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By: Cheater Hater, Vincent Borchardt
Jan 26 2023 10:26am

Well, this is awkward. The compressed timeframe of Dominaria’s preview season, combined with my busy schedule and lack of enthusiasm for finishing the set means I never actually got a Designing Reprint Sets article out for it. I did the archetypes done along with the common creatures for each color, leaving some of the common spells as well as a bunch of random rares left to fill. I’ll leave my design up for reference (as I actually got some surprising things right), but instead I’ll treat this mostly like a traditional Limited review.



White/Blue: Flicker

Invasion and Time Spiral were the first two sets to really focus on blink and gating, so it makes sense that this is an archetype. The strangest part is that beyond Man-o'-War and Sawtooth Loon the targets are weird. On one hand, Floodgate is an effect blue never gets and Peregrine Drake ramps you a lot if you Momentary Blink it (though not as much if you Whitemane Lion it. On the other, you’re mostly getting incremental value, such as gaining life off a Cleric of the Forward Order or resetting a Phantom Flock. Floodgate and Momentary Blink are the key cards here, and it if doesn’t have those I think it could easily fall apart. There’s also the possibility of moving into Black for Cackling Fiend and Faceless Butcher, but I don’t know if the mana would work.


Blue/Black: Control

Here’s a more generic archetype, with tons of card advantage, efficient counterspells, and value-filled creatures like Aven Fisher. There’s also a minor Madness theme with Frantic Search and Undead Gladiator fueling Obsessive Search and Dark Withering. This deck seems fine, but I’m worried it’s let down by the removal a bit—Terror’s downside hurts as most of the big creatures you want to kill are either black (Spiritmonger, Phyrexian Scuta), protect themselves (the blink creatures), or don’t care if they die (Symbiotic Beast, Aven Fisher, something with a Griffin Guide on it), and then Ichor Slick is fine but not outstanding.


Black/Red: Goblins/Zombies

If there was only going to be one tribal theme in Dominaria Remastered, I certainly didn’t think it would be this. I did consider a red Goblins subtheme, but combining it with cards like Goblin Turncoat, Dralnu's Crusade, and Deadapult (a card I didn’t know existed) came out of nowhere. Deadapult in particular is an extremely strong downshift, especially since the whole archetype is built around sacrificing cards like Mogg War Marshal and Festering Goblin. There’s also the simple dream of Subterranean Scouting your Phyrexian Ghoul, then sac-ing a Mogg War Marshal and/or a bunch of Empty the Warrens tokens to it. The problem is that you need these combos for the deck to do anything other than play a bunch of 1/1’s, and they seem easily telegraphed. I think it can definitely work though, and I want to try it.


Red/Green: Cycling

Speaking of obscure cards, did you know there was a green card in the Lightning Rift cycle? Yes, Invigorating Boon is a decent card for Limited, but this deck is still in a strange place. I like what it’s trying to do, with pieces such as a downshifted Terravore to go along with the Urza’s Saga cycling lands and Radha, Heir to Keld’s trigger working perfectly, but the actual spells with cycling leave a lot to be desired. Sure, cards like Solar Blast, Elvish Aberration, and the lands are fine, but are you really going to play Wild Dogs or Break Asunder? I get we don’t want another Ikoria, but adding something like a Barkhide Mauler or Bloated Toad would help. I’m also surprised we didn’t get a Fluctuator reprint—it got new art in Commander 2020 and would be a first-time foil with any art. I just don’t think this deck works.


Green/White: Threshold

We’ve seen a lot of graveyard decks in recent times, but this attempt differs from other recent attempts like Modern Masters’ threshold deck or the delirium decks in Shadows Over Innistrad in a major way: there’s almost no self-mill to help you. There’s Fa'adiyah Seer and a couple uncommons, and that’s it. Instead, you’re supposed to get threshold naturally through cycling cards, Terminal Moraine and Crop Rotation, or just playing spells. Meanwhile, other than Werebear and the Mystic Enforcer downshift, the cards are fairly weak overall. Bad enablers for average cards isn’t a recipe for success.


White/Black: Lifegain/Life Loss

Oof. I’m a Johnny at heart, and I can appreciate trying to make an archetype work with bad, pre-Modern cards. I get the idea of using lifegain to make black’s bad creatures like Wretched Anurid and Flesh Reaver playable. The problem is that Spirit Link and Congregate still aren’t playable, and those creatures aren’t far enough above the curve to waste cards to make them work. The only way I think this deck can work is if it’s hyper-aggro built more around Icatian Javelineers, Savannah Lions, and Spectral Lynx than the lifegain synergies. Still, I don’t think that’s a great deck when the other archetypes go over the top of you.


Blue/Red: Storm

Now this is a spicy deck! Grapeshot and Empty the Warrens are back to define another Limited format (though surprisingly cards like Brain Freeze and Mind's Desire didn’t join them), but instead of red rituals, we have the classic combo of High Tide and free spells like Cloud of Faeries. However, the more surprising combo is the backup plan if you don’t find a storm spell: Horseshoe Crab combined with either Hermetic Study (which directly references the crab now in its flavor text) or Quicksilver Dagger. However, both of these rely on High Tide to really go off, which is an uncommon. Sure, Horseshoe Crab shenanigans are an okay backup plan even without much fast mana, and playing a couple free spells and cantrips into an Empty the Warrens can still win games, but it seems much less explosive in that case. It also might be worth dipping into black for Nightscape Familiar if you don’t find a High Tide, though I don’t know if the mana is good enough. Overall, I could see this deck never doing anything or High Tide and Horseshoe Crab being first picks.


Black/Green: “The Rock” Midrange

We’re back to traditional archetypes, as Golgari has been midrange since Spiritmonger originally broke the creature curve—and now because of power creep, it’s been downshifted to uncommon. There are also a ton of value creatures like Phyrexian Rager and Gamekeeper, along with ways to get them back like Urborg Uprising, Deadwood Treefolk and Death of Life/Death. I think this just has some of the best raw card quality, so it’s a great “day one” deck while people are figuring out the intricacies of decks like Goblins, Storm and Threshold.


Red/White: Auras

I somehow didn’t get any of the tribal archetypes right, but I hit this speculative option almost perfectly, including key things like Tiana, Weatherlight Captain, Mesa Enchantress, and Ridgetop Raptor. However, I’m not sure if this deck functions at all if you don’t get one of the build-arounds like Tiana or Valduk, Keeper of the Flame, mostly because the auras themselves aren’t that good. Undying Rage and Griffin Guide are obviously good enough, Lightning Reflexes is interesting (even if it’s still strange that the cleanup step is being referenced on a common—at least it isn’t Substance anymore), and Pacifism fits as well, but am I supposed to want to play Spirit Link, Sun Clasp, or Improvised Armor? Obviously putting any toughness aura on a Phantom Flock (or any power aura on a Kjeldoran Gargoyle) is good, but still a bit fragile. Adding green is an interesting option as well, as I think Seton's Desire is good enough, and there are other playable enchantments in green as well. I think a lot of the strength in RW might be more in the generic cards: Orim's Thunder seems good in a format with lots of good targets (obviously other Auras decks, but Cycling, Ramp, and Storm have good enchantments too, and then commons Juggernaut and Mind Stone are easy plugins for most decks), and Order/Chaos is a good split card. There’s a deck here, but I think leaning fully on the Aura synergies could lead to disaster.


Green/Blue: Ramp

Conversely, here’s a more obvious archetype I nailed, even before Tatyova, Benthic Druid was confirmed as the signpost. More interestingly, Krosan Restorer is another key card, comboing with both Wild Growth and Squirrel Nest. However, that makes the ramp more fragile, as the only Rampant Growth is uncommon Nature's Lore, and while Wild Growth and Mind Stone aren’t that fragile, both Werebear and Krosan Restorer are. Meanwhile, you have decent payoffs at common with Symbiotic Beast and the Invokers, and Aven Fateshaper and Confiscate at uncommon are good, but surprisingly there aren’t that many over-the-top rares, especially without splashing a Phantom Nishoba or Rith, the Awakener or something (and again, without a Rampant Growth it’s difficult to splash with this version of the ramp deck). When other decks like Storm and Rock can go over-the-top, I’m not sure if this deck does as well as you might expect.


Other Important Cards:

As I just mentioned, there isn’t much fixing in this set overall. Terminal Moraine is the only common, while Crop Rotation and the difficult-to-use Lair cycle aren’t much better at uncommon. Instead, the land space is taken up by Nantuko Monastery and Mishra's Factory, a pair of powerful creature lands. Otherwise, like many recent Masters sets, it’s not completely defined by its archetypes, and instead the cards work together in emergent ways. However, unlike most Masters sets, there are a lot of cards that can’t go in every deck, because they’re highly specialized (the Storm support cards, many of the threshold cards), they aren’t designed for Limited (Elvish Spirit Guide, Damping Sphere, Duress), or they’re just bad (all the random lifegain cards and auras). That will make this deck harder overall.


Design Review:

As you might expect, designing a set full of mostly pre-Modern cards is difficult, but it has interesting choices, especially at the top end. Cycles like the tutors make sense, cards like Force of Will and Urza/Yawgmoth are easy fillers for value, and it’s a nice place to reprint weird but scarce stuff like Nut Collector and Crawlspace. However, it feels like there are more whammies than usual—do we really need another Serra Avatar reprint? As for the sets themselves, it feels weird—the marketing was built around the “27 sets” number, and while picking obvious Dominarian cards from sets like Magic Origins) and (Modern Horizons) makes sense (though I would have picked more Commander set cards), Last Chance is a strange one—Portal never had a plane until now, and yet (confirmed Dominarian set) Portal Second Age’s only representation is Denizen of the Deep. It’s a hard task, but Wizards did a good job.



Overall this is going to be a very interesting take on a Masters set, as we haven’t seen a set this low-powered since Tempest Remastered. When I was designing my take, I was worried about that (especially when combining it with Dominaria), so I’m surprised everything looks like it’ll work. We’ll see how the Limited format works when it launches soon.


However, since the new set train never stops (even if Wizards is signaling that they’re trying to slow it down as much as they reasonably can), Shadows over Innistrad Remastered is coming soon to Arena as well. As I mentioned last time, I’ve had a design done for this for a while, though I want to do some tweaking before I share it. My plan is to put that article up after the Phyrexia: All Will Be One Limited Review, to space my reprint content out a bit. Until then.



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