It’s Dominaria United Commander set review time, and let’s be real: I’m wordy. I have a lot to say, and I’m fortunate to have this platform, but sometimes when my reviews come around, my articles are a bit of an overload. This time around, I won’t be reviewing every card that piques my interest just a little bit – instead, I’ll be taking a look at each color, plus multicolored cards, colorless nonlands and lands, and reviewing my 10 favorite cards from each of those categories. That way, you can figure out which cards are must-haves for your decks faster without having to sort through a ton of cards you might not care about. Sure, you’ll miss out on my thoughts on niche cards, but let’s be realistic – if you’re super into a particular niche, you’ve already seen and thought about the cards that fit your specific deck but don’t do much elsewhere.
As a reminder, my focus is on social Commander rather than competitive EDH. These days, I’ve been leaning more toward a desire to play three 40-minute games in lieu of one two-hour slog, but I’ll be talking about cards from the wider social perspective. My goal when playing Commander is for everyone to have fun but also for me to have a good shot at winning the game – or at least doing the thing my deck set out to do – so if that’s your mindset as well, these reviews will probably resonate with you. When you inevitably disagree with a review (or think I skipped something good), please feel free to tweet at @RagingLevine with your thoughts!
I’ll be reviewing the whole of Dominaria United all at once – the main set plus the supplemental cards from the Commander decks, the Set Booster exclusives and the Legends Retold cards. I’ll be categorizing nonland cards by color identity, so a white card with a black kicker cost will have to compete with all of the other multicolored cards. I’ll also be categorizing cards with domain as multicolored cards, for reasons that should be pretty clear.
10. Chaotic Transformation
Fun with Polymorph effects! Create multiple types of tokens and then turn them into something more substantial, pick off a bunch of obnoxious permanents in favor of pseudo-random replacements or try something in between. The halfway option is the one I expect myself to exercise most of the time – let’s get rid of some of my cheap stuff or tokens, put actual cards in play and turn your best stuff into something that’s hopefully at least slightly worse.
9. Shivan Devastator
There are two ways to view this card. First, it’s an X-spell made flesh; think the old ChannelFireball logo with a rocket strapped to its back. Nothing wrong with that in a Dragon deck or in any deck featuring red mana that simply needs someplace to put a lot of mana. No trample here, but flying and haste are often enough to get the job done. The other angle here is as a combo piece: for one red mana, you get a 0/0, and that can get you some value with Enduring Renewal and something like Ganax or Birgi. That gives you plenty of opportunities to trigger enters the battlefield, leaves the battlefield and dies effects, as well as a storm count equal to the biggest number you can look up on your phone before your friends get annoyed with you.
8. Keldon Flamesage
I’m excited to slap some Equipment on this in a deck featuring the new Tetsuo or get some exile value with Faldorn. Either way, the enlist trigger is a viable option, if a last-ditch one, for making this card’s trigger work harder. Since the power of this card restricts both the number of looks you get and the cost of the card you can cast, it’s imperative that you pump the Flamesage up somehow.
7. Rundvelt Hordemaster
Goblins die. That’s their thing. When that inevitably occurs, Rundvelt Hordemaster is here to work with other Goblin all-stars like Pashalik Mons to generate some profit. Sure, you can stack your deck with Goblin Recruiter and have a ton of fun, but if you’re not feeling quite so ridiculous, Forever Young and Footbottom Feast both fit the bill quite nicely if you’re rocking a Rakdos identity. Looking at a few deck lists reminded me of Mortuary’s existence, which makes quite the combo with Skirk Prospector here in the same vein as Shivan Devastator above (actually, Mortuary works with the Devastator too!). Just throw in a Pashalik Mons or similar and you’re good to go. I personally plan to spend more time playing fair with this card, but what can I say? I just love Goblin decks. Always have, always will.
This card scored a lot of points with me for being what some might call a “portmant-no”, but the fun doesn’t end there. With a less restrictive cost than something like Doublecast or even Teach by Example plus the benefits of being an instant, we’re looking at a solid nouveau-Fork, but there’s even more upside – it has another mode! Adding Double Cleave to this card isn’t going to break anything since most spell copy decks aren’t trying to crash in hard with a single creature, but you never know with Kalamax. Adeliz decks might also be interested in both modes!
5. Rosnakht, Heir of Rohgahh
Does anyone know who’s in charge of Kher Keep anymore? Rosnakht can slot into a deck featuring the new Rohgahh, but I like the idea of putting her in charge of a deck herself and getting goofy with Ancestral Anger, Expedite and more, all leading up to a big Burn at the Stake, a Shared Animosity-fueled attack or even some damage from Raid Bombardment and Cavalcade of Calamity. Furystoke Giant is one of my old favorite cards, and I think it has a home here too.
4. Jaya, Fiery Negotiator
It’s hard not to love the +1 on Jaya here. A prowess-focused deck helmed by Elsha or even Ken, Burning Brawler from the Street Fighter Secret Lair could easily find a home for Jaya, and we’re not just interested in that first ability. The -1 gets you access to more cards, which doesn’t hurt, and the -8 will help you win the game in a hurry as long as you have impactful spells. The -2 wants you going wide, so get your Young Pyromancer and Monastery Mentor in the mix and start casting spells! Is Goblin Wizardry a reasonable card to play with Jaya?
3. Squee, Dubious Monarch
I admit this is a bit of a “homer pick.” After all, as mentioned above, I love Goblin decks. That said, Squee does the two things Goblin decks want: he makes Goblins, and he comes back over and over again. While I don’t think he’s the best pick for the lead spot, he’s a great amplifier for Krenko, Mob Boss and a perfect purveyor of power for Purphoros. There are plenty of homes for this Squee that aren’t Goblin-focused – Ognis loves the haste, the new Marhault makes him tough to block and even Anhelo, the Painter loves sacrificing Squee for casualty value.
2. Defiler of Instinct
A solid rate for a first striker plus a damage trigger that encourages you to cast some small pals? I like this one. Put this in your Rosnakht deck and get value from Hammerhand and other cheap Auras, or try this with Torbran and watch your various Goblin Arsonist-style creatures make a greater impact – pay two life for Goblin Arsonists, and you’re getting a Lightning Bolt and a creature that swings for three and bolts something else when it dies. Obviously this is all best case stuff with Torbran and the Defiler in play, but there’s plenty to love here.
1. The Reaver Cleaver
Those of you who tire of Treasures might not find this to your taste, but I’m in for reaving and cleaving all day! This one’s legendary, so give it to Yoshimaru and let the goodest doggo in the game bring home some loot. Give it to Rograkh! Give it to Tetsuo, Syr Gwyn, Jolene or even Shanid. Heck, give it to Magda! Aurelia can even use this to get some extra value from extra combats – as if she needs it. This card may not look as powerful as I’m saying it is, but I think this one’s pretty clear.