EDHREC Dominaria Set Review — Uncommon Gold Legends

If you hadn't guessed it by the fact there are 44 new legendary creatures releasing with Dominaria, there is a Legendary-Matters theme in the set. There are so many legends in this set, in fact, that Wizards needed to have legends appear at uncommon, something that hasn't happened in thirteen years! The biggest boon with this development was Wizards created an entire ten-card cycle of gold legendary creatures for each two-color pair. That's so many new gold legends, we thought it deserved it's own article! So here I am to review the uncommon, gold legends of Dominaria!

I'm planning to rate each of these on three metrics:

  1. How likely the creature is to helm a deck of it's own.
  2. How likely the creature will appear in the 99 of a deck.
  3. The expected popularity (EP) of the card as a whole. I'll rate these on a scale on 1-5, with 5 being akin to Alesha/Razaketh respectively.

Let's get started!

The Allied Pairs

Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage

Starting off our cycle of allied-paired legends is Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage. For four mana, we get a Shimmer Myr-deluxe with some color-restrictions and flying. If you're seeing it for the first time, Historic is the very first "batch" keyword, and it refers to any card that is legendary, an artifact, or a saga (a new card subtype). While Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain will definitely be the more popular "Historic" commander, Raff is no slouch himself. Giving the majority of your deck flash is a powerful ability to have in the command zone, and historic gives us many options. The most stand-out option is the ability to flash in planeswalkers. While we won't net any extra uses out of loyalty abilities (unless you can get out The Chain Veil), it does allow us to have them in play with extra mana to protect them.

I think the most unique aspect Raff offers is that he allows us to quicken legendary sorceries. Turning Urza's Ruinous Blast into an instant speed board-wipe is brutal, especially since it'll leave Raff intact. Yes, other commanders will survive, but a five-mana instant speed exiling-wrath is nothing to scoff at. Karn's Temporal Sundering becomes an instant speed time-walk as well. Taking an extra turn after your own is already sweet, but taking one in the middle of going around the table? That's something we won't see often.

Dominaria gave us a wealth of historic-matters card, and I do think many of them can make the 99 of a Raff deck. I think Raff is a solid choice for a commander, but he doesn't offer something so unique to put him over the top.

As Commander:  3.0
As 99:  3.0
EP:  3.0

Rona, Disciple of Gix

Rona is the weirdest among these legends without a doubt. So what makes her so weird?

When ~ enters the battlefield, you may exile target historic card from your graveyard.
You may cast nonland cards exiled with Rona.
4, {T}: Exile the top card of your library.

Rona, Disciple of Gix has a lot going on, and sometimes they don't mesh well. She can exile historic cards, but can only "cast nonland cards." This means she has to cast the cards. That means we can't incidentally store a land drop with Seat of the Synod or Vault of Whispers since the text would need to say "play." Again, this isn't a deal breaker, but it is unfortunate to lose some functionality. However, with that said, Rona isn't limited to casting historic cards, which is how I first misread her card. If her tap ability exiles a sorcery or instant, she can cast those.

Now let's talk about what Rona does offer. On ETB, we can recur any historic card. In the early game, this might mean recurring small value artifacts like Expedition Map or Tormod's Crypt. This warrants the inclusion of Trinket Mage, obviously. Later in the game, if we are able to bounce Rona, or play her with a substantial amount of mana (as the late game is want to do), we can recur larger and more impactful cards like Tezzeret, the Seeker or Wurmcoil Engine.

Her tap ability lets us clear off the top card of our deck and potentially save it for later. We definitely want top-deck manipulation to make the most of this, but without it is risky. I think this ability is a trap more often than not. It's still a useful ability, but it's mostly situational. For example, in most cases it doesn't compare favorably even to the humble Azure Mage.

Ultimately, I think Rona is more weird than good.

As Commander:  2.0
As 99:  2.0
EP:  2.5

Garna, the Bloodflame

Garna, the Bloodflame is one of the more interesting designs among this group of legendaries. Flash is an uncommon keyword to see in black or red, appearing on only six creatures since Magic Origins. Giving other creatures haste? Well, the only cards in that time frame that gave it out universally were Temur Ascendancy, Dragonlord Kolaghan, and Samut, Voice of Dissent. All of the cards that had either of those abilities were at rare, except for Hungering Yeti which had conditional flash. So Garna already is above the curve in terms of strange abilities. But wait, there's more!

When ~ enters the battlefield, return to your hand all creature cards in your graveyard that were put there from anywhere this turn.

Wow. Now THAT is an ability. Usually the department of wrath insurance falls squarely in white's color identity, but I welcome the new change with open arms. We've seen a similar effect to this before with No Rest for the Wicked, but tacking on "from anywhere" is truly unique. Exile? Discard? The battlefield? Top of your library? Bottom of your library (thanks Grenzo, Dungeon Warden)? Command zone? ANYWHERE. This is a lot of card advantage and versatility stapled together. At worse, we can use this as wrath protection to get back our creatures. Beyond that? The variety of uses is astounding.

My first commander deck was a really untuned Marchesa, the Black Rose deck, and this card is perfect for her. Your opponents finally managed to string enough wraths together to keep your stuff dead? Guess again. Not only is the recursion ability strong, but allowing you to play your cards with haste the following turn? That's crazy.

For Garna as a commander, I don't think she's super interesting as a whole... except I know that there's a combo storm route somewhere in the wild that I haven't seen yet. If you're able to sacrifice her before her trigger resolves, you also get to return her to your hand... There's no way that could wrong. With a little thought, Ashnod's Altar, Priest of Gix, and Priest of Urabrask with Garna generates infinite death triggers, ETBs, and colorless mana. This is a simple line, and I'm sure there's an Altar and Nim Deathmantle combo as well.

If you're more a fan of value, Altar of Dementia is likely going to be the standout inclusion in the deck as every milled creature get's returned to your hand. If you play with or against RB, expect to see Garna pop up more often than not.

As Commander:  3.0
As 99:  4.0
EP:  3.0

Hallar, the Firefletcher

Even without reading their ability, Hallar is a sweet deal for stats on a commander: a three-mana trampler is great. Now let's look at the reason we'd want to build them:

Whenever you cast a spell, if that spell was kicked, put a +1/+1 counter on ~, then ~ deals damage equal to the number of +1/+1 counters on it to each opponent.

Hallar, the Firefletcher is the definition of jank, and I love jank. If you choose to build Hallar, you have my absolute respect. With that said, we do have to acknowledge that they are going to be a bit more of a challenge to build than other legends. Does that mean they're bad? Absolutely not.

Let's go to the numbers. For the purpose of these graphs, if a spell has multikicker, we're going to assume that the spell was only kicked once, aka enough times for it to count as "kicked." If a spell has {X} in its cost, we're also going to assume X = 0.

Curve is an important concept in all Magic formats, including EDH. When we're looking to include any given kicker spell, we need to have an idea where it'll fit on a curve both in its unkicked, and more importantly, kicked mode. From the graphs, we can notice the glut of all unkicked spells between CMCs 1-4. Once the spell becomes kicked, the majority falls between CMCs 3-7. This will be important to keep in mind when deck-building. However, despite having access to 60 kicker-able spells, we really will want no more than 10, and after Hallar gets tested more, likely less than that.

Hallar players will likely focus more on generating counters on them instead. That'll point us in the direction of +1/+1 counter generators like Hardened Scales, Immaculate Magistrate, and Joraga Warcaller.

Good luck, future firefletchers!

As Commander:  2.5
As 99:  1.0
EP:  1.5

Shanna, Sisay's Legacy

There always has to be a worst in every cycle, and I would honestly put Shanna, Sisay's Legacy in that category this time around. The fact that her ability doesn't protect her from spells is the biggest strike against her. There's not many abilities that I think would be aimed at her, but I can't think of a reason they would aim at a vanilla commander. Getting +1/+1 for each creature is nice, but without any other keywords I think Shanna just falls behind. There's always a strain to mix and match "go-wide" and "go-tall" strategies, but I don't think Shanna helps to bridge that gap. The biggest thing going for her is that she costs two mana and is unassuming. If you're planning to build her, good luck as she has definitely stumped me.

As Commander:  1.0
As 99:  1.0
EP:  1.0

The Enemy Pairs

Arvad, the Cursed

Well, that's a strange anthem ability... and then you search Scryfall and realize that there are 202 available legendary creatures in Orzhov colors. Arvad may be cursed, but I think that curse has fine-print to have him lead the Justice League. +2/+2 is not an insubstantial buff, and there are even other legends that also act as anthems, such as Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon" and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. After them, we can nearly do anything. Since we're still in black-white, we can definitely go in a direction to include the other life drain/gain matters such as Karlov of the Ghost Council and Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim. Really, as long as we can create themes via grouping our league of legends, we can push Arvad in any direction we feel like. Stax, lifegain, combat... Arvad can really do it all. This is probably the commander that will have the highest variance of all of the new legends (or at least the gold uncommons), and that in and of itself is incredibly exciting.

As-Commander:  3.5
As-99:  2.0
EP:  2.5

Adeliz, the Cinder Wind

I'm not going to lie, I'm not very high on Adeliz, the Cinder Wind as a commander. I think she potentially has a home in some Inalla builds, but even then she doesn't seem impactful. If we remove colors, Naban, Dean of Iteration and Azami, Lady of Scrolls seems to outclass her as well while in mono-blue. Even removing her as a Wizard commander, she struggles to find a place with Melek, Izzet Paragon and Mizzix of the Izmagnus lurking around her own colors. However, Adeliz may be able weaponize Wizards with her buff. Turning the traditional low power and toughness of Wizards into a win-condition is certainly unexpected. I think Adeliz will find a home in Brawl where her buff will be more impact than in EDH.

As Commander:  1.0
As 99:  1.5
EP:  1.0

Slimefoot, the Stowaway


Honestly, I could stop this section on that note, and that'd be enough to warrant its ratings. With the release of Tendershoot Dryad and other new Saproling-matters cards, we have a great density of effects to really turn this strrategy into something really viable... and Slimefoot is the perfect leader. Slimefoot is an incredible build-around commander for this very popular sub-tribe, and you should expect to see him pop up quite often, whether it's in Brawl or, more likely, EDH. So why do I say this?

Whenever a Saproling you control dies, ~ deals 1 damage to each opponent and you gain 1 life.
{4}: Create a 1/1 green Saproling creature token.

Slimefoot does what most tribal commanders dream of: rewarding you for playing in the tribe and having an ability that plays to the tribe's strengths. In this case, Slimefoot tacks on global damage whenever one of our little buddies dies, and he's able to generate them as well. This is what dreams are made of. Saprolings are a swarming strategy, but in EDH 1/1s quickly get outclassed. Combined with other aristocrat abilties like Zulaport Cutthroat, we gain a lot of reach.

Notably, Slimefoot doesn't cause life loss and actually deals damage. If Slimefoot is able to gain lifelink, then we'll gain 4 life per saproling death. If we happen to be playing Slimefoot in a Jund shell, then damage doublers also will add up. It's a great functional change to be aware of.

Now let's talk about the elephant-sized fungus in the room. Yes, there are infinite combos available in this deck. Ashnod's Altar and a token doubler leads to an instant win via Saproling death. However, the fact that exists doesn't speak to Slimefoot as a "broken" commander more than it does that Ashnod's Altar is always a part of some combo. You don't need to build around the combo for Slimefoot to be both good and fun. Slimefoot is my pick for what will be the most popular commander from this cycle!

As Commander:  4.0
As 99:  3.5
EP:  4.0

Tiana, Ship's Caretaker

While I've had a lot of high praise for many of these legends so far, my heart ultimately still belongs to Tiana, Ship's Caretaker. I currently have a Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith deck, and I'm planning to switch it over (if only temporarily) to be helmed by Tiana. That seems a bit extreme, especially since Nazahn is powerful in his own right. So why the change of heart?

Whenever an Aura or Equipment you control is put into a graveyard from the battlefield, you may return that card to its owner's hand at the beginning of the next end step.

Tiana is a continuation of the trend of combining benefits for both auras and equipment that Sigarda's Aid started, and really, I couldn't be happier. While my plan is to have her lead an equipment deck, she is also the first Boros-colored commander to care about auras. She shores up the major weakness that auras have by recurring them to your hand. This also has the added benefit of being able to trigger cards like Sram, Senior Edificer and Kor Spiritdancer multiple times, addressing the card advantage issue that Boros is maligned for. Who knew we could have a draw engine?

Along with the recursion element, Tiana isn't afraid to get in the mix either. Flying and first strike as baseline keywords shouldn't be overlooked, and stacking auras or equipment on her shouldn't be an issue.

While I could rave and rave about what Tiana can do, I do want to leave you with one card to consider: Bludgeon Brawl. It's no secret that Boros needs a lot of help (ie, mana rocks) when it comes to ramping, and getting hit with an artifact wipe sets us back mightily. The combination of Bludgeon Brawl and Tiana helps to alleviate that issue as each artifact now falls under Tiana's insurance policy.

As Commander:  3.5
As 99:  3.0
EP:  3.5

Tatyova, Benthic Druid

"What if we took the ultimate of Nissa, Vital Force, and we put it on a legendary creature!"

"Hmm... let's make it uncommon, blue, and gain life!"


That's how I imagine the discussion went at Wizards during the process of making this card. Tatyova, Benthic Druid has understandably created a lot of buzz around the EDH community as both a powerful engine card in the 99 and as a commander. Simic colors in EDH are not wanting for generating massive resource advantages from the command zone, and Tatyova falls in line just as well. Green is already good at playing a lot of lands, and blue is good at drawing cards. Naturally, these combined make an incredibly powerful combination.

Make no mistake, you will see this card a lot in some capacity. The main saving grace for it is that it's a five mana "do nothing" card if you play it on curve. If you play it and immediately play a land, it replaces itself. While that isn't "threatening" at face value, the damage this card will do will be measured more by how long it can stay alive vs. immediate impact. Are you willing to spend a spell to kill it, or will it stick around to drown you in card advantage?

Despite criticisms that Tatyova is just another "value" commander, she does give Simic it's first real landfall general. Exploration effects combined with moonfolk like Meloku, the Clouded Mirror are sure to be powerful and brutally effective. I have personally written an article on Patron of the Moon, and it's disgusting what these two cards will do together.

Overall, Tatyova is going to be very popular, and you may want to get used to hearing, "Play a land and draw a card."

As Commander:  4.0
As 99:  4.5
EP:  4.5

The Final Countdown

That's the end of my review for this incredible uncommon cycle! While we are so used to getting new legends at rare, Wizards showcased that they are able to make compelling legends even at uncommon! I'm incredibly excited for many of these legends, and I hope you are as well.

Who are you excited to build from this cycle? Who are you planning to add to existing decks? Are there any that I'm over- or underrating? How do you feel about this cycle as a whole?

Thanks for reading!

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