Top 8 Dominaria United Cards for Modern and Pioneer

Ryan Normandin
September 09, 2022


8. Ertai Resurrected / Phoenix Chick ( Pioneer )

Okay, I acknowledge that I’m cheating here, but Ertai Resurrected and Phoenix Chick are likely to be similarly impactful in Pioneer. They will slot into existing decks without dramatically improving those decks or affecting the metagame very much.

Ertai Resurrected provides UB Control with the kind of flexible answer that it needs to compete in the format. Outside of Fatal Push, its answers are powerful, but narrow or overpriced (Extinction Event, Shadow’s Verdict, Hullbreaker Horror, etc), which is why UB Control often ends up playing one- or two-ofs most of its cards. Like everything else in the deck, Ertai is probably a one- or two-of.

Phoenix Chick, on the other hand, will be tested as a four-of until Red players decide whether it’s an optimal one-mana threat. The evasion and recursion is a powerful combination, shoring up two weaknesses of cheap, aggressive Red decks. But it still can’t attack through a Cavalier of Thorns, and Portable Hole answers it cleanly.

While both Ertai and Chick are promising additions, the “value-over-replacement” is low for both these cards, which is why I expect them both to show up, but not have too large of an impact.


7. Painlands ( Pioneer )

Pioneer has a manabase problem, where both the painlands and fastlands are only half-complete. Completing the painlands cycle will allow UW Spirits (Adarkar Wastes) and RB Midrange (Sulfurous Springs) to improve their mana a bit, and perhaps even make a RG aggressive strategy more viable. But I fear that the painlands’ time in the sun will be brief; if we do get a completed cycle of fastlands when we return to New Phyrexia, as many suspect, they’ll likely replace the painlands immediately.


6. Sheoldred, the Apocalypse ( Pioneer )

Sheoldred’s uniquely powerful because it wins the game purely by sitting on the board. Sitting on the board is something it does quite effectively, as the lifegain, large butt, and deathtouch all make it difficult for an opponent to kill you while Sheoldred’s present. While it does die to multiple kill spells in the format, it demands an answer quickly, and in a threat-dense deck like RB Midrange or Monoblack Midrange, an opponent’s answers will be strained. The competition in the four-drop slot in Pioneer is fierce, so as Pioneer decks streamline their gameplans, generically powerful threats like Sheoldred will be pushed out in favor of more narrowly powerful cards, so enjoy her while she lasts!


5. Temporary Lockdown ( Pioneer, Modern )

This card is a wildly powerful sideboard card. We’ve already seen Hidetsugu Consumes All see light sideboard play in both Pioneer and Modern, and Lockdown plays a similar role more effectively.

In Pioneer, this is a fantastic card for UW Control (or White midrange decks, if those ever come together) to bring in against RB Sacrifice and Monowhite Humans, both of which can be challenging matchups. In Modern, Temporary Lockdown answers every card in Hammer outside of Kaldra Compleat, Nettlecyst, and Swords (though it does answer the Germ tokens). It’s also fine, but not stellar, against the rising UR Breach deck, exiling Mox Amber and Grinding Station.


4. Lords ( Modern, Pioneer )

The Elf and Goblin lords in particular are looking powerful, though in different formats. Leaf-Crowned Visionary allows Pioneer Elves to hit the critical eight copies of two-mana lords, and Visionary’s ability to draw cards makes it even stronger than Elvish Clancaller.

In Modern, Rundvelt Hordemaster threatens to push Goblins into a higher tier of playability, winning the Modern Challenge on Saturday, providing enormous value in conjunction with the many ways that Goblins can sacrifice themselves.

While the Merfolk Lord has potential in both formats, I’m not convinced it’s enough to push the Fish into contention; they still seem too weak to Fury in Modern, and are too clunky in Pioneer.


3. Serra Paragon ( Pioneer )

It’s Lurrus at Home! Except… sometimes even stronger?

I’m very high on this card; midrange decks in Pioneer are renowned for their powerful three-drops (Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, Liliana of the Veil, Bonecrusher Giant, Graveyard Trespasser, etc). Serra Paragon playing a Lurrus-esque role in midrange decks gives them a substantial upgrade in their ability to grind. It also pushes Bloodtithe Harvester’s stock up even higher; already the best two-drop in RB, it keeps getting better, first in conjunction with the best three-drop (Fable) and now a powerful four-drop.

The question is whether Paragon is able to push White midrange over the top. BR has reigned supreme for so long; is it possible that BR could become Mardu? Or will WR or WB take over? Personally, I think Mardu has the best chance of taking advantage of Paragon, though the mana will require some work.


2. Liliana of the Veil ( Pioneer )

One of the most powerful planeswalkers from 2014 Modern joins Pioneer! Liliana does for Pioneer RB what it used to do for Jund; cleanly answer annoying threats like Graveyard Trespasser or a Fable token, and then trade resources for free. It also improves Rakdos’s close matchup against UW Control and it’s unfavored matchup against Lotus Field. It’s flexible, cheap, and powerful – expect to see a lot of this card in your Pioneer matches.


1. Leyline Binding ( Modern )

In Modern, four-color decks are best able to take advantage of Leyline Binding, and they’ve begun doing so in the MTGO Challenges this past weekend. Both 4C Omnath and 4C Glimpse are slotting between two and (usually) four copies of Binding into their mainboards as a two-mana answer to any threat that cannot be Prismatic Ending’ed. While it can be bounced with Teferi, destroyed with Boseiju, or shuffled away with Glimpse, the rate and flexibility is too good to resist. Much like Prismatic Ending before it, expect Leyline Binding to be a Modern staple for a long time.

Ryan Normandin is a grinder from Boston who has lost at the Pro Tour, in GP & SCG Top 8's, and to 7-year-olds at FNM. Despite being described as "not funny" by his best friend and "the worst Magic player ever" by Twitch chat, he cheerfully decided to blend his lack of talents together to write funny articles about Magic.