“Mortimer…we’re back.” -Randolph Duke
For many of you it was Ravnica or the subsequent Return to Ravnica.
There are those of you that were drawn in by Innistrad; all filled
with Zombies and Werewolves and Vampires.
But for people in my age bracket, aka old and useless, it was Dominaria.
If you were to sit down and try to dissect the lore behind Dominaria, you’d
get lost in contradictions and confusing elements. Some characters were
references through various flavor texts, but never seen in action as a
card. Kaervek had a Torch and was Spiteful, but we didn’t get a chance to
battle with the B-list legend until Time Spiral. Visara the
Dreadful was one of the most played creatures during the heyday of
Mono-Black Control and B/R Reanimator in Onslaught block. Do you
know what her backstory is?
She was a gladiator
. And that’s it. Now if you’re some half-wit legend that never sees play or
doesn’t seem remotely interesting you have three backstories, a lengthy
tale weaved about you on the mothership, merchandise, a guild affiliation,
and you get to cut to the front of the line for carwashes. It’s ridiculous.
That doesn’t mean Dominaria wasn’t the coolest place in the
multiverse. Hell yeah it was. We had Slivers. Beebles (Hi Moxy!), Crovax,
Commander Greven il-Vec, and freaking Volrath- who was literally made out
of silly putty and could turn into an anime waifu if he wanted to.
That means he shapeshifts.
Everything from the legendary Dragons of Invasion toIce Age and Weatherlight and beyond, the return of Dominaria doesn’t just signify the return to the place where
millions of us fell in love for the first time, it means the return to Magic itself. Let that sink in for a moment. This isn’t a
metallic world or one ruled by guilds. There aren’t any cliches or
historical representations like there were in Kamigawa. This isn’t
Dinosaurs riding Pirates shooting lasers at giant spaghetti titans.
Magic: the Gathering.
The most exciting thing to see coming from the new set (as a Commander
player) are the bevy of legends that harken back to the old days of
mediocre set design and grotesquely powerful creeps when it comes to cards.
Unfortunately, WotC is crazy-smart nowadays and everything I’ve seen looks
incredible and like a perfect homage to Magic’s birthplace (not Carnegie
Let’s dig in!
Legendary Creature – Bird Cleric
Whenever you cast a historic spell, return target creature card with
converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
(Artifacts, legendaries, and Sagas are historic.)
Teshar being a Bird Cleric brings me back to one of my favorite tribes:
Clerics. Cards like Rotlung Reanimator were all-stars, and it never felt
like they got the respect that they deserve.
Commander is a format of huge, splashy spells…a lot of which are legendary
and, more importantly, artifacts. Teshar is the perfect casual commander
because it’s going to allow you to refill your battlefield quickly after a
sweeper by playing all the things a Mono-White deck would want in the first
place; things like equipment that will trigger your general. It doesn’t
seem like it’d be difficult to build around Teshar either, since you’ll be
able to back your deck with value creatures such as Stoneforge Mystic and
hate bears like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben or Vryn’s Wingmare. There are
also coincidentally a ton of tribal Bird cards that play well with Teshar.
Soulcatcher, Commander Eesha, or Lieutenant Kirtar anyone? I’m going to
happily cast Battle Screech here.
Legendary Creature – Angel
Flying, first strike, lifelink
Other Angels you control get +1/+1 and have lifelink.
Angels have always been extremely important to Dominaria, whether
it was Serra, Selenia, or Akroma. Lyra has some ties to another famous
Angel: Reya Dawnbringer, and could very well be her sister or mother or
some other kind of kin. On her own, Lyra is a presence on the battlefield
that same way that Baneslayer Angel has carved a path for herself as one of
the most iconic creatures in Magic history. Where Lyra blows past
Baneslayer is that in Commander, multiples scarcely matter and her ability
to pump others of her flight is invaluable. For the most part, Angels
aren’t “cheap.” The best ones come in costing around four and they only
become more expensive from there. Lyra fills an important slot in Angel
tribal decks by making the smaller Angels (think Voice of All) a far more
devastating creature. In Mono-White, Lyra can be easily outclassed, but
when you throw her in to the mix of already established decks, like Bruna,
Light of Alabaster or Kaalia of the Vast, she could add a lot of punch.
Legendary Creature – Human Soldier
Creatures can’t attack you or a planeswalker you control unless their
controller pays 1 for each of those creatures.
Oh boy, oh boy! Baird, Steward of Argive is another in a long line of
prison effects that Mono-White Prison, and to a lesser degree, Stax
Commander players have been utilizing for years. While not overtly
competitive, these kinds of decks can lead to long and involved games.
Baird adds to the package of Windborn Muse, Ghostly Prison, Sphere of
Safety, Archangel of Tithes, and more. As a low-costed creature with a
built-in prison, I expect this legend to be one that players are quick to
build their decks around or immediately slot him in. White-based prison
decks just got a whole lot better!
Legendary Creature – Human Rogue
Creatures you control with power or toughness 1 or less can’t be
Get the f*** out of my expansion you piece of trash. I swear to God do
not ruin this for me.
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard
When Naru Meha, Master Wizard enters the battlefield, copy target
instant or sorcery spell you control. You may choose new targets for
Other Wizards you control get +1/+1.
Wizard tribal is one of the most popular casual Commander themes in the
format, and with good reason. Have you ever played a Snapcaster Mage or
Willbender’d an opponent’s best spell? It’s intoxicating! Naru Meha takes
it a step further and lets you copy any instant or sorcery you control.
This means your Entrancing Melody can take two creatures or your Preordain
will let you draw two and scry 4.
Or, you know, you’ll just copy your Time Walk effects over and over again
to kill the table.
Whatever floats your boat! And hey, your Wizards will get +1/+1. That’s
Legendary Creature – Specter
Whenever Urgoros, the Empty One deals combat damage to a player, that
player discards a card at random. If the player can’t you draw a card.
Legendary Creature – Vampire
Whenever a creature an opponent controls is dealt damage, put a +1/+1
counter on Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood. 2R: Kazarov deals 2 damage to
Wow, you guys. These are like…really cool, right?
Legendary Creature – Human Cleric
T, Sacrifice two creatures: Return target creature card from your
graveyard to the battlefield.
Oh thank God. Whisper is one of those generals or creatures that once you
untap with, you’re likely to do some incredibly gross things in Commander.
Put Swiftfoot Boots or Lightning Greaves in the mix and speed up how
disgusting things are about to get. In the decks that want Whisper, the
reality is that the creatures you’re going to sacrifice will be almost
guaranteed to be either expendable or you’ll want them in the graveyard to
repeat the process. There’s also a good chance that them dying will trigger
something awful for the table. Even if you decide to go with the tribal
theme of Clerics (spoiler alert: that’s my next deck), sacrificing
creatures with Rotlung Reanimator on the battlefield is going to net you a
few 2/2 Zombie tokens. Overall, Whisper seems niche, but nice.
Legendary Creature – Elder Demon
When Demonlord Belzenlok enters the battlefield, exile cards from the
top of your library until you exile a nonland card, then put that card
into your hand. If the card’s converted mana cost is 4 or greater,
repeat this process. Demonlord Belzenlok deals 1 damage to you for each
card put into your hand this way.
You may or may not have heard me breathlessly whisper “daddy” when I read
Belzenlok, aside from being difficult to type, is costed perfectly and
very, very good. The kind of decks that play Belzenlok or use it as a
general are big mana decks that will get a few cards at a time off him.
Even better, Vampiric Tutoring before playing Belzenlok will turn it into
an instant draw as well as another nonland card. Even though black is
hardly a color that has difficulty drawing cards with Phyrexian Arena or
Night’s Whisper or others, Belzenlok will find its way into a ton of decks
as a reanimation target, or a well-rounded general that will keep the card
Legendary Creature – Human Shaman
At the beginning of combat on your turn, for each Aura and Equipment
attached to Valduk, Keeper of the Flame, create a 3/1 red Elemental
creature token with trample and haste. Exile those tokens at the
beginning of the next end step.
Valduk doesn’t come off as a strong general option, but in R/W
equipment-based strategies it’s going to be an all-star. The option of
attaching all of your equipment onto Valduk, possibly at instant speed with
something like Leonin Shikari or Sigarda’s Aid, and churning out a ton of
3/1s is no small threat, and in these decks that are dedicated to playing
15-20 equipment and big-time auras, it’s not out of the realm of
possibility to one-shot a player at the table.
Legendary Creature – Goblin
You may cast Squee, the Immortal from your graveyard or from exile.
There’s an infinite combo here. I’m not going to help you find it.
Legendary Creature – Elf Druid
Whenver another Elf enters the battlefield under your control, put a
+1/+1 counter on Marwyn, the Nurturer.
T: Add an amount of G equal to Marwyn’s power.
Do I believe that this card is playing with fire? Yes.
There are Elfball decks that are salivating to add Marwyn to their ranks.
Another Elvish Archdruid-type card is always welcomed, but Marwyn benefits
directly from any Elves that come after it to pump it to epic proportions.
If those Elves somehow die, Marwyn is still huge and still churning out
tons of mana. Aside from that, any enchantments like Bear Umbra or Elvish
lords let the Nurturer provide you with devastating explosion turns. Look
for this thing to aid in casting freakishly large Genesis Waves in the
future. I love this as both a general and a roleplayer.
Gruun, the Lonely King
Legendary Creature – Ape Warrior
Kicker 3 (You may pay an additional 3 as you cast this spell.)
If Gruun, the Lonely King was kicked, it enters the battlefield with
five +1/+1 counters on it.
Whenever Gruun attacks alone, double its power and toughness until end
Please send help
. Gruun is casual as heck, but this is the kind of creature that Dominaria was built on. We had Krosan Cloudscraper, dammit. Gruun
is a juggernaut and gigantic. We’re playing him in the color of ramp, so
dropping a kicked Gruun by turn 3 or 4 isn’t out of the realm of
possibility. If he’s kicked and attacks, it’s eighteen damage. Let’s add
Primal Rage, Asceticism, or Dragon Fangs to the mix. Suddenly Gruun is
killing a player in one swing with Commander damage. I love this card from
a design standpoint as well as the feelings you get playing gigantic little
kid green decks.
Next week I’ll be going over the many multicolored legends and artifacts,
since those will most likely be the most important cornerstones in
Commander once they become legal. New generals and color combinations open
up tons of possibilities going forward in our favorite 100-card format, so
make sure to tune in to see what other stupid puns and crappy nu-metal
references I jam into my review.
I can’t wait to shoehorn “Soul Creation” into my review of Adeliz, the
God I suck.