With half of Dominaria already revealed, I’m more excited about
this set than any other in years. There are more compelling cards and
themes than can be discussed in a day, but one of the most pronounced is
the nostalgia fitting of Magic’s 25th anniversary. However, instead of an
overwhelming amount of weirdness and complexity, like Time Spiral,
this set appears to represent a lot of “going back to Magic’s roots.”
features countless references and callbacks to some of the most iconic,
most classic cards in Magic’s history, not the least of which are new takes
on Counterspell and Lightning Bolt. Counterspell and Lightning Bolt are two
of the most famously undercosted simple effects in Magic, and now both are
mostly within reach… if only you’re playing a critical mass of Wizards.
WotC has been experimenting with a fair number of tribal rewards in the
form of spells that cost less if you’re playing the tribe they support.
While many of these are attractive Constructed options, Wizard’s Retort and
Wizard’s Lightning are especially notable both for their ceiling and their
floor. While Cancel’s not seeing much play today, it has before and likely
would again if there weren’t clear slightly better options
available. And while three-cost, deal-three is slightly behind, there have
been plenty of formats where Urza’s Rage would be totally playable without
high hopes of kicking it.
When you actually have a Wizard, things get good immediately. Counterspell
for UU? That’s clearly better than anything normally available. Lightning
Strike costs a mana more than Lightning Bolt and is one of the most
ubiquitous staples in the format.
Okay, but how many Wizards do we actually need to run?
Setting aside mulligan decisions, playing fourteen Wizards gives us better
than a 92.5% chance of drawing one by turn 3 on the play and 94.5% on the
draw. With a floor of Cancel and bad Urza’s Rage, we probably don’t need to
have that large of a hit rate anyway. I’ve had way worse odds with
Summoning Trap before, and that’s one where the floor is basically zero.
With just twelve Wizards, we’re still talking about an 89% chance of
hitting by turn 3 on the play. That means we don’t have to bend over
backwards to play all Wizards if we don’t want to. There are some
incentives to do so, as we’ll come to, but if we wanted, we could
realistically play a very minimal Wizards package, perhaps starting to
almost approach Silumgar’s Scorn territory?
It’s not exactly the same, though, as the Dragon cards also worked if you
merely had a Dragon in hand, plus Dragons tend to be a little more
resilient, so removal will disrupt them less often. However, even if we
didn’t want to go flirt with the kind of failure rates that accompanied the
Dragon cards, we could easily support something like this:
- 2 Torrential Gearhulk
- 4 Whirler Virtuoso
- 2 Glorybringer
- 4 Soul-Scar Mage
- 4 Siren Stormtamer
- 4 Merfolk Trickster
The twelve Wizards isn’t even counting the added digging power of Opt,
other card draw, or cycling.
Merfolk Trickster is fast, efficient, and really ties the room together for
a lot of strategies. Locking down a key attacker or blocker can really
swing the tempo at a key moment, and removing a creature’s abilities for
the turn is especially nice against Gods like The Scarab God and Hazoret
The thing is, if the payoff we’re getting is Wizard’s Lightning over
Lightning Strike, how much are we even really accomplishing? Obviously,
Wizard’s Retort is great when you pay two, but I’m kind of inclined to try
looking to slightly harder Wizard tribal.
Adeliz, the Cinder Wind – 1UR
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard
Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, Wizards you control get
+1/+1 until end of turn.
Adeliz, the Cinder Wind presents an interesting challenge. We want as many
Wizards as we can to each get the buffs, and we want as many cheap spells
as we can to get more buffs. Cheap cantrips are particularly desirable, as
they give buffs while also helping us find more Wizards and cheap spells.
While Adeliz is a legend, its impact on the game is so massive that
opponents are going to be making getting it off the table a top priority.
It’s not the exact same thing, but there are some distinct similarities
between Adeliz and Monastery Mentor.
Yeah, yeah, nobody wants to play Spellweaver Eternal. Maybe we’re
supposed to just play more cantrips, like Strategic Plannings or some such?
Adeliz isn’t the only legendary Wizard lord in Dominaria. Naru
Meha, Master Wizard is a complex card with a lot of potential lines of play
Naru Meha, Master Wizard – 2UU
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard
When Naru Meha enters the battlefield, copy target instant or sorcery
spell you control. You may choose new targets for the copy.
Other Wizards you control get +1/+1.
For starters, Naru Meha is a 3/3 flash creature for four that can lead to
some blowouts in combat, thanks to the +1/+1 to Wizards ability. However,
in addition to being a source of stats, Naru Meha has the ability to copy
one of your sorceries or instants while it’s on the stack. You won’t have
to pay the card’s cost again, but since you do need to pay it the first
time, we’re talking about this usually being more of a five or six mana
Getting extra burn spells and card draw is all well and good, but you’ve
got to be careful. If you try to copy your spell and then it gets Negated,
you’re out both copies. However, if you pass priority to see if they’ll
counter your spell, it’ll be too late to copy it if they decide not to.
Blink of an Eye – 1U
Return target nonland permanent to its owner’s hand. If this spell was
kicked, draw a card.
Into the Roil is back, baby!
For those that weren’t playing during Worldwake, first of all, my
condolences. The world will never be like that again. Beyond the Jace
nostalgia, however, I just wanted to note Into the Roil’s versatility and
efficiency. It started seeing play immediately, and I expect it to do the
same this time around.
While the primary incentives to play Wizards are blue and red, we may also
consider splashing one or more other colors. Unclaimed Territory might be
enough, or we might look to incorporate a little bit of an energy
sub-theme. For instance, if we had a manabase like this…
…we might be able to support stuff like this:
Dreamstealer is, in fact, a Wizard, which is potentially very exciting
alongside Adeliz and Naru Meha since the discard ability scales on damage.
While there are plenty of incentives to focus on Wizards and cheap spells,
that’s not the only way to do things. In fact, I’m not sure we even need to
Silvergill Adept has a reputation for being one of the best Merfolk of
all-time, but on the low, it’s quietly also a Wizard. Trying to support
both Wizards and Merfolk isn’t trivial, but it’s also no herculean task
Mono-U Merfolk Wizards
4 Mistcloaked Herald
The printing of Zhalfirin Void is not trivial. It really is the Mutavault
Striking a balance between Wizards and Merfolk is going to be quite the
challenge, but there’s a lot to like with both. The above list features
mostly creatures that are both, with the one-drops split between the two
tribes and Naru Meha playing one way. I could easily imagine us playing
even less dedicated of a split, though. I mean, what if we were just a
- 4 Silvergill Adept
- 2 Kopala, Warden of Waves
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 4 Merfolk Mistbinder
- 4 Deeproot Elite
- 4 Mist-Cloaked Herald
- 4 Merfolk Trickster
Thanks to Merfolk Trickster, we’ve got ten Wizards without even trying.
That’s better than an 80% chance of seeing one early, and sometimes we just
live with Cancel.
If we were really passionate about playing more Merfolk Wizards, I guess we
could look to stuff like Shaper Apprentice, but that feels like too great a
hit on card quality.
Depending on how much exploring we’re doing, Riverwise Augur might not be
out of the question, though. It is both a Wizard and a Merfolk, and setting
up the top of your deck can guarantee your explore triggers net you extra
Riverwise Augur’s enters the battlefield trigger might also take on new
meaning because of Naban, Dean of Iteration, along with Silvergill Adept,
but I’m even more interested in some of the other Wizards with enters the
Legendary Creature – Human Wizard
If a Wizard entering the battlefield under your control causes a
triggered ability of a permanent you control to trigger, that ability
triggers an additional time.
Naban really doesn’t ask all that much of us. A 2/1 for two is obviously
behind, but we’ve got our money’s worth the first time we copy basically
anything. Just compare with Silvergill Adept, after all.
Copying Naru Meha will occasionally be sweet; but a fair bit of the time,
it’ll be overkill. Copying Trophy Mage, however, could open up an exciting
new style of toolbox… or it might just make our Gate to the Afterlife
strategy a lot more robust.
In fact, once we start down the Gate to the Afterlife/Trophy Mage/Naban
path, we’re rewarded with this little gem…
Now there’s a Wizard with an enters the battlefield trigger. It’s
even a mondo combo with Naru Meha, letting us draw an extra card on both
sides! Remember, eternalize may make the creature a Zombie, but it doesn’t
remove Wizard status.
Another possible avenue to explore with Trophy Mage is in some kind of
Metalwork Colossus deck. We may not have Elder Deep-Fiend these days, but
we just picked up The Antiquities War, and that may be enough to breathe
new life into the archetype.
The Antiquities War – 3U
Enchantment – Saga
I, II – Look at the top five cards of your library. You may reveal an
artifact card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest
on the bottom of your library in a random order.
III – Artifacts you control become artifact creatures with base power
and toughness 5/5 until end of turn.
Tezzeretting an artifact into our hand immediately and on the following
turn is interesting enough, but it shouldn’t be too much trouble to arrange
for the following turn to feature an attack for a lot more than twenty
damage, particularly if we’re playing stuff like Treasure Map or other
And while it may not be as reliable as it once was, Icy Manipulator might
still be solid. It’s pretty effective against legends, and it does reduce
the cost of the Colossus by a fair chunk.
If it ever got too popular, Abrade and Dissenter’s Deliverance would make
quick work of it, but I wouldn’t assume the format starts there. Besides,
who cares if they Dissenter’s Deliverance your Icy? That means they’re
playing one less card that can actually interact with The Antiquities War.
At least one other Wizard that could be played in Colossus or in a whole
host of other unusual decks merits mention:
Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain – 2UR
Legendary Creature – Human Artificer
Whenever you cast a historic spell, draw a card.
(Artifacts, legendaries, and Sagas are historic.)
Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain requires dedication, but we’ve got a plethora
of options as to what to dedicate ourselves too. Artifacts are the most
obvious, but there’s no shortage of compelling legends and Planeswalkers,
and the aforementioned The Antiquities War is historic.
We’ve only barely begun to dig into what all Dominaria will make
possible, but I’m already starting to get really excited. Richard Garfield
was on the design team (his first since Innistrad) and it shows.
Bonus: Modern Wizards!