It’s plain cool to see a Sliver precon deck, period, but Sliver Swarm, revealed this week, doesn’t seem to know it’s part of a premium product and priced at $80 – twice the usual cost. In fact looking at the MTG Commander Masters deck’s mana base, it doesn’t seem to be any better than a regular precon MTG Commander deck.
The Sliver Swarm deck certainly has some fun inclusions. While it’s not exactly stacked with the best MTG Slivers, many of these are over $50, so that’s only to be expected.
And there are still some good reprints, like Synapse Sliver, Galerider Sliver, and best of all Sliver Hivelord. There’s all sorts of new art too, and it’s good to see Sliver cards that previously only appeared as those odd humanoid versions now getting the classic Sliver shape.
There are some cool new cards as well – Regal Sliver doesn’t know that White is meant to be bad at card draw, and ensures you always get the extra Monarch draw. And Titan of Littjara will make you whizz through your deck.
But it all falls apart when you look at the lands in this deck. In a five-color precon, the mana base is crucial – it’s no exaggeration to say the real cost of building EDH decks in five colors is getting your lands. You really don’t want to end up mana-screwed, and if all your lands enter tapped, you’re likely to fall behind the decks only running one or two colors.
Examining Sliver Swarm’s mana base, you wouldn’t know it was an $80 deck. Of the 37 MTG lands in the deck, 11 are basics, and 16 always enter tapped. We didn’t need a full set of Shocklands, but it’s a sorry state of affairs when the best the premium deck can muster is an Exotic Orchard and the obligatory Command Tower. It’s in no way an improvement from a regular five-color precon deck, like last year’s Jared Carthalion Painbow.
A few more premium lands, and this deck would be a hit. As is, fans are mostly grumbling, and they have every right to. The most obvious missed opportunity is that Wizards “forgot” to put Sliver Hive in. This Sliver-specific land can generate mana of any color – provided it’s to pay for Slivers. It seems tailor-made for this precon, and everyone who buys it will want a copy (proof is it’s just spiked from $13 to $50 after this deck reveal). So why wasn’t it in there?
If Wizards of the Coast wants players to splash out for increasingly pricy products, it needs to provide the impression that they’re getting a ton of value or power. Instead, it feels like the company is seeing what it can get away with. It might not harm Commander Masters sales, but disappointing your wealthiest customers seems like a poor long-term strategy.
Overall Commander Masters has more hits than we expected, though we’re still not sure why draft seems such a priority for the set. Check out the best MTG Commander Masters spoilers to see what’s coming.