Dominaria Dilemmas

It’s a star-studded Fact or Fiction for Dominaria! Gerry Thompson and Sam Black, with three Pro Tour Top 8s apiece, take on five statements about Dominaria ahead of SCG Atlanta, and while GerryT is skeptical, Sam wants to believe…

[Welcome back to Fact or Fiction! Today, Gerry Thompson and Sam Black render their verdicts on five statements about Dominaria. Don’t forget to vote for the winner at the end!

1. Goblin Chainwhirler is better in Mono-Red Aggro than Rampaging Ferocidon would have been had it remained legal.

Gerry Thompson: Fiction. While obviously very strong and one of the best cards in Dominaria, Goblin Chainwhirler doesn’t compare to Rampaging Ferocidon. Both cards are quite adept at fighting unique strategies Mono-Red typically struggles against.But Goblin Chainwhirler is mostly effective against go-wide strategies and mirror matches, whereas Rampaging Ferocidon was insane against everything except mirrors. Control, midrange, tokens? It didn’t matter — Rampaging Ferocidon beat all of them.

Goblin Chainwhirler is strong in many matchups, but not nearly as many as Rampaging Ferocidon. In fact, once people start playing Goblin Chainwhirler over Ahn-Crop Crasher, their red decks will become worse against things like control and the various midrange decks.

Maindeck Chainwhirlers will eventually cannibalize Mono-Red’s place in the metagame.

Sam Black: Fact. I was kind of a Rampaging Ferocidon ban apologist. A lot of people thought it didn’t make much sense, but I was willing to trust Wizards that they knew what they were doing.

After seeing Goblin Chainwhirler, I don’t get it.

Maybe the rest of the format will be powerful enough that it’s okay for Mono-Red to be more powerful than it was, but banning a card that’s going to be almost invalidated with the next set seems weirdly shortsighted. That said, the ban was because Rampaging Ferocidon cuts off another angle of defense, where the red deck is already very good at punishing people for trying to block or use removal, so I can see concluding that it just made the deck too hard to face.

However, while Goblin Chainwhirler is likely a more powerful card because it has a larger immediate impact, it’s defensible to argue that Ferocidon is better specifically against some deck or strategy that they wanted to allow. That said, I don’t think whatever it is has actually worked out, and in the world as it is, especially with the mirror being popular, Goblin Chainwhirler is much stronger, and the interaction with Soul-Scour Mage really pushes it over the top.

2. History of Benalia is the only Saga that will see success in competitive Constructed play.

Gerry Thompson: Fiction. History of Benalia is clearly the best Saga, but there are a few others that will potentially break through and have Standard success.

Song of Freyalise and The Antiquities War are my two picks. Both offer unique effects that enable entirely new decks to be built around them. Rites of Flourishing created some decks that need some help, and Song of Freyalise could be it. The artifact theme from Kaladesh has always fallen a little short, but Dominaria adds enough tools that an artifact deck could become Tier 1.

There are also cards like Phyrexian Scriptures that could show up in a winning deck at some point. History of Benalia is the best, but there are others with potential.

Sam Black: Fiction. While I was extremely skeptical of Sagas when I first saw them (and, admittedly, misunderstood how they worked), after playing with them, I’m very impressed. I actually think a lot of them have a chance to see Constructed play, and I’m eager to test several of them.

3. While cool from a design standpoint, none of the Legendary Sorceries will see success in competitive Constructed play.

Gerry Thompson: Fiction. Each of the Legendary Sorceries has a unique set of restrictions where it wants you to do specific things, yet will reward you handsomely. Of them, Jaya’s Immolating Inferno will likely see the most play, but I could also see new decks being built around Karn’s Temporal Sundering or Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering.

Kamahl’s Druidic Vow and Urza’s Ruinous Blast could also see play. Druidic Vow seems too difficult to make work, at least right now. Ruinous Blast is something that could potentially pop up, depending on the metagame, but won’t be ever-present.

Sam Black: Fiction. The way this question is worded bothers me. “While cool from a design standpoint” is stated without a question, despite being a matter of opinion, so I want to say this is fiction just because they aren’t cool from a design standpoint, but really, I’m on the fence on that issue, so it’s not enough to influence my answer.

I will fully admit that these are hard to make work, but I think they have a real chance. However, it’s important to note that I’m including both Modern (where more legendary creatures are available) and Standard after rotation in my consideration. Jaya’s Immolating Inferno in a deck with Jaya Ballard seems realistic, and so do Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering and Urza’s Ruinous Blast.

4. Karn, Scion of Urza is the best card in Dominaria.

Gerry Thompson: Fiction. I believe that honor goes to Llanowar Elves, but History of Benalia might even be better. Regardless, Karn is one of the top five cards in Dominaria, and that’s remained true throughout my initial testing.

Five starting loyalty is a lot and there’s not much more you want from a planeswalker than making threats and drawing cards. Removing opposing threats would be ideal, but you’ll have to rely on Karn’s card drawing for that. Depending on the configuration of your deck, it should be easy enough to make that work.

Of all the cards in Dominaria, Karn is one of the coolest and most fun. It may not strictly be the best, but being in third place isn’t bad.

Sam Black: Fact. This is a tough one. I’m legitimately completely uncertain as to whether Karn is the best card in Dominaria, but there’s a high enough probability that it is that I’m not willing to say it isn’t. Karn is a card I really worry about for the health of Standard.

5. At least one card from Dominaria will be banned from Standard within a year.

Gerry Thompson: Fiction. Mono-Fiction Aggro!

Dominaria is packed full of excellent cards, but none of them should end up ban-worthy. Cards like Karn, History of Benalia, and Goblin Chainwhirler are all great, but they are simply rate cards, not cards that are ban-worthy.

Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle has a bunch of potential combos, but nothing that seems broken. If you assemble a five-card combo, you deserve to win.

You can make a bunch of mana with Song of Freyalise, but Cryptolith Rite wasn’t broken and they even had Collected Company.

Overall, it looks like Dominaria was well-balanced.

Sam Black: Fiction. It’s hard to imagine anything other than Karn getting banned, and I don’t think that will happen. I think the format is too fast and can go too big for Karn to be too oppressive.

The biggest danger is that almost every deck sideboards Karn, rather than that Karn just beats everyone, and I think there’s a good chance that wouldn’t force them to ban Karn, although there’s a small chance that that would push the price of Karn high enough to chase some people out of the format.