Dominaria: Playing To Your Weaknesses – Blue
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.
Blue is usually full of counter and tempo spells, and there will be no shortage of those in Dominaria. One thing blue usually doesn’t get it strong monsters. In the past we’ve gotten cards like Leviathan or Polar Kraken, but those cards were hampered so much to ever be useful. Dominaria brings us quite a few good creatures this time around which is a surprise, but there are also some disappointments I think. Control might be possible in limited with blue cards, especially UR Wizards, but it will depend largely on which blue cards you end up getting. Let’s take a look at what I think will be played in Dominaria limited.
I want to start off today with a card that awakens the Timmy in me. Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep is a throw back to those huge blue creatures in the past like Deep Spawn and Island Fish Jasconius, but with Slinn Voda you actually get a sweet effect if you pay the kicker cost. You either get a vanilla 8/8 finisher for 8 mana, or a 10 mana 8/8 finisher with pseudo Evacuation attached to it. It’s too bad that there aren’t any many other cards other than a few merfolk in Dominaria that can really take advantage of it in limited, but I would still think it’s playable. If I opened it in my pool, there’s a very good chance I’d play it, but don’t even think of splashing for it. The double cost in the CMC and the extra blue in the kicker make that impossible.
RATING: 3 Stars
The only two merfolk that you somewhat have a chance of playing alongside Slinn Voda are Sentinel of the Pearl Trident and Merfolk Trickster. Although Sentinel is 5 mana, it has a rather interesting action with Saga’s. Being able to reset a Gerrard’s Triumph to give your creatures more +1/+1 counters or locking down even more creatures with Time of Ice is a neat effect. It can also save one of your legendary creatures from being destroyed. It will probably have more value in draft where you’re able to have slightly more control of how many sagas you can get your hands on, but I wouldn’t be against playing him in my sealed if I had 2-3 targets for it.
Merfolk Trickster will save you from Danitha Capashen, Paragon’s life link and first strike, but she’ll still be a 2/2 afterwards. The Trickster has a slightly weaker Snakeform type effect on it, but having flash and only costing 2 mana weigh heavily in its favor. It’s a good combat trick and will probably end up being an limited star. I think it will see lots of play both on offense and defense, and is a good tempo play at the end of a turn as well.
Sentinel of the Pearl Trident: RATING – 3 Stars
Merfolk Trickster: RATING – 3.5 Stars
Blue usually has good flyers, but I’m a little disappointed with DOM’s offerings. Artificer’s Assistant is one of the neatest (and cutest) ones, but getting any value from him is going to come from how many historic spells you’re playing. It could probably be really good in draft, but will most likely be ‘blah’ in sealed, only activating a few times.
Academy Drake is basically a Winged Drake but with more upside when you look at its kicker. Alright on curve, but nice as a 4/4 flyer that can block cards like Serra Angel later in the game. I think white probably wins the battle in the air between creatures, but blue has some nifty abilities like Cloudreader Sphinx’s scry 2. It’s nothing special but if you have enough flyers you should be able to go over your enemies no problem. Blue will be a good support color, but it’s looking like it will be difficult to win on its own.
Artificer’s Assistant: RATING- 2.5 stars
Academy Drake: RATING – 2.5 stars
Cloudreader Sphinx: RATING – 3 stars
Both Academy Journeymage and Homarid Explorer have enter the battlefield abilities, but the Journeymage’s is by far the better one. For starters, if you’re playing a UR Wizards deck you can cast him for 4 mana, which is highly possible in draft. His tempo ability of bouncing a creature back to an owner’s hand is also playable in limited. This is especially good against all of those playable auras and Saga effects. Is it a high draft pick? No. But it should probably be one of your 23 cards.
Homarid Explorer is a slightly better vanilla card with a mill 4 effect slapped onto him. Not a great effect in limited, but in games with only 40 cards in your deck (33 if you count the starting hand), milling could end up becoming a strategy. There are effects to blink it, as well as a few other cards that mill, but I don’t think it will be able to win on its own. Probably not playable in most decks unless you need something on your curve at 4 mana.
Academy Journeymage: RATING – 3 Stars
Homarid Explorer: RATING – 2.5 Stars
The last 2 creatures I wanted to talk about were Cold-Water Snapper and Relic Runner. Cold-Water Snapper is an all around decent beater that can’t be targeted by your opponents, but has a big enough backside that he can sit there and block creatures on the ground all day. I think it’ll be one of the better creatures blue has to offer in limited, especially if you’re able to load up Saga effects, equipment, or auras on it.
Relic Runner would be right at home in a deck alongside of the Snapper, since it gets a benefit any time you cast a historic spell. Like the other spells that rely on historic spells, it’s probably only going to be playable in a historic based draft deck, but getting a few free attacks in from time to time in your sealed deck might not be a bad idea if you’re playing a few of those types of spells.
Cold-Water Snapper: RATING – 3.5 Stars
Relic Runner: RATING 2.5 Stars
Blue has some decent tempo effects in Dominaria, but not as many as I wish it had. Blink of an Eye is basically Boomerang with kicker added so you can draw a card. The ability to bounce a PERMANENT instead of just a creature like Unsummon does should come in handy in this format if you’re dealing with Sagas and DON’T want it reaching the final “chapter” before you can set up your battlefield.
Deep Freeze’s ability hasn’t been seen around that much as past sets have used more “tap down” effects like Claustrophobia. Letting your opponent keep a blocker is kind of a downside, but getting rid of a really scary attacker like Lyra Dawnbringer is a plus I guess.
I wasn’t sure what to think of Time of Ice at first, but now I think I really like it, especially when compared to blues other tempo choices. It basically takes 1 creature out of action for 3 turns, a 2nd creature out for 2 turns, and then keeps your opponent from attacking you on that last turn. If you have cards that can tap down creatures like Icy Manipulator it gets even better. You could also think about bouncing it back to your hand or blinking it on your turn to tap down even more creatures with it. I think it’s possibly splashable, and definitely something I would draft highly, if not first pick. Very well designed uncommon Saga.
Blink of an Eye: RATING – 3 Stars
Deep Freeze: RATING – 2.5 Stars
Time of Ice: RATING – 4 Stars
Like I was saying about the Homarid Explorer, it’s not great by itself but if you have a few cards that you can play with it the secondary strategy of mill might not be a bad choice, especially against slower decks. Weight of Memory draws you 3 cards and then mills your opponent. Not bad for 5 mana. Sure you have Divination at 3 mana, but I think it’s better just to pay the extra 2 for the extra card and mill effect. There might be times you’re playing some kind of graveyard strategy where milling yourself is important, but I think most of the time you’ll just be milling your opponent. Not a bad card, but I would understand if you cut it in favor of something more proactive in your limited deck.
RATING: 2.5 Stars
Other Cards That Will See Play
- Diligent Excavator – another card to add in to that mill deck if you have the pool for it.
- In Bolas’s Clutches – 6 mana is pretty high and not something I’d play mainboard in case I run into an aggressive deck, but against slower decks with multiple bombs I would consider bringing it in.
- Divination – Who doesn’t like drawing cards?
- Rescue – I initially thought it was just for protecting your creatures from dying, but I think it’s a good card for reactivating your Sagas as well since it says “target permanent”. It should be named “reset button” instead.
- Syncopate/Unwind/Wizard’s Retort – I’m never a big fan of counterspells in limited, at least not in the mainboard, but I can understand their necessity and wouldn’t mind having them in the sideboard to use against cards you can’t win against.
- Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive – I could definitely see a brew of 1/x or x/1 creatures being a thing. There are a few cards you could make a deck around, but it would probably need some instant speed combat tricks to really take advantage of them. Not a powerful limited deck, but a fun one to be sure.
Coming Up Next
As I stated above, I’m a little disappointed at what blue brings us in Dominaria, but there are definitely some cool cards and you can’t deny the flavor and history behind some of these cards. I believe blue will be relegated to mostly a support role for UW Flyer, UR Wizards, or some other combination. You’ll definitely want a color with better removal since there are some powerful creatures in this format that you can’t just bounce over and over again. You’ll just waste your cards like that and annoy your opponent.
I meant to get this out on Monday night but was pretty tired after work so I’ve fallen behind a bit. I still think I can finish this on pace by Friday night though, especially since I don’t really have a plan to play in FNM before the pre-release. I’ll be working on black today, and there is a chance I’ll finish it by the end of Tuesday, but most likely it won’t be finished until Wednesday sometime. Anyways, thanks for reading and leave any comments you have about today’s article down below if you’d like. See you back here soon for the next one!