As is becoming a tradition here on StarCityGames.com, another Pro Tour
means another predictions article! I’ve done fairly well so far on these,
with only one failing grade out of the last four Pro Tours:
Pro Tour Amonkhet –
3.5 out of 5
Pro Tour Hour of Devastation –
2.5 out of 5
Pro Tour Ixalan –
4 out of 5
Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan –
4 out of 5
And now we’re back once more for our shot at Pro Tour Dominaria.
This Pro Tour is a little different than recent Standard Pro Tours because
it’s happening a reasonable distance from the set’s release, and with that
in mind we get to our predictions:
Prediction One: No Deck Will Comprise More Than 20% Of The Field On Day 1
We’re in for an awesome Pro Tour.
In its first few weeks, Dominaria Standard has proven to be a
dynamic and exciting format. We’ve seen a ton of new and powerful cards
make major impacts, as well as a revolving door of different archetypes
vying for the top spot in the format. There’s counter play to most
strategies that have arisen, as well as a large amount of great sideboard
options to shore up difficult matchups.
This is a far cry from the last Standard Pro Tour, where we saw various
Attune With Aether-based Energy decks make up almost half of the field and
lead to another in a long line of Standard bannings.
To put it mildly, recent Standard up until this point had been an almost
This was the fourth round of bannings attempting to fix it and while it was
successful in doing so, the damage had been done. Over a year of dreadful
Standard formats, poor tournament attendance, and FNMs not getting enough
players to fire had left the player base extremely disillusioned with
Standard. Stores stopped running Standard events, and the SCG Tour (much to
my chagrin) went as far to basically remove Standard as a supported format.
It takes time to regain confidence in a format and we’re in the healing
Pro Tour Dominaria will go a long way towards healing those
Prediction Two: There Will Be More Than 40 Mountains In The Top 8
While there will be a good amount of diversity and excitement abound at the
Pro Tour, there’s no denying “
the best card in Dominaria
I’ve already spoken
at great length
of the effects that Goblin Chainwhirler would have on Standard and we are
seeing that play out now. As one of the key cards in R/B Aggro and Mono-Red
Aggro, Goblin Chainwhirler has made life as a one-toughness creature almost
unpalatable. Of course, Goblin Chainwhirler comes with its own
requirements: you need to play a metric ton of Mountains.
Thankfully, Standard has no shortage of awesome red cards.
Aside from the usual Mono-Red Aggro fare like Bomat Courier and Lightning
Strike, the trifecta of Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Glorybringer, and
Rekindling Phoenix form one of the most powerful groups of cards in the
format. Mono-Red Aggro is still poised to be a powerful deck in the format,
and R/B Aggro enters Pro Tour Dominaria as one of the format’s top
contenders. It would also not be surprising to see any of these three
powerhouse red cards in other decks either.
No matter what, there will be plenty of players seeing red Sunday morning
Prediction Three: At Least Two Decks In The Top 8 Will Be Playing Karn, Scion
Of Urza And Treasure Map Maindeck
, I praised Treasure Map for being a criminally underplayed card in
Standard, and today I put my money where my mouth is.
There’s no doubting that Karn, Scion of Urza is one of the most powerful
and easy to play cards in Dominaria, and finding the right shell
for him must have been one of the top priorities for anyone testing for
this Pro Tour. So far we’ve been most likely to see him alongside Heart of
Kiran, but there’s another two mana artifact that isn’t vulnerable to
removal spells and forms quite the potent engine with Karn in Treasure Map.
Both cards provide card advantage for decks or colors that may not usually
get it (also known as non-blue decks) and do so in a way that is extremely
synergistic. Treasure Map stands to flip on turn five for only one mana,
leaving you with four mana left over to play Karn and immediately make a
4/4 Construct token.
That’s awesome! If you’ve been doing something in the
interim that interacts with what your opponent is doing, you now have a
planeswalker, a threatening creature ready to attack or defend, a dual card
advantage engine, and a bunch of extra mana. Furthermore, this combination
can go into any deck!
We’ve seen Karn riding in the Heart of Kiran a lot lately, but that’s just
because figuring out the good threats is always easier than figuring out
the good answers. A deck based around the Karn and Treasure Map pairing and
suited up with all the proper answers the format has to offer may just be
the solution to the format.
Prediction Four: There Will Be At Least One Mono-Black (Or Nearly
Mono-Black) Deck In The Top 8, With Nary A Dread Shade Or Cabal Stronghold In Sight
Piggybacking off of the previous prediction, Mono-Black Control (maybe with
a splash) may be one of the best places for the Karn / Treasure Map engine
to take flight.
There’s no denying that black has some of the best removal spells in the
format. Fatal Push is one of the best early game removal spells of all
time, while Vraska’s Contempt handles just about every big threat the
format has to offer. Other role players like Ravenous Chupacabra and Cast
Down help to fill in the holes, leaving black with the ability to handle
almost any threat.
The question is which deck wants access to all this removal?
We’ve seen black removal used to clear blockers in G/B Constrictor decks,
as well as keep the battlefield clear in U/B Control decks, but there’s no
clear consensus as to what the best black deck is at the moment. The Scarab
God has gone from “format terror” to MIA in a very short period of time,
and most black decks seem to lack the focus of the aggressive Goblin
Chainwhirler decks or the glacial U/W Control decks.
The Karn plus Treasure Map engine gives these black decks a unique and
powerful card draw engine that can also end games while being resistant to
many of the format’s removal spells. However, there’s another planeswalker
that needs some attention too:
Liliana, Death’s Majesty is the other half of the Mono-Black Control
puzzle, forming another powerful and synergistic connection with Gonti,
Lord of Luxury (and to a lesser extent, Ravenous Chupacabra). Liliana, like
Karn, is another difficult to remove and powerful planeswalker that’s easy
to set up with a lot of removal and/or discard spells, and also provides a
steady stream of cards and threats in conjunction with Gonti. Furthermore,
Gonti offers the unique ability for the Mono-Black deck to answer problem
cards like artifacts, enchantments, and spells by letting it steal your
opponent’s copies of Cast Out and Disallow to use against them.
The tools are there, and when put together they form quite the resilient
midrange pile of cards.
However, don’t go looking for the Cabal Coffers and Nantuko Shade wannabes
anywhere in top 8. Just because someone is playing Mono-Black Control
doesn’t mean they need to reach for relics from the past. Planeswalkers are
where it’s at in 2018 Standard, and planeswalkers is where Mono-Black
Control needs to go to succeed.
Prediction Five: There Will Be A Copy Of Metallic Rebuke In The Top 8
I always like to take a leap with one of my predictions, and my last one
here is one I just have a gut feeling on. Whereas I can pinpoint exactly
why I think there will be so many Mountains or Karns in the top 8 of Pro
Tour Dominaria, all I have when it comes to Metallic Rebuke is
Metallic Rebuke is a sweet and powerful card, but hasn’t found much success
in Standard. Most Vehicle decks don’t end up blue, and it can be hard to
put non-threat, non-removal cards into them. Furthermore, most Heart of
Kiran decks end up playing Scrapheap Scrounger, which means they can just
use black removal to answer threats and black discard if necessary to
answer problem cards.
Yet, I can’t help but want to scratch the Metallic Rebuke itch.
We’ve got two pure artifact sets in Standard in Kaladesh and Aether Revolt, and now with Dominaria entering the fray
there are even more cards that care about artifacts and historic cards. New
cards like The Antiquities War and Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp are temping us
into playing more artifacts, and that’s to say nothing of Karn, Scion of
Urza. Karn is fine on his own, but if you’re able to use his -2 to ability
to make a sizable threat, he jumps up into the stratosphere in power level.
Karn is a big deal and finding cards that work well with him is important.
There’s been a lot of Metallic Rebuke murmurs in Magic Online competitive
Leagues, some of which are downright intriguing:
We’ve got new “never quite got there before” improvise decks based around
Herald of Anguish and The Antiquities War…
- 3 Scrap Trawler
- 4 Metallic Mimic
- 4 Merchant's Dockhand
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 4 Tempest Djinn
- 2 Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp
- 4 Artificer's Assistant
- 20 Island
- 2 Zhalfirin Void
…aggressive Mono-Blue beatdown decks looking to leverage Heart of Kiran
and Karn alongside other Dominaria standouts like Tempest Djinn…
…and truly wild brews like this Standard Storm deck.
There’s also the option of a more traditional Heart of Kiran-based vehicles
deck simply splashing for a few counterspells – it’s not that hard
to add a color to R/B or W/B Aggro with Spire of Industry, and sideboarded
counterspells could help shore up the UW Control matchup.
I don’t know where it will be, either as a maindeck playset or a one-of in
a sideboard, but Metallic Rebuke will be playing on Sunday in Richmond in
some way, shape, or form.
The Dawn Of Pro Tour Dominaria
As you’re reading this, Pro Tour Dominaria should already be
underway, and we’re going to find out pretty quick how right or wrong I may
Will one of the pro teams break it and take the tournament by storm? Will
Karn, Scion of Urza be everywhere? Will anyone be able to play a creature
with only one toughness and feel good about it?
All will be answered, and hopefully I’ll be right!