Big things on tap for Commander in 2020


Wizards of the Coast Senior Magic: The Gathering Designer Gavin Verhey is betting big on Magic: The Gathering’s Commander format in 2020.

Wizards of the Coast Senior Magic: The Gathering Designer Gavin Verhey is betting big on Magic: The Gathering’s Commander format in 2020.

The year will see not just one Commander release like in years past, but four.  And these releases go far beyond simply releasing the customary pre-constructed Commander decks.

Highlighting next year’s Commander products is Commander Legends, a brand new set designed specifically with EDH players in mind that comes in randomized boosters rather than pre-constructed decks.

“This is a draftable commander experience and the set is chock-full of things commander players are going to love,” explains Verhey.

Featuring booster packs of 20 cards (rather than the traditional 15) with a guaranteed foil in each pack, Commander Legends will boast more than 70 legends.  These legends can be from anywhere past, present, or future in the Magic multiverse.

“There’s all kinds of deep cuts from Magic story, a bunch of cool new characters, it is amazing and this is maybe the set I am most proud of working on,” exclaims Verhey.  “It is outstanding.”

Confirmed so far is a new version of the iconic Homelands legend Baron Sengir (soon to be known as Sengir, The Dark Baron) and a couple of yet-to-be confirmed planeswalkers.  The senior game designer also promises that a lot of the top cards in Commander will be found in the set.

WotC will also be releasing a pair of Commander Legends precons to go along with the set.  Each deck will include three all-new cards in each deck with the rest being reprints.

Commander Legends is slated for release in the final quarter of 2020.

Another brand-new product for Commander, Commander Collection: Green is slated to come out in the third quarter of 2020.  Much like the Signature Spellbook series that debut last year, the upcoming Commander Collection product will feature eight already-existing cards (all green) with all-new artwork featuring famous legendary creatures casting the spells in question.

Verhey implies that Commander Collection products will be exclusive to local game stores.

“You’ll be able to find it at WPN stores like the Signature Spellbook and there’s be two versions depending on the store: a foil and non-foil one,” says Verhey, who hopes that, like the Signature Spellbook series, there’ll be more Commander Collection releases going forward.

“It’s a pretty reasonable assumption that we might do more of these in the future,” he alludes.

And getting back to more traditional products for Commander, WotC will still be releasing a small assortment of more-or-less traditional EDH decks like they have in years past.  Even then, though, they’re trying something new.

First off, they’re releasing earlier in the year than in years past.  Releasing April 24 to align with the release of the Standard-legal set, Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, 2020’s round of Commander decks will feature five different decks that are thematically tied to Ikoria.  The decks will boast 71 new cards across the board, which Verhey says is the most ever in a Commander release, as well as a handful from the Ikoria set (though those are being considered reprints).  Furthermore, the decks will be playable during the Ikoria prerelease April 17-19, 2020.

Then, coming a little later in the year, WotC will be releasing two additional pre-made Commander decks.  This time, they’ll be thematically tied around Zendikar Rising, another of 2020’s Standard-legal releases.  Each deck will include three brand-new cards along with a bunch of reprints such as Cultivate, Sakura Tribe Elder, Harmonize, etc.

“You can get all the stuff need to start playing, so it’s great,” says Gavin Verhey.  “But also, to me, if you’re a new player getting into commander, we want to make sure that all year round is a good time to be playing commander.”

While WotC is trying some new and ambitious things with the Commander format next year, only time will tell if they’ll continue to do more in the years to follow.  The company says they’re going to keep a close eye on player feedback and sales numbers for 2020’s various Commander products to determine how the company should proceed going forward with supporting the format.

Regardless, Verhey is ecstatic about what EDH players can expect over the next year or so.

“It’s a great time to be a commander player,” he says.

Barry White

Barry White is a longtime Magic: The Gathering player, having started in 1994 shortly before the release of 'Fallen Empires.' After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, he went on to a 15-year journalism career as a writer, reporter, and videographer for three different ABC affiliate newsrooms.