Friday, 26 August 2022

Preliminary Review: Dominaria United Part III


The Phasing of Zhalfir 4

Read ahead is a lovely twist on the saga mechanic and interestingly implemented here. A Curse of the Swine in Wrath of God form with the ability to stall on the Wrath for one or two turns is interesting already. The ability to also phase a couple of things out till after the Wrath is also interesting. You can protect your own stuff or you can be more selective about what you turn into 2/2s for your opponent, or you can simply turn off a planeswalker or other annoying thing in play. Much as this card has loads of interesting choices going on I am not sure it is going to get much love. When you need a Wrath you rarely want to be facing off against a bunch of 2/2 dorks there after. Curse of the Swine was poor removal and I expect this to be much the same. I plan to test it as it is interesting and blue is not a colour one typically finds mass removal in but I have little hope for this to make it through testing. 

Guardian of New Benalia 7

While Seasoned Hallowblade is worse than Adanto Vanguard it was still a fine card that did the job at hand suitably well. Guardian of New Benalia is quite the upgrade on Hallowblade and so I imagine that it will last in cube even if it doesn't manage to outmatch Vanguard. People seem to be underrated enlist, the mechanic is powerful in a creature combat driven format like limited, from booster all the way to cube. Enlist allows your precious utility dorks, or at least those without tap effects you want online, to be significantly more relevant contributors to tempo. I see Guardian frequently swinging in as a 7/3 or bigger. What are you going to do about that? Chump every turn while they scry and get in with other dorks? How about sticking 3 power in front of it each turn and forcing a discard? Doesn't sound promising either unless you have a lot of potent walkers in play. Guardian does it's main job of being a resilient cheap beater pretty well but it also takes it upon itself to do several other jobs pretty well too. That of card quality and helping all your dorks contribute to the fight. This is fairly powerful and pretty well suited to white aggro decks but it is just a dork and they are two a penny. When you are on the linear side of things and really only have one archetypal home you have to go above and beyond to make it into cube and that may be a stumbling point for this. High option density is where this has the most chance to shine.

Nishoba Brawler 6

A two mana 5/3 trample? Sign me up. With all ten Triomes kicking around this is easy to ceiling with and should consistently be above curve. Straight up better than a Tarmogoyf in cube, trample is just big game. Certainly way punchier than Goyf in modern too. Better than Goyf however doesn't secure a cube spot, not often is the green player in the market for a vanilla beater these days. Very punchy powerful card perhaps the victim of no current archetype driven demand.

Ajani, Sleeper Agent 4

Surprisingly unimpressive card. The ultimate is scary but the other abilities do not impress. A +1 that gives you a draw 40% of the time at best and a mere scry the rest of the time is low value, unreliable, and fails to protect Ajani. The -3 is quite meaty but it is situational, disruptable, only usable immediately in the four mana mode. It certainly isn't an exciting ability, even if you are doing silly scaling things. Selesnya has the worst of the two colour planeswalkers by a massive margin with basically none good enough for cube. I had high hopes when first sighting this but reading it shortly there after dashed them. It isn't terrible, it has flexible casting modes, ongoing value, some threat, and some ability to affect the board. It can very well win some games. A rap sheet like this would have meant Ajani was an auto include when planeswalkers first hit the scene. In this day and age it is the bare minimum for consideration and Ajani does not clear the hurdle by enough.

Radha's Firebrand 3

This is somewhere between Earthshaker Khenra and Kargan Intimidator and winds up a little less impressive than either. Firebrand might be powerful but it is vulnerable and linear. Yes, she can apply some good pressure on curve but so can a lot of cards that do not look so pathetic late game or in the face of certain answers. 

Braids, Arisen Nightmare 4

Not really at all like other Braids as this is not a lock tool. This is just a slow grindy sac outlet. It turns stuff you don't want into cards and life swing or removal as your opponent sees fit. Braids is all a bit situational and not all that powerful or well suited to her archetypes. Her power level is at least fine and she is relatively cheap. 

The World Spell 2

A twist on Tooth and Nail. This is slower but also cheaper. I am sure there will be plenty of decks ramping to seven to flop out two big cards that work together to win the game. This is cute design but it isn't much good for cube. For normal decks your big cards want to be threats themselves. For combo decks this costs 7 mana... Are we using Show and Tell to get this out? 

Impede Momentum 0

This is one of those cards that makes me think I am underrating stun. I don't think I would play this in cube if it cost a single blue and was instant. That is quite the upgrade and so while this card isn't very good, perhaps stun is.

Herd Migration 6

This is interesting and has two types of use. It some ways it can play like a Magma Opus and put itself in the bin for value so as to then be cast from the bin, ideally in a mana cheated way. In another way however it seems pretty playable in a general way. Instant speed Lay of the Land with three life and uncounterable slapped on is one of those playable consistency buffer cards. Just nice fine filler. Then seven mana for to upto 15/15 of stats onto the board across five potential bodies is really serious. Yes it is both late and quite the multicoloured thing to do but this is exactly the sort of thing big rampy green gold decks want. This is setup or payoff. It is likely a bit fair and narrow but it has some real game. 

Sphinx of Clear Skies 6.5

Potent card indeed as we have seen with other big flying ward dorks. This is not as good as Iymrith but it probably doesn't need to be. Just doing that sort of role in that same sort of ballpark power level is going to get lots of work done. Is this better than Cavalier of Gales? Does blue want enough of this effect to get in alongside Iymrith? The kind of questions testing answers.

Nemata, Primeval Guardian 3

This is incredibly Kalitas looking and is likely a bit worse. Smaller dorks made and being gold are turn offs. The activated abilities are good but they are certainly not better than what Kalitas is packing. If this were just green I would be interested but in gold I am walking on by. The wrong kinds of power here, despite there being plenty of it. 

Resolute Reinforcements 6.5

Woop woop, a tiny but relevant upgrade to Raise the Alarm on average. This flickers for value, all be it very minor value. This is support and filler. The power level is low but the suitability is fairly high. You play it to give plenty of things to equip up and because of good scaling with team buffs, the flicker synergy is just incidental. I did recently trim Raise the Alarm and so this might not quite get there but I do hope it does. It certainly will not look at all out of place while I try and find out!


  1. The knight has only 2 toughness

    1. Yeah, I didn't really explain my 7/3 claim which was down to my assumption of a Glorious Anthem or similar effect which aggro white seems to consistently have one of!