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Insider: Dominaria Commander Picks (White & Black)

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Welcome back, readers!

If it seems I've been stuck on Commander picks from Dominaria recently…well, you'd be right. This set is just chock full of goodness when it comes to the Commander format. If you missed my previous two articles covering the gold cards from the set, you can find them here and here.

If you had read those articles and decided to jump in on some of my suggestions, I think I did pretty well on my picks. So far, I still think the big winner will be Boundless Realms, but a few have already jumped.



Today's article will focus on the white and black legends from the set.

White

Danitha Capashen, Paragon


This actually looks like a very viable general. While she doesn't have built-in protection like, say, Uril, the Miststalker, making your equipment and auras cheaper means she can be a very aggressive voltron commander. Her keyword abilities are all extremely good in an aggro shell.

As for speculation, the biggest problem is that while white has plenty of auras throughout its history, many have been Pacifism-type effects. These may benefit from the cost reduction but don't play into a voltron style of deck. There are some good pump auras, but not that many at rare or mythic.

Specs:



Should Danitha become a popular commander, we'd likely see gains in cards like Celestial Mantle and Daybreak Coronet, the latter which has already jumped considerably within the last six months.

Evra, Halcyon Witness


This looks like a very interesting option as a commander. The ability can be done at instant speed, which is fantastic when your opponents have no way to react to her, as she can easily one-shot someone and gain you a boatload of life. Unfortunately, if your opponents can react and kill her, you could very well have drained yourself down to 4 life.

This is an extremely high-risk/high-reward style general. The biggest downside is a complete lack of evasion, though I am considering this one as a general for a lifegain themed deck, simply because it would be fun to one-shot players when they have their shields down.

Specs:


My only real spec suggestion with this card is Grand Abolisher, which will help make sure you don't get blown out.

Kwende, Pride of Femeref


First strike is an evergreen mechanic that has existed since the days of Alpha. Thus there are a lot of creatures in Magic's history with this particular keyword. Luckily, it also happened to be extremely prevalent in white so there are lots of creatures to choose from. This seems like a general that would inspire a "first strikers" type deck, which could be fun to play, though I don't know if that's enough to be competitive.

Lyra Dawnbringer


This looks like an awesome Angel-themed commander. The best comparison is to Baneslayer Angel, which was a house when it was in Standard and at one time could be traded straight across for a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I think she will prove to be quite powerful in Standard, even if her Angel-pumping ability doesn't get utilized much.

As for Commander, the problem is that most Angels in Magic's history cost four-plus mana, which means if you cast her on curve you aren't likely to have a very commanding presence on the battlefield. I think she's far more likely to be utilized in something like a Gisela, Blade of Goldnight or Aurelia, the Warleader deck than to lead her own.

Shalai, Voice of Plenty


Here is a commander I can get behind. Not only because she allows you to play green and white (so yeah, I guess I should have covered her in one of the gold articles), but she gives you, your planeswalkers, and all of your other creatures hexproof. That is extremely powerful—especially for a four-drop—and her second ability seems like a fantastic late-game mana sink in a "go wide" strategy.

One of my favorite things about Shalai is that she provides protection from a fair number of your opponents' potential win conditions, all while protecting your own.

Specs:


The biggest weakness for Platinum Angel has always been targeted removal. Thanks to Shalai, they'll need mass removal.


Teeg has been moving upwards recently as he's finding a home in more and more Modern sideboards. Giving him hexproof seems like solid synergy. Sadly his current price means that significant gains are unlikely.

Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle


Here is another commander I think could be very powerful in the right type of deck. The key thing here is that all artifacts count as historic. So if you build a deck with a lot of artifacts and creatures that can sacrifice for effects, you can generate a lot of advantage. I think the following might be good inclusions in this type of deck.

Specs:


Haazda Shield Mate is a rare from Dissension with a powerful ability that can be used repeatedly. You can choose not to pay the upkeep cost and simply cast a historic spell to return it to the battlefield. Not to mention it's likely to get targeted with removal because of its ability, so recurring it seems like a strong play.


Not only is Kirtar a fellow bird, but repeatedly being able to exile attacking creatures seems like a powerful effect that's worth a spot in the deck (and likely an auto-include).


This is a pretty obvious one—being able to recur other legends seems potent, especially when you can do it repeatedly.


This is my biggest call for this particular general. Peacekeeper is on the Reserved List and an occasional Legacy playable. Now it has this combo in Commander, where you can sacrifice it, attack, and then cast a historic spell to return it to play—rinse and repeat. Extremely powerful effect and definitely an auto-include in a deck built around this general.


This seems like a fantastic card to pair with the commander, allowing you to protect Teshar over and over.


Here's another card I am amazed doesn't see more play in Commander. It's a Reserved List rare that has a Worship attached. Similar to Peacekeeper, you can choose not to pay the upkeep cost and keep recurring it if need be (or just recur it in response to opponents trying to kill you).

Black

Demonlord Belzenlok


When I first read this card, I swore it said "four or less" and I thought it was busted in half... Sadly it's "four or greater," and a whole lot less broken. Still, it does serve as a commander that can generate some solid card advantage, and a 6/6 with flying and trample is nothing to sneeze at.

I still think there is some potential with him as a general (likely utilizing a lot of cards that cost more than four). Note his ability is not a "may," so if you don't run enough cheap cards you could easily kill yourself upon resolution. It combos somewhat with Sickening Dreams, but only if you have a lot of life (or a way to prevent you from taking damage).

Josu Vess, Lich Knight


Black gets an "army in a can" general that looks fun but honestly doesn't seem all that broken. Commander is a format defined by large "battlecruiser" cards, and while this general is cool in that it makes targeted removal pretty useless, I just don't think it's powerful enough on its own. Currently there isn't a single decklist on EDH REC for this commander, so I feel like the rest of the playerbase agrees with me on this one.

Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood


The best comparison for this one currently is probably Olivia Voldaren. I almost wrote this one off until I re-read the first ability, which triggers whenever any creature an opponent controls takes any damage. This means that cards like Pestilence can make Kazarov grow huge extremely quickly.

Magic has had this style of card a lot throughout its history, so for speculation targets we'll focus on rare options (ideally ones with only a single printing that are also older).

Specs:


Not only is it fun to say "Wumpus," but here we have Pestilence on a body. Granted it is only a 3/3, but it's a single-print Mercadian Masques rare that's currently at bulk status. If Kazarov takes off as a general, this is easily a $3 card.


Here's another single-print rare (this time from Torment) that doesn't even require mana be sunk into it. Thanks to Kazarov's ability, he'll keep growing, and thus never die to it.

Torgaar, Famine Incarnate


Torgaar looks like a very powerful commander. There are several dimensions to look at here. 1) He provides an extremely powerful enters-the-battlefield ability that can cause one player to lose a lot of life; 2) He provides an uncounterable sacrifice outlet, as it's part of the cost reduction and can't be responded to; and 3) His cost reduction is worded in such a way that instead of paying the "commander tax," you can in fact sacrifice additional creatures.

My speculation target for this card is a bit zany, but I'll explain.


Black doesn't typically get a lot of repeat token generation. Infernal Genesis provides a potential stream of creatures to sacrifice in order to keep recasting Torgaar (likely targeting different players each time), which means you could potentially drain your opponents very quickly.

It's also a single-print rare from Prophecy. The most expensive Prophecy card is a common, and the set wasn't particularly loved by players (outside of good ol' Avatar of Woe). It's definitely not a "slam dunk" spec, but I know I'll be keeping an eye out for any I see in binders and trying to get them as throw-ins to balance out trades.

Urgoros, the Empty One


While definitely a powerful card in Limited, this legend falls short of the "wow" factor we typically expect from actual commanders. It is the only legendary Specter in existence, but I imagine the number of players who want to build a Specter-themed deck are few and far between. No speculation targets for this one.

Whisper, Blood Liturgist


We have plenty of reanimator-style commanders already (with Karador, Ghost Chieftain being arguably the best), but what's interesting about Whisper is that this commander would provide a sacrifice outlet to get creatures into the yard as well as a way to return them. This opens up some interesting deck-building opportunities to utilize black ETB creatures (since we can't have Recurring Nightmare).

Because we are limited to only black creatures with Whisper as a general, I actually think we'll see this card show up more as a support card in other reanimator style decks then as the general.

Specs:


This primordial provides an excellent body and, more importantly, your opponents' best creatures from their graveyards. You can then use those creatures as sacrifice fodder the next turn to bring something else back.

Yargle, Glutton of Urborg


I know some people want to play this card as a commander simply because it's a legendary Frog... Those people forgot we already have one of those—The Gitrog Monster—which has a lot more cool interactions and isn't just a vanilla 9/3. I have no speculation targets for this card.

Conclusion

Hopefully nobody is getting sick of all these Commander reviews of Dominaria because I still have to cover red, green, blue, and artifacts. So far I'm loving this set, and while I only got to play in one Two-Headed Giant prerelease, my partner and I did go 3-1. For those who plan on playing in any other 2HG sealed events, Slimefoot, the Stowaway is bonkers and if you pull any you must play them.

Got any other suggestions for spec targets from either the black or white legendary creatures from this set? Let me know either in the comments below or in the discord chat.

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