Last updated on September 30, 2022
Ertai Resurrected | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast
Today, I’m coming to you with my thoughts on the top 30. I’ll discuss what makes these cards interesting or strong, and where I think they’re positioned in the meta.
Let’s jump in!
#30. Urza Assembles the Titans
First on the list is a straight-to-Commander card, Urza Assembles the Titans. It’s a great saga for planeswalker decks, putting more cards both into your hand and the battlefield. I’ve yet to dip my toes into another planeswalker deck, but they always play white as a support color, and I’m sure this card will find a spot in almost all of them!
#29. Plaza of Heroes
Plaza of Heroes is one of the few new nonbasic lands. It’s for legendary decks, which have a majority of their spells being legendaries, and offers pretty darn good fixing for them. Outside of those decks, though, you’re not going to get too much use out of this one. It still taps for colorless, which is nice, but it’s almost worse than a random basic at that point.
#28. Rith, Liberated Primeval
A new dragon emerges! It’s only fitting we get a new massive legendary dragon on Dominaria, and Rith, Liberated Primeval is just that! It’s a 5/5 flyer with ward for five, and it gives your other dragons ward. Additionally, it’ll generate 4/4 flyers for you later in the end step if you managed to deal excess damage that turn to an opponent’s creature or planeswalker.
Considering dragons are so powerful and beefy, they usually do a few points of excess damage, and I’m sure that dragon Commander decks will be able to utilize this without any real adjustment.
#27. Zur, Eternal Schemer
We’ve got another Zur! Zur, Eternal Schemer is certainly no Zur the Enchanter, but it brings a fresh look while maintain the original aspect of the card. For , you can animate an enchantment into a creature, much like Starfield of Nyx. While most enchantment decks stick to Selesnya (), there are still some five-color decks running around in Commander that could put this to good use.
#26. Soul of Windgrace
Much like Zur, Lord Windgrace has gotten a new card, but unfortunately for him, it seems like he’s dead. Soul of Windgrace is the new card coming in DMU, and much like its predecessor, it’s a Jund () lands commander.
It has a few options: it can draw you cards, gain some life, and even gain indestructible. Additionally, it brings a land on ETB or attack from your graveyard to your battlefield. Overall, I think it’s pretty sweet, and if you’re looking for an alternative Jund lands commander, you’ve found it.
#25. Shanna, Purifying Blade
Up next, we’ve got a fresh new Bant () lifegain commander, Shanna, Purifying Blade. While my competitive radar isn’t picking anything up here, I think we’re still looking at a decent Bant midrange lifegain commander overall. This card will generate plenty of card advantage, gain some additional life for triggers, and it’s easy to cast. What more could you want?
#24. Valiant Veteran
Valiant Veteran is a new white 2-drop soldier that acts as a lord for soldiers, and let’s you distribute +1/+1 counters to all of your soldiers if you pay five mana and exile it from your graveyard. It’s a little weak, I won’t lie, but white token decks that go wide in Commander will absolutely eat this up.
#23. Guardian of New Benalia
Another 2-drop, Guardian of New Benalia has big shoes to fill with Luminarch Aspirant leaving Standard upon release. It’s a decent creature on rate, a 2/2 for two which can gain some card advantage, and the enlist keyword makes it a great attacker, too.
#22. Braids, Arisen Nightmare
Yes, you’re seeing that right. We’ve got a new Braids card in Braids, Arisen Nightmare. This is a 3-mana 3/3 that allows you to essentially trade permanents with an opponent in exchange for you drawing a card and dealing two damage to your opponent.
If a poxy-esque deck pops up in Standard I’m sure this will be included (assuming the 3-drop slot isn’t overfilled with Liliana of the Veil). Otherwise you’ll see this getting plenty of play in Commander as it hits each opponent.
#21. Leaf-Crowned Visionary
Elves is a pretty strong strategy in Legacy, but I’m not sure how much this would be used there. There are already better cards than this for what it does, which makes me believe this will be a great Commander/EDH card, and not much else.
#20. Shadow-Rite Priest
Shadow-Rite Priest is the new black lord for clerics. It’s a two-mana 2/2, with an activated ability which, for five mana and sacrificing another cleric, literally Tooth and Nails a card into play. I’m quite surprised by this card, honestly, and I’m scared to see what will be coming out of this in Standard and even Pioneer.
#19. The Phasing of Zhalfir
Its third chapter and last ability is a board wipe (yes, in blue!), which destroys all creatures and replaces them with 2/2 Phyrexians! I’m quite surprised to see this, and I’m speculating we might see some interaction with this and the other four-mana saga in red, The Elder Dragon War, for some good ol’ fashioned Izzet () control!
#18. Painland Cycle
I’m gonna touch on the cycle of pain lands here. They’re getting a reprint, and this time we’ve got the allied colors, which not only helps their prices come down and give them the new border, but also lets us have them in Pioneer. This is great news and will help the deckbuilding in these colors go a little bit smoother.
#17. Haughty Djinn
Next up on the list is Haughty Djinn. I’m kind of a big fan of this card, and I’ll admit I’m a little biased. This is a great body for a sweet spells deck, especially because of its four toughness. It’s a tanky flyer, and the mana discount is a great value ability which makes this card a solid choice. I’m excited to see what this will bring.
#16. Jaya, Fiery Negotiator
Almost halfway now, and I want to bring your attention to Jaya, Fiery Negotiator. This is probably Jaya’s last planeswalker card, and I think this is one of the better ones so far. It has a decent way to protect itself by making a monk, can generate card advantage, and even has a sweet and often game-winning emblem.
Overall, it’s a very well-rounded walker and we’ll have to see if its right for the Standard or Pioneer meta!
You know Standard power creep s catching up with us when Impulse is printed into Standard and nobody’s really freaking out. Now, I’ll admit, the Izzet control decks are taking a big hit this rotation losing many great lands and interaction, but Impulse is one of the better card advantage spells out there, and this is certainly something to watch.
#14. The Elder Dragon War
I like this one because, at worst, it’s a 4/4 flyer for four. At best, you wipe up an aggro deck’s board, get rid of some cards which are useless or bad in the matchup, and have a great body when it’s done resolving. That’s basically just fable on steroids, and I hope the four-mana cost won’t hold this back.
#13. Vesuvan Duplimancy
If you’re like me, you probably also thought this was “Vesuvian Diplomancy,” but no, it’s Vesuvan Duplimancy. It’s a new enchantment that lets you duplicate creature and artifacts you control whenever you target them as the only target of a spell. It also makes copies of legendaries that aren’t legendary, which is the real kicker.
There’s no overarching strategy or theme that would use this best, but it’s still a super sweet card that many different casual Commander decks could put to use, and I hope to try it sometime after release.
#12. Relic of Legends
A new mana rock is coming to town, and while it’s certainly no Mana Crypt, Relic of Legends has more to offer than most others. In addition to being a great mana rock and callback to Coalition Relic, this card is simply waiting to be used as an infinite mana outlet.
#11. Leyline Binding
Leyline Binding is a white Oblivion Ring iteration, which gets cheaper for each basic land type you control. If you’ve got all of them, then it’s a one-mana instant-speed Oblivion Ring, which is really good.
I could maybe see this being played as a two-of in the 4c/5c control decks in Modern, and it may even break into the multicolored decks in Pioneer as well. We’ll have to see, though, it wouldn’t be the first overvalued card to be printed.
#10. Founding the Third Path
Another saga on the list, this time we’re looking at Founding the Third Path. This is a blue uncommon that lets you play an instant or sorcery for free, mill a few cards, and then play another instant or sorcery in your graveyard to boot!
Wow, I’m surprised at this card. We’ve got a lot of value in one place here, and there are more than enough blue-based spells deck that are low enough to the ground to make use of it. I don’t think Standard will have too much to do with it, but we may start seeing it pop up in Izzet Pioneer decks soon.
#9. Aether Channeler
Aether Channeler is a new three-mana 2/1 with more than a few options. When it enters the battlefield, you can either make a 1/1 flyer bounce a nonland permanent or draw a card!
These are all great options that blue can take advantage of, and it means this card is good in just about every single situation that I can think of. Will it see play in Standard? Well, that just depends on if there’s a deck that needs it.
#8. Vodalian Hexcatcher
While there aren’t too many merfolk in Standard right now, Vodalian Hexcatcher is a hell of a first start. It’s a lord for two mana with flash, already great, and the noncreature counterspell for the cost of a merfolk is a great defensive measure.
While merfolk doesn’t go as wide as, say, elves, having a critical defensive measure against removal at any cost is great, especially if you’re going to lose a creature anyway. A new Ixalan will be in Standard eventually, too, which means we may have some more merfolk coming to back this one up before you know it!
#7. The Cruelty of Gix
The Cruelty of Gix is the new black saga with read ahead. That means you can have it enter play at any chapter, which is a sweet buff for an already amazing saga. This one not only picks a creature or planeswalker card from your opponent’s hand, but also tutors up any card from your library for three life (wow!), and even reanimates a creature from any graveyard into play under your control.
This is simply amazing, both in Standard and Commander, and I’m hoping to get some not-so-jank reanimator going this fall!
#6. Defiler of Vigor
There’s a whole cycle of Defilers in the set, which allow you to pay Phyrexian mana for their color of mana for any spell, and that’s pretty crazy. The best one by far, however, is certainly Defiler of Vigor. This one puts a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control whenever you simply cast a green permanent spell.
Wow, as if green wasn’t strong enough. This will certainly bolster the mono-green midrange deck in Standard and will ripple through Pioneer and EDH as well. If you get even just one or two other creatures out, this will offer incredible dividends from just a single permanent spell. To be quite honest, I’m surprised this one made it through internal testing.
#5. Serra Paragon
Starting off the top five is Serra Paragon, a new 3/4 angel for four which… lets you reanimate a 3-drop each turn and gain some life. Yeah, as if angels weren’t busted enough, they’re now going to be playing cards from the graveyard.
While angels are certainly taking a hit from rotation, losing Righteous Valkyrie, this card may be strong enough to pull it back into the main stage. Regardless of how it does in Standard, though, it’s for sure going to see plenty of play in EDH.
#4. Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
Presumed dead until this card was spoiled, Sheoldred is back! This iteration is a 4/5 for four with deathtouch which lets you gain some life when you draw a card, and taxes your opponent two life when they draw a card.
It’s a great infinite combo piece in certain lifegain decks, and can easily find a spot in black midrange decks in Standard. I’m pretty hyped to see this card; I just wish Elesh Norn was coming back too.
#3. Timeless Lotus
Timeless Lotus is a new five-color mana rock that almost seems too good to be true. It’s five mana for five mana, which makes it mana-neutral, and offers premiere fixing for five-color EDH decks.
#2. Ertai Resurrected
Ertai Resurrected is quite a unique card. It’s a 3/2 for four that can either blow up a creature or planeswalker, counter a spell, activated ability, or triggered ability. That’s basically all of your bases covered, all at the cost of being card-negative if you choose to interact.
That’s pretty sweet, and the fact that you’ll get to play this card no matter what your opponent does makes it a great inclusion for Dimir-based () control decks. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one myself!
#1. Liliana of the Veil
We, of course, have to end off on the most incredible card in this set: Liliana of the Veil. I didn’t think once that we’d see this card reprinted in Standard, yet here we are. The best Lili card in the game, and maybe one of the best planeswalker cards ever, has officially entered Standard and, more notably, Pioneer.
It’s hard to say how dominant this card will be. It depends on what kind of decks are available to slot it into, but I’d be shocked if it was anything less than just good. There are already a few good black or Rakdos () midrange decks floating around in both Standard and Pioneer, so I’m sure it’ll find a new home again.
Timeless Lotus | Illustration by Lindsey Look
That wraps up today’s look into the best of what Dominaria United has to offer! I’m super excited to dive into this set and see how it drafts and what it offers to the Standard and Pioneer formats.
What do you think of the set so far? Are you enjoying the new cards? Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below, or chat about it over in the official Draftsim Discord!
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