Baldur’s Gate Is Magic’s Most Misjudged Set

It’s hot take time: Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate has been thoroughly undervalued by the Magic community overall. With the rapid release of sets and the resulting product fatigue that many players have been feeling, Baldur’s Gate was one of the worst positioned set releases of all time. On top of the avalanche of products, Baldur’s Gate had the added misfortune of being released just before Double Masters 2022. Double Masters immediately overshadowed Baldur’s Gate, showing off a ton of potential value per pack and reprinting powerful staples that made the offerings of Baldur’s Gate appear comparatively worthless.

I’m here to tell you that’s just flat wrong.

Fun Over Power

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate is one of the best designed sets we’ve seen in years. It has a clear goal of creating a stellar Commander experience (hence it being released in the Commander Legends line of product) and it succeeds in essentially every way. While Double Masters has put some popular, old commanders back into circulation and given players the ability to pull some staples, Baldur’s Gate has provided a whole new assortment of cards designed to bring a fun experience to the table.

Unfortunately, “fun” and “powerful” do not always intersect, and for a lot of players that leaves Baldur’s gate looking like a lesser set. Instead of the next Jeweled Lotus, players are cracking open a mythic Vexing Puzzlebox and feeling decidedly salty about it. That isn’t undeserved if that’s what you’re looking for, but Baldur’s Gate instead presents many cards that bring about a unique boardstate, add elements of chaotic randomness from dice rolls, and in general ask for more interaction between players– clearly designed for big, multiplayer brawls. Watching someone excitedly tick up their Puzzlebox to 100 is a good bit more involved and interactive than seeing a killer commander powered out for the umpteenth time with that Lotus. 

Vexing Puzzlebox (Borderless Alternate Art)Jeweled Lotus (Extended Art)

Fixing Partner With Backgrounds

Speaking of powering down for the sake of a good time, Magic’s designers are largely on record that Partner was something of a mistake. Since their original release into the wild, we’ve seen several variants of the mechanic: Partner With allowing only specific pairings, Friends Forever limiting the pool to a much smaller pile, and only releasing mono-colored partners to keep the pool from becoming too large. Battle for Baldur’s Gate brings us the newest variant on the mechanic, taking lessons from each of the versions that came before.

Tymna the WeaverThrasios, Triton HeroPir, Imaginative RascalToothy, Imaginary FriendWernog, Rider's ChaplainSophina, Spearsage Deserter

With backgrounds, the total pool is limited (any one Choose a Background Commander limited to just the available enchantments), it’s limited just to two color combinations, and it has narrower archetypes, but within those spheres the options are impressive and quite definitely fun. Every background feels different, most demanding drastically varied builds from commander to commander, and all of them are a good time. Whether you want to build a tribal deck on the back of Haunted One, or you want to generate passive value off your commander with Master Chef, the backgrounds give you a massive number of balanced brewing options that deckbuilders should be paying much more attention to.

Burakos, Party Leader (Extended Art)Folk HeroSword Coast SailorHaunted OneGuild ArtisanMaster Chef

A Great Draft Set

If you’ve never drafted a Commander Legends set, and you enjoy any combination of commander or drafting, you owe it to yourself to draft Battle for Baldur’s Gate. As I’ve already noted, the set is balanced almost perfectly and building a draft deck around a commander within such a well-honed set feels amazing. While there are few upsides to the set being so misjudged, draft boxes are currently selling for a more than fair price for the experience that the draft can bring you, and that’s ignoring the play value (if not necessarily the monetary value, though I wouldn’t sleep on the value of this set staying so low) of the many cards in the set that are a blast to play.

Defining Power for the Future

Finally, it’s important to look at Baldur’s Gate as a power defining set. Yes, it’s less powerful than an all-reprint, premium set like Double Masters 2022, that should surprise precisely no one, but instead it shows us the kind of power level we can expect from the future of Magic. While the power level as a whole feels lower, it takes looking at the chase cards from the set to put the lie to that. The ancient dragon cycle mixes the best of power level with battlecruiser magic, while Black Market Connections, Archivist of Oghma, and Displacer Kitten represent some of the best cards printed for commander in years. Don’t let Baldur’s Gate live in the shadow of Double Masters 2022, you owe it to yourself and your Commander pod to add more Dungeons and Dragons goodness to your decks.

Ancient Gold DragonAncient Silver DragonAncient Brass DragonAncient Copper DragonAncient Bronze DragonBlack Market ConnectionsArchivist of OghmaDisplacer Kitten

4 thoughts on “Baldur’s Gate Is Magic’s Most Misjudged Set”

  1. Baldur’s is the most fun I have had playing magic in years. The background mechanic is brilliant, and makes some amazing combos for Pauper. Thank you for this article, people need to give this set a chance.

  2. Thank you for your article, it was well-written and presented great, valid points.

    We aren’t playing with CLB and we won’t be purchasing CLB or playing with backgrounds or most of the stuff. Archivist of Oghma is about the only card we are using, Displacer Kitten also at times. There’s just too much that’s a non-starter for us: Backgrounds are too narrow (should allow them for all commanders), rolling d20 is tedious outside of an occasional roll, Initiative…Monarch seems better?
    This set is fantastic from flavour and homage standpoints, but we got 2X2 and cards we needed for our decks.
    As I said on our Discord: “It makes sense. The original Commander Legends was Legends set re-typed for Commander, so this must be Commander Homelands…, I’ll just pick up one single and be done with it.”
    The local market overwhelmingly agreed and no one is using these cards.
    Ramp up the power level please, Wizards. When I hear “Commander Legends” I expect a power push.
    (Wizards focused too much on what RC and the CAG liked and not enough on a broad Commander audience, which includes spikes. And the spikes spoke with their wallets.)

  3. The power level isn’t the issue at all. It had it’s cards worth picking up, like any other set.

    The problem is the price, something this article entirely ignores. They’re not cheap packs, and the juice simply isn’t worth the squeeze when wotc is already doing their best to give us something new to spend money on when the last thing has barely even begun to cool off. They overcharged for these packs, have been for a while, and it’s finally come back to burn them. I’m personally glad for that.

    Remember Battlebond? That set managed to be generous with reprints, introduce exciting cards across all power levels for commander, and create a fun draft experience, all for the price of a normal booster. We wanted another Battlebond, and Baldurs gate -was- one, but was dramatically mispriced.

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