The new set is out and that means I’m back with new What’s the Pick articles. I’ve really been enjoying Dominaria Limited. It reminds me of Modern Masters 1, one of my favorite Limited formats of all time. It’s slow, so you have time to create value and see a reasonable amount of your deck, there is a lot of removal that isn’t too situational and takes care of a lot of the problem cards, and there are a lot of synergies to work with. I really need to learn this set quickly with Limited GPs in Dallas, DC and then the Pro Tour, all in the next month or so. So let’s crack some packs.

Pack #1

My Pick

Kwende, Pride of Femeref.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a broken rare and I would call this a weak pack, but this card has consistently overperformed for me and for my opponents. Double strike is a strong ability, and with Jousting Lance giving any of your creatures first strike, as well as Serra Disciple at common, you have the potential to drop it and give the opponent a bad block or deal a lot of damage right away. Also, a lot of the legends-matters cards are  powerful, but getting enough legends can be tough. This isn’t a great first pick but it’s the clear one out of this pack.

Honorable Mention: Ghitu Chronicler.

This card has value town written all over it. There are a lot of important cards to deal with and plenty of good removal. That usually means that you will be able to draw one in most games, but you will not be able to kill everything you want. Buying back your removal is great. Don’t even get me started on Chronicler with Soul Salvage. This card basically has positive synergy in every color combination. In U/R Wizards you prioritize instants and sorceries, and Chronicler is a Wizard. B/R is about grinding with Soul Salvage and infinite removal. R/G is a ramp/kicker deck. Okay, in R/W it doesn’t have positive synergy, and that’s probably where Chronicler is at its worst, but I’m still happy to buy back a removal spell.

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Pack #2

My Pick

Phyrexian Scriptures.

I like this card a lot. The downside of your opponent getting to know it’s happening next turn is easily counteracted by the wrath happening during your draw step, so that you get to add to the board first. This is the type of format where wrath effects are generally at their best. It’s slow with an emphasis on synergy, so you aren’t forced to wrath early and still lose to the follow-up creatures.

Instead, you can often use it for a massive amount of value. You also get to save your best creature by turning it into an artifact, and if you take this card pick 1 you can prioritize artifact creatures a little higher. The only downside is that one of the decks this card is best against is black: B/G Saprolings. I still wouldn’t be afraid to draft Saprolings if I start with Scriptures, but I would try to prioritize the cards from any of the other black archetypes: B/W Historic, B/R Value, and U/B Control, because it is much better in those three than it is in B/G Saprolings.

Honorable Mention: Llanowar Elves.

Ramping is fantastic in this format. You often play plenty of card draw and expensive spells, and many cards have kicker. There are also other ways to get value out of a random body, from Equipment to many of the Sagas. I consider Llanowar Elf to be the best green common (unless I’m already in Saprolings).

It’s not what I’m looking to first pick, but you can do worse. If you aren’t as big on the little green mana producer as I am, then you could consider Tetsuko out of this pack. Legends matter for a lot of decks, and multiple unblockable creatures can easily win you a game. Still, a lot of blue decks aren’t very aggressive and while Tetsuko will still be fine, it won’t really shine in a control deck. Llanowar Elf is great in every green deck so it’s my pick.

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Pack #3

My Pick

The Mending of Dominaria.

This card provides so much value. Originally, I thought this card would be a little slow and the lands wouldn’t do much, but that’s not how it plays out. You can really use a lot of mana to play some game-winning kicked spells. A lot of the best cards are creatures, and Mending of Dominaria digs four cards closer to finding it, or can provide necessary recursion if your opponent is able to deal with your key card or win conditions. I wouldn’t say this is one of the best rares in the set, but I’m happy to first pick it and it is much better than it would be in a lot of faster, more aggressive formats.

Honorable Mention: Arvad the Cursed.

B/W is about legends and historic. You have multiple commons that rely on them. Serra Disciple, D’Avenant Trapper, and Cabal Paladin are all fine cards that I will play virtually any number of in most black-white decks. That said, it’s not always easy to get a lot of legendary creatures. I have found it hard to consistently turn on some of the legendary sorceries, though they are often worth the risk due to the massive payoffs. Arvad isn’t like the legendary sorceries at all, though. A 3/3 lifelink, deathtouch for 5 is perfectly fine. If it gives +2/+2 to one legend you already have in play, then it’s a great card. By no means is this card amazing and I don’t consider it a great second pick. But it’s a good card with a loving home in a good B/W archetype that wants to prioritize legendary creatures.

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Pack #4

My Pick

Adeliz, the Cinder Wind.

Tough-to-splash gold cards need to be quite good if you’re going to take them over efficient removal, and Adeliz is well over that line. I like my U/R decks in this format to be heavy on Wizards and heavy on spells. Adeliz is incredible. Poke them for 2 with it, or play it and play some cheap cantrips and build an Overrun. Effects like this shine in a slow format. When you make the original body itself a good card then throw on an incredibly powerful tribal pump effect, this card just becomes an easy windmill slam.

Honorable Mention: Wizard’s Lightning.

While you can’t play this turn 1, this card will often cost 1 mana. That makes it a positive tempo play on turn 4/5 when you kill their 3- or 4-drop for 1 mana. 3 points to the player is also relevant reach, especially when you start to consider the ability to buy it back from your graveyard or copy it. Efficient removal/reach will be good in every Limited format, and Dominaria is no exception. U/R Wizards is clearly where this card is best, but I consider it a first pickable cards for any red deck.

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Pack #5

My Pick

Tatyova, Benthic Druid.

I have no idea why this card is uncommon. It should be a mythic rare. Play it, then play a land and get your card back. If they kill it, you are up a card. If they can’t kill it, you win the game. I love Dominaria and think R&D did a fantastic job with it, but in every set there is some card I deem the mythic uncommon of the set—that just seems like a giant mistake. This card ruins a lot of games and if you open it you should take it.

Honorable Mention: Blessed Light.

This format is slow and it’s easy to splash. There are very good creatures and Sagas flying around that need to be dealt with. All color preferences aside, I think Blessed Light may be the best common in the set. A single white to cast and instant speed make this card powerful and flexible.

I do like the rare Rite of Belzenlok, but tokens are often bounced and you don’t get the 6/6 flyer for a couple of turns. It’s a nice card that I’m happy to first pick, but I really love Blessed Light and the fact that it’s so easy to splash really makes it a clear pick to me over Rite to start a Draft.

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I plan to play a lot of Dominaria from now through the Pro Tour, so as always, don’t be shy with your feedback. I wrote this after doing about 10 Drafts, so there is still plenty to learn and discover. So far, my experience has been that this format is all about synergy and removal. It’s slow, so flying aggression works, but trying to attack on the ground is tough. I’ll be at GP Dallas this weekend and I’m playing the bounty Friday night. If anyone wants to chat about the Sealed format a little, feel free to come find me during the bounty. Or better yet, enter and bring me your deck to look at! I’ll be happy to check out some Sealed builds. Happy drafting!