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)
It’s PVDDR (Elite Spellbinder) that we have at home. The odds of being able to hit more than one card is really low in limited although you can name any card, even one that they don’t have in hand. That means you can name a sweeper to stay out of range of it for a couple turns or any bomb that you know they have after game one.
Anointed Peacekeeper does still need to be on the battlefield for the ability to work though so either you risk it in combat where they can kill it if it’s relevant or you played a three mana do very little. So basically, I am grading this as a 3/3 vigilance for three with a bit of upside. That means it’s something that’s going to make the cut, but I’m not jumping through any hoops to get it.
Archangel of Wrath
It certainly didn’t take us long to hit our first big bomb of the format. A 3/4 flying lifelinker for four is just what I ordered in the world of Lightning Strike and anything else you get with this is just free bag fries. In this case the employee must have been about to quit because they filled that bag to the brim.
In case you didn’t notice, the creature does the damage on the kicker effect so you get the benefit of lifelink. Two mana for two Shock size Lightning Helixs to spread out anywhere including the opponent’s face is disgusting and would be another busted card on its own. The only drawback is needing three colors to get the whole shebang, but for all this it’s well worth it.
I’m fairly cavalier about this Argivian. Three power and toughness worth of stats across two bodies that can attack for potentially more is a solid, but unspectacular creature these days. The main problem is that you will probably end up trading the body for a two-drop. At least you’ll still have a free 1/1 out of the deal so something you’re usually still happy with.
The dream is to curve Resolute Reinforcements into Argivian Cavalier into a couple of these. With a more normal draw, having two creatures out by turn four isn’t too big of an ask and that lets you drop this chonker for only four mana.
I’d have to be truly desperate for interaction to end up running this. Needing multiple land types and targeting a tapped creature are two things that lead to awkward situations. This looks like the classic “I got wrecked by it a few times, but it’s actually pretty bad card” of the set. On top of that, white has a ton of vigilance floating around making this even worse.
I don’t have faith that this one is going to end up doing much. Enlist might help push through some damage, but only having one power on it’s base doesn’t add much. Might make the cut as a curve filler.
The “each player sacrifices a creature” ETB effect has been around for a while with varying degrees of mediocrity every time it has been printed. Having the fallback option to just be a vanilla 3/1 for two is a slight step up while requiring a second color is a slight step down.
Similar to previous iterations, your mileage will vary based off of if you have good creatures to sacrifice and what your opponent is playing. Between token creation and the lack of Pacifism effects, this could end up being a sleeper hit though.
I assume the call the captain is making is to go as wide as possible. There are two common ways to pump your whole board in Charismatic Vanguard and Heroic Charge so this strategy can really pay off. Even on its own, three bodies out of one four mana card is perfectly playable.
I’d say WotC learned their lesson from Steadfast Unicorn, but this was designed well before the rebalancing. This is actually a lot more in line with Sea Gate Banneret which was a severely underrated card in Zendikar Rising. Curving this into Captain's Call can put your opponent in a poor position when it comes to blocking.
The main drag on this one is that it costs three mana up front for an understatted creature. That’s a huge drop off from slipping in a one mana creature to be able to threaten activation with. There’s a massive difference between holding back your one drop and holding back your three drop to keep them safe.
Who needs Pacifism when we have Banishing Light at common. This negates a lot of the problems with leaving a creature on the battlefield because it’s not coming back unless they happen to be playing enchantment removal.
The reason they decided to make this set Magic: The Oblivion Ringing is that Enlist allows you to use pacified creatures and it could have led to a lot of confusion.
I’m grading this based off the assumption that you can pay the kicker cost, otherwise it’s not going to do much. This is a great pay off for the go wide strategy enabled by Captain’s Call and its cohorts.
You are going to have to do the math with this card to determine whether you should clear a blocker or let them set up blocks before going face to send them packing on a one-way trip to Cleaveland.
It also gives you the opportunity to say “You just activated my trap card!” when your opponent pushes all in. Nothing is going to feel quite as good as nugging them for exactsies when they could have held one more creature back and still had lethal. Even under normal game play conditions, being able to kill an attacker while adding a flash flyer can really screw up any combat math they had figured out.
An annoying blocker early that can tap their biggest threat later in the game. While the ability is expensive, when you need it, you need it. Also gives you another cheap defender if you’re trying to pull that off.
This is amazing on a stalled board where you are the only one with an evasive creature. There are also times that it’s a 2/2 flyer for four which wasn’t good the first time we were in Dominaria (yeah, I mean Alpha). This could force a lot of damage through in the air so I wouldn’t outright dismiss it, I’m just not picking it high.
Danitha, Benalia’s Hope
Danitha has a whole lot going on here and similar to Benalia, I hope I open her. A huge body with first strike and vigilance is going to make attacking and blocking decisions very difficult for you opponent. On top of that the lifelink makes it impossible to race. I would bump combat tricks up a bit with this especially Take up the Shield which will protect her and make Danitha even better in the long term.
I don’t really value the whole aura and equipment clause, but is nice and all if it happens to work out. There aren’t many in the set, but Hero's Heirloom can send her off to the races while adding trample so it’s certainly not a blank line of text.
Defiler of Faith
I don’t know how much being able to pay two life to make white permanents one mana cheaper is really going to matter after you play your five drop. Maybe on curve, you get to double or triple spell the next turn which would be great. If you drop it later on, that ability is almost never going to matter.
That said, it’s a huge vigilant body that poops out 1/1s whenever you play another white permanent and that ain’t bad.
There is a huge drop off from Valorous Stance being able to protect your creature and Destroy Evil being able to kill an enchantment. Running one of these in the main should still be fine, any more than that is pushing it. It is a key sideboard card against big green decks and white decks running all of the
Decent flyer that can usually swing through as at least a 3/4. It can even push through some serious damage in combination with Captain's Call or use Resolute Reinforcements as a trick. Ironically the protector isn’t nearly as good on defense, but it is still able to hold the line against smaller creatures.
Guardian of New Benalia
Anyone who remembers playing against Seasoned Hallowblade knows what a miserable experience it can be. While Guardian of New Benalia is starting with a lower power, the Enlist ability means you’re not just going to get stonewalled by a four-toughness creature. That allows you to push through much larger amounts of damage and even is kind enough to throw in some scry two value when you do it.
This is a strictly better Inspired Charge which has been the finisher of choice for go wide limited decks in many a format. While it is six mana with the kicker, it’s going to make math miserable for your opponent when it comes to lining up blocks.
This is one of those cards that is more important to know when to play around than it is to actually play it. There are certainly times that this is going to be a huge blowout, but we don’t always live in magical Christmas land. While it is harder to get destroyed when your trick targets two creatures, it does really want to have two targets to be worth the card.
Juniper Order Rootweaver
A classic bread and butter curve filler as long as you have access to both colors of mana. It’s nice for Backup Agent to be a little bigger, but still nothing to get excited about.
Knight of Dawn’s Light
A great throwback to the pump knight era of magic when Knight of Stromgald and Order of the White Shield were all the rage. No, I’m not just a raving dinosaur, they seriously defined standard for a while. It’s a real thing… Sigh… Fine, I’ll wait while you Google it.
Extremely efficient creature that can scale to remain relevant in the later parts of the game. A cheap first striker that can pump is going to be really difficult to block profitably. Even a double block might have trouble getting there since the toughness pumps as well as the first strike damage.
I don’t know how often the life trigger is going to matter, but it’s free real estate if it does.
In the average two color deck this is a four-mana instant speed all-encompassing removal spell. If that doesn’t sound like a limited card you want to play, you may need to revaluate some things. With the land typed dual lands, you can probably get it down to three mana pretty easily making it even better.
Love Song of Night and Day
I’d prefer they wrote me a better love song. It’s not often that you are going to want to use the first ability unless you are desperately digging for something. Luckily you can skip over that if you want, but it is nice to have in case of an emergency.
As long as you have another creature, you are going to end up with 3/3 worth of stats including a flyer for three mana. If it was just that without having to wait a turn, it’d go into almost every white deck. As it is, it’s not the greatest card, but I can certainly see some decks that would want it.
Wait a minute… Don’t these things usually draw a card these days? I guess they got tired of giving us busted commons. Unless you have some life gain triggers that you really need to hit (which you don’t), then this is going to be underwhelming as an understatted flyer.
Mythic uncommon alert! Somewhere Gravedigger is sitting in the retirement home talking about how they used to be good.
Even if you just want to be aggressive, a 2/3 lifelinker for two is going to tilt a race heavily in your favor. Clearly a pushed uncommon that falls into the good early, good late category that I love.
Prayer of Binding
Another exile a creature enchantment?!? It’s almost like they saw all the hate that enchantment removal was getting a year ago and were like, “Hold my beer”. An easily splashed removal that hits any non-land at instant speed and throws in two life with it. Yeah, I’ll take as many as I can get.
It’s Raise the Alarm on a stick which is a better card in almost every way. Before you start, I am aware that it is not as good with Winota, Joiner of Forces, but I have no idea what alternate universe leads to that chaos happening in this limited format.
Solid two drop that gives you the upside of being able to blink it or bring it back to get another token. Nice combo with Queen Allenal of Ruadach to go wide.
Sometimes you gotta shoot your shot. While having to take a hit before you get to use this is rough, costing only one mana will catch you back up on tempo really quick. You can even toss in a scry two if you have an extra blue floating around. I’d drop this down quite a bit if I am a low to the ground aggro deck since it is basically a dead card there.
This is a solid support card if you’re employing an enlist strategy. It’s also pretty bad filler if you don’t have any other way to tap this for a benefit. If you absolutely, positively just need a two drop, then at least you get a scry and a life when they dive head first into the red zone.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den certainly got quite the glow up here. An above rate flyer with built in continuous card advantage. She has certainly earned the title of paragon here. This is a deal with it or lose the game type of creature. Slam it if you open it and move on.
This is one mana too expensive both with and without the kicker, but the versatility of having both options make this a fine card as long as you have both colors of mana.
Stall for Time
This is only really stalling for time if you use it early on to stay alive, later in the game it’s more like not stalling to kill your opponent. Kicking it in the late game can force through an absurd amount of damage since they lose their two best blockers for two turns of attacks. I almost forgot to mention that it even has my favorite line of text on a magic card “draw a card”.
Take Up the Shield
This trick would be so ridiculous at one mana, that it would be format defining. Instead we’ll have to settle for spending two mana to blow out a removal spell or a combat trick. Indestructible, lifelink, and a +1/+1 counter gives you so many ways to just win a combat with this card. That’s the versatility that I’m willing to extra pay for.
This is going to wildly swing in value based off of what your opponent is playing and how low your curve goes. There are going to be matches where this just dunks all over your opponent, but there are also going to be times it does stone cold nothing.
Urza Assembles the Titans
Not a limited card. Even if you have two Planeswalkers, I wouldn’t recommend using this card. Seriously, just don’t.
Two mana 2/2 lords are always a sick little beater even if you only have a few other soldiers floating around. If they make a valiant effort to kill this, you can still get some extra value from the graveyard. Great card that I would be happy to first pick and build around.
Welcome to the shrines of Dominaria. This is the latest collect them all set, but without the legendary restriction. That’s actually a big deal in the sense that you can play multiples of the same ones or have five across only two colors.
That said, you do need a decent amount of creatures with defender to pull this off and even then you’re now rocking a deck full of walls. This does stack nicely though so I’m sure our resident mad scientist Tajoordan will pull off something crazy with them.
Coming off HBG where White was clearly the best color, it seems really stacked again. A great common removal spell in Citizen's Arrest, a mythic uncommon in Phyrexian Missionary, and multiple busted Angels floating around give it a good start on standing out here in Dominaria United too. While a lot of the creatures are mediocre on their face, they team up well to get the job done.
I’ll be back tomorrow with my Dominaria United Limited Review of Blue. Now I’m going to go get that pumpkin spice latte…
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
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