Hello awesome folks! Happiest of Days to You and yours! Today I wanted to look at my favorite cards from Dominaria United Commander. This is the only day I'll be spending doing a deep dive into this set, and then we'll turn to other sets next week. In order to make my list you need to be good for kitchen table formats like Commander, multiplayer, Type Four, Five Color, Highlander, and Commander. Ready?
Let's get this thing started!
Honorable Mention #1 - (#13 Overall) - Unite the Coalition AND Primeval Spawn with a Shoutout to Two-Headed Hellkite
Check out these two hard-to-cast cards! The first is a nasty instant that can choose five from a nasty list including drawing 5 cards, phasing out 3 things and drawing two cards, exiling graveyard of your foes, Shocking up to five targets or just one player for 10 to kill them, or Naturalizing up to five targets, that's very powerful stuff. The Spawn is a 10/10 with vigilance, trample, and lifelink. Then you get a leaves play ability to exile the top 10 cards from your library and then cast spells (for free) up to a 10 total cost that turn. Then the Hellkite is a 5/5 with flying, menace, haste and draw two cards when he attacks, and is also on-curve. All three cannot be played outside of Five Color Commander brews and then they have value in the Five Color format, but getting all five colors to play in a 300 card brew isn't that easily to do.
Why are they here? For Type Four, where the first two are just broken, and the Hellkite is very pushed. As a reminder, Type Four has infinite mana, but allows just one spell per turn, so you can cast these three cards there on the first turn, and then count as your spell for the turn. The Coalition can be cast on a foe's turn and lose half of their starting 20 life like Searing Wind or draw, destroy, and shoot as needed. The Spawn will smash a foe's life in half and is a two-turn clock, and with vigilance and trample and lifelink it's very strong there. The Hellkite can swing on the turn it arrives and menace is hard to block there since people can't cast more than one dork per turn, and sometimes they cast a key enchantment, artifact, sorcery or planeswalker. Then add in flying, and that keyword soup combo is basically unblockable. Haste is very strong since there is so much mass removal as answers, so you can cast it and hit for 5 on that turn almost guaranteed barring removal. These three cards are very strong in any Type Four stack, and are heading into my own. Enjoy them loads there!
Honorable Mention #2 (#12) - Sivitri, Dragon Master
This four-drop, four-loyalty planeswalker that can be your Commander is our next card in the countdown. This can +1 to force your foes to tax two life per attacker that comes you, or your friends' way. I love that ability in a planeswalker brew. Then you can -3 him once with his starting loyalty to Sarkhan's Triumph, which has clearly been colored shifted to Dimir now. You can also -7 to mass Damnation all Non-Dragons, so this is leading a very popular tribe - Dragons, from a different style. Dragons are the most played tribe, according to EDHREC.com, at the Commander table, so getting a new take feels very popular to me.
Honorable Mention #3 (#11) - Ramses, Assassin Lord
I have built a Real-Life Commander deck built around the original Ramses. This on-curve 4/4 with deathtouch is also a Dimir legendary leader for Commander for the relatively unsupported Assassins. They get +1/+1. Then when a player dies, if an Assassin attacked them, you win the game, which means you can turn killing one player into many. That leads to combo. Attack one player with an Assassin, then combo kill them and win. That's how our own Mark built his take on this leader. Tribal love is all over the kitchen table and giving a popular and unsupported tribe a new Commander to lead them that is also unique mechanically to their tribe is a big hit. A big hit. Ready?
#10. Shanid, Sleepers' Scourge
Four mana for a 2/4 with menace that gives other legendary dorks you control menace as well. It has a cast trigger for legendary spells - draw a card and lose a life, and then legendary landfall for the same trigger. Legendary lands are all over the block in Mardu colors. Volrath's Stronghold, Kor Haven, Eiganjo Castle, Flagstones of Trokair, Phyrexian Tower, Urborg, Takenuma, Abandoned Mire, loads more. And then the legendary-matters theme is a beloved one at the kitchen table, loads in Commander and Highlander formats. Adding Mardu to the theme is really strong. It's also great fun in the 99 legendary matters Five Color brews like Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. This is very powerful, enjoy the massive card flow from the Command Zone on this one!
#9. Emperor Mihail II
Lord of Atlantis. In the very first set ever printed, Merfolk were a tribe with Merfolk of the Pearl Trident alongside Zombie Master for Zombies and Goblin King for Goblins. Frozen Fish became a big deck after the release of Fallen Empires which was Magic's first tribal set. I remember my mono-Red proto-Sligh deck losing to a mono-Blue Frozen Fish deck in the finals of a tournament. This brew combined the fast play of Merfolk with Lord of Atlantis with a tempo aspect like Winter Orb that it dropped and then hid behind Counterspell and Mana Drain to protect its lead, which you could cast with one land drop and one untapped land. Ever since Alpha we've had a love of Merfolk.
Merfolk are currently a Top 20 Tribal Archetype (5627 decks) over at EDHREC.com since they are not supported as much today outside of a (not-that-recent) block where they were Simic, they really don't have as much recent support, so getting a legendary 3/3 that can cast the top card of your library if it's a Merfolk and look at it too is pretty good. Also, if you cast a Merfolk spell (and there are some non-creature Merfolk spells in the Lorwyn block) you can pay one and get a free 1/1 Merfolk token for going wide. It's a nice combo, and its abilities are synergetic with each other, and I love it with top of library changing effects. Great card for a classic tribe!
There are options, too. Merfolk were Azorius in Lorwyn (with legendary support like Sygg, River Guide), Dimir in Shadowmoor (but no tribal support from its leaders, just Sygg, River Cutthroat)and Simic in that aforementioned block (Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca has 3201 and is the default Merfolk leader) so you'd really need a four-color leader to incorporate them all, which sounds pretty good from where I am sitting.
#8. Dihada, Binder of Wills
This four-mana, three-color, can-be-your-Commander planeswalker is our middle-scoring walker of the planes. This fun thing gives you a strong 5 loyalty for four mana, you like to have that loyalty in mana, so one more is pretty good, especially with a +2 first ability. Seven loyalty on the first turn is hard to remove on the fourth turn, even in multiplayer.
She can +2 to give one target legendary one of three abilities. The first is vigilance which is better in multiplayer than duels so it often gets passed by, but swinging with your beater and keeping it back to block three possible attacks is worth it. If your life total is low or you are in a life gain deck, then the lifelink you can give is pretty strong. Then indestructible, which is great if you have a potential trade, like you each have 5/5s. Now they cannot block. This +2 only works on legendaries, but that does count your Commander so that's very synergetic in the 99 of any deck with these the colors that looks to swing with the Commander. I also like indestructible in a brew with mass sweepers since you can give your Kaalia of the Vast indestructible and the cast the Wrath of God in your hand. You can also -3 her to reveal the top four cards of your library and then put all the legendary cards (any type, sorceries, planeswalkers, lands, etc.) into your hand and the rest into your graveyard which is great in graveyard matters brews with flashback, recursion, and more, since you are in the colors of restoration like Karmic Guide in white and Living Death in black. It's three-color requirement pushes it to eight on my list, but it's very strong in multiple places.
#7. Activated Sleeper
This three-mana flash Clone variant just copies a dork that died that turn, yours our your foes. Note that it is also Phyrexian. That moves a Clone ability to Blue. It's very strong with a Commander that just died and you want to skip the tax right now or cast other things. I really like this in Dimir in a control brew with a bunch of mass sweepers like Damnation that are killing the things in mass form for this to have great targets to copy, and it's a card for Clone-Matters brews. It's very strong since you can Clone that opposing Consecrated Sphinx you just removed. It's very strong in all of the fun places!
#6. Hazezon, Shaper of Sand
Three mana for a 3/3 is on curve. You can play Deserts from your graveyard, and since a few have cycling, you can cycle and then drop them and draw a card like Desert of the Fervent. Also note that a bunch of Deserts can self-sacrifice like Scavenger Grounds and Ramunap Ruins. Desertwalk? Great flavor there. Then it has "Desert Landfall" and makes two 1/1 dorks each time, so it's a Desert Land enabler, which I know will cause a lot of fun people to love it loads as it creates a brand new archetypes at the kitchen table and Commander.
#5. Greensleeves, Maro-Sorcerer
This five-drop Commander possible was made into a Badger, Mushroom, Snake deck by our own Paige Smith here. This is a X/X where X is your land count which makes this a gamewinner and she has landfall, make a 3/3 Badger. Landfall is a beloved archetype at the kitchen table since you empower ramp spells after your mana is developed and they still have value, and a 3/3 is a game winning power on a five-drop that could be easily a game winner in just a few Commander Damage punches. Love this thing a lot as a Commander as well as in the 99 of ramp, token and landfall brews. Nice power here and that's why it made my #5 slot, but it doesn't add any new twists to old Commander classics, so that's why it's back here at the five spot.
#4. Verrak, Warped Sengir
This 2/2 rocks flying and deathtouch and lifelink, a call out to Vampire Nighthawk that was heavily played at the kitchen table. Flyers with deathtouch that can trade with any attacker that comes your way are pretty strong in multiplayer formats like Commander. Verrak is legendary and a Vampire, so you can run him outta the Command Zone. Whenever you spend life to activate a non-mana ability you can spend that life again and copy that ability. For example, if you spend one mana and two life to draw a card from Greed, you could now lose four life and draw two cards. But this is a may effect, and you don't have too if your life is dropping too much and you need to play keep away. Also note that you are gaining life from Verrak in combat, so you'll naturally have extra life to spend. I love this in an Orzhov Lifeloss build with things that trigger on self-life loss like Vilis, Broker of Blood and K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth.
#3. Ayesha Tanaka, Armorer
This is a fun Azorious creature. A bit smaller than you'd expect for the mana, but with two abilities. When she swings, you can put any number of artifacts from the top four cards of your deck that have her power or less, so that's any zero, one, or two drops with her starting stats. That means that all of your two Azorious Signets and Sol Rings are droppable, your artifact lands, your Skullclamp and so on. As we know, free stuff in the Command Zone on this level is downright broken, hence her being my third spot, but unlike previous "Attack to drop and cast free things" powerhouse that shares these two colors, Narset, Enlightened Master, you can answer this with spot removal. Then she can be blocked in combat like normal, unless you control three or more artifacts. Also note that she is already in two colors that love artifacts; she'll be pretty broken. And she also will like an equipment brew that pumps her power with equipment and kills faster so she can lead that archetype as well as general artifact loving.
#2. The Reaver Cleaver
Our second-highest scoring Red card, card overall, and top scoring mono-colored card, artifact, and equipment is this legendary fun thing. This gives the equipped dork +1/+1 and trample. Then when it deals combat damage to a player or planeswalker, you make that many Treasures...yowza. That many! Deal 4 to a player in combat? Make 4! Plus this gives trample to help ensure that your equipped dork will deal some damage to a foe or the planeswalker you attacked, even if blocked by a smaller dork. And it gives a power boost, so if you both control a 1/1 creature, and you equip and swing, now if they block they'll lose their dork and you'll get a Treasure. Nasty stuff. This thing has obvious value in most Red brews in Commander with a creature in the Command Zone to give trample too and make a bunch of Treasures.
It has enhanced value in:
- Treasure Matters - This heavily supported archetype has a bunch of Treasure makers and then ways of sacrificing Treasures for added value, or to win the game win in black.
- Equpment Matters - Since this is already in a color combo supported by equipment themes (Boros) and it's an equipment, you can fetch this out with Stonehewer Giant, get free equips, and have enhanced value there. It's very strong in that brew.
- Voltron - In a deck with a Voltron leader that pumps it up with Auras, Equipment, things like Ignoble Hierarch that gives exalted, and more this can also add to that and make around 8 or 10 Treasures each turn.
- High Power Red Commanders - If you happen to have a Commander in your Command Zone that just happens to have a high power, then this will make a ton of mana for you. Examples include Zurgo Helmsmasher and Ruhan of the Fomori.
- Evasive Red Commanders - If your dork in the Command Zone has evasion like flying then adding in this can be very powerful, like a Dragon such as Rith, the Awakener which is a 6 power flyer. Flying with trample means you will be dealing a lot of damage.
Can you see why these archetypes are running around in here and get why this is, to my mind, the second best card in the set for kitchen table play?
#1. Jared Carthalion
The first (legal) five-color planeswalker that can be used as your Commander, how could anything else be here? Five color Commanders are very commonly played in that format and this is a unique planeswalker. It's going to be played! 5 loyalty for five mana, but a bit hard to cast, so I would have hoped for more loyalty with just a +1. The +1 makes a free 3/3 dork of the Kavu persuasion that has trample and is all five colors. That's pretty strong dork flow with the same power and toughness from a +1 as six mana Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Then you can -3 him once with his starting loyalty. That one can put +1/+1 counters equal to the creature's color count, and up to twice. So that means just your +1 Kavu is now an 8/8 trampler. Nasty. This really likes gold matters brews and creatures like Fusion Elemental that are all five colors in cost and Transguild Courier that's all five colors by ability. See also Shyft.
And there you go! What did you think of my Top Ten list? Anythng in here that you like? Did I get the wrong order on something or miss a key card? What card are you most looking forward to playing with? Next week let's do Top Ten from Warhammer 40k!