Lords of Atlantis: Draco, I Choose You Because Domain Cards Are… Okay!

Does Draco warrant enough thought for Constructed play? Of course he does; if not, then why am I writing this?

Draco, Draco, Draco, I made you out of clay. Draco, Draco, Draco, with Draco I will play!
-Song by Mark Rosewater.

With the introduction of Invasion, Wizards introduced a bland unexciting mechanic. "Domain cards," as they are so lovingly called, are cards that reward you for playing multicolored decks. Tribal Flames, Protective Sphere – have you ever wondered why Wizards keeps making rehashes of the old Circles of Protection? – and Wandering Stream are all examples of this weak card idea. The advent of Planeshift expands that idea, but now gives the domain mechanic to creatures.

Draco, the Artifact Dragon (made from clay!) is the largest casting cost creature ever in a tournament format. A pricey sixteen mana, the first use for this card would be strictly in Limited. Five color green is a popular archetype in Invasion Limited, and should stay that way for a long time. However, does Draco warrant enough thought for Constructed play? (Of course he does; if not, what am I writing this about?)

Type two is NOT the place to play Draco. There are too many ways to get rid of this beast. With Rebels, Fires, and Skies being the triumvirate of decks to play, this critter should not see the light of day for too long.

Rebels: "I’ll Disenchant your Draco, attack with all my little guys."

Draco: "I’ll fly myself off to the graveyard."

Fires: "I’ll Hull Breach your Draco, attack with all my big guys, and sacrifice my Fires. Good game!"

Draco: "In response to casting to Hull Breach, I’ll Frown. I declare no blockers. Good game."

Skies: "I’ll counter your Draco. Thanks for extending a lot of your resources so I can fly over and kill you."

Draco: "In response to the counter, I play gasoline. They both resolve. I play fire, and then chuck my flaming deck out of the store into the parking lot."

Sighing as I type this, it looks like Draco does have a home. Right smack in the middle of Invasion Block Constructed. Sigh. It makes sense to use a deck full of cards that not only help mana production, but also use the domain mechanic. Below is a decklist from a recent online Magic tournament.

4x Utopia Tree
3x Draco
3x Stratadon
4x Harrow
4x Fertile Ground
4x Sterling Grove
4x Fact or Fiction
3x Collective Restraint
1x Teferi’s Moat
1x Protective Sphere
1x Collapsing Borders
1x Obliterate
2x Global Ruin
3x Mountain
3x Swamp
3x Plains
3x Terminal Moraine
5x Island
9x Forest

While I was looking at this decklist, there were many cards that seemed suboptimal. I had never looked upon a Collapsing Border, and when I saw my first Protective Sphere, I cried. Noted below are five cards that give this deck a chance, and why they are played.

As you can see, this deck rewards the player for playing five-color magic. Global Ruin is a weaker, slower Armageddon – but when it is played, it will keep your mana base free while wrecking your opponents, who are probably playing with a lot of dual lands.

Global Ruin:
Each player chooses from the lands he or she controls a land of each basic land type, then sacrifices the rest.

Reason behind playing this card over something good? Invasion did not offer the ever-popular reprint of Armageddon. In a format where Dust Bowl would be incredible, this is the best way possible of getting rid of your opponents’ nonbasic lands in one massive shot. While this has the potential to paralyze your opponent, it will not do anything to you. (Unless you have the Moraine in play.) Also notice that this card does cost five, which is the number of basic lands in the game of Magic.

Protective Sphere is another in a long line of unimaginable Circle of Protection reprints. Yes, it is possible to prevent damage of every color with this card (Which does make it more flexible in heed of the Circles), but artifact damage will slide by it.

Protective Sphere
1, Pay one life. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you this turn by a source of your choice that shares a color with the mana spent on this activation cost. (Colorless mana prevents no damage.)

Why play with this? Unless I am mistaken, there is no source of damage prevention in enchantment form in this set. No Circles, Runes, or Random Shapes of Protection in this set either. The cost of losing one life in the payment also has the potential to do more harm than help.

Continuing down the list, I spot Collapsing Borders. Yet again, this is a prime example of the advantages of five colors – this red enchantment is a constant source of damage that hearkens back to the dark days of Prophecy. However, you should never take damage from this card. The five basic land types that you should have in play will allow you to gain a total of two life!

Collapsing Borders
At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player gains one life for each basic land type among lands that player controls. Then Collapsing Borders deals three damage to him or her.

Why play this card? "Why not" is the better question. Most IBC decks will be two colors at most; most of those decks will also depend upon dual lands for mana production. Global Ruin/Collapsing Borders is a very expensive combo, but it gives you a nice life advantage while forcing your opponent to stabilize.

When I was the Invasion Prerelease, I got hold of two Collective Restraints. I played a black/blue deck that ran both of these enchantments. The Propaganda reprint is almost like removing your opponent’s second main phase. If they want to attack, they must pay five mana to do so. If they want to cast spells, they either must not attack or have a superior mana base.

Collective Restraint
3U Enchantment
Creatures can’t attack you unless their controller pays X for each creature attacking you, where X is the number of basic land types among lands you control. (Cost is paid as attackers are declared)

I like this card in this deck. It offers the most abusive of symmetry, and is cumulative. If you have three out, all attacking creatures your opponent has is basically assigned to defense. Fifteen mana is a bit too much for any opponent to use to attack you with. This card is the one that keeps you alive while you are trying to power up for a Draco or Stratadon.

I miss a lot of stuff from other Type II-legal sets. Enlightened Tutor is usually regarded the best way to search for enchantments – however, Sterling Grove is the defender of this deck. When this card is in play, all other enchantments you have can not be targeted by spells or abilities. Your Collective Restraints, Collapsing Borders, and Moats are virtually indestructible.

Sterling Grove
All other enchantments you control can not be the target of spells or abilities.
1, Sacrifice Sterling Grove: Search your library for an enchantment card and revel that card. Shuffle your library, then put the card on top of it.

Why play this? Simple: The ability to protect your enchantments is what makes this card better than Enlightened Tutor. Add in the search ability and you can make plays like this.

"Dismantling Blow with kicker, targeting your Sterling Grove?"

"NO! In response, I’ll sacrifice it and go get another one. Therefore, Mr. or Mrs. (or Miss, Ms., or whatever other title I forgot) evil white player, you have to use your other three Dismantling Blows to kill off my Sterling Groves."

Will this deck be a force, or will it be one that shows up at qualifiers because you had nothing else better to build? This does have an advantage over other decks. It is defensive in nature, but it will have a hard time against decks that center around bounce. Or mana denial. Or decks that use cheap effective critters to beat you about the head and neck. In fact, go ahead and just ignore this deck.

In all seriousness, Domain was most likely created to keep players that are hard-core multiplayers happy. Besides removal like Tribal Flames, or Tsabo’s Assassin, it has no place in Constructed play.

And that is my final judgment…*

Joshua X Claytor

DCI member 1341681

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Apologies go out to Shawn Jackson and Sheldon Menery. I’m sorry for stealing lines from you guys.