Dominaria has a lot to offer. So far, my preview articles have focused on beatdown decks and creature-based midrange that ought to play out in rather predictable ways. But it seems to me that such strategies barely scratch the surface of what’s possible with the new cards. It’s time to delve a little deeper.
Song of Freyalise is a tricky and powerful build-around enchantment that could hold a lot of potential. The requirements are that you establish a board with at least a small handful of creatures, and then have something to spend excess mana on. If you can do that, you have an exciting payoff card that can pull you way ahead in a game.
A natural comparison is with Cryptolith Rite, which was another 2-mana enchantment that allowed your creatures to tap for mana. In old Standard, Cryptolith Rite powered token decks and combo decks into game-winning plays.
The downside of Song of Freyalise compared to Cryptolith Rite is that you can’t really put it into play preemptively. You want your creatures to already be on the battlefield when you cast Song. But that was never really plan A anyway, as you’d rather spend your early turns casting creatures and then explode out with some bursts of mana.
The upside of Song of Freyalise is that you have both mana engine and win condition rolled into one, with the third chapter facilitating a powerful (+1/+1 counter and trample) and risk-free (vigilance and indestructible) attack with all of your tokens and larger creatures.
Saproling tokens appear to be a bit of a theme in Dominaria. At the time of writing, we don’t have enough preview cards to build anything along the lines of a Saproling tribal deck, but we already have a couple of powerful tools and the hope that more could be yet to come.
Saproling Migration is tailor-made to pair with Song of Freyalise. Anything that can put two creatures into play for 2 mana is going to be great, and the mana generation can allow later copies of Migration to be kicked at low cost.
Slimefoot, the Stowaway serves as a mana sink, a win condition, and a way to make your opponents think twice about trying to sweep your board.
One more new weapon from Dominaria is Vicious Offering. A deck like this will need a very high concentration of creatures, which means that it’s essential that the small amount of removal it can play be efficient and versatile. Vicious Offering can do anything from killing a 1-drop out of Mono-Red or Mono-White to taking out a Glorybringer or a Hazoret the Fervent.
Growing Rites of Itlimoc hasn’t gotten its time in the limelight, but this might be the deck for it. It’s easy to transform with Saproling Migration and Weaponcraft Enthusiast flooding the board with creatures, and represents an alternative mana engine when you don’t draw Song of Freyalise. It can also dig you to your payoff creatures, foremost of which is Vizier of the Menagerie.
Vizier of the Menagerie is the perfect intersection of affordable threat and nearly-limitless mana sink. Your opponent will go to great lengths not to allow you to untap with Vizier because they risk having you cast two, three, or more creatures off the top of your library. I didn’t find room for it in this particular list, but I’m interested in pairing Vizier of the Menagerie with the explore mechanic to help you turbo through your library even faster.
Perhaps the real payoff for the Saproling tribe isn’t something new from Dominaria, but the already-existing Tendershoot Dryad. Achieving the city’s blessing is trivial for such a deck, and allowing your tokens from Saproling Migration and Slimefoot, the Stowaway to crash in as 3/3s immediately is a nice way to close the game. You don’t necessarily want one in your opening hand, but being able to find the Dryad off Vizier of the Menagerie, or to pluck one off a Growing Rites of Itlimoc will be very nice.
The last card I’d like to highlight is Driven // Despair, which I’ve long believed to be a sleeper card. It’s an amazing way to punish slower decks that rely on catch-up cards like Fumigate instead of keeping pace with blockers and removal. But against any deck, if you’re able to get a little ahead, Driven // Despair can be converted into a big advantage.
It would be a good inclusion in any G/B Tokens deck, but the real cherry on top is the ability to cast one or both halves on the turn that Chapter III of Song of Freyalise triggers. Adding these abilities to creatures with trample and indestructible will make blocking a complete nightmare, and will result in a devastating turn.
Song of Freyalise is the engine card of G/B Tokens, but the fact that it’s printed alongside subtly powerful cards like Llanowar Elves, Saproling Migration, and even Woodland Cemetery is what makes the archetype truly appealing.