Dominaria in Modern and Legacy

Javier Dominguez


Today I’m going to have a look at all the new cards and talk about those I think may be more likely to see tournament play in Eternal formats. While I don’t see anything like 《Unclaimed Territory》 that just made humans a Tier 1, there are a few unique new cards, which are surely fun to explore.

《Lyra Dawnbringer》

Lyra Dawnbringer

I have lost in Modern against a 《Baneslayer Angel》 out of a UW Control deck. Although considering it Modern-playable is a little generous, 《Lyra Dawnbringer》 is likely a strict upgrade since it makes 《Restoration Angel》 bigger and better. Also the legendary subtype could synergize with stuff like 《Minamo, School at Water's Edge》.

《Benalish Marshal》

Benalish Marshal

Knights are everywhere! 《Benalish Marshal》 could be played in some tokens decks together with cards like 《Spectral Procession》 and 《Windbrisk Heights》. It might be not good enough since it dies to 《Lightning Bolt》, but it seems to me that it could be better than 《Honor of the Pure》.

《Shalai, Voice of Plenty》

Shalai, Voice of Plenty

I like the name on this card! 《Shalai, Voice of Plenty》 could see play in a 《Chord of Calling》 deck, mainly. The Hexproof ability gives us a way to protect our creatures from interaction as well as acting as hate piece against certain cards that target players. The second ability, even though it seems largely irrelevant because of its mana cost, feels to me like this angel has a 《Gavony Township》 attached to it. That activated ability could make this card playable, since 《Chord of Calling》 decks often lack enough ways to avoid mana flood, since they play many mana producers like 《Birds of Paradise》.

《Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle》

Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle

《Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle》 is in the market for infinite combos. There are many ways to combo this angel with cards like 《Mox Amber》 or 《Myr Retriever》. I think it could find a way to be a secondary combo to play on the 《Devoted Druid》 decks, since cards like 《Tidehollow Sculler》 are already close enough to be worth including anyway, and they would trigger 《Teshar》.

《Karn's Temporal Sundering》

Karn's Temporal Sundering

《Time Walk》 always find a way, and even though this one has the drawback of needing a legendary creature or planeswalker, it also has a useful upside. I could see this being a small improvement in Taking Turns if the deck has enough ways to cast this spell.

《The Antiquities War》

The Antiquities War

Our first saga!

《The Antiquities War》 has a lot of similarities with 《Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas》, being the most important upside that it’s not possible to deal with it by attacking. I don’t think 《The Antiquities War》 will replace 《Tezzeret》 in decks like Lantern Control, though it could have a slot in similar decks that are running an artifact prison theme but don’t play black at all.

《Naban, Dean of Iteration》

Naban, Dean of Iteration

《Naban, Dean of Iteration》 is a very interesting card. There aren’t that many Wizards in Modern that you would want to pair with him, but the available ones are quite powerful. Technically, it could be played along with 《Snapcaster Mage》 to double its trigger, but any spell-heavy deck is unlikely to want this kind of effect anyway. The interaction that strikes to me as powerful is the one with 《Reflector Mage》.

Reflector Mage

Having a double 《Reflector Mage》 trigger is likely going to have a dramatic impact on any creature-based matchup. It is worth mentioning that this works well with cards like 《Champion of the Parish》 and 《Thalia's Lieutenant》 as well, doubling the amount of counters they get. He would even double the counters the 《Champion》 would get after playing a 《Reflector Mage》 or any other Wizard. I think those are enough upsides to throw a copy or two into our Humans deck and see what happens. Too bad it doesn’t double 《Meddling Mage》 ability.

《Merfolk Trickster》

Merfolk Trickster

《Merfolk Trickster》 is yet another merfolk to join the Merfolk Horde. While it might be playable, I don’t think this card is going to change the current position Merfolk decks are occupying in both Modern and Legacy.

《Cast Down》

Cast Down

Being the 《Doom Blade》 of the set, 《Cast Down》 is likely better than something like 《Go for the Throat》 and 《Victim of Night》, since 《Gurmag Angler》 has the Zombie creature type. It’s not likely going to be played a lot, but I could see it showing occasionally in some lists over the two removals I just mentioned.

《Goblin Chainwhirler》 and 《Goblin Warchief》

Goblin ChainwhirlerGoblin Warchief

I don’t really see those two “fair goblins” breaking the Modern Scene, but both could end being playable to some extent. 《Goblin Chainwhirler》, however, will likely show up at least as 1-off in the Legacy Goblins version, since it’s a way to deal with 《Young Pyromancer》 that we can tutor thanks to 《Goblin Matron》.

《Squee, the Immortal》

Squee, the Immortal

《Squee, the Immortal》 is another creature that goes infinite with 《Food Chain》. This time, the big upside is that we can cast it from the graveyard, making sure that if we play 《Food Chain》 we are going to be able to start the combo through stuff like 《Hymn to Tourach》. He also plays well with 《Cabal Therapy》. I like the flavor, since this really feels like an immortal creature.

《Skirk Prospector》

Skirk Prospector

Probably the most important Dominaria Goblin for Modern. I just think 《Skirk Prospector》 is a good card all around. This could make all the super-fast Goblin Modern decks fueled by 《Goblin Grenade》 into something much more competitive. It also has a fun synergy with 《Empty the Warrens》, where you can generate a bunch of red mana. I think 《Skirk Prospector》 is a fun card to brew with.

《Steel Leaf Champion》

Steel Leaf Champion

After reaching the Top 8 of Grand Prix Hartford 2018 in hands of Matt Grahn, “Elves Aggro” is once again a deck to consider. Besides the 《Devoted Druid》 combo, the plan of this deck is just to win the game the fair way. In that plan, I think 《Steel Leaf Champion》 has enough stats to compete for a slot. It’s big enough to fight with 《Gurmag Angler》 and the evasion ability is likely to be useful in many racing situations. Costing 3 is also very convenient for 《Collected Company》 purposes. I expect this card to see at least some Modern play.

《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

《Teferi, Hero of Dominaria》 seems a little bit too expensive for Modern. The planeswaker he’s competing with is 《Gideon Jura》, which is likely better for the job anyway. If the Modern metagame slows down and games become more grindy, I could see 《Teferi》 having a slot in some UW Control decks.

《Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain》

Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain

《Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain》 is a combo card. While not as efficient as 《Sram, Senior Edificer》 in terms of mana, she’s more flexible when it comes to deckbuilding. 《Jhoira》’s viability is likely going to be tied to how good or bad 《Mox Amber》 ends up being.

《Mox Amber》

Mox Amber

Well, one of the most special cards in the set. Not many cards in the game are named Mox, and not many of those remain unbanned in most formats, so this clearly deserves a second look. It really feels hard to turn this one, but this probably was how it felt seeing 《Mox Opal》 the first time. I think 《Mox Amber》 most likely home is a creature combo deck that tries to go infinite some way. It can also help powering 《Mox Opal》 if it’s something like a combo deck with 《Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain》 or 《Vedalken Archmage》. I could also picture it being relevant in a deck with 《Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle》 and other combo legends like 《Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit》.

《Karn, Scion of Urza》

Karn, Scion of Urza

《Karn, Scion of Urza》 text is clearly powerful but I don’t really see it having a huge impact in the Modern format. The problem is that I can’t really imagine many decks where 《Karn》 would fit, and those decks which wouldn’t mind playing 《Karn》 will likely have better options. That said, the card might be powerful enough to have an archetype around it, probably another 《Ensnaring Bridge》 deck.

In Legacy, on the other hand, I could easily see 《Karn》 being played as reinforcement to 《Chandra, Torch of Defiance》 in Mono Red Prison. Prison plays enough artifacts that all three abilities would be relevant, and 4 Colorless mana is easier for that deck than 2RR.

《Traxos, Scourge of Kroog》

Traxos, Scourge of Kroog

I think 《Traxos, Scourge of Kroog》 could be quite good. It could even find a slot in something like Affinity, where the drawback is not going to hurt you that much. Also, Trample works very well with both Modular and 《Cranial Plating》. I get that this gets into play when your hand is already empty, so it might end up being unplayable, but it’s at least worth trying.

In older format, 《Traxos》 could play very well with 《Ancient Tomb》 and 《City of Traitors》, since they can make this creature happen on turn 2. 《Traxos》 outsizes even 《Gurmag Angler》 and it doesn’t get stopped by 《True-Name Nemesis》, so I think it could have a slot in decks like Steel Stompy, where everything that’s not a land is an artifact.

《Damping Sphere》

Damping Sphere

Last but not least, the elephant in the room. 《Damping Sphere》 is likely going to have an automatic impact in Modern, since it’s an excellent hoser against many decks. Storm, Tron and even the new 《Krark-Clan Ironworks》 combo decks have to deal with 《Damping Sphere》 before they can do their thing and finish the game. That’s a very good hate card. I wouldn’t be surprised if the combos that get around the sphere start to see more play, since a colorless hate card is way easier to put into your deck than something colored like 《Stony Silence》 or 《Ancient Grudge》.

That’s it for today!

While I don’t think the power level of Dominaria is particularly high, I’m happy they keep printing cards that feel very unique like 《Karn, Scion of Urza》. Seeing a card and not knowing if it’s going to be played or not is a good feeling I like to have everytime I rewiew a new spoiler.

Thanks for reading!

Javier Dominguez

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