Aftermath: The Winners of Dominaria United

Welcome into the Aftermath series where I reexamine sets that have been out for at least a year. During preview seasons, many cube content creators, me included, will do a preliminary look at cards and try our best to gauge how they will perform in cube. This is a tough endeavor as cubes vary wildly between different restrictions and players preference. Combine this with the fact that we haven't really seen the cards in action and what we all provide is an incomplete picture of the ceiling and baseline. As time progresses, the cards are better understood and the community does an amazing job of putting out this information. These post are intended to highlight the winners, duds, and interesting cards in cube from the set. 

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Dominaria United was my favorite set to draft last year. It felt like an amazing mix of being simple yet complicated. It was my most drafted set so far and I still get excited when I see drafts return on Arena. The card had a lot of bangers for varying cube power levels, though many of them were short on making it into all cube levels. 

The Selects

Sheoldred the Apocalypse is the biggest winner from the set by a long shot and has proven to be an absolute nightmare in the eternal formats. At one point, you were able to play the same deck with a bit of tweaking in Modern, Pioneer, and Standard because of Sheoldred and Fable of the Mirror-breaker. This power easily translates to cube and once I started playing with it, it was easy to understand why. It is situated at a point where the moment you play it, you are either accelerating towards the end of the game or are stabilizing. The oversize body makes for a great wall and when combined with deathtouch, it makes it difficult to block or attack into. The ability is the nail in the coffin when facing this card as Sheoldred's controller doesn't have to actively play the game anymore. There is a very small window, in which your opponents can interact with it to try and stop it. As more draw cards come out each year, this card just gets better and better. It is going to stand the test of time for at least the next 5 years as long as power is not a concern. 

Serra Paragon was a card I wasn't too keen on initially but after a year of playing with it, I can't deny its impact. I am still a strong Sun Titan fan and it wasn't until I played Serra Paragon on Arena in standard and their cubes that it clicked. Though the card doesn't do anything initially if you don't play a card from your graveyard, every subsequent card you do play adds to the value of this card. You are also able to play lands through this same method, making situations where you discard cards like cycling and channeling pure value. The deep graveyard play and strong body make for an amazing card. This card can only get better with more cards being available. 

Cut Down was probably one of the harder cards to evaluate when it was announced. Everyone knew it was good because it was a 1 mana removal spell, but no one was sure how good it was because of the weird condition on it. For anyone who still isn't sure, it will generally hit about 60-80% of the most common cube creatures played. Play it.

Evolved Sleeper was predicted to be a solid card because of its nature as a Figure of Destiny card and this has proven true for the same reasons. These cards are powerful because of their ability to scale at different points in the game. This flexibility opens them up to being demanded in decks across the spectrum. Each of its abilities allow you to spend mana without spending a card. Evolved Sleeper is exceptionally good as its 2nd and 3rd forms make for a decent attacker/ blocker for a low investment. The final ability is just icing as it grows into a card draw engine and a menace on the battlefield. Being monoblack does limit it to monoblack, but I can't imagine a black deck that doesn't really want this.

Elas il Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim was a card that didn't stick out too much for me, however it ability to function as both a soul sister and aristrocrat: two things that BW/ Orzhov decks commonly want to play with into one card done very well. The card is innocuous to exist in a large swathe of cubes, but isn't overbearing to play against.

Braids, Arisen Nightmare is my favorite card from this set and the one I find most interesting to play and build around. She bears a strong resemblance to her previous monoblack iteration and fits into similar shells. Her ability plays well with almost any graveyard strategy on your end as a sacrifice outlet. No matter the decision being made by your opponent you are never behind in card advantage as either they give you a card to draw and they lose life or they lose a card.When built around properly, she partially resembles the situation that Sheoldred the Apocalypse puts you through. She's in a unique enough spot that she can maintain her position, though not every cube can adequately support her. 

The End Step

There were a ton of other choices from this set that I missed out on or that you guys adore, but that's really a testament to how good this set is. For cube and the eternal format, black got a nice bump that fixed a lot of the clunky issues that I started to notice. Sure it wasn't the strongest financially, but there were so many playable and fun cards from the set with a strong limited environment that really made it probably the best set of 2022. I want this set to be remembered for those things rather than $80 Sheoldred, but we know how it goes.

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