The Disturb mechanic in Magic the Gathering was introduced in the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt set. It’s kind of neat to have Spirits that you can recast from your graveyard, essentially getting two uses out of them. The downside is that if it would be removed from the battlefield, it gets exiled instead of going back to your graveyard. It was a neat concept, but not really much to build around. Now, the Crimson Vow follow-up set brings with it a new caveat to the Disturb mechanic, bringing dead Spirit creatures back to life, but this time as Enchantments. In particular, the Legendary Creature to champion this mechanic, Dorothea, Vengeful Victim, perfectly embodies this new theme.
Dorothea, Vengeful Victim is just a two-drop creature who flies and has a whopping four power and toughness. Of course, this huge jump in power and toughness means she has a huge drawback. Whenever she attacks or blocks, you have to sacrifice her at the end of combat. While this sounds terrible, fortunately, she has a flip-side that you can play from the graveyard for just three mana.
Long-time Magic the Gathering players will recognize the ability of Dorothea’s Retribution. It’s exactly the same as Geist of Saint Traft, a throwback to the original Innistrad set. Interestingly enough, Shadows Over Innistrad featured an Aura Enchantment called Invocation of Saint Traft that does almost exactly what Dorothea’s Retribution does, except with a change in creature type from Angel to Spirit. That is: “Whenever the enchanted creature attacks, create a 4/4 white Spirit creature token with flying that’s tapped and attacking. Sacrifice that token at end of combat.”
The original Geist of Saint Traft and Invocation of Saint Traft do have an interesting difference in their ability beyond the creature type. The Angel tokens from both the Geist and the Invocation are exiled at end of combat, not sacrificed. This actually is a very significant difference, as being forced to sacrifice a creature triggers “when a creature dies” abilities or “whenever you sacrifice a permanent” abilities. It’s a subtle difference, but one that was likely made completely on purpose.
Perhaps even more interesting is that while Dorothea herself is a Legendary creature, meaning you can only have one of her in play at a time, the Dorothea’s Retribution enchantment, like the Invocation of Saint Traft, is not legendary. This means you can chain through several copies of Dorothea and have multiple copies of her Retribution enchantment in play.
Of course, being that Dorothea’s Retribution creates Spirits, there’s lots of synergy with Spirit tribal support, such as power and toughness boosters like Patrician Geist. It also has an interesting synergy with the mythic rare Hallowed Haunting, a card we’ve reviewed previously, as it plays into both the Spirit and Enchantment themes of that card.
Perhaps the most awkward part of Dorothea, Vengeful Victim comes into play in Commander (EDH). In the 99 of a Commander deck, she’s perfectly fine, of course; ironically, Geist of Saint Traft himself would be thrilled to have her in the deck as an additional creature token to put into play as an attack trigger. But, as a Commander, when she dies, you’d have to choose to send her to your graveyard rather than the Command Zone. It works, of course, but there’s so much graveyard hate in Commander that it’s more than likely you’ll have to send her back to the Command Zone before she gets to come back as an Aura. The good news is, that if she becomes exiled in Commander while she’s your Commander, she returns to your Command Zone rather than being exiled permanently.
Then again, Dorothea, thanks to her huge power and toughness, could become a pretty fun Voltron style Commander. Since she flies, if you can dump enough Aura Enchantments onto her, she can take out a player in one shot, as Commander has the alternate ability to kill a player by dealing 21 damage to that player by a single Commander. Plenty of Aura support exists within the Spirit tribe already, so while it may not be the most consistent deck, it would be a lot of fun.
Dorothea is also a possibility within one of my favorite all-time Commander decks, Bruna, Light of Alabaster, as yet another potential Aura. The only awkward thing about Dorothea is that she’s not technically an Aura at all, unless you specifically bring her back with her Disturb ability. That being said, Invocation of Saint Traft is probably the better play here, but then you could play both. As a pretty beefy creature, she’s also a potential alternate way to deal a lot of damage before getting Bruna down. She may actually be better in another Aura happy deck like Galea, Kindler of Hope, where Dorothea could be yet another creature to suit up with not just Auras but Equipments, as well. Then, Dorothea’s Retribution can return to enchant Galea later on in the game.
As easily one of the more awkward Commanders, Dorothea, Vengeful Victim is probably better suited to a supporting role. But, in your typical Constructed formats like Standard, I can see her definitely seeing play in Spirit tribal decks. She may not be bad in Modern, either, although probably only at one or two copies, and she fits perfectly into the Collected Company strategy as a creature with mana value 3 or less.
Over time, I will certainly revisit Dorothea, Vengeful Victim within these pages, as I feel that she may be even better than she looks on paper. In practice, many of these Legendary Creatures can fall completely flat, but some actually prove to be much better in the long run. Interestingly, back in the first days of playing the first Innistrad set, Geist of Saint Traft didn’t look good on paper, a 2/2 that was forced to attack. But, having Hexproof – which prevented opponents from casting removal of him – was enough for him to do enough damage, even if he was blocked and killed, thanks to the 4/4 flying Angel he brought with him.
While Invocation of Saint Traft has proven to be a fairly niche Enchantment, thanks to not boosting the creature it enchants per se, Geist of Saint Traft is still a popular creature inside of the Commander format. However, Dorothea, Vengeful Victim may do enough as a creature, even if she’s an all-in attacker or blocker, to make her worth an inclusion in a wide variety of decks. She’s actually perhaps better in traditional 60-card Magic decks, however, and she may squeeze her way into Modern, too.
What do you think of Dorothea, Vengeful Victim?