Dominaria United Review, Part 3 of 4: The Monocolor Cards

Magic’s newest expansion has us journeying to what many consider the home of Magic, Dominaria, to see familiar faces and pick up old plot threads. A new set means new cards to examine, and in this article we’ll talk about the monocolor ones, what they mean for the game, and how they’ll play.

Last time we covered the multicolor cards, and this time as usual we won’t be looking at everything, and we’ll be doing this mostly with an eye for Commander play.




Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Serra Paragon

BPhillipYork: The ability to cast a permanent or play a land from your yard is pretty powerful. Lurrus is a worthy commander and interesting to build around. There’s 3 particularly abuseable permanents that can be cast here – Animate Dead, Dance of the Dead and Necromancy. This is definitely worth considering for your Orzhov and Orzhov + decks. Unfortunately it has an exile rider, so some of the really abusive repeat recursions, such as just reanimating and sacrificing Gray Merchant of Asphodel are harder. But I think there’s a place for this angel in certain decks. The ability to use cracklands an extra time is also not to be sneezed at.

FromTheShire: Nice piece for recursion and getting an extra crack of each of your fetch lands in white.


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Urza Assembles the Titans

BPhillipYork: This is a pretty high mana value, but the ability to read ahead and skip right to chapter 3 can let you set up a combo, such as activating Estrid to drop a Mask token and then activate her again to untap what you just masked. So for those kinds of edge cases this might be playable as a combo piece. For weird saga reanimator decks it’s also fun.

FromTheShire: Love the callback to when Urza decided to get together 8 of his planeswalking buddies and play Mechwarrior to punch Phyrexia itself right in the mouth. The card itself is pretty useful for superfriends decks as well.


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Anointed Peacekeeper

BPhillipYork: This could be a way for stax decks to shut down commanders. Anje Falkenrath can’t go through the deck if it costs 2 mana every time to activate the discard ability. Thrasios, Triton Hero is gonna have a real hard time generating mad value if his abilities cost 6 to use.

FromTheShire: Mainly you’re looking for the activated ability, paying 2 more to cast something is annoying but usually not a big deal in a big mana format like Commander. Being a Human, I like this in other formats.


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Temporary Lockdown

BPhillipYork: This has some crazy potential to lock out a ton of decks. 3 Mana is not that much to get an effect like this onto the board, this will absolutely punish cEDH and high-power decks.

FromTheShire: I’m less on board for this in Commander, but this is going to be an all star in Modern, Pioneer, and Standard.


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Danitha, Benalia’s Hope

FromTheShire: I would like her even more if she also triggered on attack, but she has a very solid set of abilities, and getting a free piece attached to her from either your hand or graveyard is solid value.


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Defiler of Faith

BPhillipYork: Cost reduction is an inherent part of combo creation. Linking permanent casting to creating a creature is inherently a dangerous ability you can build around. Combine this with Cloudstone Curio and Cathedral Sanctifier you have infinite life and infinite storm count and infinite soldiers.

FromTheShire: I for one welcome the return of famously fair and balanced Phyrexian mana. Your life is a resource, use it.


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Samite Herbalist

BPhillipYork: Kind of neat to see a callback to Samite Healer, this tap ability works well with Enlist.


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Benalish Sleeper

BPhillipYork: Making everyone sacrifice a creature is always powerful, and there are a lot of these now.

FromTheShire: Redundant options are never bad to have.


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Leyline Binding

FromTheShire: The new hotness in Modern, this is extremely powerful when you can cast it for 2 on turn 2 with Triomes and for 1 after that, plus it fits perfectly into cascade decks to allow you to have removal that doesn’t get cascaded in to when you’re trying to go off.


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Valiant Veteran

FromTheShire: Going to be the least used of the cycle of Lords, but I’ve got an anthem heavy Soldier deck that is very happy to have it.




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Vesuvan Duplimancy

FromTheShire: This can spin out of control quickly, especially since the copies are non-legendary. Load up on Auras, cheap instants that cantrip, and token doublers, and go to town.


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Academy Loremaster

BPhillipYork:  This is a weird semi-stax effect, and for a deck that just wants to cast on other players turn it’s an interesting twist. Giving away card draw is always dangerous though, this will often tap pretty well into people’s natural greed.

FromTheShire: Kind of neat, but I would much rather have any of the many sources of card draw that can’t benefit the table, and can’t slow me down.


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Aether Channeler

BPhillipYork: I like this card, it has potential to help a deck like Brago, get rolling when it’s having issues, and it’s also toolbox-y. Decks which care about ETB and flicker effects can leverage its flexibility.

FromTheShire: Decent value piece for flicker decks.


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Vodalian Hexcatcher

BPhillipYork: This is a really really strong “lord” flash that gives +1/+1 and lets you sacrifice merfolk for no mana to counter spells is pretty boss.

FromTheShire: It says a lot about where the game is these days that we’re getting a whole bunch of 2 drop Lords which also have extra effects. Hexcatcher in particular is likely to see a bunch of play since Merfolk is already a real deck in Modern, and having multiple copies of Force Spike for noncreatures just sitting out is excellent.


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Haughty Djinn

BPhillipYork: Cost reduction is always good, an X/4 flyer that also gets stronger for playing instants and sorceries is nothing to sneer at.

FromTheShire: Cheap cost reducer that turns into an evasive beater, what’s not to like?


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Vodalian Mindsinger

BPhillipYork: Strange but neat card, grabbing utility creatures, interesting tri-color identity.

FromTheShire: I’m digging the return to these Apocalypse style kicker cards. Cetavolver isn’t exactly setting the world on fire these days, but there’s some neat effects, and the nostalgia is real.


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Defiler of Dreams

BPhillipYork: Yeah gee cost reduction and card draw. I’m shocked that the blue one of this cycle is arguably the strongest. Draw your deck with Shrieking Drake. Win via Aetherflux Reservoir. Sometimes Blue is like paint by numbers.

FromTheShire: Extremely powerful. At least they attenuated it slightly by making it so only permanent spells draw cards but still.


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The Phasing of Zhalfir

BPhillipYork: This costs 4, but it can tuck a commander for a really long time in commander terms.

FromTheShire: I don’t love the color pie here, but mono blue decks getting access to a 4 drop wrath when they need one is unequivocally good. The harassment factor is solid as well.


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Djinn of the Fountain

BPhillipYork: Scry 1 whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell is boss. Exiling the Djinn is also interesting.


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Founding the Third Path

BPhillipYork: Reading ahead to recast an instant or sorcery spell from your yard is pretty strong. The obvious candidate here is Tainted Pact – pact for your oracle, then recast it to win from your yard. But there’s any number of other strong instants or sorceries to use it to recast.

FromTheShire: It’s fine, I really dig the Third Path getting more love though. With how strongly things were polarized during the Brothers War, it’s worth remembering that a great number of people saw another more reasoned way forward.


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BPhillipYork: Probably not living up to the hype, but you can grab Demonic Consultation with this.


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Sphinx of Clear Skies

FromTheShire: Getting a Fact or Fiction every time you deal damage in your Domain deck is a pretty solid pay off, plus Fact piles are just plain fun to do.




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Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

BPhillipYork: There’s a lot of potential for this card as a stax type piece. A lot of strong decks draw a lot, getting punished each time you draw is powerful. As a commander I’m not sure this can go the distance that effectively, Nekusar, the Mindrazer is similar with a lot more flexibility and only 1 more CMV. It also turns cards like Greed into B: Draw a card. Which is pretty dangerous.

FromTheShire: Absolutely one of my favorite cards in the set. Incidental lifegain is very powerful, especially in black where you can turn around and use it for more card draw, and dinging the table for each card they draw adds up surprisingly quickly, especially if there are wheel effects like Dark Deal in the mix.


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Defiler of Flesh

BPhillipYork: Still strong, but one of the weaker of these effects, but also can combo effectively in black with cards like Gravecrawler as a source of mana to repetitively cast it without needing to be sacrificing it to an altar for mana.

FromTheShire: Mostly here for the cost reduction, menace is nice but not enough to be worth a slot on its own.


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Braids, Arisen Nightmare

BPhillipYork: Yeah this is pretty aptly named. Forcing to sacrifice or discard is boss, and there are so many dangerous token creators now.

FromTheShire: Good to see Braids back and making everyone sad again. Powerful ability to control the board as well as draw yourself cards to replace the ones you sacrifice.


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The Raven Man

BPhillipYork: Neat but pricy, but the trigger could be a piece to put something nasty together.

FromTheShire: Goes in a pretty specific deck, and even then I’m not positive the token production is enough. Extremely cool to see the Raven Man get his own card after all this time, and I’m going to have to read the story of this set to see what’s up with him for sure.


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Stronghold Arena

 BPhillipYork: As normally a blue effect this is powerful, especially at 2 mana value. The paying life for the draw is very appropriate and on brand, a powerful but well balanced card I’d say, that scales up in power for high-power decks as CMVs tend to go down.

FromTheShire: This seems more like a classic Bob (Dark Confidant) than a blue effect to me, very powerful nonetheless. Bob himself isn’t really cut out for commander, but getting it on combat damage and being a may boosts this a good bit.


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Cult Conscript

BPhillipYork: Well this sort of ability is always powerful. I like the balance aspect of this one, needing a non-skeleton to get this going.


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Cut Down

BPhillipYork: In my opinion this is pretty strong, it will kill almost all “good” commanders for 1 mana, which is really strong.

FromTheShire: Hard pass for me, total power and toughness 5 is a pretty small subset of creatures.


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Phyrexian Vivisector

BPhillipYork: Black often does sacrifice loops, the ability to get card selection on top of that is really, really nice.

FromTheShire: Additional copies of Viscera Seer are great, though this one doesn’t come with a built in sac outlet which is a noticeable downgrade.


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Shadow-Rite Priest

FromTheShire: Nice lord for Cleric decks, and the sacrifice is great since a lot of Cleric decks also have big nasty Demons lurking in the shadows as well.




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Defiler of Instinct

BPhillipYork: Yeah this one is fairly scary. The whole cycle is power, but this one gives you enormous control possibilities on top of recursion.

FromTheShire: Incidental burn on top of your cost reducer is solid, and this lets you ping off all kinds of pesky utility creatures and the odd planeswalker.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Rundvelt Hordemaster

BPhillipYork: Another strong lord, and fairly abusable with cards like Skirk Prospector and Goblin Recruiter. I can only imagine there’s a stack you can put together there that wins the game.

FromTheShire: Unlike some other tribes, Goblin lords have always cost at least 3, so getting a 2 drop one is a massive game changer for one of my favorite tribes. Plus it comes with built in card advantage to boot to help offset the damage of dumping your entire hand right into a sweeper, and I am IN LOVE. Across the board, it powers up things you were already doing, and I expect it to see play in not just Modern but Legacy lists as well.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Keldon Flamesage

BPhillipYork:  This is a solid card, generating a lot of potential value, especially if your deck is full of extra combat spells or something else mission-critical like that. This is one of the better uses of Enlist in my opinion. At 3 mana value this is really a solid card, and enlist is pretty nice in commander since you frequently have utility creatures or commander lying around you wouldn’t mind enlisting.

FromTheShire: Normally this kind of effect on a smaller creature is pretty underwhelming since frequently it doesn’t hit big enough spells and the creature immediately dies, but Enlist at least gives you a much better shot at actually getting a solid hit, and maybe even surviving to do it again.


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Squee, Dubious Monarch

BPhillipYork: Not really as exciting as other Squee’s in my opinion, I mean totally fine for a goblin token commander but without the pop of Krenko, and weird un-keyworded escape.

FromTheShire: The card itself is kind of fine at best, but god I love getting more versions of Squee.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Temporal Firestorm

BPhillipYork: This is a rarity in board damage wipes that it also hits Planeswalkers, which is pretty nice.

FromTheShire: 5 isn’t bad, but there’s a reason most damage based board wipes that aren’t Blasphemous Act don’t get played. 


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Electrostatic Infantry

BPhillipYork: Permanent +1/+1 counters for casting instants or sorceries is potentially really dangerous.

FromTheShire: I like it more in other formats, in Commander you have to do a lot of work to get this into Danger Zone territory.


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Sprouting Goblin  

BPhillipYork: Nice for land recursion decks, seems really solid for that new Hazezon, lets you burn off excess land if needed or play games with things like Gerrard.


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Hurler Cyclops 

BPhillipYork: Nice for hurling stuff but there are generally better or cheaper ways to do it.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast


BPhillipYork: This kind of spell copying is dangerous because you can cast it and if nobody counters it it lets you automatically copy a powerful spell other players might want to counter.

FromTheShire: Two solid modes, depending on your deck.


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Phoenix Chick

BPhillipYork: I like this Phoenix, it’s fun.

FromTheShire: As Phoenixes go this isn’t bad, and in non-Commander formats a decent piece of aggression as a hasty flyer.


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Smash to Dust

BPhillipYork: Potentially modes 1 and 2 are flexible enough to make this playable, but I think the fact that it’s sorcery speed just makes it not responsive enough.


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Yavimaya Steelcrusher

BPhillipYork: Solid sacrifice ability on a creature.

FromTheShire: The ability is nice, just wish it was on a more relevant creature type.




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Silverback Elder

BPhillipYork: Having triggers on creature casting is pretty nice for green, and not that common. This is a pretty solid trigger, and 5/7 is a lot of beef for 5 mana.

FromTheShire: Having an Aura Shards that triggers on the cast is worth it already on this body, and being able to pivot to ramping you or incidental lifegain is great.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Leaf-Crowned Visionary

BPhillipYork: Super pushed lord. +1/+1 and drawing off elf spells is pretty nuts in aggro and tribal decks.

FromTheShire: Great piece for Elves, who have plenty of mana to turn their creatures into more and more cards.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Defiler of Vigor

BPhillipYork: +1/+1 on each creature you control whenever you cast a green permanent is pretty nuts given how many draw on cast or enter creature spells green has combined with so much mana production. Making that process cheaper combined making your creature bigger is stronk.

FromTheShire: It’s nice that this gives counters, so when this gets killed your vast swarm of tokens doesn’t lose their buff. Definitely strong.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Tail Swipe

BPhillipYork: A 1-cost instant speed fight is really strong, and with an extra payoff in your turn is really nice.

FromTheShire: Nice instant speed removal in green.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Tear Asunder

BPhillipYork: Green/Black having instant speed exile target artifact enchantment with kicker to get exile target nonland permanent is very on brand; this is a strong single control card that can get a bit expensive. It’s not on par with Assassin’s Trophy or Abrupt Decay, but those cards are insanely pushed.

FromTheShire: Exiling not just destroying is excellent.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Colossal Growth

BPhillipYork: This is really strong for one-punch type decks and decks that just have to get through, the ability to add on haste and trample for Gruul is really solid.

FromTheShire: Depending on the deck I could see it for Voltron decks.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Briar Hydra

FromTheShire: Synergizes well with other Hydras, like Kalonian Hydra in particular.


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The World Spell

FromTheShire: This is kind of eh for Commander for me, but I absolutely love the callback.


Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Threats Undetected

FromTheShire: We have a couple versions of this and it’s solid. Getting the third and fourth best creatures out of your deck into your hand for 3 mana is worth it to me.


Next Time: Colorless and Lands

That wraps up our look at the set’s monocolored cards. Join us next time as we review the set’s colorless and land cards, picking out our favorites, and talking about the future build-arounds. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at