Did you see the first Dominaria United previews on Thursday’s Weekly MTG stream? If you missed it, you can find a lot of the information in SCG’s recap.
Legends of the Collector Boosters
One of the most eye-popping things? Wizards of the Coast (WotC) ran across forgotten pallets of boxes of the original Legends set in a warehouse that’s shutting down, so they opened the packs and will slide the minty-fresh contents into 3% of Dominaria United Collector Boosters for Magic fans to discover.
Limiting it to Collector boosters is disappointing, since that’s a product aimed at the whales of Magic who already have more disposable income than the average Magic player. A much less “the rich get richer” move would have been what WotC already did with the Priceless Treasure promotion from the original Zendikar release, where expensive old cards were bought up and then seeded into the regular booster packs that players could run across at Prereleases, Drafts, and Sealed Deck events. They really should have put these in Draft and/or Set Boosters, even though the drop rate would have been a lot less than 3%.
For Commander fans, the news that’s aimed straight to our lifeblood is the announcement that every Dominaria United booster pack will contain a legendary card, just like the original Dominaria did. WotC has announced more than 40 legendary creatures across the set. The set also has “Legends Retold” box toppers, and each Set, Draft and Collector Booster display will contain one of nineteen legendary creatures (and one planeswalker) with new designs inspired by a legendary creature found in the original Legends set. We got previews for three of the uncommon ones, and I’ll go over them here today.
The Pirate’s Life for Me
First up is the third incarnation of the jaunty Pirate, Ramirez DePietro!
It’s nice that they shaved a black and a generic mana from the mana value and added a lot to the text box to make this much more playable in contemporary Commander. It’s interesting to note that we had already revisited DePietro with a card representing their ghost in the original Commander Legends. The first two incarnations didn’t much care about Pirates, but Ramirez DePietro, Pillager is the Pirate tribal leader we’ve been waiting for!
Wait a minute, isn’t there already a Pirate tribal leader?
Technically, yes. But if you’ve ever played with or against Admiral Becket Brass, you’ll have noticed the Commander play experience isn’t great. Basically, once Beckett Brass can be cast or threatens to be cast, you have to stop attacking with your creatures so that you can ensure you’re not left vulnerable to getting hit by three Pirates and getting your most valuable nonland permanent stolen. You’re also discouraged from casting permanents that might get stolen, and since Admiral Beckett Brass is the commander, it’s nearly impossible to keep it off the battlefield. This leaves player removal as the best option to get back to a regular game of Commander.
Ramirez DePietro, Pillager is a much better design, retaining that Pirate “pillage and plunder” feel while not directly impacting opponents’ battlefields or preventing them from playing their game. A Ramirez DePietro, Pillager deck will need plenty of ways to cast any color mana so that you can cast those exiled cards.
Let’s see what other cards we’ll want in our deck:
Even dropping red from our Pirate deck color identity, there are plenty of great cards that care about Pirate tribal. Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator has been doing good Pirate plundering since its release in Commander Legends.
There are currently 74 Pirates in the Dimir color combination, so we can certainly round out the tribe with lots of choices. The cards I call out above represent the cream of the crop, with Amphin Mutineer as my favorite; I love the exile removal attached to it, with the encore ability just gravy.
Everyone’s a Pirate!
If you find yourself wanting to add a fair number of non-Pirate creatures to support any other themes or goals in your deck, you can ensure all your creatures are Pirates with Maskwood Nexus or Arcane Adaptation. New Commander rock star card Black Market Connections can make 3/2 Shapeshifters with changeling, so they count as Pirates too!
Exiling Opponents’ Cards
WotC has given us some cards lately care about exiling or playing opponents’ cards, so you can take advantage of them with Ramirez. Tasha will give you 3/3 Demons, Umbris gets bigger for each card an opponent owns in exile, and Brainstealer Dragon drains life. Arvinox plays well with this theme, but its ability is tough to execute on webcam games, so only break it out for games you play in person.
Ramirez makes Treasure when they enter the battlefield, so you can play into the Treasure theme if you’d like with cards like Revel in Riches and Inspiring Statuary. You can also just think of the Treasures as pre-paying the Commander tax!
Tor Wauki the Younger
Next among our Legends Retold is Tor Wauki the Younger!
Unlike Ramirez, WotC kept the mana value mostly intact, swapping black mana for a third generic mana to make it a little less color intensive. A 3/3 for five mana isn’t exactly up to snuff in today’s Commander, but there is a pile of abilities in the text box that makes it intriguing. The reach ability isn’t going to be decent for blocking small fliers that might otherwise harass your life totals, especially in conjunction with the lifelink ability.
The first paragraph ability reminds me of Torbran, Thane of Red Fell, and many of the same sort of cards will do decent work in both decks; check out my article on Torbran for more ideas, but I’ve got some great ones for you below.
Extra Noncombat Damage
There are a lot of potent creatures that generate small packets of damage that get even better with Tor Wauki the Younger on the battlefield. Mayhem Devil and Judith, the Scourge Diva are going to get downright frightening if you’ve got a deck that sacrifices creatures for profit, and the pinging from Goblin Sharpshooter, Olivia, and Syr Carah gets much better at two a pop. Since all of these have red in them, you might even consider tossing Torbran in the 99.
These enchantments do small pings, so getting extra for each activation is quite nice.
Artifacts offer another source of noncombat damage, so we might consider some of these too. Skysovereign doing four points of damage rather than three really increases its threat, and I love that Tor Wauki – either version – can crew it.
Pingers have teamed up with deathtouch in Commander for years, and you’ll probably want to put at least one of these in the deck. Just don’t be surprised that your creature-playing opponents will do their best to destroy these on sight.
The second paragraph of Tor Wauki the Younger suggests playing a spellslinger-style deck, which is pretty fresh territory for a Rakdos deck. Cards like Electrostatic Field and Guttersnipe are particularly great in this sort of strategy, since Tor Wauki’s first paragraph ability makes the triggers just a bit better and scarier. I also like getting a different spellslinger flavor with Rakdos unlocking sweet magecraft cards like Sedgemoor Witch.
Whether or not you’re going full spellslinger, buyback spells can help ensure that you always have an instant or sorcery spell handy to trigger that last ability and get that sweet lifelink life swing.
Jasmine Boreal of the Seven
The last Legends Retold card we saw previewed is Jasmine Boreal of the Seven!
The original Jasmine was just a vanilla 4/5 for five mana, which is definitely way behind the curve for present-day legend sensibilities. Shaving two mana and adding two potent abilities definitely boosts its power level, though the power and toughness were reduced as well. It’s interesting to note that you will likely want to cast the original Jasmine Boreal with the new one, since the card has no abilities and being able to attack for four unblockable damage isn’t anything to sneeze at.
No Abilities Matter
The new Jasmine joins a very exclusive “cares about creatures with no abilities” (AKA “vanilla creatures”) club, which by my count previously only had Muraganda Petroglyphs and Ruxa, Patient Professor. This design space is sure to grow over the years, so keep your eyes peeled.
Creatures with No Abilities
Assuming you’re playing enough lands, your typical line of play will be casting Jasmine on Turn 3, and then on Turn 4 play a land and be able to cast a six-mana vanilla creature. How much fun will it be to cast old-school clunkers like Torsten Von Ursus and Sir Shandlar ahead of curve and your opponents be unable to block them? Or an opponent telling the epic story of dying to a Craw Wurm they just couldn’t stop? If you really want to flex, you can snag a Beta Craw Wurm for $15!
You can round out your lower mana curve with a lot of Bear creatures with no abilities, and there’s enough you might even consider running an Ayula, Queen Among Bears in the deck.
Combat Damage Triggers
To further leverage unblockable vanilla creatures, we can run cards like Toski, Bearer of Secrets and Old Gnawbone to give us additional resources. Strixhaven Stadium can even provide a nice win condition, though you may want to have some Fog effects to keep your opponents from knocking off point counters on the attack back. One of my favorites is Tangle!
Lastly, we can make use of global pump effects like Mirari’s Wake and Gaea’s Anthem to boost your vanilla team. Of course, the pinnacle of those is going to be Beastmaster Ascension, which can quickly turn your team into a player-killing machine.
So, which of these previews are you most excited for? What other old-school legends are you hoping will get the Legends Retold treatment?
Talk to Me
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And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy.
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