Card: Threats Undetected | Art: Randy Vargas
Dominaria United is just around the corner.
With so many legends in the set, it's no surprise there are a few Commander gems in this set. Today, we'll look at some cards that just might become staples of the format or amazing includes in existing decks.
If you are curious about the new commanders in the set, check out our sister article here.
Without further ado, let's dive into some of the Commander cards we're excited about in Dominaria United.
Cut Down might not be the flashiest spell we will look at today, but I can promise you it is a versatile one. Cut Down has a huge range of threats it can target. Total power and toughness of five or fewer is a huge range of creatures. Not convinced?
Of the 12,611 creatures legal in Commander, this card hits 7,295 of them. That's an impressive number of targets for such a low cost.
Most of the time, you would be happy to cast this and destroy a mana dork at the low end. Nothing much else to say. It's a simple and effective removal spell. I would encourage you to give it a try, especially if your playgroup is not full of stompy decks.
Micromancer fits nicely as a solid playable, but not a busted card. The immediate comparison is to Spellseeker, however, Spellseeker is a $40 card. Micromancer on the other hand is an uncommon in a Standard-legal set.
While costing four mana is a definite downside, tutoring for a mana spell drop can be incredibly powerful. This card really shines in decks that can flicker Micromancer. There are so many amazing spells to grab with this: Ephemerate, Vampiric Tutor, and Demonic Consultation.
No doubt an easy include in low-to-the-ground, budget deck, or simply as redundancy for a Spellseeker.
Plaza of Heroes
Plaza of Heroes has legs as a land that is amazing in any deck. First, it is not slow since it enters untapped, unconditionally. It enables you to cast your commander through its fixing and it helps you cast even more spells once your commander is in play.
Its last ability is very safe. No doubt granting a creature (likely your commander) hexproof and indestructible is incredibly strong. However, Plaza exiling itself is a decent setback. We have not seen a land that offers protection like this before. The closest thing we have seen is cards like Cavern of Souls often protecting commanders from counterspells and Sanctum of Eternity bouncing a commander back to hand, but only on your turn.
I think Wizards is very aware that protecting a commander using a land is incredibly powerful and was looking for ways to prevent it from being replayed. With all that said, I am still delighted with Plaza. No doubt it will be a mainstay in decks to come!
Relic of Legends
Three-mana-value rocks in EDH have fallen out of fashion in recent years. We previously discussed this in our article "The Best and Most Unique Alternative Mana Rocks in Commander."
Three-mana rocks don't cut it unless they really push the envelope or offer some additional value. I am pleased to say I think Relic of Legends fits the bill. In fact, Relic of Legends bears a striking resemblance to a card featured in that article; Honor-Worn Shaku.
Relic of Legends lets you tap legendary creatures to add one mana of any color. This turns your commander, and any other legend you might so happen to be playing, into a source of mana. Additionally, Relic is the one doing the tapping so it gets around summoning sickness to let you tap your legends the second they come in.
Perhaps the one gripe I have with Relic over Shaku is that Shaku lets you tap other legends such as Planeswalkers. However, I think this is a fair trade-off for the ability to generate colored mana. In many decks that do not attack with their commander, Relic will function as a three-mana artifact that taps for two mana of any color. It plays similarly to Earthcraft with the legendary restriction and without the $150 wallet restriction. With the upcoming legendary tribal decks, this card will no doubt be incredibly potent.
The Defiler Cycle
This isn't one card, but a cycle. The Defilers are a cycle of Phyrexians that allow you to pay two life instead of colored mana for spells of their respective color. Each color has its own way to take advantage of this.
If you want some inspiration for Defiler of Flesh, look to K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth decks. A card that pairs well with any defiler is Aetherflux Reservoir. In a low-to-the-ground deck, Reservoir will quickly net you life! Let's stick with Aetherflux for a moment. How can we build up lots of cast triggers? If you're in blue, consider Shrieking Drake. When it enters, it can return itself to its owner's hand, replay it, rinse and repeat for easy cast triggers.
Outside of combos, the defilers also feed themselves with their abilities. Of particular note, the blue defiler draws a card whenever you cast a blue permanent, allowing you to draw into more threats, while the red one continuously deals damage, and white makes tokens. There is no shortage of value to be gained from this cycle whether it's part of an all-out combo or a simple cost reducer.
The Peregrine Dynamo
The Peregrine Dynamo definitely has legs as an interesting commander. However, I think it shines brightest in the mainboard rather than the command zone. The ability to copy abilities is powerful and we've seen it before on cards like Strionic Resonator and Rings of Brighthearth. With that said, Dynamo can do it for one mana less, with the caveat that it is from a legendary source that's not your commander.
This feels built for planeswalker decks. Copying something like Oko's ability to turn a creature into a 3/3 Elk, all the way up to Ugin, the Spirit Dragon's minus ten ability can be amazing with the Dynamo.
The Phasing of Zhalfir
The Phasing of Zhalfir has many people excited. Playing this saga traditionally, we can phase out our two best creatures over two turns and save them from the inevitable destruction of chapter three. Alternatively, we can "Read ahead" to wipe the board as soon as The Phasing of Zhalfir hits the field.
In typical blue fashion, we cannot get a Wrath of God without a cost. For each creature destroyed in its wake, a 2/2 is put in its place. The Phasing of Zhalfir is funny in this regard. You could treat it as downgrading all your opponent's creatures, or you could take it in another direction: upgrading your own.
Blue often plays low-power creatures with relevant enter/leaves the battlefield triggers such as Archeomancer, or the previously mentioned Micromancer. How about once they have served their purpose we replace them with Phyrexians? This would functionally leave us exactly where we were before the phasing and only be a detriment to our opponents.
While I do not think The Phasing of Zhalfir is going to replace Cyclonic Rift any time soon, I am glad to see a unique style of board wipe from the color. At four mana, blue's closest competition to this is maybe Whelming Wave or Curse of the Swine, both of which are solid options. However, I think the utility of outright destroy is something many blue mages are excited to have access to.
Threats Undetected is another riff on a Gifts Ungiven style effect. I think Threats Undetected is an incredibly powerful effect as tutors often are. Additionally, I love any card that offers a minigame to my opponents. I do think they went safe with this card with the "different powers" clause. It feels like an attempt to stop you from grabbing multiple cards that are "functionally" the same, such as Vryn Wingmare, and Glowrider.
Additionally, shuffling the remaining cards back into your deck is a downside too as opposed to them going into the graveyard. However, on the positive side of things, this is only three mana. Realistically you will get your third and fourth best creatures to your hand. I see this card having some broad utility in creature-based decks and hatebears decks. Give your opponent the choice between your combo piece, a creature with removal, and two hatebears and you'll see them start to sweat. I think you can tactically choose cards to ensure your opponent is never happy and always feels like it's a "lesser of two evils" situation.
Tiller Engine is a fantastic addition to any deck with a budget manabase, utilizes land ramp, or is looking for redundancy for Amulet of Vigor. Tiller allows weaker manabases to thrive. This is particularly relevant with the addition of a cycle of dual lands that enter the battlefield tapped in Dominaria United.
Besides being on a budget, this also turns shock lands into unconditional dual lands. Getting into land tutors effects like Evolving Wilds and Rampant Growth now fetch lands untapped.
Besides the obvious desire to ramp out and make your lands better, Tiller Engine has a second ability! Tapping non-lands our opponents control. I think this second ability has its home in decks that can play lands on mass with effects such as Splendid Reclamation or Scapeshift. These cards now ramp you, and can help clear the way for your attackers! Capping it all off at only two generic mana, this is an easy insert in any deck playing slower lands or that wants to take advantage of lands in general.
These are some of my favorite cards from Dominaria United through the lens of EDH! What cards are you most excited about? Are there instant staples in the set, or is it just overhyped chaff?
Let us know what you think of Dominaria United, and don't forget to check out our round-up of some of our favorite Dominaria United commanders!
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