Dominaria United Set Review - Green
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Nothing Greener than Yavimaya Trees
After a four-year hiatus, we've finally come back to Magic's home plane, Dominaria. The amount of stories and characters that have become fan favourites from this place is immeasurable. Last time we were here, we received a slew of new legends to helm decks, Tatyova, Benthic Druid, Muldrotha, the Gravetide, and Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain being some of the more popular ones. We also can never forget that this is the set that gave us the most bargling, Yargle, Glutton of Urborg. Time to see what the green cards of Dominaria United have in store!
You'll love this gorilla: it can slice, dice, and even allow you to grab a land from the top five of your library and smack it onto the battlefield tapped! The power creep really shows on this pushed mythic rare. Just by simply playing the game of Magic and casting creatures, this giant Ape rewards you in spades. It either (potentially) ramps you, gains your four life, or turns into a more unfair Aura Shards. As for decks that would want to play this, heavy Devotion decks, like Karametra, God of Harvests, big green Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig, and most mono-green stompy decks along the lines of Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma. This might have trouble in decks that play more than two colors because of its many green pips, but if you have room, this Ape Shaman is sure to be a key player in your deck.
The World Spell
This Saga tells the story of the end of the Ice Age: the planeswalker Freyalise used the The World Spell to end it and bring a new age to Dominaria. Being seven mana, you'd think this card would be a more late game card, but green is green, and I could see this cheat in something like a Craterhoof Behemoth or End-Raze Forerunners for maximum trample power earlier than anticipated. Read Ahead is a new mechanic added to Sagas, allowing you to start wherever you'd like among the Saga's chapters. With that amount of flexibility, you can either take a turn or two to go 7-14 cards deep and set up, giving your opponents time to deal with you, or you can immediately pay seven mana to throw any two non-Saga permanents onto the battlefield. Satsuki, the Living Lore from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty gets another powerful Saga to add to her ever-growing arsenal. It goes without saying, but Atraxa speeds up the clock of The World Spell. Green go-wide decks, like Elves or token decks, could get a lot of use out of this. In a deck that runs blue and green, drop an Omniscience and whatever else you decide to really pull maximum value from The World Spell.
Defiler of Vigor
Oh, hello, Phyrexian mana that isn't Phyrexian mana but secretly really is. Long time, no see! Last time we saw you apply yourself to other cards' costs was with K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth. Now you're all grown up, more or less balanced, and have gotten yourself on a cycle of cards!
Defiler of Vigor gives all of your green permanents (thankfully not instant or sorceries: Rampant Growth for one colorless? Madness) one Phyrexian green mana. With this discount, you can play mana dorks abound, like Elvish Mystic, Llanowar Elves, Fyndhorn Elves, and many more! As an added bonus, when you do cast a green permanent, you permanently anthem your entire team! The combination of these abilities make this a near staple for all green decks. With the newly reprinted Concordant Crossroads, you can sequence into a bunch of one-drop mana dorks and rapidly generate a board full of big bad baddies who are all countered up and ready to go. Elfball decks, like Rhys the Redeemed, Lathril, Blade of the Elves, or the classic, Ezuri, Renegade Leader, would very much appreciate the discount and the free anthem that goes along with this Phyrexian Wurm. Go for full flavor with Ezuri, Claw of Progress and show how much value a compleated entity can accrue.
Domain is a hard mechanic to really judge because it's completely dependent on how many colors your deck plays. At its floor, Herd Migration is seven mana for a 3/3 token, which isn't great, and in the opposite direction it's seven mana for five 3/3s, which is way better. Looking at this as a whole package, it was clearly made for the Limited environment, early game mana-fixing, or late game bodies. Maybe you've recently built around our new friends from Streets of New Capenna, Jinnie Fay, Phabine, and/or Jetmir; those would be a decent homes for this card. Simic/Temur spellslinger/token strategies could make this card work by copying it a bunch, so Riku of Two Reflections or Jadzi, Oracle of Arcavios would be good homes as well. Esix, Fractal Bloom turns these Beasts into whatever you want! Otherwise this card is best left in Limited, both in its use and the format.
Now this is an Elf lord! Two mana for a Lifecrafter's Bestiary stapled onto a lord is the kind of value that I love to see. The double green pips may make it "harder" to cast, but that just makes things like Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx that much more effective. I have already talked about all of the different Elf commanders in this review, so feel free to scroll up and place them here because this card works with them. If you can generate lots and lots of mana (which Elves do so well), more Elves suddenly become more cards. Elf tribal commanders have found another staple lord to add to their arsenal.
Magic has had many iteration of Spiders in its 30-year history, so where have we gotten to in the year 2022? A 4/3 for three mana is a very good rate even by itself, and now add in reach AND trample? Now this is podracing!
Joking aside, we should acknowledge the giant ele... I mean, Spider in the room: that Domain ability. Yes, you could play this in a five-color deck to maximize that part of it, but realistically this would be found in a Ishkanah, Grafwidow-style deck, so you're paying six mana to bring it back... not quite the efficiency that the Spider-mother ordered. Now throwing in another Spider-friend to the mix, in Thantis, the Warweaver, this becomes a useful blocker/attacker that you can bring back for again for only five mana. Overall, this Spider has bite, but it lacks true, potent venom.
If I recall correctly, Llanowar Loamspeaker was one of the first officially previewed cards for Dominaria United. It's a mana dork that can tap for any color of mana and has a relevant creature type in green, which aren't nothing.
The secondary ability leaves a little to be desired in Commander; it reaches its true potential in other constructed formats or in Limited. Obuun, Mul Daya Ancestor would be able to grow the land that you made into a creature, and Titania, Protector of Argoth would reward you with an Elemental if that land were to go to the graveyard. A brand new addition where this could fit is Tatyova, Steward of Tides: making a 3/3 flyer every turn is some good clean living. Beyond decks that care about your lands, I can see this slotting into four- and five- color decks that need help with mana-fixing.
The biggest thing that stands out to me on this innocuous 2/2 for two is the fact that you just have to cast a creature to get the trigger, which is quite useful. Play this early in a deck that cares about +1/+1 counters, and slowly but surely build your army, knowing that, once this piñata pops, you get to spread out all of those saved-up counters. With something like Hardened Scales or Doubling Season, those counters become even more valuable. Falco Spara, Pactweaver can use this to keep casting cards off the top of the library. Ezuri, Claw of Progress makes another appearance in this review, but his ability to dump a bunch of counters on this card makes it a lot scarier, a lot faster. Champion of Lambholt this is not, but it is incredibly useful and effective in what it does.
Is that you, Gifts Ungiven, or is it Realms Uncharted? Oh, no? It's a new cousin to the FoF-style Tutor Cookout? Grabbing the best four creatures in your deck and letting your opponent pick the two worst of them is still getting the third and fourth best creatures in your deck to your hand. Besides, this is Commander: politics will surely take effect. You might even get the best creatures for the scenario because it answers a problem that another player has. Having the other creatures get shuffled back in is what keeps this card from facing the same fate as Gifts Ungiven. The creatures all have to have different power values, so watch out for that.
Recently (nearly a year and a half ago) we received the "X" version of this spell in Ecological Appreciation. Ecological Appreciation exiles itself, whereas Threats Undetected innocently floats to the graveyard after it resolves, allowing you to get it back with, say, an Eternal Witness or Regrowth, allowing you to slowly stockpile more and more threats. A slew of commanders would enjoy a card like this: Illuna, Apex of Wishes could use this to find more Mutate cards, Chulane, Teller of Tales always needs more creatures, and Kyler, Sigardian Emissary could always do with some timely Humans.
The fact that Urborg Lhurgoyf can only be played in Sultai-inclusive decks is really going to hamper this card's inclusion rate. Right away, Muldrotha, the Gravetide jumps to mind with the self mill ability as you Kick the spell. Filling up the graveyard benefits both Muldrotha and the Lhurgoyf, making them a match in graveyard heaven. Urborg Lhurgoyf really wants to have creatures in the graveyard specifically, but you know who else loves creatures going to the graveyard from your library? Sidisi, Brood Tyrant! If you're in Sultai colors and need a beater that grows as your graveyard does, look towards this 'goyf and its endless possibilities.
Uncommons & Commons
Not only is this one of only seven Badgers in Magic history, it actually could win you the game! For four mana, you give all of your creatures evasion, and yes, menace may not be the best type of evasion, but it's evasion nonetheless. In Golgari decks, you'll come across a lot of deathtouch, and having an army of deathtouch menacing creatures is just asking for trouble. This card is a great way to get damage in for commanders like Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper and Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons. This is one Badger that definitely doesn't give a damn.
Paying one extra mana for a better Explosive Vegetation turns out to be a pretty good deal. Not only can you grab the Kaldheim snow-duals, you can also grab shocklands and triomes! Slimefoot's Survey also sets up your next draw, or with a Tatyova, Benthic Druid, lets you just draw that extra card. Both Omnath, Locus of the Roil and Omnath, Locus of Creation would get great value out of this card. It really excels in three-plus color decks; in decks with fewer colors, you'd be better off just playing Explosive Vegetation or any of its versions.
Green With Envy
Dominaria United gave green Elf decks a few more pieces for their Elfball shenanigans, and we also received one of the most impactful Sagas yet. Green also received some utility pieces for various multi-color decks to help support them and make sure they get the mana that they need when they need it. It's fantastic being back on Dominaria, though the heroes and good guys of the story have their hands full with the Phyrexians, and it'll be interesting to see what happens next. Which Dominaria United cards are you excited to slot into decks? Any of these cards strike a chord with you and now must be a staple in your collection? Let us know! If you haven't already, make sure you check out all of the other reviews here on Commander's Herald and on EDHREC!