Hello everyone! With the full spoiler for Dominaria United live, we can finally get into breaking down the cards with constructed applications!
Since I did individual card reviews already, rather than repeat myself, I’ll link the article, but still give the verdict and decklist if that’s what you’re more interested in. For this, I’m going to cover every Mythic, every Rare, and then choice uncommons and commons that have potential. Let’s get into it!
As always, here’s the scale I’ll be using to label the new cards that potentially have constructed applications.
- 0/5 – Unplayable in every sense.
- 1/5 – Extremely niche play or very unlikely to see play.
- 2/5 – Niche to no play, maybe playable in certain conditions.
- 3/5 – Reasonable playable. Not format breaking, but has the power level to see play in some strategy (or strategies).
- 4/5 – Very strong card, but not the best the format has to offer. Has the power level to see a lot of play.
- 5/5 – The very top of the format. This card will create a huge impact going forward on the format.
Ajani, Sleeper Agent
I cover this card in more detail in its dedicated article:
Jodah, the Unifier
Now THIS is a five-color card!
Historic was a keyword last time on Dominaria, but having a Lord for Legendary Creatures is a new one for me! The weird part about this card is that it says Legendary Creatures you control get +X/+X rather than other Legends so this will always be a 6/6 rather than a 5/5, but that’s not big deal. The real prize is that if you get to untap with this, you get to start cascading Legends into Legends!
While I think this card has some potential, it being extremely restrictive is likely it’s downfall. Needing to be five color and play a huge amount of Legends is a lot of hoops to jump through versus a traditionally powerful five drop. However, the ability is so powerful, there is a nonzero chance that it’s worth building around. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m willing to be convinced.
Rith, Liberated Primeval
Yet another wild card. First off, a five mana 5/5 Flying Ward 2 is a solid stat line, very reminiscent of Iymrith, Desert Doom, and it also gives other Dragons Ward 2 as well. Then, if you deal excess damage to a creature or planeswalker, you get a free Dragon out of the deal.
There haven’t been many cards that have cared about excess damage in Magic, so this is a strange one to me. It’s first a nonbo with Trample, and you have to kill a creature or planeswalker for this to do anything special. The nice part about this is that you can drop it and it’s still threatening the ability as long as it’s on board or you can deal excess damage and then play it for two Dragons. In a way, the closest comparison I can think of is Wingmate Roc as both can create a lot of power out of nowhere in a very “gotcha” style way.
To be honest, I’m really lost with this card. I’m perfectly torn down the middle as this reads like a trap, but may actually be super easy to pull off and be a huge threat. I think it’s equally likely that this card is meh and amazing, that’s how torn I am. To make a decision, I think the floor of a 5/5 Flying Ward 2 is not too bad, so it’s unlikely to be completely unplayable, and if you get the trigger even once, this card is pretty nuts. Let’s shoot high for this one.
Shanna, Purifying Blade
Wizards needs to cool it with these hard to evaluate cards. A three mana 3/3 Lifelink is an alright stat line, but being able to draw cards per life gained is definitely not something I’m used to.
While this could very well be a sleeper, I’m not particularly convinced here. The body, while alright, trades with a lot of creatures so it’ll be hard for it to make it to the end step to get the trigger unless you have more ways to gain life. Furthermore, dying to Lightning Strike is always going to be a demerit in my book. This may be easier to get cards with than it seems, like you can just play something like Gala Greeters to help you out, but I’m not a fan of jumping through hoops to make my three drops work generally speaking.
Soul of Windgrace
Flood protection on a stick? I’m in! While this would excel in a Standard with fetch lands, we can still make do with discard outlets such as Fable of the Mirror-Breaker or Liliana of the Veil to immediately get a trigger.
Furthermore, you could hold priority and then activate an ability to recur a land as the triggered ability doesn’t target to get some nice value there as well. I don’t think this card is going to be amazing, but it definitely seems quite solid as the stat line is good, and the abilities are relevant.
Zur, Eternal Schemer
I know Zur is traditionally Esper, but why aren’t you Green! This is awkward as Selesnya was the Enchantment creature colors in Kamigawa United and losing half of them is pretty rough. It’s unfortunate since giving those creatures deathtouch, lifelink, and hexproof is an obscene amount of keywords, but I don’t see how this is going to make the cut without Green being in the mix. Furthermore, this dying to Cut Down is extremely awkward and not where you want to be.
This is a super cool card and has powerful abilities, but has too much going against it.
Sol’Kanar the Tainted
Wizards has been loving their Demonic Pact cards recently and I’m all for it. Sol’Kanar is a fun one as this is the first time it’s been attached to a creature, and rather than losing the game, your opponent gets a crack at it on turn four instead! All the abilities are decent (especially since they’re free) and you have to get this killed, blink it, or win before the fourth end step to not give your opponent value which may unfortunately be a tough ask.
This is a tough one to evaluate as well as getting those abilities for free is strong (at least the card draw and Strangle), but having a five drop that can punish you for surviving rather than reward you is awkward. For what it’s worth, if you have a five drop live for multiple turns you’re probably winning regardless, but if Standard is grindy, this may end up as a liability rather than an asset. I could be wrong about it, but I’m not feeling it.
Now we’re talking!
While giving your opponent a card is unfortunate, a split Frilled Mystic / Ravenous Chupacabra is a pretty nasty combination to put on a card. It’s easy to get tricked into thinking this card isn’t good as it gives the opponent back a resource, but you’re likely killing/countering something better than their average card and getting a 3/2 out of the deal which makes this valuable. Furthermore, this plays really well with cards like The Wandering Emperor and Obscura Interceptor to make turn four absolutely miserable for the opponent.
In a sense, this card is a better Obscura Interceptor as it works even if killed and the card they’re getting is likely to be worse than the card they lost. That said, Obscura Interceptor also seemed very good and saw little play so I’m a little more cautious this time around, but this is definitely, at minimum, a solid card.
Rivaz of the Claw
This is the perfect example of powerful card that doesn’t have a good home. A three mana 3/3 doesn’t pass the Lightning Strike test, but being able to recur Dragons and add two mana towards them is a pretty powerful ability. Realistically, this card doesn’t have a home as there isn’t a Dragon tribal deck and their likely won’t be, but if it’s going to have a shot, this will be a part of it. Being good both early and late is the hallmark sign of a good card.
Meria, Scholar of Antiquity
Please, I’m not smart enough to review a card like this. This gives Urza, Lord High Artificer vibes with the first ability and even the second ability is somewhat reminscent of it as well, but this is clearly not a card designed for Standard. I’m sure people who are well versed in older formats will know what to do with this so I’ll give a rating specifically for Arena formats where this card isn’t going to cut it.
While powerful, this again isn’t a Standard card and the popular artifact deck is Azorius. To be fair for the rating, the asterisk will represent that I’m only taking Arena formats into consideration.
King Darien XLVIII
Ok, back to easier to evaluate cards, phew.
Darien is interesting as it’s a lord that works with all your creatures, the 3GW activated ability works with all your creatures, but the Heroic Intervention is just with tokens. Nevertheless, Benalish Marshal was a staple in it’s time, and this is definitely easier to cast. However, being two colors is also limiting, and failing both the Cut Down and Lightning Strike test is brutal.
Nonetheless, this seems like a strong enough card that some deck will be happy to play them.
Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief
I’ve seen this card design a few times, but this is definitely one of my favorite takes on it. This isn’t as exciting as Orvar, the All-Form, but being a two mana 2/1 Flier makes it much more reasonable to play as it’s not embarrassing even when you can’t get value from the ability. While this coming in as Dragonsguard Elite and Magecraft cards rotate out is awkward, I wouldn’t be surprised if this eventually finds it’s way into a Prowess style deck.
Stenn, Paranoid Partisan
A cost reducer for any card type other than creature? How interesting! This isn’t as obviously powerful as something like Goblin Electromancer as you have to choose one card type, but I can see this being good in something like Azorius Affinity as a way to further discount your cards.
The blink ability is also interested as I imagine it’s less about protecting itself and more about resetting what you named, which is helpful, but in reality you probably constructed your deck with one card type in mind anyway.
This isn’t an obviously powerful card so I don’t envision it’s seeing widespread play, but I can see it sneaking into a deck or two.
Ratadrabik of Urborg
Here’s another legends matter card, but this one is much trickier than Jodah. Rather than helping them outright, Ratadrabik needs them to die, but in return, will bring them back as nonlegendary 2/2s.
This evaluation is simple – this is a lot of hoops to jump through and a lot of implications in deck building that don’t seem remotely worth striving for. Furthermore, a four mana 3/3 body with Vigilance and Ward 2 is barely passable as this can’t even fight that well. Cool card, but doesn’t seem like a strong card.
Astor, Bearer of Blades
This has combo written all over it. Helping you search for a Vehicle or Equipment and then making them easy to use is a very interesting ability. Realistically, this card will only be good if there’s a combo shell that can support it, but if so, this will be an important piece.
Nemata, Primeval Warden
Now this is the definition of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet at home. A four mana 3/4 with Reach rather than Lifelink and making 1/1s instead of 2/2s, this is clearly an attempt to make a more balanced Kalitas, but I fear they may have gone too far. Nothing about this card is terribly impressive to me as needing two Saprolings to draw a card is a lot and just getting +2/+2 otherwise is unexciting.
That said, if there’s a Golgari Midrange deck in Standard, you would likely still play this and it would probably be fine, but I’m not a huge fan.
Jhoira, Ageless Innovator
Why are there so many tough cards to evaluate in this set? Whenever you can cheat on mana, especially with a cheap card, that should always raise eyebrows. Furthermore, it scaling up and letting you cheat bigger and bigger things into play is also extremely interesting, but I have absolutely no idea where you would want this.
This reads as excellent, but without a home, does nothing. If a deck would want this type of effect, it’s probably going to be excellent there, but it’s hard to say if that deck exists. I’ll rate it as if a shell does exist for it though and just throw in an asterisk.
Balmor, Battlemage Captain
For those who’ve been following me for awhile, you know I’m a huge fan of Izzet Blitz in Historic, and this seems like the perfect replacement for Sprite Dragon. Giving your board +1/+0 and Trample with each spell cast is going to kill a lot of people out of nowhere in the future, and the fact that this isn’t creature type specific makes it tenable in other Blitz shells as well.
Baird, Argivian Recruiter
A two drop that can amke a 1/1 every turn is worth looking into, but this is clearly going to be dependent on how many ways you have to buff your creatures. This could easily fit into a tokens shell with King Darien XLVIII, Wedding Announcement, and Jetmir, Nexus of Revels so this seems quite reasonable to me.
Garna, Bloodfist of Keld
This card is likely too cute, but being able to get cards or a damage with each creature that died is a good ability, even if its on a four drop that fails the Lightning Strike test. I doubt this will be good enough, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim
Now this is a Blood Artist! While still weaker than the original and Zulaport Cutthroat, this is still good enough to do something in Standard or in older formats. Being Legendary is definitely unfortunate, but not a deal breaker by any means.
Queen Allenal of Ruadach
Creatures that have power and toughness contingent on board presence have generally not been good, but one that helps create a wider board is interesting. Likely doesn’t make the cut, but worth keeping an eye on.
Karn, Living Legacy
I cover this card in more detail in its dedicated article:
Although a Commander staple, Gilded Lotus has never made much of a splash on Standard, but that only tapped for a measly three mana! Timeless Lotus being able to tap for five, even at the expense of coming into play tapped, is definitely interesting. I’m not sure what you would want to do with this beyond some shenanigans with Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset, but there could be something here.
While stopping people from using Phyrexian mana or abilities that cost life is interesting, the real prize here is a colorless Pernicious Deed. While this normally wouldn’t be that amazing, in conjunction with Karn, the Great Creator, you have a way to tutor for a cheap board clear that Arena formats didn’t have access to before (in older formats there was Perilous Vault, but that’s not great.) Just for that, this card has a good amount of practicality.
I cover this card in more detail in its dedicated article:
So this is a very nifty Blink engine that’s very reminiscent of Teleportation Circle, but potentially higher upside as you can crew with as many creatures as you want. The issue is that this has to attack to get the abiltiies and it does nothing the turn it comes in, so compared to Teleportation Circle, the floor is lower as well. Considering Circle was a fringe playable in Standard, I expect the same from this.
Relic of Legends
While these styles of decks aren’t my cup of tea, apparently this is absolutely busted in Kethis decks for Historic as highlighted by Josh in his Legendary article. Making comboing off way easier is definitely a dangerous prospect so I’ll be interested to see if this becomes a piece for a deck needing a power up or something that pushes it over the edge.
Plaza of Heroes
A land that can tap for any color without investing mana into it is always something to examine, even if the condition is a bit restrictive. While needing to cast a Legenday spell or have a Legendary nonland permanent to get this effect isn’t ideal, this is a big deal for Legends matter decks like Kethis, the Hidden Hand and could even see play in regular decks that have a high incidence of legendary permanents.
The first time I read this I thought it was a City of Brass that got a basic land typing and the expense of only tapping for that color. Not amazing, but definitely workable. Later, I learned that my brain glossed over the fast land clause on it. This is a very bad land. It’s awkward because if you play it early, you’ll get dealt more damage, but if you play it late, it’s leagues worse than a basic as it enters tapped. I feel only the most desperate mana bases would ever want to touch this.
With a wide range of cards from super cool to very powerful, Dominaria United is definitely going to be a set to remember!
Thank you for reading!