I’m intrigued by Dominaria in other formats, but for now, I’m focused on Standard.
8) Karn, Scion of Urza
Karn almost didn’t even make the list. That’s not due to power level, but this is Dominaria cards I’m excited about. The card will see play and a lot of it at that. I’m not thrilled for Karn because I believe that I’ve seen this dance before with other card-advantage planeswalkers like Jace Beleren. The key difference here is that its colorless, so everyone is going to try it in every possible shell.
Where I think Karn could break that mold and cause a lot of waves in Standard is in decks that can take advantage of the minus and token generation, like Black/White Tokens. If all you want to do is draw cards, though, consider how many you’ll net consistently. I feel like green decks are going to get the best end of Karn here, with Llanowar Elves to help power it out early and by providing enough other threats that cards like Vraska’s Contempt and Cast Out will be overwhelmed. Meanwhile, red decks still have to battle through the normal G/x threats and don’t have strong enough burn to take Karn down singlehandedly, which is a good sign.
7) Oath of Teferi
I’m actually not a huge fan of this in normal U/W Control, though I’d at least try it. But in Hour of Promise ramp decks, I could see this being a huge threat that allows them to rely purely on planeswalkers to end games. Both Nissas can ultimate the same turn if this is in play, and nearly every other planeswalker has a one-turn window for you to deal with it before it can ultimate. As an enchantment, it’s just going to sit there and generate a lot of incremental advantage for every fresh planeswalker that hits the field.
Build your deck in such a way that you gain so much card and resource advantage that you can either easily mill them out or generate an army of 5/5 lands to kill them.
6) Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering
This card is bonkers and if I were only looking at the payoff, I’d rate it even higher. Destroying a creature or planeswalker and buying back one from the graveyard is a big game. But with all that power, there comes a steep price—you must already have a legend in play. That is not a small ask in a format that has respectable removal and strong proactive decks. And the card isn’t cheap enough to play both on the same turn. But the payoff is very good and that’s without even building specifically to take advantage off of it.
The first place I’d look is as a possible home in a B/W Tokens deck. You can easily slide in cards like Gideon of the Trials or Karn, Scion of Urza, though the normal builds would need to add more legends (Why can’t Profane Procession meet the criteria!?!). Old Mardu decks could easily slide it in as well thanks to Heart of Kiran, Pia Nalaar, and various planeswalkers. You’re probably going to have to work too hard to make it a build-around payoff card, but if it could find a home that already likes having a bunch of legendaries, then this is going to be a solid curve-topper.
5) Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Hey, white-blue finally got an Ob-Nixilis of their own! This is just a genuine value planeswalker that, until now, none of the control decks have had. I suspect that we’ll see more decks based around protecting Teferi and utilizing a reliable card engine, rather than simply trying to make 2-for-1s the basis of a deck. With this, you can afford to commit to fights and not run out of gas.
What makes Teferi more interesting than Karn is that the plus ability gives you the opportunity to protect it while ticking up to 5 loyalty. 5 is a big number because so many of the scary single-card threats in the format are 4 power (Glorybringer, Phoenix, creatures brought back by The Scarab God, etc.). Karn does this as well, but if you dare to tap out you leave it vulnerable to larger board states. With Teferi, you have the option for spot removal or to cycle and making a Drake and so on.
4) Seal Away
You may be noticing a recurring theme of white cards, and that’s because I think have the best immediate homes in Standard. Seal Away is cheap enough and versatile enough to go in any deck that can support the mana cost, but also fills in the weak 2-slot in U/W Control. It also creates the classic game of “how many creatures do you want to lose in combat?” Attack with one, and throw away a turn and your creature to Seal Away. Attack with the team and get Settled out of the game.
This isn’t here for its raw power or utility, but rather that it fills an immediate need in a deck that’s trying to get to the next level. I’d love to be able to play a traditional U/W Control deck for more than a week before it becomes outdated in the Standard meta.
3) History of Benalia
The games with History of Benalia aren’t too far from the ones with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Play it, make a pair of 2/2s, and then anthem to start cracking in with your board. This forces you to do so in a linear fashion, which is obviously a downgrade, but at 1 less mana, which easily makes up for it. Generating a pair of vigilant Grizzly Bears may not sound like much, but in any deck that can take advantage of their numbers such as W/B Vamps or the Mono-White City’s Beatings deck, this card fits right in.
If you want to get more ambitious, take a look at Vehicles and think about how much you really need the red anymore. Between this and the next card, we’re reaching a point where generating an army and crewing isn’t all that difficult anymore.
2) Benalish Marshal
While on the face perhaps the weakest of the triple-color threats, Marshal fits directly into a deck that’s already shown results. Sam Black unleashed an obnoxious city’s blessing beatdown deck not that long ago. Benalish Marshal slots right in by pumping your team and by giving you a good way to crew Vehicles such as Aethersphere Harvester or Heart of Kiran. This card is a slam in any aggro deck generating a wide board and can support the WWW cost. We could see a brief resurgence of W/G and W/U decks with this and History of Benalia as their midgame cornerstones.
1) Llanowar Elves
Predictable, but come on—there’s a reason they took a break from printing 1-mana green accelerators.
You could take the old G/R Monsters deck, cut four cards at random, add four Llanowar Elves, and you almost certainly would have a better deck. It easily takes the spot of Earthshaker Khenra or Merfolk Branchwalker and improves the curve. In G/W, it lets you get to your best token generators that much faster. If mono-green is somehow a thing, then turn-2 Steel Leaf Champion is a huge game!
This also fundamentally tiltsStandard back toward the non-control decks of the format. The Scarab God decks have a very small number of cards that interact with Llanowar Elves on the turns they matter most and cannot even recoup the card later by sweeping the board. If your opponent puts you on the back foot with Llanowar into 3-drop, into 4-drop, and tops it off with a Karn or Chandra you’ll be very far behind.
For a deck like Constrictor, you could even Duress first to see if the coast is clear, play an Elf on turn 2, and then threaten Karn or a larger creature threat, depending on what is more likely to affect the game. The point is that you have a lot of options when you can threaten 4-drops a turn early and the first real sweeper hits on turn 5. You don’t need to even cast huge creatures to take advantage of this—that’s the beauty of mana acceleration. Often your weaker hands can look far more intimidating post-board and buy you free turns of development simply because you threaten that planeswalker or Phoenix.
Dominaria looks great for Standard and this is only touching on the most obvious additions. The Sagas will really need a look, and could become very relevant with even a little bit more help or the right shell. Fall of the Thran nearly made this list, and if it gained a Mind Stone or Pristine-Talisman-style card, it still might be awesome!
What cards are you most excited about seeing for Standard? Sound off in the comments because I’m surprised at the sheer number of different choices just among my friends, let alone the community at large.