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The signpost uncommons of Magic's Autumn set, Dominaria United (DMU) come in the form of twenty legends, but they're not all created equally. After analyzing 17Lands data, a number of popular Twitch streams, personal experience, and some collegial discourse around these twenty cards, I've developed the official, way-too-soon, Power Rankings of these legends and am excited to share them with you today. While all of them (except one) are strong additions to their archetypes, they've been evaluated based on overall power level, value to their archetype, and flexibility. Which ones are worthy of being a pack one, pick one? Read on to find out!
20. Rulik the Runt
So my Hill Giant gets menace and I maybe get a land out of the deal? Rulik Mons, Warren Chief requires a lot of work to become an engine, and its size and evasion are not impressive. This is by far the least exciting of the legends, and it's the only one I would look to cut from most of my decks. It has very little synergy within the format, it's undersized, overcosted, and outperformed by most commons. Pass.
19-17. The Pretenders
Rona, Sheoldred's Faithful is a paradox. The sizing is good against the aggressive creatures, though the tricky mana requirements mean she won't often come down on time. Her pings can tick away as an offensive threat, but they're extremely slow. We can recast her from your graveyard by pitching two lands, but it's usually going to eat our whole turn. Since she doesn't stabilize or pressure particularly well, it's hard to figure out what we're doing with her.
Najal, the Storm Runner can do powerful things, but the Blue-Red deck wants more aggression than this card offers. Typically we're double-spelling before the elemental hits the battlefield, which complicates Najal's setup. I can imagine scenarios where we're able to double Lightning Strike or get a lot of value from Timely Interference, but I haven't seen it yet. Ultimately, this card ends up too low on my pick order when I'm in Blue-Red. I would play in it most Blue-Red decks, but ideally, I'm taking it later in the pack. The one card that really excites me with it is Tolarian Geyser.
Tori D'Avenant, Fury Rider performs well in strong decks but doesn't move the needle on their own. It doesn't pump itself or have haste, so we really need to have our opponent on the back foot to capitalize on its attack triggers. The Red-White deck uses a lot of cheap interaction and combat tricks, all of which play well with the knight. Unlike a lot of the aggro finishers in the format, this card really incentivizes ending the game on the spot. I'm happy to play it, but it's not a reason to be Red-White.
16-15. You're Asking For A Lot...
So with this card, I have to keep my little creatures alive long enough for them to attack with a five drop, that also wants me to be building out my domain? It seems like if I'm going wide, I'm going to be trading bodies for damage. If I'm reaching out into three-plus colors, I'm probably playing more individually powerful cards than a go-wide strategy implies. Despite its limitations, Zar Ojanen, Scion of Efrava aka "The Tiger King" is a major enlist payoff. We need to be cognizant of how we're building our deck with Zar. If we maximize his potential, he can be an engine. It just takes a lot of work.
This one hurts.
I really want this card to be great, but based on what I've seen and the early 17lands data, Aron, Benalia's Ruin doesn't have the goods. Sacrifice outlets are great when they're free, but the fact that Aron's costs two mana hurts the flexibility of his ability. You're losing two mana, you're losing a creature, and worst of all, if Aron attacks, you lose the threat of activation. While I'm happy it's a 3/3, they're not doing us any favors with the color requirements of its casting cost and activated ability.
On some boards, I'm sure he can dominate. The entire black-white archetype is seemingly built around him. He has synergy with Captain's Call, Phyrexian Warhorse, and Argivian Cavalier just to name a few. I'm not giving up on Aron, but so far I'm disappointed.
14. The Other Red-Green Legend
In my guide to the format, I mentioned the limitations of the enlist keyword. This card is a major exception. Enlisting Radha, Coalition Warlord will lead to an overwhelming advantage for your attackers.
In combat, Radha wants to be protected by combat tricks. The body doesn't survive many attacks on its own and her trigger can't target herself. While the format doesn't have an overwhelming amount of removal, it does feature a lot of crowded boards. Similar to Zar Ojanen, Scion of Efrava, you want to enlist Radha to create powerful attacks.
13-12. Strong When They're Strong
"Dies to removal" is rarely a fair criticism, but man, have I seen Tura Kennerüd, Skyknight eat a ton of kill spells.
They're a good finisher in the Blue-White decks. If we're ahead when we cast the five drop, it's hard for our opponent to pressure us back. Our interaction starts netting chump blockers and the 3/3 flyer is a meaningful clock. However, if we're under pressure, this card lines up pretty poorly with a lot of the attackers and the interaction in the format.
I've been winning most of my games through the air and with card advantage. Nael, Avizoa Aeronaut delivers on both fronts. For four-mana, the rate is not outstanding, but this is a strong role-player in any Domain deck. This is one of the most difficult cards to play optimally. It's tempting to try and set up domain for her draw clause, but often times I find that I just want to set up a powerful game piece for the next turn.
It's extremely punishing to put the missing Geothermal Bog on top of our library, only to see Nael brick walled or Citizen's Arrested before she can do damage again. We can't be afraid to take our time at that impasse. Those triggers are meaningful decisions.
11-9. From Good to Good-Plus
The Queen of Clubs is bigger than it looks. The huge green creatures have impressed, and Queen Allenal of Ruadach can outgrow all of them. If we follow this up with Argivian Cavalier, Captain's Call, or Resolute Reinforcements, we're going to be putting a ton of pressure on our opponent. It's not great on its own, but it doesn't take much work to make this very threatening. If we're making any number of tokens, the queen is going to get huge fast.
Garna, Bloodfist of Keld is a strong card, but her archetype isn't well-supported. Red-Black needed a premium two-drop in either legend. Garna wants to be playing with sacrifice outlets, so we need to grab Phyrexian Warhorse if we can. Garna also wants to force trades, but forcing our opponents into that position requires some work. It plays very well with the other BR legend, Lagomos, Hand of Hatred.
As I mentioned in my DMU Preview, the aggressive decks have great tools to end the game, but if we're initiating pressure with Goblin Picker and Splatter Goblin we're destined for inconsistent performances.
In theory, Baird, Argivian Recruiter works great with enlist. However, since enlist does not help creatures survive, it makes it very difficult to trigger his ability and get your 1/1. The real combo with this card is Take Up the Shield. Granting a creature indestructible ensures it will survive to the end step, and because the counter remains on the creature, it can trigger Baird each turn the two remain in play.
The biggest thing Baird has going for it is being a two-drop. It attacks surprisingly well because it plays so well with combat tricks, which often leave behind a free token at the end of your turn.
8-7. Solid Role Players
Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart is slow, but seems like a bomb in the walls deck, or any slower, spell-heavy deck. It only needs one more creature in play before it can start generating value, and the 1/3 body gets in the way of most of the format's two drops. Essence Scatter and Take Up the Shield are already very strong in this format. Drawing a card off of them is backbreaking. The activated ability feels tossed on, but it helps it turn the corners in the Go Wide decks. This card wants a high spell count and cheap, defensive creatures.
I've complained about the lack of aggressive two-drops in the format and playing Lagomos, Hand of Hatred on turn three essentially gifts you an extra one for free. I'm not sure if the tutor effect is viable, but I love having an extra attacker every turn. Additionally those bodies can be used for Bone Splinters, Gibbering Barricade, and they trigger Phyrexian Vivisector. The last thing aggressive players want is a stable board, and this card does a nice job initiating action every turn.
6-5. Splashable Role-Players
This Gravedigger means business. Bortuk Bonerattle plays to the nature of the format. It's a little slow, but the body is relevant. Whether we get the Raise Dead or Zombify effect matters, but the important thing is that we have high-value targets in the graveyard. This card is very easy to splash and plays well in many of the format's multi-color piles.
This fish has me hooked. When Vohar, Vodalian Desecrator comes down on turn two it can sculpt our hand for the rest of the game. The drain ability is a nice way to finish off opponents, but more often the incidental triggers feel like a free bonus. The real value comes from its second ability. I've ended multiple games by casting Vohar, sacrificing it, and flashing back a removal spell from the graveyard to push lethal damage. The fact that this card can become our best spell in the late game is extremely powerful and makes this a very versatile card.
4. The Build-Around You Should Build Around
The Birds from the Hitchcock movie did less damage than this ornery owl. Balmor, Battlemage Captain is a two-drop fulfilling the dreams of Adeliz the Cinder Wind. It's cheaper, easier to set up, and just as potent on offense. The best Blue-Red decks are aggressive, spell-based decks with Haunting Figment, Ghitu Amplifier, and plenty of cheap interaction. When the Battlemage comes down, damage stacks up.
While this card does require some support in deck-building, its optimal form is one of the scariest legends in the cycle. It does a lot of damage really fast. If our opponent is stumbling, trying to hit their splash mana for kicker or domain, Balmor, Battlemage Captain will punish them dearly for it. The Battlemage wants to be aggressive, so we need to keep that in mind when drafting and building our deck.
Balmor is the first legend on this list I'd be happy first-picking. This owl is a real hoot.
3-2. Living Up to the Legend
Don't be fooled by the stats. Uurg, Spawn of Turg is a lot more than just a beater.
The surveil trigger will pressure our opponents early, helping to shape our draws, and the life gain swings races. Five toughness makes it a formidable blocker in the early stages of the game. This is a creature that wants to be in slower, grindier decks—which are amongst the best in the format.
The lack of evasion limits how powerful Uurg is on offense, and it will often trade in combat, but when it enters the red zone it's usually attacking alongside the likes of Yavimaya Sojourner and Writhing Necromass. The card is deceptively powerful and fits into the slow nature of the format. It stabilizes early and helps turn the corner late.
The pilgrim is pushed. Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim provides a cheap body with deathtouch. This can be a part of an aggressive start, but as the domain players start to stabilize with their plentiful card advantage and powerful kicker spells, each of our chump attacks continues to pressure their life total. The Black-White deck has a glut of three and four drops, but this is a premium two, which are hard to come by in this format.
Even when drawn late, Elas buffers your life total and can turn undersized creatures into points of damage. This card is good at all stages of the game and the longer it stays alive the harder it is to lose.
Tatyova, Benthic Druid was one of the most sought-after cards in the original Dominaria Draft, and her new incarnation lives up to the former's reputation. This format can lead to very cluttered boards. The army of 3/3 flyers Tatyova, Steward of Tides is capable of producing can quickly cut through that. Note that the lands stay creatures even after Tatyova is removed. While it doesn't activate until the late game, this is a powerful inclusion to any Domain deck and is worth splashing.
Stretching our mana for this powerhouse should be easy as it's in two domain-aligned colors. Furthermore, Urborg Repossession or Bortuk Bonerattle move way up my pick order if I have the upside of buying back my Tatyova. This card is the real deal. Sometimes it feels like a three-mana Nissa, Who Shakes the World, which dominated Standard and that didn't even give creatures flying.
While the format is still developing, this is the order in which I'd rank the signposts uncommons at this juncture. I prioritize win conditions for the grindy decks that can fight through the mirrors and two-drops for the aggressive decks because they're at such a premium. While almost all of the cards on this list (sorry Rulik!) are strong additions to your deck, it's always a little riskier to select a gold card, especially those tied to the inherent synergies of one color pair. Some are worth the risk early, some are a great payoff late.
Let me know how these rankings stack up to your own experiences. Which have overperformed and which have let you down? Which have been so exciting you're thinking about building EDH decks around them? Tell me about them in the comments!