Revisiting Dominaria And The Set’s Most Popular Commander Cards

Return to the plane where it all began! Join Bennie Smith for a look back at what Dominaria gave to Commander, and what we might have to look forward to in Dominaria United

Muldrotha, the Gravetide, illustrated by Jason Rainville

If I have my dates correct, August 10th is when the epic story begins for Dominaria United, the latest return to the plane where Magic began. The last time we were here was in the Spring of 2018 for the Dominaria set, which featured Richard Garfield on the design team to help really capture nostalgia for Magic’s roots. For Commander fans, Dominaria delivered the goods, featuring a legendary creature in every booster pack, and a whopping 42 brand new legendary creatures you could build Commander decks around.  In the lead-up to Dominaria United I thought it would be fun to take a look at what Dominaria brought Commander fans these past four years.

Checking the Dominaria commanders on EDHREC, there’s one card that stands tentacles and shoulders above all the rest when it comes to decks built in their database—mighty Muldrotha, the Gravetide!

Muldrotha, the Gravetide

As of this writing, Muldrotha commands over 7,600 decks and has a clear lead over the other Dominaria legends.  If you take a look at the Top 100 commanders from the past two years, Muldrotha still commands a solid 11th place slot even with all the new legends Wizards of the Coast (WotC) has churned out since then. And with good reason—building a powerful Muldrotha deck is easy and fun. You simply play permanents that go to the graveyard, most easily by self-sacrificing.  Cards like Spore Frog, Seal of Primordium, Aether Spellbomb and Sakura-Tribe Elder are staples for the deck. The six-mana cost for Muldrotha may seem a little pricey, but with green in its color identity ramping your land isn’t a problem. If you wait to cast Muldrotha until you can play a fetchland from your graveyard as your land drop for the turn – something like Verdant Catacombs or Fabled Passage – you’re already halfway towards paying the commander tax to play it again. Which makes trying to keep Muldrotha in check very difficult. I’ve described Muldrotha as brutally relentless, and once Muldrotha hits the battlefield the rest of the game revolves around either blunting the presence of Muldrotha with removal or graveyard hate, or player removal.

Next up with over 4,200 decks on EDHREC is Jodah, Archmage Eternal!

Jodah, Archmage Eternal

It’s interesting that Jodah is only #8 of most popular legal five-color commanders over on EDHREC, which I suppose is testament to the sheer number of five-color choices available. Jodah’s appeal is pretty straight-forward: cast the most expensive and powerful spells across any color in Magic’s history for the low, low cost of five mana. It does this by being a four mana Jeskai 4/3 flying Human Wizard with Fist of Suns’ text box. What sort of expensive spells are we talking about?  Omniscience, Conflux, Apex Devastator, Ruinous Ultimatum, Genesis Ultimatum and Emergent Ultimatum!  How about Zacama, Primal Calamity, Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, and Avacyn, Angel of Hope? Or why not drop the Eldrazi titans Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth? And there’s always Blightsteel Colossus and Sheoldred, Whispering One. Casting any one of these spells the turn after you cast your commander is sure to immediately take over the game, so your opponents are incentivized to never let Jodah stick around that long on the battlefield or, as plan B, player removal.  Hm, that sounds a lot like Muldrotha, though instead of a relentless value grind Jodah delivers one knock-out punch after another.

At number three with over 3,800 decks, we have Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain!

Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain

The first time we saw Jhoira as a legend was Jhoira of the Ghitu from Future Sight. That card actually played a lot like Jodah, casting huge spells at a discount but Jhoira did it by giving it suspend with four-time counters on it, so you have to wait for your big splashy spells. Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain plays a lot differently but is quite powerful in its own right. It’s simple line of text: “Whenever you cast a historic spell, draw a card.” But there are a ton of powerful artifacts you can play in Commander, and if each time you cast one it replaces itself with another card, that advantage snowballs very quickly. You’ll want artifacts like Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Mana Crypt, Psychosis Crawler, Scrap Trawler, Spellskite, and Solemn Simulacrum to start with. Things get crazy when you can discount your artifacts with cards like Etherium Sculptor, Enthusiastic Mechanaut and Foundry Inspector and chain together a big turn casting a lot of artifacts, maybe with an artifact like Aetherflux Reservoir on the battlefield and return a bunch of artifacts back to your hand with Paradoxical Outcome and cast them all again. Gain enough life and you can shoot down several players with Aetherflux Reservoir.  There are even legendary creatures that count as historic and fit in nicely with this strategy—Birgi, God of Storytelling; Sai, Master Thopterist, and big bad Urza, Lord High Artificer.

So, you like drawing lots of cards but Izzet isn’t your color preference, how about Simic?  Dominaria has a legend for you in Tatyova, Benthic Druid!  It’s the fourth most popular Dominaria legend on EDHREC with over 2,800 decks.

Tatyova, Benthic Druid

Are you playing lands in your Simic Commander deck?  Tatyova rewards you for it by drawing you a card and gaining you a life for each land that enters the battlefield under your control. Remember when I said that building a powerful Muldrotha deck was easy? Building a powerful Tatyova is even easier. You can stuff your deck with every fetchland imaginable to get two cards and two life for each land you play: Misty Rainforest, Terramorphic Expanse, Prismatic Vista, Bant Panorama, even the new auto-sacrifice ones from Streets of New Capenna like Brokers Hideout. Green also gives you a ton of ways to play multiple lands in a turn, like Azusa, Lost but Seeking, Exploration, Wayward Swordtooth and Sakura-Tribe Scout. At this point why not harness all the powerful landfall cards available in Simic too—Lotus Cobra, Retreat to Coralhelm, Rampaging Baloths, Tireless Provisioner, Avenger of Zendikar and Scute Swarm. With a lands-matter card drawing engine always available in your command zone, you will never run out of gas.

I was going to specifically call out the top five Dominaria legends, but the next two were so close you get a bonus “fifth place” deck. Currently just edging ahead with over 2,400 decks on EDHREC is Slimefoot, the Stowaway!

Slimefoot, the Stowaway

What I love about Slimefoot as compared to the previous callouts is that you have to work to leverage Slimefoot’s ability to its fullest. I mean, you could just rely on Slimefoot’s activated ability as the only way to take advantage of its triggered ability, but what’s the fun in that?  Cards that make and care about Saprolings have been around since the earliest Magic sets, with classics like Verdant Force, Thallid Devourer, Elvish Farmer, and Spore Flower, and newer ones like Undercellar Myconid, Deathspore Thallid, Utopia Mycon, Sporoloth Ancient and Sporesower ThallidDominaria brought a fair number of even new ones to the mix such as Sporecrown Thallid, Thallid Soothsayer, Deathbloom Thallid, Yavimaya Sapherd, and Thallid Omnivore. If you love Slimefoot, I can’t imagine there won’t be at least a few more Fungus and Saproling cards in Dominaria United!

In second fifth place, also with over 2,400 decks on EDHREC is Marwyn, the Nurturer!

Marwyn, the Nurturer

Now, when I think of a mono-green Elf tribal leader, my mind immediately goes to Ezuri, Renegade Leader, so I was surprised to see that Marwyn, the Nurturer was more popular. Of course, budget might account for some of that, with Marwyn available for under a buck while Ezuri pushes over $5, but the big difference is that Ezuri is a mana sink while Marwyn produces mana. Marwyn gets a +1/+1 counter each time an Elf enters the battlefield under your control and taps for a green mana equal to Marwyn’s power, so Marwyn is going to naturally get bigger and make more mana as you cast Elf spells or make Elf tokens. You’ll want lots of ways to draw cards to keep fueling the engine—mono-green Elf decks are notoriously vulnerable to multiple battlefield sweepers like Wrath of God.  So, add in Beast Whisperer, Return of the Wildspeaker, Realmwalker, Harmonize, Shamanic Revelation, and Glimpse of Nature to keep your hand full.

Honorable Mentions

Traxos, Scourge of Kroog Lyra Dawnbringer Shalai, Voice of Plenty Valduk, Keeper of the Flame Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar Yargle, Glutton of Urborg Arvad the Cursed

Dominaria‘s bench of legendary creatures is deep, so I wanted to ensure I called out a fair number of honorable mentions. Traxos, Scourge of Kroog brings an interesting choice for a colorless Commander deck to the table, and I just recently built it for my deck collection. Even though the mantle has recently passed to Giada, Font of Hope, Lyra Dawnbringer lit the torch for monowhite Angel deck fans everywhere. Shalai, Voice of Plenty is a powerful collection of abilities that probably plays better in the 99 of Commander decks. I have had a Valduk, Keeper of the Flame deck together for years and simply love it and if you’re interested I wrote about it here: No Guts, No Glory! Epic Storytelling in Commander.

Multani remains a powerful card that I think too many people have forgotten about, and wrote about it recently here: The Best MTG Commanders You’re Not Playing (But Should Be). I was so inspired by writing about it that I built a Multani deck for my own collection.

Yargle is simply the coolest vanilla creature ever created, and even inspired an entire Secret Lair dedicated to our Frog Horror friend, Happy Yargle Day!  Which gives us one of the coolest Magic arts ever for Yargle’s Explore:

Much to my infinite sadness, the artist Franz Vohwinkel doesn’t offer any art prints or playmats for this art and ignores any attempts to contact him about offering them in the future. I still hold out hope that maybe one day I’ll have the art outside of just digital.

Last but not least, I’d like to call out Arvad the Cursed.  With each Magic set there’s another handful of legendary creatures printed so “legends matter” cards just get better and better. You can certainly make a reasonable deck around Orzhov legends if you wanted to today, and if enough legendary Vampires get printed in Orzhov colors, you could even build that with Arvad as your commander.

Outside of legendary creatures, let’s take a look at some other cards from Dominaria that made a splash in Commander.


Blackblade Reforged Helm of the Host Mox Amber Weatherlight

If you know me at all, you know how much I love Blackblade Reforged, which to my mind is one of the best Equipment cards ever printed for Commander. I even made a meme about it.

With Blackblade Reforged in your deck, even the most puny, non-aggressive commander can suit up and kill someone with commander damage if you need to, and to my mind it warrants a slot in your deck. Plus, the Richard Kane Ferguson art and special frame treatment is smoking hot and not much more than the regular printing.  Seriously, put that sh*t in your deck!

Helm of the Host is a fun card that does crazy things in some Commander decks, so I see it pop up in games all the time. Being able to make non-legendary versions of legendary creatures is the sort of insane stuff that Commander players love. Mox Amber is one of the cheaper zero mana artifacts out there and is definitely playable in Commander. Weatherlight is a card I rarely see played, but as Vehicles have gotten more and more support – especially in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty – I think it’s worth a second look.


Oath of Teferi The Mending of Dominaria The Mirari Conjecture The Eldest Reborn

For enchantments, Oath of Teferi is the bomb-diggity if your deck has enough planeswalkers or if your commander is itself a planeswalker. I have an Estrid, the Masked deck that loves hitting Oath of Teferi at some point during the game. Dominaria introduced the Saga enchantments to Magic, and we’ve gotten a bunch of them in the years since. I don’t see them all that often in Commander, but I do still think The Mending of Dominaria, The Mirari Conjecture, and The Eldest Reborn do some cool things and are worth keeping in mind.  The Mending of Dominaria in particular is a card that I constantly try to find room in my green decks but almost always gets cut sadly. Maybe we’ll get enough new Saga cards in Dominaria United for me to take a stab at building Satsuki, the Living Lore?


Danitha Capashen, Paragon Tiana, Ship's Caretaker Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive Squee, the Immortal Jhoira's Familiar Rat Colony

Outside of commanders, Dominaria brought us legendary creatures that are just good as creatures in the 99 of your decks. Danitha Capashen and Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker are solid cards to slot into Aura or Equipment decks if they fit the color identity. Tetsuko Umezawa does a nice job or sliding small creatures past blockers and is especially effective if you make a bunch of small token creatures. And Squee, the Immortal is a fabulous design that’s a nice call back to the original Squee, Goblin Nabob. If you have a Food Chain deck with access to red like my Prossh, Skyraider of Kher deck, Dominaria‘s version of Squee will do some good work for you.

Jhoira’s Familiar offers another way to discount artifact spells, while also helping shave off a mana from your commander or other historic spells along the way.  Rat Colony nicely breaks the rules of Magic and Commander by letting your run a deck stuffed to the gills with copies of Rat Colony like its predecessor Relentless Rats. I’m hoping for a reprint of this card in Dominaria United to help push the price down a bit since $2 or so for an uncommon is a little pricey when you need to fill out half your deck with it.

Instants and Sorceries

Primevals' Glorious Rebirth Final Parting Broken Bond Unwind Karn's Temporal Sundering Urza's Ruinous Blast Yawgmoth's Vile Offering

There weren’t a ton of instant or sorcery cards that have made a big splash in Commander. Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth is expensive but can be a backbreaking spell if you’ve got a way to put a bunch of legendary permanents into your graveyard. I remember playing a fellow at SCG CON some years back that had a five-color planeswalker deck, and just when we thought we’d managed to contain the Planeswalker madness he cast this spell and got them all back. Final Parting is a card I think a lot of people forget about, but it will do heavy lifting in decks that care about the graveyard. Broken Bond should be considered in the utility slot for any deck that cares about making extra land drops. Unwind is the only instant that makes the list as a “free” counterspell on the order of Rewind and should definitely make the cut in spellslinger-style decks.

Of the legendary sorcery cycle, the only ones that I see played in Commander are the blue, white and black one.  An extra turn, a battlefield sweeper, and a reanimation spell stapled to a removal spell are all solid effects in the format, but the condition of having a legendary creature or planeswalker in play to cast them makes them just awkward enough that many people choose not to play them.


Teferi, Hero of Dominaria Karn, Scion of Urza Jaya Ballard

Of the three Dominaria planeswalkers I’ve only seen Teferi, Hero of Dominaria at a Commander table.  It attracts a fair amount of hate from players due to the ultimate ability, so it’ll maybe draw a card or two before it gets taken down.

I’m very curious to see what WotC brings us in Dominaria United.  Since Dominaria, WotC has brought together a Casual Play Design team whose mission is to make Commander and other casual formats fun and balanced. It’ll be interesting to see what the tension between the needs of Standard and Commander has on a high-legendary set. I really like the direction Casual Play Design has had lately on making legendary creatures powerful in niche plays rather than generically good, but how would that play out in Sealed and Draft with the same cards? Previews start soon, so we’ll get a better idea then.  What do you think we’ll see in Dominaria United?

Talk to Me

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  You can also find my LinkTree on my profile page there with links to all my content.

I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do Commander, Brawl and sometimes other Magic-related streams when I can.  If you can’t join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.  You can also find the lists for my paper decks over on Archidekt if you want to dig into how I put together my own decks and brews. 

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

Visit my Decklist Database to see my decklists and the articles where they appeared!