Processing Dominaria’s First Week

Collins Mullen reviews the breakout cards (and boy, were there plenty!) from Dominaria’s first showcase! Which of them will make waves at SCG Baltimore?

Week one of new Standard is in the books, and we have our first set of
results to look through. I was excited to see which cards out of Dominaria would be putting up results, and I was very happy to see
a ton of Dominaria cards throughout the Top 8 decklists. It’s
clear that Dominaria had a very large impact on Standard, not only
supplementing old archetypes but even creating entirely new ones.

Let’s look at the Standard decks that performed the best over the weekend.

Rudy Briksza’s team took down the Team Constructed Open in Atlanta with a
very impressive U/W Control deck in Standard. Ordinarily you must take
decklists from team events with a grain of salt, because there’s no
guarantee that the deck actually performed well; however, it’s clear that
this control deck has legs. It’s notable that Austin Collins also made the
Top 8 of this team event with the exact same 75 cards, and there were three
copies of U/W Control in the Top 8 of the Standard Classic.

Other U/W Control lists that I had seen were playing Approach the Second
Sun as their win condition, but I like that Rudy decided to simplify things
and stick with just Torrential Gearhulk to be able to close the games out.

The biggest thing that these U/W Control decks have going for them is
access to perhaps one of the most powerful planeswalkers printed in a long

Teferi is very powerful and slots perfectly into a control deck. Teferi can
answer any nonland permanent the turn he enters the battlefield, and then
continues to provide card advantage for the control deck to be able to bury
the opponent in. Teferi also works very well with counterspells, because
you can play Teferi on turn 5 or 6 on an empty battlefield, use his plus
ability to draw a card and untap two lands, then still have your
counterspell up for your opponent’s next play.

I expect Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to be a very large role player in
Standard moving forward. On the surface it seems like a control shell is
the best home for Teferi, but there are a few other ways I could see
utilizing this powerful planeswalker.

William Heise made the finals of the Standard Classic in Atlanta with U/W
Historic. This deck is chock full of new cards from Dominaria,
really taking advantage of the most powerful mythics the set has to offer.

The deck feels almost built around Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage. Raff
Capashen allows you to play all your threats in this deck at instant speed,
which is a huge boon for any deck trying to hold up counterspells. Instead
of going full on control, this deck has more of a tempo plan of being able
to answer important things with its disruption, but also potentially have a
powerful proactive gameplan with History of Benalia and Lyra Dawnbringer.

It was only a matter of time before these powerful mythics found a home,
and this U/W deck feels like an excellent shell for them. Lyra Dawnbringer
is set to have a huge impact on Standard. Any deck that is trying to beat
down in this Standard format is going to have to be able to answer Lyra or
be immediately brick walled by her.

On the more aggressive side of things, Kwame Gunn piloted R/B Aggro to the
finals of the Team Constructed Open in Atlanta. The black splash in these
otherwise mono-red aggressive decks seemed to be very popular over the
weekend thanks to Unlicensed Disintegration.

Unlicensed Disintegration has always been a very powerful removal spell and
was a key part of the Mardu Vehicles deck that dominated Standard not too
long ago. The time may have come for a resurgence of this card because we
have been introduced to more threats that can’t be answered by the
traditional red removal spells.

Julian John had a similar take on a R/B Aggro deck, but instead of Chandra,
Torch of Defiance, Julian opted to utilize a newer planeswalker.

Karn, Scion of Urza fits in surprisingly well to this R/B Vehicles deck.
The deck has a good number of artifacts, so the Construct creature token
that Karn creates will often be a reasonable threat. Additionally, he crews
Heart of Kiran rather well, having a ton of loyalty to work with.

Gone unchecked, Karn also provides a steady stream of card advantage, which
is a very strong thing to have access to as an aggressive deck. Usually
your opponent will be on the backfoot, so they won’t be as well equipped to
attack down your planeswalker.

Karn, Scion of Urza also found a home in the winning decklist of the
Standard Classic in Atlanta, so clearly, he has a lot going for him. This
G/B Constrictor deck utilizes a powerful curve of creatures to protect its
Karn and generally has a strong beatdown plan. The other notable card in
this deck is Adventurous Impulse.

We’ve seen cards like this before, and they have all generally been very
powerful. Oath of Nissa was a huge role player in a lot of decks back
during its time in Standard, and Attune with Aether gave Energy decks a
very clean manabase until the card was eventually banned. Adventurous
Impulse may be lining itself up to be an excellent option to smooth out the
draws of any creature based green deck.

Another interesting deck that popped up out of this past weekend was this
sweet Mono-Red God-Pharaoh’s Gift deck piloted by Robert Vaughan. We’ve
seen a lot of God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks in the previous Standard formats,
but they were all designed mainly as combo decks. They wanted to fill up
the graveyard as quickly as possible, so that they could get out a Gift
ahead of schedule and take over the game that way.

This deck has a different approach. It still has the potential to get down
an early God-Pharaoh’s Gift, but it’s basic game plan is just to put out a
curve of creatures and allow them to die organically. Then once the game
heads towards the late game, the deck can get out a God-Pharaoh’s Gift and
kill the opponent that way.

There are a couple of interesting creatures here that help with the
God-Pharaoh’s Gift plan.

Rowdy Crew acts like a discard outlet for putting creatures in the
graveyard but is a little inconsistent at this because the discard is
random. The benefit you get out of this is that unlike Champion of Wits,
you net a card off of Rowdy Crew’s ability.

If you’re trying to get creatures into your graveyard and ramp up your mana
a bit, Skirk Prospector and Wily Goblin are great options. The sacrifice
outlet works very well with Gate to the Afterlife, and you can even get up
to the five mana necessary for casting the Gate and activating it ahead of

Midrange also has a place in Dominaria Standard, shown by Team5c
who took down the Magic Online PTQ this past weekend with G/W Midrange. His
deck utilizes a ton of Dominaria cards that everyone was excited
to play with, and some cards that some people may have overlooked. The deck
plays a Llanowar Elves, Lyra Dawnbringer, and Karn, Scion of Urza, which
were all very big winners during Dominaria’s debut weekend. Then
there were a few other choices that we should pay attention to.

Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy may be one of the more underrated cards in Dominaria. It may not seem like Shanna does a lot, but in a
creature deck, it’s generally going to be an above rate body most of the
time. As soon as Shanna becomes a 3/3, you’re already getting a lot out of
your two-drop creature.

Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy also has the added benefit of being able to dodge a
lot of the white enchantment-based removal that is going around right now.
Seal Away, Cast Out, Ixalan’s Binding, and Thopter Arrest are all picking
up in popularity due to the uptick of white decks, and Shanna can’t be
targeted by any of them.

The other card that I think is a bit underrated right now is Shalai, Voice
of Plenty. Shalai works well in any G/W creature deck and has an excellent
mana sink. But one thing that Shalai gives that people may be overlooking
is protection from Settle the Wreckage. If you have hexproof, your opponent
won’t be able to target you with Settle the Wreckage, and you can feel free
to turn all your creatures sideways.

The one use of Shalai that could be even more interesting would be in a
deck with Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage. Being able to cast Shalai at instant
speed to counter a removal spell or even a Settle the Wreckage feels like a
pretty big game. Maybe this is a little too corner case, but if you’re
considering playing a Raff Capashen deck, I would find room for a Shalai or


I’m very happy with how Standard is turning out after the release of Dominaria. There seems to be a ton of different ways to go with
deck building and interesting synergies. I’m going to continue testing
Standard for the Team Constructed Open in Baltimore next weekend, and I
can’t wait to try out all of these sweet decks that we’ve seen so far.