Dovin, Grand Arbiter
– Ravnica Allegiance
February 22, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 3.38
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I actually didn’t follow the story of the Kaladesh block as closely as I might have, but I definitely would have picked Dovin as the most likely new character from there to show up later as a servant of Bolas. His Ravnica Allegiance incarnation is even doing the finger pyramid of evil contemplation. It definitely takes a lot of planning and contemplation, evil or otherwise, to use him – while a lot of the other Azorius cards in this set are set up for control-style decks, Dovin wants to use a lot of creatures. And yet his ultimate is a sort of super-Impulse that would go great in control and combo decks. Merfolk certainly spring to mind in larger formats, with their evasive abilities being a solid way to get lots of loyalty counters on him, though if the payoff is just more evasive creatures, that might seem a little underwhelming. I actually think some decks will get surprisingly much mileage out of his -1 ability. One extra life point is not generally going to be game-winning, but I’ve played with Soul Warden in enough non-combo decks to know that it can be annoying and add up over time. Plus, the Thopter token can suicide-block reasonably well (and, to be fair, it generates a target for his +1 as well).
Dovin 2.0 is…weird. He’s a very unusual planeswalker, seemingly in a direction different from what Azorius usually wants to do (read: Nothing). He’s certainly powerful in distinctive ways, but he’s definitely not a “win the game on the spot”-type walker.
Let’s start with his +1 and his -1. +1 gives Dovin additional loyalty when your creatures do combat damage…which pairs well with white going wide (and Boros/Selesnya), but feels somewhat out of place in Azorius, which would usually rather sit back and react. That said, it pairs well enough with his -1, which makes an evasive Thopter to thop the crap out of your opponents (and gives you a bit of life with it). The idea, of course, is that you can use his -1 to make a Thopter and then start using his +1 to build up his loyalty to his ultimate.
Dovin’s power is definitely in his ultimate: pick 3 out of the top 10 cards of your library. And it can go off the turn after he drops, if you use his +1 and get a bunch of little creatures in. This isn’t a conspicuously powerful ultimate…but it’s a powerful draw and filter effect in one go, and it’s also possible to set it up so Dovin can start ticking back up to do it all again in a few turns.
There are shells where Dovin can work, like white-heavy token strategies. He feels a bit weird for Azorius specifically, and he’s not gamebreaking. But he can be a subtly powerful bit of card advantage that strikes out of nowhere, and that’s sometimes all you need.
We would love more volunteers to help us with our Magic the Gathering Card of the Day reviews. If you want to share your ideas on cards with other fans, feel free to drop us an email. We’d be happy to link back to your blog / YouTube Channel / etc. 😉
Visit the Magic Card of the Day Archive! Click here to read over 4,000 more MTG Cards of the Day! Daily Since 2001.