Dominaira United is here and this time around instead of a set review, I thought we’d do something different. While not quite as comprehensive, a Top 8 list has the potential to more clearly demonstrate which cards I think are the strongest ones in the set. While I do think a Top 8 list is a fun, different way to frame cards in the set, don’t read too much into specific placements on the list. A lot of these cards are very different and will impact specific archetypes somewhat substantially. That means that individual placement is somewhat dictated by metagame viability, so cards might show up less often even if they become staples of archetypes.
With that caveat in mind, let’s jump right into this powerful set, starting off with an honorable mention.
I would have overlooked this card if I didn’t have an opponent play it against me. In a white-based Stompy deck, playing this early can be pretty impactful, seeing as it can significantly slow them down and disrupt their ability to develop. The fact that this can look at their hand and name fetchlands really adds to the versatility and while I don’t think this is going to be an instant-staple in Legacy, I think it has the potential to be worth consideration in the occasional White Stompy deck.
8. Smash to Dust
The most tame of the cards on this list, I think Smash to Dust is less likely to have a major impact and more likely to become a very viable sideboard option for red decks. The flexibility of having an artifact answer and a way to manage smaller creatures is very nice, especially against decks like Red Prison which has the ability to present both. It has the potential to free up some sideboard space, which is currently at a premium in Legacy, and I think that earns it the number eight slot on the list.
7. Emperor Mihail II
The first of the two Merfolk payoffs on this list, this is a pretty unique effect for the archetype. Despite being the blue tribe, Merfolk has always been lighter on card advantage than the other Legacy-playable tribes. Emperor Mihail II has the ability to allow Merfolk to generate a steady stream of creatures, both by casting cards from the top and making tokens. Being a three-drop is somewhat costly in that deck since you can’t afford to play that many three-drops. However, I think running a pair of these can give Merfolk a lot of staying power and help it keep up against removal-heavy decks. Additionally, this card can cast Thassa’s Oracle off of the top of your deck, which is at least a point worth considering, even if I’m unsure of exactly how to take advantage of that.
6. Aether Channeler
This card looks like a shoe-in for Aluren decks. Not only is it a functional card by itself, allowing you to impact the board, buy some time or start to generate some card advantage, but in combination with Cavern Harpy, you can draw a ton of cards of make an unstoppable army of Birds, which will likely be enough in most games. Between the combo potential and impact in a normal game, I think Aether Channeler will be a staple of that archetype going forward.
5. Leaf-Crowned Visionary
I don’t think this is quite as powerful as some of the other new lords that I’ll cover on this list. However, this one has the distinct advantage of being green, which means that it might actually show up more often due to Green Sun’s Zenith. While paying a green to draw a card can be kind of costly, even in a deck like Elves, having a Glimpse of Nature effect tied to a creature is a pretty meaningful addition. This comes at a time where Elves has actually been cutting Glimpse of Nature from the deck, so this might be the perfect opportunity for Leaf-Crowned Visionary to make an appearance.
4. Vodalian Hexcatcher
The second of the major Merfolk payoffs, I think this one has a higher chance of impacting that tribe. This is a very powerful card. It acts as a lord, a disruptive piece, a combat trick and even just a piece of soft permission, and that’s a lot of versatility for a fairly cheap, strong card to provide. The one problem with this card is that it only functions within the Merfolk tribe, which has not been the most prominent Legacy tribe as of the past few years. However, part of the reason for this is that Merfolk haven’t received nearly as many powerful pieces as tribes like Elves or Goblins. This isn’t quite as heavy hitting as Allosaurus Shepherd or Muxus have been for those tribes, but Merfolk is generally a very different style of tribal deck than those decks. Having a tricky, disruptive card that helps you apply pressure as you disrupt them is exactly what Merfolk is looking for and I think this could be the start of a Merfolk comeback in the metagame.
3. Rundvelt Hordemaster
Tribes are a running theme on this list and I think this is the tribal card that will have the most significant impact. This is a very powerful card for Goblins since a two-mana lord is something the deck didn’t really have access to before. However, more than that, I think the exile ability is extremely powerful and provides Goblins with the ability to easily grind down any removal deck. I expect this to show up in large quantities and be a major player in the archetype going forward. I think this might have been the top card on my list if Goblins was a little bit more common, but there is a decent chance that this has such a positive impact on the archetype that it begins to show up more often.
2. Founding the Third Path
I think you could argue that this is the most impactful Legacy card in the set. This card works beautifully with Expressive Iteration and allows you to easily take the Iteration advantage in any blue mirror. On top of that, there are plenty of blue cantrips that help ensure you always have something to do with it on the turn you cast it. Additionally, if you’re playing against a deck with creatures, having this on board and a removal spell in your graveyard will make their board position somewhat precarious or disincentivize them from casting creatures, thus giving you the opportunity to have this card cast a cantrip or Iteration on a relatively empty board. The downside is that you need enough mana to take advantage of this as you still have to cast the copy on the third chapter. That means that not every blue deck is going to want to play this and might relegate it to being a blue midrange or control option. Regardless, I think this is a really powerful enchantment that seems like it’s pretty likely to have an impact on the format as time goes on.
1. Squee, Dubious Monarch
This card seems like it will be the number one Legacy card from Dominaria United. This is joining a ever-growing line of three-mana token-generating threats that Red Prison can play early and dominate a game with. While this doesn’t hit quite as hard as Goblin Rabblemaster or Legion Warboss, it is unique in that it can be recurred, which can provide Mono-Red with a decent amount of resiliency. It has a couple of downside, namely that it’s legendary, which means you can’t afford to run too many. Additionally, Red Prison is not known for rapidly filling up its graveyard, so the escape cost likely won’t happen early or too often. Regardless, it’s still a great card that has the potential to apply fast, recursive pressure and I expect to face down Squee for a long time.