We’re in sort of a weird limbo, aren’t we? The luster has basically already worn off of Masters 25, though it will likely be drafted a bit more (I liked Iconic Masters a lot more as a draft set) and that’s fine. It’s been a while since Rivals of Ixalan came out and, though it’ll be some time before the set it released, the partial reveal of Dominaria has people excited and eager to see the rest of the set. I know I have brewed with revealed commanders the last few weeks and it makes sense to do that again, but I wanted to do something a bit different. While we know some of the cards in Dominaria, we basically know the mechanics and we know some of the unique ways that older cards are going to interface with this block and how these cards will fit into our existing decks. Artifacts are suddenly considered “historic” which can put some of them at a premium, and Dominaria is chock-full of Legendary cards which means older Legendary permanents deserve a second look. You remember the week of GP Vegas when people found out Planeswalkers would be considered Legendary and they lost their minds theorycrafting? Let’s do that. That will give me another week to let other people figure out what goes in a Muldrotha, the Gravetide deck.
I think one way to organize this will be to look at the mechanics and see if we get any upside from them or if they impose additional requirements on our decks. We’re looking for cards that play nicely with the new ones, so why not start there?
Flavor-wise, these are very cool. Telling a story of the history of Dominaria over three turns (or maybe not . . . ) sagas do something based on how many lore counters are on them, which is fun. What’s also fun is monkeying with the number of counters on them to make sure the same thing happens over and over or never happens. When you put the third lore counter on the saga, you sacrifice it, but if you never do that, then you can keep it in play. Here are some cards I like for shenanigans with sagas.
Hex Parasite — This card was already on my radar for Decree of Silence shenanigans (don’t judge me), but never really caught on in a huge way until sagas were spoiled. Coolstuff sold out of Hex Parasite; and, if you want a copy, it’s basically tripled in price, but if you find some cheap copies, stock up. This is a useful interaction, allowing you to remove saga counters at will so you can keep your saga on the table. Exile their yard every turn, wrath all non-artifact creatures (say, that leaves our Hex Parasite unscathed), keep putting +1/+1 counters on your creatures — you have quite a few options revealed already. A new saga revealed on Monday shows that not everything was accidentally posted, meaning Parasite could keep getting theoretically better and better. Since it already interacted with Decree of Silence it’s not going to be useless in the deck if you don’t draw a saga. In fact, lots of decks already found uses for Parasite before from killing their team with Horobi, Death's Wail to looping creatures with Mikaeus, the Unhallowed.
Power Conduit — In a similar vein, Conduit has the added benefit of putting the counter to good use somewhere else. Near Mint copies are beginning to sell out, so don’t sleep on this one. If you have other things in the deck that care about counters, parasite and conduit are great inclusions when you don’t have the sagas and conduit doesn’t have to be in a Black deck like Parasite does.
Clockspinning — This has to be in Blue decks but I like cards with buyback already in a world with Paradox Engine. Managing the number of counters on a saga for four mana a turn seems like a worthwhile investment to me. Foils of this card were already high enough that it was clearly identified as a Commander card but non-foils may even go up a bit in a post-saga world. Anything can happen!
Chisei, Heart of Oceans — Dominaria is showing us that legends don’t need to just be your commander anymore. This is pretty niche but if you’re removing a lot of counters from things, this does that thing. This is a bit of a stretch, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least apprise you that this exists.
These spells require you to have a Legendary permanent in play before you can play them. Luckily, from what I have seen, they seem to be worth it. The spells are powerful but if you want to cast them reliably, you will need to make sure you have some Legendary permanents in play. Luckily, there are a few that will get a lot better when you play more Legendary cards and there are some that were on the bubble before. I’m not going to tell you that you might want to play Gaea's Cradle so you can cast Kamahl's Druidic Vow, no one needs to be told to run Cradle. But there are some Legendary permanents that just got a lot better that you might want to consider. These aren’t necessarily even worth running to make sure you can cast a Legendary Sorcery, a lot of them are just good with more Legends in the deck. Let’s take a look.
Honor-Worn Shaku — This got a lot of attention when Planeswalkers were revealed to be Legendary, and while the price has settled a bit, new demand can always upset it again. This taps for mana and taps for more mana the more Legendary stuff you have in play that you don’t need untapped, which not only makes sure we can cast that Urza's Ruinous Blast, it helps us do it early and ensures we’ll have some non-lands left when the dust settles. If only this were Legendary itself and it wouldn’t need the help of other permanents. Still, this is a 3-drop mana rock that will routinely tap for more than one and I see you nerds out there running Manalith. This isn’t just a Reki, the History of Kamigawa staple anymore!
Untaidake, The Cloud Keep — Just like Shaku, this card was discovered months ago, but since it can cast Legendary spells, this went from “garbage bulk rare that ruined multiple sealed pools of mine” to “prescient.” This is the Seeso streaming service of Lands — so far before its time we didn’t see the value until it was too late for a lot of us. I don’t think it’s great, but I also think it may help you cast a Legendary spell because who’s going to Wasteland this?
Konda's Banner — This wasn’t great in as many decks before as it is now. With more legendary creatures likely to be in the 99 of your deck, you can comfortably run this, and you can comfortably run this out early since it switches on those Legendary spells.
Heroes' Podium — Admit it — you had to look up what this does. I’m not surprised — this was a card that I wanted to be better than it was when it first came out but which never really got there. Now, I think we’ll have enough Legends in our decks that we’re going to get a sizeable bonus and the fact that merely having this in play helps you cast Legendary spells is a bonus.
Arena of the Ancients — This also got better if you’re a monster. Luckily, your Gaddock Teeg and Thalia(s) being tapped doesn’t matter to you as much as their Zurgo Helmsmasher being tapped matters to them.
Dark Depths - I didn’t know where to put this. If you’re running Hex Parasite et al, this got better. If you need a Legendary land in play, this got better. This got better in general. Expect the price to go up if it hasn’t already based on new rulings shenanigans that affect Legacy, too.
Amonkhet Monuments — Despite being Uncommon and usually relegated to mediocre sealed decks or pretty good draft decks, the Monuments are pretty good if you ask me. Not all of them scale well to Commander, but a lot do.
Mirari - If Legendary spells are good enough to play, they’re good enough to play twice.
Thrumming Stone — Did you know this was Legendary? Unrelated to our current discussion about Legendary spells, buy this because there’s a new rat variant for the ripple rat deck and Ratcatcher is a bulk rare right now so the deck is easy to put together except for this.
The other mechanics in the set so far, Historic and Kicker don’t seem to make me think of anything off the top of my head. Certainly the Jhoira deck we brewed last week took advantage of Artifacts and Planeswalkers being considered historic and triggering Jhoira’s ability, and if we come across any more cards that are enabled by this mechanic, I’ll talk about them. Kicker is just a thing I’m glad to have back, and not in the form of “megakicker” or whatever we were all afraid they would do.
I think these two new mechanics open Commander up to playing a whole raft of cards we might not have before or at least in such great numbers. Don’t wait too long and try to buy when everyone else is buying and if you think a card is going to go up in price, double your order. If you think a card is good in a deck, chances are other people will, too; and, if the price goes up you can sell or trade the spare copy and you upgraded the deck for free or you have trade bait for the future.
Let me know in the comments if you want me to cool it with the offbeat articles and go back to brewing decks. That way when I brew a deck (probably Muldrotha) next week, you can pretend that’s why I did it and that’s useful input either way. If you liked this format, mention that, too. I tried to avoid too many obvious cards and focus on some 75% inclusions and I hope you got something out of it. It’s not too early to think about what we’ll be building when Dominaria is out. Until next time!