Dominaria United for Commander Cube

Dominaria United is sizing up to be a solid set for commander cubes. The main two factors as to why is that the set introduces even more legendary creatures than before with both the commander decks and the legends matter archetype found in the draft set. With a format like Commander, more legendary creature means more choices to include based on that alone. The format is designed for 1v1, so there will not be as many choices for inclusion as there was with Baldur's Gate.

 For this post, I'll be discussing the cards from Dominaria United that I plan to run in my commander cube. I will be categorizing cards based on their function in Commander cube since the format is constructed differently from traditional cube. The categories will be Recommended, Recommended as Commander, and Cards of interest. Each category will be explained in their own section.

The Short List
  • All 10 Common Dual Lands for budget environments
  • Plaza of Heroes
  • Relic of Legend
  • Stenn, Paranoid Partisan
  • Haughty Djinn
  • Braids, Arisen Nightmare
  • Aether Channeler
  • The Phasing of Zhalfir
  • The Elder Dragon War
  • Cruelty of Gix
  • Ratadrabik of Urborg
Recommend as Commander
  • Tor Wauki the Younger
  • Stangg, Echo Warrior
  • Meria, Scholar of Antiquity
  • Zur, the Eternal Schemer
  • Soul of Windgrace
  • Jodah the Unifier
  • Danitha, Benalia's Hope
Cards of Interest
  • Silverback Elder
  • Serra's Paragon
  • Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
  • The World Spell
  • Defiler of Vigor
  • Urza Assembles the Titans
  • Academy Loremaster

In this section, I'm planning to cover the cards I recommend. My criteria is based on the power and synergies of the card. This list will include potential commanders. If they are mentioned in this section, this would means the card had merits beyond potential for commander. There is a separate section for cards that you can try as commander.

All ten of the basic lands in this cycle are highly recommended if you do not run shocks/duals. This is because the land types are an important trait on lands that allow them to fetched or used in cards like High Tide. They are a great budget option alongside the Kaldheim snow dual lands.

Plaza of Heroes is one of the easiest inclusion from this set. It assists in casting any legendary spell in your deck inclusing your commander. Once a legendary is on the board, it can continue to provide the correct color of mana you need. Be aware that it generates mana based on your commander's colors, not color identity. One of the best functions of the card is that you are able to cash it in to protect any legendary creature you are running. This card fits into almost every deck in commander cube because legendary creatures are so integral to the format. There will be times when the card will not function as intended, but the color fixing and protection more than make up for it.

Relic of Legends is probably going to be one of the strongest 3MV mana rocks in commander cube. You are always guaranteed a way to use the second ability of the card. Going further, the typical commander cube deck more than likely runs several other legendary creatures meaning you can activate that ability multiple times per turn/turn cycle. With 2 legendaries, this essentially becomes a 3 mana Gilded Lotus. One thing to note is that you can not use planeswalkers to activate this ability.

Stenn, Paranoid Partisan is going to be great in whatever deck you put him in. Because he is a flexible cost reducer, you are able to build any gimmick deck around him including artifacts, which is probably the most popular option, planeswalkers, enchantments, instants, and sorceries. With these many options, this card makes a solid open ended commander as well as a solid support card for these archetypes, though they need to be in Azorius. He is even able to change the reduced card type offering you the flexibility to change playstyles on the go.

Haughty Djinn seems like an easy inclusion into commander cube. It should be a scaling 3 drop for blue that is strong both early and late game. The deck plays well in most decks, but excels into decks geared towards instants and sorcery. The cost reduction is great and will further enable any spells matter or storm archetype you could be wanting to run. Since most decks run a fair amount of instants and sorceries, this card can easily be a 5/4 Flying threat. When looking beyond this card, these abilities are typically tied to dual colored creatures, so this being monocolored is huge win for all your blue decks.

Braids, Arisen Nightmare seems like a really sweet value engine for commander. She functions independently with her most valuable asset being her passive ability. Her ability scales up with the number of players and forces each of them to make a choice on whether or not to sacrifice the same permanent as you or let you draw a card and lose 2 life. In a game with 3 other players, you are more than guaranteed to draw a card by selecting a card type that another player may not have. You also have the potential to draw 3 cards a turn. For the low cost of three, This can apply some serious pressure on your opponents' resources, while pushing you ahead on card advantage and draining your opponents' life. What makes this even better is that it is a legendary creature, thus you have the option to turn it into a commander.

Aether Channeler gets me excited to include it for a variety of reason. As many in the traditional cube community have stated, this card is bonkers good with its many option. These options ensure that Aether Channeler is an okay topdeck and that he will some impact when he enters. The card plays well with popular cube archetypes, which furthers its ease into a lot of cubes. For my own commander cube, the card types are a huge deal as well. It can go into the Wizards tribal deck to further up my density of wizards for the deck.

4 mana board wipe on an enchantment makes The Phasing of Zhalfir the easiest inclusion. As the only destroy boardwipe in this color, this automatically should be part of your consideration. For my own cube it being an enchantment is another plus. Since I have moved enchantment as an archetype spanning 4 colors, blue has been on the weaker end of that because the color also needs to support artifacts. The adds utility and density in support enchantments in blue.

The Elder Dragon war does almost everything that Red wants to do. You can use it boardwipe to clear all the small things on board, to resculpt your hand, or make a 4/4 flying dragon token. Each of these modes are always relevant to Red, making a universal tool for your red decks to be running. From the way, I am visualizing it being played this is almost never a dead card and can be seen as a delayed confluence (like fiery confluence) card.

The Cruelty of Gix is a card I'm bigger on in commander cube than I was for it in traditional. Ignoring the first chapter since I feel that will be skipped most of the time, I'm focused on the 2nd and 3rd chapter. I run 5 mana cards for tutoring and reanimation already. This card seems like a sweet replacement to get both of those effects into one card. Being an enchantment is another huge plus since black is another of my enchantment colors and fits right in. It is in competition with The Eldest Reborn, but I think the two cards can coexist.

Ratadrabik of Urborg seems like a really sweet addition to reanimator and zombie strategies. This adds extra resilience to each of your legendary creatures on board by allowing them to return as a non legendary 2/2 zombie token of themselves when they die. Since he does not exile the cards, you are able to reanimate them and essentially double up on their effects. This makes him impressive with strong passive effects and abilities. (imagine 2 Elesh Norns).  What adds to his strengths is that he has Ward 2. This matters because most players will try to single target Ratadrabik first before going in with a board wipe. The ward makes it more difficult and could possibly buy you the extra time you might need to protect or set up your plays.

Much like Plaza of Heroes, he seems like an easy slam dunk because he does not need a lot of build around since this is commander cube and adds a ton of value. He scales well into late game, but might struggle early. 

Recommend as Commander
This section is to highlight cards that would not have been made normally, but because they are legendary they have the potential to serve as a commander, which is kinda important.

I'm a sucker when it comes to cards that open up more build variety and storm. Tor Wauki the Younger does this and I'm really interested in including him. He increases all non combat damage dealt by you, which is great for red spells and some black spells. What is more awesome about this card is that when you cast an instant or sorcery, Tor Wauki will do 2 damage to any target making him solid because he deals damage to face or to a creature. This could potentially turn your removal spells into 2 for 1s as well. With lifelink, this essentially turns this ability into a more versatile Tendrils of Agony, one of the more iconic cards for storm. He doesn't benefit from his own passive however. As a 5 drop 3/3 he does not have a good stat line, but I think his passives more than make up for it.

As a commander, he opens Rakdos to playing spells matter and burn (and to a small extent storm). This opens build routes for rakdos decks that go beyond sacrifice and value decks.

Stangg, Echo Warrior offers an interesting effect for equipment decks. We already have Gruul equipments with the introduction of modified and Chishiro, however Stangg actually creates additional copies of equipments/auras with his copy ability. He will warp your choices for equipment and auras since an extra copy means the cards will reenter the battlefield. Running auras and equipment with ETB effects are going to be a huge boon to this commander and they are typically desirable to prevent getting blown out complete should anything happen to the attached creature. 

As a commander, he seems great as the cross pollination of auras and equipment deck, though if those aren't the strategies you are running, he's kinda useless.

Meria, Scholar of Antiquity  is going to be interesting as an option for Gruul Artifacts, like the only option. Red has been a solid option for artifact decks since forever ago, but green has not been. Occasionally, green will get a bit of support for artifacts, but the card type is largely antithetical to the color. Meria functions as both a ramp engine and a source of card advantage, which is good for any deck. She unfortunately can only use nontoken artifacts for its effect, so tokens are not as good as they would be with other artifact decks. Regardless of this minor issue, I believe she will be a strong contender in commander cube and will get better as green gets more artifact support.

As a commander, your current decks are more than likely going to red with a small splash on green. In time, I can see this card growing in playability.


Zur, Eternal Schemer is an easy inclusion for my cube and possibly yours. Since I made the shift to expand the enchantment archetype in cube, Zur is a great fit as you can build around by grabbing a large density of enchantments. He can turn the enchantments into creatures giving them deathtouch, lifelink, and hexproof. This ability is great for a lot of reasons. You can use the ability to trade with larger threats because of deathtouch or stabilize your life total with the lifelink. The hexproof portion is the most significant part of the ability. You can activate it in response to anything targetting the enchantment card for removal. The enchantment will become an enchantment creature, which will get hexproof because of Zur's passive ability. This essentially makes him a Mother of Runes/Eight and a half tails for enchantments.

As a commander, I am expecting that he is potent as long as the density of enchantments in Esper is present. Without it, he's a dead in the waters commander with little utility outside of that.

Soul of Windgrace is a solid inclusion for landsmatter as a deck, but is a functional commander even without much support. He is able to turn all of your land draws into some type of effect by discarding them and playing mana. The discard effect is irrelevant as entering the battlefield or attacking will bring the back to the battlefield. What is even more noteworthy is that he does not have to bring a land card from your graveyard. This forces your opponents to be careful with what type of lands they are sending to their graveyard as sending card draw lands will just give you card advantage. Even without these fancy lands, his abilities to grab lands from the graveyard is great for the sake of building up your mana.

As a commander, he is great, but the only thing keeping him back is his colors. As a tricolor commander he is already in a limited spot and that alone will hurt his inclusion since these spots are more limited.

Jodah, the Unifier seems like a great inclusion at the 5c slot. His main concern is that he wants to be built around all of the legendary cards, which this cube should be filled with. What sets him up for greatness is that he is able to cascade legendary spells into other legendary spells, which is value. For application, this means you can cascade into planeswalkers as well as the legendary instants and sorceries from 2018's Dominaria set. The way that second ability is worded, you are always guaranteed another card unless you run out or the card from hand was too low. The playability of this card is still dependent from commander cube to commander cube, but the more legendary creatures you run including Sarkhan and Gideon, the more value this card becomes.

Easy slam dunk if you include a 5c section with a bunch of legendary, even with minimal commander density, I think the card is solid enough to run.

Danitha, Benalia's Hope is a card I'm looking forward too, though I don't think there's room for her currently. At her baseline, she's like a bigger, advanced version of her 2018 self and I really liked the design of that one for commander cube. For 5 mana, you are getting a creature that has first strike, vigilance, and lifelink with the stat line of 4/4. That's a solid attacker and blocker as you the player can swing freely with her to gain back life without concern about the retaliation. This makes her a solid inclusion into any deck especially since her casting cost are not prohibitive either. The part that makes her crazy is that her ETB let's her cheat out any equipment or aura from hand or graveyard (this would make her a source of recursion as well) and attach it to her. Two things come as a result of this. 1) She gets huge and will need to dealt with asap depending on what was equipped. 2) She can essentially refund or even profit on your mana spent to cast her depending on what equipment was grabbed. Almost any equipment is a solid target for her and those should be available in your cube regardless of power level. Outside of modification archetypes like equipment and auras, she also has a spot in the weird keyword strategies that includes Akroma, Vision of Ixidor.

As a commander, she will be great though her being monocolored will make it difficult for her to be commander. Her baseline being so good makes her a solid inclusion into commander cubes that the ETB ability doesn't really factor into her playability and is a huge upside when it works. This is probably a card I should have categorized higher since I would play this even without the legendary text.  

Cards of Interest
Cards listed in this category are cards that I think are cool and could potentially make it in a cube, but there is no space for them for my current cube. 

Silverback Elder is a strong card that I can see solidifying its spot in EDH cube. The stats for the creature are above average and the ability is strong since you are given multiple options. What's keeping this card down is a couple things. You need other creatures to trigger this ability and the casting cost. The creature issue is a real concern since as a 5 drop, by the time this comes out you should be running low on cards in hand, making it harder to trigger this. In regards to casting cost, this card doesn't have much competition, but the triple green really kills what decks want it. Overall, the card doesn't seem like it does enough, but the versatility of the ability and the creature's stat line might be able to save it.

Serra Paragon is a card I keep hearing is solid and the more I look at it, the better it looks, however I don't like that I have to pay mana to get the cards back. The baseline for the card does not impress me since the other 4 drops I feel have a much better immediate impact than paragon. The biggest comparison to this card is Sun Titan, which has a similar effect on ETB and does it for free, though the card sits at 6 mana vs the 4 it cost to play the paragon. The more I think about it, Yawgmoth's Will/ Underworld Breach is a much more fair comparison and this being seen as a white Yawgmoth's Will makes it pretty sweet. 

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is another card I have mixed feelings on. What I like is that the card fits in as part of a punisher package that plays will with lifegain. Combine this with the draw spells from blue and you might be making pseudo Fireballs. What I dislike is that I do not feel the card does enough on its own. As a 4 drop 4/5 with deathtouch, it doesn't offer anything exciting or new to what we are alrady able to do. The card is more than likely solid, but without an x factor that helps the card stand out., I'm not intending to slot it into my commander cube intentionally.

The World Spell is a card I feel like I should be more bullish on because it is essentially a Tooth and Nail on an enchantment, however much like Sheoldred, I'm not feeling the excitement from this card and there are other cards present in my cube that do a similar function namely Selvala's Stampede and Genesis Wave. I might still consider it if I happen to come across one, but this is not a card I am seeking out. What I do like about the card is that you can set up the 3rd chapter so that you have mana available for the 2 non-saga permanents that enter the battlefield. If you are in the market for a game ending fatty cheat spell, this might be it for you.

Defiler of Vigor has a lot going for it that helps it secure a spot in commander cube. The card is probably the best of the defiler cycle. At face value, it is a 5 mana 6/6 with trample, which is the best body already. Combine this with the two abilities and you have something of value. Green has the highest tendency and desire to play permanents already, which is the only card type affected by the defiler's abilities. They flows into the second ability since a majority of these will be creatures, which appreciate the +1/+1 counters. The card is dependent on you running green permanent and thus it's possible this can be a dud of a card. More than likely a solid option.

Urza Assembles the Titans seems like a really awesome card for superfriends decks and only them. If you support this deck, this card will have a lot more mileage than it would otherwise.

Academy Loremaster
might be a card that I bump higher as a consideration. I like that it functions as a group hug card and a tax card at the same time. It rewards players who are playing at instant speed on other people's turns. For the blue section, this card fits into multiple archetypes already, which warrants the inclusion in my cube. The main concern is that the card may not do enough as is or may not even be desirable to most players.

The Wrap Up

From what I am feeling out about this set, there seems to be a lot of awesome cards that have made certain more expensive strategies more feasible in lower budget/ lower power level cubes. The big losers of this set was definitely the kicker cards, which is unfortunate since I liked a lot of them. The main reason being was that the kicker cost were a different color, which automatically places them into the multicolored section because of the importance of color identity. Unlike traditional cubes where you can be more flexible about it, commander cubes do not have this because of their emphasis on color identity. Regardless of this, I was surprised at the amount of cards that I had picked out for commander cube and this might be in part due to the legends matter theme that is becoming part of modern Dominaria's identity. I did get a chance to play prerelease in the middle of finishing this post and I gotta say the flexibility of the colors was something to aspire too.

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