Limited Run: Dominaria Set Review – Blue David Rood April 20, 2018 Limited Run I know what you may be thinking: why should I listen to this Random Guy about Limited? So first let me introduce myself. I used to play a lot of Magic in the early 2000s, and if you were around then you might have even heard of me. Some of my career highlights were making Top 8 in a Limited Grand Prix at 17 to qualify for my first Pro Tour. I then lost in the finals of the second Pro Tour I played in which was Team Limited Boston 2002. I then played Pro Tours for a few years with some success including a finals in something that was called the masters series, made Top 4 of Canadian Nationals a couple of times and got a Top 16 at Worlds. My Magic career culminated by reaching a goal I had set for myself by winning Pro Tour Atlanta in 2005 with Hall of Famer Gabriel Nassif and Gabriel Tsang, which was also Team Limited. After we won I sort of drifted out of Magic, got married and moved to playing poker full time which I did for the past 15 years. It was a natural progression for a lot of Magic pros at the time and I don’t regret leaving the game, but I have to admit I’ve missed it. Now, I’ve been back for almost a year and I’m hungry for more. As far as what I’ve done lately, I’ve played a few GP’s in the last year making day 2 in all of them but only cashing once, which is disappointing, but I’m working on getting back to the top of my game and spend most of the time thinking about Limited. Dominaria looks like a great set for Limited but also quite slow in my opinion. So, without further ado here is how I rate cards and my review of blue for Limited play only. Included here are some examples from Rivals of Ixalan for what I mean by my ratings. My Rating System 10 – Complete hall of fame broken card (Tetzimoc) 9 – Broken bombs that end the game if they are not dealt with (Tendershoot Dryad) 8 – Great cards that I will slam as a first pick and be happy with but aren’t really bombs per say (Jadelight Ranger, Golden Demise) 7 – Card that I value at first pick and are usually in the top of the best commons or some very good uncommons (Moment of Craving, Bombard) 6 – These are cards ill pick in the 2-5 range in a pack usually and will always make the cut in my deck (Kitesail Corsair, Deadeye Rig-Hauler) 5 – I’ll probably run all of these unless my draft went absolutely amazing and these are the quality 14th to 19th cards of my deck (Dusk Legion Zealot, Storm Fleet Swashbuckler) 4 – Commons and uncommons that make the cut sometimes depending on the quality of your deck but they fall more in the 20th to 25th range I’ll probably run some but not all of them (Spire Winder, Hardy Veteran) 3 – This to me is the point where if I’m running these the draft went poorly and I’m in trouble. (Sun Sentinel) 2 – Can have some value as a sideboard card or something that can become good if you draft around it so I’ll grab them late in a pack when there’s no playables for my maindeck (Cleansing Ray, Aquatic Incursion) 1 – Just completely unplayable (Silent Gravestone) Strictly the Blues Academy Drake 6 A 2/2 flying for 3 is always a solid baseline and add on the kicker potential in the late game makes this something you’re never unhappy to draw really which is true for most playables with kicker. Academy Journeymage 6 Another very solid playable right off the start, the value of this goes up slightly if you have a few wizards but in general I would always play it. It’s a little slow but the tempo gain and the fact that this set seems slow make it better than in some previous sets (triple ixalan for example) The Antiquities War 1 We get our first saga, unfortunately this one is a dud. I can’t imagine ever drafting enough artifacts to make this playable and even then the payoff isn’t game ending when it’s only until end of turn and they can just take some damage and chump the rest. Arcane Flight 4 This isn’t quite one with the wind but it can end games pretty quickly in some matchups. I would probably be fine playing one depending on my deck. To note I think the value of Arcane Flight goes up if you have some lifelink creatures so keep track of what you have and evaluate as you go. Artificer’s Assistant 3 In a slow format I don’t think 1/1 flying for one are very good unless they have an impressive ability. Imagine games where you draw this late game and your opponents is drawing kicker cards, things are not going to end well for you. I simply don’t think there’s going to be enough historic cards in your deck to make this worthwhile and even then scry 1 is a bit underwhelming. Befuddle 3 These sort of spells have been around for years in various iterations and never impress me. It might as well read prevent 4 damage (sometimes) and draw a card for 3 mana it’s just too much. Blink of an Eye 6 A reprint but a solid one as far as im concerned, I tend to see this card as a 4 mana spell that can in a pinch save your creature or get some tempo for 2 if needed. I would play as many copy of this as I had. Cloudreader Sphinx 7 This is my pick for best blue common of the set and I think scry 2 is about the same range of value as draw a card. A 3/4 flying body on it is impressive and I can’t wait to hold the fort with these. Cold-Water Snapper 3 A 4/5 body for 6 is just not very impressive unless it has some sort of evasion or interesting ability. This is my pick for card im going to be most annoyed losing to that I don’t think is playable. I imagine this + arcane flight will win a bunch of games where you can’t do anything in the same way one with the wind + jade guardian did except I believe both those cards were more playable on their own than their dominaria counterparts. Curator’s Ward 1 An aura that gives hexproof while annoying is just not enough of stats to warrant putting in your deck. The 2nd part of this card could be interesting but again I don’t think it provides enough to make it playable. Deep Freeze 4 The value of this card will fluctuate wildly depending on your deck and if it’s aggressive or not. If your plan is to lock up the ground and win late game with flyers I can see upgrading this to a 5 or even 6 but it’s a build around. In general though early in a draft I wouldn’t want to pick this too early until I have an idea of what my plan is. At the very least its a good sideboard card in a format that has a lot of bombs. Diligent Excavator 4 This is another card that will change value wildly depending on your deck. I don’t see this as a set with enough mill abilities to make it a viable plan. Where I think this card will shine is when we pair it with black cards that let you return creatures from your graveyard and use it on yourself (like soul salvage that we will get to another time). a 1/3 body for 2 mana isn’t the worst thing to get in blue and depending on how many of these other raise dead effects and historic spells are in your deck this can go from unplayable to a solid card. Divination 4 Divination is one of those staples that keeps getting reprinted because it’s basic and is usually a fine inclusion in Limited. I believe I’ll run at least one of these in most my blue decks but I’m not super happy to run more than that, you know what I mean when you think back of opening hands in Limited with 2 Divination (though I can see boarding into a 2nd or 3rd copy in some slow matchups as I late game mirror breaker). Homarid Explorer 4 This is another one of those cards that I don’t see as playable in most decks but you have to think about milling yourself as the upside combined with black cards. In Bolas’s Clutches 8 Here we get our first slam down this card and play blue power level. At 6 mana the ability to steal anything in a format that I think is slow and filled with very powerful legends at uncommon is very valuable. The added bonus of making the permanent you stole a legendary on top of In Bolas’s Clutches itself being legendary is a minor bonus in a set with cards that have historic as an ability. The minimal drawback of not being able to have two in play will rarely happen and honestly at uncommon I don’t think it should be something you worry about. Karn’s Temporal Sundering 7 We get to our first legendary sorcery, there’s one in every color at rare and I think these are pretty hard to evaluate at first glance. On the one hand the ability to take an extra turn and bounce a creature to get two good attack step is really valuable. There will also be a lot of situations where this is stuck in your hand because you don’t have a legendary creature or planeswalker in play so make sure to keep track of how many legendary creatures you have in your deck when deciding how high you should pick this. Merfolk Trickster 6 A solid combat trick attached to a bear is a card that will always make my deck. The only reason this isn’t rated higher is because of the UU casting cost but it’s still a very good card. I view this more as a combat trick that you will use from turn 4-5 on rather than a creature I want to drop on turn 2. When you see it this way the UU cost also matters a lot less. The Mirari Conjecture 1 This saga is simply way too slow and situational for Limited. Leave this one to others to include way too many spells to try to make it work. Naban, Dean of iteration 7 A 2/1 legendary creature for two mana with an awesome build around ability, count me in! This goes up in value the more wizards with enter the battlefield effect you have obviously (Firefist Adept and Academy Journeymage come to mind). Naru Meha, Master Wizard 8 This is a pretty clear build around like our last card but a very fun and powerful one. A 3/3 flash for 4 mana is already solid and when you add the +1+1 to wizards on top of the once in a while ability to copy a removal spell or divination in the late game it makes it quite powerful. Opt 3 A pretty recent reprint that makes sense for constructed but just isn’t good enough for Limited in most cases. Opt is the perfect example of a card that will be in my deck when things went really wrong in the draft like I had to switch colors after a while or I got disconnected on magic online and now im short on playables. Precognition Field 2 As slow as this format is I think it’s not quite slow enough to warrant playing this. I could see Precognition Field being a buildaround that can get out of control in a slow matchup but it feels to me that it’s a sideboard card for very grindy matchups at best. Relic Runner 4 For now I think this is a barely playable card but maybe I’m underrating how much historic spells we will have in our decks (I’m thinking 4-6 on average). But maybe a 2/1 for two that can sometimes sneak some damage late in the game might end up more valuable than I originally thought. Rescue 2 This to me screams sideboard card against heavy removal decks or things like In Bolas Clutches. Maybe it could find a place in a deck with multiple sagas that have good 1 and 2 ability (such as The Eldest Reborn) so you can bounce it. Sage of Lat-Nam 3 This is a build around to even get to a 3 in my opinion as 1/2 for 2 mana simply isn’t worth it unless the ability is quite strong, most of the time this is a 1. It kind of feels like a flavor fail to me that it’s not sacrifice a historic permanent but oh well. Sentinel of the Pearl Trident 5 A pretty situational card that can sometimes protect one of your bombs I think it has some value and most likely will run this unless my historic count is very low. To keep in mind I think the value of this goes up when you have sagas like The Eldest Reborn that you can blink. Slinn Voda, the Rising Deep 1 8 mana for an 8/8 with no ability that needs to actually get to 10 mana to be relevant, no thanks. Syncopate 4 In a lot of format this card simply wouldn’t be good enough but again the fact that I think this format is slow coupled with kicker being in the set makes it that it’s rarely going to be a dead card. I would sideboard more of these in against kicker heavy decks but most likely only run one in the main. Tempest Djinn 7 The UUU cost of this is the only thing stopping it from being ranked a bit higher. It’s a build around as I think you need a deck that will either run 10+ islands or things like Navigator’s Compass to make it work consistently. The difference with other build around in this set and Tempest Djinn is that the payoff is worth it. At the very minimum its a 3/4 flying for 3 mana that has potential to be much more than that. To note this is strangely not a legendary creature. Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive 6 First of all its 1/3 unblockable for 3 mana and the key text that might be overlooked here is that a creature is unblockable if it has 1 toughness. It’s somewhat of a build around in the way that if you can get a few 2/1 for 2 things can get out of hand pretty quickly but I think I would always play this card as it seems fairly good for the cost. Time of Ice 7 This saga is exactly what we’re looking for in Limited. It’s good when you’re ahead and good when you’re losing and the tempo swing it provides can be backbreaking. On top of tapping 2 creatures down for 2 turns each it also makes it very hard for them to attack the turn when you are going to get to part III of the saga. Tolarian Scholar 3 Another good example of a card that will only make the cut when your draft went really wrong as a 2/3 for 3 just isn’t good enough. The only build around exception would be if you have multiple Academy Journeymage or Firefist Adept and didn’t quite get there on playable wizards. Unwind 2 Just like negate was in previous sets I don’t think this is quite good enough to run maindeck but it can be a solid sideboard card for some matchups. The fact that it cost 3 also makes it worse than negate as I don’t feel like there’s enough instant to make the untap lands ability really that relevant. Vodalian Arcanist 5 A decent 2 drop wizards that can accelerate you into some removal or card drawing like the next card on the list. This is a card that will vary in ranking entirely dependant on how many instant and sorcery or how many wizards payoff you have. Mana acceleration is quite hard to find in blue and attached to a 1/3 for 2 it can be a solid card in a lot of decks. Weight of Memory 4 I think this format is just slow enough that this card will be barely playable. This depends entirely on how I view these blue defensive decks and how many things like Vodalian Arcanist or things like Soul Salvage (again milling yourself). At the very least it’s a good sideboard card to take when there’s nothing in the pack. Wizard’s Retort 2 This is simply a sideboard card against bombs that you have no real way of dealing with. Wizard’s Retort is my pick for card that will be the most overrated by people are pre-release or early in the draft set. I have never been a fan of the actual old school UU counterspell in Limited and this is a straight up worse version of it. Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp 8 This will end up costing 6 mana most of the time and still be a very good finisher. The times when you can cast him for 4 mana though it will completely break the game open if not dealt with immediately. I wouldn’t run sub par artifacts when I have this but if two cards are close in value in a pack I’ll lean towards the artifact. What did you guys think of my take on Dominaria’s blue in Limited? Any glaring errors or considerations I’ve missed? Also, would you like to see my take on the other colours of the set? Let me know in the comments. 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