Hey everyone! We’re back for my favorite time of year. That’s right it’s pumpkin spice season! Oh, I guess you are here for Magic stuff. Let’s try that again… It’s new card preview season! I’m really excited to be heading back into Dominaria to throw down with the Phyrexians for the fate of the multiverse. So, let’s get down to the business of how these cards are going to be playing out in Dominaria United Limited.
Here’s the usual grading scale:
- 5.0: Disgustingly powerful and basically unbeatable. Either answer it the turn it comes down or just pack up your cards. (Tovolar's Huntmaster, The Meathook Massacre, Starnheim Unleashed)
- 4.5: Incredible bomb that still gives your opponent a slim chance. (Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Alrund's Epiphany, Grand Master of Flowers)
- 4.0: Great rare or the absolute best uncommons and removal. (Froghemoth, Morbid Opportunist, Skullport Merchant)
- 3.5: Great role filler or removal that you never cut. (Magic Missile, Cathartic Pyre, Battle Cry Goblin)
- 3.0: Good playable that I’m basically never cutting. (Usher of the Fallen, Search Party Captain, Dragon Turtle)
- 2.5: Decent playable and the bar I hope nearly every card in my deck to reach. (Mourning Patrol, Steadfast Paladin, Goblin Morningstar)
- 2.0: Mediocre filler that normally is your 20-23rd card(s). (Contact Other Plane, Mindleech Ghoul, Timberland Guide)
- 1.5: Replaceable, overall bad filler. Could also be decent sideboard cards. (Secrets of the Key, Spiked Pit Trap, Village Rites)
- 1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Secret Door, Mystic Skull, Funeral Longboat)
- 0.5: Very unhappy to main deck this, but maybe it has fringe sideboard applications. (You See a Guard Approach, Bramble Armor, Compelled Duel)
- 0.0: Unplayable in every possible situation. (Mimic, Change of Fortune, Curse of Shaken Faith)
Table of Contents
We finally know what they repurposed Chrome Cat into. A librarian murder bot. Shoosh or die!
This is your typical filler artifact creature that you take at the end of the draft and reluctantly stick in your deck over an eighteenth land.
Another entry in the list of cards that are clearly flying in the picture, but bafflingly enough do not actually fly. This would be much, much better if it actually flew.
As it is, you really need to stack up some ETB effects to truly take advantage of this. Otherwise it’s just an overcosted vehicle.
This is the kind of heirloom that ends up chilling in a box in the attic. While it does get better with legendary creatures, how many of them are you really expecting to have. You really need certain rares to actively want to play this, namely Danitha, Benalia's Hope or Astor, Bearer of Blades.
I was extremely disappointed with this once I read the fine print and found out that the grabbing a land isn’t a may ability. If you could choose to functionally cycle this later in the game, I would probably play this in a lot of decks.
Getting a land drop out of it and putting the rest on the bottom doesn’t even really thin your deck until you get down to that point.
If you’re playing a Domain deck and in need of a way to pull ahead in the late game, then this is fine since you are just tapping it to draw a card every turn. It’s not likely that you will be in both of those situations because the nature of playing Domain means you can take the high end cards in any color.
Karn, Living Legacy
I was all ready to make Karn jokes, but there are situations where this might be playable. Pretty much every Planeswalker has been “playable” in limited under the right circumstances. You could even build a Kaya, Geist Hunter deck in Innistrad: Crimson Vow where you just played control until the ultimate won the game for you. That’s probably where Karn is going to be acceptable, protect him until you get the ultimate off and start pinging away at things.
You can also use him for pretty bad card advantage. No matter what though, Planeswalkers eventually demand that they deal with them and even a relatively bad one like this manages to pull that off.
Delayed sweeper effects have never really been good in limited. If they see it coming and walk into it further, you should be winning that game anyway.
The only time the “can’t pay life” abilities matters is if your opponent plays one of the Defilers and doesn’t have enough mana to play the spell otherwise. So pretty much not relevant in any way whatsoever.
The reason I don’t have this lower is that it is at least scaleable, so you can play larger creatures to hold their side at bay before blowing this up to kill all of their smaller creatures.
There will be times that you shamefully play this card, but I hope it’s not too often. There are just better ways to fix your mana floating around and five mana sorcery speed Shock is ultra sadge. It is pretty embarrassing when you kill your opponent with this though.
Relic of Legends
How is this picking up that huge thing in the picture and only has one power? Another poor way to fix your mana if you’re desperate, but nothing more.
I’m telling you the wall deck is real. It’s actually kind of funny because when I started writing these, I thought I would be the only one trying to pull off the Defender deck early. Now I see it all over the place so I’m going to have to hard avoid it for a couple weeks before I get to give it a go.
Noooooooopppppppppppeeeeeeeeeee! Seriously what am I playing off this? Emrakul, the Aeons Torn?
It’s not that this is awful, there just really isn’t a good home for this. Weenie decks have better things to do like Heroic Charge than attack with one dude with plus two power.
This is actually a pretty sweet piece for the Defender deck because it gives you another way to win by convincing your walls to walk over and smash your opponent in the face. It just doesn’t do much if you’re playing any other archetype because it’s hampered by the sorcery speed requirement.
After twenty-five years of saving the world, the ship has turned heel and joined the Phyrexians. This might be more devastating than when Hulk Hogan joined the NWO. It’s not willing to work for humans anymore as it doesn’t even have a Crew cost.
This is an odd card as playing it early hampers your development and playing it later misses out on opportunities to get counters on it. It’s also easier to activate this in a go wide deck, but you’d much rather be playing a way to get your opponent dead than slowly building up to this activating.
Pain Lands and Tapped Dual Lands
It’s going to be a debate between these and the tapped common duals so I’m just going to cover everything about them here. I rank them all about the same in a vacuum, but it varies from deck to deck the actual order for them.
In a straight two-color deck, the on-color Painlands are slightly better because they come into play untapped. I also prefer the Painlands if it’s a splash for power cards, removal, or paying an off-color Kicker. I value being able to play the spell right away more than I am worried about potentially taking a damage. Most of the time you’ll be tapping them for colorless anyway.
If you have Domain cards in your deck, then I almost immediately want to switch to having the dual lands since they count as two. Depending on how many Domain cards I have, I might even play what is functionally a colorless tapland to add two more types to my spells.
If you need a way to pay off color kickers or didn’t get any fixing, then this isn’t the worst card in the world. Coming into play untapped with a scry 1 almost….almost makes up for making anything you want to play off of it cost one more. At least it’s not Unknown Shores.
Plaza of Heroes
This grade is assuming you have typically end up with a couple Legends in your deck. If you have zero legends then you can drop this down to a 0.0.
If you are playing a five-color soup with a bunch of Legends, this is up there as one of the best cards you can possibly open. Having an untapped five-color land that can sac to save something is actually pretty insane so while they say don’t meet your heroes, if I have this I really want to meet a con full of them.
I don’t think I am ever going to be so desperate for fixing that I am willing to lose one life every time I use this land. It even comes in tapped when it’s past turn two which makes it significantly worse than a random common dual. Maybe if you are ridiculously aggro and have very heavy color requirements.
Ajani, Sleeper Agent
I’m still not over what you did Ajani… Apparently neither is WotC because your card is so much worse than Jaya, Fiery Negotiator.
In a creature heavy deck, the uptick is on average going to draw a card every other turn. Actual results may vary such as approximately never when I do it while my opponent will have a 100% success rate. Thanks Arena.
The counters and vigilance can be really nice, but 3 loyalty is a pretty steep cost for them. While the emblem is obviously going to end up as one of our weekly bounties on the podcast (The Draft Lab Podcast, it’s awesome, give it a listen).
Aron, Benalia’s Ruin
Astor, Bearer of Blades
The cards to really take advantage of this ability don’t exist in this format. The only equipment in the format are Hero's Heirloom and Vanquisher's Axe, neither of which you normally want to be playing.
It does have some cool synergy to give Weatherlight Compleated crew 1 so you can actually get in there with it. The only other vehicle is the Golden Argosy so unless you’re rolling on the double rares, the vehicles part isn’t going to come up much.
That leaves this as basically a 4/4 for four with some potential upside if the draft shakes out right. You also have to not draw the card you want to hit with this and have it be in your top seven to get paid off for it.
Baird, Argivian Recruiter
Its really easy to trigger this in this set because of Enlist which is all over the place in this color combination. You can also use equipment, +1/+1 counters, a pump spell, whatever. You can do it all kinds of ways. Get creative to add some spice to your game and Baird will add an extra person to mix to keep the party going.
Balmor, Battlemage Captain
Izzet going to end games in a hurry? Yes. Izzet going to be awesome? Oh baby, it’s gonna rain hot fire from the skies.
We have a set full of cheap blue and red spells with cantrips to go along with a bunch of efficient creatures. This goes perfect with all of that to light up the night (and your opponent’s face).
This is trolling us by not bringing back anything costing more than five even with full Domain. That’s like Grandma taking you to the store and telling you to pick out anything that’s not over five dollars. Sure, I can find something and probably be happy with it, but damn it Grandma I want that Megatron and it’s sitting right there in front of me.
In reality though, it will bring back almost everything in the set as long as your land profile is up to snuff. I’d drop it down half a grade if you’re just Golgarbage where its mostly a giant Gravedigger.
Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim
You can tell all you need to know about an old school magic player by how they feel about Ertai. This version is pretty cool flavor wise though. It’s a twisted take on Venser, Shaper Savant where it kills or counters it, then replaces it with another card instead of just returning the spell or creature to their hand.
Garna, Bloodfist of Keld
If you’re the beatdown, then this is insane as they either take a bunch of damage or trade off to fuel the fires of your onslaught. If you’re the control, this is actually pretty bad because they aren’t likely to care about taking a few extra points. I’m not trying to body shame here, but it’s also not the best for the casting cost.
Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief
This adorable little faerie rogue seems innocent enough as a 2/1 flyer for two. In reality it loves getting into mischief and wrecking dreams. The absurd thing to do is target another of your creatures with a kicked Strength of the Coalition to call the bartender for a whole other round of counters for your entire side. It’s also cool when you can Shore Up another creature in response to them targeting Ivy or draw an extra card off Timely Interference.
Jhoira, Ageless Innovator
I have some bad news for Jhoira, I checked the artifacts and there really isn’t anything in this set worth using this with. Well at least it’s still a 2/3 for two even if it is hard to cast.
Jodah, the Unifier
It really is impossible to give a realistic grade for this. If you are in the five-color soup, pile of legends deck then this is ridiculous and should be taken as such. If you’re in any normal deck, it’s at least a mythic for the collection.
King Darien XLVIII
Three mana Glorious Anthem on a stick is good enough for me. The self-pump is pretty expensive, but it also throws in another free creature every time and the sacrifice to save your (smaller after he’s gone) tokens is a nice break in case of emergency option.
Lagomos, Hand of Hatred
Control players hate playing against this! Getting a new 2/1 every turn can do a lot more than just run at your opponents face every turn. Need a creature to Enlist with, haste makes that happen. Also great with sacrifice effects like Bone Splinters.
The second ability isn’t nearly as far fetched as you might think. It doesn’t have to just be your creatures that died so the opponent has to be really careful when lining up blocks so they don’t just give you a free Demonic Tutor.
Meria, Scholar of Antiquity
Unfortunately, there aren’t ways to make a bunch of Myr tokens and almost all of the artifacts are filler at best. That makes this a very hard to cast Centaur Courser with some potential upside. If you are already in these colors and have a few artifacts, then by all means give it a whirl.
Nael, Avizoa Aeronaut
There aren’t a lot of flyers in the set and the toughness lines up well against Lightning Strike. It’s not great, but it will float on over to smack them for two and help setup your draws. At three mana, this would have been premium. Where it’s at, it’s alright.
Najal, the Storm Runner
Being able to playing sorceries at instant speed has never gone wrong in the history of Magic… Cough… Teferi, Time Raveler… Cough… Obviously that’s a much different situation, but just trying to point out it’s a potentially powerful ability.
You also get to copy the next spell you play for only two mana when you attack which means you can attack, pay the two, and then cast a sorcery like Impede Momentum before blockers are declared. Really fun card in a cool archetype.
Nemata, Primeval Warden
Not nearly as dominating as Nemata, Grove Guardian. Somehow it messed around with black magic and ended up significantly worse. Still a solid body that gives you a new 1/1 Saproling every time an opponent’s creature dies. You can then turn those into pumps or new cards.
Queen Allenal of Ruadach
Yaaaasssss Queen! This absolute Queen dominates the board in a hurry when you curve in into
Radha, Coalition Warlord
Speaking of royalty, allow me to introduce you to the Queen of Enlist. I can assure you she runs that joint. With the full monty of Domain this adds a whopping +8/+5 which is a whole lot more than most people wanna see coming at their face. That’s some Might of Oaks stuff right there.
Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart
Time for legendary Steadfast Unicorn to put in some work steering you to victory instead of the now Weatherlight Compleated. The card draw is a lot easier than it looks because you can just tap this and a summoning sick creature whenever you cast a spell.
Ratadrabik of Urborg
The only zombies in the set are Toxic Abomination and Writhing Necromass so the vigilance ability is very underwhelming. That makes this almost entirely dependent on how many other legendaries you have in your deck to zombify. Even then I don’t think this is going to do much for you.
Rith, Liberated Primeval
Rith was already a busted limited card just from being a huge warded flyer. You also get to pump out 4/4 dragons whenever you overkill a creature. That’s a package that Kibler would be proud of.
While giving ward two to other dragons is nice and all, if you have Rith and Shivan Devastator, I’m sure your opponent already has some choice four letter words for you.
Rivaz of the Claw
This is just a 3/3 menace for three with an extreme high roll ability if you open one of the busted mythic dragons we were just discussing. I guess it can also bring back Dragon Whelp, but that’s an uncommon too. It’s still just fine.
Rona, Sheoldred’s Faithful
I don’t expect much out of someone who decided being Sheoldred, the Apocalypse’s lackey was a good idea. Pinging away at your opponent is more annoying then devastating in a Dimir deck. Now if it was in Izzet colors we would really be talking as this would be lighting the face up like a champ. The double black is a huge drawback on splashing it in the deck it really wants to be in.
Being able to pitch two lands later in the game to bring this back is also just decent. It’s not like you’re bringing back something game warping or with a huge body. Nobody is ever going to say “Oh no, they have the Rona”. It’s just a whole bunch of ok.
Rulik Mons, Warren Chief
You really need tricks or instant speed removal to back this up because it is going to force them to double block quickly because they don’t want to let you accumulate value through free ramp or extra 1/1 goblins.
It’s also a four drop that dies to Lightning Strike so yeah… There’s that.
Shanna, Purifying Blade
If you build your deck around this, it can get pretty disgusting since it’s draw x cards instead of look at x cards and choose one. I’d prioritize Take Up the Shield with this as both a way to turn on other life gain and to prevent it from dying.
Sol’Kanar the Tainted
They took inspiration from Demonic Pact where you get a bunch of powerful abilities followed by a bad one, at least giving it to them is better than straight up losing the game. The effects aren’t nearly as powerful, but you do have a big ol’ 5/5 to go with it.
It also creates a strange tension, because your opponent has to figure out if they can stay alive long enough to gain control of it. A great back up plan is to have Rona's Vortex or Tolarian Geyser to bounce it back to your hand before they have a chance to get a hold of them.
Soul of Windgrace
I’m just excited to get rowdy with a cat avatar. It’s like they brought Stray to Magic. Ok fine, it’s nothing like that… It’s still a decent sized creature that can protect itself if you have extra lands in hand. You can also cycle through those extra lands digging for what you need. Since the ability doesn’t target you can put it on the stack, discard a land to one of its abilities, and get it right back into play.
You may have noticed I haven’t mention the life gain yet. That’s because I want to point out that if you are in five color crazy territory, this and Shanna, Purifying Blade are a disgusting draw your deck type combo.
Stenn, Paranoid Partisan
This is a great curve out into Captain's Call or just to let you pop off tricks cheaper. It’s just a solid bear that can be an infinite blocker later in the game by phasing himself out over and over again.
Tatyova, Steward of Tides
While the casting cost is kind of rough, you really don’t care about getting her down until later in the game anyway. Similar to her original incarnation, Tatyova, Benthic Druid, you usually want to wait till you can play this and a land to ensure you get some value out of it. Eventually drowning your opponent in a flood of 3/3 flying lands is an ability worth waiting for.
Tori D’Avenant, Fury Rider
I want to love this card as it seems like it is doing everything that a Boros deck wants to do. You just have to wait a turn to do it when you could spend that time to go wider before following that up with a Heroic Charge to end the game. I guess this would let you double dip on the pump, but it’s also vulnerable for a turn before you get the benefit.
Tura Kennerüd, Skyknight
This is one mana too expensive, but the ability can be pretty solid especially if you can cast it while holding up Shore Up to protect it.
Uurg, Spawn of Turg
Uurg sounds like the sound the opponent makes when you play this on turn three. It can do some serious work if you are planning on playing a long game by surveilling every turn to keep the gas flowing while pumping itself up. It can even keep you in the game by tossing those excess lands in the bin for a cool two life each while simultaneously growing its own power.
Vohar, Vodalian Desecrator
It was only a few weeks ago that I was having a discussion with Floridamun about how good a two-mana looter would be without any activation cost. I’m glad we actually get to see it in action, but disappointed it’s not in a set with a good common reanimator spell.
The drain is a nice bonus when you run out of lands to pitch and even a way to get across the finish line in a pinch. You can even sacrifice this to bring back your best spell. There are formats where this would be a slam dunk pick one, but it might just be really good here.
Zar Ojanen, Scion of Efrava
Another go wide pay off that requires you to get an attack in to actually get anything out of it. If given the option I would much rather have Strength of the Coalition in these colors.
Zur, Eternal Schemer
That’s a lot of abilities to stick on these creatures. It’s really going to depend which enchantments you have floating around to make this work.
If you do it on Sagas, then you are going to be out the creature once you hit the end. If you do it on the enchantment removal, you risk letting them trade for them and getting something back. At least they can’t target them because of hexproof.
You really have to get this pack one and build around it to make it pay off because a 1/4 flyer for three is pretty bad.
The artifacts are pretty disappointing and almost exclusively filler level cards while the lands could end up being the secret stars of the set. The Multicolored cards are a very mixed bag with the main drawbacks being needing the right colored mana to play them.
We are finally at the end of our set review, but I’m going to continue to drop that knowledge on you. I’ll be back with my instants guide along with my archetype guide tomorrow.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
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