Set Prospective

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate

June 20th, 2022 — Parker LaMascus

Commander Legends: Battle for Baldur’s Gate is the second Commander-focused Draft set ever printed. It’s new cards are legal only in Commander, Legacy, Vintage, and, of course, our favorite format — Cube!

In order to assess the Cube community’s excitement about this new set, we sent out a survey to Cube curators asking two questions: Which Baldur’s Gate cards are you trying in your Cubes? and how do you subjectively rate those cards as likely long term inclusions? We collected 164 survey responses from 144 unique Cube curators, and analyzed the data to find out which CLB cards people are most excited for.

This article is one of our set prospectives, a series in which we survey the Cube community about the cards they intend to play in their cubes from a particular set. Our survey is conducted between the set’s full-spoiler and official release and is meant to measure and document Cube designers’ first impressions of new cards.

Results

Our community hailed CLB more favorably than its predecessor, Commander Legends, by nearly 50 responses. However, this is still nearly 100 responses short of the most recent premier New Capenna prospective. It’s possible that different segments of the community are responding, with CLB respondents skewed toward multiplayer environments. We did have significant numbers of respondents self-identify as curating multiplayer, Commander, or Brawl cubes.

The median respondent to our survey is testing 7 cards from Baldur’s Gate and has given 2 cards a high rating of 2.5 or more. This is roughly on par with recent sets like Adventures in the Forgotten Realms and Innistrad: Crimson Vow, sets which received slightly below-average enthusiasm from the community. Baldur’s Gate was set back somewhat by skipping legality in the most-played and most-talked-about competitive formats. Content creators simply aren’t analyzing or discussing these cards as visibly as they would a Standard-legal set. Historically, this lack of Constructed hype depresses Cube engagement. However, the lack of systematic analysis concerning CLB makes the set a dark horse contender for exceptionally well-designed cards that may have escaped the community’s notice.

“This set is gonna replace about a third of the cards in my D&D cube and I couldn't be more excited.”

Our respondents who did bet on the dark horse certainly weren’t shy about it; the respondents in our top quartile are testing more than twice as many CLB cards as the median. One respondent is even testing a mind-boggling 338 cards from Baldur’s Gate. (When we first saw this, we thought our analysis code had to be bugged. Bravo, DarthPinkHippo — even though I pity the LGS employee who fulfills your CLB order!)

View all our CLB survey respondents on the Cube Map.

Filter by rarity:
Card TestersRank 
Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes13.4%2.6
Gut, True Soul Zealot13.1%2.3
Noble's Purse11.5%2.1
Greatsword of Tyr11.0%2.1
Winter Eladrin7.8%2.2
Monster Manual // Zoological Study7.8%1.9
Amethyst Dragon // Explosive Crystal7.5%2.2
Delayed Blast Fireball6.7%2.2
Mahadi, Emporium Master6.2%2.0
Blessed Hippogriff // Tyr's Blessing5.9%2.0
Altar of Bhaal // Bone Offering5.6%2.0
White Plume Adventurer5.6%2.3
Sea Gate5.4%2.7
Manor Gate5.4%2.7
Cliffgate5.4%2.7
Citadel Gate5.4%2.7
Black Dragon Gate5.4%2.7
Oji, the Exquisite Blade5.4%2.1
Young Blue Dragon // Sand Augury5.4%1.9
Kagha, Shadow Archdruid5.1%1.9
Displacer Kitten5.1%2.3
Sapphire Dragon // Psionic Pulse4.8%2.0
Archivist of Oghma4.8%2.3
Seasoned Dungeoneer4.8%2.1
Sailors' Bane4.6%2.0
Undercellar Myconid4.3%2.0
Two-Handed Axe // Sweeping Cleave4.3%2.0
Elminster4.3%2.2
Cloakwood Swarmkeeper4.3%1.7
Rescuer Chwinga4.3%2.1
Wilson, Refined Grizzly4.0%2.1
Gale, Waterdeep Prodigy4.0%2.2
Baba Lysaga, Night Witch4.0%1.8
Crystal Dragon // Rob the Hoard3.8%1.7
Zhentarim Bandit3.8%1.7
Black Market Connections3.8%2.3
Erinis, Gloom Stalker3.8%2.0
Sword Coast Serpent // Capsizing Wave3.8%2.1
Guildsworn Prowler3.8%2.1
Horn of Valhalla // Ysgard's Call3.5%1.8
Lulu, Loyal Hollyphant3.5%2.1
Inspired Tinkering3.5%2.2
Undermountain Adventurer3.5%2.1
Cadira, Caller of the Small3.2%1.9
Javelin of Lightning3.2%1.7
Pegasus Guardian // Rescue the Foal3.2%1.9
Blur3.2%1.7
Livaan, Cultist of Tiamat3.2%2.1
Aboleth Spawn3.2%1.9
Green Slime3.2%2.2
Alora, Merry Thief3.2%2.1
Artificer Class3.2%2.1
Dread Linnorm // Scale Deflection3.2%1.7
Mold Folk3.2%1.8
Bronze Walrus2.9%2.2
Gray Slaad // Entropic Decay2.9%1.6
Kenku Artificer2.9%2.0
Guardian Naga // Banishing Coils2.9%1.6
Ghost Lantern // Bind Spirit2.9%1.9
Nefarious Imp2.9%1.7
Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward2.9%2.3
Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter2.9%1.8
Patron of the Arts2.7%1.9
Young Red Dragon // Bathe in Gold2.7%1.5
Circle of the Land Druid2.7%1.7
Jaheira, Friend of the Forest2.7%2.5
Caves of Chaos Adventurer2.7%2.1
Deep Gnome Terramancer2.7%2.3
Tasha, the Witch Queen2.7%1.9
Beckoning Will-o'-Wisp2.7%2.2
Cards being tested by fewer than 10 respondents not shown.
Single Card Discussion
Choose Your Own Adventure
Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes
Gut, True Soul Zealot
Noble's Purse
Greatsword of Tyr
Monster Manual

The most-tested cards from CLB are spread somewhat evenly between archetypal support and more broadly powerful options. Minsc and Boo firmly falls into the latter category, with much preview-season hype concerning its repeatable creature generation. Meanwhile, Greatsword of Tyr scales from multiplayer to 1-versus-1 Magic in a powerful manner, making it an appealing side-grade to older Stoneforge Mystic targets.

On the other hand, cards like Gut and Noble's Purse offer power level through interactions with popular Cube synergies like sacrifice-matters decks and artifact-matters decks. Gut is notable as the highest-tested card with the “Background” mechanic card, but it’s likely that most curators consider this effect irrelevant, and instead are interested in the rate in Gut’s sacrifice ability.

“It's like this set was made for me. It mashes all the sets, mechanics, and themes I was already doing into a new set.”

Monster Manual is the headliner for the Adventure mechanic’s return among Cube curators, with many interested in its Elvish Piper-adjacent effect as redundancy for combo or creature-cheat archetypes.

The new Initiative mechanic doesn’t manage to crack the top 10 most-tested cards of the set, with White Plume Adventurer being the top contender. The outside-the-game complexity of the Dungeon card type and the multiplayer-balanced modes on The Undercity may suppress the Adventurer's results.

A common feature among popular survey cards is a liberal sprinkling of returning mechanics, almost in a Modern Horizons-like way. These nostalgic mechanics on novel cards are a welcome design choice to increase the set’s depth, especially when the combination fuses flavor and functionality.

Baldur’s Gate(s)
Black Dragon Gate
Sea Gate
Manor Gate
Citadel Gate
Cliffgate

Interestingly, CLB’s highest-rated cards don’t align with the cards being tested in the most environments. Instead the appealing suite of taplands that offer Gate synergy all have the very high average score of 2.7. Interestingly, while often we see an increase in the rating of known quantities, this is the exact same rating the almost functionally identical cycle form Jumpstart. These effects fill a niche in the Cube community of rarity-restricted and budget curators who greet these well-established, performant designs with enthusiasm that belies the relatively low numbers of testers.

Conclusion

Battle for Baldur’s Gate is a fun and fresh set for Cubes that offers something rare in the the contemporary Magic scene: a card file that hasn’t been exhaustively evaluated by professionals in the context of competitive Constructed. Not surprisingly, it includes a slew of cards tuned towards multiplayer environments, but also a long tail of new takes on popular mechanics. CLB is a great opportunity to test your card evaluation chops and find undiscovered cards that fit your Cube environment.

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Elminster — Viktor Titov