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By: TheWolf, Shane Garvey
May 24 2018 12:00pm
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It has now been a month since the release of Dominaria, and I have been playing it a lot, much more than any format since triple Kaladesh. I thought now would be a good time to go over what I have discovered about the format, and offer you some useful advice for playing limited. But first...

Last Week's Draft

Last week, I explained how I had been in a bit of a slump with draft with some pretty poor records, and asked you to go over a draft I did and see if you would have done anything differently.

I actually ended up going 3-0 with this deck somehow. The deck was bad, and I put it down to luck more than skill; my first round opponent had mana issues and my second round opponent misplayed in game three, costing themselves the match. My round three opponent was the only match where I felt we had a real contest going on, and I managed to get over the line in some tight games. The deck didn't deserve to 3-0, but I have also drafted decks that probably did deserve to, so I'll take it.

Let's get on to the meat of the article: Dominaria Thoughts & Impressions.

 

The Most Important Thing: Is The Format Fun?

The answer is: hell yes! I have had much more fun with this format than any since triple Kaladesh and have been absolutely loving it. At this stage of the most recent sets, I had already moved on from playing limited as the formats weren't holding my interest; Dominaria, on the other hand, I am still going strong with and show no signs of slowing down. My win percentage is not as high as it has been in other sets recently (currently 56%, normally 60-65%) and even then I am loving it. I highly recommend giving it a try if you haven't already. 

How Do the Colours Stack Up?

I think there is some pretty good balance throughout the colours, with the exception being red. Red is fairly shallow at common (meaning that there are not a lot of great red commons to choose from). This makes it the weakest colour, though it is not unplayable; you just have to hope red is open to make it work for you.

In my opinion, the best colours are blue, black, white, green and red in that order (though all but red are close), and the best commons from each colour are:

White: Gideon's Reproach, Blessed Light, Pegasus Courser

Blue: Cloudreader Sphinx, Academy Journeymage, Deep Freeze

Black: Eviscerate, Vicious Offering, Fungal Infection

Red: Ghitu Chronicler, Shivan Fire, Fiery Intervention

Green: Llanowar Elves, Baloth Gorger, Grow from the Ashes

Artifacts: Skittering Surveyor, Jousting Lance, Aesthir Glider

 

The Colour Pairs

Here, I will go through the ten different colour pairs to see how they have performed for and against me, and give you my impressions on each of those. I am going to list some of the important cards you should look for as well (I will not include the best commons of each colour, as they should be any any deck of those colours, in my opinion). 

White/Blue

This colour pair is almost a classic flyers deck, though it has a twist: historic matters. The deck has a few ways to leverage the historic rule, though that is not what the deck really cares about; it's just added value if you happen to pick it up. When drafting this colour pair, draft it as a normal white/blue flyers deck but look out for incidental value from historic.

This archetype has performed quite well so far, and I'd have it currently sitting as probably the third best archetype in the format. When you get a good version of it is extremely strong; if you can get a copy of Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage then all of your artifacts, sagas and legends suddenly become instant speed and your opponent will have no idea what to play around. 

Important Commons: Aven Sentry, D'Avenant Trapper, Academy Drake

Important Uncommons: On Serra's Wings, Serra Angel, Time of Ice

 

Blue/Black

Whilst Rona, Disciple of Gix mentions historic, the deck is not really about that. This is a control deck that looks to go into the late game (where Rona shines) and win through card advantage and hard to deal with threats. Picking up as many removal spells as you can is important for this deck to succeed; without them, you will not have a good time. Controlling the board is your role in the early game, then when the opponent is out of resources, you take over.

I've played a little with this deck and found it strong, but have not really had it played against me. I'd put it in the mid-tier of decks.

Important Commons: Cold-Water Snapper, Divination, Caligo Skin-Witch, Windgrace Acolyte

Important Uncommons: Icy Manipulator, In Bolas's Clutches, Cast Down, The Eldest Reborn, Settle the Score

 

Black/Red

This colour pair is supposed to be about sacrificing creatures for value then getting them back to do it again. However, the pay offs for this are not fantastic, and it often doesn't come together; most of the important cards for it are in black and are also wanted by other decks. I have played against good versions of this deck and they have beaten me, but when I see this colour pair on the other side of the battlefield I'm normally pretty confident in my ability to win, as more often that not it just doesn't work. I think this is likely one of the weaker colour pairs in the format.

Important Commons: Deathbloom Thallid, Soul Salvage, Thallid Omnivore, Keldon Raider

Important Uncommons: Memorial to Folly, Lingering Phantom, Thallid Soothsayer

 

Red/Green

Red/Green is supposed to be about kicker, but like the white/blue deck where historic is incidental value, the same is true here. These colours instead play out like they normally do, as a beatdown deck. Using cards like Llanowar Elves to ramp into Baloth Gorger and other efficiently stated creatures puts your opponent on the back foot immediately and forces them to answer you or lose.

Interestingly, I have this as one of the better decks in the format, though it still doesn't crack the top 3. I feel this deck has flown under the radar a bit, and I have good success with it and a poor record against it. Keep an eye on this one if you haven't drafted it yet.

Important Commons: Bloodstone Goblin, Rampaging Cyclops, Ancient Animus, Pardic Wanderer

Important Uncommons: Fight with Fire, Skizzik, Elfhame Druid, Grunn, the Lonely King, Thorn Elemental

 

Green/White

As shown by Shanna, Sisay's Legacy, this archetype is about having a lot of creatures. The upside of this is that there are a lot of token makers in the set, meaning it is quite easy to flood the board. The downside is, the payoff is not great beyond a couple of cards, both of which are at rare: Benalish Marshall and Shalai, Voice of Plenty. Unfortunately, this makes this strategy weak and unreliable.

Having said that, I have made the deck work when I have had the payoffs, and lost when I haven't. I have also beaten this deck a lot in my matches so far, making me put this deck in the lower-tiers.

Important Commons: Call the Cavalry, Charge, Sergeant-at-Arms, Saproling Migration, Yavimaya Sapherd

Important Uncommons: Song of Freyalise, Spore Swarm

 

White/Black

Based on Arvad the Cursed, you would think this deck is about legendary creatures. It doesn't really play out like that, though, instead being more of a pile of good cards. I have found it to be one of the easiest decks to actually get into: white and black have the best removal, so you often find yourself taking those cards early if you see them. What then tends to happen is you pick up some solid creatures in those two colours, slap them together and you have yourself a deck.

While that doesn't sound exciting, the colour pair often ends up performing quite well, and I know of some people who rate it quite highly. Personally, I don't have it as high as others, but it is strong and you will certainly win a lot of matches with it.

Important Cards: Honestly, take a look at the commons list above. Then pick some solid creatures to go with it and you'll be fine.

 

Blue/Red

Blue/red is Wizard tribal, pure and simple. Adeliz, the Cinder Wind is one of the most important cards you can have in your deck for this colour pair; without her, you are playing a bunch of mediocre cards that won't often do much. Adeliz is the glue that holds the deck together, and you need to pick her highly (probably around third or fourth pick) in order to move in on it. Then you simply pick a bunch of Wizards (and as many Ghitu Chroniclers and Academy Journeymages as you can) and spells and make a deck.

Listening to most people, this colour pair is the best deck in the format. I have it as second best; good versions of this deck are unstoppable, but because of the popularity of it, you sometimes get people fighting over it and both end up with bad versions of it. On the plus side, if you identify that this deck is open, you will usually get a good version as you will be taking cards others don't really want. 

Important Commons: Divination, Tolarian Scholar, Vodalian Arcanist, Ghitu Journeymage

Important Uncommons: Fight with Fire, Firefist Adept, Wizard's Lightning

 

Black/Green

There are almost two versions of this deck, though they share similar cards and both are grindy and value oriented. The first version is based around Saprolings, Thallids and they syngery with Slimefoot, the Stowaway and Fungal Plots, while the second version still uses similar cards but leans less on the synergy and more on cards like Caligo Skin-Witch and Krosan Druid to get you to the long game before winning with a big flyer or ground creature. This deck also often splashes, most usually blue.

This is my pick for best deck in the format. I have had more success with both versions of this deck than any other, and have also had difficulty against it. 

Important Commons: Deathbloom Thallid, Thallid Omnivore, Saproling Migration, (Yavimaya Sapherd)

Important Uncommons: Thallid Soothsayer, Whisper, Blood Liturgist, Fungal Plots, Sporecrown Thallid, Spore Swarm, Wild Onslaught

 

Red/White

Aggressive, auras, and equipment - these are the keywords for this colour pair. Grab some creatures - preferably ones that give you extra bonuses for having something attached to them - and go nuts. Unfortunately, this is another one of those colour pairs where it doesn't quite come together in my experience, mostly because the pay offs are almost all at uncommon. If you do manage to get them, the deck can do good work, but you can't rely on the commons for it.

There is another thing you can do in this colour pair that is also worth talking about. If you pick up a Kwende, Pride of Femeref, there are a lot of ways to give creatures first strike: Jousting Lance, Triumph of Gerrard, Fervent Strike, Warlord's Fury and Dub can all work well with Kwende. Just keep it in mind.

Important Commons: Frenzied Rage, Dub, Short Sword

Important Uncommons: Champion of the Flame, Valduk, Keeper of the Flame, Danitha Capashen, Paragon, On Serra's Wings, Kwende, Pride of Femeref

 

Green/Blue

Our final colour pair is actually a colour I can't talk too much about, as I have neither played with it, or played against it. I have only second hand accounts of it, and those accounts say the deck works and is good. But I don't want to give too much of an opinion at this stage.

 

Ranking the Colour Pairs

Here is my overall ranking of the colour pairs. Remember this is just my opinion; I'd love to hear yours in the comments below.

  1. Black/green
  2. Blue/red
  3. White/blue
  4. White/black
  5. Red/green
  6. Blue/black
  7. Red/white
  8. Black/red
  9. Green/white

I'm leaving green/blue off the list at the moment for the reasons listed above.

That's it for this week. See you next time!