Hello everyone! Dominaria United is right around the corner, and with it, we’re getting a slew of sick cards to look at! I don’t know about you, but to me, these are some of the most exciting spoilers I’ve seen in a long time. Between super cool designs and beloved callbacks, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up being one of the best sets of all time.
Today I’m not doing just one card review, but five! The Lord cycle is a new rare cycle that gives five tribes two mana lords with powerful abilities!
We’ll break down each in WUBRG order with associated deck lists!
Before we get into it, let’s get the similarities out of the way. All of these are, as I said, two mana lords that give +1/+1 to their tribe. However, all of them also have an activated or triggered ability to make them that much better. This may not seem like a huge deal, but cards like Merfolk Mistbinder are extremely playable as having a two mana lord is just that powerful. Throw on some additional relevant text and you have yourself a winner!
Now that we established the similarities, let’s get into the differences!
Kicking off the list we have Valiant Veteran!
We have a 2 mana 2/2 Lord which is quite standard with an activated ability that lets you get value after it’s death! For 5 mana, you get to grow your whole board which seems pretty medium, but not having to devote any additional resources to do it is relatively powerful. In a sense, this is kind of like a creature land as later in the game you can convert mana into pressure which is something aggressive decks are always interested in.
Now I know what you’re thinking, what good cards are Soldiers? Well, you’re in luck! Nearly all of the best Historic Humans are also Soldiers making Valiant Veteran an excellent Human lord! …wait.
How could they do this to me?
While Valiant Veteran isn’t a Human itself, it works so well with Humans I would imagine that you would still be interested in playing it in that shell. Having more lords in Humans is pretty nice, but the question is if losing some Humans in order to gain a lord is worthwhile. Personally I think the answer is quite unclear, but I think there’s a good chance that there will be a new Humans deck looking to go wider. I also like the activated ability as Humans can flood out if the game goes long enough, but it seems a bit weaker than most the other abilities. It’s just on the precipice of really good which makes it so hard to say if this will become a Humans staple or not see play.
So we have a 2 mana 1/1 Merfolk lord which technically is a smaller stat line than all the other Merfolk lords. This won’t come into play super often, but having a tougher time getting into combat or being tagged by any burn spell is a bit annoying. However, Hexcatcher has the ability to turn all of your Merfolk into Cursecatcher. So I reiterate, holy moly.
Being able to convert your worst creature into a soft permission spell is an extremely brutal ability, especially against decks with expensive spells, and it’s even more brutal since you can flash it in. Resolving any noncreature spell that costs 3+ against Merfolk with this out is now a ridiculously hard task as it’s trivial to convert one of your many bodies into a full blown counterspell. Not that lords aren’t a must kill already, but this one is really a must kill if the opponent has any interest in resolving expensive spells. Furthermore, with the addition of this to Historic Merfolk, we now have a staggering 16 lords to work with which is just an obscene amount of value. Merfolk has never made much of a foothold in Historic, and while I’m not sure if this will get it there, this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Now this is a wackier one.
We have our second 2 mana 2/2 lord, but with two interesting puzzles to solve. The first is that it’s a lord for Clerics, and while Clerics aren’t an uncommon creature type, they aren’t really a cohesive tribe outside of the small synergies we’ve seen in the past few years. The second puzzle to solve is the activated ability as you can sacrifice a creature to tutor any Black creature and put it directly on the battlefield! That can be extremely powerful in theory, but what’s the best use of it?
Let’s start with puzzle number one. So the question is if you want to be an aggro with this lord or just play it with a lot of Clerics. Personally, I think you just want to play a lot of Clerics. While there are more aggressively slanted Clerics like Luminarch Aspirant, Sigardian Evangel, and Elite Spellbinder, most of the other Clerics are more synergistic working towards a Soul Sisters theme (which is kind of aggressive, but not really an aggro deck in my mind.)
The second puzzle is much trickier as how deep should you go to make this activated ability good? The level one answer is to not even worry about it and just play good cards, let it come up naturally in games. This is what I’m leaning towards, but there is a reasonable argument to have a single very powerful Black creature in the deck that you could hypothetically cast as a silver bullet in case you get to activate this ability. It’s hard to say which creature would best fit this slot as we don’t have something fun like Griselbrand on Arena, but you likely have a few good options.
Overall, I think that this probably isn’t strong enough to play just as a lord if you’re looking to go Soul Sisters as Green is the better accompanying color. Furthermore, I think the activated ability is a little too cute to build a whole strategy around. This may still be a playable card, but I’m not holding my breath.
Next up we come to a lord for one of the most iconic tribes in Magic, Goblins!
One again we have a two mana 1/1 lord, but the catch with Rundvelt Hordemaster is that it’s a card advantage engine! Whenever it or another Goblin dies, you get to exile the top card of your library, and if it’s a Goblin, you can cast it until the end of your next turn! This gives you a lot of time to recoup your advantage assuming you hit a Goblin (which is pretty likely in a dedicated Goblins deck.)
So this does a lot, but we can get out of the way that this card is clearly good. Lords have historically been just fine in Historic Goblins as the buffs were much less important than the secondary abilities that those Lords brought, whether it was Haste or cost reduction. Since Muxus, Goblin Grandee was the way you always won, incidental damage wasn’t as big of a deal. However, recent builds of Goblins have gone leaner in order to support multiple game plans. Sure, you’re still jamming four Muxus as that card is busted, but Goblins can just win a fairer game now with a wide board and lords. I this type of game plan, Hordemaster is super strong as you get the board buff as well as a means to replace any Goblins that die in combat.
The combat game plan isn’t the only good use of this card though! In conjunction with Skirk Prospector, you can churn through your deck looking for specific Goblins if you’re in a pinch or just accrue additional value when you’re looking to accelerate into something. If you have Conspicuous Snoop out, then you can even take out all of the guesswork in what you might hit! While this Goblin will have a lot of competition as there’s so many good cards in the deck already, it is definitely strong enough to further elevate the archetype.
Ah, so nearly the best possible card that could be printed for Elves, neat.
Leaf-Crowned Visionary is a modest 2 mana 1/1 lord that is just card advantage on a stick. With each Elf you cast, you can pay a Green mana to draw a card…in Elves…the deck that makes a million mana. This card is just disgusting. I imagine that Elves is going to be a substantially more consistent deck now that they can convert any Elf they play into an Elvish Visionary as the issue the deck had was always running out of cards. Therre really isn’t much else to say, this card is absolutely bananas and it buffing your team makes this even more pushed.
Thank you for reading! Agree or disagree? Come join our Discord community, discuss the new spoilers, and more.