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The Dominaria prerelease is this weekend, and I’m excited to start testing for the next Pro Tour. The event is a couple more weeks after release than usual, so this gives me plenty of time to dive in and test a lot of cards in Standard.
After looking through the set, these are the ten cards that stand out to me the most, and the ones I think will be the best for Dominaria Standard.
10) Lyra Dawnbringer
Baneslayer Angel is back, but legendary. Lyra Dawnbringer is a functional reprint of Baneslayer Angel, a card that once reigned supreme in Standard. Baneslayer Angel isn’t quite what it used to be, however, and high-cost creatures that don’t generate value against removal are not normally main-deck creatures anymore—trading down with 4-mana removal spells like Vraska’s Contempt is not quite what you want. But Lyra Dawnbringer is an excellent sideboard card against aggressive mono-red decks, and for that reason I think we’ll see plenty of Lyra Dawnbringer in Standard, but probably out of sideboards.
9) Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle
While I’m not as high on this card as some, this is a powerful card in a world with Mox Amber, which can trigger it for free immediately. There are ways to abuse Teshar with a card like Aviary Mechanic and Mox Amber, allowing you bring back the Mox, generate mana, and bring back another creature. Or I could see Teshar played strictly as a value creature, bringing back cards like Bomat Courier and Pia Nalaar in an aggressive R/W Deck that demands answers to its creatures immediately, potentially leaving the opponent’s hand empty of removal by the time Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle hits the battlefield. Creatures like this can both be returned and trigger Teshar, allowing you to get value if they come down before or after, which is a great place to be. I know that I’ll spend a lot of time testing Teshar because it seems like it has a rather high ceiling.
8) Seal Away
Seal Away is an efficient cheap answer to any tapped creature with no other conditional clause. Its biggest liability is that it stays in play like Cast Out and can be removed, possibly giving the opponent additional value from an enters-the-battlefield effect. Seal Away isn’t particularly good in aggressive decks, because you want to be able to push through your smaller creatures against larger blockers. That said, Seal Away is unique. 2 mana to remove higher-cost creatures will definitely be a solid removal spell for control decks. This card isn’t going to see as much play as the premium removal in the format, but it will have its place in top tier white controlling strategies.
7) Cast Down
Cast Down is the new Ultimate Price of Standard. It doesn’t kill everything you want it to, but at 2 mana and instant speed, it will definitely see play in a world where Glorybringer, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Winding Constrictor, and Angel of Salvation see regular play. Cast Down will play a role in U/B Control for sure, but U/B Midrange also desperately wanted another piece of cheap interaction. Essence Scatter was an awkward card in a deck with so many high-cost, sorcery-speed threats, and Cast Down will allow you to tap out and still get to kill a threat on your own terms. I am excited to have a card like this in Standard, as I think removal this cheap shouldn’t kill everything, but having the ability to shift removal packages in Standard to the appropriate threats is one of the things I find enjoyable about tuning Standard decks. Cast Down will definitely be in the mix.
6) Goblin Chainwhirler
While I think the whole cycle of triple-colored rare creatures looks pretty solid, I think Goblin Chainwhirler looks the best. Goblin Chainwhirler will be a great card in a deck like mono-red aggro, which we already know can be competitive. The cost of including Goblin Chainwhirler is that you likely have to play fewer or no colorless value lands, but I think this is a worthwhile sacrifice if tokens decks, red aggro decks, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, or Llanowar Elves decks are dominating the metagame. Goblin Chainwhirler also might have some potential long-term added value with future Standard sets as we see more Goblins. This will definitely be one of the premium creatures in a Goblin deck with cards like Skirk Prospector, Goblin Warchief, and Siege-Gang Commander hitting the scene.
5) Mox Amber
I’ll be honest. I’m not sure about this card, and I think it’s impossible to be without testing. The ceiling on a Mox is so high that I think ignoring it would be a big mistake. This could be the best card out of the set, and even the best card in Standard. I think it’s safe to put it right in the middle of my rankings as it could end up not seeing much play. With so many indestructible Gods, a whole set of new legendary creatures, and role-players like Pia Nalaar, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Kari-Zev, Skyship Raider, and all of the Standard planeswalkers, Mox Amber is bound to see at least some tournament play. It’s a matter of finding out whether Mox Amber is broken.
4) Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
The comparison has been made to Ob Nixilis Reignited, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is even better than that. Teferi interacts with all nonland permanents, draws cards without a loss of life, and on an empty battlefield, will generally only cost 3 mana, as it untaps a pair of lands in your end step, leaving you mana to react to your opponent. There are plenty of ways to interact with 2 mana, and even more at 3 if you cast this when you have 6 mana. On top of that, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria also has a ridiculous ultimate that will make short work of any opponent. While Teferi doesn’t get rid of a permanent for good, burying it in an opponent’s library is still effective.
The biggest strike against Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is that it’s a gold card, making it hard to play in just any deck. If U/W midrange or control strategies take off, Teferi is going to be a huge reason why.
3) History of Benalia
While I’m not entirely sure how all the Sagas will play out as they are a new and unique card type, History of Benalia is easier to evaluate. You can loosely compare this to a value generating creature like Rogue Refiner, as you get a 2/2 vigilance creature immediately for 3 mana, and then you follow it up with another the next turn for no additional mana investment. Both will get a bonus on the following turn to top it off. A card like this creates value, tempo, and if paired with other Knight creatures can end the game quickly. Drawing these in multiples will be filthy. When searching through the current Knights in Standard, you find mostly only Vampires, which means that this card could play a huge role in turning the archetype into a solid tier-1 strategy. This is just a solid card with a great rate.
2) Karn, Scion of Urza
Karn, Scion of Urza is one of the most talked about new cards in recent memory. It has high loyalty, built-in card engine, and can protect itself with other artifacts. Karn checks off a lot of the boxes you’d want out of a planeswalker, and it’s also colorless. This means that you could see this out of any deck, at any time. While I don’t think Karn’s ceiling is as high as either History of Benalia or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, the fact that it’s colorless means that you will be seeing Karn in Standard, and you’ll probably be seeing a good amount of it. I’m hoping that Karn is more than just a card drawing tool for normal decks, and his third ability proves to play an important role in Standard.
1) Llanowar Elves
No-brainer here for the top of my list. Llanowar Elves is one of the best cards in every Standard format it’s legal, and truly unique. While Chandra, Torch of Defiance might be better than Hazoret the Fervent sometimes and Rekindling Phoenix is better other times, these are all generically powerful 4-mana plays that can take over a game. Rarely do we get a card like Llanowar Elves, a 1-mana creature that on the play can have you playing 2 mana ahead of your opponent each turn. If unchecked, it will have its own snowball effect on a game by simply out-pacing your opponent turn after turn. I’m extremely excited to cast my first Standard-legal Llanowar Elves, and I know you are too.
These are my picks for top 10 cards in Standard after evaluating the previews. I haven’t begun to test any Standard yet, so I could be missing something, but I think all 10 of these cards are bound to see Standard play. Dominaria is as exciting a new set as I can remember as it’s got such a unique mix of powerful new cards, old-school throwbacks, and interesting new mechanics. While it may seem cliché to say, I can’t wait to start playing Dominaria Standard. What are the best cards I missed? Let me know!