Wizards Presents had a lot to offer, but the franchise’s introduction to Dominaria United arguably had more. From a reimagining of an infamous old mechanic to the confirmed death of MTG favorites, a lot is going on in this preview. There was so much stuff that we had to split it up among several articles! We will be sure to link everything you need to know about MTG’s latest news at the end of this one.
Liliana of the Veil Returns!
This infamous Planeswalker was initially printed in MTG’s Innistrad set. This is the most potent form of Liliana ever printed and is one of the most powerful Planeswalker cards the game has ever seen. We already did a deeper dive into this card in a previous article. You can check that out here.
The Raven Man
The Raven Man is a character in Liliana’s background that has been manipulating her since the beginning. MTG players have wanted to see this illustrious character get his own card for a long time, and those prayers may finally be answered. While The Raven Man may be playing a side role for the upcoming Phyrexian invasion, don’t let this fool you. There’s a good chance that The Raven Man might actually be one of the scariest foes MTG has ever seen.
The Raven Man’s interests align with Liliana of the Veil. These cards can be used in conjunction to create an army of Ravens to tear your opponent down while tormenting their mind (also known as discarding their hand and making them flip a table).
Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart
Raff Capashen is still doing well in Dominaria United. This card, in particular, seems more like a Commander or Limited build-around than a Standard staple, but the Stained Glass art showcased on the right looks absolutely amazing! Don’t underestimate the ability to tap some small creatures for card draw, especially if you have effects that can untap them again. This can go insane with the Isochron Scepter Dramatic Reversal combo! (albeit everything can to an extent)
This is one complicated MTG card. Sol’Kanar is yet another new take on an old Legacy legendary card. According to MTG Designer Melissa DeTora, this card took heavy inspiration from Demonic Pact, an enchantment capable of granting insane boons before literally causing you to lose the game. While Sol’Kanar won’t kill you outright, if you give him too much time, he will most certainly try to.
Squee, Dubious Monarch
Squee has been around for so long that he finally gained some authority. Well, if you read his background story, you’ll learn that Squee’s rule may not necessarily be a real one. Either way, we have a sort of downgraded Goblin Rabblemaster effect in creating Goblin tokens. Fortunately, paying dividends to his immortal nature, Squee has Escape for 3R and four other cards in your graveyard. This looks like a decent finisher in aggressive and midrange decks alike.
Pain Lands Return
Pain lands have returned to Dominaria United! All of these lands feature legendary locations in MTG lore, so it makes sense that we return to these iconic lands when returning to MTG’s most storied plane. These will likely see some Standard play, but Pain lands generally see less play than their dual land counterparts because of the potential to hurt yourself a lot over time.
Jhoira, Ageless Innovator
This is a fascinating effect on a cheap creature. Jhoira can perpetually cheat out more significant artifacts each time her activated ability is activated. Give it some time, and Jhoira can cheat out a literal army. Seeing as one of MTG’s upcoming sets is artifact-themed, I would not be surprised if Jhoira got more impactful as new Standard sets are released. More about that can be found at the end of this article.
Zur, Eternal Schemer
A big part of Zur’s lore was his desire to become an immortal being. After everything else in MTG slowly became immortal, Zur got his wish. Creators aren’t even really sure how it happened, but we have a powerful creature as a result of it. Zur can’t search out enchantments anymore, but he does turn an enchantment into a nuke. For the cheap price of two mana, Zur grants Deathtouch, Lifelink, and Hexproof to anything he animates. In terms of Power and Toughness, Zur has the standard animation ability that cares about the animated enchantment’s power and toughness.
Soul of WindgraceLord Windgrace was a powerful Planeswalker that surfaced in a Commander Precon deck with a storied past. This character gave his life to protect Dominaria from the original Phyrexian invasion long ago. When passing, Windgrace imbued some of his soul into his home of Urborg to rise again and fight in dire need. Well, Windgrace’s old foe seems pretty dire to me.
The creators did a good job tying themes between both iterations of Windgrace in MTG. Both cards care about lands and are Jund in their color identity. There is a chance this could see some Standard play depending on how things go for the format.
Jared has been confirmed to be the Commander of the new Painbow Commander deck coming out in Dominaria United. This iteration of Jared Carthalion represents the state that he is in when he ascends to Planeswalkerhood after mastering all of the colors of mana in the old 90’s MTG comic series. Honestly, for a WUBRG Planeswalker, Jared’s abilities seem rather underwhelming in a Superfriends deck. That being said, this Walker will play well with abilities that care about how many colors a creature is since he creates tokens that are all colors with his plus ability.
Dihada, Binder of Wills
Dihada is the Commander for the Legends’ Legacy deck coming out with Dominaria United. This Commander deck helps to push a Mardu ‘Legendary matters’ theme that will be a unique point that players can use to build new decks. Dihada’s plus and minus abilities are ok, but her ultimate is incredibly scary. Few things translate to ‘win the game’ in Commander, but this may be one of them.
Stangg, Echo Warrior
Stangg, Echo Warrior is yet another legends Retold Booster Box Topper that is an older card getting a glow-up in Dominaria United’s Eternal legal line. When attacking, this card creates a copy of itself and copies of any auras or equipment on Shang attached to the copy. All of these cards disappear at the end step, but this is a new unique mechanic that Gruul can use to build a new Commander deck. It may synergize well with the Gruul Modified precon released with Kamigawa, Neon Dynasty.
Svitri, Dragon Master
Sivitri might be the most exciting card in the Legends Retold promotion. This four mana Planeswalker wants to be the Commander of a Dimir Dragon tribal deck. This is not the typical color combination that one associates with Dragon tribal, creating a unique opportunity to create something rare and exciting for your opponents. Honestly, I can see this Planeswalker having a place in multiple Commander decks. Any deck that cares about Dragons will want Sivitri. At the same time, Planeswalker decks can find an opportunity with her while opening the door for a few dragons that synergize with the overall game plan. I will definitely be looking for some shiny copies of Sivitri for my Commander decks!
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
This Sheoldred spoiler means that our previous ‘leak’ that surfaced on Reddit was a fake after all. Sheoldred may not be super powerful in constructed (I have faith it’s good enough for Standard), but it will unleash absolute havoc in Commander. Now you finally have a way to brutally punish that guy in your playgroup who loves nothing more than asking the table if they’re paying the one for Rhystic Study. Now you can gleefully say ‘no thanks!’ as the Commander hero decided to Bring Sheoldred, the Apocalypse cackles at their self-destruction.
Defiler of Dreams
This card looks wild. Defiler of Dreams is a disgusting engine that will likely create a new Standard archetype. In older formats, you can amass an army of tiny flyers by paying life that replace themselves. If not for its mana value of five, Defiler of Dreams would have a high chance of seeing play in older formats. I hope this is wrong, though, as Defiler of Dreams is everything I want to do in MTG on a card.
Returning Mechanic: Kicker
Benalish Sleeper was a spoiler used in the Dominaria introduction to highlight some artistic themes on the plane, as well as spoil the return of Kicker in the set. This looks like an absolutely fantastic Limited card!
Returning Mechanic: Domain
Domain is a mechanic that cares about the number of basic land types you control. This can be used to create some powerful creatures, as demonstrated by Territorial Kavu and Scion of Draco from Modern Horizons Two. Remember that 10/10 for five spoiled by Rosewater? How much do you want to bet that it’s a Domain creature?
Archangel of Wrath
Archangel of Wrath looks like a terrifying Limited bomb. Since we know Domain is in Dominaria United, there may be a lot of fixing, making these Kicker costs easy to pay. Since Archangel of Wrath has Lifelink, any extra damage will also heal its owner. Prepare for a lot of Limited players to be groaning about this card.
NEW Mechanic: Read Ahead
This new mechanic is absolutely brilliant and my favorite thing that came out of the show today. Read Ahead will only be found on Saga cards, allowing its owner to let the card enter with any number of lore counters. You can immediately skip to chapter three of a saga with Read Ahead. The caveat is that you need to skip chapters. If you should choose to start at Chapter two, you will not trigger chapter one.
That aside, here is the Blue board wipe Rosewater terrified MTG fans within his spoiler. It’s not difficult to construe that most MTG fans expected a catch with a blue board wipe, and this one definitely has that. The Phase Out abilities in chapters one and two of The Phasing of Zhalfir are incredibly decision intensive. You can use them to push damage through to your opponent or Phase your own creatures out so they can avoid Chapter Three.
New Mechanic: Enlist
Enlist is a complicated mechanic with many similarities to the infamous Banding one from MTG’s past. Basically, when attacking with a creature with Enlist, you can tap another untapped creature that is not attacking and does not have summoning sickness. If you do, you can add that creature’s attack to the Enlisted creature. On a different note, Guardian of New Benalia looks primed to see some Standard play. Not only does this card fix your draws, but it can push heavy damage while protecting itself.
Lore Leak Confirmed
Ajani has been confirmed to be Phyrexia’s next Compleated Planeswalker. Not only that, Ajani is the one card in the set that will be featuring Poison counters. This high-speed clock is not too tricky for Ajani to get to, but should you cast this card for its lower Compleated cost, it will enter with only two loyalty counters. This seems like good sideboard material for a grindy midrange deck or an aggressive deck in a midrange metagame.
Unfortunately, this also confirms the death of another Planewalker. If you want to read more about that, here’s our coverage of the original spoiler.
Braids, Arisen Nightmare
This doesn’t seem like a fantastic Standard card but looks awesome for EDH. Braids, Arisen Nightmare, cares about all opponents with its sacrifice ability which helps to break parity in Commander games. The advantage seems too minimal for constructed formats unless you build around the card.
This won’t be Standard legal, but it looks fantastic for Desert lands. Hazezon has some potent abilities, allowing you to not only recur Deserts (which like to destroy themselves) but also amass multiple tokens per Desert drop. This is definitely strong enough to warrant an EDH deck!
There’s a Lot More Where These Came From!
The crazy thing is that we’re not even close to done. Cards were and are getting spoiled as you read this article (and as it was written), so be sure to keep your eyes locked on MTGRocks to ensure you don’t miss anything. Astute MTG fans may have noticed we’ve avoided mentioning the Dominaria Remastered Spoilers here, but that’s because we believe they’re so massive that they need their own article! Check back for that soon!
Here is a summary of everything MTG to catch up on from August 18 so far: