Ryan's Top 8 Cards from Dominaria

Ryan Normandin
April 13, 2018
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Dominaria spoilers have been a breath of fresh air. The cards are powerful, novel, and elegant. For someone who has played Magic as long as I have, they also hit the nostalgia button hard. While challenging to choose so few, I’ve selected my Top 8 cards from Dominaria. To be clear: I’m not saying these are the 8 best cards from Dominaria, just the eight that I am the most excited about.

 

8. Seal Away

  

When Blessed Alliance and Immolating Glare rotated out of Standard last Fall, there was a 2-mana-sized hole in the removal suites of white control decks. White control players, particularly fans of UW Approach, have had to make due with Settle the Wreckage, Fumigate, and Cast Out alongside Approach to survive long enough to cast the spell twice. But no more! Seal Away is finally a way for these types of decks to cheaply answer creatures of any size at instant speed.

One thing to keep in mind is that the metagame that Seal Away will exist in is not necessarily the same as the one we have today. If Sagas become widely played, you could see maindeck answers to enchantments, particularly if decks become interested in cards like Broken Bond, which answer a threat while forwarding their own game plan. Seal Away could be an incidental victim of Saga hate, but at least it will trade about equally on mana, whereas Cast Out or Binding would trade down.

 

7. Karn, Scion of Urza


Karn’s back! And this time, if you cast him on Turn 3 or 4, your opponent probably won’t groan and just concede on the spot. This version of Karn is a powerful planeswalker for multiple reasons. First, it’s colorless. This means that any deck that wants him can play Karn. Second, it’s reasonably costed; 4 mana for 6 loyalty after ticking up the turn he comes down is a good deal. Karn doesn’t really protect himself well (except in artifact-heavy decks), but his loyalty does provide a bit of a buffer. Third, Karn is a card advantage machine at a cheap rate. If Karn sticks around for one turn, you’ve paid 4 mana to draw two cards. Unexciting, but reasonable. Beyond that, you’re very, very happy. In fact, you even get a small bit of card selection off Karn. If you tick up and see two cards you don’t want, you get to tick up again instead of what I imagine will be the more typical play pattern of alternating between ticking up and down.

Additionally, the way that Karn’s abilities are worded allow a later copy to tick down and draw a card exiled with a previous Karn. When your first Ashiok died, your second couldn’t put creatures from the first into play, as they are different objects. Silver counters get around this nicely. Finally, though I mentioned it in passing, Karn in a Standard artifact is no joke. It can tick down twice and still stick around, and if you can consistently have a high artifact count, Karn can produce some powerful bodies.

 

6. Slimefoot, the Stowaway

 

It seems like only yesterday that we were Rallying the Ancestors before sacrificing all of them while Zulaport Cutthroat killed our opponent. Slimefoot, the Stowaway is a Zulaport Cutthroat that you can’t have multiples of and only cares about Saprolings; at first glance, not great. However, Saprolings are a relevant tribe in Dominaria Standard; they have a two-mana lord, free sac outlets and card advantage engines, decent generators, and multiple more expensive Saprolings-matter cards. Slimefoot is a nice addition to the hypothetical Saproling deck, and even generates Saprolings on its own. While four mana might seem hefty to produce a 1/1, remember that 1) it’s all upside 2) if you have any lords, it’s not a 1/1 and 3) if you’re running this alongside something like Song of Freyalise (the new Cryptolith Rite), four mana starts to look a lot cheaper.

I’m generally excited for a Saproling deck, and I like that Slimefoot provides the deck a combo-oriented way to actually finish games, rather than grind for 30 turns like the current WB Hidden Stockpile/Anointed Procession build of tokens.

 

5. Syncopate

 

I’m a sucker for this type of effect. Back in ORI/BFZ/OGW/SOI/EMN Standard, the “good” three-mana counterspells of choice were Void Shatter and Scatter to the Winds. But in the Collected Company format, you really needed a counterspell on Turn 3, and four Void Shatter just weren’t enough, particularly when you wanted to play Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy on Turn 2. I blew out many, many Company players by playing two maindeck Clash of Wills. It’s a card that is absolutely fantastic early and doesn’t really lose its luster as the game goes late. Do you want to pay ten mana to counter the three-drop they drew off the top of their deck? I mean… not really, but it gets the job done.

Syncopate also exiles, which really just serves to ensure that, if it’s a creature, it won’t be Scarab God’ed back. Also of note: it doesn’t play well with Torrential Gearhulk. Personally, I love having access to XU counterspells in the format. More interestingly for the shape of the format, Disallow has been the only catch-all counterspell that people have been happy to play; Syncopate alongside Disallow could lend to an even more counterspell-based control deck.

Final note: the art is gorgeous, and the small card frame doesn’t do it justice. Tommy Arnold’s take on a counterspell isn’t a flashy, powerful wizard, but Teferi looking entirely dismissive. It’s a sweet departure from traditional countermagic art, and beautifully done.

 

4. Muldrotha, the Gravetide

 

In my heart, I know this is just a card for Commander and Brawl. But also in my heart, I really want this to be a card for Standard. If I can’t play a draw-go control deck, I lean toward BGx midrange grindfests with permanent-based card advantage. And boy, does Muldrotha produce card advantage, especially if you’re playing with sacrifice engines. While it might be unlikely for Muldrotha to see play, I could imagine it as a 1- or 2-of in a BG Delirium-esque midrange shell, perhaps after our current (The Scarab) God of Standard rotates this Fall.

 

3. Phyrexian Scriptures

 

I’ll be honest; since this card was spoiled and I realized it was a mythic rare, I’ve checked its price page daily to make sure I get in before it spikes. That’s not to say I’m convinced that it will spike, but I’m convinced that it has the potential to. Non-Planeswalker Mythics that see play as -3-4-ofs in Standard have always commanded a high price, and are frequently underestimated upon initial release (see The Scarab God and Rekindling Phoenix). I’m watching this one because I think it has potential, as it’s essentially a Damnation with Suspend 1.

Is a Damnation with Suspend 1 good? Well, on the downside, it’s a terrible topdeck when you need to wipe the board immediately. However, it’s much better earlier in the game when you’re looking to boardwipe and still hold up countermagic. Playing Scriptures on Turn 4 means that your opponent can’t add a creature to the board on their following turn lest it be wiped away, and then on the next turn (after the wipe happens), you have mana up to counter any of their plays. Of course, this is a Standard format with Karn, a 4-mana must-answer threat that they will happily resolve when you’re tapped out. But the counterargument is that we also still have Vraska’s Contempt, the best Hero’s Downfall since… well… Hero’s Downfall. Both the upside and downside are very real and worth considering. Depending on the texture of the format, Scriptures might see plentiful play or almost no play at all. Nevertheless, I love four-mana sweepers, it’s been a long time since we had a four-mana sweeper, and that Phi watermark is very, very sweet.

 

2. Josu Vess, Lich Knight 

We finally have a real ramp target in Standard again. The dinosaurs have been lackluster to ramp to, as they’re simply not impactful enough when they come down and are easily answered by most of the answers in the format. Josu produces 20 power – with Menace – split among 9 bodies for only 10 mana. That’s completely absurd. The only answer for Josu is a counterspell or a sweeper. Otherwise, you will win. People have trouble fighting through 20 power split among 9 bodies on a good day, but when all those bodies have Menace?! Not happening. This card is really, really good, and I suspect it will take casting it only once before people are sold.

Additionally, this is a reasonable way for the BGx Control decks with Hour of Promise to actually close out games quickly.

Also… did I mention 20 power over 9 bodies? With menace?!

 

 1. Mishra’s Self-Replicator

 

As I previously mentioned, when I’m not playing control, I play midrange grindfests with permanent-based card advantage – the more synergy the better. My favorite example of this style of deck was Abzan Constellation, one of my favorite decks of all time. I had high hopes that I would be able to play a Constellation-style deck by jamming a bunch of Historic cards into a Jeskai shell. The set has a card-drawer (Jhoira), a cost-reducer (Jhoira’s Familiar), and Self-Replicator is the payoff. If you can resolve a Replicator and cast a single historic spell, you should be a favorite to win the game. After all, each copy of Replicator has the same ability, and as long as one sticks, you should be able to “go off” in this style of synergy/engine deck the next turn. In fact, if you’re running Raff Capashen, which gives your historic spells flash, you can even go off on your opponent’s end step and then just kill them when you untap.

The problem, of course, is the mana cost. Every single worthwhile historic “lord” – even the cost reducer! – costs four mana. As such, I’m not really sure what you’re supposed to be doing on Turns 1-3. But I dream that someday, Mishra’s Self-Replicator can be the Sigil of the Empty Throne to my Jeskai Historian deck. That I will have enough Replicators to give all my spells Kicker X: Create X Replicators. Hell, maybe even have Replicators with Song of Freyalise, which would then just double the number of Replicators every time you cast a spell. And with Anointed Procession? O. M. G.

 

…I need to build this.

 

1. Yargle, Glutton of Urborg

 

Look, I know I said at the beginning that this was a list of my eight personal favorites from Dominaria, but I lied a little bit. There’s one card which is just objectively the best card in the set by pretty much any metric.

Most power? Check.

Most fun name to say? Check.

Most flavor text/Best backstory? Check and check.

Frog Spirit-est? Check.

Yargle, Glutton of Urborg is undeniably the best thing that Wizards has printed since Meandering Towershell. Or maybe Enthralling Victor? I don’t know, it honestly just doesn’t matter since this is easily better than both of them. Combined. Enthralling Towershell, the sexiest turtle to plod its way into your heart, doesn’t stand a chance against Yargle.

Just remember: I’m pretty sure that if, after a draft, you reveal that you drafted every single Yargle, you just win.

And that’s why we can all have our own top 8 cards, but Yargle stands on top of them, devouring them one at a time and laughing at you the whole while.

Which cards from Dominaria are you most excited about? (Besides Yargle. Obviously.)

 

 

  Ryan is a grinder from Boston with SCG & GP Top 8’s and a PT Day 2. His fragile self-esteem is built on approval from others, so be sure to tell him what you think of his articles on Twitter @RyanNormandin and in his Twitch chat at twitch.tv/norm_the_ryno.

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