People are already calling it the best Magic set ever. It doesn’t matter if that’s going to end up as the truth or not, Dominaria is great, and there are piles upon piles of cards which are going to make it into your Commander decks.
For me, it’s going to be difficult to top the 42 cards that made it into decks from Rivals of Ixalan, but no great thing is ever easy. There are a few issues getting that many cards into existing decks. First and foremost is that there’s not all that much room. Some of these decks are between five and ten years old, and they’ve been updated to within an inch of their lives. Squeezing more in becomes quite problematic, which is why I’ll go into less detail about what I’m taking out; the majority of the time, the answer is “to make room.” When it’s particularly relevant, I’ll mention it.
Second is that many of the outstanding cards from Dominaria are legendary creatures which merit building decks of their own around them. Nothing’s stopping me from doing both save my own self-induced limitations. You can be sure Muldrotha, the Gravetide is both getting a deck of its own and going elsewhere, but for the most part, it’s only one copy of a new card for me. And Tatyova, Benthic Druid. Don’t forget Tatyova. That card is bonkers.
There are quite a few other cards which I want to play in new decks in addition to the commanders. For example, there’s a Knight deck featuring Benalish Marshal; Danitha Capashen, Paragon; Dauntless Bodyguard, History of Benalia, and Kwende, Pride of Femeref, among others. There’s also a non-annoying Wizard deck with Naban, Dean of Iteration and Naru Meha, Master Wizard. Today, we’ll talk only about what’s going into the existing closetful of decks, although I might make occasional reference to what could be coming down the road. For now, let’s just jump into the Dominaria pond.
Into: Rith’s Tokens
For: Acidic Slime
We’re getting completely Soldiery here. A little protection against attacks is right on when we don’t have Darien, King of Kjeldor on the battlefield as well. We’ll take care of artifacts and enchantments with Aura Shards, so Acidic Slime, being not a Soldier, is the casualty.
Into: Saskia Unyielding
For: Wilderness Elemental
I had to think long and hard about which deck that I have gains the most life. That’s Trostani and her Angels, but Halcyon Witness doesn’t fit the tribe. Next up is Halloween with Karador, but the card simply doesn’t otherwise fit into the deck. It came down to the most shenanigans-worthy deck, and that’s Saskia Unyielding. I’m going to count on the deck’s relative aggression to have people make a devil’s choice about which damage to take. Having a damage doubler like Gisela, Blade of Goldnight at my command (which also offers some defense) makes Evra potentially lethal.
Into: Trostani and Her Angels
For: Herald of War
If I were to have built a new card for this deck myself, I don’t think I could have come up with much better than Lyra. Much of the deck’s lifegain is about making sure Trostani triggers. With Lyra, we have a backup plan which makes everyone just a little more dangerous. I’ve considered adding hidden gem Lashknife Barrier as well, making Angels that much harder to kill, but that will take a little more deep thought.
Into: Trostani and Her Angels
For: Sylvan Library
I’m not sure if I can handle the Angels getting that much better. Eventually I feel like I’m going to need to split them into two different decks like I did with Lord of Tresserhorn and Gisa and Geralf.
Into: Children of a Greater God
For: Akroma’s Vengeance
Urza’s Ruinous Blast might lead to further retooling of the deck to make even more things legendary. For now, its basis in the Gods will render the Blast strong enough, because exile is definitely a thing in Commander.
Into: Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind
For: Time Warp
The Time Warp upgrade is happening. I’m only too happy to spend the one extra mana to bounce something. Plus, I appreciate that the spell exiles itself so that there is no tomfoolery with arbitrarily large numbers of extra turns.
Into: Dreaming of Intet
For: Rhystic Study
The Mirari Conjecture goes into the deck with the most instants and sorceries (21 in all), which also happens to like copying spells. One of the main win conditions is copying Comet Storm with Pyromancer’s Goggles; more copies means less mana required. Plus, it’s in the running for coolest card name ever, and the art is out of this world. And you know exactly why Rhystic Study is going out. It’s the most annoying card in all of Magic (despite its extreme goodness).
Into: Thassa, God of Merfolk
For: Tidespout Tyrant
Even though Slinn Voda is a giant Leviathan, it’s still ruled by Thassa, God of the Sea. Slinn Voda provides the kind of big, splashy battlefield control that the deck is missing. Tidespout Tyrant is a casualty of my mood today, which involves getting rid of irritating cards. Is it strong in a deck that casts many small spells? Absolutely. Do I want to do that to my friends? Not all the time.
Into: Demons of Kaalia
For: Grab the Reins
All hail Demonlord Belzenlok and his ability to put loads of cards into your hand! In my Kaalia deck, only fourteen of the deck’s 62 nonland cards will stop the process from repeating. Many of the ones which would stop it are mana rocks like Boros Signet and Darksteel Ingot, meaning they’re already likely to be on the battlefield before I cast Belzenlok. I predict I’m not the only Commander player in a similar (burning with demonfire) boat.
Into: Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind
For: Black Sun’s Zenith
Lazav likes for you to put creatures from anywhere, so the sacrifice and discard angles are right up its alley. Returning anything previously sent to an early grave is some of what the deck is all about, so The Eldest Reborn becomes a perfect fit into the 99. Plus, cool names are cool. You can pretty much put anything dramatic in place of “Eldest” and have it be awesome. The Starchild Reborn. The Dragon Priest Reborn. See where I’m headed?
Into: Halloween with Karador
For: Yahenni, Undying Partisan
Regular readers know I’m not much on tutors, but being able to put something into the graveyard is just too good an offer to pass up. I have a feeling it’s one I’ll play with for a while and then give up on because tutors lead to too much similarity in games—desirable in a competitive environment, less so with Commander.
Into: Rakdos Reimagined
For: Purphoros, God of the Forge
We’re all about hitting the tribal theme on as many angles as we possibly can. With other damage-dealers like Olivia Voldaren already in the deck, this nice throwback to the original Sengir Vampire is a natural fit—and also makes me want to play Earthquake.
Into: Kresh Into the Red Zone
For: Flaring Pain
The challenge of where to put Phyrexian Scriptures came from having a black deck that didn’t want to make use of opponents’ graveyards. The answer came in Kresh, because while I love my graveyard, you having one is awkward. If I happen to have Stalking Vengeance on the battlefield, so much the better (although I have to say that one’s killed enough other players over the years that it might be getting close to retirement).
Into: Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over
I’m not much of a Superfriends player—not because I dislike planeswalkers, simply because I haven’t built one yet—so I needed to search on the deck with black in it that has the hightest planeswalker count. That would be the Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over, which has Elspeth, Knight-Errant; Elspeth, Sun’s Champion; and Liliana Vess. Exiling a creature is great. Getting closer to that ultimate on any of them is amazing.
Into: Kresh Do-Over
Take out one creature sacrifice for another. The reason Whisper goes into the Kresh Do-Over deck is that it likes to create lots of tokens. Sometimes, you want something to do with those tokens, especially the ones created by Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder—since if you have too many of them, they overwhelm him and he goes away. With lots of creatures with great enters-the-battlefield triggers, Whisper will end up being pretty loud.
Into: The Mill-Meoplasm
Black deck with Riftsweeper? Check. Deck that likes to put all kinds of stuff in everyone’s graveyard? Double check.
Into: Children of a Greater God
I’m thinking we just kill people with fire to the face instead of reanimating all their creatures. I’m certainly nearly always going to have a legendary creature on the battlefield, so the condition isn’t that much of a condition at all.
Into: Adun’s Toolbox
For: Archfiend of Ifnir
This Multani had what the original did not: a way to get past chump blockers. This one will never get as large as its predecessor, but it will certainly always be worth the six mana. It’s a card to use in a deck with both good fetchlands (like Misty Rainforest) and their less expensive cousins, like the ones in this deck (such as Terramorphic Expanse).
Into: Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky
For: Flameblast Dragon
It seemed to me that it’s been quite a while since I added any cards to this turn. Turns out that I was right; my configuration control document tells me that the last card added was Patriarch’s Bidding in August 2015. There have certainly been Dragons since then, but maybe just none good enough for Karrthus (or in the right colors, now that Dragons can be anything).
Into: The Threat of Yasova
For: Molten Primordial
You can’t quite use the mana from Radha to pay for Yasova Dragonclaw’s beginning-of-combat triggered ability—unless, of course, you’re generating additional combat steps. Then, since you don’t lose the mana as steps and phases end, you’re in the clear. There also has to be a combo with Hellkite Charger and enough attacking creatures to go large enough to kill everyone, although I suspect the conditions for that will be sufficiently rare as to not have to worry about it.
Into: The Mill-Meoplasm
For: Eternal Witness
Who needs to put cards back into your hand when you can just cast them right out of the graveyard (well, if they’re not permanents, sure, but you get my drift)? Muldrotha is so absurdly absurd that I’m just going to repeat “absurd” again. It’ll probably lead me to drop some fetchlands back into the deck—or just save them for when I build one with Muldrotha as the commander. A brother only has so many fetches.
Into: Lavinia Blinks
For: Azorius Charm
Oath of Teferi does more of what the blink deck already wants to do, plus it adds something crazy when you cast planeswalkers. This deck has two in it already, but as you’ll shortly see, it’s about to get a third. Brainstorming twice a turn with Jace, the Mind Sculptor is fine. Plussing up Venser, the Sojourner twice and then getting the emblem the following turn is insane. Add to that two activations of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and we’ve gotten into a state of ecstasy.
Into: Karador Do-Over
For: Primeval Bounty
I want to take Shanna out for a test drive before I give her her own Vehicle. A deck that creates lots of creatures seems like the right choice. I imagine she’ll see lots of play in decks led by Ghave, Guru of Spores, which is a component of this deck.
Into: Ikra and Kydele
For: Doomed Necromancer
I almost wrote “Into: Every deck ever!” but I’m a jillion times less likely than anyone to resort to hyperbole. It’s going into Ikra and Kydele because it’s the deck I’ve most enjoyed playing recently. My first thought was “Best card goes into best deck, so it’s Intet,” but that seemed more reductive than I like. I know that, like many of you, I’m going to enjoy Tatyova plus Oracle of Mul Daya plus Coiling Oracle plus…well, lots of cards.
Into: Lavinia Blinks
For: Frost Titan
Even without Oath of Teferi, this card is amazing. In a deck like this that can protect it, you could be well on your way to firmly establishing battlefield control in no time. My only reservation is that it could be a bit of a feels-bad card in a more casual setting, so I’m going to make sure that I tread carefully with it.
Into: Animar’s Swarm
For: Conjurer’s Closet
I mean, if we’re going to be dumb, let’s just put Blackblade Reforged into a deck that also has Sword of the Animist in it, right? I said it a few weeks ago, and I’ll say it again: I love the flavor of the card. There’s a great creative story to tell about why it’s easier for a legendary creature to pick up Blackblade Reforged, and we can to some extent tell that story in Commander.
Speaking of stories, here’s another one to tell. I don’t yet have a deck this goes into, but I want to give even more shout-outs to the creative team on this card. The Vorthos in me is very happy.
Into: Nath of the Value Leaf
Seems like I’ve done quite a bit of searching on specific cards to go with cards from Dominaria. Shield of the Realm is one of them, and the card I searched for is Thrashing Wumpus. Go ahead, I’ll wait while you look it up. Pretty cool, huh? Also play it in your decks with Pestilence, Pyrohemia, and Pestilence Demon.
While 27 cards isn’t quite 42, it’s still a pretty good spread. Combine that with the fact that there are lots of Dominaria cards which suggest their own builds and others that go into them, I’ll probably catch up. You know you’ll be seeing lots of cards from the set on the Commander tables near you—and not just because the set is new, but because it’s most excellent.
Deck Without Comment will return next week.
Check out our comprehensive Deck List Database for lists of all my decks:
Purple Hippos and Maro Sorcerers; Kresh Into the Red Zone; Halloween with Karador; Dreaming of Intet; You Did This to Yourself.
THE CHROMATIC PROJECT
Heliod, God of Enchantments; Thassa, God of Merfolk; Erebos and the Halls Of The Dead; Forge of Purphoros; Nylea of the Woodland Realm; Karn Evil No. 9.
Lavinia Blinks; Obzedat, Ghost Killer; Aurelia Goes to War; Trostani and Her Angels; Lazav, Shapeshifting Mastermind; Zegana and a Dice Bag; Rakdos Reimagined; Glissa, Glissa; Ruric Thar and His Beastly Fight Club; Gisa and Geralf Together Forever.
Shards and Wedges
Adun’s Toolbox; Angry, Angry Dinos; Animar’s Swarm; Borrowing Stuff at Cutlass Point; Ikra and Kydele; Karrthus, Who Rains Fire From The Sky; Demons of Kaalia; Merieke’s Esper Dragons; Nath of the Value Leaf; Rith’s Tokens; The Mill-Meoplasm; The Altar of Thraximundar; The Threat of Yasova; Zombies of Tresserhorn.
Yidris: Money for Nothing, Cards for Free; Saskia Unyielding; Breya Reshaped.
Tana and Kydele; Kynaios and Tiro; Ikra and Kydele.
THE DO-OVER PROJECT
Adun Oakenshield Do-Over; Animar Do-Over; Glissa Do-Over; Karador Do-Over; Karador Version 3; Karrthus Do-Over; Kresh Do-Over; Steam-Powered Merieke Do-Over; Lord of Tresserhorn Do-Over; Mimeoplasm Do-Over; Phelddagrif Do-Over; Rith Do-Over; Ruhan Do-Over.
If you’d like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that’s been alive since 1987) which is just beginning the saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor, ask for an invitation to the Facebook group “Sheldon Menery’s Monday Night Gamers.”