A Look Back at Dominaria United Part 2
Hello Everyone! Welcome to Standard Weekly!
We have a lot to talk about as we finish our look at Dominaria United. Today I will look at the red, green, multicolored, and land cards from the set that have had an impact on standard.
Red got a few good cards from Dominaria United. While a Mono-Red deck did not truly develop out of the cards from Dominaria United, but a few pieces for a Mono-Red deck arrived with the set.
Chaotic Transformation is another in a long line of red spells that dig through your deck for cards that share a type with it. This spell enables you to exile an artifact, a creature, an enchantment, a planeswalker and/or a land and they you draw cards until you reveal one of each type. Decks that use the card use Chaotic Transformation to put specific cards into play from a player’s library. When it works it is a powerful ability, but when you cannot use the spell, the deck feels flat.
The Elder Dragon War see some main deck play and is included in some sideboards for its powerful abilities. Chapter one gives you a removal spell that does two damage to each creature. Chapter 2 allows you to discard any number of cards, then draw that many cards. Finally, chapter 3 creates a 4/4 Dragon create token with flying. Having read ahead gives the card the ability to answer the board with the appropriate option.
Electrostatic Infantry sees play in Izzet spells decks. Its ability to grow as you cast an instant or sorcery by putting a +1/+1 counter on it makes it a powerful card that can grow into a large threat over time.
Fires of Victory can do a lot of damage to a creature or planeswalker. Like Electrostatic Infantry, it sees play in Izzet Spells. It works as a very effective removal spell in any deck that consistently refills its hand or tends to keep four or five cards in hand. As more sets arrive, the spells power will become more relevant.
Hammerhand is a reprint that saw significant play in the past. Deck builders looked for way to use it to give a creature haste and +1/+1. While some have tried it in standard, it has not found a real home.
Jaya, Fiery Negotiator has seen play in a few decks for her ability to create 1/1 red monk creature tokens with prowess coupled with her ability to draw extra cards makes her a good planeswalker that is looking for the right deck to become a force in standard.
Lightning Strike is another reprint that sees play in a variety of decks for its ability to kill a small creature or deal direct damage to a player. Expect Lightning Strike to continue to see a lot of play in standard.
Phoenix Chick continues to see play in many decks for its quick strike ability. Its ability to return to play makes it a good include in many decks.
Radha’s Firebrand is another card that has found its way into some Mono-Red builds. Her ability to prevent a defending creature with power less than Radha’s Firebrand from blocking when she attacks can make all the difference in combat.
Shivan Devastator has seen play in some versions of Mono-Red. Devastator’s ability to become a large threat makes it a powerful attacker in the late game. What has limited its play is the fact that it does not have much value in the early game when it becomes only a 2/2 or 3/3.
Squee, Dubious Monarch sees play as a 1 or 2 of in a variety of red decks. Squee’s haste ability allows him to attack the turn he’s cast. Creating a 1/1 red Goblin when he attacks is a great ability and Squee’s ability to come back into play from the graveyard for four mana and exiling four cards from your graveyard makes Squee a powerful threat.
Temporal Firestorm deals 5 damage to each creature and each planeswalker. What makes it a useful spell is Temporal Firestorm’s kicker ability that can phase out a permanent for each time it is kicked. While is only sees limited play, I expect its play to increase as more cards enter standard.
While green got good creatures and good removal from the set a strong Mono-Green deck has not developed. The power of black has limited green’s ability to be more than a bit player in standard.
Defiler of Vigor is one of the most powerful creatures in standard, but it has not seen much play because its ability to give each creature a +1/+1 counter only triggers when a green creature is cast. Should a strong Mono-Green deck or a deck built around green does develop, then Defiler of Vigor will be a key player in that deck.
Llanowar Loamspeaker is a green mana dork that can add one mana of any color. This makes it a good inclusion in a variety of decks. Plus, Llanowar Loamspeaker can turn a land into a 3/3 elemental creature with haste can provide a surprise attacker or defender.
Nishoba Brawler is a two mana */3 cat warrior. Its power is equal to how many basic land types among lands you control. Brawler sees plays play in five color domain decks, but only sees limited play outside of them.
Quirion Beastcaller is a fantastic two drop. When you cast a creature spell, you put a +1/+1 counter on Quirion Beastcaller. Then when it dies, you get to distribute those counter to any number of other creatures. Like Defiler of Vigor, Quirion Beastcaller is still looking for a good home in standard. As more quality one and two cost spells enter standard, I expect to see more decks try to include Quirion Beastcaller.
Silverback Elder is another powerful five-drop that sees limited play. Like Quirion Beastcaller, Silverback Elder has a triggered ability that activates when you cast a creature. Silverback Elder either destroys a target artifact or enchantment, looks at the top 5 cards of your library and get to put a land card from among them into play tapped, or you gain 4 life. No matter which option is chosen, the ability advances your game plan. Like many of the other cards in green, Silverback Elder is just looking for a deck to take advantage of its abilities.
For one green mana, Tail Swipe is a fight spell that gives your creature +1/+1 if it’s cast during your main phase. It’s another card that is hurt by the limited use of green in standard. It has the potential to be a powerful spell in standard.
Tear Asunder has found a home in Jund. It’s ability to exile a target artifact or enchantment has made it a powerful part of the Jund deck. If Teat Asunder was kicked, you can exile any nonland permanent. The ability to exile anything makes it a powerful removal spell.
Urborg Lhurgoyf power and toughness is equal to the number of creature cards in your graveyard. There is a graveyard deck in standard that Urborg Lhurgoyf is a part of, but it has not seen the play that other decks have.
The Weatherseed Treaty is another good saga with read ahead. Chapter one allows you to look for a basic land from your library and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Chapter two creates a 1/1 green saproling token. Chapter three gives a target creature +X/+X and trample, where X is the number of basic land types you control. The Weatherseed Treaty offers green decks mana ramp, a creature, and the ability to grow a creature to possibly deal a fatal blow.
Yavimaya Iconoclast is probably the most played of the green cards from the set. It sees play in Gruul Stompy decks as an effective early attacker.
Some of the most exciting cards from Dominaria United are the multicolored cards. These creature cards have abilities that push decks in new directions that help to create some of the best decks in standard.
Baird, Argivian Recruiter and Queen Allenal of Ruadach both create creature tokens. Baird creates a 1/1 white soldier creature token at the beginning of you rend step if you have a creature with power greater than its base power.
Queen Allenal creatures a 1/1 white soldier creature token whenever one or more creature tokens are created. Together they are a power combination in any tokens deck.
Balmor, Battlemage Captain is part of the Izzet Spells deck with Monastery Swiftspear and Third Path Iconoclast to make a formidable spells deck that can win games quickly and efficiently.
Elas Il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim sees play in the Esper Legends deck and in the clerics deck. Elas il-Kor’s ability to gain one life when a creature enters the battlefield under your control helps provide you with extra life that can be the difference in a game. The other ability causes your opponent to lose 1 life when another creature you control dies. Together these abilities help both decks survive and finish off an opponent.
Ertai Resurrected plays a key role in Esper decks. When Ertai enters the battlefield, he can either counter target spell, activated ability, triggered ability or to destroy another target creature or planeswalker. This value makes Ertai a power removal or counter spell that eaves behind a solid creature.
Five color Jodah, the Unifier decks see play in the format. His ability to give other legendary creatures +X/+X, where X is the number of legendary creatures you control and his ability to get other legendary creatures from your deck when you cast a legendary spell makes him a power creature that must be destroyed quickly, or he will take over the game.
King Darien XLVIII is a lord for all creature types. Any deck that runs green and white should consider using Darien to buff creatures. Where he is at his best is in token decks. His ability to sacrifice himself to protect your creature tokens by giving them hexproof and indestructible until the end of turn can be a game saving move. As more cards enter the format, King Darien should become more relevant.
Ratadrabik of Urborg is a key card in Esper Legends. His ability to create a 2/2 black zombie token that is a copy of a legendary creature that dies makes it difficult for any deck to hand with Esper Legends when Ratadrabik is in play. In addition, his ward of 2 and vigilance make him a difficult target to remove.
Shanna, Purifying Blade sees play in Bant Humans. Her ability to draw cards when you gain life made her a good fit for the deck.
Sol’Kanar the Tainted is a powerful Grixis five drop. At the beginning of your end step, you get to select from four options that advance your game plan. Sol’Kanar usually sees play as a one or two of in Grixis builds.
Soul of Windgrace is a Cat Avatar that sees play in Jund decks. Soul of Windgrace’s ability to put lands from your graveyard onto the field when it enters the battlefield or attacks allows you to discard lands to his other abilities to advance your game plan.
Zur, Eternal Schemer had a deck built around his ability to turn a non-Aura enchantment into a creature with base power and toughness each equal to its mana value. The card commonly made into a large creature was Leyline Binding. This would typically happen on turn four when the deck worked to make Leyline Binding a formidable creature to overcome.
The artifacts of Dominaria United have seen limited play because they are not as impactful as other cards from the set.
Karn’s Sylex is a board wipe that gets to determine which nonland permanents are destroyed. When Karn’s Sylex is activated, you get to determine the amount of mana spend to exile the sylex. All nonland permanents with mana value equal to or less than the mana paid are destroyed. While Karn’s Sylex has seen only limited play, I feel that it will see more as the year progresses.
Relic of Legends sees play in some of the Legend decks that see play in standard. It’s ability to add one mana of any color and its ability to turn legendary creatures into mana sources makes Relic of Legend a way to ramp in a Legends deck.
Timeless Lotus is a five-mana legendary artifact that can produce five mana, one in each color. Any deck that can untap it the turn it enters play has access to large sums of mana to advance its game plan.
The Weatherlight Completed has seen play in sacrifice decks. It can not be crewed like a traditional vehicle. To use the Weatherlight, you must get four phyresis counters on it. To get a counter, a creature you control must die. Therefore, it has seen play in Oni-Cult Anvil decks because of their ability to consistently sacrifice creatures.
Dominaria United brought back some of the pain lands from Ice Age. These lands see play across most of the decks in standard and they help to make three-color decks possible.
Finally, Plaza of Heroes turned out to be the best land from the set. Plaza sees play across formats and its ability to produce mana in any color to cast a legendary spell makes the land a powerful mana fix. Then once you have legendary permanents on the battlefield, you use Plaza to cast non-legendary spells in any color among the legendary permanents you have in play. Plaza’s final ability allows you to exile Plaza of Heroes and give a target legendary creature hexproof and indestructible until the end of the turn. This combination of abilities makes Plaza a good card in any deck that uses legendary spells.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at the most impactful cards from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, Streets of New Capenna, and Dominaria United. Next week’s article will start my look at some of the under-the-radar decks in standard that perform well, but don’t get the attention that Grixis Mid-range, Esper Raffine, or Azorius Soldiers are seeing.
Until next time, have a good new year.
By: Scott Trepanier
Scott began playing Magic the Gathering in 1994. His preferred format is standard. Typically, you will see him playing aggro decks focused on quickly defeating his opponent but will pivot to midrange or control when standard is unfavorable for aggro decks. He began creating Magic content in 2019.
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