Dominaria is here, and it’s full of so many legendary creatures we’ve barely been able to keep up! There are so many amazing multicolored cards in the new set that we’ve split the Set Review for multicolored cards in twain; check out the review of uncommon legendary creatures by fellow writer Mason Brantley, and a new series featuring uncommon legendary creatures by our pal DM Cross.
For now, we have some amazing new legends to review, so let’s get to it!
We start off with some fantastic Knight tribal action! Aryel, Knight of Windgrace is a powerful beater that can both attack and tap to create Knight tokens. Once you have an ample number of Knights, she can sic them all on one unsuspecting enemy creature. This commander opens up the doors to a tribe that has a lot of history, but has never had an official legendary leader. Pair Aryel up with Kinsbaile Cavalier and Knight Exemplar. Don’t forget the original mono-black Knight legend, Haakon, Stromgald Scourge.
I heartily recommend Stillmoon Cavalier, which has protection from the two colors with the best removal. Don’t forget cards that create Knight tokens, too! History of Benalia isn’t the only option. You also have Righteous Confluence, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and my personal new favorite, Josu Vess. Other fantastic tribal options exist in white and black too, from Kindred Boon to Patriarch’s Bidding. Orzhov is often known for lifegain and attrrition, as with Karlov of the Ghost Council and Kambal, Consul of Allocation, but Aryel provides Orzhov with an aggressive new twist that I’m excited to see take shape.
Darigaaz, the Igniter has been reborn as Darigaaz Reincarnated! Now a powerful 7/7 with flying, trample, and haste, Darigaaz hits the battlefield hard, and refuses to stay gone for long. If he would die, he instead exiles himself with three egg counters, which tick down every turn, rather like the suspend mechanic. To those of you familiar with League of Legends, this is incredibly similar to Anivia’s Rebirth ability.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting the new Darigaaz to just be a glorified Epochrasite. At seven mana, Darigaaz is certainly on the higher end. He boasts impressive stats for that mana cost, and he is in green, which means he’s able to ramp out faster than others, but I’m still not convinced the payoff is worth it. Darigaaz’s reincarnation is a lot weaker than it appears. First, it only triggers when he would die, which means a Path to Exile or Chaos Warp and many other popular removal spells will completely sidestep his rebirth. Second, three egg counters is a lot. In a game with four players, that’s twelve turns of big spells and swingy plays that he’s missing while off in exile. This looks like a great card for Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund and The Ur-Dragon, but overall, I’d rather run Proshh, Skyraider of Kher or Wasitora, Nekoru Queen if I’m looking for a Jund dragon.
Now here’s an interesting Boros commander, one that doesn’t exclusively use combat, like so many of the other Boros legends we often see. It’s six mana, which is uncomfortably high, but the ability is fresh and intriguing, and pleasantly reminiscent of Tamonoa. While Neheb, the Eternal turns a Searing Spear into an Incinerate, Firesong and Sunspeaker turns Searing Spear into Lightning Helix. Speaking of Lightning Helix, this famous spell creates some tricky math with our new Minotaur friends. Lightning Helix deals 3 damage and gives you 3 life. The 3 damage has lifelink, which gains you another 3 life. Then Sunspeaker will trigger for both of those instances of lifegain, dealing another 3 damage, and another 3 after. In total, you gain 6 life and deal 9 damage, divided as you choose in chunks of three.
(PS: My personal nickname for these characters is “Bonfire and Sunday,” which is a result of the mistranslation from the original Dominaria leak. “Bonfire and Sunday” just sounds like an amazing band name, and I want them to release a record ASAP.)
Radha, Heir to Keld has become a Grand Warlord, and I’m legitimately terrified to see her on the other side of the table. Much like Druids’ Repository, the new Radha generates mana for each creature that attacks, and holds onto that mana so it doesn’t fizzle before your second main phase. The name of the game here is tokens, tokens, tokens. I recommend Tana, the Bloodsower in particular. Edric, Spymaster of Trest rewards go-wide strategies with card advantage, but Radha rewards you with speed. Plus, how can we forget our friends Aggravated Assault and Hellkite Charger? Radha looks like a fantastic commander for extra combat step spells such as Relentless Assault and World at War, especially if combined with creatures such as Marton Stromgald and Pathbreaker Ibex. Don’t forget effects like the Ibex’s wear off at the end of turn, not at the end of each combat, so each additional combat step will make your army exponentially more powerful. Xenagos, God of Revels had better watch his back; this is great new option for aggressive Gruul decks that wish to go wide instead of going tall.
At long last, the much-requested Izzet artifact-centric commander is here! …Right?
Honestly, I’m dubious. Not about her power level; Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain is nothing if not powerful, drawing you a card whenever you cast a historic spell (which is to say, a legendary spell, a Saga, or an artifact). I’m dubious that this is the red/blue artifact-based commander players have really been asking for. With this ability, we’ll likely see decks similar to Sram, Senior Edificer, with lots of low-to-zero cost artifacts, sifting through the deck as fast as possible. With an Etherium Sculptor or a Foundry Inspector in play, you can make nearly all of your spells completely free. In all honesty, this new Jhoira looks more to me like a Storm commander than an artifact commander. Cast dozens of Mishra’s Baubles and Lotus Petals, retrieve them all with Paradoxical Outcome to cast them again, and do it all with your Aetherflux Reservoir on the battlefield, not only drawing a card for each artifact you cast, but also gaining a total of 1 life, then 3, then 6, then 10, 15, 21, 28, 36, 45, 55, and so on, quickly blowing your enemies away.
Here’s the thing, though—I think Wizards of the Coast is aware that this isn’t quite the Izzet artifact commander we’ve all been seeing in our dreams. The invention of the Brawl format (whose decks you can check out at our new BrawlRec site) proves that Wizards of the Coast has their ear to the Commander format, and have begun to take additional strides to meet player demand. Maybe I’m foolishly optimistic, but there’s too much cool design space in Izzetonian artifice for Jhoira to be our only bite at the apple. For now, Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain is a neat commander for both the competitive, combo-tastic player and for the casual player who wants some extra value for their artifact deck. If you ask me, Jhoira is just the beginning. (Oh, and it’s pretty rad flavor that she can crew the Weatherlight all by herself.)
Don’t let the Jeskai mana cost fool you! Like General Tazri, the five mana symbols in Jodah’s rules text let him put spells of all five colors into his deck. Ironically, I expect that most Jodah decks will actually eschew multicolored spells in favor of the colorless monstrosities: Emrakul, the Promised End, Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, and Kozilek, Butcher of Truth. When your commander is a flying Fist of Suns, it’s hard not to jump right to the most expensive cards in the game.
Just be careful with Jodah. To get access to all five colors, you often need a lot of ramp to cover your bases, but Jodah also asks you to put lots of cards that cost nine or more mana, which can get stranded in your hand without your commander in play. This is a deck that requires precise execution, not just during gameplay, but during deck construction. Stay aware of your ratios of mana-fixing spells and high-cost powerhouses. With the wrong balance, your deck could sputter and crash. If you’re looking for creative cards to cast on the cheap, I recommend the Myojin cycle, such as Myojin of Seeing Winds, which gives you an extra bonus when played from your hand.
She’s big, she’s bonkers, and she’s quintessentially Sultai. Muldrotha, the Gravetide is a little like Karador, Ghost Chieftain, but with a wider scope. This Elemental Avatar allows you to play up to one creature, enchantment, artifact, land, AND planeswalker during each of your turns. She won’t be able to recast your instants and sorceries, but that’s okay; just continually recast your Eternal Witness and call it good. In truth, one of the best things you can do in a Muldrotha deck is Traumatize yourself, effectively putting fifty cards into your hand and giving you dozens of options to play from that turn forward.
Sultai reanimator strategies are often all about the Big Scary Monsters, but Muldrotha gives that archetype a new twist. For my money, Muldrotha’s best cards will be her low-mana-cost friends. Mystic Remora usually has an ever-increasing cumulative upkeep cost, but you can let it die, then recast it for only one mana. Animate Dead lets you revive any creature from your graveyard, and even if that creature gets hit with Swords to Plowshares, the Animate Dead will wind up back in your graveyard, ready to replay another dead creature. Recast Mulldrifter or Merciless Executioner for three mana every turn, which wind up right back in the graveyard. Recast Mishra’s Bauble every turn and sacrifice it, drawing extra cards for free. To get the best bang for your buck, you’ll want to cast as many different types of permanents as possible each turn, so don’t overlook the lower-cost cards. Muldrotha looks to be very controlling, and very powerful.
Superfriends, rejoice! Just like the ultimate of Teferi, Temporal Archmage, this mage always makes sure to manipulate the rules of your planeswalkers. Not only can this new Oath blink any of your permanents to get more enters-the-battlefield (ETB) triggers, it can also reset the loyalty counters of one of your planeswalkers. On top of that, this enchantment is a second copy of The Chain Veil, just without the activation cost. If you play lots of planeswalkers, you’re already eyeing this card, and you don’t need me to tell you how powerful it will be.
Arvad the Cursed, I hope you’re ready for the reanimator spell of your life! At first glance, this struck me as a slightly less powerful Rise of the Dark Realms, but then I looked closer. This spell revives all legendary permanents. Planeswalkers are now all legendary. As with Oath of Teferi, this will be a huge blowout in planeswalker decks, especially Atraxa, Praetor’s Voice superfriends lists. I think it deserves consideration in Scion of the Ur-Dragon as well, since that deck makes a habit of putting a lot of legendary dragons into the graveyard.
At long last, the man himself! Teferi’s famous for many Commander moments. As Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, he’s locked down the board with Knowledge Pool. As Teferi, Temporal Archmage, he’s made a name for himself as a Tier 1 competitive commander, synergizing beautifully with The Chain Veil. Plus, who can forget the awesomeness that is Teferi’s Protection, the phasing spell from Commander 2017 that gives all other Fog effects a run for their money. Now we have a new iteration: Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.
Draw cards? Check. Untaps lands? Check. Chronostutters a permanent? Check. Oh, and that emblem? Savage. Venser the Sojourner’s ultimate exiles permanents whenever you cast spells, but new Teferi only requires you to draw cards. I’m not at all ready for the day an opponent casts Stroke of Genius to exile all my lands, but I know that day is fast arriving. This is a great new planeswalker for Azorius-inclusive players of all stripes. It’s unwise to judge a planeswalker purely by their ultimate since it’s so rare for them to get there (especially in a multiplayer game) but if nothing else, the new Teferi draws you cards and lets you hold up mana for Counterspell, and that’s solid value.
Over the past several years I’ve often heard the phrase, “This is the best set they’ve ever made for Commander players!” With each new release, more and more legendary creatures and Commander-specific cards have graced the EDH format, such as Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons, Etali, Primal Storm, Anointed Procession, and Panharmonicon. As more and more exciting cards have been released, they all have prompted that excited phrase, with players insisting that each new set has been more Commander-rich than the last.
Nowhere is that more true than here in Dominaria. Unironically, unequivocally, Dominaria has blown all competition out of the water, with dozens upon dozens of new possible commanders and tons of exciting new cards we just can’t wait to get our hands on. Dominaria is an historical set, not just because it documents some of the most epic moments in the game’s history, but also because it marks an epic moment for players in every single format, including and especially Commander. This is the best set they’ve ever made for Commander players, and I’m ecstatic for these cards to be released so we can start playing with them. Buckle up, folks. This set’s makin’ history.
Til next time!