A First Look at Dominaria

 

Last Thursday, the Chinese release notes for the spring MTG set, Dominaria, were accidentally released. In a smart move, Wizards released an English translation, to make sure everyone had the right information about the set. This of course gave everyone a ton of new info about this eagerly-anticipated set and spoiled a ton of new cards, and hype levels went up even farther than they were.

Today, I’ll be delving into the release notes, and I’ll take a look at what promises to be an excellent set for EDH. Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Let’s go!

Last year, we had some great Magic sets printed for EDH. Aether Revolt had lots of great multiplayer cards in it, like Metallic Mimic, one of the best tribal enablers ever. This was followed by Modern Masters 2017, which had lots of great reprints, driving down the prices of expensive cards. Wizards released the Egypt-themed set Amonkhet, which again, had a ton of great multiplayer cards, like new general Hapatra, Vizier of Poison and Dusk // Dawn. Then came Hour of Devastation, which saw the release of good old Nicol Bolas, who came back to chew bubble gum and kick the good guys’ collective asses. Then we had Commander 2017, which had a strong tribal theme, helping out the various tribes of Magic (but especially Vampires, Dragons, Wizards and Cats).

In Sept, Ixalan continued in this fashion, but upped the ante with a strong tribal set, featuring Merfolk, Vampires, Dinosaurs, and Pirates, all fairly popular choices. This set did have some great tribal enablers, as well as an amazing cycle of transform cards (that I gushed about here). Though considered a weak Magic set overall (and a terrible Limited format), Ixalan was popular with EDH tribal players.

Rivals of Ixalan was not nearly as good (in my opinion), and I was mostly disappointed by it. Unlike Ixalan, it didn’t really bring any universal tribal cards to the table (cards like Vanquisher’s Banner, Unclaimed Territory, or Pillar of Origins, which will be used by any tribe in Magic going forward, and which I thought were quietly some of the best cards in the initial Ixalan set). Still, it did have some fun cards for the tribes in it (Vampires, Merfolk, Dinos, and Pirates), so if you were playing one of those tribes, it wasn’t all bad.

The last year of Magic was, for the most part, full of tons of excellent EDH and multiplayer cards. Could Dominaria continue this?

To an enfranchised player like myself, who has been here since the very beginning of Magic, Dominaria is quite exciting. It’s very much like coming home, and I knew that Wizards would likely have something awesome and nostalgic planned for us all.

I figured Dominaria would be much like the Time Spiral set, which was a nostalgia trip for older players, and included a bunch of legends who’d never had cards before, and lots and lots of cards that referenced older cards. Time Spiral was poorly received at the time because of its extreme complexity (there were a lot of keywords in it); only older players ‘got’ Time Spiral block, and they loved it. I assumed for Dominaria, they would tone down the complexity quite a bit, while still preying upon our love of nostalgia.

By and large, I was right.

Just in looking at the Dominaria release notes, it looks like Wizards has set up a nostalgia set very heavy on the legends (in the release notes alone, there are over 30 new legends to use as EDH generals), making this set feel like a weird cross between Time Spiral and Kamigawa. Lore-wise, we finally have cards for old characters like Jodah and Jaya Ballard (from Ice Age), and many more.

I’ll be honest, the set looks fantastic so far.

Let’s take a look at the cards that really stood out to me!

SAGA ENCHANTMENTS:
The first real card of the set with an actual card image, Phyrexian Scriptures shows off the new Saga enchantments, which remind me of an interesting take on enchantments crossed with level up creatures. Each turn they get a counter, and trigger the corresponding level effect, giving you some interesting options to build around.

I’ll be honest: I think the idea is very cool, but I greatly dislike the way the card itself is laid out. I don’t like the way this looks at all. Having said that, I think all of the Sagas that are in the release notes look very playable in EDH, so I’m looking forward to trying them out.

As with the level up cards, it’s worth mentioning that these interact favorably with any card that adds/removes counters (Hex Parasite, Clockspinning, Power Conduit), letting you trigger the level you’re on when you add/remove a counter.

Sagas are a cool mechanic, and I look forward to trying them out in various EDH decks (Atraxa, Praetors’ Voice and Breya, Etherium Shaper to start with, and more depending on the effect).

These should be great in EDH, despite how ugly I find the frame.

NEW PLANESWALKERS AND “PLANESWALKERS MATTER” CARDS:
With every set that comes out, Wizards adds to the number of new planeswalkers and cards that care about them (and understandably so, since these have become the faces of the MTG game since their release in Lorwyn).

EDH players always look forward to new ‘walkers, since they are both good and bad in multiplayer (but always fun). They’re good because they provide useful, flashy effects that you can use every turn, but bad because they get attacked to death in multiplayer quite often. New walkers are often the most eagerly anticipated cards from a new set, and this set was no exception, since we knew it would have older characters and ‘walkers in it.

All of these new planeswalker cards look pretty damn cool and fun, so I’m definitely looking forward to them.

New Karn is card drawing, so I definitely like him a lot, and I expect him to find a home either in our colorless Karn, Silver Golem deck, where his ability to make token creatures with power/toughness that scale based on the number of artifacts you control should be super powerful, or in our Breya, Etherium Shaper deck (same thing).

New Teferi is also card drawing, and thus I also think he’ll be obviously good. I don’t have a place for this guy yet. My main issue with him is that he’s very generic; all of his abilities are just good, not really very unique. I haven’t decided if I’ll use him at all yet. He reminds me a lot of Ob Nixilis Reignited; a solid card, but kind of boring, since all his abilities are just “good things to do.”

His Oath, on the other hand, is a different story. I’ve had a “planeswalkers matter” deck built in various color combinations for years, first with Progenitus as general, then moving to Atraxa, and finally it is currently helmed by classic Angus Mackenzie, and one thing that has always been a constant is that the entire Oath cycle of “planeswalkers matters” cards (ie. Oath of Ajani, Oath of Jace, etc) have always overperformed. I have not decided yet what changes I’ll be making to Angus (I may go back to five-color), but I do know that I’ll be adding in Oath of Teferi, it’s incredibly strong in a planeswalker-based deck.

Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth is a big reason that I’m considering the move back to five-color. Having a card that recurs all the dead planeswalkers back into play is a big deal, and I have really missed having the red and black ‘walkers like Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker in the deck… so who knows? I may end up going back to 5-color ‘walkers at some point.

Finally, I just wanted to mention Jaya Ballard, the original fire mage, because it’s about damn time she has a planeswalker card. For the first four or five years of Magic, she was the flavor text of just about every burn spell, so it’s awesome that she finally has a representation of her powered-up ‘walker self in the game.

So the planeswalkers and “planeswalkers matter” cards are all pretty damn awesome this time around, and I do look forward to picking them up.

LEGENDARY INSTANTS AND SORCERIES:
These were a surprise to see, since I could have sworn Maro had stated that they would never add the ‘legendary’ typeline to instants or sorceries years ago. Regardless, any card with the legendary type is something that Captain Sisay loves to see, and so I’m really looking forward to adding these two cards to that deck. One is a version of Genesis Wave, and the other Wraths all non-Legends; both should be amazing in that deck.

And that’s without even seeing any other new legendary instants/sorceries in green/white that Sisay can work with. These are very good, and I expect them to be quite strong.

EXCITING NEW GENERALS:
As a full-time EDH player, this is always the best part of a new set for me — finding out if there are any new generals that I would want to build around, either replacing one of my decks, or setting up a new deck of their own.

There are, of course, a ton of new options to work with in this set (after all, legends matter in this set), and these above are some of the ones I found most exciting.

All the players clamoring for a U/R “artifacts matter” general finally get their wish with Jhoira, who draws a card for each one you cast. I can see a lot of artifact-based decks being built around her after this set. Jodah, from the Ice Age storyline, finally gets a card, and he’s a beefy flying creature with a built-in Fist of Suns, making him a very interesting five-color general. New Multani gets bigger for your dead lands, so he’s actually perfect for The Gitrog Monster, and Muldrotha lets you recur cards from your graveyard, and is going to be excellent in The Mimeoplasm.

Of this batch of legends, it is the Boros one, Firesong and Sunspeaker, that truly stands out. Finally, finally, we have a general for red/white that doesn’t involve attacking! This is very cool, and shows that although it takes them forever to act on what we tell them, Wizards has been listening to what the EDH crowd actually wants them to print.

I have wanted a non-combat Boros general for a long time now, so I can definitely see me disassembling Tajic, Blade of the Legion in favor of Firesong and Sunspeaker.

There are a lot of interesting, fun legends thus far in Dominaria, so I look forward to seeing what else is in the set to be used as potential EDH generals.

TRIBAL CARDS:
Along with all the cool and unique cards that we’ve looked at so far, the release notes also showed off a bevy of new tribal cards, which is awesome (I’m a big believer of playing bad tribal decks in EDH). There are a number of tribes receiving their first-ever generals for EDH, and several tribes receiving more support.

Let’s take a look.

KNIGHT TRIBAL GENERALS:
The first of many “tribes without a legend to lead them”, Knights finally have several legends to choose from in this set to use as EDH generals, so I expect to see a plethora of Knight tribal decks from people going forward (I may even build one myself).

Way back when Knight Exemplar was first printed back in Magic 2011, many people were confused and annoyed that it wasn’t a legendary creature, so they could use it as a general in EDH. Well, we finally have Knight generals, and these ones are pretty sweet, so I look forward to seeing them in play.

Another tribe without a leader, the Specter tribe is a longstanding tribe of Magic, who finally has a general you can build around. (He’s not good, but then, neither is Specter tribal).

APE TRIBAL:
I’ve never wanted to build Ape Tribal in EDH before… but then, there’s never been a general for it. Now, I kinda want to.

Worth mentioning, this guy is kind of gigantic all by himself; you don’t even really need a tribal build to make him work. It’s quite possible to just build a deck to one-shot people with him doing 21 general damage.

ANGEL AND WIZARD TRIBAL:
These are two tribes that already have a ton of support in EDH, but it’s good to see WotC continuing that support in this set. (Goblins and Elves are also going to be represented in this set as well). As with all the other tribes, giving us more options for generals to use in EDH is always a good thing, especially when they help their own tribe in beneficial ways like this.

TRIBAL RATS:
This one’s for my buddy Darby, who has Kamigawa all-star Marrow-Gnawer built with 40 Relentless Rats for EDH. WotC printing him another version of Relentless Rats is excellent for the deck, letting him have a two-drop so he can interact with the board and start attacking people that much sooner.

This card will be a huge hit with casual players (EDH or not), and I foresee it seeing a lot of EDH play.

TRIBAL FUNGUS:
This is another tribe that Darby has built (currently built around Time Spiral legend Thelon of Havenwood), and it’s always been fun to watch it work. I look forward to seeing the new Fungus cards from Dominaria, and I know they’ll definitely fit right in to that deck.

Conclusion: So there you have it, that’s a quick first look at Dominaria, the spring MTG set! There is a lot to like here, and I’m really looking forward to adding these cards to my EDH decks! Thanks for reading!

 

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