with Zendikar Rising, however, as this set’s deck selection is very different from the flagship Commander product. After the release of Commander 2020 with Ikoria, which deviated from the usual August release of the product, Zendikar Rising’s Commander decks are the newest experiment in Wizard’s “Year of Commander.” Alongside the Commander Collection: Green and Commander Legends products, ZNR’s take on the Commander deck aims to create more products for the Commander player base.

My plan is to help you understand what’s happening, what everything means, and whether this product is for what you’re looking for. By the end of this, you should be well versed and able to decide if you want to check it out.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get to it.

Sol Ring | Illustration by Mark Tedin

Sol Ring | Illustration by Mark Tedin

Zendikar Rising Commander versus the Yearly Commander

First, the most obvious difference between the new Commander product and its typical model is that this iteration of the deck has shed its ”year” iteration. This may seem confusing, but these decks basically replace the Planeswalker deck products that are usually released alongside main decks for Zendikar.

To mirror this change, the decks have been heavily reduced in price, too. They used to be around $40 but now they’re around $25, which means that they’re more accessible for newer players. The product also consists of only two Commander decks instead of the usual five, mirroring the Brawl decks and the Planeswalker decks of the past.

Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Sneak Attack | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Blue-Black
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Land’s Wrath | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Red-Green-White
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Sneak Attack | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Blue-Black
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Land's Wrath | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Red-Green-White
$18.22
$18.24
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Sneak Attack | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Blue-Black
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Sneak Attack | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Blue-Black
$18.22
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Land’s Wrath | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Red-Green-White
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Land's Wrath | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Red-Green-White
$18.24

This seems to be oriented towards newer players wanting to access the format. The decks definitely have a sense of flavor over function even though they’re functionally well crafted, their flavor shines a lot since they’re set-themed. This is usually meant to entice newer players who wouldn’t usually be used to highly technical play like competitive EDH.

Command Tower | Illustration by Adam Paquette

Command Tower | Illustration by Adam Paquette

The deck also has a high number of reprints and a low volume of new cards, which is different from the flagship Commander decks of years past. They typically introduced a variety of new cards each time.

Another thing to note that’s more trivial than anything is that there seems to be no oversized Commanders within the product, which has also been a mainstay of the deck for as long as it’s been around. Another sign that it’s more akin to the Planeswalker and Intro decks of years past.

The Decks

The two decks are helmed by their specific commanders, Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor and Anowon, the Ruin Thief, and fit their specific themes. Landfall and rogues, respectively, if you were wondering.

Both of these decks also have subthemes: the landfall deck, “Land’s Wrath,” has an animating lands subtheme with cards like Planar Outburst. The rogues deck, dubbed “Sneak Attack,” has a subtheme of milling opponents with the addition of cards like mill all-star and classic Oona, Queen of the Fae.

Oona, Queen of the Fae | Illustration by Adam Rex

Oona, Queen of the Fae | Illustration by Adam Rex

Right off the bat, both decks create the standard Sol Ring printing that’s integral to the format and the product, having been printed in every Commander product. Also, format newcomer Arcane Signet appears in there, which means that it’ll become more affordable unlike its first printing in the Throne of Eldraine Brawl decks.

A very odd and saddening omission from both decks are cards like Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots. Both decks are heavily centered around creatures (their commanders and powerful creatures) as well as having a beatdown subtheme. So, that’s a bit disappointing.

But enough of that. Let’s take a look at the details.

Land’s Wrath

Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor | Illustration by Chris Rallis

Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor | Illustration by Chris Rallis

The Land’s Wrath deck consists of, as I already mentioned, cards themed around the landfall mechanic and also has a very good beatdown strategy alongside this to play aggressively. If you’re unfamiliar with landfall, it’s basically “when a land enters the battlefield, do a thing.”

This deck has quite a few things going for it strategy-wise. It kind of plays into itself with ramp cards like Harrow and Kodama’s Reach triggering landfall without needing to go out of your way. This means that newer players won’t have to pick up too many new and difficult strategies as the deck rewards you for doing an action that is integral to both the game and the format.

Land’s Wrath is decent when it comes to value, but it does feel like this printing will lower the price of most of the cards. To me, the most notable reprint out of the bunch is the infamous Omnath, Locus of Rage, which was the go-to landfall commander pre-ZNR. Omnath slots perfectly into this deck, as it generates so much value with each land.

Omnath, Locus of Rage | Illustration by Brad Rigney

Omnath, Locus of Rage | Illustration by Brad Rigney

I was hoping for cards like the newly reprinted Lotus Cobra and Avenger of Zendikar, but these are obviously too high value for the product’s price point. These cards, as well as some of the other original Zendikar landfall cards like Rampaging Baloths, would make for a great kit of upgrades for this deck. Just something to keep in mind if you want to take it into a more tuned space.

The new Trove Warden, however, is a very strong card. Being able to reuse the low-CMC threats in your graveyard is an awesome tool, especially if you combine it with a landfall trigger, which isn’t hard to do. It’s also able to skip around mana costs and works well with Animate Dead, allowing your Warden to see use a second time. I feel like we’ll see Trove Warden in casual and tuned EDH brews for years to come.

Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Land’s Wrath | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Red-Green-White
  • BATTLE YOUR FRIENDS. Commander is a different way to play Magic: The Gathering. It’s all about legendary creatures, big plays, and battling your friends in epic multiplayer games.
  • 100-CARD READY-TO-PLAY DECK. Designed as an introduction to Commander, this deck is ready-to-play right out of the box, without sacrificing the richness and depth that made Magic iconic.
  • THREE CARDS PRINTED FOR THE FIRST TIME. This Commander deck debuts three cards, plus it’s loaded with reprints to kickstart your Commander experience.
  • EXPLORE ZENDIKAR. On Zendikar, danger is the norm: wild terrain, cunning predators, and “the Roil”—violent ripples of change—all make life precarious and full of adventure.
  • CONTENTS: 1 ready-to-play deck of 99 Magic: The Gathering cards, 1 foil commander card with alternate art, 10 tokens, 1 reference card, 1 deck box (can hold 100 sleeved cards), 1 life tracker

Sneak Attack

Anowon, the Ruin Thief | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Anowon, the Ruin Thief | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Sneak Attack is themed around rogue beatdown and mill, with its commander personifying both of these themes. The deck is a lot more “low to the ground” than its Land’s Wrath counterpart, with lots of unblockable creatures and the like.

This deck’s strategy is simple: attack people and mill their deck for your benefit. A lot of the cards in the deck, including Soaring Thought-Thief, reward you for milling opponents or if your opponent has cards in their graveyard. You can also upgrade it with the likes of Hedron Crab, if you wanted to go into that route. Another upgrade plan could be combining it with ninjas like Fallen Shinobi to gain more benefits from the unblockable creatures.

Sneak Attack has a lot of value with great reprints like Oona, Queen of the Fae and Sygg, River Cutthroat, both of which have seen play in more tuned and competitive EDH piles and more than make up for the price of the actual deck ($10 and $15 respectively). I’d expect these cards to drop in pricing since they’re reprinted, though.

Sygg, River Cutthroat | Illustration by Jeremy Enecio

Sygg, River Cutthroat | Illustration by Jeremy Enecio

As I mentioned earlier, the only big issue with this deck is that there’s no effect like Lightning Greaves to give your commander some protection. Newcomer Whispersteel Dagger, however, is an amazing equipment that turns your opponents’ graveyards into an asset for you to use to your liking! This is a really great tool for most EDH decks in black, since it allows them to cherry pick whatever they need from their opponents’ graveyards.

Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Sneak Attack | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Blue-Black
  • BATTLE YOUR FRIENDS. Commander is a different way to play Magic: The Gathering. It’s all about legendary creatures, big plays, and battling your friends in epic multiplayer games.
  • 100-CARD READY-TO-PLAY DECK. Designed as an introduction to Commander, this deck is ready-to-play right out of the box, without sacrificing the richness and depth that made Magic iconic.
  • THREE CARDS PRINTED FOR THE FIRST TIME. This Commander deck debuts three cards, plus it’s loaded with reprints to kickstart your Commander experience.
  • EXPLORE ZENDIKAR. On Zendikar, danger is the norm: wild terrain, cunning predators, and “the Roil”—violent ripples of change—all make life precarious and full of adventure.
  • CONTENTS: 1 ready-to-play deck of 99 Magic: The Gathering cards, 1 foil commander card with alternate art, 10 tokens, 1 reference card, 1 deck box (can hold 100 sleeved cards), 1 life tracker

Ranking the Decks

Now I’ve shown you the decks, it’s time to analyze them and rank them! There’s a lot of different factors in finding which deck is best for you, and these rankings are my opinions on some of those factors!

Value

Revel In Riches | Illustration by Eric Deschamps

In the value department, Sneak Attack ranks higher at a value of $106 while Land’s Wrath is just barely below with $104. A lot of the cards are sub-1$ cards, though. So, to really look at value, we need to consider what reprints in the decks are comparable.

It’s currently hard to calculate where the commanders and new cards will be priced because of pre-release inflation, so we can only look at the reprints.

Both Decks Contain

Land’s Wrath’s Top 5: 25.73$

Sneak Attack’s Top 5: 39.32$

The clear winner here is Sneak Attack.

Competitive Viability

These are both essentially “intro decks” for EDH, so neither of them are meant to be significantly viable competitively. With this being said, both of these shells can be upgraded to be more viable in harsher environments.

Out of the two, I feel like Land’s Wrath is better when it comes to strict upgradability in the future, as it can be changed and upgraded without a lot of the deck changing, unlike Sneak Attack which can really be turned into multiple decks. However, the themes provided by Sneak Attack are a lot more versatile and let you build towards a more unique theme.

For this reason, I feel like Sneak Attack is better as a starting point for building a competitive but unique EDH deck.

Spike, Tournament Grinder | Illustration by Zoltan Boros

Fun

I play ”Marchesa, The Black Rose Modular Affinity” in EDH, so what I find fun may not be what you find fun by a long shot.

That being said, Sneak Attack seems like a lot more of the deck that I’d like to play, with the mix of graveyard themes and “under the radar” beatdown. Land’s Wrath looks like it has a lot more spectacle and like you can just pick it up and start playing more easily, though, which means that I’m gonna put it at the top of this matchup as it’s an intro deck for newer players.

The Future of the Mainline Commander Products

Future Sight | Illustrated by Matt Cavotta

This year has been a jarring change for some, with Commander products usually (for the past four years, at least) being released around the summertime (usually around my birthday, funnily enough) and at a higher price point, not linked to a set. This does make people wonder, what does this mean for the WotC Commander Products?

The Future, Simplified

I’m going to assume that the next cycle of large-scale Commander products will be released alongside Strixhaven, with the Innistrad sets in the fall having smaller decks like the Zendikar Rising Commander products. This would mirror last year while also leaving the Planeswalker and intro decks to the Core Set product, next year’s being the Dungeons and Dragons set.

I’m on this boat for a few reasons. First, it would make sense for this cycle to stick for another few years. Second, it actually links back to how sets were managed for newer players in the Modern and premodern era. Expansion sets used to be signified as “expert level,” whereas Core Sets were “advanced Level,” meaning that the Core Sets were for newer players were looking to delve into the game more. This would make sense with that philosophy, in my opinion.

We still have no clue without an official announcement about the Commander line from Wizards, though. But, with Commander Legends coming out later this fall, I’m pretty doubtful that Wizards won’t want to cash into this part of their game even more.

The Value of Future Commander Products

Unfortunately, if this trend does continue, it’ll mean that the set-side Commander decks won’t feature many highly sought-after reprints like the community is asking for. This could have one of two effects on the large decks: it could bleed into them, meaning less valued reprints; or it could allow more reprint equity into those decks.

Unfortunately, nobody can know for sure, which means we’ll just have to wait to see where the future takes us.

Lucky Clover | Illustration by John Stanko

How to Buy Zendikar Rising Commander Products

You can buy the Zendikar Rising Commander decks in a few different ways, from a number of different places. Usually, I’d recommend only buying one as a casual player, but their comparably low price means it may be a good option to both so you can try each and play with people who don’t have their own decks.

If you can afford to do so, of course. It would be about the same price as a Commander 2020 deck.

Precon or Singles

Honestly, for ease and value, I would say definitely buy the deck as a whole. It’s very good for value and will probably work out to be a lot less expensive and painful than if you try to buy the whole deck card-by-card. There’s no downside to buying the precon if you want it.

The new cards are also really cool and are more expensive on the secondary market.

Amazon

The decks are listed on Amazon and will probably have more availability on the site as we get closer to release. It’s great if you want to quickly grab a deck and have it as soon as possible, as there are a bunch of market sellers who’ll ship quickly.

Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Sneak Attack | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Blue-Black
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Land’s Wrath | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Red-Green-White
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Sneak Attack | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Blue-Black
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Land's Wrath | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Red-Green-White
$18.22
$18.24
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Sneak Attack | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Blue-Black
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Sneak Attack | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Blue-Black
$18.22
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Land’s Wrath | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Red-Green-White
Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising Commander Deck – Land's Wrath | 100 Card Ready-to-Play Deck | 1 Foil Commander | Red-Green-White
$18.24

You can also get a bit of a discount if you buy both:

Magic The Gathering MTG Zendikar Rising Both 2020 New ZNC Commander Decks!
  • BATTLE YOUR FRIENDS. Commander is a different way to play Magic: The Gathering. It’s all about legendary creatures, big plays, and battling your friends in epic multiplayer games.

eBay

eBay is great if you want to buy the deck while trying to find a deal. It’s also pretty good for finding random deals but can be a bit overpriced depending on who you buy from.

Your LGS

Every LGS should have at least a few of these decks. As long as you can go to your LGS (safely and socially distanced, obviously) or order from your nearest one if you can’t physically go, it would help them stay open and stay as a pillar of the local Magic community!

Zendikar Setting

Seer's Sundial | Illustration by Franz Vohwinkel

Seer’s Sundial | Illustration by Franz Vohwinkel

Well, that’s the Zendikar Commander decks! I hope you enjoyed our time today on what these new products are and how they can be of use to you! If you did, take a look at our blog for more awesome content.

As well as that, let me know what you think down below in the comments! Do you like the new version of the Commander product? Will you be buying these?

Oh, and if you want to help support us, please consider pledging to our Patreon. It helps keep the lights on for us and lets us continue with the work we do, and it would mean a great deal to us.

BBC Doctor Who

BBC Doctor Who

But for now, that’s it from me, and I hope you had an exquisite read! See you next time, unlike the Doctor and Rose (for those of you who, uh, you know…). Stay safe and have a good one!

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