Que Significa Dominaria

Dominaria means different things to different people, but one thing it’s going to mean for all of us is new decks! Ben Friedman shows off the good, the bad, and the combo for SCG Atlanta!

SCG Prerelease Playmats!

Hola! Hoy vamos a discutir unas nuevas cartas poderosas en Dominaria.
Estoy muy emocionado para…

Oh. Wait. Wrong language. When EstrellaCiudadJuegos.com gets
released as the Spanish-language companion to our own StarCityGames, I’ll
be the first in line to write articles as the resident “gringo loco,” but until then, I suppose it’s ingles for
the foreseeable future.

As your resident bilingual writer, though, I feel it’s my duty to inform my
readers of an interesting tidbit, one that might easily slip by someone
unfamiliar with the Spanish language. You see, a simple slip of the ink
turns the proper noun Dominaria into Dominaría,
or “would dominate” in Spanish. Coincidence? I think not!

You think we foolish Americans wouldn’t be able to see your encoded
message, Wizards? Wrong. If you wanted to plant a subtle hint that this set
was going to absolutely dominate Standard for the entirety of its tenure,
you could have at least picked a plane name that translated into a slightly
less overt message! Wizards’ Latin America division must have had
themselves quite the chuckle as they prepared advertisements for a set that
essentially told their customers that it will be a dominant force in
competitive Magic. I’m not one to turn down such a clear clue, so vamonos, let’s get down to what Standard is going to look like
with this new dominant force involved.

1. Karn-du Vehicles:

I briefly touched on Karn, Scion of Urza’s impact to the forgotten Mardu
Vehicles archetype
last week
, but this Planeswalker is truly on the level of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar,
poised to bring back artifact aggro in a big way. Heart of Kiran just
needed a good, strong pilot, and with Karn and his Constructs at the helm,
there are going to be a lot of unlicensed drivers coming back to punish the
unprepared. This is the day zero, easy-peasy monster deck to beat, no two
ways about it. We’ll start with a more reasonable three-color version, but
keep in mind that four-color options including Glint-Nest Crane are

Lots of Abrades are in this list because, well, there are going to be a lot
of juicy targets. If it isn’t Gate to the Afterlife, it’ll be opposing
Constructs or Heart of Kiran. If it isn’t Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle, it’ll
be Baral, Chief of Compliance. If it isn’t Llanowar Elves, it’ll be Mox
Amber. The Fatal Pushes could also become Magma Sprays in an attempt to add
more minor hate on God-Pharaoh’s Gift decks as well as opposing Scrapheap
Scroungers and Earthshaker Khenras.

Additional options for the deck include lowering the curve with a pair of
Inventor’s Apprentice, adding Doomfall as additional Duress-like effects
against control that also work against a lone Rekindling Phoenix or Hazoret
the Fervent, or Dire Fleet Daredevil for when it’s time to gear down and
grind in the mirror match.

Of course, it’s going to be a difficult road for Karn and company facing
down a mono-colored menace, the newly juiced-up Mono-Red Aggro with Goblin
Chainwhirler as a dominant, swingy beatstick that invalidates Toolcraft
Exemplar, Bomat Courier, small Walking Ballistas, Pia Nalaar’s token, and
(of course), Llanowar Elves. “Trasgo Portacadenas” is likely to
elicit more than just a “dios mio” whenever it hits the

2. Chainwhirler Rojo:

The Flame of Keld is a speculative sideboard inclusion because of its power
to create incredibly swingy turns and finish off opponents in the midgame
with a flurry of burn. Turning all your Fanatical Firebrands into walking
Lightning Bolts is no joke, and the “hellbent” synergy with cards like
Bomat Courier and Hazoret the Fervent mean that this might be the next
evolution of Mono-Red. If Rekindling Phoenix turns out to be too expensive
for this speedy Standard format and we need to downshift into cheaper
battlefield-vomiting effects, this saga could be just the card that keeps
the gas flowing until your opponent is burnt out.

But why speedy? What makes it likely that this Standard format is going to
move down to third- and fourth-turn fundamental turns rather than fourth-
and fifth turn? We have one friendly “elfo” to thank for that, the
card that is going to make it easy being green in the upcoming format.
Indeed, a large part of the reason for U/R Gift’s recent success is its
incredibly low mana curve, featuring twelve (!) one-drops, and more and
more decks are going to need to stay low to keep up with the tempo boost
Llanowar Elves offers its caster. Fanatical Firebrand will continue to see
its stock rise, and several incredibly sweet, incredibly non-intuitive Gift
strategies that were not quite ready for prime time are going to break out
in a big way.

3: G/R Gift

Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar is a house and a half when combined with
God-Pharaoh’s Gift. I’m talking 10/10 trample here. That’s what we call
dominant. Additionally, the fair game plan of this deck is unparalleled, as
it’s essentially the R/G Dinos deck that performed well in the most recent
Standard format stapled to a sick Gate to the Afterlife shell. The heavy
component of mana acceleration means that third-turn Glorybringers are not
uncommon. That’s what it means when I say that Standard is rapidly moving
towards a fundamental turn in the 3.5 range rather than the previous 4.5
range. Huge swings are imminent, and even The Scarab God may end up being a
little bit on the slow side!

Speaking of huge swings, it may turn out that Multani is not the beefy
reanimation target we are looking for. Cultivator of Blades could be this
deck’s version of Angel of Invention, coming down and absolutely
devastating an opponent with a single-turn swing incorporating a massive
+6/+6 for whatever random Llanowar Elves and Merfolk Branchwalkers you have
lying around on the battlefield. Additionally, there’s no shame in
including my man Verdurous Gearhulk, which is like a less-explosive
Cultivator of Blades on the backside, but a more consistent beefcake on the
front side. All three of these incredible pieces of beatdown beef deserve
consideration in this hybrid stompy/combo deck.

Now, you may notice a few neat pre-emptive touches to combat the impending
barrage of chains we are likely to see in this brave new Standard. The
first is a large number of Thrashing Brontodon, which is perfectly sized to
stare down a Chainwhirler while also perfectly content to stare down an
opposing Gift player or Mardu player and fill the role of Qasali Pridemage.
Esta carta dominaria Dominaria.” This card would dominate Dominaria (specifically, two of the most-likely frontrunners of
the coming format).

The second inclusion is the sideboard trio of Raptor Hatchling, which is
well-sized to come down early and happily jump right into the graveyard on
a trade or a Chainwhirler trigger and clog up the trenches with the
backside. Now, obviously the Chainwhirler’s first strike is incredibly
annoying, but a body that can block Bomat Couriers, Ragavan tokens,
Fanatical Firebrands, and Earthshaker Khenras is not to be trifled with.
The more bodies you can have hit the battlefield against red, the better
you will be. Especially with Glorybringers to own the skies, it’s
imperative that little guys make an impact and keep you from getting
overwhelmed before your big creatures can do the rest.

Now, one of the sacred cows of the list is particularly vulnerable to the
Goblin’s chains, which means that there’s always the possibility of
removing Combat Celebrant and including more of the green explore creatures
in their stead, which would open a potential techy sideboard spot for
Wildgrowth Walker instead of or in addition to Raptor Hatchling. There’s no
better feeling than winning in style with Limited standouts like Wildgrowth
Walker, Raptor Hatchling, or Cultivator of Blades.

Of course, we will continue to see U/R Gift as well as newcomers Sultai
Gift and Temur Gift. Heck, on any given week, one of the Gift decks may
become a better choice than another, and small tweaks to the threat set or
alternate game plans will be critical for gaining an edge. The fact of the
matter is, though, any would-be contender will have to find a way to beat
three powerhouse cores that anchor these three dominant strategies:

If you don’t have the low-end spells like Moment of Craving and Fatal Push
to handle getting swarmed, you’ll just lose before you can deploy ponderous
spells like Glimmer of Genius. If you do have the low end to handle the
swarms, you’ll have to handle disparate sledgehammer threats like
Glorybringer, Hazoret, Karn, Chandra, Rekindling Phoenix, God-Pharaoh’s
Gift, and even big Walking Ballistas. Simply put, the time for B/U Midrange
slinging Champion of Wits is over. The time for Grixis Energy slinging
Whirler Virtuoso is over. Three mana is too much to be spending on those
effects, especially when you’re not accelerating anything out or playing
other massively undercosted threats on turns one and two.

Fear not, though. There is still innovation to be had in this new world of
low-cost threats and the immediate need to get a battlefield presence as
quickly as possible. For all the talk of great one-mana cards, one has been
going under the radar in nearly all the set reviews out there. It’s been a
part of several broken strategies before, but there’s little respect given
to the Skirk Prospector. Consider this start, though:

If you found another Celebrant combo piece in any of your Minister mills,
you immediately win the game with a combo kill. If not, you merely attack
your opponent for 16 and have the win the subsequent turn.

This type of potential is not to be ignored. A single Prospector on the
battlefield means that your opponent is often going to have to play scared
even if you only have three lands on the battlefield. Incredible. Mono-Red
Goblin Gift could be a deck, and if there are more Goblins printed in
upcoming sets I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take off. As it stands,
we’re more likely to play U/R Gift with Goblin Chainwhirlers and a lighter
blue splash, but the potential is there. Mixing two of the dominant three
shells into one archetype, by mashing up Chainwhirler Red and God-Pharaoh’s
Gift, could be the secret sauce to true domination.

It might be desirable to go with an even lighter blue splash, losing
Minister of Inquiries and Warkite Marauder (and even Champion of Wits!) in
favor of Glorybringers or Siege-Gang Commanders in the main deck and the
fourth Chainwhirler. A few Trophy Mages for improved Gate-finding
capabilities might just be the only blue you need, if you even want to have
blue in the deck at all.

Standard is a breakable format. The major players are in front of you. The
principles are clear. The flagship cards are here, and they’re ready to
rumble. Suerte!

SCG Prerelease Playmats!