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I’ve been playing Magic for a long time now. Very long. Like, 25 years long. In fact, since I’m nowhere close to 50 years old, it’s trivial to calculate that I’ve spent more of my life as a Magic player than not.
When Wizards of the Coast announced we would be returning to Dominaria for the next Standard set, Dominaria United, I was admittedly excited. I was on a small hiatus during the last visit to this plane, back in Dominaria, so outside of a few booster packs, I really didn’t have a chance to enjoy the set. This time, things are going to be different!
Except… they’re not. If I’m truly honest, I recently started feeling a little Magic fatigue as I jam drafts and matches on Arena time and again. Playing against anonymous strangers with only newer cards simply doesn’t hold my interest as strongly as in-person, paper Magic. Since I have little time for that these days, my passion for this hobby cycles in and out like a sine function.
Even the new cards in Dominaria United aren’t spurring deckbuilding cravings and reminiscent feelings as I had hoped. In fact, I’m experiencing more nostalgia by reviewing the Dominaria United Commander set spoilers. Have you seen how many throwback cards there are in that set? There are so many references to old legendary creatures from the days of Legends!
Clearly, this was the set made for me.
Legendary Legends Throwbacks
When my friends and I played Magic back in the mid-to-late 1990s, we referred to all multicolored cards as “legends.” This likely stemmed from the fact that the first time we saw such cards was in the Legends set, and all such creatures were legendary. Thus, the shorthand name was born.
Now as I review the Dominaria United Commander spoilers, I’m seeing so many throwback legends harkening back to the original set printed in 1994. I can’t imagine many modern-day players are all that familiar with the Old School printings of these cards. Let’s take a step back and appreciate some of the references!
This is a throwback to the Legends rare Ayesha Tanaka before she earned her armorer title I suppose. Through this transformation, she received a small bump in toughness and a far more useful ability. Let’s face it, banding and taxing artifact activations (by requiring them to pay a white mana… assuming they had access to white) wasn’t all that earth-shattering. Because Ayesha was also reprinted in Chronicles, the original printing doesn’t hold a ton of value.
The original Marhault Elsdragon was printed at uncommon as well, so his rarity remained unchanged. He was also reprinted in Chronicles, so copies can be found very cheaply. As for comparing the cards’ abilities, granting your whole team a super-rampage effect is definitely better than one creature having Rampage: 1. The casting cost is more efficient in the new printing as well.
Now we’re talking! Hazezon Tamar dropped his last name and became a “shaper of sands” in this new iteration. I love all the desert references on this legendary creature, and it’ll give a facelift to strategies that involve the special lands. My favorite feature on the new card, however, is that it still makes 1/1 red, green, and white sand warrior creature tokens! This throwback is brilliant. It’s worth noting that the original creature is on the Reserved List and is quite expensive! If you’re playing this as your commander, you might as well include the original card too—this could drive up demand for the Legends legend.
This throwback is equally exciting for flavor, though price-wise it may not rock too many boats. The original Jasmine Boreal was printed at uncommon—however, since it wasn’t reprinted in Chronicles, it is worth a couple of bucks. Jasmine did see a reprint in Time Spiral. Back in 1994, a five mana vanilla 4/5 may have been exciting enough to play. Nowadays, that wouldn’t even make the cut in most limited matches. I really like the boost of power she received in Dominaria United Commander.
Next, we have a dramatic upshift in rarity. The original Jedit Ojanen was uncommon, though he’s never seen a reprint. Reading the card, I can see why—a seven-mana, multi-colored 5/5 creature with no abilities? Boring! The new card is far more powerful, and also contains a nice reference to the Planar Chaos version of the legendary character, Jedit Ojanen of Efrava, which also made 2/2 cat warrior creature tokens with forestwalk.
Pirates are back, and it’s exciting to see a new version of Magic’s classic pirate, Ramirez DePietro. Callbacks to the original card include the same power and toughness and the same eyepatch! However, the new version dropped two mana from its casting cost in exchange for losing first strike. However, he does more to embrace the flavor of piracy by giving you treasure for two life! The original card was never reprinted (though it technically could be) but is still only worth a few bucks due to its being uncommon.
This legendary creature refresh may be slightly less obvious than the others, but there was indeed a Legends creature known as Ramses Overdark. The original Legends printing is rare, on the Reserved List, and therefore worth a good amount. Once again, the casting cost became much less demanding in the new version, and it is costed more consistently with modern-day power creep. Back in 1994, Ramses Overdark could tap to destroy any creature with an enchantment (aura) on it. Now, he’s an assassin lord that gives you the ability to win a multiplayer game on the spot—a neat twist on a win condition!
The hits keep coming! The original Rasputin Dreamweaver is very expensive, as it was a playable commander on the Reserved List before this updated refresh. I love how it stayed a 4/1, though its casting cost thankfully reduced from six mana to three. He still uses dream counters that can be used to create colorless mana, though he doesn’t grant you seven counters on the spot like before. One thing both version of Rasputin share is complexity; so much text on each card! Overall, I like this take on the legendary creature, but I honestly prefer the older version for nostalgia.
Rohgahh of Kher Keep
When I collected Legends legends, this was one of the last cards I acquired—I just never really had much interest in the Kobold thing. The original printing’s art is also less than pleasing to the eyes! That said, I do like the upgraded version of 2022! For one, it grants all Kobolds +2/+2 instead of only Kobold of Kher Keep. The creation of dragons is a nice touch. Most appreciatively, you don’t have to hand your card over to an opponent if you neglect to pay triple red mana during your upkeep! By the way, the original card is on the Reserved List and is worth a pretty decent amount (considering it’s not all that good).
Hold on a second. There were no Planeswalkers back in 1994, so why is this one in here? It looks like Sivitri was the one Legends legend to receive an upgrade from creature to Planeswalker! The original card, Sivitri Scarzam, was a vanilla 6/4 creature for seven mana. Why Wizards of the Coast believed that having multiple colors was an upside to a creature back then, I’ll never understand (hello?? Craw Wurm??). Anyway, now Sivitri is a dragon master with amazing loyalty abilities! It wouldn’t surprise me if this version maintains a higher price point than the original.
The original Stangg was such a cool card because it basically brought a copy of itself along to the battlefield when you summoned him. In fact, this is one rare case where the original card was printed at rare but also received a modern-day reprint in Masters 25 (where he’s worth about six cents). This new version of Stangg requires you to attack in order to receive the token. As compensation, you also get to copy auras and equipment attached to your primary Stangg creature. I’m honestly not as impressed with this one.
While the original Tetsuo Umezawa can never be reprinted (Reserved List), there have been numerous modern-era cards referencing Umezawa. This is the first time, however, we have a new version of Tetsuo printed. The old and the new both have the same casting cost and are both 3/3. The similarities stop there, however. The original had an awkward activation cost with a powerful ability to destroy creatures. The new version seems rather unrelated, involving equipment and instant or sorcery spells in your hand. Why the overhaul? I guess it was more consistent with its color identity?
We’re coming down the home stretch here, and I’m really excited about this refresh. The original Tobias Andrion was another one of those overcosted, vanilla creatures. Now he’s got some abilities, and I love the flavor of turning all your recently-deceased creatures into 2/2 zombies! This is a really cool ability to deal with board wipes in Commander. It’s worth noting that, despite being only uncommon and reprinted in Chronicles, the original Legends printing of this card is worth a buck or two.
The hits keep coming! Here’s a new twist on the original Tor Wauki. The new creature had its casting cost simplified a little bit (though still five mana value) while maintaining the same power and toughness. Instead of simply tapping to do damage to attacking or blocking creatures, the new version has reach and lifelink plus some other static abilities that unnecessarily complicate the card. Maybe it was for balancing reasons, or maybe it was to make this creature more cohesive with other cards in the set. Whatever the reason for the changes, I liked it better with the singular ability.
Xira is last on the list for alphabetic reasons, but I could also argue that I saved the best for last. I absolutely love the fact that Wizards of the Coast brought Xira back on a new card! Her creature types, Insect Assassin, are so cool and this is one rare instance where I actually prefer the new artwork over the original (blasphemy, I know). The insect tokens that Xira makes are also brilliantly done. The new version has no abilities in common with the old, but that’s OK. Paying BRG and tapping to draw a card isn’t as flavorful. Note that the original card is a rare in Legends, though also reprinted in Chronicles. Still, I could see it climb in price as it would slot in just fine in a deck with this Commander.
Wrapping It Up
Wow, there were more throwbacks than I initially realized! I may have missed one or two, but this is certainly an extensive list and the more I saw, the more I appreciated this set.
Forget about Dominaria United, I want to pick up some Dominaria United Commander sets this time around. I genuinely think they’ll be more enjoyable. I may try out the new Limited format on Arena, but don’t expect to see me virtually shuffling up a Standard deck anytime soon. When I spend money next month, I expect it’ll be on these Commander decks rather than any Dominaria United stuff. That’s OK, though, as it’ll still keep me engaged with the game, and that’s what counts.
I hope you enjoyed this walk through history and maybe learned a thing or two about some classic Magic cards.