Like a True Pioneer – An Exploration of: The Other Lords of Dominaria

Bradcifer goes over what can be done with the *other* lords from Dominaria United in Pioneer.

It’s been a few weeks now since the official release of Dominaria United and the impact has already been felt on Pioneer. Liliana of The Veil and Sheoldred, The Apocalypse have been wreaking havoc upon the format in their new home: Rakdos Midrange. Other sweet Dominaria cards have popped up here and there including Weatherlight Compleated and Braids Arisen Nightmare in Rakdos Sacrifice, as well as Founding of The Third Path as a way to finally make See the Truth from M21 work, which might be my favorite thing to come out of the set! Today however, we are going to be talking about the cycle of Lords in Dominaria United. Within the cycle there is a representation of each color and of five different tribes: Soldiers, Merfolk, Clerics, Goblins, and Elves. Unsurprisingly, there have already been some attempts at Goblins and Elves with some 5-0 lists popping up on Magic Online. So, if you wanna see those decks, click here for Elves and here for Goblins, because they won’t be the focus of today. Instead, I want to show the other Lords some love too, as I think there’s some real potential for all of them to have legs within their respective tribes. 

We’ll start in order of WUBRG with Valiant Veteran, the two-mana 2/2 Lord for Soldiers that can also pump the team from beyond the grave with its activated ability. There’s a few ways to go about this in terms of deck construction, with the easiest being a Human Soldier deck. Thalia, Heretic Cathar, Thalia’s Lieutenant, General Kudro of Drannith, Brutal Cathar, and many other good human cards are coincidentally Soldiers as well. Putting together all the Lords to go with that is a tried and true way to build an aggro deck, but it’s also a bit too boring for my taste. So I went with two other ideas.  

Coco Soldiers

Coco Soldiers
Buy on TCGplayer $246.54
2 mythic
27 rare
26 uncommon
5 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (4)
Lands (23)
5
Plains
$0.05
2
Shefet Dunes
$1.18
4
Temple Garden
$67.96
60 Cards
$259.3
Sideboard
2
Selfless Spirit
$4.98
2
Fateful Absence
$4.98
4
Rest in Peace
$37.96
15 Cards
$60.55

For both Soldiers and for Merfolk, I built a Collected Company deck and a non-Coco version. Collected Company, as we all know, is a key card to many great tribal decks, so this first version I built is obviously the Coco version. Dominaria United not only gave us a really sweet Lord for Soldiers in Valiant Veteran, but also gave us King Darien the (checks Roman numerals) 48th! King Darien XLVIII is a Soldier himself and another Lord to give all of our creatures +1/+1, but also has two abilities to help with our gameplan. The first makes another Soldier token to go wide, while pumping himself to go taller at the same time. The second provides sweeper protection for all of the Soldier tokens we make, which when we look at the rest of the deck, we have a few ways to do. Haazda Marshal acts as a key one-drop in our early go-wide strategy, and the new Resolute Reinforcements is a nice two-drop that you can flash in if needed. Our other three-drop, Brimaz, King of Oreskos, makes tokens as well. Even without much focus on tokens in this list, his first two modes are what make him more than worth it. Rounding out the Soldiers we have another one-drop in Skymarcher Aspirant, which permanently gains flying when we go wide enough. We also include Adanto Vanguard, Kytheon, Hero of Akros, and newcomer Guardian of New Benalia (which I am still waiting for someone to educate me on why she is a Soldier and not a Knight, given the History of Benalia, but we’ll take it!). Their roles are the same, acting as early pressure on the opponent and being difficult to deal with thanks to their abilities to gain indestructible. To round everything out we also want some maindeck interaction and lucky for us, Brutal Cathar is a Soldier!

Tokens!

Tokens
Buy on TCGplayer $389.23
10 mythic
29 rare
17 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (8)
4
Raise the Alarm
$1.00
Sorceries (4)
Artifacts (1)
1
Mirror Box
$1.99
Lands (23)
4
Temple Garden
$67.96
4
Stomping Ground
$63.96
4
Jetmir's Garden
$35.96
4
Sacred Foundry
$79.96
60 Cards
$311.68
Sideboard
4
Selfless Spirit
$9.96
3
Fateful Absence
$7.47
4
Rest in Peace
$37.96
15 Cards
$60.55

Going back to the idea that King Darien’s protection ability was more like flavor text in the last build, my second version goes all-in on the token strategy for Soldiers to see how far we can push it, and boy do we have a lot of options! Emmara, Soul of the Accord makes a Soldier token whenever she’s tapped, the new Baird, Argivian Recruitermakes a Soldier token every end step if we control a creature with altered power (which any of our Lords counts for), and Resolute Reinforcements and Raise the Alarm make tokens! Going even deeper, March of the Multitudes makes Soldier tokens with lifelink and has convoke to help make use of all the tokens we’ve made early on to go even wider! Trostani makes tokens and acts as yet another Lord; Queen Allenal of Ruadach goes tall and helps to make even more tokens still; then as a nice finisher, we have Heroic Reinforcements, which makes two Soldier tokens and pumps the entire team as well as giving haste. We also have a lot of Legendary creatures so throwing in a one-of Mirror Box is fun as well as just getting absolutely out of hand. The name of the game here is go wide, pump the team, and get ’em dead.

Next up we have Merfolk featuring the new Lord, Vodalian Hexcatcher. It is a 1/1 Lord for Merfolk that says you may sac another Merfolk to counter target noncreature spell unless its controller pays one. Let’s get started with the Coco version first!

CoCo Merfolk

Coco Merfolk
Buy on TCGplayer $285.11
2 mythic
36 rare
16 uncommon
6 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (4)
Lands (22)
6
Island
$0.06
2
Yavimaya Coast
$1.38
4
Breeding Pool
$79.96
60 Cards
$358.52
Sideboard
2
Mistcaller
$0.70
3
Aether Gust
$3.87
4
Mystical Dispute
$17.96
15 Cards
$74.47

The main area where Merfolk needs help is the one drop slot. We have Benthic Biomancer to help draw through our deck a bit, Kumena’s Speaker which is an above-rate card 99.999% of the time, and Mistcaller which is just incidental Phoenix/Enigmatic hate as a way to fill out our ranks. But these one-drops are still absolutely our weakest area of the deck. Carrying the team on their backs will be our two two-mana Lords, helping us overwhelm the opponent even with less than stellar one-drops in play. We have some interaction to help clear the way in Merfolk Trickster and Harbinger of the Tides, as well as a new addition and straight-up all star: Vodalian Mindsinger. This card is absolutely insane and has been a great card even on its own. Regardless of what deck you’re playing, if you’re in the colors, I recommend giving it a try somewhere in the 75. The card has overperformed in every game I playtested with it, and may be an even bigger addition to the deck than the new Lord is! Of course we do also have to note how great Vodalian Hexcatcher has been; that ability to counter noncreature spells by saccing a Merfolk has been very good. So good in fact, I want this next build to fully take advantage of that. 

Deeproot

Deeproot Merfolk
Buy on TCGplayer $287.32
2 mythic
34 rare
16 uncommon
8 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Enchantments (4)
4
Deeproot Waters
$1.00
Lands (22)
4
Island
$0.04
4
Yavimaya Coast
$2.76
4
Breeding Pool
$79.96
60 Cards
$276.6
Sideboard
2
Mistcaller
$0.70
2
Aether Gust
$2.58
3
Mystical Dispute
$13.47
15 Cards
$69.87

The idea here is to make more use out of Hexcatcher, and that means making more Merfolk. To do that we have Deeproot Waters, a three-mana enchantment that says “Whenever you cast a Merfolk spell, create a 1/1 Merfolk token with Hexproof.” This is excellent fodder for Hexcatcher and also helps us out by going wide. We still have most of the same one-drops, but instead of Mistcaller I am going with four maindeck Mist-Cloaked Herald, a 1/1 for one that can’t be blocked. Why? Well first because we want more one-drops to turn on Deeproot Waters, but second we’re running Deeproot Elite. A two-mana 1/1 that, whenever a Merfolk enters the battlefield, puts a +1/+1 counter on a Merfolk you control. This is nice wording because it’s not a cast trigger, so it works great with Deeproot Waters in helping distribute these counters. At the top end we have Kumena, Tyrant of Orazca as a card which cares about putting counters on Merfolk, but also have Herald of Secret Streams, a 2/3 for four that makes your creatures with counters on them unblockable! So the goal is to go wide, get Hexcatcher down, counter anything our opponent does along the way while we expand the board with Deeproot Waters, distribute counters with Deeproot Elite, and eventually close out the game with a bunch of unblockable threats.

The last tribe I have to cover is a spicy one! Black graced us with the Cleric Lord in Shadow-Rite Priest. Our wonderful fivehead friend cares about two things: Getting a bunch of Clerics and turning those Clerics into something scary. In the other Lord decks, we had Collected Company since those were really trying to go wide with synergy cards. While we won’t have a Coco deck here, we do have Shadowborn Apostle

Shadowborn Apostle

Shadowborn Apostle
Buy on TCGplayer $402.03
0 mythic
42 rare
4 uncommon
14 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Lands (22)
14
Swamp
$4.90
1
Westvale Abbey
$7.49
60 Cards
$135.28
Sideboard
4
Fatal Push
$19.96
4
Thoughtseize
$87.96
15 Cards
$285.85

Here we have a bunch of Shadowborn Apostles, 20 to be exact. We also have our four Shadow-Rite Priest. Both of them work well together to find a big Demon to throw onto the battlefield and close out the game. Our demons of choice are Villis, Broker of Blood, and Dreadfeast Demon. Vilis just draws our deck while Dreadfeast starts turning our many, many Clerics lying around into copies of itself. Meanwhile, we can get away with straight-up Shadowborn Apostle beatdown early on, with Priest of Forgotten Gods to help clear out blockers and generate value for ourselves. Then, the great thing about the wording on Shadow-Rite is that it says “Black Creature,” so unlike Shadowborn Apostle it doesn’t just have to find a Demon. That’s where Skemfar Shadowsage comes in. It is a finisher that we can draw into and play naturally, but we can also tutor it out in a pinch with Shadow-Rite. Whether we’re looking to drain our opponent’s last bit of life or we’re trying to survive and gain life ourselves, Skemfar is an amazing addition to this list. Finally, we have a source of value generation in Taborax, Hope's Demise – a flying Demon Cleric that grows with each death of our own Clerics, and also lets us draw a card for those deaths as well. After a bit, he can even serve as a finisher in his own right.

Clerics Clerics Clerics

Clerics Clerics Clerics
Buy on TCGplayer $337.21
0 mythic
40 rare
13 uncommon
7 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
60 Cards
$189.22
Sideboard
3
Fatal Push
$14.97
4
Thoughtseize
$87.96
15 Cards
$137.89

For my last take on Clerics, this is a deck that looks fun. We have so many Clerics and even a bit of a lifegain theme in Cleric of Life's Bond, Speaker of the Heavens, Elas il-Kor Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim Voice of the Blessed, Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, and Righteous Valkyrie. Of course we still have Luminarch Aspirant and our namesake Lord to pump the team, as well as one Dreadfeast Demon to potentially search out with the Lord. We throw in a couple of Archfiend's Vessel as well as two copies of Call of the Death-Dweller to either make a Demon with our Archfiends, or just generate decent value by getting a creature or two back. Finally, I tossed in a couple of Taborax for more value when our stuff is dying, and another couple of Skemfar Shadowsages to close out the game. This is fun, it is grindy,  there’s always potential to overwhelm our opponents going wide with the new Cleric Lord, and it’s just good Magic brought to you by Cleric tribal. 

Well there you have it, a deep dive into the other Lords of Dominaria United that just weren’t getting the attention they deserved. Remember to check out the Goblin and Elves decks in the link above, and remember to join the PlayingPioneer Patreon so you can talk with the team – including myself – over on our Discord server! Let me know on any of our socials, or comment below about what you think of these lists. How would you go about building around these Lords? Do you think they have a shot at being at least semi-competitive decks in Pioneer? As always thank you for reading, and I’ll be back next month with some more Exploration of Pioneer!

  • Author/Video Editor

    With a love for Ancient Egypt as a child, Brad’s card game of choice was always Yu-Gi-Oh! until the release of Amonkhet sparked interest in Magic. Ever since then he hasn’t looked back. Pioneer naturally became his favorite format of choice seeing that his starting point with Magic was Amonkhet. Rakdos is his favorite color combination but Kethis Combo will always have that special place in his heart as his favorite deck.

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