As far as Limited is concerned, it’s hard to find a bigger bomb than Doom Whisperer. A 6/6 flying trample creature for 5 mana is absurd, and the ability to pay some life to set up your library and find one or two key cards can swing the game. But a big flying creature that doesn’t immediately impact the battlefield for 5 mana can’t possibly be good enough for Constructed, right? I mean, Baneslayer Angel variants have struggled to find homes!
It’s true that a 6/6 flying trample creature for 5 would be below what you need to be Constructed playable. There are just too many ways to get punished for either less mana or for value. If you pay 5 mana to play your creature and they pay 4 mana to cast Vraska’s Contempt or Ravenous Chupacabra, that’s a bad deal. If they play a planeswalker that kills a creature, or The Eldest Reborn when you don’t have a board, you lose your creature and they still have something powerful on the battlefield.
So big creatures that don’t immediately offer you an advantage have struggled to find a home in Standard. Even a creature as powerful as Glorybringer often only founds its way into decks in small numbers. If you’re investing 5 mana in a creature that doesn’t change the way the battlefield looks, you might end up looking really silly when the opponent plays a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and then uses the minus to send your creature packing before running you over with card advantage.
So why is Doom Whisperer different?
While it’s true that Doom Whisperer doesn’t impact the battlefield when you cast it, it can still have a big impact on the game. The surveil mechanic is strong, and that is even more true if you’re able to effectively utilize the graveyard.
This means it’s most likely that Doom Whisperer will find a home in a Golgari deck. In a shell that has other creatures that care about undergrowth, Doom Whisperer’s ability is more likely to generate an immediate advantage. If you’re able to develop an early board so that you’re not on the backfoot, you’re free to use surveil to fill up your graveyard and leave a key card on top of your deck.
As far as rewards for filling your graveyard with creatures go, you don’t have to look far to find Izoni, Thousand-Eyed. 6 mana is a lot for a 2/3 creature, but this thing will just end the game so quickly. Izoni can provide a massive army by giving you a 1/1 for each creature in your graveyard and that number can become huge. Being able to spend 2 mana to gain some life and draw more cards, perhaps setting up more surveil triggers with Doom Whisperer, allows you to press the advantage. Izoni doesn’t play particularly well against sweepers, but the most common and likely sweeper in Standard, at least early on, should be Settle the Wreckage.
There are also plenty of other cards in new Standard to take advantage of Doom Whisperer’s surveil. With cards like Find // Finality as a split card sweeper or the ability to return two creatures to your hand (such as Doom Whisperer and/or Izoni) and your own copies of The Eldest Reborn, you can use surveil to both tutor to the top of your deck and to your graveyard!
I don’t know if Doom Whisperer will rule over Standard, but I think it’s a lot better than many initially give it credit for. Just throwing a big flyer into a deck without synergy may not work out well for you, but it’s a pretty sick build-around.