Dominaria United’s New Legends For Commander, A-Q

Chase Carroll goes deep into the first half of Dominaria United’s new legendary creatures for Commander. How would they build around King Darien XLVIII and many more?

King Darien XLVIII
King Darien XLVIII, illustrated by Donato Giancola

Dominaria United is jam-packed with flavor, lore, and the most important thing a Commander player cares about: new legendary creatures! The main set features an impressive selection of 41 brand-new legendary creatures ripe for the command zone. With strategies ranging from spellslinger to tokens, Dominaria United is currently the charcuterie board of the commander meta. And much like a normal charcuterie board, there are lots of options for us to choose from. Do we start with the weirdly small pickles, the Wheat Thins, or the cheese that also has fruit in it?

It can be a bit overwhelming; however, this week (and next week) I’ll help alleviate that by sharing with you a small sampling of cards for each new main-set legendary creature and how I would brew with them as a commander. After some community gauging, this spread will not include domain commanders because of their low viability as commanders in the meta. 

Aron, Benalia’s Ruin

Aron, Benalia's Ruin

Starting off strong, we have Aron, Benalia’s Ruin, a surprisingly potent uncommon legendary that focuses on creature sacrifice and doling out +1/+1 counters to all of your creatures. His mana value to power/toughness ratio hits a great deckbuilding sweet spot for me. That and his cheap ability make for an interesting framework for a deck.

Starting out strong, let’s give some love to a newer card, Lae’zel, Vlaakith’s Champion. On her own, she seems a bit weak, but in the 99 of a counter-focused deck, she is absolutely amazing. With her out on the battlefield, Aron gives your creatures two +1/+1 counters as opposed to one.

Speaking of counters, I want to introduce to you the umbrella of outlast creatures. A large chunk of outlast creatures give creatures with +1/+1 counters some pretty nifty abilities. Pieces like Mer-Ek Nightblade, Abzan Battle Priest, and Abzan Falconer turn your creatures into some pretty potent keyword-holders.

Aron wants things to die, especially by his hand, so why not introduce a couple of cards that will cheer him on? I’m talking about Aristocrat effects! Blood Artist; Syr Konrad, the Grim; Zulaport Cutthroat; Cruel Celebrant, you name it! Maximizing what would normally be considered a downside can definitely help propel this deck forward in power level.

Lastly, we have Luminous Broodmoth. I personally struggle with sacrificing my own things. What can I say? I’m greedy! Adding Luminous Broodmoth to this brew is a fun way to run recursion in this list because the creatures you sacrifice to Aron come back, but this time with flying counters! Now you don’t have to say goodbye to your precious creatures. 

Astor, Bearer of Blades

Astor, Bearer of Blades

I’ll be the first to admit that I am getting a bit tired of seeing Boros Equipment decks; however, Astor, Bearer of Blades refreshes the theme a little bit with a neat enters-the-battlefield trigger and by adding Vehicles into the mix! Astor’s ability to reduce equip and crew costs down to one is incredibly exciting as well!

Pieces like Colossus Hammer and Consulate Dreadnought come to mind. They have low mana values, but their equip and crew costs are high. Such heavy hitters are exactly what Astor wants to run and get out early in the game.

Astor also has a bit of a bestie in this deck: Sram, Senior Edificer. Boros and card advantage have had a bit of a rocky relationship in the past, but Sram is here to patch things up with consistent card draw every time you cast an Equipment or Vehicle spell. Astor puts the cards in your hand when he enters the battlefield, true, but Sram is consistent.

But what if I told you that you could make Astor a bit more consistent? Well, with Helm of the Host, she can be! That pesky five-mana equip cost now drops to one, and Astor gets a twin that has yet another enters-the-battlefield trigger, giving you more options straight to your hand!

Finally, we have Colossal Plow. I love this card so much, and it fits well into Astor’s high-cost range. A two-mana crew six Vehicle is definitely intense, but we love to see a two-mana crew one that gives you mana and gains you life. There’s just something about Astor that makes Boros Equipment and Vehicles exciting again.

Baird, Argivian Recruiter

Baird, Argivian Recruiter

Baird is back, baby, and this time he has some red in his color identity! I always knew he had a bit of a rage problem. Baird is one of those commanders that excites me from the start. I look at him and I know exactly what I want to do. For this particular brew, I want to go into the territory of tokens.

Boros has a lot to offer in this area, and there is a lot you can do with Baird at the helm. The first card that comes to mind is Cathars’ Crusade. This enchantment will ensure that none of your creatures will have their starting base power. Each creature that enters the battlefield makes the others bigger than the last.

Since we’re in white and are aiming to go with tokens, I cannot recommend enough pieces like Anointed Procession and Divine Visitation. Procession gives you twice the tokens, while Divine Visitation turns your small 1/1 Soldiers into large 4/4 Angels!

The card that inspired this initial spread is Intangible Virtue. The low mana value, focus on creature tokens, and buff it gives are exactly what Baird is looking for.

And of course, I can’t forget my favorite recommendation: Adeline, Resplendent Cathar. This woman is a token-generating machine, guaranteeing you plenty of tokens to work with whenever you attack. Once they’re out and about, all you have left to do is wait for Cathars’ Crusade or Intangible Virtue to work their Magic. Baird generates another token and you profit! 

Balmor, Battlemage Captain

Balmor, Battlemage Captain

Balmor, Battlemage Captain just screams spellslinger value to me. He wants you to make a bunch of tokens, cast cheap spells, and swing with some beefy creatures. I think that’s what we all want, if I’m being completely honest.

At the heart of this deck are the token makers. Talrand, Sky Summoner; Murmuring Mystic; and Young Pyromancer are iconic additions to your list. The fact that Talrand and the Mystic make flyers sold me on them even more. And while Storm Kiln Artist doesn’t make creatures, making Treasure tokens is just as important, if not stronger, for a spellslinger deck like this one.

In the same vein of triggering whenever you cast an instant or a sorcery, I think Balmor also wants to run pingers. These include Firebrand Archer, Electrostatic Field, and Guttersnipe. Your opponent’s pain is your gain!

Now, let’s talk about Balmor triggers. Veyran, Voice of Duality and Harmonic Prodigy love it when Balmor triggers. In fact, they love it so much they let Balmor trigger an additional time, meaning your creatures get punchier! I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have both of those out at the same time! All I know is that it will be absolutely disgusting… and I love it.

Braids, Arisen Nightmare

Braids, Arisen Nightmare

I’m going to say it right now: it is not fair to compare Braids to her other mono-black iteration. I’ve seen a lot of discourse surrounding this commander, saying that she is unplayable. That is simply not true. Sure, Braids, Cabal Minion is incredibly powerful, but it is also banned in the format. With that being said, the designers found a great way to pay homage to Cabal Minion without emulating her oppressiveness. Arisen Nightmare, however, can still be a gross commander. Getting her out early is ideal so that you can start controlling your opponent’s battlefield hard.

Braids adores sacrificing, and pieces like Reassembling Skeleton, Nether Traitor, and Bloodghast are more than willing to offer themselves up (and of course come back). You don’t have to lose your creatures after you sacrifice them, after all.

However, she doesn’t mind if things hit your graveyard, and neither will your Aristocrat effects. Syr Konrad, the Grim; Blood Artist; and Zulaport Cutthroat are great examples of ways to capitalize on your creature’s sacrifice. This commander also makes use of the Fleshbag cards. Fleshbag Marauder, Plaguecrafter, and Demon’s Disciple are great additions, not because they trigger Braids, but because they limit the options your opponent has, possibly forcing their hand to take the life and give you the advantage.

But what happens when your opponent’s creatures hit the graveyard? Well, normally nothing. However, I want to change that. My final recommendations include Dauthi Voidwalker and Tergrid, God of Fright. The Voidwalker is a fun piece to run because it eliminates the possibility of your opponents recurring their cards by exiling them, plus it lets you play them too (after its own sacrifice). Tergrid functions similarly, allowing you to put permanents opponents sacrificed onto the battlefield under your control. How disgusting is that?

Danitha, Benalia’s Hope

Danitha, Benalia's Hope

We are back back back again in the realm of Equipment, except this time instead of Vehicles, we get to include Auras in the mix. It’s nice to see Danitha is still doing what she loves most.

Diving right in, pieces like Sigarda’s Aid are always a welcome sight to Danitha. The flash and immediate attachment helps lighten the mana load (even if things from the graveyard come back attached to her). Speaking of attaching things, I gotta say that I really like Halvar, God of Battle in this list. He cares about the same things that Danitha does. Enchanted and equipped creatures having double strike is absolute gravy on top of his attach ability. He likes to spread the love around!

I know I mentioned this card previously in Astor, but the allure of Colossus Hammer is too much to pass up in a deck like this. The same goes for another expensive aura: Eldrazi Conscription. How can you not run that?!

A new Equipment I would love to recommend for Danitha is Commander’s Plate. I love this card in mono-colored decks. This card gives your commander protection from every color not in her color identity, meaning those removal spells your opponents have won’t be able to stop the lethal commander damage swinging Danitha coming their way. Ouchie!

Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim

Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim

Elas is definitely one of those commanders that builds itself. You look at it and know exactly where it will lead you. So let’s lace up our hiking boots and walk down this path!

Elas absolutely adores running Soul Sister and Aristocrat effects. They go hand in hand. Gain life when they enter, make your opponents lose life when they leave. It’s amazing. Soul Warden, Soul’s Attendant, Cruel Celebrant, Blood Artist, the list goes on and on! Heck, even the Sanguine Bond / Exquisite Blood combo has a home in an Elas deck.

In order to help facilitate death in your list, sacrifice outlets are a great way to go. Viscera Seer and Carrion Feeder are great inclusions. Teysa Karlov is another great addition in a list like this because she doubles all of your Aristocrat triggers. While the cards I’ve recommended aren’t necessarily token focused, you can definitely toss some token pieces in to fully utilize Teysa.

Lastly, we have Elenda, the Dusk Rose. Not only are your opponents losing life whenever your creatures die, but Elenda stockpiles those deaths like a ticking time bomb. When she explodes, she makes a large amount of tokens that will help fuel Elas’s fire of entering- and leaving-the-battlefield triggers. More bodies mean more life to be gained and lost. This commander seems fun to pilot, so keep your eyes peeled for a possible appearance on my gameplay stream in the future. 

Ertai Resurrected

Ertai Resurrected

Ertai is definitely a creature that I struggled with conceptualizing a deck for. He definitely seems better for the 99, but I was dedicated to making him work. Ertai is intriguing in the way that he lets others draw a card after he counters a spell or destroys a creature or planeswalker. I thought it would be interesting to attempt a blink and card draw deck with him at the helm.

Permanents like Deadeye Navigator; Thassa, Deep-Dwelling; and Conjurer’s Closet could help flicker Ertai to destroy things. Spells like Ghostly Flicker and Essence Flux can flicker Ertai at instant speed to counter some spells or triggered abilities too!

With flickering out of the way, let’s focus on his card draw. I feel as though Consecrated Sphinx can get you some value off Ertai’s forced card draw on your opponents. When they draw, you draw more!

But what if you want to punish them when they draw? Fate Unraveler and Underworld Dreams deal damage to opponents when they draw a card. The more you flicker, the more they draw and the more damage they take. Sheoldred, the Apocalypse also deals damage to opponents when they draw cards but has the added bonus of gaining you life when you draw cards. Ertai is definitely a tricky one to brew around, but I can’t deny that the puzzle is an interesting one to solve. 

Garna, Bloodfist of Keld

Garna, Bloodfist of Keld

Let’s move to combat with Garna, Bloodfist of Keld. Garna is very interesting in that she exchanges death by combat for card draw. This ties into my first recommendation: Kardur, Doomscourge. Like Garna, he cares about what happens to your attacking creatures, even making your opponents lose a life when they die.

Since our things dying is what Garna likes the most, I thought it would be fun to toss Mahadi, Emporium Master in as a contender. Your stuff might be dying, but he makes up for it with some sweet Treasure tokens.

However, Garna’s damage ability is what I love the most. When your stuff dies, she deals one damage to each opponent. Note that she deals the damage. This is the perfect playground for giving her infect. Yep, you heard me right. Grafted Exoskeleton, Phyresis, and Tainted Strike can make Garna really lethal, really quickly. When you toss in a few damage doublers like Fiery Emancipation or Furnace of Rath, victory by infect is almost assured.

Lastly, we have Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire. Garna is a combat-focused commander, and Varragoth loves to tutor after a good combat session. Sure, things might die along the way, but it’s what Garna would’ve wanted anyway. 

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief 

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief

When I saw Ivy being previewed, my jaw dropped. Faeries are my favorite creature type, and seeing a brand new one was beyond exciting! Ivy truly is a spellthief in the most exciting of ways. Note that she says “whenever a player casts a spell.” This counts your opponents’ spells as well! I love that!

But what are some good additions to her list? Well, for starters, Vesuvan Duplimancy seems as though it were made for Ivy. It gives you token copies of the artifacts or creatures you control that you targeted with a single spell. With Ivy out on the battlefield, prepare for a headache of triggers and copies to happen.

Speaking of copies, let’s talk about our next two cards: Twinning Staff and Spark Double. Twinning Staff gives you extra copies of spells you’ve copied, and Spark Double can enter the battlefield as a copy of Ivy. That means even more copies of your copies!!! Confusing? Yes. Cool? Also yes, but we aren’t done just yet.

My next recommendations are the umbrella of mutate creatures. Mutate has always been a confusing mechanic in Magic, but Ivy makes mutate creatures downright crazy. Mutate onto one creature to get that same mutate on Ivy. Seadasher Octopus, Sawtusk Demolisher, and Trumpeting Gnarr are just a few potent pieces that can turn Ivy into an incredibly weird yet powerful Faerie hybrid.

My final recommendation for Ivy is a card I mentioned previously for Danitha: Eldrazi Conscription. What’s better than one Conscription? Two. Ivy with this attached to her becomes outright lethal. Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief is an interesting commander because she will play differently every single time you play in a new pod. That kind of design can’t be beaten. 

Jhoira, Ageless Innovator

Jhoira, Ageless Innovator

Jhoira is back in Dominaria United with her third printed version, this time focusing solely on artifacts. The more counters on her, the bigger the free thing from your hand can be. Jhoira doesn’t care about the type of artifacts she runs, making your deck incredibly customizable. You can take many routes with this. But for now, let’s start with Jhoira and her counters.

You want as many counters on her as possible, so cards like Flux Channeler and Kelpie Guide are fun additions that help meet this goal. The Channeler proliferates whenever you cast a noncreature spell and the Guide untapped another target permanent you control. Untap Jhoira with this and tap her again for even more counters!

Once your artifacts are out, you’re going to want to protect them. Thankfully, you’ll have Padeem, Consul of Innovation. She gives your artifacts hexproof and as an added bonus gives you some decent card draw. Since Jhoira puts high-value artifacts onto the battlefield for free, Padeem will almost certainly draw you a card.

My final two recommendations are what I would consider to be finishers: Kappa Cannoneer and Cyberdrive Awakener. Every time an artifact enters the battlefield under your control, Kappa Cannoneer gets bigger, not to mention the fact that it is unblockable with ward 4. When it hits, it will hit hard. Cyberdrive Awakener is the mono-blue artifact version of Craterhoof Behemoth. All the artifacts Jhoira gave you for free are now 4/4 creatures with flying. That is one lethal combat step you wouldn’t want to miss! Jhoira insists on it.

Jodah, the Unifier

Jodah, the Unifier

We’re at the guy you’ve been waiting for. It’s Jodah, everyone! The five-colored bad boy himself. Dominaria United has shown us that there is a lot of love and synergy with and for legendary spells and creatures. Jodah, the Unifier is an interesting brew, buffing your legendaries equal to the number of legendary creatures you control. He doesn’t stop there, though. He has a legendary form of cascade as well! That is so cool!

This card has so much potential wrapped up in it, I can’t help but brew a bit. I like to start out with the legendary noncreature spells. Urza’s Ruinous Blast and Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth are absolutely perfect for Jodah. Removal that ignores legendaries and recursion that gets your legends back are just what this deck needs. Another legendary noncreature I would run is Heroes’ Podium. Like Jodah, this artifact buffs your legendary creatures and allows you to put a legend into your hand from the top of your library. Jodah likes the extra help.

Lastly, we have some creature recommendations. Of course, how could we not run Sisay, Weatherlight Captain? She’s a legendary tutor, after all! Reki, the History of Kamigawa is great card draw, and Kethis, the Hidden Hand helps recur things for a slightly reduced mana value. There are dozens of other amazing cards for Jodah to run, but I think we have royalty waiting on us in the next section, so let’s tallyho!

King Darien XLVIII

King Darien XLVIII

What time is it? It’s token time! The first color combination that comes to mind when I hear tokens is Selesnya. This color combo offers a plethora of options to pick from to maximize your token generation. King Darien sees this and also brings +1/+1 counters to the party. How can you not want to build this guy?

His royal highness enjoys all the token doublers Selesnya has to offer. Anointed Procession, Doubling Season, Parallel Lives, and Second Harvest double your numbers and help him close ranks. While not the exact same as our token doublers, Rabble Rousing is the perfect inclusion for Darien. Each creature you attack with gives you that many Citizen tokens! That’s practically double, right?

Since we’re all about tokens here, let me introduce you to one of my favorite cards from when I played Brawl on Arena: March of the Multitudes. Convoke in a tokens deck is positively obscene. Who needs to pay mana for spells when you have bodies? Tap a wave of your tokens to replace them with Soldiers that have lifelink! I’ll take that deal any day.

For my final Darien recommendation, we have Rhys the Redeemed. I truly love Rhys because he is both a great early- and late-game creature to play. Early-game, he makes you a single Elf, but late-game he gives you copies for each token creature you control. There is so much power stored in this tiny 1/1 Elf that I can’t help but feel he is often forgotten about.

Darien’s low mana value and self-sacrifice ability make him the ideal commander for a strong token brew. I absolutely love it. 

Lagomos, Hand of Hatred

Lagomos, Hand of Hatred

Lagomos, Hand of Hatred is the exact kind of deckbuilding puzzle I want to solve. I look at it and immediately want to find as many ways as I can to meet that five-creature minimum for his tutor ability. The first things that came to mind were Fleshbag effects. Demon’s Disciple and Fleshbag Marauder will for sure make Lagomos able to tap as soon as they come out. Sacrificing seems to be the way to go, so why not run a few? Ashnod’s Altar; Razaketh, the Foulblooded; Phyrexian Altar. Anything will do, so long as it murders!

However, you’re going to need things to murder. This is where my favorite spells come in: token makers. Black and red offer a fun variety of token makers. Bitterblossom, Ophiomancer, heck, there are even a few Chandras that make Elemental creature tokens like Lagomos does. As long as they die, he doesn’t care!

Finally, I want to recommend the most disgusting enchantment ever: Dictate of Erebos. It’s too perfect not to run! Lagomos doesn’t care if the creatures that died this turn are your creatures. They can be your opponents’ creatures as well! As long as five or more die, Lagomos is all too happy to reap the benefits. 

Meria, Scholar of Antiquity

Meria, Scholar of Antiquity

Meria, Scholar of Antiquity definitely took me by surprise. A Gruul Elf that does artifact shenanigans was definitely not what I expected. I’m not mad, though, because Meria is insanely cool! She’s a mana-making, card advantage machine that I find absolutely fascinating. At first, I was unsure how to build her, but thankfully the folks in my Twitch chat helped inspire me.

One of their first recommendations came in the form of Faldorn, Dread Wolf Herald. She interacts with Meria’s exile ability, creating a 2/2 green Wolf creature token whenever you cast a spell from exile. In a similar vein, Passionate Archaeologist also interacts with Meria’s exile ability. Rather than making tokens, this Background allows Meria to deal damage to target opponent equal to the exiled spell’s mana value after the exiled card has been cast.

Cards that interact with exiled spells are definitely interesting and are definitely something I want to explore more in Meria. This deck needs a lot of artifacts, so I like to recommend running a lot of mana rocks. Sol Ring, Hedron Archive, Arcane Signet: the list is endless, and Meria’s first tap ability has them generate colored mana.

Since this deck cares heavily about artifacts, I also recommend running Mystic Forge. Meria does in fact let you cast the top card of your library after she exiles it, but Mystic Forge can help you clear out a large pile of artifacts on the top to help fuel that ability. The more artifacts you have out, the more mana you can generate with Meria. Meria ends up tapping a lot of your stuff; however, with Seedborn Muse slotted into your list, you’re able to untap all of your permanents after Meria mercilessly tapped them all. Talk about value!

Najal, the Storm Runner

Najal, the Storm Runner

We’ve got another spellslinging commander in the form of Najal, the Storm Runner. Not only does she want to cast instants and sorceries, she wants copies as well, and we love to see it! The first card that came to mind was Twinning Staff. Not only do you get a copy from Najal, but you get another copy with Twinning Staff on the battlefield. This artifact is so cool, I can’t help but recommend it. 

Much like Balmor, I also recommend running your pingers and token makers. They’re just too good not to. Electrostatic Field; Guttersnipe; Talrand, the Sky Summoner; and Young Pyromancer help create bodies for blocking and slowly whittle down your opponent’s life totals. 

Moving into the realm of planeswalkers, we have Ral, Storm Conduit. This guy is perfect for Najal because he interacts with copied spells! He deals damage whenever you cast or copy an instant or sorcery, and can even help you copy them as well thanks to his -2 loyalty ability. There’s just something about copying spells that Najal can’t help but love.

My final recommendation for Najal is Pyromancer’s Goggles. I know that it looks like an overpriced mana rock, but I can assure you it’s more than that. If you use the mana it makes to cast a red instant or a sorcery, it copies that spell! With Najal’s two-mana attack ability, you can get some serious value out of casting an instant or sorcery that has been copied two or three times. 

Nemata, Primeval Warden

Nemata, Primeval Warden

We got another Saproling commander, everyone! Sound the alarms!!! There’s something charming about Saproling tribal that always pulls me in. Maybe it’s because they’re friend-shaped. You know who else is friend-shaped? Slimefoot, the Stowaway! Slimefoot is an Aristocrat for Saprolings that also makes Saprolings. Nemata loves these cute little tokens because he turns them into card draw and buff.

You know who else makes Saprolings consistently? Tendershoot Dryad! Getting Saprolings every upkeep is just too hard to pass up! Pieces like Cryptolith Rite and Jaheira, Friend of the Forest are great additions to Nemata because they make your Saproling tokens into mana creatures!

Culling Ritual turns your tokens into mana…by grinding them up as a battlefield wipe. Sure, they’re friend-shaped, but casting a crazy X-spell like Torment of Hailfire after destroying your massive token army is pretty potent. When Nemata gives you Saprolings, sometimes you’ve got to make mulch. 

Queen Allenal of Ruadach

Queen Allenal of Ruadach

I don’t know about you, but I adore Selesnya tokens. I think it might be one of my favorite themes in the format. There’s something so fun and exciting about creating a bunch of small creatures and overwhelming your opponents with them.

Of course, this deck is in the perfect colors for your tokens doublers. I’m talking about Parallel Lives, Doubling Season, Second Harvest, and Anointed Procession! The more, the merrier, right? After all, Queen Allenal is royalty and needs a proper court!

Speaking of more, this deck would absolutely welcome the likes of Cadira, Caller of the Small and Ancient Gold Dragon. The Gold Dragon can possibly make twenty tokens, and Cadira sees your tokens and doubles them up with Rabbit tokens! All the while, Allenal helps lift a finger by making one extra token for you. How thoughtful.

I’ve said it once in this article, so I’ll say it again: Divine Visitation! Make your tokens big and scary by turning them into Angels with flying. This enchantment can help end games in a brutally fun way.

My final recommendation is a newer card I feel is slept on: Rumor Gatherer. This creature is brutal in token decks, giving you tons of scrying when your many tokens enter the battlefield. Plus, Queen Allenal positively loves a good rumor!

This Is Not the End

Woah, that was a lot of legends, and we are only halfway done. It’s crazy to think that this set has over 40 brand-new commanders to choose from. There’s definitely a taste for every person in Dominaria United, and I hope that these brief analyses can help inspire some fun, new brews.

Next week, I will be rounding off the series with the remaining half of Dominaria’s new legendary creatures. Until then, happy brewing, deckbuilders.