Dominaria United Set Review - Legends Retold
Scott Murphy | Graphic Design by Luminarch| Art by
A Tale Retold
Let's pretend it's June 1994. You manage to get your hands on a pack of Legends and are delighted that the booster contains 15 cards, as opposed to the eight that were in packs from previous sets. "What a world," you think. "Surely this is the pinnacle of Magic."
You crack open your pack to discover a world of new concepts. What are these strange gold-framed cards? Are you telling me a deck can contain multiple colors? And what is this "Summon Legend" business? If "Legends" are truly unique characters, then why wasnot a Legend?
You flip through the cards and arrive at your pack's rare slot: some bearded dude with a horned hat named. "What a worthless rare! It costs three different colors, and there's no easy, one-word way to describe that color combination because this is 1994," you think. "This is dumb. Maybe I can trade it for the rare I actually wanted: . That card is way easier to understand."
Fast forward to 2022, and with the release of Dominaria United, some of those strange, gold-framed, multicolored "Summon Legends" are making their return as Legends Retold, a sort of "reboot" of classic Legends from nearly three decades ago. Included in Set, Draft and Collector Booster displays of Dominaria United, the 20 reiterations will be available in both non-foil and foil etched treatments. Without further deliberation, let Nick Wolf, Philomène Gatien, and Trent Trombley take you out on a little 1994 reunion tour.
, everyone's favorite non-planeswalking anthropomorphic cat guy, forsook the forests and has taken to the high seas, but don't let that smart-looking sash fool you: he's a mercenary, a cat-for-hire, not a pirate. His original Legends version provided a blank slate for designers, prompting them only with the idea that he's a tigerboy who hates trees. What we received in the new version is an interesting, flavorful take on a legends-matter theme, supplying you with an addition to your merry band of cat friends whenever a legendary creature joins the fray, and, on-brand, Jedit really, really hates forests, punishing those who utilize them. Even so, you'll likely find him always humming the in battle.
We've wondered for nigh on 30 years what's real name was, and here in 2022, we still don't know. We do know, however, that she was created by a dwarf named Fiers, who might have been a god, or a planeswalker, or maybe both, so if you're wondering why there's so much mention of Dwarves on The Lady's new version, that's why. She was created by them, hence why they can summon her as per her first ability. Today, she loses her Giant status in favor of becoming an Avatar. Most decks built around her will be Dwarf tribal, with a dash of land-sacrifice as additional flavor. At least she turns your s into mini- s, if that's what you're into.
Other than visuals and flavor text, there wasn’t much mechanical precedent here for clear up a lot of her lore.. The Dragon affiliation was certainly there, but her remake as a planeswalker helped
Dimir Dragons doesn’t have as deep of a pool as other color identities might, but’s page may be a good place to search for inspiration, and the pool has certainly deepened in recent years with all the Dungeons and Dragons sets. There’s always a bit of a trickiness when having a tutor capability in the command zone, as it can make games somewhat linear, but given how limited Dragons are in Dimir, I think it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Personally, I treat this more as a pillowfort commander (or even inclusion in the 99) rather than strictly being locked into Dragon tribal, disincentivizing attacks like while you develop other pieces and pseudo- as needed. Or, do the cool tribal-tribal thing and splash so you can tutor any creature!
For me, I think she’ll slot nicely in mypunisher deck.
What a fascinating design space: Grixis Equipment, but with still a Spellslinger sub-theme. Even cooler, you're rewarded for running the big, girthy Equipment that most people gloss over.
What I really like about the Grixis-legal Equipment organized by mana value can be seen in this table here:is just how careful you have to build your deck. The list of
This means we sort of ‘top out’ at a mana value of seven, if we choose to runand/or . My money would be on focusing on the Swords (e.g., ) since they grant protection and evasion, meaning that most of our spells should sit around a mana value of three.
A lot of people are probably going tofor extra combat spells (e.g., ), which are good, but be very mindful of when you cast these. Tetsuo casts the spell in combat, similar to , which non-bos with many extra combat spells!
As for the first ability, anything that gives both deathtouch and lifelink, such as the famous, will pull double weight here, since it’s Tetsuo dealing the damage. Or maybe . Also, where else do we get to run something cool like ?!
While seven mana is a hefty cost, being in green helps a ton. I can see avariant here, where you're encouraged to just jam the deck with creatures and lands if you're really opting for Torsten’s first ETB. It seems fine, but my money is on Torsten as Selesnya aristocrats commander, somewhat like , as Torsten wants to both enter the battlefield and die repeatedly to get the most out of him.
Both white and green have fantastic sacrifice outlets, like, , and . Even cool one-off effects, like and , seem excellent!
seems a shoe-in here, as well as some flicker potential, like , or recursion à la and . I’d love to slap a on Torsten and just start churning through the deck with his ETB while spitting out bodies with his death trigger.
It’s a shame the tokens aren’t Humans, though — they sure look anthropic!
seems to have picked up a trade since we last saw her unemployed as in Legends. The new version is odd, asking not only you to play plenty of artifacts (likely in the form of Equipment, since she's, you know, a blacksmith and all), but also hopes that your opponents have artifacts as well to activate the evasion. To that last point, it's usually better to be proactive than reactive, so an deck could make use of cards that turn your opponents' organic stuff into mechanical stuff: , , , , , and of course, if we're getting serious, or .
The 'Dane is 'half' no more, and exchanges hismoniker for one with more punctuation. Now, instead of mushing himself up to fit the stats of another creature, he goes even harder, becoming another creature entirely. No more half-measures. Of course, with greater power comes greater room for abuse; perhaps the contraption of turning The 'Dane into a to put a bunch of +1/+1 counters on him, then switching him to something like, say, a to get through unimpeded might interest you.
The originalwas the definition of a party in a box, but his new version is less about friendship and more about sand. No longer do we care about any old lands. Instead, it's all about Deserts. Speaking of, there are 16 Desert lands you can play in Naya colors, from and friends, to , , and... well, just . The ability to play them from the graveyard is pretty enticing, as many of them find ways to put themselves there early and often. The real trick, of course, is somehow cashing in on that Desertwalk ability. Perhaps you can share a dune or two with ?
It's finally here. Archer tribal is real! I'm so happy.
I practice archery myself, and have been trying to brew an "Oops, All Archers" deck for a while, where every card is an Archer or has a bow, arrow, or quiver in the art. Needless to say, I am overjoyed by the release of.
Ohabi's untap ability is excellent because a lot of Archers can tap and deal damage to an attacking or blocking creature, as you can see in her. Give your Archers and your board is suddenly very deadly.
The card draw she provides is just fantastic, as the main weaknesses of the deck are recovering after a board wipe and finding enough gas to keep up with the assumedly insanely more powerful things your opponents will be doing.
This deck won't be super busted or anything, but I bet a lot of people will be happy to finally see support for Archer tribal. There are dozens of us. Dozens!
looks pretty menacing but ends up being a little too much work. Not only does she comes down late in the game, but you still have to make her grow. She does have evasion, and it's not unreasonable to think we could give her haste in Rakdos, but I don't know if the juice is worth the squeeze. If, somehow, she sticks and grows big, you can swing for massive damage, her at another enemy, and deal some more damage with her death trigger! A bit of a Magical Christmasland, but hey! It's Commander, anything can happen.
doesn't look like a good commander, but can be a fun card in the 99 of sacrifice decks, like or .
With 58 Assassins in Dimir colors, you do have some choices if you want to build an Assassin tribal deck. They are not all good, but this tribe is slowly getting more support (see ) so maybe we'll get more of them in the future?
However, that's not the only way to build. See, the usual weakness of Voltron strategies is that you have to deal 21 commander damage to three people; with Ramses, if you kill someone out of nowhere with, I don't know, or another similar effect, you just win the game without having to do it all over again for two other opponents.
There's also some discussion about how this card works with conceding. If you think Ramses is coming at you, do you concede before the declare attackers step to prevent the Ramses payer from winning? Hopefully, players will be able to recognize when they have lost the game with a little bit of dignity. Just shuffle up and play another!
Okay, challenge accepted.
Time to open Commander Spellbook!
Have, , , and on the board, in itself, no small feat. Now, deal combat damage with Brago, triggering its ability. Target your stuff, then copy the ability with , paying with , targeting any number of nonland permanents (including , , and Rasputin). Resolve the copy of Brago's ability, exiling and returning all targets to the battlefield untapped. Copy his ability again while it's on the stack, and repeat. You've now flickered Rasputin infinite times, given your opponents infinite red Goblins and made them loose infinite life with . Voilà!
Or you could go for, I don't know, Azorius Knight tribal.
This feels more like a Dragon commander than a Kobold commander, which is maybe the point, because there are only 12 playable Kobolds in Rakdos. can make all your Kobolds Dragons and your Dragons Kobolds, so each creature in your deck triggers both abilities of . Changelings are also good in this deck for this reason. You can also do shenanigans with the free Kobolds ( and the like) for infinite casts and infinite triggers.
I think Dragon tribal has more interesting commanders than, but some people will be excited to play their old Kobold cards in commander. As for playing Rohgahh in the 99, I'm not sure there's room for a five-mana setup card that's not a Dragon in other Dragon decks.
Even after a recent treatment in Masters 25, we get a new Stangg!
I really like that they kept the original flavor here of Stangg generating a token copy of himself, and at a much more affordable mana value. With an Aura/Equipment subtheme, we are encouraged to lean into a-style deck. , , and all get pretty crazy as multiple copies start to see each other!
We have to be careful with legendary Equipment, as the token copies that come in attached towill be destroyed (outside of a effect). , , and all get additional Stangg Twins into play with additional Auras and Equipment. Without , these will simply die to the legend rule, which is normally a non-bo, but as it turns out, there’s some really cool tech with that in mind!
Since the tokens are sacrificed and not exiled, we can opt for big, old-school commander cards likeand or even new options, like , , and , to get additional value out of Stangg Twin dying. We get twice the value if we lean into any of the token-doublers, even with the legend rule in mind!
Overall, I really like this design space of feeling Gruul with attacking, but leaning into an almost aristocrat/token build centered around Auras and Equipment.
I quite adore the fact they gavean almost Streets of New Capenna makeover for . This bug has got class. The new has some fun political vibes, in the mold of or .
is an absolute house in this deck, coming in and adding egg counters all over the place, while will keep a steady stream of cards flowing into your hand when you put egg counters on opposing creatures. can keep your opponents' creatures pretty much , shutting down potential opposing Voltron threats. There’s also a bit of an attack-matters subtheme you could work here, leaning into extra combat steps (e.g., ), or just focus on putting egg counters on your own creatures in a Jund aristocrats
While not perfect, the new Xira can opt as both a home for Insect tribal or -1/-1 counters, something Jund players have been wanting for long time.
Plus, can we take a moment to admire the Insect token she creates? I know many were eagerly awaiting those Sand Warrior tokens for, but this prep-school bug buzzed its way into our hearts.
Insect Token (Dominaria United) | Art by Mila Pesic
The outwardly emotionless and possibly mulleted's rules text contained but one word, and one number: Rampage 1. As I'm sure you remember, Rampage is a keyword designed to make group blocking less favorable for the defender. However, it was never really that impactful, and now that Marhault has ascended the ranks of the Elf military to become a general, he's ditched Rampage as a term but retained the concept, if not supercharged. The power/toughness boon is no longer tied to the pesky "beyond the first" clause, and now he shares it across your whole team. But hey, if you issue a and stuff a bunch of effects into your deck (maybe by strapping on a ), you've got a stew going.
One of the most widely used OG Legends among Commander players today,is often seen at the head of "no ability" decks, or vanilla tribal. There's nothing quite like the feeling of casting a at a table full of cards with giant blocks of text. While your opponents try to suss out all the complicated interactions among their permanents, all you have to do is ask yourself what a tree and a flower are (hint: the answer is an old man with a stick). Jasmine's new version doubles down on the vanilla theme, leaning into the concept that simpler is indeed better by providing you with ramp and evasion for all your s — in other words, show a little once and awhile and embrace the that is vanilla.
There are some decent Pirates in Dimir if you want to go Pirate tribal, like, , , , or . You might want to take advantage of Ramirez 's enters-the-battlefield ability with or . Evasion will help you trigger his second ability, so cards like might prove useful. Just be aware that it doesn't have the "You may may spend mana as though it were mana of any color to cast it" clause, so keep some Treasures ready to cast spells outside of your colors. Unfortunately, though, if you're going to build a Pirate tribal deck, there are probably better options out there (see and + ).
It's more likely that we'll see Pirate decks than leading his own, I fear.in the 99 of other
I don’t want to yuck anyone’s yum here, but old school the Tobias Andrion Challenge, where you tried to see if your EDH deck could beat a perfect curve of vanilla beaters. Plus, the name....felt a bit of a meme as is, let alone his (very flavorful) makeover as a doomed swashbuckling Pirate succumbing to the Zombie horde. The original was the basis of
I suppose in the command zone you can treat him almost as an Azorius, but the nontoken stipulation, plus needing to hold up four mana at all times and requiring an incoming attacker or an instant-speed sacrifice outlet is a lot of hoops to jump through, even if it is to get a guy that wants to die into the grave. I can see it cropping up in some Esper Zombie lists, but I think poor Tobias got a tragic update to fit his tragic end, which in the end, is about the best flavor win you could ask for.
I’ll be honest, I’m still a bit weirded out by seeing lifelink on a Rakdos card. I understand a lot of this is probably biased by my Ravnican understanding of Rakdos being a carnage-ridden guild, but I still feel even if black has plenty of lifegain, it always feels a bit odd to see it paired with something red. But I digress.
Newlooks great! Same mana value and stats, but a heck of a lot more…. reach (heh). This is honestly a good burn commander, and I see a lot of potential overlap with . Tor even happens to be an odd mana value! Just be mindful that the defending player actually gets to stack damage as they choose here, so you won’t get the full effect of Obosh + Tor working together.
Deathtouch would certainly help here to pick off pesky creatures, but I really like the idea of Infect here, granting Toror and storming off to take someone out with a few spells (as if he got some s)!
The Stuff of Legends
Legends Retold successfully tugs at our nostalgia while presenting designs that are unmistakably modern. A lot of these also offer very interesting build-arounds! Nick simply cannot wait tosome creatures in front of . Archer tribal may not be as strong as other strategies, but Philomène is dropping every other deckbuilding project for . Trent, on the other hand, is preparing for trouble (and making it double!) with , copying Auras and Equipment left and right.
But what do you think about Legends Retold? Do they convey the same feeling of awe as they did back in 1994? Do some of these tickle your deckbrewing nerve? Is there any card or interaction that we missed? Let us know in the comments! We were Nick Wolf, Trent Trombley and Philomène Gatien, and we hope you'll have a blast with Dominaria United!