Taking A Swipe At Dominaria: Part 5!

We’re still swiping up a storm over Dominaria! In today’s Taking A Swipe, Matthias Hunt and Ryan Overturf take a break from their SCG Atlanta commentator prep to pass judgment on ten notable cards from the new set!

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[Welcome back to Taking A Swipe, Dominaria edition! Today, Matthias Hunt and Ryan Overturf analyze ten of Dominaria’s most remarkable cards, Tinder-style, by either Swiping Right (that’s good!) or Swiping Left (that’s bad!). And just like Tinder, both Matthias and Ryan are allowed one Super Like to let that card immediately know that they’re a big fan!]

Matthias Swipes Left: This is the first card I’m looking at today and it’s an ugly one. Cabal Stronghold filled out its profile way too fast when it probably shouldn’t even be on the app in the first place. The card reeks of desperation and it should probably go work on itself before it tries to get in a deck again.

Cabal Stronghold was trying to be appealing by offering extra mana. Except it isn’t. Even in an ideal situation where I have one Cabal Stronghold on the battlefield and every single other land is a basic Swamp, this card isn’t giving me extra mana until I have six lands on the battlefield.

I get to cast my seven-drop a turn early? That’s the best you can offer? Don’t even get me started on how it gets worse if I happen to draw two copies of Cabal Stronghold instead of exactly one in my mono-black deck. I can’t even cheat this card using Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.

Hard pass.

Ryan Swipes Left. This one reminds me of one of my exes, but is somehow even more basic. The world has so much more to it than the Swamp you’re from. Playing games at the kitchen table of the house you grew up in is a fine way to spend an afternoon, but personally I’ve over it. There are just too many exotic lands available for Standard play for me to be interested in mudding with a bunch of townies.

Matthias Swipes Right. Okay, so Phyrexian Scriptures is mythic, which I always like. It seems to know what it wants to do and it’s reasonably good at doing it. I’m not sure about that first ability; I hate playing creatures in my control decks, but I get that I might be old-fashioned in this regard. But I’ve had a lot of good times with sweepers at four mana, and that part where we started talking about exiling creatures after we destroy them? I like it when cards talk dirty to me.

Phyrexian Scriptures is going to play more like a five-mana sweeper than a four-mana one, since it waits a turn before destroying the battlefield, but I think it makes up for it in utility. The fact that you can save one of your creatures makes it worth the wait and I could see this card being excellent in a midrange deck that’s heavy on artifacts.

Scrapheap Scrounger and Walking Ballista could play well here.

Ryan Swipes Left. Phyrexian Scriptures has a really intriguing profile picture, but a good aesthetic does not a good companion make. The card is a Damnation in the same way that self-hosted bloggers are “entrepreneurs.” Damnation held a steady job and was the kind of card that you could list as your emergency contact. Phyrexian Scriptures is the sort of card that bemoans not being invited to the party yet is somehow never available when you need it.

Matthias Swipes Left. I let this one sit on the screen for longer than it had any business being there. I would open the app, get to Rona, think for a while, and then close the app without deciding. This would happen each time Rona showed up and eventually I realized that, while I didn’t want to swipe left, I was never going to swipe right.

I want Rona to be good because I want to have a deck that leaves up a bunch of mana every turn and does literally nothing but draw cards. The fact that I could buy back a planeswalker or even a Traveler’s Amulet seemed great, though I really didn’t like the fact that Rona had to survive for me to cast the extra card. Four mana to “draw a card” was also tempting, but there are a lot better things that blue decks can do with four mana, like cast Glimmer of Genius or activate The Scarab God.

While I like everything the card stands for, I also recognize that it’s just not going to see play.

Ryan Swipes Right. Rona is subtle, and that does a lot for me. Rona doesn’t exactly draw a card, yet kind of does, so I’m going to chalk that up as a shared interest. I’m sure that we could talk for hours about value and the lengths that we would go to generate card advantage. I get the impression that Rona spends too much time on their hair and probably spends too much mana to exile random cards, so I could see us not working out in the long run, but nonetheless I would like to get to know them.

Matthias Super Likes! It’s an unavoidable truth in these sorts of apps that 10% of the cards get 90% of the likes, but when you see a card like Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering, it just makes sense. This is kind of card that I don’t want to swipe on right away, because once I swipe right, I can’t see its pictures anymore. This card can have up to ten mana of value packed into a five-mana spell, which is terrifying for control and midrange opponents alike. Even if Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering just destroyed and reanimated creatures, I would’ve given it a Super Like, but it does more than that by allowing me to hit planeswalkers.

Midrange mirrors often come down to casting “battlecruisers” into each other, and this one will top all the rest. Destroy your Liliana and reanimate your Gearhulk? Good luck coming back from that one. This is the type of spell that’s powerful enough to make me want to change my list around to be sure I can always cast it.

Ryan Swipes Right. I never had a Goth phase, which makes it really difficult to connect with Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering, as it clearly never outgrew its own. I do strongly identify with the desire to destroy planeswalkers, though. At the very least, I would rather destroy planeswalkers than go camping.

The Legendary Sorcery clause means that Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering won’t be the most available, but compromise is just part of dating. It can be difficult to find somebody who enjoys two-for-ones as much as I do, and I’m inclined to believe that this compromise could be well worth it. I’d be willing to squeeze a copy of Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering into my Standard decks, and who knows? Maybe over time that number could grow.

Matthias Swipes Right. It’s only fitting that this card comes up right after Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering, because now I must reflect on whether I punted with my Super Like. Sure, Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering was great, but everyone is going to Super Like it and I probably won’t get a match. Shalai is the type of card that I want to send a Super Like at as well because I can see this card being a sleeper in the set.

As a 3/4 Angel for four mana, Shalai is attractive enough. These cards have seen play before if their abilities are good enough (Linvala, Keeper of Silence and Restoration Angel), and honestly, I think Shalai’s are. Giving all your creatures hexproof is nothing to scoff at in current Standard. Very few decks play true sweepers now, so if they’re going to try to mow down your battlefield, they will have to start here, which gives you the chance to strand cards like Abrade and Magma Spray. What’s more is that they will have to do this quickly because Shalai’s second ability can give an otherwise low-to-the-ground deck a way to quickly end the game.

Just like Gavony Township, Shalai will give your G/W deck a way to make sure your extra Llanowar Elves won’t go to waste.

Ryan Swipes Right. Shalai just… sounds like a G/W card.

I’m not likely to send the first message here, but a 3/4 flying body definitely has me looking. I’ll have to roll my eyes at every mention of hexproof, though I do have respect for the mechanic, even if I find it generally inelegant. I don’t often find myself with an abundance of green mana, though for the times when I do having a reliable use for it is definitely welcome. In particular, if it makes my battlefield look better than my opponent’s, I’m all for it. I am loathing to admit that Shalai is likely to be a part of a powerful G/W/x Standard deck, but I’m not so particular that I wouldn’t hit Shalai up if this turned out to be the case.

Matthias Swipes Right. Not every swiping decision takes all that long for me. Syncopate isn’t terribly exciting, but we’ve dated in the past and it was a good time. I don’t see myself ever making a playset-level commitment to the card, but I’d play two of it on Friday night.

Right now, U/B Control is trying to ignore text boxes and counter cards at every point of the curve. Fatal Push is at one, Disallow is at three, Vraska’s Contempt is at four, and eventually Torrential Gearhulk is at six. The two-mana spot can be hit-or-miss, as a lot of players maindeck copies of Negate and Essence Scatter, hoping to hit the right type of card that turn. Syncopate will let control do both. It’s a nice type of counterspell to have exactly one of in your hand just in case the other removal doesn’t line up perfectly and that’s why I think we’ll see players put a couple of copies in the deck.

It won’t be flashy, but it will help things run that much smoother.

Ryan Super Likes! Now this is a refreshingly honest bio. I’m so sick of all of these “travelers” and “adventures” and am so happy at the idea of somebody else who just wants to do nothing. Let’s just sit on the couch, pass the turn, and tap all our mana if and only if our opponent makes us. I’m very tired of maindecking wannabe do-nothing cards like Negate and Essence Scatter and can’t wait to team up with another context-agnostic draw-go enthusiast.

I’m already daydreaming about picking out our 27th land together.

Matthias Swipes Left. Jaya’s Immolating Inferno’s selfie game is really strong, because at first, I thought I might have to upgrade to Dominaria Plus just to get another Super Like, but the more I read it, the less impressed I became. It was clear that I was looking for the card to be good because that’s what I saw at first, but in reality, it’s a pretty basic red sweeper.

Is this card even better than Lavalanche? You get a one-mana discount, but in return, it will get stuck in your hand unless you have a legendary creature on the battlefield. Also, Lavalanche was terrible. I think players will try to curve Hazoret into this and will probably win when they do, but that has more to do with Hazoret than Jaya’s Immolating Inferno.

For a mythic rare, this falls flat for me.

Ryan Swipes Left. I’m not trying to get with anybody who only knows Jaya Ballard’s most recent stuff. If you can’t name any of her deep cuts, then don’t call yourself a fan. Jaya’s Immolating Inferno is just trying way too hard to be cool and lacks the finesse of the finest red cards. Periodically a blunt red spell turns out to be great, and sometimes it even has a wacky border like Bonfire of the Damned, but Jaya’s Immolating Inferno is nothing more than a poser.

Matthias Swipes Left. Too needy.

I’m a pretty big fan of spell-lands, especially when they’re green because they tend to play well with a certain Titan. This effect looks good on a land, but 2G is just too much to be paying. If you still have any cards in your hand, it’s unlikely that sacrificing Memorial to Unity is going to be your best play, and if you’re out of cards, then it’s unlikely that taking a turn off to draw a creature is going to stop you from losing. When we start comparing Memorial to Unity to other lands with expensive activations, like Buried Ruin, Field of Ruin, Cradle of the Accursed, Hashep Oasis, or Scavenger Grounds, it just doesn’t impress at all.

Ryan Swipes Right. Memorial to Unity likes to enter the battlefield tapped and takes things slow, which is fine by me, as I’m not trying to rush into anything. Lands that generate value are very much my type, and this has only become truer as Standard has become more midrange. It’s a little into creatures for my liking, but that’s not expressly a deal-breaker. I would definitely take Memorial to Unity out to try out a new mono-green Standard deck.

Matthias Swipes Left. Adeliz takes everyone on the exact same first date. Soul-Scar Mage, Stormchaser Mage, and Lightning Bolts add up to an evening of fun, but it never amounts to anything. I could swipe right and figure it out for myself, but it’s easier just to see the guy next to me go through it. The warning signs are all there and I’ll be able to see that Adeliz isn’t really relationship material from afar.

The U/R Prowess deck is likely better without Adeliz, and that leaves Adeliz nowhere to go.

Ryan Swipes Left. Maybe someday “Wizards Tribal” will be a phrase that means something other than wishful thinking and casual brews, but as things are, my taste is a little too refined to take an interest in it.

If Adeliz were more honest, she would own the fact that she’s really just a fancy prowess creature that’s in some ways better but most ways worse. The combination of creature type mattering with more limited prowess is just way too closed-minded and restrictive. Perhaps more sets will come to make these restrictive interests more viable, though for now Adeliz is a starry-eyed dreamer that would clash heavily with my jaded personality.

Matthias Swipes Left And Is Very Confused. What game are we playing? Am I on the right app? This is one of those profiles that has me asking all sorts of questions. It’s like when you see someone post a full resume on their dating profile. I had to double-check the URL just to be sure that I wasn’t on LinkedIn.

Naru Meha wants us to cast a 3/3 for four to copy our own spell while it’s on the stack, so that means we’re going to need at least five mana (but preferably more) and be interested in an undersized creature. This means we’re some sort of value deck that wants to play a Twincast effect, which is already new territory, as most decks interested in copying spells don’t care at all about creatures. We also probably need to be a ramp deck to have enough mana to use this well, as we’re paying two more than retail price for a Twincast.

I almost forgot, Naru Meha would really like it if we put a bunch of other Wizards in our deck too so that we can…. turn them sideways? That’s definitely not a thing. It’s best just to swipe left here.

Ryan Swipes Left. Jeez, the internet is filthy with “Wizards Tribal” enthusiasts today. I value honesty way too highly to be interested in Naru Meha. A Hill Giant with flash is nothing inspiring, and one that pretends to have additional text is just insulting. If she were any good at copying spells, she’d be able to copy the opponent’s spells!

I had a really bad date with Dualcaster Mage recently and Naru Meha really doesn’t seem different in any way that would lead me to believe that I would enjoy my time with her.

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