Usually, I begin my preview articles with the supporting cast of characters that makes a new card appealing. Going over the synergies, predicted metagame, and situational strength of it are a few tricks in my card unveiling, but this is not an ordinary circumstance. If I were a midrange and/or aggro enthusiast, there would be a pile of preview cards that I would rant and rave about each season. The strength of control options has dropped so drastically, I’m still in a state of shock as I write this article. Cards of this magnitude come to control decks only once in a blue moon.
With the existence of Shatter the Sky in Standard, I was not on the lookout for another white sweeper. Black has a few powerful options as well, making control solid in that category. The weakness lies in early removal for white-based control decks, which has plagued it for years. There is nothing outside of mediocre handling of attackers, or a sorcery-speed artifact or enchantment on Turn 2. This has made the burden fall on the sweeper, Shatter the Sky in this situation, to handle all the early-game pressure an aggro deck can muster. Somehow, Doomskar has added to the strength of sweepers and provided a quicker route to wiping all creatures off the battlefield.
A five-mana sweeper is something I would likely scroll past in any given preview season. Time Wipe was around, but Kaya’s Wrath was the sweeper of choice if the mana could handle it. There were situations where I had a value creature that I was looking to return; however, that scenario was rarely worth the additional mana investment. Here we see another five-mana sweeper, but that’s the only similarity it has with a card like Time Wipe. Doomskar is an absolute all-star which will revolutionize control across the format spectrum overnight.
I touched on the foretell mechanic last week. There’s already a counterspell in Saw It Coming which automatically becomes my three-mana blue permission spell of choice. The upside of its predecessors was decent, offering some lifegain, scry 1, or cycling, but this is different. Saw It Coming provides a mana discount, arguably the best upside that they could attach, making it the easy frontrunner to join Doomskar.
The more cards with foretell in the deck, the more mind games that lead to play mistakes by the opponent. A counterspell and a sweeper are great; however, adding a card draw spell puts the whole package over the top. Behold the Multiverse is the most powerful card draw spell in Standard, rivaling Omen of the Sea and Frantic Inventory for control’s top choice. In a deck with Yorion, Sky Nomad, it’s likely Omen of the Sea and Behold the Multiverse make the cut, with Frantic Inventory sitting out for obvious reasons. The existence of these three cards creates the environment control needs, always having the opponent guessing, starting on Turn 2.
Even if these other foretell cards were trash, Doomskar would still be the best sweeper in Standard. With the supporting cast of characters mentioned, making it the starter in all white-based control deck is a slam dunk. Shatter the Sky is great but Doomskar is special. Prepping for a sweeper on Turn 2 automatically sends any opponent into the tank, having to rationalize additional battlefield pressure when a possible Doomskar is on the horizon.
The beauty of having these three spells as your possible Turn 2 plays is the versatility they present. Using foretell on Turn 2 with a Behold the Multiverse might be necessary in order to hit a land drop on Turn 3. Any opponent who has a creature out to pressure will be tempted to do something else with their turn rather than feed into the Doomskar. This leads into more manageable battlefields and missed opportunities by aggro opponents. These matchups are usually decided by a few life points, making Doomskar a nightmare for aggro players while it remains legal in Standard.
The early criticisms of Doomskar are the two turns required to set it up and the five-mana investment. If my sweepers in my hand were visible to my opponents, my win percentage would not be affected much. Aggressive decks in most formats require a strong battlefield presence, especially those that a Turn 3 sweeper is needed against, making the information a negligible downside. This applies when Doomskar is the only foretell card being played or the opponent gets a soul-read on you. In either situation, the information loss is a negative I’m happy to live with.
The top aggro decks in most formats require a critical mass of threatening damage on the battlefield to achieve victory. Against decks like Mono-Red Burn, Doomskar might not be as impactful as a run-of-the-mill Wrath of God, but sweepers against those decks are historically weak. Decks do not drop a creature on Turn 1 and burn you every turn these days, which is why Shatter the Sky and Extinction Event have been so strong in Standard recently. Foretelling a Doomskar to the opponent will have mixed effects, but if the opponent is wrong and holds back from casting additional threats, these early concerns are going to be laughed at in hindsight.
The midrange decks will not be as impacted by a sneaky sweeper like Doomskar, but they are already susceptible to that effect in general. All cards that wipe out the battlefield are strong against most midrange decks, handling creatures regardless of how sturdy they are. Cards like Extinction Event were especially effective against the busted creatures that returned to the battlefield from the graveyard, but overall, Shatter the Sky is the stronger spell in Standard. Since we can comfortably wait until Turn 5 for a sweeper, Doomskar remains the strongest option by a mile.
Shatter the Sky has a small downside which becomes a factor against midrange decks. In most situations, Shatter the Sky provides a free card to the midrange opponent and Doomskar does not. For an additional mana, Doomskar wipes out the giant enemy creatures with ease. Although the Turn 3 hit is not necessary against these decks, the discounted cast later in the game may prove to be more impactful than I give it credit for.
When control slaps around midrange decks, it’s usually with the power of a two-spell turn. These turns in the mid-game allow control to handle the biggest threat on the battlefield, while either establishing some presence with a permanent or disrupting the next spell. Using foretell to hide away a Doomskar for later use can set up a cheap sweeper with enough mana to interact easily with another threat from the midrange opponent. This benefit also comes without the opponent drawing the card, making my choice even easier.
The application of Doomskar transcends Standard play. It will be the main sweeper of control decks in Historic, easily outshining the original Wrath of God. For most of the reasons mentioned while comparing it to Shatter the Sky, Doomskar is an overall more powerful card than Wrath of God moving forward. It’s a bit painful to admit, as I have cast Wrath of God thousands of times in my life. The nostalgia that Wrath of God reignited in me when it was brought into Historic was wonderful, but something happened that I did not think was possible.
Wizards of the Coast (WotC) made it clear that four-mana sweepers were as extinct as the dinosaurs. Get used to it, they said, and expect to pay a higher premium for killing all the creatures on the battlefield from here on out. That rule was eliminated with the release of Kaya’s Wrath, but its mana cost was brutal. Double white and double black to get a low-upside sweeper was not what the doctor ordered for control players. We used it of course, because we make do with what we are given, but the strong spells of the past are what our hearts remembered.
Shatter the Sky was the next step in the rule-breaking evolution. The card-draw downside was a small price to pay for our four-mana sweeper back. Since it was released, white-based control has been viable, even without the early-game removal at its disposal. Now with Doomskar, a three-mana sweeper is possible, with no downside, and joins white-based control with other amazing foretell cards all at once. Kaldheim has really done it for the control team and I will likely be sending a thank-you card to those I suspect were responsible.
Decklists were in development at the Soorani household, but Dimir Control has officially been scrapped. There’s no way I play a new format without Doomskar as the centerpiece, meaning my choices are down to Azorius Control or Esper Control with the assistance of Yorion, Sky Nomad. The mana for Esper Control is significantly better and provides two-mana removal options; however, the threat of a follow-up Turn 3 sweeper may make the splash unnecessary. Expect my next article to break down our options for the new format.
I wanted to finish this article on a bold prediction. There is already a swell of negativity to respond to the avalanche of positivity when this card was previewed online. Some have said it is one of the best sweepers, in the Top 5, or in the Top 3, of all time.
On the record, Doomskar is the best sweeper of its respective Standard. It is miles ahead of Wrath of God, significantly better than Terminus, and is slightly better than Supreme Verdict. Supreme Verdict has another use in Modern because of Force of Negation; having it as a blue card to pitch when not required is a very strong bonus. This is not to say Doomskar is worse than Supreme Verdict in Modern, because I do believe it is better by a small margin. Personally, my Azorius Control decks in Modern will be playing a secret card with foretell starting in a few weeks.
Doomskar being the best sweeper ever in any respective Standard is a strong title, but there is one hitch in the ultimate trophy. I believe that Toxic Deluge is the best sweeper the game has ever seen, simply for the three-mana static cost and minor life investment. Outside of Toxic Deluge, I would run the crowning ceremony for Doomskar myself, but it will have to be the runner-up here.
Regardless, Doomskar has been special for me and I’m excited to bamboozle many opponents soon.