It’s that time again! A new set is about to be released, we know what cards are in it, and we need to talk about them. This set is so dense with top-notch cards and so exciting that I’m just going to let them speak for themselves. Let’s skip the preamble and talk about all the new toys that white decks everywhere can start using at 12 am on April 21st.
Hello card filtering in white, is it you I’m looking for? We know that Wizards has been experimenting with forms of card draw in white; so far it’s mostly been in the form of narrow card draw triggers on cards like Sram, Senior Edificer and Bygone Bishop. That’s fine, and white decks appreciate the draw, but they tend to shoehorn a deck into a specific archetype like weenies or voltron. Board the Weatherlight isn’t card draw per se, it’s card selection, but it’s pretty broad card selection. Any artifact, any legend, and even a saga if you happen to be running them. That’s just fine. Blue gets regular old draw, black gets draw at the cost of life, impulsive draw has been a smash hit in red, green gets draw from creatures, and I would be happy to see card selection effects make their way into white.
Seal Away is Dominaria’s version of Journey to Nowhere. What makes it special? Flash. Flash makes Seal Away the closest thing we’ve seen to another Swords to Plowshares in a long time, and for that reason, it’s going to see tons of EDH play. The fact that it’s an enchantment and not actually an instant gives it some incidental synergy with some of white’s usual strategies. You can use Monk Idealist to recur it, you can trigger your Mesa Enchantress and friends, and you can grow your Sphere of Safety. Buy them up, it may not be splashy, but it’s good value.
Danitha Capashen, Paragon is the best thing to happen to Voltron since Sword of Vengeance. She already packs three evergreen keywords that are really important to the archetype, so she doesn’t have to focus too much on auras and equipment that grant keywords—though she doesn’t have any baked in evasion. Instead, you can just worry about beefing her up with the likes of Strata Scythe and Blackblade Reforged. She’s an excellent, if slightly vanilla, commander, and goes great in the 99 of any deck that wants to play around with auras and equipment.
Dauntless Bodyguard is a great throwback to Benevolent Bodyguard and Dauntless Escort. I’m especially excited to see this paired up with the new Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle making for a pseudo perpetually indestructible commander, or another key card. Bodyguard is also really hot tech for Alesha Who Smiles at Death, Karador, Ghost Chieftain, and Ravos, Soultender. If you’re running a reanimation/recursion package then Dauntless Bodyguard is excellent redundancy for Selfless Spirit.
Baird, Steward of Argive. Wow. Half of a Ghostly Prison that can be your commander, with vigilance and a big butt to boot. Mono-white prison decks everywhere rejoice. Baird makes for a great defensive commander and pillows up by adding the likes of Windborn Muse, Archangel of Tithes, and Orzhov Advokist to the 99. Once you have enough defense (and enough bodies) you can use Odric, Master Tactician to swing through the enemy line and mow them down. Even in the 99 and not as a commander, he adds perfectly cromulent value to any deck. Expect to start paying a bit more for your attacks for awhile, as Baird is uncommon and will be easy to slide into lots of decks.
Fall of the Thran is the first new mass land destruction spell printed in Standard since Ajani Vengeant in Shards of Alara. That’s 10 years without an MLD effect in Standard, and there’s a reason for that. mass land destruction is not fun. Not even a little bit. The intended purpose of MLD in EDH is namely as a resource equalizer. One of the biggest complaints about green is that its land-based ramp strategy is something other colors can’t deal with. Mana rocks and mana dorks can get blown up, but lands tend to stick around for the whole game. Thus: mass land destruction. The problem with these effects is that most of them reset the board back to turn zero and just leave it there. Sometimes this will end the game if the person playing it has dropped a threat that no one is no longer able to answer, but very often…something goes wrong. The threat is Swords to Plowshares’d, or it’s bounced or countered, and then everyone is stuck sitting on an empty board trying to top deck into some lands. Fall of the Thran fixes that issue. It blows up all the lands when it comes into play, yes, but with its second and third chapters, it lets everyone rebuild at the same rate. This is a pretty fair, and, as far as MLD goes, “fun” effect that I actually expect to see a decent amount of in games.
Players love swapping life totals with cards, and Evra, Halcyon Witness is the most recent way to weaponize your life total. We’ve already talked about going voltron in this set review, but we have to do it again. Swinging out with a 40/4 lifelinker is pretty nuts. Your life will go from forty to four to forty-four, and from there you get to cast Beacon of Immortality each turn for four generic mana (if all goes according to plan). The effect is big and splashy, but have no illusions—Evra is expensive and a bit fragile. You’re going to need to run a good protection and evasion package if you plan to roll your opponents with her. She might be easier to run as a value creature in the 99. She’s going to keep your life total nice and healthy, and your opponents will need to take her down or take you out with commander damage. If you thought pulling tricks with Tree of Redemption was fun, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally! Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle gives us a viable way of running consistent reanimator in white. If you’ve read my articles or listened to me on the Commander Time! podcast then you know I’ve been stuck on this idea for some time. You probably even know which cards I’m about to list: Custodi Soulcaller, Bishop of Rebirth, and Sun Titan—white has slowly been accumulating efficient reanimation engines, but none of them are legendary. With Teshar you can run an undying weenie package to perpetually beat down your hapless opponents. And Teshar is great in the 99 along with the other three reanimators listed. If you were to build a reanimator shell in red/white you could even kick in Feldon of the Third Path. Times are a-changing for EDH, and those changes have me really excited.
Benalish Marshal is simple, straightforward, and perfectly elegant. Ever since Glorious Anthem white has been the color that boosted all of its creatures, but getting that effect on a 3-mana 3/3 creature has never been done before. Benalish Marshal is part of a cycle that includes such promising cards as Goblin Chainwhirler and Steel Leaf Champion. The thing about this cycle is, each card is going to be really hard to cast if you aren’t playing a mono-color deck. With the recent reprinting of the enemy filter lands like Fetid Heath and Rugged Prairie Benalish Marshal might be viable in a two-color deck, but it’s going to be really hard to run in three or more colors.
Our last card, Urza’s Ruinous Blast is the only legendary sorcery we’ll be talking about here, but what a sorcery it is! It’s got big, important words like “exile” and “all nonland permanents” tied up nicely with a low, 5-CMC mana cost. Now, it’s not perfect. You can only cast it if you control your commander or another legendary creature, or planeswalker, and all of your opponents’ commanders survive, along with any other legends they happen to have on the battlefield. But even so, the effect is at a good price, and it’s powerful when your opponents aren’t running a lot of legends. I like the card, and there’s a lot of hype about it, but I think the jury is still out. Tragic Arrogance had a lot of hype, but it turned out not to be as great as we all hoped it would be. We’ll have to see what it actually does when slotted into a deck.
Let’s wrap this up with a brew. Below is my Teshar build that I talked about on the podcast. It runs lots of historic permanents to keep the graveyard on the battlefield as well as anthems and activated pump effects like Lenonin Sun Standard to beef up the three-or-less mana creatures into legitimate, sizeable threats. Let me know what you think, and let me know which white cards you’re most excited to be brewing and playing from Dominaria.