Some time ago, I told myself I needed to create a new project for myself that simply hasn’t been done regularly. That is, build a deck around a card randomly chosen from Scryfall. Of course, I knew how brutal this could be, but my restrictions are simple: include at least one copy of the random card in the deck and build around the theme of the card.
The Random Roulette of Scryfall’s Random Card gave us a pretty brutal card to build around, giving us a common removal spell that requires you to run all five basic land types to be worth playing. To be fair, Domain as a mechanic has some powerful cards, but this is not one of them. The only mention I can find of this card on MTGTop8 is a White/Blue/Splash Black Limited list from Pro Tour Honolulu 2009.
However, we can build a Domain deck thanks to the fact that two extremely good cards with the Domain mechanic exist: Tribal Flames and Exploding Borders. Modern Horizons 2 also gave us a solid Domain creature with Territorial Kavu, plus a pretty sweet payoff with Scion of Draco. So, we’ll focus mainly on Red and Green, while splashing our other three colors to turn on Domain. Also, we can build a Domain deck that doesn’t break the bank, thanks to there being many dual lands that have basic land types printed on them.
While we could gain many cards by going back to Legacy, I’ve decided to stick to Modern for this Domain deck. There are some neat Domain cards from Planeshift, but Modern has all that we need. All we have to do is stick to Domain, get all five basic land types in play, and burn out our opponent into misery.
Drag Down Domain (Modern)
Companion: Jegantha, the Wellspring
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Territorial Kavu
3 Scion of Draco
Non Creatures (19)
1 Drag Down
4 Exploding Borders
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Tribal Flames
3 Ketria Triome
2 Indatha Triome
1 Raugrin Triome
2 Savai Triome
2 Zagoth Triome
Jegantha, the Wellspring
(Note: Ignoble Hierarch was my original one-drop creature for the deck, thanks to the Exalted triggers it could give to our Territorial Kavu and Scion of Draco. But, as we play so few creatures already, Birds of Paradise is not only mega cheaper on Magic Online for testing purposes, but is perfectly fine for the slot. If you have Ignoble Hierarch, it’s probably the superior play, thanks to having nothing but Red and Green cards in the deck, except for the lone copy of Drag Down.)
The entire point of this Domain deck is to not only ramp quickly into all five land types, but also to burn out our opponent along the way. Birds of Paradise helps us ramp into our cheap ramp spells quickly. Sakura-Tribe Elder exists for two reasons, to fetch out basic lands, but also provide a free block in doing so. Territorial Kavu can max out as a 5/5 for two mana, which is quite excellent, but also allows us to loot (discard a card, draw a card) or remove a target card from a graveyard. Both are very relevant in Modern. But Modern Horizons 2 also gave us a finisher for Domain in Scion of Draco. A 4/4 flyer for 12 mana looks horrible, but most of the time, this will cost us between two and four mana, as it costs two generic mana less for each basic land type we control.
For our noncreature spells, we have just a single copy of Drag Down, obligatory for this challenge. It’s not absolutely horrible, as it can essentially be a bad version of Dismember at best, giving a target creature minus 5 minus 5. Otherwise, we’re all in on the ramp and burn plan. We have two copies of Cultivate, which would be three copies if we could cut the Drag Down. We could board it out, of course, but that would be cheating! The Cultivate is essentially a draw two by getting us two of our basic lands in one shot, putting one into play tapped immediately.
Next we have a really neat ramp spell in Exploding Borders. It is essentially just a Rampant Growth for four mana, but it also burns our amount for each basic land type we control. We are fine casting this spell after we already have all five land types, since it’s a Rampant Growth that can deal as much as 5 damage to our opponent. Tribal Flames is similar, but it deals X damage to target creature or player. That means it can be used as removal if need be. It also only costs two mana.
Farseek is our best ramp card, as it fetches out any land with the Plains, Island, Swamp, or Mountain basic land type. This is where the Triomes of Ikoria come into play. Because we have these triple land type cards, we can actually skip playing fetch lands, and focus on playing basic lands. Triomes also have the option to cycle, so if we happen to run into a Blood Moon, which turns all nonbasic lands into Mountains, we can simply toss it away. The funny thing is, we are fine with having lots of Mountains, since we are primarily a Red deck. We round out the spells with a full playset of Lightning Bolt, as we don’t want to be short on damage!
The beauty of the sideboard is that I’m not being lazy at all. We run Jegantha, the Wellspring as our Companion, since we can. While the tap to add WUBRG mana is nice, we play it more as a 5/5 body that can incidentally help us cast an Exploding Borders. More importantly, if we have a do-nothing turn where we are waiting to get our fourth or fifth land type in play, we can spend it adding Jegantha to our hand for three mana.
Yes, the rest of the sideboard is basic land, because there is literally no way we can alter our deck after sideboarding, and in Modern, turning your entire deck into Basic lands actually nullifies a lot of hate that comes in after boarding. It’s pretty freaking hilarious to watch cards like Blood Moon, Field of Ruin, and other nonbasic land hate actually become entirely pointless against us. Yes, it makes our plan run a bit slower, but we are set up to seek out basic lands anyway!
Is the deck actually good? On paper, it certainly can win. The major issue is if a Leyline of Sanctity comes down and gives our opponent hexproof, it’s probably game over for us. Technically, we can still win by hopefully winning the long game. You could also play some Zendikar/Khans fetchlands to speed up the process, I suppose, but I actually really think the Triomes are good enough! We also have the Kavu to loot cards away that no longer serve us, but I doubt we will often run out of basic lands to search out.
I’ll certainly give this deck a go in the Magic Online tournament practice queues. It was so cheap to build outside of the Triomes on Magic Online. I hardly expect it to win many games, but I will certainly share my results in these pages when I get the chance to run it. This was a really fun deck-building experience that forced me into having to build this exact strategy, perhaps the only real Domain-only strategy that works with the cards we have in Modern!
What Domain deck support would you like to see added to Magic the Gathering?