MTG Commander Staples from Dominaria United

Dominaria United is set to provide Commander with a truly impressive array of potent game pieces. From powerful tutors to trading life for value, our return to Dominaria is also a return to some of the best things you can be doing in the game. While there is something to be said for almost every card in the set, with even many of the commons carrying more than their own weight, the following are going to become staples in the format. 

Tribal Lords

Leaf-Crowned VisionaryRundvelt HordemasterShadow-Rite PriestVodalian HexcatcherValiant Veteran

Playing with tribes, as I’ll often note, is one of the most popular ways to play the game. Dominaria brings a new, two-mana lord for five of the best tribes in the game, with some clear standouts. Leaf-Crowned Visionary and Rundvelt Hordemaster both provide card advantage while boosting their respective tribes, making them the clear winners across multiple formats. Shadow-Rite Priest, meanwhile, might be the best for Commander, fetching Razaketh or better when given the chance. Merfolks and Soldiers both feel a little mediocre in commander, but if you’re in on these tribes both of these new lords are more than welcome additions.

Tantalizing Tutors

Shield-Wall SentinelThe Cruelty of GixThreats UndetectedSprouting Goblin

Tutoring, even narrow tutors, are always good and DMU has some more than great picks. Shield-Wall Sentinel is my pick for potential sleeper, as it fetches up several combo pieces with defender (like Overgrown Battlement and Axebane Guardian in Pauper Commander). The Cruelty of Gix meanwhile mashes Grim Tutor together with Rise From the Grave, with the occasional Despise for good measure. Threats Undetected is pure value in a singleton format and Sprouting Goblin grabbing Triomes and sacking extra lands for value is pure gas (or perhaps, more accurately, tinder).

Flexible Removal

Tear AsunderErtai ResurrectedDestroy EvilTemporal FirestormThe Phasing of Zhalfir

Removal that can deal with a variety of card types, or can do things that bend the color pie, are always worth considering. Tear Asunder, Ertai Resurrected, and Destroy Evil each have multiple modes that all generate value. Temporal Firestorm and The Phasing of Zhalfir are also both solid board wipes that you can save your best creatures from. Zhalfir in particular is a card that has generated less discussion than I would have expected- a mono-blue “wipe” is rare, so seeing this bend to the color pie is a (not unwelcome) surprise.

Life for Phyrexia

Defiler of InstinctDefiler of FleshDefiler of VigorDefiler of FaithDefiler of Dreams

The entire defiler cycle is my favorite thing to come out of the set, full stop. Cheating mana costs is one of the best things you can be doing in a game of Commander- if you’re casting more spells than your opponents, you’re almost certainly increasing your odds of winning the game. Defiler of Dreams and Vigor are the strongest in the format, generating card advantage and a massive board respectively, but Defiler of Faith is no slouch. Flesh and Instinct are, comparatively, not the best (though giving deathtouch to Instinct can be spooky), but just getting the mana discount without their triggers is potentially worth it alone.

Painful Mana

Adarkar WastesCaves of KoilosKarplusan ForestShivan ReefSulfurous SpringsThran Portal

In the same vein as the Phyrexian mana cheating from the defilers, trading your life for resources is an exchange that can very often be in your favor. The returning cycle of painlands is something I’m happy to see, with the added bonus of their new friend, Thran Portal. Don’t be afraid to ping yourself if it means smoothing out your plays, and (with the exception of the new portal) you always have the option of using the painlands to generate colorless mana if you don’t need the more hurtful colors.

United Value

While Dominaria United likely has a few surprises and sleeper cards waiting in the wings, you won’t be unhappy adding any of the above cards to your decks. I know I’m excited to throw in some new tutors and smooth out my mana bases, all while gleefully trading my life total for cheaper spells. Let me know what other clear staples you  are looking forward to filling out your commander collection with.

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