With most of Dominaria spoiled, I really wanted to get into some of the cards I think will make an impact. We aren’t seeing any sets cycle out, so, while there are some winners in the set, I will mostly only be discussing cards that make a splash in the first couple of events.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Teferi, in many ways, reminds of Jace, Unraveler of Secrets. The main difference here being that Teferi blows Jace out in terms of power level. For a five mana investment, I want a solid return on my planeswalkers and Teferi fits the bill here. The key of being able to untap two lands is going to play so well into a slew of spells we might be interested in. Essence Scatter to Negate to Cast Down to Seal Away, there isn’t a shortage of cards we can cast and as the game goes on the amount to be accomplished with extra mana turns into a massive advantage. While this is far and away the best ability on Teferi, the -3 is a Commit on a stick that’s going to play well with how we’ve see Standard shape up. Tucking away a Hazoret the Fervent or The Scarab God is ideal, or even a Chandra, Torch of Defiance that could end the game is wonderful ability to have.
Karn, Scion of Urza
The second planeswalker on the list has a lot of wide ranging implications in Standard, but I’m completely lost to where to play it. It has the ability to protect itself and draw cards but doesn’t really end the game. Because it’s colorless, Karn has the ability to fit into a lot of different strategies and could prove useful. It’s entirely possible Karn is completely overrated and will make no impact at all in Standard, but being a colorless cheap planeswalker that draws cards and can create an army of creatures seems like all the tools you need. Perhaps playing Karn in something like Mardu Vehicles can ensure Unlicensed Disintegration will deal damage and the creatures can get larger with all the artifacts that are already played. I’m interested to see how Karn fits in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up a bargain planeswalker.
I’m a BIG fan of this card. Merfolk was already on the cusp of being playable and Merfolk Trickster seems perfect to swing a board state heavily in your favor. Working at instant speed with Flash means you also have a surprise blocker or a way to gain tempo in combat. The Scarab God is one of the best cards in Standard, and having a surprise way to eat it in combat will make life difficult for any opponent. I can also imagine a world where this is just played outside of Merfolks decks as well. Merfolk Trickster is one of those cards that I would have liked to play alongside Ojutai's Command, but having Scarab God might be good enough.
Baneslayer Angel is a wonderful Magic card and this is in some ways kind of a second coming. There aren’t many removal spells that deal easily with Lyra Dawnbringer and it is likely the best card against the Red decks. It’s certainly worse against Ahn-Crop Crasher but shines against the rest of the deck. Five is a huge amount of life and I think Lyra Dawnbringer will replace Regal Caracal as a winner for control decks. Being able to dodge Glorybringer and block something like Bristling Hydra effectively will also make the uptick in Monsters easier to manage. Overall a five mana 5/5 with First Strike, Flying, and Lifelink is likely to make a huge impact when it hits the board.
Seal Away single handedly has made me reconsider Approach as a viable deck. Settle the Wreckage was already a great card for the deck to play, and having a solid early answer to creatures and something that punishes an opponent for playing around Settle does everything I’ve ever wanted for a control deck. The enchantment is going to be cheap and efficient for control decks and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it revive playing White in those decks. Seal Away doesn’t line up great against The Scarab God (since they will probably not attack) so there will have to be some balance amongst removal spells, but Seal Away does a number on the rest of the format. As long as you keep the possibilities in mind when building with Seal Away you should be fine. Either way I expect this card to make waves.
Divest is quite interesting overall and seems like a potential roleplayer. While Mardu Vehicles has mostly dropped off decks like Monsters and Tokens have their share of targets. Doomfall has proven to be one of the best split cards to play in Standard and Divest is a fantastic way to get in early and often to shred creatures away. This card won’t be a massive role player but has room to be relevant against a swath of decks.
Welcome back Llanowar Elves. I can still hear Brennan DeCandio’s excitement at being able to play this card in Standard again. The Monsters deck has always been playable and has seemed strong and adding four Llanowar Elves means your decks are going to have to be prepared to answer threats way ahead of schedule. I recall Servant of the Conduit into Bristling Hydra or Chandra, Torch of Defiance already being a solid investment, and with Llanowar Elves, we can get going even quicker and without having to expend Energy. Playing Servant of the Conduit requires some extra tinkering in your deck-building while Llanowar Elves is just ready to go. There are quite a few 3-drops that could pick up now as being played on turn two can be quite ideal.
During Theros Standard, the Scry lands were absolutely wonderful. Being dual lands means they had to come into play tapped, which meant the format could be a bit slower. Zhalfirin Void is colorless, so it doesn’t have the downside of coming into play tapped. The real downside is that it doesn’t produce colored mana, but there are quite a few decks I can see making use out of it. Approach, Mono-Red Aggro, Mono-White Approach, and Mono-White Tokens all pop out as cards that don’t mind a colorless source here and there and where having consistency is relevant.
Of course the buddy lands are on this list. There really isn’t much to add except it will be nice for lots of three color decks to have EVEN better mana bases than before.
Damping Sphere is WONDERFUL. THANK YOU WIZARDS. I hate Tron. I hate Tron a lot. It doesn’t deserve my wrath but it gets it anyways. I will have a couple of these cards in my sideboard for every Tron and Storm deck. It will feel wonderful. Nice lands there Tron player. Hope you didn’t board in an answer to this card. In some ways it reminds me of the Blood Moon problem. Where your opponent will just cast their spells eventually when they draw the lands so it’s still important to make sure your game plan isn’t too slow.
Until then. I hope your Tron lands are never on the battlefield at the same time.
The final card on this list is amazing. While we have added some Legends (and still have others to contend with) the list of creatures this does kill for 2 mana goes on for quite some time. Control was already popping up, and Grixis players were already waffling on how many of each removal spell to play. While I imagine this won't replace Harnessed Lightning, it will be fantastic to have and I wouldn’t be surprised to see something like Fatal Push completely pushed out. Only costing two mana means that playing a lot of tapped lands or needing to cast two spells in a turn is going to be doable and help keep tempo. This is especially important for control decks to be able to keep up (and especially with all the new aggro cards that are popping up with Dominaria).
Let me know what cards you’re excited about! Think I’m wrong about any of these cards? Let me know.