Top 10 Dominaria Constructed Picks
Dominaria has been dancing a merry jig in standard for a few weeks now and today I’m going through my picks for cards to watch in constructed formats. This list doesn’t just look at cards for standard but modern and maybe legacy as well. Maybe there’s a card from Dominaria you think should be on this list that isn’t so feel free to get in touch and let me know.
10: Knight of Malice/Knight of Grace
Both of these two drops are very powerful in limited with above the curve power and evasion. That’s not where the playability for the Knights ends, these two horsemen could and probably will see play in constructed due to being cheap, evasive creatures that can apply a decent clock and make combat awkward for your opponent. There almost certainly will be a deck that uses both Knights in conjunction with Radiant Destiny or History of Benalia to provide you with a huge board advantage but even without any Anthem effects these Knights give you a nice sense of security on the ground. The First Strike helps a lot in combat, it means that your opponent can’t just attack into a Knight on blocks willy nilly for fear that you may have a combat trick. Removal spells aren’t the most effective either, this is mainly focusing on Knight of Grace because of its Hexproof From Black, this means that Fatal Push, Vraska’s Contempt and even another new card Cast Down won’t do anything to this man on a horse. White removal is less prevalent but is definitely on the up and up recently putting Knight of Malice in a decent spot when it comes to surviving also. Be it main deck or sideboard, Knight of Grace and Knight of Malice will both enjoy constructed play in the months to come as there will always be a home for powerful, efficient creatures.
9: Blink of an Eye
I loved Into the Roil back in the day and Blink of An Eye is Into the Roil verbatim. Same cost, same effect and it even comes with the same Kicker, all of this adds up to a great tempo/board control spell with additional card advantage making Blink of an Eye a fine spell that any blue deck would love to play. Obviously Blink plays will with cards like Torrential Gearhulk, in a deck that opts to restrict your opponent’s options with permission spells, but it also works really well when you’re not on the defensive. If your opponent only has one creature to block with you can fire of Blink of an Eye to deal with it and attack through safely. Alternatively, you could use it on one of your own Sagas for example, getting extra mileage from the enchantment while also getting a card out of Blink of an Eye, putting you quite far ahead of your opponent. There are many options that Blink opens up for you and it’s a slam-dunk for me to be a major player in constructed until its departure, but that won’t be for a while so enjoy your Boomerang with added extra guys.
8: Cast Down
It’s been so long since standard has been graced with a decent two mana straight up removal spell, enter Cast Down. Terror was always played back in the day and, even though it couldn’t hit black creatures, it was still a three or four-of because it was cheap, effective and easy to splash. There have been a lot of variants over the years: Doom Blade, Go for the Throat, Ultimate Price, but as I said it’s been a long time since any of those have made waves in standard. Cast Down isn’t situated well in limited due to the massive influx of Legendary creatures but in standard, and maybe modern, it looks really good. Cast Down gives the blue black control decks another option for removal while also working very well with Torrential Gearhulk. Mono black decks almost need cheap spot removal like Cast Down to function when cards like Moment of Craving or Fatal Push are just a bit too restricted, there will be those times that you may be facing down a Legendary creature and sure, it won’t do much to help you there but there has to be a line with these removal spells. Legendary creatures will go up in play in constructed thanks to Dominaria but I think Cast Down is still a great choice to play in standard for those times when your opponent has a big non-Legendary threat, in those situations Cast Down is your first and best go to card.
Having a counterspell like Syncopate back in the standard format is exactly what control players needed. Granted, a spell like Syncopate doesn’t play well with Torrential Gearhulk, a card that sees a lot of play in the recent and current standard metagame, as well as Censor might. With Censor however it will always only be “counter target spell unless its controller pays 1” whereas Syncopate adapts nicely to whatever situation it’s called upon for. Ultimately, Syncopate is a versatile spell and its versatility could be the reason it hasn’t seen print since Return To Ravnica, though this is the right time I feel for it to integrate back into the metagame nicely providing you with a great counterspell that’s ready for anything.
6: Seal Away
The current metagame is very creature heavy which has seen a big rise in spot removal, usually in red or black mainly, though white has been coming through with some more effective spells recently like Cast Out and Ixalan’s Binding. Seal Away rounds out that trio nicely by giving you a cheaper, if more reactive, option to early drop creatures. While most players will be anticipating the Settle the Wreckage and therefore refuse the alpha strike, I think it will take players a little longer to become accustomed to attacking around a Seal Away: you won’t attack with just one creature because that’s just a gimme, so maybe two creatures is the answer right? What happens if they have a Settle the Wreckage or maybe a Seal Away and something like a Fatal Push to ruin your day too. This brings me nicely to my next point about Seal Away. Because of the amount of both mass and spot removal in standard right now it’s very difficult to know what you should be playing around. This puts Seal Away in a much better position than it may have been without all of this spot removal, making this two mana enchantment quite the bullet for creature decks.
5: Goblin Chainwhirler
I could’ve put one of three of the triple coloured cycle on this list: Steel Leaf Champion for the sheer attacking power it provides, Benalish Marshal for giving your creatures an early power/toughness boost across the board. I chose Goblin Chainwhirler though because of how big a deck mono-red was and will continue to be. Sure, tokens could become a thing and mono-green always sits in the land of the fringe deck but mono-red has been so dominant without this triple red terror and the addition of Goblin Chainwhirler could cement its position back at the top spot. First off, having a three mana 3/3 with First Strike on turn three is just backbreaking, it makes combat hell for your opponent and can make swift work of your opponent’s life total. Against smaller creatures Chainwhirler laughs as he pings everything on your opponent’s side of the table, giving you some extra reach as well as a very intimidating creature and in this metagame of very creature focused decks he eats them for breakfast. The best part about Goblin Chainwhirler is that most of the time his devoted red mana cost isn’t a restriction as the current red decks don’t splash any other colours, most, if not all, of them play twenty-two/twenty-three Mountains and that’s it. That’s not even mentioning his potential in a goblin deck with the return of Goblin Warchief, Skirk Prospector and Siege-gang Commander, all of which could come together for a very interesting standard goblins deck which hasn’t happened in quite some time. This goblin is here to stay and wreck up the standard tables for a while in the current metagame and you can either learn to stomach all of the beatings you will get or join him.
4: Llanowar Elves
It’s almost criminal that we haven’t seen Llanowar Elves printed in a standard legal set since Magic 2012, that’s seven years ago! This cheap mana provider has seen a lot of play over the years from elf tribal decks to go-big-fast mana ramp decks, Llanowar Elves is always in with a shout when brewing new green decks for standard and, the best part is, you’re never going to be disappointed when playing him. I absolutely love Llanowar Elves, it’s probably one of my favourite ever cards mainly because of how subtly powerful it is: dropping Llanowar Elves on turn one lets you jump ahead a whole turn over your opponent. In the long run this means that you’re going to get to your late game plays much quicker and throughout the game are more likely to be able to apply pressure by playing multiple spells a turn. Being printed in the same set as Steel Leaf Champion gives Llanowar Elves another powerboost, you’re able to amass six points of attack power by turn two in limited and standard relatively easily. Or maybe using Llanowar Elves to power out a turn two Grow from the Ashes, so now you’re not just one mana ahead but two. Doing something like that a turn earlier than you’re usually able to puts you so far ahead of your opponent, making it really hard to come back from such an explosive start. Llanowar Elves is always going to see play when it’s printed in standard and this time around is no different, get ready to see a lot of turn one Llanowar Elves.
3: Teferi, Hero Of Dominaria
There are only a handful of Blue-White planeswalkers in Magic, all of them have great, usually card advantageous abilities but of the five Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is the only one with an actual threat stopping ability. Sure, others like Dovin Baan and Teferi, Timebender (the Planeswalker Deck version of Teferi) reduce the damage threats can do by gaining you life or weakening opposing creatures but those abilities doesn’t actually deal with the threats. Teferi, Hero of Dominaria provides you with essentially a permanent way of dealing with non-land permanents as well as card advantage and putting you up on mana. Even though Teferi costs five mana he acts more like a three mana planeswalker thanks to the first ability, this opens the door for you to double up with a Teferi on turn five and have mana open for Negate/Essence Scatter, Blink of an Eye or even Seal Away. The versatility of this Blue-White planeswalker almost solidifies its places in standard, from control to tempo decks Teferi gives you access to so much power and I think he’ll be a staple for a while.
2: Karn, Scion of Urza
So there have been five Blue-White planeswalkers in Magic but can you believe there’s only three colourless planeswalkers? Of course you can seeing as colourless didn’t really exist until a few years ago. The first two colourless planeswalkers have been very expensive with their abilities reflecting their cost, so having Karn, Scion of Urza at four mana is a nice change of pace and you will actually be able to cast this one without cheating on mana. Obviously the second iteration of Karn was never going to be as powerful as his seven mana counterpart but the Scion of Urza is no slouch, giving you card advantage, selection and incremental board advantage. Everything Karn, Scion of Urza does is so clean cut and powerful all at the same time it’s hard to envision a future metagame without him. Like Teferi, Karn’s versatility shines through in pretty much any type of deck making him the ideal planeswalker. Karn will see so much play in standard and he could easily make it into modern where the card selection is wider and the strategies are quirkier, I’ve already seen Karn finding a home in modern Affinity lists giving the deck a very powerful alternative avenue of attack.
When I first saw Merfolk Trickster on the Dominaria spoiler I glossed over it quite quickly. Not for any particular reason, I guess I've been pampered by experiences with Snapcaster Mage, so a two mana blue creature with Flash has a lot to live up to. I think there is a bit of subtle power hidden within Merfolk Trickster, it’s cheap and has on curve power and toughness while also providing a great defensive or tempo ability. One play that sticks out in my mind is letting your opponent pay all the mana and discard all their cards to Hazoret to enable the god to attack only to be met with a two mana fish man tapping it down. It plays well on the other side as well, giving you a way to sneak some damage through or just tap down your opponent’s only available blocker.
The dance commander is back and as always he’s bringing his entourage. I love Siege-Gang Commander and always try to play him when I can, the versatility he provides is unrivalled and this five mana goblin can easily take a game for you. Five mana for five power is good, on curve but nothing special. When you get to the commander’s ability is when things start to get fun. Having four bodies to block with makes combat difficult for your opponent while bolstering your board position nicely but the kicker here is that you can start throwing your goblins around willy-nilly, either as additional removal spells or just direct damage. Siege-Gang Commander offers a lot of power and he will see standard play to be sure, it may be a little pushed out at the moment with Glorybringer sitting in the five drop spot but both creatures offer very different things so I’m sure players will find a way to have the commander and the dragon live in harmony.
Traxos, Scourge of Kroog
I couldn’t see the numbers on Traxos and think anything other than “this card is super powerful”. Four mana for a 7/7 Trampler is hard to pass up and i’m sure many players will have been deck-building with this artifact immediately, the drawback isn’t too bad either considering we’ve just had a huge influx of Legends and Artifacts are always around. In the right deck Traxos could be a great early drop creature with pseudo-Vigilance if you can power out Historic cards consistently enough and I think that puts Traxos in a brilliant spot for standard play. There is still a lot to be explored when it comes to a heavy artifact deck but if there is one running around surely it would contain a couple of copies of Traxos, Scourge of Kroog.
Damping Sphere probably won’t see that much play in standard unless it’s in the sideboard for a really fast ramp or burn deck. However, I am certain that this two mana Artifact will see play in modern for two reasons: against storm and against eldrazi. It’s more obvious against storm because they aim to play a lot of spells in one turn, netting mana each time before that Grapeshot you to death. Damping Sphere hinders that plan a fair bit, even with the mana reduction offered by Baral or Goblin Electromancer Damping Sphere nullifies that straight away and in multiples they make it almost impossible for storm to go off. Against eldrazi it’s a little more subtle, you’re not going after their spells (even though they can power out multiple eldrazi a turn) you’re more after their lands, specifically Eldrazi Temple. Just turn that one land into a fair land means that the game will go a lot smoother for you and it’s less likely you will be overrun by the colourless horrors.
1: Lyra Dawnbringer
The moment I saw Lyra Dawnbringer I knew she would be my top pick for standard play. In my set review I drew comparisons between Lyra and Baneslayer Angel, talking about how powerful Baneslayer was back in the day and if anything time has been kind to this card template. Lyra is a Legendary creature but that doesn’t really hinder this five mana powerhouse in anyway, often you didn’t need multiple Baneslayer Angels in play to win the game so why would you need two Lyra’s. When testing with Dominaria cards I found that most of the time the threat of Lyra was enough to win the game, my opponent would try and play around the five drop angel to maximise their chances but in doing so couldn’t deal with any planeswalkers or other creatures I could produce. Even when Lyra was in play the sheer power she gives you is so difficult to deal with, the First Strike specifically is brutal when coupled with Lifelink as it gives you a nice stop gap letting you manoeuvre combat a little easier. Her ability isn’t nothing either, there are twelve other angels in standard so Lyra can team up well with any of them to make a nice tribal inspired deck. She’s a slam dunk for control, tempo and aggressive decks because she adapts well to almost any strategy: in a control deck she’s your late game bomb that you protect and she runs away with the game, in tempo she helps control both the board and your life very well and in an aggressive deck, if she goes unanswered, she just wins you the game. Lyra is going to be a staple in standard for a long time to come, the design is brilliant and it’s the type of creature that needs to exist to keep creatures like Glorybringer in check, and that’s something she does well.
Those have been my top ten picks for the constructed formats to come with some honourable mentions thrown in there. Maybe these have given you some ideas for decks of your own to try out and if so let me know, I’d love to hear what people out there are coming up with. Swing by www.gamingtank.blogspot.co.uk for more gaming and Magic articles. See you soon guys.