Magic The Gathering's newest set, Dominaria United is going to release on September 9th, bringing Magic The Gathering back to Dominaria. Dominaria has been a setting in the MtG universe since the very first Alpha of the game, since then it has featured multiple times and was most recently visited in the expansion simply titled Dominaria from 2018. We were lucky enough to have a chance to hear all about what fans can expect from Dominaria United by Mike Turian Product Architect, Sarah Wassel Art Director, and Roy Graham Story Lead.
Magic The Gathering Dominaria United - Storyline and Planeswalkers
Roy Graham, Story Lead for Dominaria began the session by talking about Magic the Gathering's history with Dominaria and how not only was it the setting for the first Alpha but even with dozens of Planes being included in the MtG story Dominaria is "Magic's home".
The protagonist of the set is Karn the Silver Golem. At the beginning of the story he's working to understand the mysterious weapon, the Sylex. He's not too long into this research before he realized that the Phyrexians have returned to the plane. Karn learns that Sheoldred has been turning denizens of the world into sleeper agents to launch an attack. Karn enlists the help of Jaya Ballard, Ajani Goldmane, and Teferi. While attempting to create a plan the Benalish Sleepers are activated forcing the Planeswalkers to retreat. Karn tries to use himself as bait, challenging Sheoldred to draw them out, but just as he's about to head into battle he receives word that a member of his inner circle cannot be trusted. With such a juicy cliffhanger Graham let us know that that's as much of the story they'll be sharing with us for now.
Magic The Gathering Dominaria United - New and Returning Mechanics
Moving away from the grand Magic the Gathering storyline Mike Turian, Product Architect, took over to get down into the details discussing some returning mechanics as well as brand new ones. Where the 2018 Dominaria set were a love letter to the original MtG releases with Dominaria United they're looking to expand and sought further inspiration from Invasion, the first of these references is in the return of the Kicker mechanic.
First introduces as part of the Invasion block the Kicker mechanic allows players to spend additional Mana to be able to activate additional spell effects. Three examples of the Kicker mechanic returning shown were the Benalish Sleeper, Temporal Firestorm, and Archangel of Wrath. Turian spoke on his own love for the Kicker mechanic and that with this resurgence of Kicker cards they wanted to go into using opposing colors as the mana source. For example, the Temporal Firestorm's Kicker effect is activated by paying an additional White or Blue Mana. The Archangel of Wrath's Kicker ability can use one or two extra mana to deal 2 damage to any target per time it was kicked. Depending on whether you want to summon it with 4, 5, or 6 Mana it could completely shift the tide of battle.
So does Domain
Also taking inspiration from Invasion is the Domain keyword ability and how it's used to make players focus on and manage their basic lands on the field. A new Maro card called Territorial Maro (*/*) was shown with the Domain ability "Territorial Maro's power and toughness are each equal to twice the number of basic land types among lands you control".
New Saga Mechanic - Read Ahead
Saga debuted with the 2018 Dominaria and now with Dominaria United, the Saga cards are getting a new feature called Read Ahead. As you cast Saga cards you get to activate Chapter 1, then Chapter 2, and then Chapter 3. With the Read Ahead feature, you can start at whatever Chapter you'd want to begin with. This adds further flexibility to cards like The Phasing of Zhalfir. In a situation where you don't have any nonland permanents on the field Chapters 1 and 2 to phase them might not be useful, using Read Ahead you can skip right to destroying all creatures and gaining 2/2 Phyrexian creature tokens. Now there are multiple scenarios that the Saga will fit into more appropriately.
New Keyword mechanic - Enlist is introduced
Enlist (As this creature attacks, you may tap a nonattacking creature you control without summoning sickness. When you do, add its power to this creature's until end of turn.)
Enlist will allow you to add a different creature's power to your own, it will mean you can't perform those two attacks in a single turn but can boost for a lot of damage and is lower risk for your creatures. It's important to note that this only increases a creature's power and doesn't alter its toughness. On the card shown there was also an additional ability listed for the instances where the Guardian of New Benalia uses enlist that triggers a scry 2. Being able to use the Enlist ability and chain it into different card effects opens up a lot of possibilities for strategies including these cards.
What is in the Magic the Gathering Dominaria United Jumpstart Booster?
Jumpstart boosters will be available for Dominaria United and will be joined by the Draft Set and Collector Booster. Inside the Jumpstart Booster players will find 20 cards total, they will include the following:
- 13 Standard Magic the Gathering Dominaria United cards
- 2 Foil Lands
- 2 Rares
- 1 New Rare unique to the Dominaria United Jumpstart Booster Release
- 1 Rare or Mythic Rare from Dominaria United
- 1 Non-Foil Basic Land featuring the showcase stained-glass treatment
Two Jumpstart boosters should be all a new player needs to be able to create a deck and begin playing Magic the Gathering. There are 10 different themed boosters, two for each of the colors so players can decide which they want and get playing. The Rare that you'll find in the Jumpstart booster will always be relevant to the theme.
Dominaria United Commander Decks
The Dominaria United commander decks are the standard 100-card ready-to-play decks that all have two foil cards and several new Magic cards, each Commander box will also include within it a Collector Booster sample pack that will have two cards included in them. One of these cards will have the stained glass treatment too, the other card will be a Rare or a Mythic Rare either in traditional foil or non-foil from the Dominaria United set.
One of the Commanders is Dihada, Binder of Wills. It was explained that she doesn't just play well with legendary creatures but also with Legendary Artifacts and Lands. The other Commander that was shown was Jared Carthalion, the star of the MtG comic series who was able to master all five colors. It was later teased by Graham that this wouldn't be the only lore deep cut that we see. The complete decklist for everything included in these Commander Decks will be available on August 19th so it's not long to wait!
Magic the Gathering Dominaria United Set Box Toppers
Included in a box of Dominaria United is a box topper. The box topper is a new take on an old Legendary Creature, the example shown to us was Stangg, Echo Warrior and the Stangg Twin. An added ability of his is that he won't just create the Stangg Twin upon an attack but any Aura or Equipment that's attached to Stangg will also reflect on the Stangg Twin. This ability was created with the idea of being used as a deck hook to build around.
There are 19 new Legendary Creates and 1 new Legendary Planeswalker. You can find these box toppers in Common, Rare, or Mythic. Collector Booster Box-Toppers will have the chance to also obtain these cards in Foil Etched. These cards will only be Commander and Legacy legal, and not Standard legal so keep that in mind.
Magic the Gathering Dominaria United Art Treatments
Stained Glass Showcase Treatments
With each set, there's a new treatment that will be added to change up the look of the cards. For the Dominaria United set cards will be getting a Stained Glass treatment. This was chosen to show off the legacy and importance of Dominaria. The idea behind each of these pieces is that they were imagined to be built in a place of reverence to what they're depicting and so will often not just show the subject of the card in day-to-day activities but instead will show off the epic power or display a key moment in that subject's development or story beats. Each of the art pieces shown exudes character and does a good job highlighting the character and what's important to them.
Collector Boosters will also have the chance to get a new special border Textured Foil treatment.
Borderless Commanders and Pain Lands
All four Commanders for Dominaria Unlimited will be getting Borderless treatments. The two that were shown during our time were Jaya, Fiery Negotiator, and Liliana of the Veil. You'll be able to find them in Set Draft and Collector Boosters in Foil or Non-Foil and all of these Planeswalkers are posing in front of stained glass windows tying the theme into the Stained Glass Showcase Treatments.
Borderless Plain Lands are also returning. Borderless versions of Yavimaya Coast, Adarkar Wastes, Shivan Reef, Sulfurous Springs, Karplusan Forest, and Caves of Koilos were all shown. These will allow you to tap for colorless mana, or if you tap for either of the colors on the cards you'll take damage.
Magic the Gathering Arena - Dominaria United Update
Dominaria United will bring with it a number of things to Magic the Gathering Arena. Of course, the full set of cards will be included in the game, on top of that, there will also be new loading screens and new player avatars.
When can I get my hands on Magic the Gathering Dominaria United?
Dominaria United will be available to play in Magic the Gathering Arena on September 1st. The physical pre-release period will begin on September 2nd, and the full tabletop release will take place on September 9th.