Last updated on October 5, 2022

Destroy Evil - Illustration by Anna Christenson

Destroy Evil | Illustration by Anna Christenson

Looking to play Sealed instead? Our Ultimate Sealed Guide is right here!

Greetings planeswalkers! Today it’s time for another ultimate guide, this time about the newest Draft format, Dominaria United. DMU is a colorful and diverse set with a lot of depth and lots of supported archetypes where you can have success playing two, three, or even five colors.

Let’s get into the specifics of how best to dominate your Drafts in Dominaria United!

Set Mechanics

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief (Dominaria United) - Illustration by Evyn Fong

Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief (Dominaria United) | Illustration by Evyn Fong

If you’ve already drafted Dominaria United then you’re likely familiar with the set’s four mechanics: kicker, domain, enlist, and read ahead. I won’t bore you by repeating the basics, but I do want to touch on some more advanced concepts for each mechanic.

Kicker

Kicker is of course the quintessential MTG mechanic. Every card with kicker is basically two cards in one, and every mechanic in the game is basically just kicker. You should always evaluate every kicker card for its base mode and its bonus kicker mode. Whether or not you use a card’s base mode or kicked mode varies from card to card.

A notable fact about kicker in Dominaria United is that no card in the set has a kicker cost of the same color as its base cost. You need to be that 2-color pair or have some other way to generate the required mana (like Crystal Grotto or Salvaged Manaworker) to play cards for their kicker cost. This introduces some tension for drafting and dovetails with the domain mechanic, increasing the utility of mana fixing and the value of splashing other colors. Don’t forget that you can still play cards without access to their kicker color if you really want to, though.

Some kicker cards, like Shalai’s Acolyte, are played mostly for their base mode (in this case Skyswirl Harrier), but also have extra oomph late game. Other creatures bundle a full card’s worth of value into their kickers so are best when kicked, like Sprouting Goblin and Vineshaper Prodigy. Finally, cards like Benalish Sleeper and Bog Badger are true 50/50s, functioning as both vanilla curve filler and powerful situational cards.

It’s of course only ever beneficial to have more options, but there’s still value in preconceiving how your cards will usually be played. Let’s take a look at my usual kicker patterns, rares excluded, to get a better idea.

Usually Kicked (about 80% of the time)

Sometimes Kicked (about 40-60% of the time)

Rarely Kicked (about 20% of the time)

Domain

Domain may be the single most impactful mechanic in Dominaria United because it can have huge effects on how you draft and build your deck and mana base. Cards with domain reward you for controlling as many basic land types as possible. Optimizing for domain requires walking a careful tightrope between drafting and playing the right number of dual lands and cards that find or generate extra mana. The easiest way to achieve full domain in DMU are the common dual lands in this set, all of which have basic land types.

The trick to evaluating cards with domain is understanding that two basics is the baseline rate, and anything beyond that has to come from your mana base. For instance, Gaea’s Might could give your creature +2/+2, +3/+3, or even +5/+5. In a Selesnya () aggro deck with just one Haunted Mire for domain value, I’d evaluate Gaea’s as virtually identical to Kodama’s Might.

As you add more dual lands/Swamps to that mana base, suddenly your expectation for it changes from Kodama’s to Giant Growth. If you carry this even further to a typical 5-mana base (6 dual lands, 1 Crystal Grotto, 1 Plains/Island/Mountain/Swamp, 6 Forests), it’s now realistic to treat Growth as a baseline with +5/+5 being realistic later in the game.

The degree to which your deck cares about domain is going to vary immensely from Draft to Draft. You can treat domain as its own archetype, drafting as many duals as possible, splashing bombs/removal, and using powerful payoff cards. On the other hand, domain could just be featured on a couple cards in your purely 3-color deck, or ignored entirely in a dedicated 2-color archetype like Izzet () spells.

Let’s go over a list of how much each domain card rewards you for assembling all five basic land types.

Huge Reward

Noticeable Improvement

Fine Either Way

Enlist

Guardian of New Benalia

This is a more niche mechanic than the previous two since it only appears on only 12 cards spread between white, red, and green. Enlist is an aggressive mechanic that can be of use in breaking board stalls and trading up.

There isn’t really an “enlist deck” because the mechanic is too narrow for that, but there are some helpful synergies that play well with it. Its existence adds some unique gameplay facets to Dominaria United:

I like certain cards with enlist (Argivian Cavalier, Balduvian Berserker, Coalition Warbrute, Linebreaker Baloth) but consider most of the others to be filler. The main exception to this rule is Guardian of New Benalia, which is easily the best enlist card in the set.

Read Ahead

Sagas are back in this set but have an extra wrinkle with the new read ahead mechanic, which lets you choose which chapter to start the enchantment with. Read ahead effectively means that every Saga in Dominaria United is three cards in one.

The Cruelty of Gix

Each of these modes offers a different balance between immediate usefulness and long-term value, with 1 being the most value and 3 being the highest impact now. Take The Cruelty of Gix for example, which has these sequences depending on your chosen start chapter:

  1. Despise -> Grim Tutor -> Rise from the Grave
  2. Grim Tutor -> Rise from the Grave
  3. Rise from the Grave

The Cruelty of Gix can be a disgusting 3-for-1 that takes the best card from your opponent’s hand, the best card from your deck, and the best card from either graveyard if you play it for full value. But you may just need to smash the “Emergency!” button and skip right to chapter 3 if you’re low on life and really behind on board. Starting from the first chapter is often ideal, but you should think carefully as to whether or not 2 or 3 make more sense for the game you’re playing.

One oddity with sagas in this set is that most of them actually aren’t great. Not all sagas, of course. The Elder Dragon War, The Weatherseed Treaty, and the aforementioned The Cruelty of Gix are excellent.

But the rest range from mediocre (Love Song of Night and Day and Braids’s Frightful Return) to situational (The Phasing of Zhalfir and The World Spell) to bad (Founding the Third Path and Yotia Declares War) finally to outright embarrassing (Urza Assembles the Titans). I’d mostly expect to only play five of these, and only three happily. The sole card in this set that really “combos” with sagas is Urborg Repossession, which targets permanents when kicked. And it just so happens to be an incredible card to grab with The Cruelty of Gix’s second chapter…

Top Commons

Here are the top commons for each color to help you correctly read signals and value certain cards. If you pay close attention you’ll notice that I’m listing a lot of these same cards later in my archetype sections. This isn’t a coincidence!

White

White is primarily an aggressive color with a definite tokens theme. It can also be played as a support color for blue-based instant/sorceries and 5-color domain.

Destroy Evil

Destroy Evil

Destroy Evil is an efficient removal spell for big creatures that also kills enchantments like Prayer of Binding. It’s easily the best white common to splash, and every deck wants a copy or two.

Citizen’s Arrest

Citizen's Arrest

Citizen’s Arrest is solid all-purpose removal that exiles any creature/planeswalker you need gone. Its main caveats are that it costs and can leave you vulnerable to instant-speed enchantment removal.

Argivian Cavalier

Argivian Cavalier

Argivian Cavalier is a decent 3-drop that shows up with an extra friend. It’s solid as both a value card and aggressive creature.

Captain’s Call

Captain's Call

Captain’s Call is one of the few mass token makers in the set and is essential for any sort of tokens strategy.

Take Up the Shield

Take Up the Shield

Take Up the Shield is a flexible trick that can protect your creatures from removal, win combat, and even swing races. But costing two mana keeps this from being A+.

Blue

Blue is a versatile color in DMU with a lot to offer for control, tempo, and 5-color domain decks. You need to get your removal spells elsewhere though, because blue doesn’t even have a Charmed Sleep style card in this set.

Tolarian Geyser

Tolarian Geyser

Tolarian Geyser is a versatile cantrip that can help you push for damage, buy time, or even get value with your own ETB creatures like Phyrexian Rager or Wingmantle Chaplain). Having access to white mana is good, but I’d play this either way.

Essence Scatter

Essence Scatter

Essence Scatter is efficient pre-emptive “removal” for creatures, and it’s easy to double spell with mid game.

Talas Lookout

Talas Lookout

Talas Lookout is one of the better common 4-drops, and an easy flying 2-for-1 that attacks and blocks well. Lookout’s only shortcoming is costing , which keeps it out of decks that aren’t based in blue.

Tolarian Terror

Tolarian Terror

Tolarian Terror is the best common instant/sorcery payoff. It’s well sized with ward 2 and a huge discount potential.

Shore Up

Shore Up

Shore Up is a great trick for punishing spot removal, but it can be unimpressive if you don’t have individual threats worth protecting.

Black

Black is the grindiest color in the set. It has the 2-for-1s at common and a bunch of solid ways to slow down the game. It’s often a fixture in control and sacrifice decks, as well as decks looking to get value out of their graveyard.

Extinguish the Light

Extinguish the Light

Extinguish the Light is the best common removal spell in the set. It kills anything at a fair rate with a +3 life bonus if you have to blow up something cheap.

Phyrexian Rager

Phyrexian Rager

Efficient 2-for-1s are always good. There’s nothing fancy about Phyrexian Rager, but I’d never cut it.

Urborg Repossession

Urborg Repossession

The first copy of Urborg Repossession is a must. It’s a strong grindy spell for graveyard and domain decks that I often splash.

Tribute to Urborg

Tribute to Urborg

-2/-2 kills most early creatures, and the kicker mode helps Tribute to Urborg keep up with Extinguish later on.

Eerie Soultender

Eerie Soultender

Eerie Soultender is a decent value creature that has extra utility to fill up your graveyard. It also has a bit of synergy with discard from Thrill of Possibility and Vohar, Vodalian Desecrator. There are few other options for self-mill as well, so definitely prioritize this when your graveyard is relevant!

Red

Red is primarily an aggressive color, but it also has some nice things to offer domain and sacrifice strategies. I consider this to be the weakest standalone color in the set since it has fewer premium commons than other colors.

Meria’s Outrider

Meria's Outrider

Meria’s Outrider is my pick for the sleeper common of this set. It’s the best common domain payoff and 5-drop, and it also has good sizing, reach, and a free ETB Lava Axe. Think of it as a Magnigoth Sentry plus Lava Axe for five mana and you’ll see how good it is!

Lightning Strike

Lightning Strike

Three damage for two mana is always great in Limited, and Lightning Strike plays even better in Izzet spells decks. Bzzzzt…

Flowstone Infusion

Flowstone Infusion

Not quite Lightning Strike, but Flowstone Infusion is still an efficient removal spell that can also pump a creature in a pinch. Best in spells and control decks, this should be sideboarded in or out depending on how many relevant X/2s your opponent has.

Flowstone Kavu

Flowstone Kavu

Flowstone Kavu is difficult to block early on and tends to invite double blocks later that you can blow out with pump spells. One of red’s better common creatures.

Keldon Strike Team

Keldon Strike Team

Keldon Strike Team is one of the few haste creatures in Dominaria United. It has bad sizing against 1/1 tokens but can hit for a bunch of damage out of nowhere and excels in Boros () aggro decks.

Green

Green’s main niche in this set helps greedy domain decks. It’s the only color with more ways to fix your mana, and it also happens to have the most domain cards. I tend not to love green otherwise, but it can work as a support color.

Gaea’s Might

Gaea's Might

Gaea’s Might is arguably the best combat trick in the set, but you need to have creatures and domain support for this to be good. The rate here is unmatched though!

Bite Down

Bite Down

Green’s only removal spell is efficient and instant, which isn’t usually the case for Rapid Bite. Bite Down combos nicely with Deathbloom Gardener and Battlefly Swarm for deathtouch and bite synergy.

Floriferous Vinewall

Floriferous Vinewall

Floriferous Vinewall is a solid cantrip creature that helps hit land drops and tie together colorful mana bases. It becomes premium if you have Bone Splinters or defender synergies.

Sunbathing Rootwalla

Sunbathing Rootwalla

Sunbathing Rootwalla is one of the better common 2-drops. It scales well into the late game and makes for a decent play early on.

Yavimaya Sojourner

Yavimaya Sojourner

Yavimaya Sojourner is good for domain decks where it usually costs three to five mana. It has the biggest common butt in the format which lets it survive Jaya’s Firenado and brickwall everything from Argivian Phalanx to Tolarian Terror. Writhing Necromass is one of the few creatures that can successfully attack into this.

Weaker Commons

This is the bizarro version of the last section where I’d like to list a few commons in each color that have underperformed. None of these are truly useless, but it’s still good information to know.

White

Benalish Faithbonder

Benalish Faithbonder

Benalish Faithbonder isn’t 100% unplayable, but hopefully you can find better 2-drops since it doesn’t apply good pressure early or scale especially well.

Samite Herbalist

Samite Herbalist

Samite Herbalist is useful with enough enlist creatures, but I’d avoid it otherwise because it gets invalidated too quickly by X/3s and 1/1 Soldier tokens.

Charismatic Vanguard

Charismatic Vanguard

Charismatic Vanguard is subpar vanilla stats and a mediocre but expensive ability for a filler card that I’m happy to cut when I can.

Blue

Volshe Tideturner

Volshe Tideturner

I actually like Volshe Tideturner in decks featuring multiple copies of Vineshaper Prodigy and Phyrexian Espionage. I’d otherwise avoid it though because it doesn’t attack or block well for its cost.

Tidepool Turtle

Tidepool Turtle

Tidepool Turtle is a mediocre 4-drop that offers a decent mana sink and blocks most ground creatures. I’m not ashamed to play a copy if I have to, but Turtle is outclassed by lots of better 4-drops in this format.

Impede Momentum

Impede Momentum

Most blue decks aren’t aggressive enough to want a virtual mulligan like Impede Momentum. Don’t play this in your Dimir () control decks or 5-color domain piles!

Black

Toxic Abomination

Toxic Abomination

Toxic Abomination is decent for aggro decks, but black is the grindiest color in the set so black-based aggro is rare. Even in aggro this isn’t spectacular either, just decent.

Tattered Apparition

Tattered Apparition

The base rate here (2/2 flier for ) is dreadful, and Tattered Apparition’s pump ability is too expensive for me to feel good about dumping mana into it. It can win you the game (eventually), but this has been my 23rd card every time I’ve played it.

Bone Splinters

Bone Splinters

Bone Splinters is a controversial mention because it’s been good in other formats, but Dominaria United hasn’t been especially kind to it. The central issue is a lack of reliable fodder at common for making good exchanges. Expect this card to underperform if you don’t have Floriferous Vinewall, Cult Conscript, or In Thrall to the Pit.

Red

Hammerhand

Hammerhand

Hammerhand is more of a burn spell than anything else because the +1/+1 aura is hardly worth a card. I’d reserve this for only the most aggressive of decks (at least 10 2-drops), and even then the set lacks a lot of synergy with it.

Smash to Dust

Smash to Dust

Smash to Dust is an interesting sideboard card that isn’t quite flexible or powerful enough to be worth main decking. “One damage to each creature your opponents control” is definitely the main mode here since artifacts are rare and most defenders aren’t especially threatening.

Yavimaya Steelcrusher

Yavimaya Steelcrusher

I liked Yavimaya Steelcrusher during preview season, but in practice it’s closer to a Goblin Assailant than I expected. Enlist is no help for this against cantrip 2/2s like Phyrexian Rager and Vineshaper Prodigy, and its artifact-destroying ability is rarely useful. Steelcrusher is still playable curve filler, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a premium 2-drop.

Green

Llanowar Stalker

Llanowar Stalker

Green-based aggro is pretty fringe, so if you ever catch Llanowar Stalker in my deck I’m either on that or have Leaf-Crowned Visionary. Don’t ever put this in your domain decks because it’s effectively a mulligan there.

Hexbane Tortoise

Hexbane Tortoise

Hexbane Tortoise is much better than Stalker, but this turtle meat is 100% USDA certified filler. Enlist just isn’t all that great on creatures with low toughness, and the ward ability is rarely relevant. When I go to cut 3-drops, Hexbane is often the first one I reach for.

Broken Wings

Broken Wings

Broken Wings is a nice sideboard card, but Dominaria United isn’t the set to be main decking this. There are less fliers, artifacts, and enchantments in this set than in Streets of New Capenna, and less good ones at that.

Draft Archetypes

As I mentioned already, Dominaria United gives you a lot of flexibility in crafting your deck. There are 10 defined 2-color archetypes just like any normal set, but a lot of them overlap well with each other and there’s a ton of mana fixing to boot.

This overlap is also unique in that a lot of the 2-color archetypes could be considered to be spinoff archetypes in the first place. This is because a lot of them cleanly slide into one of five larger themes: spells matter, graveyard, tokens, aggro, and domain.

Spells

There are two “spells” archetypes in this set, Azorius () tokens and Izzet prowess, both of which are base blue with rewards for casting instants and sorceries. These two decks have slight differences in approach but share a lot of the same payoff cards and support cards.

Tolarian GeyserTolarian Terror

Tolarian Geyser and Tolarian Terror are highly-recommended commons for both decks.

Azorius Tokens

UW Tokens Trophy Deck

Trophy example

Azorius’ approach to spells is a go-wide deck that mixes tokens with instants/sorceries. Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart is the best reason to be Azorius as a hyper-efficient draw engine with a useful pump ability and good synergy with Captain’s Call. Tura Kennerüd, Skyknight, Runic Shot, and Protect the Negotiators are serviceable cards but not nearly as good.

Azorius is best built as a tempo deck leaning on fliers, bounce, and tokens to chip away at your opponents while chump blocking impossibly large creatures like Territorial Maro.

Izzet Prowess

Izzet Prowess Trophy Deck

Don’t mind me just attacking for 18!

18 Damage Attack

3-0 list

Izzet is usually more aggressive than Azorius and excels when built as a prowess style deck with cheap creatures and spells. Some of its best cards are Balmor, Battlemage Captain, Lightning Strike, Impede Momentum, and Fires of Victory. Cantrips like Timely Interference and Impulse are also more effective than usual here, especially alongside Ghitu Amplifier.

You might just kill your opponent out of nowhere if you play your cards right!

Graveyard

There are two archetypes in Dominaria United that excel at getting value from the graveyard: Golgari () and Dimir. Both archetypes tend to splash the other a lot since they have overlapping synergies and similarly grindy gameplans.

Black will always be the base color in any graveyard-focused strategy. Some cards I’d highly recommend for both decks are Extinguish the Light, Phyrexian Rager, Eerie Soultender, and Urborg Repossession.

Golgari Self-Mill

Golgari Self-Mill Trophy Deck

Trophy example, blue splash

Golgari is usually a good-stuff style deck that can lean into graveyard synergies to varying degrees. Uurg, Spawn of Turg (fun name) is the best graveyard payoff that Golgari has. Uurg is an efficient blocker that helps fill up your graveyard and improve your draws, and it grows stronger as the game goes on. Eventually you’ll be able to bash for a ton of damage while munching unneeded lands for life.

Self-mill goes well with Uurg, Urborg Repossession, and Writhing Necromass in Golgari, so Eerie Soultender and Shadow Prophecy are often great here. I rarely have room for pump spells, instead preferring to be creature dense with my only noncreature spells being card advantage and removal.

Dimir Control

Dimir Control Trophy Deck

Trophy example, no splash

Dimir Control Trophy Deck

Bonus trophy example

Dimir is probably the most controlling color pair in the set and usually wants to do nothing more than kill creatures and draw cards. Winning the game happens eventually, but you aren’t usually in a rush.

One interesting thing about Dimir is that its overlap with the aforementioned blue-based spells theme, which Tribute to Urborg and Rona, Sheoldred’s Faithful show off directly. This makes it another great home for Tolarian Terror.

An interaction I’ve really enjoyed in Dimir (which requires a green splash) is Vohar, Vodalian Desecrator plus Urborg Repossession. The combo is simple: kick Urborg Repo for +2 life/+1 card, sac Vohar later targeting it, and kick it again, getting back Vohar and another card. This isn’t a true loop due to Vohar’s exile clause, but it can still bury your opponent in value (especially if you have more than one Urborg Repossession).

Tokens

Tokens are a well-supported theme in this set, but you’ll definitely want to focus on specific cards to make the most of it. This is one of white’s primary things to do in Dominaria United: play dudes, throw in a Captain’s Call, and then smash in with Heroic Charge for lethal.

Both flavors of tokens tend to want the same cards: Captain’s Call, Argivian Cavalier, Resolute Reinforcements, and Argivian Phalanx. Be aware of possible sweepers though since Choking Miasma and a couple rares can ruin your day with this archetype.

Selesnya Tokens

Selesnya Tokens Trophy Deck

Aggressive example, went 2-1 (BO3 Draft)

The first flavor of tokens is Selesnya (), which is arguably the better “pure” tokens strategy. Queen Allenal of Ruadach is an excellent tokens payoff since it acts as both a huge creature and a self-fueling value engine that upgrades all your token generators.

Strength of the Coalition is another must-have as one of the strongest mass pump spells in the format. The deck tends to be very base white because leaning more into green usually has me going away from tokens/aggro into more of a domain/midrange deck.

Orzhov Sacrifice

Orzhov Trophy Deck

Trophy example

Orzhov’s () take on tokens is more midrange/value-oriented than Selesnya’s. You might not even bother playing cards like Heroic Charge here, instead relying on creatures like Benalish Sleeper, Phyrexian Warhorse, and Aron, Benalia’s Ruin to leverage your 1/1 tokens.

Orzhov’s multicolor cards are top notch, with Aron and Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim having really impressed me so far. The key to success with Orzhov is to craft a balanced deck with a good curve plus some card advantage and removal.

Aggro

As you’d expect, the base red archetypes in this set are mostly about attacking early and often. The two flavors of red aggro in Dominaria United feel pretty distinct and overlap less than the other sub-archetypes so far.

Lightning Strike

Lightning Strike is the main common I’d want in both decks if possible.

Boros Aggro

Boros Aggro Trophy Deck

Trophy example

Veteran Limited players know what to expect from Boros. You’re going to play creatures and pump spells, then try to get your opponent dead. The main thing Boros does differently in DMU is that it has a bit of a tokens sub theme.

Baird, Argivian Recruiter can easily make a bunch of 1/1s, which are leveraged by Tori D’Avenant, Fury Rider, Heroic Charge, and Cleaving Skyrider. Getting Baird to work is best accomplished with enlist creatures and pump spells. Take Up the Shield is particularly nice because a single +1/+1 counter can activate Baird each turn.

Rakdos Sacrifice

Rakdos Sacrifice Trophy Deck

Trophy example

Rakdos () is an aggressive color pair that has a bit of a peanut butter/jelly blend between aggro/sacrifice themes. Classic Rakdos gameplay patterns like In Thrall to the Pit and Bone Splinters play up the sacrifice theme, while multicolor cards like Garna, Bloodfist of Keld and Warhost’s Frenzy let you get away with some very reckless attacks.

My issue with Rakdos is that both aspects of the deck tend to fall a bit short. A lack of great 2-drops holds it back for the aggro theme. Phyrexian Vivisector, Toxic Abomination, Goblin Picker, Splatter Goblin, and Yavimaya Steelcrusher are somehow all mediocre.

And for the sacrifice theme, DMU lacks a density of great fodder creatures. Lagomos, Hand of Hatred and Cult Conscript are top notch for setting up Gibbering Barricade and Bone Splinters, but neither are commons.

Domain

Domain is really just one big superhighway of an archetype, being present in (and rewarding you for) all colors. Any deck can be a “domain deck” to different degrees, with some decks being full 5-color piles maximizing domain, and others just splashing a couple of cards.

It’s notable that every single green color pairing has a legendary creature with domain(Bortuk Bonerattle, Nael, Avizoa Aeronaut, Radha, Coalition Warlord, Zar Ojanen, Scion of Efrava). This makes entering into the domain deck rather easy since the only quality that all domain decks share is being base green.

There are two green-based color pairs we haven’t covered so far: Simic () and Gruul ().

Simic-Based Domain

Simic Domain Trophy Deck

Trophy example

Simic might be the premier 5-color shell in the set, but calling it “Simic” is deceptive. Still, there’s something to be said for green mana fixers and blue card advantage. They make a great base for a 5-color value pile.

Nael, Avizoa Aeronaut really shows this off by being the only domain uncommon to explicitly reward you for having all five basic types. Some commons you’ll often want in Simic-based domain are Vineshaper Prodigy, Tolarian Geyser, Bite Down, Deathbloom Gardener, and Magnigoth Sentry.

Gruul-Based Domain

Gruul Domain Trophy Deck

Trophy example

Gruul is in a strange spot in Dominaria United. All of its actual multicolor cards are rather aggressive. Colossal Growth, Yavimaya Iconoclast, Viashino Branchrider, and Rulik Mons, Warren Chief clearly want to attack. It’s perfectly viable to focus less on domain and instead build Gruul with a classic dudes and pump spells approach.

There’s a fundamental tension between hyper-aggro and 5-color domain since they’re forced to play a bunch of tap lands to facilitate their domain splashes. If you prefer the slower approach, Sprouting Goblin and Lightning Strike are great reasons to be base Gruul.

Non-Green Domain

Non-Green Domain Trophy Deck

8-1 in a Sealed PTQ

If you’re not base green then it’s unlikely you’ll find yourselves playing a 5-color domain deck for the aforementioned reasons. Exceptions do exist though, especially in Sealed.

Niche Build-Arounds

Defenders

One thing a lot of people picked up on during the spoiler season for Dominaria United is its apparent defender theme. While that theme ended up in just 9 cards, it can still hugely impact your deck. This is primarily because Wingmantle Chaplain is one of the most broken uncommons ever printed!

Rather than repeat what Sam Black said here, you can just read it for yourself. Here’s my synopsis if you’d like a quick cliff notes summary:

  1. Defenders aren’t especially well-positioned to block in this set (not great against tokens/combat tricks), and most of the common defenders/payoffs range from bad to decent.
  2. This all goes out the window with Wingmantle Chaplain, which has absurd potential and can be played at any point on your curve to good effect.
  3. Shield-Wall Sentinel is the true reason why Chaplain is so good. Having access to a common and reliable tutor means you can consistently draw Chaplain every single game.
  4. To build around Chaplain you’ll often find yourself playing a colorful deck with a mix of mopey defenders, removal spells, and card draw.
  5. Tolarian Geyser and Urborg Repossession are essential cards since they’re both good on their own and have great synergy with Chaplain for endless Bird spam.
  6. Try to avoid the defender deck if you don’t have any Chaplains. Blight Pile and Coral Colony aren’t really worth building a deck around without Birdman Junior.

Micromancer

Micromancer

Micromancer is a surprisingly versatile uncommon that’s overperformed my expectations for it. Excelling in both blue spells and decks and 5-color piles, it’s surprisingly easy to pick up at least three good targets for this.

The key to Micromancer is drafting good 1-mana instants/sorceries, preferably with a bit of variety if possible. There are 11 different possible targets in this set, and a lot of the best ones like Urborg Repossession and Rona’s Vortex are hardly “1-drops” thanks to their superior kicker modes.

Jodah, the Unifier

Jodah, the Unifier

Jodah, the Unifier is the only 5-color card in Dominaria United and has assumedly train wrecked a fair number of Drafts. It can be powerful and is certainly sweet to play with, but its requirements are also very demanding.

A good Jodah deck needs a solid 5-color mana base and several other legendary creatures. Picking Jodah too late usually means not meeting one of its two demands. If you’re going to attempt Jodah deck then I recommend starting as soon as you can.

Jodah’s first requirement will have you drafting as many dual lands as you can. Because building a good 5-color mana base naturally sets up domain, you’ll also be in a great position to use domain payoffs. The second request is aided by all DMU packs containing at least one legend but can still cause problems. This is because a lot of legendaries in this set either have difficult mana costs, or just aren’t that great.

Cards like Balmor, Battlemage Captain, Garna, Blood of Keld, and Tori D’Avenant, Fury Rider are good aggro-cards, but so-so at best in a 5-color control deck. Jodah demands you play them either way though, as it’s only juiced if you can keep the legends coming. My usual compromise with Jodah is to play as many legends as I can without stretching my mana base for mediocre double pip creatures that aren’t in my base colors (i.e., no Garna or Tori D’Avenant).

Here are some examples of successful Jodah lists to help you trainwreck future Drafts:

Jodah 2-1 Deck

Personal Jodah attempt that went 2-1

Jodah Trophy Deck

Trophy example

Vesuvan Duplimancy + Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief

Vesuvan DuplimancyIvy, Gleeful Spellthief

Vesuvan Duplimancy and Ivy, Gleeful Spellthief highlight a niche strategy based around targeting your own creatures with spells. Ivy is the safer but less rewarding of the two. The worst it can be is a 2-mana 2/1 flier (note that it says “may,” so you’re never forced to copy anything you don’t want to with it). Duplimancy, on the other hand, does nothing on its own but has an incredible reward for you when you target your own creatures with spells.

So are these cards worth playing, and if so, what should you be targeting your creatures with? To the first question I’d say “it depends.” The earlier you can get them in the Draft the more likely you are to pull them off. Duplimancy is the more exciting one to build around with Ivy more just being “along for the ride.”

As for what to target your dudes with, the best card in the set is Timely Interference. It’s a cheap targeted cantrip for just one mana. Ivy can make it a one mana Divination, and with Duplimancy it can be a cantripping 1-mana Mirror Image.

Other cards I like with Duplimancy/Ivy are Combat Research, Tolarian Geyser, Shore Up, and most pump spells. If you end up playing a bunch of combat tricks to make these cards work, be sure to include a good curve/creature count to match.

Both cards specify that the spell must target only one creature you control (i.e., no Tail Swipe value). Duplimancy makes non-legendary tokens, so you just might get to live the dream and have two Tatyova, Steward of Tides’ in play!

Zur, Eternal Schemer

Zur, Eternal Schemer

Zur, Eternal Schemer is a rather unique card. It’s both the only Esper () card in the set, and the only card that rewards you for playing enchantments. It’s nothing but a fancy Updraft Elemental if you aren’t taking advantage of its ability to animate enchantments.

There are no actual enchantment creatures in Dominaria United and only 16 non-auras. Of the 16 enchantments you could pair with Zur, only one is common (Citizen’s Arrest). The other 15 are split between 10 sagas, three other Oblivion Ring-style removal spells (Prayer of Binding, Leyline Binding, and Temporal Binding), and a couple oddball rares (Stronghold Arena and Vesuvan Duplimancy).

If I were to play Zur I’d be looking to pair it with as many good O-Ring-style effects and sagas as possible. This almost never comes together, but Zur could be quite powerful with Leyline Binding, The Cruelty of Gix, and enchantment-based removal spells if the stars align.

I’ve yet to open or try this, but here’s an example of someone who pulled it off:

Zur Trophy Deck

Trophy example

Weatherlight Compleated

Weatherlight Compleated

Weatherlight Compleated is a flashy mythic that’s not worth playing in most decks. The way to make this work is to play it in a Rakdos-based sacrifice shell because you need tohave creatures you control die for this to do anything.

The best card in the set to pair this with is Lagomos, Hand of Hatred, which nets you +1 phyresis counter every single turn.You can further pursue a sacrifice theme with cards like Bone Splinters, Hurler Cyclops, and In Thrall to the Pit. Orzhov is also a good home for this thanks to cards like Benalish Sleeper and Aron, Benalia’s Ruin.

I have yet to pull this card off (or even open it), but I’d certainly like to before The Brother’s War is out!

Golden Argosy

Golden Argosy

There are only two vehicles in Dominaria United, with Golden Argosy being the second one. Argosy is safer to just throw into any random deck thanks to its decent statline and easy crew cost. But it’s still not great in a vacuum since it doesn’t hit hard enough to justify tying up a creature every turn.

This card becomes much more powerful when you’re able to play it alongside ETB value creatures. There aren’t too many of those in this set, so be on the lookout for the good ones: Phyrexian Rager, Floriferous Vinewall, Shield-Wall Sentinel, Wingmantle Chaplain, and Meria’s Outrider.

Keep in mind that 0 power creatures can crew vehicles. You’ll need to tap them alongside something else with 1 power, but that’s hardly a problem when you’re reusing Wingmantle Chaplain.

Golden Argosy Trophy Deck

Trophy example

Urborg Lhurgoyf

Urborg Lhurgoyf

Urborg Lhurgoyf is the one of the better self-mill payoffs in the set. For best results you’ll pair this up with Eerie Soultender, Uurg, Spawn of Turg, Writhing Necropolis, and Monstrous War-Leech. It still might be playable with a decent creature count and access to blue or black mana if you can’t.

You should of course be trading off creatures whenever possible for extra sizing. Avoid Lhurgoyf in most blue-based spells or 5-color domain piles since it needs help to perform well.

The Phasing of Zhalfir

The Phasing of Zhalfir

The Phasing of Zhalfir isn’t particularly great, but it’s still a rather novel sweeper in a color that almost never gets them. Chapter III is the most important chapter here as a global Curse of the Swine of sorts.

Chapter I/II can let you either protect your best creatures from III or temporarily eat one or two blockers as you push for lethal. But in practice this is a hardcard to get value out of because it’s embarrassing against tokens and small creatures, and hard to set up in general.

The dream with Phasing is to upgrade a bunch of Floriferous Vinewalls and 1/1 Soldier tokens into 2/2s while your opponents’ Territorial Maro and Tolarian Terror get downgraded. You could also try to set up a bit of “dies” value with Phyrexian Vivisector and Talas Lookout to break the symmetry of III.

I wouldn’t really recommend playing this, but feel free to try it as a sideboard card against big green fatties, or as a build-around in an Azorius tokens strategy.

Rare Tribal Lords

There are five creatures in this set that act as lords for five different tribes: soldiers, clerics, merfolk, goblins, and elves. These range in quality from bad to average to good.

Bad Lords

Rundvelt Hordemaster

Rundvelt Hordemaster

Goblins has the weakest lord of the five. Rundvelt Hordemaster is just a 1/1 on its own and there aren’t enough common goblins to build an actual tribal deck.

Vodalian Hexcatcher

Vodalian Hexcatcher

Vodalian Hexcatcher is another 2-mana 1/1, but at least it’s a little bit better than Rundvelt. It works as a combat trick for Volshe Tideturner and Voda Sea Scavenger, and its Force Spike ability also isn’t nothing. Still wouldn’t recommend playing either one.

Playable Lords

Shadow-Rite Priest

Shadow-Rite Priest

Shadow-Rite Priest is 2/2 for two on its own, and there’s an extra common cleric compared to merfolk and goblins. Priest’s sacrifice ability is flashy but impractical. You might occasionally get use out of it in a lucky pool, but you can only sacrifice clerics to it.

Its usefulness is further diminished by the fact that most black creatures cost less than five to begin with. I won’t always play the Priest, but at least it’s not embarrassing to open.

Leaf-Crowned Visionary

Leaf-Crowned Visionary

Leaf-Crowned Visionary can be good, and I mean genuinely good. There are four common elves for it, all of which are solid besides Stalker.

I wouldn’t want to P1P1 this, but ‘m open to playing or building around it if I already have a few elves. But without other elves Visionary is 100% unplayable, as it’s yet another 1/1 for two (and one that’s hard to cast at that).

The Best Lord

Valiant Veteran

Valiant Veteran

The best tribal lord is easily Valiant Veteran. It’s a 2/2 for two with three commons to boost and comes with a bonus after it dies. It also often boosts tokens for you since Soldiers are the most common token in the set (cough Captain’s Call).

You have a card with a passable floor and pretty high ceiling in the Veteran. I wouldn’t consider this a P1P1 giga-bomb or anything, but it’s an above average card for a white-based aggro or tokens deck.

Wrap Up

Phyrexian Missionary (Dominaria United) - Illustation by Mila Pesic

Phyrexian Missionary (Dominaria United) | Illustation by Mila Pesic

Whew! You’ve finally reached the end of this guide. It comes as no personal surprise to me that this was long because Dominaria United is a pretty deep set! There are even more bits I considered adding (extra gameplay tips, a live draft walkthrough) but ended up with so much content that I feel content to save them for another day.

What do you think of DMU’s Draft format so far? Are you enjoying it? What’s been your favorite bomb card of the format? Let me know in the comments below, or over in the Draftsim Discord. And don’t forget to grab Arena Tutor if you’re looking to draft in MTGA.

Until next time, may you never get punished for splashing that fifth color!

Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates:

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *