Card: Jodah, the Unifier | Art: Ryan Pancoast
Dominaria United is just about to hit shelves, and with a legend in every pack, it's no surprise there are bound to be some Commander gems. Today I'm going to take a look at some of my favorite commanders in the set and perhaps inspire you to try them out with some card suggestions.
I will be looking at cards from the main set and the supplemental product surrounding it. If you're looking for suggestions on cards to go into the 99 instead, check out our other article here.
There are three types of legends you can find in Dominaria United; the main set (booster packs), preconstructed Commander decks, and as part of Buy-A-Box re-imagined legends. This article will cover a mix of these cards.
We won't go into full decks yet, but be sure to let us know if you would like to see us brew a full decklist of your favorite Dominaria United commander. With all that said, let's get into it!
Hazezon, Shaper of Sand
Hazezon is a funny commander at first glance. His first ability is arguably useless. Who plays deserts? Well, maybe other Hazezon players! I think this commander could become a powerful, and popular, lands matter commander.
The ability to replay lands from your graveyard can be incredibly powerful as demonstrated by Lord Windgrace. However, the power with Hazezon, and deserts, is that most deserts can put themselves in your grave at will either through Cycling or through activated abilities once they are in play.
The second major boon is that there are several deserts that allow you to sacrifice other deserts. Effects like +3/+3 granted by Hashep Oasis can be reused with ease as you sacrifice less desirable deserts, or in some cases actively gain advantage off such as Dunes of the Dead. While you continually abuse these land sacrifice synergies and reap the benefits, you can keep replaying them from your grave and making 1/1 tokens. All of this combined with effects like Azusa, Lost But Seeking and you have the recipe for a fantastic lands matter deck.
Altogether there are 16 deserts in Naya, I will admit there are not many cards that are worth playing that synergize with them. The only ones I would earnestly recommend are Hour of Promise and any effect that lets you search for non-basic lands.
Jodah, the Unifier
Jodah makes his return once again in a five-color identity. My mind immediately draws a comparison to Esika, God of the Tree // The Prismatic Bridge and Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. All three care about legends and can even cheat them into play.
However, on closer inspection, Jodah I think it has more in common with Golos, Tireless Pilgrim and Codie, Vociferous Codex. Jodah has the typical five-color flashiness I have come to expect. He cheats things out, however, he still has the randomness that keeps five colors in check and also requires all five colors in his casting cost, making it harder for him to be cast too quickly and too consistently.
Additionally, legendary tribal makes him less of a good-stuff commander like Golos was, instead focusing on a set theme. An obvious include here is Heroes' Podium to functionally double up on Jodah's buff. Outside the obvious inclusion of legendary creatures, you may also want to consider other legendary spells such as planeswalkers or powerful artifacts like Bolas's Citadel.
If all this talk of powerful legendary creatures is a bit too obvious of an archetype I have one more novel idea for you: backgrounds! The Battle for Baldur's Gate backgrounds are all legendary, and they buff your commander.
Jodah is perfect fodder for a background tribal deck. Leverage his pseudo cascade ability, and self-buff to build a commander with tons of unique abilities. A must-have background if you go down this road is Passionate Archeologist to get some extra damage off the cascade.
Jodah, an eternal archmage, must have lived a thousand lives to have such a broad background.
Meria, Scholar of Antiquity
Meria immediately reminds me of Urza, Lord High Artificer. First, it turns your artifacts into mana rocks. This brings a unique style of ramp to Gruul decks which would normally focus on land-based ramp. Naturally, blue has an easier time leveraging artifact synergies.
But I believe this card still has legs as a deck that leverages low mana value artifact creatures such as Memenite in conjunction with Beast Whisperer to quickly draw through your deck and get a win with a big threat such as Finale of Devastation or your favorite anthem effects.
I imagine this deck can perform quite similarly to elf ball strategies with the advantage of using Meria to tap your artifacts immediately and leverage the mana. Coming back to the comparison to Urza, Meria can leverage some powerful artifacts.
I will shout out four that will be familiar faces to artifact players, Blinkmoth Urn, Static Orb, Trinisphere, and Winter Orb each have effects that only occur if they are untapped. Thanks to Meria you can turn these symmetrical effects into one-sided blowouts for your opponents. Whether you think it's toxic and tasteless or a powerful interaction in a strange color combination, just make sure you pack some artifact hate against the Meria player!
Read More: An Ode to Hatebears: The Archetype that Beats Your Least Favorite MTG Archetype
Rames, Assassin Lord
Ramses represents a big chunk of Dominaria commanders and that's underrepresented tribes. There is a commander for griffins, kobolds, and archers in this set, however Ramses, Assassin Lord is the one that excites me the most.
Not only is it a lord for an unusual tribe, but it also provides a unique win condition.
Let's focus on that alternative win condition offered by Ramses. Dimir is a popular color for mill. If you can attack with Ramses, then mill someone out, you can win the whole game outright. Alternatively going all-in on assassins gives you cards like Etrata, the Silencer which can force a player to lose the game, and therefore make you win thanks to Ramses. Following on from Etrata, cards like Vitrus the Veiled, and Vorpal Sword can be great includes to put pressure on one player's life total.
Tetsuo, Imperial Champion
Tetsuo, Imperial Champion is an incredibly unique commander focusing on both spellslinger and equipment. Tetsuo will no doubt try to win with commander damage in a lot of decks, a space that was previously only occupied by Thraximundar in these colors.
The first ability certainly makes getting in for commander damage easier. A lot of the most played equipment sits in the one to three mana slot. With that, I imagine Tetsuo being able to remove chump blockers pretty effectively. I would imagine his second ability will have a similar role as it allows you to cast in buffs or most removal spells. I can't imagine you casting an Exporpriate off this ability any time soon.
I see the play pattern being focused around cheap equip costs as we lack some of the auto-equip abilities seen in white. We still have ways to cheat equip costs in the form of Hammer of Nazzahn and Brass Squire, but given these are inferior to cards like Sigarda's Aid and Puresteel Paladin I would rather stick with cheap and efficient equipment like Cranial Plating and Umezawa's Jitte.
In terms of spells, I would keep it simple, buffs that offer evasion, or that can threaten lethal in one or two swings such as Temur Battle Rage.
Verrak, Warped Sengir
Verrak is the latest in the iteration of doubling abilities we have seen. Previous cards in this trend include Wulfgar of Icewind Dale and Veyran, Voice of Duality. Verrak is Orzhov through and through.
Given his small stature, you won't be able to gain back all the life you'll be spending, so you may want to consider a lifegain package. Even some incremental lifegain from soul sister style effects will be a big help.
An important note is you only need to pay the life cost of the abilities, not any extra costs. For example, with Yawgmoth, Thran Physician you only need to sacrifice one creature and pay two life to get the double trigger. The same goes for effects that cost mana such as Greed.
The last big upside with Verrak is ironically with lands. While his ability cannot be used on mana abilities, it can be used with fetch lands. Crack a fetch, pay the extra one life and search for two lands! This turns your Marsh Flats into a ramp spell and is vital for getting out some of the big hitters in this deck like Razaketh, the Foulblooded and Vilis, Broker of Blood, which allow us to draw cards, remove threats, and search for our win cons.
Those are some of my favorite commanders from Dominairia United! Be sure to check out the spoilers yourself too. This set introduces 70 new legends to Commander. With so much card selection, there are certainly some hidden gems in there.
What do you think of the set? Did we miss anything, and what Dominaria United commander would you like to see fleshed out in a full deck tech?
We cannot wait to get some games in with all the new cards this set has to offer!
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