Today, I’d like to highlight the new cards I’m excited to add to my Battle Box, affectionately dubbed The Danger Room. The Danger Room has some cool history and has undergone thousands of tunes, tweaks, and games and I am proud to own the first Battle Box ever to exist.

The basic premise of the format is that both players start with a cache of lands in exile that can be played, one per turn:

Five basics, five ETB tapped, and endless possibilities.

Players draw from a shared “big stack” of preselected cards (like a Cube) and battle. It’s essentially a ready-to-play-out-of-the-box version of Magic. It’s also nice that the game eliminates mana screw and flood, as both players have parity in terms of mana production each turn.

It’s important to have a baseline power level for all of the cards in the deck. You don’t want one player to draw a bunch of Olivia Voldaren and the other to draw a bunch of Hill Giants. My baseline is cards that I’d be thrilled to first-pick in Draft, without cards that are 100% unbeatable. So, no Umezawa’s Jitte or Bonfire of the Damned.

If you are a hardcore Battle Box player, or even a Cube Curator, today’s journey through Dominaria will highlight some of the most fun and interesting cards that appear in the new set.

The Updated Danger Room List

I’m always constantly cutting and adding cards from my list throughout the year, not just when a new set comes out.

With that being said, I get a lot of comments about the differences between the new list and the last one that are not explained. I don’t track every change and substitution I make. To me, the format is about trying new things and going with the flow, and I encourage others to experiment with their lists as well.

With that being said, this is exactly what is in The Danger Room as of writing this article:

Artifact and Mono-Colored Spells: 380

Artifacts (30)

New Additions

Weatherlight is a cool addition for several reasons. First, it’s one of the most iconic objects in all of Magic. Second, the card is sweet.

In a format where every color of fixing is readily available, a big part of what makes artifacts so good—no color commitment—is lost. Obviously, a 4-drop card that costs 1RWU is going to be inherently more powerful than one that costs 4.

That said, artifacts do offer Vehicles (which is a unique mechanic) and Equipment. So a powerful and flavorful Vehicle is going to make the cut every time. The fact that my stack isn’t overloaded with historic cards means the ship won’t always hit a card when it connects, which gives it a nice power level.

Time to Say Goodbye

I’m sad to say goodbye to Living Wall. It was one of my favorite cards when I first started playing because it was nearly impossible to get around. With that being said, power creep has finally pushed Alpha Living Wall out of my stack. The old-school cards are starting to feel weak. It makes me sad, but I created a second “Old-School Danger Room” so that these iconic and nostalgic cards will always have a home where they can be shuffled up to shine.

Artifacts

Awakened Amalgam
Basilisk Collar
Bloodforged Battle-Axe
Conqueror’s Flail
Crystal Shard
Duplicant
Engineered Explosives
Etched Oracle
Filigree Familiar
Fleetwheel Cruiser
Hangarback Walker
Icy Manipulator
Lightning Greaves
Loxodon Warhammer
Mask of Memory
Nihil Spellbomb
Peace Strider
Perilous Vault
Pierce Strider
Power Matrix
Runechanter’s Pike
Scrapheap Scrounger
Serrated Arrows
Smuggler’s Copter
Spellskite
Trip Noose
Triskelion
Walking Ballista
Sylvok Lifestaff
Weatherlight

White

New Additions

White hit the jackpot in Dominaria. While I settled on four cards, both Triumph of Gerrard and Knight of Grace were on my radar but didn’t make the cut.

I think this was just a strict upgrade to Moment of Triumph, which got the cut. I love finding combat tricks that are good enough to thrive in an environment where they tend to be a little underpowered. The fact that this can be a counterspell to most removal spells makes it flexible on offense or defense.

This is one of the pound-for-pound best cards in Dominaria. Wonderful flavor. It is a good aggressive creature and has the ability to protect other creatures. I love that it is able to accomplish both of these flavor elements in an elegant and straightforward way.

I love this card and honestly wish there were more cards like it. Another tricky combat trick that is easily on the correct power level for my stack.

Most of the Sagas didn’t feel like they worked in my stack as they create a kind of “game” that wants to synergize with a specific kind of deck or strategy. The Danger Room is too broad in theme to make these cards worth the mana to cast.

HoB, on the other hand, is straightforward enough that it should be pretty decent in my stack. It’s good value.

Hasta la Vista

I don’t feel fondly about any one of these single cards to write them a proper send off. The cheap Rivals of Ixalan cards didn’t pan out. Lighthawk excites no one. Wing Shards has always been a decent card but it has been power creeped out of the stack.

Adamant Will
Adanto Vanguard
Adorned Pouncer
Akroma’s Vengeance
Angel of Finality
Angel of Sanctions
Austere Command
Azorius Herald
Belfry Spirit
Blade Splicer
Cloudgoat Ranger
Collective Effort
Commander Eesha
Dawn Charm
Day of Judgment
Declaration in Stone
Dismantling Blow
Dauntless Bodyguard
Dragon Hunter
Dusk // Dawn
End Hostilities
Exalted Angel
Final Judgment
Flickerwisp
Fumigate
Geist-Honored Monk
Glorious Anthem
Glory-Bound Initiate
Hallow
Hallowed Burial
Healing Grace
Hidden Dragonslayer
History of Benalia
Imperial Aerosaur
Imposing Sovereign
Inspiring Cleric
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Karmic Guide
Kinjalli’s Sunwing
Kirtar’s Wrath
Lingering Souls
Mardu Woe-Reaper
Momentary Blink
Mother of Runes
Phyrexian Rebirth
Reciprocate
Regal Caracal
Restoration Angel
Righteous Confluence
Rout
Sacred Cat
Scout’s Warning
Selfless Spirit
Selfless Squire
Shrieking Grotesque
Skymarcher Aspirant
Soldier of the Pantheon
Soulfire Grand Master
Spear of Heliod
Spectral Lynx
Sunscape Battlemage
Sunscourge Champion
Suture Priest
Swords to Plowshares
Terminus
Thraben Inspector
Trueheart Duelist
Valorous Stance
Wall of Omens
Wrath of God

Blue (70)

New Addition

I don’t know if this is an acceptable card. Keeping creatures locked down and then bouncing them is quite good in the Danger Room. I basically just wanted to get another Saga into my stack and this one felt close. I wouldn’t be surprised if it became a mainstay for years to come. I also wouldn’t be surprised if I cut it after drawing it twice!

We Barely Knew Ye

A fine card but a little bit too situational for my taste. Plus, it’s super hard to ever cut a blue card. They are all great.

Aeon Chronicler
Allied Strategies
Ancestral Vision
Angler Drake
Blue Elemental Blast
Bonded Fetch
Braingeyser
Careful Consideration
Censor
Cephalid Sage
Champion of Wits
Chart a Course
Circular Logic
Complicate
Concentrate
Control Magic
Counterspell
Deep Analysis
Delver of Secrets
Disallow
Dispel
Dismiss
Dungeon Geists
Envelop
Evasive Action
Exclude
Fact or Fiction
False Summoning
Flashfreeze
Harbinger of the Tides
Hydroblast
Jace’s Phantasm
Jilt
Jolting Merfolk
Looter il-Kor
Lu Xun, Scholar General
Man-o’-war
Merfolk Looter
Miscalculation
Mulldrifter
Negate
Nimble Obstructionist
Neutralizing Blast
One With the Wind
Opportunity
Persuasion
Phantasmal Image
Power Sink
Probe
Remand
Remove Soul
Repulse
Secrets of the Golden City
Serendib Efreet
Slippery Scoundrel
Snapcaster Mage
Steal Artifact
Stolen Identity
Stratus Dancer
Sun Ce, Young Conquerer
Syncopate
Talrand’s Invocation
Tidings
Time of Ice
Unsummon
Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Warkite Marauder
Whirler Rogue
Willbender
Wonder

Black (70)

New Additions

Black is also deep on cool additions:

This is just a good card that people will be happy to draw

And the winner of the most nonsense name I’ve ever heard is…

I don’t hate giant monsters. In fact, I think they’re cool. It’s hard to find ones that are good but not too good, but I’m optimistic about Demonlord Belzenlok. He’s a big flyer that draws a card or two and loses a few life. A 6/6 flyer for 6 is already pretty decent, so I’ll have to keep an eye on Demonlord Belzenlok to make sure it plays fair. All things considered, Belzenlok looks like a pretty neat big monster for my stack.

I love Duress effects in this format.

I always make room for more mushroom in the Danger Room.

Say that ten times fast… I like the upside of this card.

Adios

Too expensive.

Replaced by Divest.

Too narrow.

Fungis are great.

Bane of the Living
Big Game Hunter
Bloodsoaked Champion
Bone Shredder
Cast Down
Chainer’s Edict
Coffin Queen
Collective Brutality
Consuming Vapors
Crypt Angel
Dakmor Lancer
Damnation
Dance of the Dead
Dark Banishing
Dark Hatchling
Demonlord Belzenlok
Despise
Dismember
Divest
Doom Blade
Doomfall
Drana, Liberator of Malakir
Dread Wanderer
Duress
Dusk Legion Zealot
Entomber Exarch
Expunge
Fatal Push
Flesh Carver
Fungal Infection
Ghastly Demise
Go for the Throat
Gonti, Lord of Luxury
Grim Haruspex
Gurmag Angler
Inquisition of Kozilek
Keening Banshee
Kokusho, the Evening Star
Lay Bare the Heart
Lifebane Zombie
Moment of Craving
Murderous Cut
Nekrataal
Never // Return
Noxious Gearhulk
Night’s Whisper
Ophiomancer
Ostracize
Phyrexian Gargantua
Phyrexian Rager
Ravenous Chupacabra
Rend Flesh
Ritual of the Machine
Sever the Bloodline
Shriekmaw
Skeletal Scrying
Skeletal Vampire
Skinrender
Smother
Stir the Sands
Sudden Death
Thoughtseize
Tragic Slip
Transgress the Mind
Unburial Rites
Undying Evil
Unearth
Vampire Nighthawk
Withered Wretch
Wretched Confluence

Red (70)

I really love the red cards from this set. I’ve often complained that red doesn’t have an identity other than haste creatures and burn spells, but there are some nicely designed cards in Dominaria.

New Additions

Obviously, this card is fairly pushed. I didn’t add Rekindling Phoenix for power reasons but I think this card is at least close to being reasonable. For that reason alone I’m going to give it a shot. I like when the coolest cards in the set feel good but not so obviously broken that they feel like Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. It’s one of those situations where I’m between don’t play it, or accept that it is probably just a great card to draw in most situations. I’ll give the Dragon a chance to shine.

So happy about this.

I was sad when I had to cut my Two-Headed Giant of Foriys from my stack because 4R for a 4/4 trample just wasn’t very good by today’s standards. I think the new 2HG is at a nice spot for my stack. Solid.

Bye Bye Bye

Replaced by a more mature Dragon. If Verix is obnoxious I’ll be happy to slide the fledgling back in.

Pyromancer is an obvious Constructed all-star but it’s pretty mild in Danger Room. My stack isn’t full of Serum Visions, Gitaxian Probes, and free counterspells. He’s just not that good in here.

Abbot of Keral Keep
Abrade
Anger
Ahn-Crop Crasher
Arc Lightning
Barbed Lightning
Beetleback Chief
Brute Force
Burst Lightning
Carbonize
Chain Lightning
Collective Defiance
Conquering Manticore
Cunning Sparkmage
Deem Worthy
Desolation Giant
Dire Fleet Daredevil
Disintegrate
Dualcaster Mage
Earthshaker Khenra
Faithless Looting
Feldon of the Third Path
Fiery Confluence
Fire Imp
Fireball
Firebolt
Flames of the Firebrand
Flame Slash
Flametongue Kavu
Forked Bolt
Frenzied Fugue
Goblin Dark-Dwellers
Goblin Trailblazer
Grim Lavamancer
Hordeling Outburst
Hound of Griselbrand
Hungry Flames
Incendiary Flow
Incinerate
Kird Ape
Krenko, Mob Boss
Lightning Bolt
Lightning Strike
Mindclaw Shaman
Pardic Arsonist
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Pia Nalaar
Pillar of Flame
Punishing Fire
Pyroblast
Rampaging Ferocidon
Red Elemental Blast
Resounding Thunder
Roast
Searing Spear
Shock
Shower of Coals
Siege-Gang Commander
Slice and Dice
Starstorm
Smoldering Werewolf
Temur Battle Rage
Thunderbreak Regent
Thunderscape Battlemage
Tribal Flames
Two-Headed Giant
Verix Bladewing
Vulshok Sorcerer
Warfire Javelineer
Zurgo Bellstriker

Green (70)

Only one green card to add:

New Addition

Never fight a Dinosaur.

The card is obviously great. 2GG for a 5/5 with the upside of becoming a Flametongue Kavu. Spoiler alert: I make some concessions to strict power level additions based on really cool flavor.

Goodbye, Norma Jean

It’s a fine card, but something had to go. Tappers are less effective in Danger Room games since they are unlikely to stall because players draw action every turn. He was a good apprentice—never great, but often good.

Ana Battlemage
Arborback Stomper
Autumn’s Veil
Basking Rootwalla
Benefactor’s Draught
Berserk
Blastoderm
Blossoming Defense
Briarhorn
Call of the Herd
Caller of the Claw
Deathmist Raptor
Deathgorge Scavenger
Den Protector
Earl of Squirrel
Elvish Visionary
Eternal Witness
Flinthoof Boar
Forgotten Ancient
Gaea’s Might
Genesis Hydra
Giant Growth
Harmonize
Hooded Hydra
Imperious Perfect
Jungleborn Pioneer
Kessig Prowler
Loaming Shaman
Majestic Myriarch
Manglehorn
Master of the Wild Hunt
Mitotic Slime
Moment’s Peace
Mouth // Feed
Noose Constrictor
Obstinate Baloth
Ohran Viper
Patagia Viper
Pelakka Wurm
Phantom Centaur
Polukranos, World Eater
Predator’s Strike
Qasali Slingers
Rancor
Ranger’s Guile
Reclamation Sage
Regrowth
Resilient Khenra
Ridgescale Tusker
Ripjaw Raptor
River Boa
Scavenging Ooze
Seed Guardian
Skyshroud Elite
Skyshroud War Beast
Somberwald Stag
Spider Spawning
Stingerfling Spider
Sunblade Elf
Tendershoot Dryad
Territorial Allosaurus
Thornscape Battlemage
Thragtusk
Thrashing Brontodon
Vengevine
Wall of Blossoms
Wild Mongrel
Wild Nacatl
Withstand Death
Wolfir Avenger

Multicolor 2-Color Guild Spells

The gold spots are very difficult to find room for. I only have TEN of each 2-color guild and three of each 3-color wedge/shard. With that being said, Dominaria is deep in great gold cards and there are going to be a lot of upgrades!

Azorius (U/W) – (10)

New Addition

What can I say? I like flash creatures and this is a decent one.

Sayonara

Spell Queller is a great card, but not in Battle Box. There is too much removal and players draw action every turn. The card is too unreliable and can’t be counted on.

Absorb
Azorius Guildmage
Cloudblazer
Hindering Light
Ojutai’s Command
Ordered Migration
Raff Capashen, Ship’s Mage
Reflector Mage
Supreme Verdict
Wall of Denial

Boros (R/W) – (10)

No changes.

Basandra, Battle Seraph
Boros Charm
Boros Guildmage
Boros Reckoner
Bull Cerodon
Foundry Champion
Lightning Helix
Sky Terror
Relentless Raptor
Warleader’s Helix

Dimir (U/B) – (10)

No changes.

Baleful Strix
Countersquall
Dragonlord Silumgar
Far // Away
Hostage Taker
Psychatog
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Soul Manipulation
Spite // Malice
Woodlot Crawler

Golgari (B/G) – 10

No changes.

Abrupt Decay
Baloth Null
Consume Strength
Dreg Mangler
Gleancrawler
Golgari Guildmage
Maelstrom Pulse
Obelisk Spider
Pernicious Deed
Putrefy

Gruul (R/G) – 10

New Addition

Neat design. I believe there are enough kicker cards in my stack to make this creature consistently better than a 3/3 trample.

Bon Voyage

Ground Assault is a fine card. But from a flavor perspective I’d prefer not to use my limited gold space on 2-mana removal if I have other good options.

Assault // Battery
Bloodbraid Elf
Dragonlair Spider
Fires of Yavimaya
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Hallar, the Firefletcher
Huntmaster of the Fells
Khenra Charioteer
Raging Regisaur
Wort, the Raidmother

Izzet (U/R) – 10

New Addition

A decent new card. Very similar to Storm Fleet Sprinter. Given how close, I’d rather take the option that adds another historic spell to the stack.

Au Revoir

Storm Fleet Sprinter can take solace in knowing that he or she was beaten out by a true legend of uncommon historic significance.

Adeliz, the Cinder Wind
Counterflux
Dack’s Duplicate
Electrolyze
Etherium-Horn Sorcerer
Fire // Ice
Izzet Charm
Prophetic Prism
Swerve
Turn // Burn

Orzhov (B/W) – 10

No changes.

Blind Hunter
Castigate
Death Grasp
Elenda, The Dusk Rose
Ghost Council of Orzhova
Karlov of the Ghost Council
Mortify
Orzhov Pontiff
Sin Collector
Zealous Persecution

Rakdos (R/B) – 10

New Additions

I absolutely love this card. Easily my favorite addition to the stack. I’ve often felt that B/R and R/G have some of the weaker gold cards and both colors got a nice piece this time around to level out the playing field.

The card has a ton of payoff for being patient and sneaky, and “a ton” is the perfect amount of payoff to receive!

Ciao

Rakdos Charm increases your charisma stat by -3. Just kidding. It’s actually a nice spell in the stack, but adding a gold card often comes with having to cut something that will be missed.

Bituminous Blast
Blightning
Claim // Fame
Cut // Ribbons
Garna, the Bloodflame
Kolaghan’s Command
Murderous Redcap
Olivia, Mobilized for War
Terminate
Unlicensed Disintegration

Selesnya (W/G) – 10

No changes.

Advent of the Wurm
Dromoka’s Command
Elderwood Scion
Enlisted Wurm
Kitchen Finks
Loxodon Hierarch
Loxodon Smiter
Mystic Enforcer
Selesnya Charm
Voice of Resurgence

Simic (U/G) – 10

No changes.

Aether Mutation
Ethereal Ambush
Icefeather Aven
Horizon Chimera
Jungle Barrier
Mystic Snake
Plaxcaster Frogling
River Hoopoe
Shardless Agent
Simic Charm

Multicolor, Shards, Wedges, and 5-Color – 31

Abzan (G/W/B) – 3

Abzan Charm
Anafenza, the Foremost
Doran, the Siege Tower

Bant (W/U/G) – 3

Bant Charm
Rhox War Monk
Rubinia Soulsinger

Esper (U/W/B) – 3

Dromar’s Charm
Punish Ignorance
Trial // Error

Grixis (U/R/B) – 3

Dark Intimations
Gwendlyn Di Corci
Slave of Bolas

Jeskai (U/W/R) – 3

Lightning Angel
Mantis Rider
Sage of the Inward Eye

Jund (R/B/G) – 3

Darigaaz’s Charm
Jund Charm
Sprouting Thrinax

Mardu (B/W/R) – 3

Crackling Doom
Mardu Charm
Ponyback Brigade

Naya (R/W/G) – 3

Fiery Justice
Marath, Will of the Wild
Woolly Thoctar

Sultai (B/U/G) – 3

Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Sultai Charm
The Mimeoplasm

Temur (R/U/G) – 3

Savage Knuckleblade
Temur Ascendancy
Temur Charm

Five-Color – 1

Fusion Elemental

Afterthoughts

I really like Dominaria what it offers for some of the competitive/casual formats like Battle Box.

I was surprised that I didn’t add more cards from the set when it was all said and done: 15 total cards.

If Dominaria had come out a year ago, I probably would have added 35 cards. There were a lot of close calls that just barely didn’t beat out the next best option. I believe that is also just a symptom of the fact that my list is so tight on spaces to add or subtract cards.

I haven’t been this stoked about a new Magic release, since, well ever. One thing is for certain—I have a list of 15 new foils to track down!