Look, I'm not lying when I say I'm excited about every new set release. It's the magical time of year where we get new cards to dream about and build decks around. It's always my favorite time of year, no matter the set.
Somehow, Dominaria is taking it up another notch. Maybe it's that the health of Standard is already very good for the first time in long time, and I don't have to hope that the new set will fix the format. I know that Dominaria will only improve upon an already healthy Standard, and that's exciting. Maybe it's the introduction of a brand new format, Brawl, one that I'm so excited to play that I'll be building decks to bring with me to #SCGATL, the first SCG Tour® stop after Dominaria releases. Maybe it's that the set mechanics encourage you to build around legendary creatures and planeswalkers, the exact type of Magic I love to play.
The truth is it's most likely all of the above which make Dominaria the set I've been the most excited about releasing in my entire life. On top of that I'll be playing Standard for my team at #SCGATL, a format I'm excited to play again on a big stage. And since I'm playing Standard, let's start with some decks I've been brewing up so far in preparation for the release of Dominaria. Right now there are 154 of 269 cards previewed from the set, so I'm still not working with everything that will be legal. But it's pretty close.
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 2 Gonti, Lord of Luxury
- 1 Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons
- 1 Muldrotha, the Gravetide
- 3 Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter
- 3 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
- 2 The Scarab God
First up is the deck that I talked about last week , Sultai Legends. Because I wrote about it last week I'm not going to spend much time on it, I just wanted to update the decklist a little bit by adding the obviously good Vraska, Relic Seeker as well as the not so-obviously good Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons.
To be honest, Hapatra doesn't have a ton of text that matters in this deck. Basically it's a two mana legendary creature, which is what I wanted another of to fill the curve. Besides these updates I've added a sideboard for the deck, and will be playtesting this deck live for the first time on the VS Series here on SCG next week, so make sure you watch out for that!
Like I mentioned last week, this shell was started by looking for a way to abuse Mox Amber with Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter. Sultai is an easy starting point because you gain access to eight fastlands with Blooming Marsh and Botanical Sanctum, as well as The Scarab God. Sultai isn't the only possibility though, let's check out another one:
- 2 Angel of Sanctions
- 4 Jadelight Ranger
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Merfolk Branchwalker
- 2 Lyra Dawnbringer
- 2 Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter
- 2 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
- 1 Shalai, Voice of Plenty
- 3 Shanna, Sisay's Legacy
- 1 Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle
We're starting this deck with the same beginning shell as the Sultai version, but having a different variety of legendary creatures and planeswalkers at the top end. Ultimately I'm worried about the amount of removal in the deck, but that's something that can change over time.
I'm sure I wasn't the only one who read this card as "can't be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control" the first time through, but unfortunately only abilities are prevented. Even still, paying two mana for essentially a Voice of Resurgence token is an acceptable rate, especially to help turn on Mox Amber.
Gideon of the Trials occupies the spot in the deck where other removal could go if needed, but to start with, I believe Gideon of the Trials is powerful enough to try out. It also has the obvious synergies with many cards in the deck by being a legendary planeswalker, but it's difficult to cast by needing WW as early as turn 3. It's notable that the ideal turn 1 of Forest, Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter, Mox Amber, Llanowar Elves will allow us to play any of our four-drops on turn 2 but not Gideon of the Trials because it requires two white mana.
Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle is incredibly intriguing in this deck, and honestly there's a very good chance that it should be a four-of that this shell is built around. Currently this deck has 24 historic spells, so when Teshar is on the battlefield and you cast any one of those 24 spells you get to return one of your creatures that cost three or less from the graveyard to the battlefield. This means you'll want to trade off your early creatures aggressively, most notably Merfolk Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger.
Speaking of those explore creatures, they also give you the ability to place not only Angel of Sanctions into the graveyard but also other creatures that cost three or less, which helps out Teshar. Even Kamahl's Druidic Vow places the cards that don't enter the battlefield into the graveyard, which also synergizes with Teshar. I'm still only including one copy of the four mana 2/2 for now, but like I said before, it's entirely possible that this shell should simply be built around Teshar.
The biggest drawback to having legendary permanents in your deck is that you can draw too many of the same one, which means having a variety of different legendaries is a better option. I'm pretty excited for Weatherlight - well now typing that sentence I wish it was The Weatherlight - especially in a deck like this that has plenty of high power historic cards to search for.
U/W Approach was an established part of the metagame before Rivals of Ixalan was released but has pretty much vanished from the metagame since. However, I could easily see it making a return after the release of Dominaria thanks to two very important cards for the archetype.
Seal Away is one of the best white removal spells printed in while and what the deck was truly lacking. It's a two mana way to get any creature off the battlefield, so long as it's tapped. Being instant speed is also a huge bonus for the card, and I expect it to pair nicely with Baffling End and the various sweepers to make white the desired control color in Standard.
The other huge addition to the deck is Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Many people have seen this planeswalker and compared it to similar ones in the past such as Ob Nixilis Reignited or Jace, Unraveler of Secrets thinking it will make a similar impact on Standard. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a much better card than those two previous planeswalkers and could make a much bigger impact.
Teferi's plus ability allows you to untap two lands at the end of your turn, which is incredibly powerful. Sure, the easy things to point to are cards like Seal Away and Essence Scatter that you will always be able to hold up, but for me it's about the power that provides later in the game. For example, if you untap with Teferi on turn 6 you can cast Ixalan's Binding on your turn and still have mana to either cast Settle the Wreckage or Glimmer of Genius on your opponent's turn. You can even untap the legendary lands after you transform into them, such as Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin, for multiple activations a turn cycle. The ability to untap two lands is incredibly valuable and is being overlooked for the most part.
Similarly, Teferi's minus ability is being underrated as well. It deals with any nonland permanent, including planeswalkers, artifacts, and enchantments, by basically exiling it. Sure they'll draw it again in three turns if you don't have a Field of Ruin to shuffle it away, but still by then you can easily have another answer for the permanent. Even though Teferi follows a very generic molding as far as planeswalkers are concerned, it's still incredibly powerful and pulls me into wanting to play a U/W Control deck over a U/B one.
- 4 Champion of Wits
- 4 Siren Stormtamer
- 4 Soul-Scar Mage
- 3 Adeliz, the Cinder Wind
- 3 Naban, Dean of Iteration
- 2 Naru Meha, Master Wizard
Let me preface this by saying this is the least competitive of the decks in the article today, but I wanted to try to make a U/R Wizards deck that could take advantage of Wizard's Lightning and Wizard's Retort.
Unfortunately, with many cards still to be previewed there isn't an abundance of Wizards to be built around as of now, but hopefully that will change. If you're able to routinely turn Wizard's Lightning and Wizard's Retort into Lightning Bolt and Counterspell, then you have access to arguably the two best instants in Standard. I'm not sold there's enough available yet to be able to do that reliably, but I'm keeping an eye out for the rest of the previews to see what Wizards will be available.
As someone who has played plenty of Eldrazi Tron in their life, I was incredibly excited to see what the new Karn that was printed in Dominaria would look like. I was hoping for a mid-cost card advantage engine, and that's exactly what we got with Karn, Scion of Urza. I think Karn, Scion of Urza will be a multi-format all-star, and am excited to start playing it in a variety of different strategies. To start with in Standard, I'm going to try it in a completely colorless deck first.
- 4 Chief of the Foundry
- 4 Foundry Inspector
- 3 Scrap Trawler
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 3 Treasure Keeper
- 3 Walking Ballista
This is another deck I'll be playing on The VS Series next week and I'm truly excited about it. The goal here is to completely maximize Karn's powers by placing it with as many artifacts as possible for the minus two ability. I'm imagining the play pattern for Karn will usually be using the minus two ability twice in a row to create large tokens before looking for more cards, but of course that will be situational.
One of the biggest draws to being a completely colorless deck is the ability to play an extreme amount of utility lands. Field of Ruin is a really nice option in Standard as the format has worse manabases than others, not to mention the legendary transform cards that turn into lands you'll want to destroy. For Field of Ruin you need to have basic lands, and Swamps are the most convenient to enable Scrapheap Scrounger. Those of you that played Standard during Theros block remember how crucial the temples were to the format, and Zhalfirin Void is a very interesting similar addition to the format that this deck can take advantage of.
All three mythic vehicles in the deck have the ability to take over the game. Heart of Kiran is the cheapest and can use Karn's high starting loyalty to crew. Weatherlight is basically a true Impulse in this deck, with its able to hit any of the non-land cards in the deck, and Skysovereign, Consul Flagship is still as brutally effective as ever.
I'm not a hundred percent sold on the meat of the deck, as it's filled with creatures that haven't seen much Standard play to this point, but I have high hopes. I'm a little worried about Chief of the Foundry not being able to crew the mythic vehicles, and I'm not sure exactly how effective Scrap Trawler and Treasure Keeper will be, but I can imagine them all over-performing when put into games. I'm quite excited to try all of these cards out and truly think that a completely colorless shell could surprise people.
- 4 Bomat Courier
- 4 Scrapheap Scrounger
- 4 Walking Ballista
- 4 Toolcraft Exemplar
- 3 Hazoret the Fervent
- 2 Pia Nalaar
Every time you start to count Mardu Vehicles out, it comes back to prove it's a deck you need to respect in Standard. It's kind of like the Affinity of Modern in that way. The card pool that it's able to play is incredibly vast and rewards the pilots that are tuning it week after week and staying on top of the metagame.
Mardu Vehicles does seem like a fitting home for Karn, and it's a simple port over from the previous season for week one Standard. This is a deck that traditionally turns into a Mardu Control deck after sideboard, and Karn can help with that plan while still providing aggressive token creatures in the pre-sideboard games.
Although Karn is the only Dominaria card I have in my decklist here, I'm sure there will be others from the set that will help out Mardu Vehicles, as it's a perfect deck for the historic-matters cards. As of now though, I'm not exactly sure if Weatherlight would make the cut as a new vehicle, or what other cards for that matter, but it's definitely a deck to try the new cards out in and have my eye on.
I feel like I could keep going on forever with Dominaria decklists as the set is filled with cards that look exciting to build around. What are you excited to play for week one Standard? I'm still excited to see the rest of the set before truly diving in, but my mind is already racing with new possibilities to test out.
It looks like I couldn't have picked a better time to get back into Standard!