What’s Possible With Dominaria

Gerry Thompson has some big words to say about Dominaria. There are new angles no one is seeing, and fortunately, Gerry is! He’s got plenty of decklists to start Standard off with once we go back to Magic’s future!

has the potential to usher in a new golden age of Standard, and Magic in
general, especially with a new core set immediately after. We’ve seen half
of Dominaria at this point and the sheer amount of playable cards
is almost overwhelming. I don’t think Standard will ever
be shaken up as much by a single new set than with this one.

First, some quick hits:

  • Unless Standard dramatically speeds up, WotC is going to regret
    reprinting Llanowar Elves. Games where you’re on the draw and
    facing down a Llanowar Elves aren’t particularly close. Regardless,
    they aren’t particularly fun, as your opponent tends to have a
    sizable advantage thanks to the mana boost. If you’re staring down
    a 5/4 before you play your second land, there’s only so much you
    can do. That said, Dominaria is exactly the place to do
    some cool stuff, and Llanowar Elves qualifies. People will have fun
    with it (if they’re not on the receiving end), and they’ll be glad
    to relive some of the nostalgia. Hopefully this doesn’t become a
    regular occurrence though.
  • The new legend frame is excellent.
  • Enemy checklands are rad. Enemy-colored decks definitely needed the
    manabase help. In general, I’d be happier with more dual lands than
    fewer. With eight great dual lands for each color combination and
    the deserts to fill in the gaps, our manabases are finally
  • Sagas are going to function like miniature planeswalkers. You’ll
    typically get a quick burst of something happening, and then
    they’ll vanish. In the meantime, they are much more difficult to
    remove, but main deck Disenchants could easily become a thing.
    Artifact and enchantment support are both very real in this set. If
    anything, main deck Spell Pierce just got a whole lot better.

I’ll start with the scourge of Dominaria.

Elves, as a tribe, has the same issue as Knights. Right now, there aren’t
many in Standard. I would expect Dominaria to provide more
support, and then hopefully we can add things like Marwyn, the Nurturer to
this sort of deck. The versions that are popular right now feature
Wildgrowth Walker alongside the explore creatures to stay alive, but
Llanowar Elves and Song of Freyalise should speed up the deck to the point
where you don’t need the help. If you do end up needing some help, you can
always try summoning Lyra Dawnbringer.

Anyway, a G/W go-wide strategy is already solid enough with Shanna, Sisay’s
Legacy, but having Growing Rites of Itlimoc and Song of Freyalise to build
up to Ajani Unyielding, Walking Ballista, and Tishana, Voice of Thunder is
another nice incentive. Maybe Tishana is a bit ambitious, especially
considering there are other options for expensive payoffs and there’s no
way to cast her without Song of Freyalise. Still, Tishana is one of the
more powerful things to do if you happen to have both a pile of creatures
and mana lying around.

Decks like this could potentially sideboard Fall of the Thran for control
decks, which could be interesting. I wouldn’t expect them to necessarily
let a six-mana spell resolve, but any sort of ramp or black midrange deck
is going to have a huge issue beating it.

Mono-Green Aggro has been performing solidly on Magic Online already, and
Llanowar Elves is basically the perfect addition. Of course, Mono-Green
Aggro isn’t historically one of the most powerful decks because it tends to
lack interaction, so if all the other decks improve as well, even Llanowar
Elves might not be enough to save it.

Cards like Ghalta, Primal Hunger, Heart of Kiran, and Rhonas’s Monument
give you a ton of reach, which is something decks like these typically
lack. Steel Leaf Champion also ignores chump blockers, which is a powerful
ability on a cheap, enormous body.

A Song of Freyalise package alongside Walking Ballista wouldn’t surprise
me, nor would a slight splash for Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy, even if this deck
doesn’t necessarily go super wide.

This is the card I’m most excited about from a rate perspective, at least
from what we’ve seen so far. Since 1WW for a pair of Reid Duke tokens is a
pretty good bargain, anything that happens on top of that is just a bonus.
The Inspired Charge for Knights is added value and can be potentially
devastating if your deck has additional Knights.

There aren’t a ton of Knights in Standard at the moment, but that could
change as more of the set gets previewed. Most of those that currently
exist in Standard happen to be Vampires also. It’s possible there is enough
overlap to make Champion of Dusk work, but if not, it’s not a big deal.
History of Benalia doesn’t need much help.

White aggressive decks have been doing quite well, and there are many
different shells for them. W/G Tokens, Mardu Tokens, W/B Vampires, W/U
Auras, and various Anointed Procession decks all have their various pros
and cons.

We haven’t seen this level of power in a Mono-White Aggro deck in quite
some time. There are good global pump effects, powerful cards at each spot
on the curve, and there’s even some staying power. I suppose the deck is
lacking in good, cheap removal, but for the most part, you can attack
around whatever your opponent has going on.

Cards like Hazoret the Fervent and The Scarab God are largely irrelevant
against a deck like this, which is a great place to be. With so much
emphasis being placed on the powerful mythics and their role in Standard,
having a deck that mostly ignores the popular spot removal spells is a good
place to be.

How much hate people are packing for go-wide decks waxes and wanes, but
there are also ways to fight opponents who try to fight you with sweepers.
The Magic Online metagame has largely adapted by incorporating a vehicles
package, either in the main deck or sideboard. So far, it’s proven quite
effective and should have a place here.

Any two-mana legend is going to have my attention, and Baral, Chief of
Compliance is likely the stronger of the bunch.

I’m eager to explore this sort of big blue tempo deck.

The package of Baral, Chief of Compliance and Karn’s Temporal Sundering is
potentially a nice one. A tempo-based Time Warp deck could take many
different forms. Threats like Tempest Djinn, Torrential Gearhulk, and even
Karn, Scion of Urza can provide a fast clock. In the meantime, you’re
trying to not fall behind with cards like Blink of an Eye, Essence Scatter,
and Baral’s Expertise. Memory, Karn, and Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin should
help keep the gas flowing.

Baral’s Expertise is particularly great, especially with powerful threats
like Tempest Drake and Karn, Scion of Urza. Blue typically hasn’t had that
sort of thing before, which is incredibly exciting. I wouldn’t be surprised
if a complete lack of hard removal made this sort of strategy impossible,
but that’s not going to stop me from trying.

This version of Baral has an artifact subtheme for Metallic Rebuke, Reverse
Engineer, stronger Karns, and some mana acceleration. I don’t necessarily
think it’s stronger, but it definitely has the potential to be. If nothing
else, your Karns are much stronger.

Other notable cards we could play are Kefnet the Mindful, Spell Swindle,
Walking Ballista, Prophetic Prism, and Powerstone Shard. A larger focus on
permanents and Secrets of the Golden City could be nice, but Reverse
Engineer seems stronger. Additionally, The Antiquities War is something
that should certainly be in the 75. Can we ramp hard enough to play a copy
of Overflowing Insight?

You could also go super deep and build around Metalwork Colossus, but the
Baral theme is more exciting to me.

Mox Amber – 0

Legendary Artifact

T: Add one mana of any color among legendary creatures or planeswalkers
you control.

Think of Mox Amber like the Serra Avenger of Moxes. You’re not accelerating
into big plays early (that’s Llanowar Elves’ job), but it does help you
ramp up to five mana for a bigger planeswalker or to double spell early.

Wily Goblin makes its triumphant return! In this deck, a Treasure to
accelerate into your planeswalkers and a body to protect them isn’t too
bad, especially since this deck lacks early plays.

Jaya’s Immolating Inferno looks appealing to me, so I’m willing to jump
through some hoops in order to make it castable. One of the common
deckbuilding constraints is going to be finding playable legendary
creatures and planeswalkers to best utilize the legendary sorceries (and
maybe Mox Amber). Squee, the Immortal isn’t impressing anyone, but he does
ensure that you will have a legend around whenever you need one. I’d be
happier if there were some way to discard Squee for value in the early
game, but oh well.

One of the hidden upsides of trying to make Jaya’s Immolating Inferno work
is that your opponent will often behave differently around your legends.
Cards like Pia Nalaar used to never be targeted by removal, so the second
copy would almost always rot in your hand. That probably won’t be the case
anymore, unless your opponent really wants Jaya to light them up.

As always, Karn, Scion of Urza could have a home here as well. Heart of
Kiran, once crewed, also serves as an enabler for Jaya’s Immolating
Inferno. An artifact-based bigger red deck could be sweet. I also want to
try playing Goblin Chainwhirler alongside The Flame of Keld, but that’s
probably for a different deck.

Tetsuko, Umezawa Fugitive is kind of great here. Not only does he allow
your one-drops to continually attack unimpeded, but he helps Adanto
Vanguard and your lifelinking Vampires to get in there as well. Obviously
there’s some anti-synergy with the various pump auras and Shefet Dunes, but
it just means you’re attacking your opponent on multiple axis by going wide
and tall. Being a blue legend also means you can play him on Turn 2 and
still have Spell Pierce backup with Mox Amber.

This might not be the correct shell for W/U Auras, but the archetype is
clearly gaining some additional help.

Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar – 4GG

Legendary Creature – Elemental Avatar

Reach, trample

Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar gets +1/+1 for each land you control and
each land in your graveyard.

1G, Return two lands you control to their owner’s hand: Return Multani
from your graveyard to your hand.


I bet you didn’t even think Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar was playable, did

Does this deck actually work? I have no idea.

The goal of the deck is to put as many lands onto the battlefield as
possible in order to make Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar as threatening as
possible. Ramping with Hour of Promise works, but so do Wayward Swordtooth
and Ghirapur Orrery. Wayward Swordtooth and Ramunap Excavator are a combo
with Evolving Wilds and the various cycling and sacrifice Deserts.
Meanwhile, Arguel’s Blood Fast and Ghirapur Orrery keep the gas flowing.

I’ve been on a huge Arguel’s Blood Fast kick as of late, and a Temple of
Aclazotz plus Multani, Yavimaya’s Avatar is game over. Ghirapur Orrery
might be too all-in for what the deck actually wants to be doing, but hey,
it’s more Wayward Swordtooths. It’s also a card I’ve wanted a reason to
play and a Turboland-style deck certainly fits that description.

The Lich’s Mastery in the sideboard is a card I’m interested in building an
entire deck around. Black has excellent ways to keep your opponent low on
resources, so trying to set it up as a Forcefield of sorts doesn’t seem too
outlandish. In the meantime, whenever you gain life with Vraska’s Contempt,
Moment of Craving, Aethersphere Harvester, or Gifted Aetherborn, you get
more resources to protect Lich’s Mastery.

If you’re behind, Lich’s Mastery won’t help you very much, but you don’t
have to play many (or any!) copies thanks to Mastermind’s Acquisition.
Clearly you’d rather pay six mana instead of ten mana over two turns, but
maybe it’s worth it to not have to draw Lich’s Mastery early.

There’s the argument that the combo of life gain plus an enchantment is
what you want to be doing, except with Arguel’s Blood Fast. I could believe


So, what’s possible in Dominaria? Well, if anything, it should be
pretty clear that mono-colored decks are perfectly viable due to the sheer
number of strong mono-colored cards. For multi-colored decks, we might have
to wait a bit to see what the color pairs have in store. For example, G/R
Elves could very easily be a thing, as could W/B Knights or Vampires, but
we need more supporting cards.

Other strategies I’m excited to try include U/R Wizards, Primeval’s
Glorious Rebirth, Paradoxical Outcome, and various improvise strategies.
There’s no shortage of cool things to try, and we’re only just scratching
the surface.