Dominaria United Spoilers: Layers of Legends Part 1
“Magictating” is defined as getting into the zone with your Magic the Gathering collection--thinking, planning, organizing, reminiscing about past games, and imagining future games. It is a combination of hard thinking about the game and calm meditation, reveling in the joy it brings you.
Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. If you haven’t been playing Magic that long, then you don’t know what I’m talking about. However, even if you’ve only been playing for three years or so, then you get your first taste of it with the second return to Dominaria—Dominaria United. The first call back to Dominaria was an excellent legends laden set. It was full of nostalgic call backs and legacies from the past — Shanna, Sisay’s Legacy 'literally). The saga card type was introduced to give the sense of that history and literally build on it. As I’m writing this there are literally dozens of cards being spoiled, but I’d like to talk about several of these exciting cards coming our way. Now, we have Dominaria United giving us revamped and retooled legends from the past to update them to today’s standards. This is an exciting way to get to play with legendary names from the past, but still embrace the power levels of today. I’d like to take you through a few of the call outs, explain some layers to these callbacks, and help you understand some of the lore behind cards that aren’t just existing in a vacuum.
Shanna, Purifying Blade
The newest call backs include plenty of interesting pieces of new-nostalgia. Shanna, Purifying Blade is a great call back to the first call-back. Shanna is a descendant of Captain Sisay. This newest version of Sisay’s legacy is pretty sweet. A bant colored 3/3 for 3 mana is powerful. Tacking on lifelink is also a sweet little bonus, but being able to sink mana every turn you’ve gained life to draw cards is incredibly powerful. It’s easy to imagine drawing multiple cards during a turn cycle. All you need are a few one mana creatures that let you gain a life every turn another creature enters the battlefield. You know, like Soul Warden and Essence Warden? Having either of those out along with a some mana available and you just get to draw a card every time your opponents cast a creature or put a token into play. It’s a little like adding a kicker cost of 1: draw a card to each of your opponents’ creature spells…well a kicker cost only you get to tack on. Perhaps that’s assist kicker? Anyway, that’s an exciting new multi-layered legend.
Rulik Mons, Warren Chief
Rulik Mons, Warren Chief is a cool little card as well. It hearkens back to Modern Horizon’s Pashalik Mons. Pashalik Mons was itself a call back to both Mons Goblin Raiders 'it even borrowed its line of flavor text from it) and to Goblin Warrens as well. While Rulik is a bit unique in its mechanical call backs; it is still an exciting way to engage with a new generation of Mons goblins! It generates ramp in a way that only ignoble goblins have thus far, and it also generates tokens while menace makes it difficult to block. I would’ve loved to see a line of flavor text on this card, but I guess too many words were there already. I guess the new thunderhead to the storm needs no flavorful introduction.
Sol’Kanar the Tainted
Sol’Kanar the Tainted is an incredibly cool callback to the original Sol’Kanar the Swamp King. The exact same mana cost as the original is surprising, but also super flavorful. A 5/5 for five isn’t as insane as it used to be, so having it lose swampwalk was a bit sad. However, the new abilities plus a big drawback is pretty interesting. There was a time in Magic when all super strong cards had pretty big drawbacks as well—well most of them did. The original elder dragons all had upkeep costs, and Lord of the Pit required sacrificing creatures during your upkeep. Today, we don’t often see drawbacks on cards like this new tainted version has. I’m pleased to see that this alone feels nostalgic. It’s also neat that Sol’Kanar can be played in his own deck. Flickering Sol’Kanar the Tainted is obviously one way to go, but if you’re playing one of those weird formats that allows you to play mutliples, then you can just cast your second one and start profiting all over again. I think this is an interesting build-around card, and as such I’m sure I’ll be experimenting with it quite a bit. However, don’t rule out the possibility of equipping it with Assault Suit and other nonsense and then letting it slip out of your control…only to wreak havoc all over the board once more!
Verrak, Warped Sengir
OK, so this one is a spiritual successor to Baron Sengir and the Sengir clan as a whole. The Baron began the Sengir clan, and so Verrak, by default, must be a descendant of some sort. The coolest part of Verrak is finding the interesting synergies, such as how Crossway Troublemakers is sweet! Sacrifice a vampire, pay 4 life and draw two cards. Plus, you’re getting whatever bonus you actually sacrificed the creature for anyway! Bloodsoaked Altar is so much better it’s actually playable in a deck helmed by Verrak! Meanwhile, Arguel's Blood Fast, Greed, and Erebos, God of the Dead are all better with Verrak. Doubling up on those draws is worth the extra life for sure. Likewise, Underworld Connections is clearly better than Phyrexian Arena in a Verrak build. You can also double cycle your Street Wraith. While you can’t double up the mana abilities, you can still draw extra cards off the Silent Clearing and you can also get double land with those fetch lands! Foresworn Paladin lets you crank out extra treasures as well. Glass-Cast Heart leans into the vampire tribal theme rather nicely, and who doesn’t like making extra vampire tokens? While not a vampire, Vilis, Broker of Blood is busted with Verrak…seriously. Likewise, the legendary Razaketh, the Foulblooded is significantly better to use with Verrak; tutoring two cards for four life and a measly creature seems grossly unfair…so go for it! If you want something much less mana intensive, then perhaps you might want to jam Yawgmoth, Thran Physician into your Verrak Warped Sengir deck? Seems pretty solid to toss two counters for one creature.
However, my favorite thing to do with Verrak Warped Sengir will probably be using one of my pet cards to reanimate creatures. Both Purgatory and Strands of Night do an amazing job by themselves, but are fantastic value when paired with Verrak. These are great ways to reanimate two creatures. Oh, the sweet satisfaction that is sure to bring. Of course, Priest of Fell Rites is also a fun one to use this with. Overall, this is going to be a sweet way to build an interesting aristocrat deck.
Jedit Ojanen, Mercenary
This is an exciting one for me as I used to love trying to play the original Jedit Ojanen. It wasn’t particularly good even for its time. Heck, the original was never powerful, but I loved the art, and I loved the idea of legendary cat creature. When Planar Chaos hit we got all sorts of interesting cards that were a twist on old versions and fan favorites from the past. Jedit Ojanen of Efrava was a fantastic twist on the flavor text and excitement of the original. Now, we have a new Jedit that combines both of the previous concepts in delightful new way. Jedit Ojanen, Mercenary still makes cats like the chaotic spin did, but it also embraces the color pairings from the original. The color identity of our new Jedit also allows us to run Bant colors, and so we are able to live the best of both worlds and actually run the original and the Efrava version in the same deck that the Mercenary can helm. The spin on utilizing other legendary creatures to help us hire more mercenaries is a really great and flavorful twist. With Ajani seemingly down for the count is it too early to hope that Jedit gains a spark to start planeswalking around and recruiting tons of cats from all over the multi-verse to trounce all comers?
General Marhault Elsdragon
I was always a fan of trying to get Rampage to work. I loved using Teeka's Dragon and Lure to toss a wrecking ball into people’s Pegasus tokens, but I digress. The original Marhault Elsdragon had a measely Rampage 1. This newly promoted version has the updated Rampage concept. Rampage only worked for each creature after the first. So, yeah, it wasn’t really good unless people wanted to double or triple block you. Meanwhile the Rampage ability was finally fixed with Spined Sliver, and so we get the awesomely powerful General Marhault Elsdragon. This is a deck you want to give all your creatures trample with as well. Doing so makes blocking an absolute nightmare for your opponents, so get those sweet trample granting enchantments and creatures ready to pound your opponents into oblivion with your barely contained Marhault rage! Key cards to consider include Garruk's Uprising, Brawn, Primal Rage, Roughshod Mentor, and Bellowing Tanglewurm.
That’s about all I have time to cover for now. The set is still getting spoiled, and I know that by the time I finish this and the second half 'which is nearly completed) the rest of the set will likely be spoiled. I hope that you enjoy the reveals as much as I have been. This is going to be a truly nostalgic and fun romp through Dominaria. It’s so fun to see the old legends coming back in new and fun forms. This is one of things that made Commander Legends so much fun, and I’m so glad they tapped into that for Dominaria. May your flavor memories and the cards be ever in your favor!