Dominaria – Playing to your Weaknesses – White
NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)
As for my rating system, after a lot of feedback I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. The system is as follows:
- 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
- 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective
- 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws.
- 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback.
- 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around.
While the spoilers came incredibly early this season, none of the hype has dissipated for Dominaria. As more and more cards were spoiled, the excitement only intensified and yesterday we were finally able to see the full spoiler. I haven’t really had time to wrap my head around all of the synergies and possible card combinations yet, but looking at the sheer power level of the cards I can honestly say that this is going to be a very exciting limited format. Powerful cards both at common and uncommon will make this format less reliant on opening bomb rares, and I would expect that there will be some epic battles between this set of legends. White gives us quite a few playables, but there is definitely a line between the heavy-hitters and deck fillers.
It seems apt to start off with a trifecta of legends since this set is all about pushing this subtype to the max. We start off with Baird, Steward of Argive. He’s not going to win you any games by himself, but his ability will give you the time to develop your battlefield, especially if your opponent is having mana troubles. He’ll be especially troublesome against token strategies like Saporlings.
Danitha Capashen, Paragon, impresses me to no end. As far as uncommon Legendary creatures go I think she’s one of the more pushed ones. Her abilities alone make her a first pick, but adding in that second ability which lets you cast equipment and auras for 1 less makes her even better. There are quite a few playable auras and some equipment which I’ll talk about later, but for now you can trust me when I say Danitha won’t let you down in combat, defense, or on strategy.
Kwende, Pride of Femeref on the other hand, seems more adept in an aggressive deck. The double strike is nice, but the 2/2 body isn’t that exciting. There are a number of removal spells that will take care of him rather easily, but there are a few spells that make him a great asset for your deck. Many of the knights in white and black have first strike, but one synergy in particular I’m looking at with him is the 1 mana red spell that gives all of your creatures first strike and lets you draw a card. If you’re playing a RW deck and attacking with your team, that little combination of making your guys first strike so it gives them double strike will end quite a few games.
Baird, Steward of Agrive: RATING – 3 Stars
Danitha Capashen, Paragon: RATING – 4 Stars
Kwende, Pride of Femeref: RATING – 3 Stars
Next we have a trio of support cards that should see a lot of play in Dominaria limited. Benalish Honor Guard depends a lot on how many legendary creatures you have in your deck, but I think the set’s concentration is high enough that you can expect it to be a 4/2 for 2 mana in the middle of a game. The Guard’s Knight typing also makes it playable in the “Knights Matter” strategies that take advantage of it, such as cards like Aryel, Knight of Windgrace. It won’t be a high pick, but it’s a good filler.
Knight of Grace is an upgraded White Knight from the old sets, but at the same time it’s not. The old versions of Black and White knight could never block one another because they had protection from one another, but this version is more about protection from black spells only. The hexproof clause probably won’t come into play that often in limited, but getting the +1 bonus to power when your opponent plays a black card and having first strike is enough to sell me on playing it. And just as Honor Guard, the Knight typing helps as well.
Dauntless Bodyguard is the real thing. It acts as a protective spell for your most powerful creature, and also is able to attack on its own. This forces your opponents to waste resources on him rather than your threat, and because he’s a 2/1 for 1 mana playing him early will put some decent pressure on your opponent. I think he’ll go rather highly in draft. One of the best one drops we’ve had in a while. Relevant both early and late game.
Benalish Honor Guard: RATING – 2.5 Stars
Knight of Grace: RATING: 3 Stars
Dauntless Bodyguard: RATING: 3.5 Stars
Serra Angel is good in any limited format if you ask me. You get the most bang for your buck from a 4/4 flyer with vigilance for 5 mana, and if you’re lucky enough to open a Lyra Dawnbringer, she’ll go from beater to bomb. There are quite a few good flyers in white this time, but none are nearly as good as Serra Angel at uncommon. The only flyers better than her are going to be a rare, which you’ll see a lot less. Another high draft pick.
RATING: 4 Stars
I thought it’d be good to look at white’s removal next, which has been rather lacking in recent sets. I’ve always felt like white got the short end of the stick when black got cards like Fatal Push and red got Lightning Strike, but Wizards finally gave white some more decent removal to play with. Seal Away is probably hands down the best defensive removal in white, especially at 2 mana, but needing the opponent to tap their creature means that they’ll be able to play around it. Great against aggressive decks though.
Gideon’s Reproach is slightly better since it’s an attacking or blocking creature and also costs 2 mana, but it won’t be able to stop those really nasty creatures with more than 4 toughness. Still a good instant to have in your removal suite, but not the best removal I think.
Blessed Light is rather steep at 5 mana, but it’s instant, exiles any creature unconditionally, and can also hit enchantments. If I was going to play multiples of a removal spell, it would be Blessed Light. It has a powerful effect and it will be able to deal with a lot threats, especially all of those bomb rares. High draft pick.
Seal Away: RATING – 3 Stars
Gideon’s Reproach: RATING – 3 Stars
Blessed Light: RATING – 3.5 Stars
I almost forgot about Sergeant-at-Arms. He’s a mediocre body that would usually be filler as a 3 mana 2/3, but that kicker ability is pretty darn good. Getting 3 creatures for 6 mana, with one of them being a 2/3, is pretty good value. If it wasn’t for needing 2 white to activate it I’d say it’s a great card to splash, but I think you’ll definitely want to play it in a two color deck instead. Not a high draft pick, but it’s not a card I think would ‘table’, meaning a card that you’ll pass and get back later.
Call the Cavalry is another value card, giving you two creatures for 4 mana, and at 2/2 power each with vigilance nonetheless! It’s a strong role player in Knight decks and should be worth a spot in your 23 card deck.
Sergeant-at-Arms: RATING – 3.5 Stars
Call the Calvary: RATING – 3 Stars
I usually don’t like playing enchantments in my decks, especially auras, but since this one stays around and is effectively 3 buff cards in one, I think it’s playable in this format. You make one of your creatures really big, or make 2 bigger over 2 turns, and then on the third turn you get a sweet attacker that gets evasion and is incredibly hard to block against. You’re getting value out of this card regardless of which step you’re on. Not first pickable but a high pick I think. I wouldn’t feel bad taking this as my 2nd or 3rd pick in a draft, and I might even go as far as to say this is splashable, especially in an aggressive deck. You can even stack these in multiples so you get the effects spread out. Getting 2 of these in your pool might be better than playing auras or equipment.
RATING: 3.5 Stars
Other Cards that Will See Play
- Aven Sentry – Good vanilla flyer with a decent power level. Very playable but nothing special.
- D’Avenant Trapper – Another decent card if you have the historic cards to back it up. Otherwise it’s just a regular filler card in your curve. Great if you can play your historic cards over and over again.
- Excavation Elephant – There aren’t too many artifacts I’d want to bring back from the graveyard, so usually it’d just be a very good blocker. Not a horrible card, but not explosive either.
- Invoke the Divine – With all of the Sagas in this set, I would think it’s important to have some forms of enchantment hate. Invoke is pretty good in those regards.
- Mesa Unicorn – good bear for your curve that has lifelink.
- On Serra’s Wings – A little bit too heavy for my tastes, but quite an aura. Good card to save for later when you have a powerful card with evasion.
- Pegasus Courser – Not bad on the curve I guess, but that 1 power is kind of underwhelming. The ability to give another creature flying is not though. Something to consider when you’re building an aggressive deck.
- Serra Disciple – Again, it could be decent in a dedicated historic deck, but more often than not it will just be a 1/1 flying first strike card.
- Tragic Poet – Depending on how good of Sagas you get in your pool, Tragic Poet could be playable.
Coming Up Next
So at first glance I feel like white has a very respectable power level. They have some good forms of removal, versatile creatures that are pushed but not too strong to unbalance the format, and there is also a wide variety of effects and abilities. I believe that good deck building will reward those players who can take advantage of not only synergies, but also the interactions their cards and abilities have on the battlefield. There is going to be a lot going on in this limited format, and highly skilled players will have the advantage, regardless of if you opened a game winning bomb. We’re looking at one of the most technical limited experiences in years. I wouldn’t be surprised if people rank this as high as KTK or ISD limited in the future.
I’ll be working on blue next, and it should be out on Monday some time, so be sure to check back to read it. If you have any opinions or thoughts on Dominaria so far, specifically the white cards in the format, please feel free to write your comments down below.