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Dominaria United continues Magic: The Gathering’s recent trend of homecomings and betrayals

Another favourite planeswalker falls to Phyrexia

Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Magic: The Gathering’s upcoming set, Dominaria United, was further fleshed out during the August 18th Wizards Presents livestream. The popular trading card game will return to a fan favourite set and bring with it mechanics and enemies, both new and old.

Let’s first talk about the mechanics of the set before we delve into the dense narrative being told over this and the next several releases on publisher Wizards of the Coast’s 2022-2023 calendar. Kicker will make its return from a myriad of sets, and it’s a player favourite with a dead simple premise: when a card is cast, a player can additional coloured Mana for a greater or additional effect.

Dominaria United wrinkles this comfortable formula slightly by allowing cards to pay its kicker cost more than once and with various colours. Take the previewed Archangel of Wrath: it cost two generic Mana and two white to play, but has a kicker that can be paid with black, red or both Mana colours to trigger both effects printed on the card. This multicoloured kickers allows the already fairly powerful Archangel to easily slot into a wider range of decks and gives its controller plenty of tools to access once it hits the field.

Another ability returning to Dominaria is Domain, which powers up cards that bear it in different ways depending on how many land types are present on its controller’s side of the battlefield. That means Nishoba Brawler (also in our preview gallery) will boast a hefty 5/3 power and toughness combo if its player controls one of each land type - Swamp, Island, Mountain, Forest and Plains. Nonbasic lands will also count towards this total, making the inclusion of wonky or unique vistas that much more enticing.

The first new mechanic is Enlist, an ability used during combat that allows a creature to Enlist another by tapping it, though this means the targeted creature can’t be attacking as well. Enlisted creatures add their power to the attacker’s might without putting themselves in the thick of danger, allowing small fries and precious-but-weak mana dorks to still contribute to the combat phase.

Sagas get a slight update with the Read Ahead ability. Story-themed enchantments that boast the Read Ahead Keyword can be played with any number of Lore counters on them (which mark how far along the chapter route the Saga has progressed). This allows players to skip directly to the end of the story, reaping the powerful resolution and the cost of the earlier phases. This is a choice - a Saga with Read Ahead can always be played normally, if so desired.

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Dominaria has long been one of the most fleshed out planes in MTG’s vast multiverse - it’s the home of the Weatherlight crew, the artifact-aligned brothers Urza and Mishra, and it was the inflection point of a new era for planeswalkers. All of these stories, legendary characters and seemingly eternal threats return in Dominaria United, once again threatening a plane that has been through several cataclysmic shifts at this point.

We know from the recent roadmap that the future of the trading card game will be chock full of Phyrexians as the flesh-hating menace reveals its master plan and moves against the peaceful denizens of the Multiverse. That war begins on Dominaria in a more subtle way - WotC designers and artists said Dominaria United will have protagonists such as Karn and Teferi gathering allies and searching for answers while Phyrexian sleeper agents move in the shadows. The company revealed at the end of the stream that one of these was the lion-headed planeswalker Ajani, who has apparently been compleated and turned against his friends - along with a card depicting his new baddie era.

This mirrors the compleation of Tamiyo on Kamigawa, and both narrative moves show WotC’s storytellers aren’t afraid of tossing fan-favourite characters to the lions–oh, hm. Dominaria United has positioned itself as a card set full of fond memories and beautiful vistas but also grim reminders and cutting betrayals. The upcoming set will hit store shelves on September 9th after a global prerelease event from September 2nd through the 8th. Digital players will be able to access the online version starting September 1st.

Be sure to check out all the other news from the Wizards Presents 2022 livestream on Dicebreaker, including details about the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons.

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