Last updated on February 21, 2023
Extinguish the Light | Illustration by Ekaterina Burmak
A good subsection of the Magic community isn’t just here for the game: they enjoy the ongoing narrative. The quality of the story waxes and wanes (War of the Spark: Forsaken is a notable low point), but I’ve always been willing to give Magic’s story some leeway based on the strong foundation it established over the years.
The story is also a great and different way to connect with cards. I’m unlikely to use Twinferno outside of a Draft even though it’s one of my favorite cards from the new set. I just like it because it features two of my favorite characters from Magic’s story.
Magic’s most recent set, Dominaria United, is the beginning of a multi-set story arc that looks like it’s going to include some of the biggest characters from Magic’s history. It’s an exciting premise, but it’s also a great time to jump on board the story if you haven’t so far. There’s an upcoming time travel plot in The Brothers’ War going back to one of the game’s earliest stories, so new readers can learn all about big characters like Urza and Mishra and about some of Magic’s oldest villains, the Phyrexians.
Ready to dive into the story of Dominaria United? Let’s get into it!
What Is Dominaria United About?
Tangled Islet | Illustration by Randy Gallegos
Dominaria United is the culmination of the last few sets’ teases of the return of Phyrexians, and it serves as the beginning of a massive new event that will span the next three sets (and a supplemental product that we don’t know much about yet). If the appearances of Phyrexian praetors starting in Kaldheim were the prologue to a story, Dominaria United is act one: it introduces the Phyrexians’ goal of invading Dominaria and sets the stage for upcoming events.
The story heavily features some of the older Magic characters from Dominaria like Karn, Jaya, Jodah, and Teferi as they try to convince Dominaria of the impending Phyrexian invasion and sniff out a sleeper agent in their midst. There’s also a short aside featuring Liliana Vess and her old nemesis, the Raven Man.
This set’s story takes place on Dominaria, Magic’s first ever plane, and home to a lot of its most famous characters. Notable locations include the Caves of Koilos, Shiv, Oyster Bay, Stenn’s tower, a flying ship called the Golden Argosy, and Vess manor. Side stories explore other locations in Dominaria, like Squee’s goblin settlement.
Dominaria is full of characters who were present during Magic’s earliest days and their descendants. Karn and Squee represent the original Weatherlight crew, and there are descendants of other famous characters like Captain Sisay and Gerrard. This gives the setting a sense of history and makes it a very nostalgic place for long-time fans.
I’m only covering the major characters appearing in the main five-story articles written by Langley Hyde. I encourage you to check out the side stories for the full picture, especially Liliana’s, but these are the characters that the narrative mostly centers on.
Karn, Living Legacy | Illustration by Chris Rahn
Karn the silver golem has come to Dominaria seeking an ancient artifact known as the Sylex that was once used by Urza to destroy the Phyrexians. When it’s clear that Phyrexians have already begun their invasion, he tries to convince the people of Dominaria to band together and fight back.
Ajani, Sleeper Agent | Illustration by Matt Stewart
The leonin planeswalker Ajani rescues Karn after he’s imprisoned in a cave-in by Phyrexians. He assists his fellow Gatewatch members to investigate the Phyrexian invasion, but it’s clear as the story progresses that something isn’t quite right with him.
Jaya, Fiery Negotiator | Illustration by Marta Nael
The pyromancing planeswalker Jaya arrives to help with peace negotiations between Dominaria’s different factions. She quickly gets wrapped up in Karn’s plans to combat the Phyrexian invasion, proving very useful in dispatching the enemy with her powerful fire spells.
Jodah, the Unifier | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast
Jodah is an immortal archmage on Dominaria who appears at the same time as Jaya to help with peace negotiations. Like Jaya, he assists in the fight against the Phyrexians, and his portals serve vital to many a Dominarian’s survival.
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria | Illustration by Chris Rallis
Teferi planeswalks to Dominaria to warn of Phyrexian activity across the multiverse. He also brings the troubling news that the Phyrexians have corrupted the planeswalker Tamiyo, which alerts the main cast that they must be careful of who they trust.
Stenn, Paranoid Partisan | Illustration by Mila pesic
A noble from New Argive, Stenn attends the peace negotiations when Karn warns of the Phyrexian invasion. He’s one of the Dominarians who take Karn’s warning very seriously and urges others to see how serious a threat of Phyrexian sleeper agents could pose to their plane.
Jhoira, Ageless Innovator | Illustration by Justyna Gil
The artificer Jhoira is physically absent from the first half of the story but is frequently on Karn’s mind. When she finally arrives, she and Karn reconcile their past differences and prepare to fight back against the invading Phyrexians.
Sheoldred, the Apocalypse | Illustration by Chris Rahn
The Phryexian praetor known also as the Whispering One traveled to Dominaria ahead of the full invasion to start turning people on the plane into sleeper agents. Damaged during her travel through the blind eternities, she first appears while being repaired in the Cave of Koilos.
Rona, Sheoldred’s Faithful | Illustration by Ryan Alexander Lee
As a member of the Society of Mishra, Rona is enamored with Phyrexians. She helps to repair Sheoldred when she arrives on Dominaria, giving her a new body to help conquer the plane.
Ertai Resurrected | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast
An original member of the Weatherlight crew, Ertai was since corrupted by Phyrexians and subsequently killed. Now resurrected by Sheoldred, Ertai shows off his devastating power to help the Phyrexians in their invasion of the plane.
These are the main Dominaria story beats, summarized by Langley Hyde on Magic’s website.
Karn Arrives on Dominaria
Karn comes to Dominaria in search of knowledge about the Sylex. Urza previously used the artifact to destroy the island of Argoth and win the Brothers’ War with devastating consequences. Karn plans to use the Sylex to destroy New Phyrexia.
During his search in the Caves of Koilos, Karn stumbles upon the Society of Mishra attempting to repair the damaged Phyrexian Praetor, Sheoldred. It’s revealed that the Phyrexians have unspecified plans for Karn.
After a fight with a Society of Mishra member, Rona, Karn becomes trapped in a cave-in and is unable to planeswalk away.
Karn is Rescued
Karn is trapped in the cave in for months, unable to free himself or warn anyone about the Phyrexian invasion. The planeswalker Ajani eventually locates Karn and frees him from his prison.
It’s revealed that Ajani was able to locate Karn because Jhoira had put a tracking spell on the letters she sent to the silver golem.
Negotiations and Investigations
Ajani and Karn planeswalk to a peace negotiation between Dominaria’s different factions to warn them about the Phyrexian invasion. There they meet up with Jaya Ballard and Jodah who have come to aid in the negotiations.
The Dominarian council is skeptical that Phyrexians could be on the plane, even after Teferi arrives to tell them of Phyrexian activity on other planes. One noble from New Argive, Stenn, seems to strongly believe that the Phyrexians pose a major threat to the plane, but most aren’t convinced.
Karn, Teferi, Jaya, and Ajani search for proof of the Phyrexian invasion. Karn notices that he’s seen the same bird following him for a few days and grabs it. The bird turns out to be a Phyrexian spy and the proof they need to convince Dominaria’s nobles of an impending invasion.
The Phyrexians Attack
Returning to the negotiations, Karn presents the captured Phyrexian as proof of their invasion. Knowing they’ve been discovered, Phyrexian sleeper agents in the form of Benalish soldiers assume their true horrific forms and begin attacking the council.
Phyrexians seize Aron Capashen, the leader of Benalia, during the attack. Jodah creates a portal to Stenn’s tower, which the noble suggested as the safest place to go.
A Spy in Our Midst
Once Karn, Jaya, Teferi, Jodah, and Stenn arrived at the New Argive watchtower, they quickly lock it down to prevent a Phyrexian that followed them through the portal from escaping into the city. Knowing now that any of them, save for Karn, could be a sleeper agent, Stenn gives the silver golem the key to the tower for safekeeping.
The group split up to search for the Phyrexian, but this proves a mistake when Teferi is gravely injured by the invader. Meanwhile Karn individually tests each person there by telling them a false location of the Sylex, hoping to draw out the sleeper agent.
His plan works as he tells Stenn, and it’s revealed that the New Argivian was compleated by Phyrexians. Stenn attacks and Karn manages to defeat him. The group calls for the Weatherlight to come to rescue them.
A New Coalition
Now aboard the Weatherlight, Karn and his companions plan to draw the Phyrexians out into the open with the Sylex, the Mana Rig, and Karn himself as bait. They also decide to gather more allies for their attack.
Jodah is sent to the elves of Yavimaya, Jaya goes in search of Danitha Capashen of Benalia, and Teferi goes to Shiv to recruit the dragons, Viashino, Ghitu, and goblins. Karn also travels to Shiv to Jhoira’s workshop, the Mana Rig’s location, to ready for the battle.
Teferi successfully recruits the goblins, but the rest of the potential Shivan allies want to wait for the dragons to decide. While Darigaaz and the dragon deliberate, Teferi returns to Karn at the workshop. They’re alerted to commotion outside and find the Weatherlight under attack by a massive flying Phyrexian. Luckily Darigaaz arrives and destroys the Phyrexian, telling Teferi that the dragons have agreed to help.
In Yavimaya, Jodah speaks with the elves’ leader, a surprisingly young elf woman named Meria. She’s reluctant to help and confident that Yavimaya can fight off any invading Phyrexians on their own with the help of Multani. A massive dragon engine attacks the forest, piloted by Rona. The dragon engine tears through the land and exposes a powerful Thran artifact, which Meria uses to destroy the dragon engine. Rona escapes with her life. Meria laments the loss of the forest’s trees to Jodah, realizing that she was wrong to think that her people would be safe.
Jaya meets Ajani, who claims to have been sent by Danitha to find her. When they meet with Danitha, Jaya tries to convince her to join their fight. Danitha is unwilling to go while her father, Aron, is still captured by Phyrexians. Agreeing to help free Aron, Jaya and Ajani accompany Danitha to the Phyrexians’ hide-out.
They’re startled to find Ertai, an original member of the Weatherlight crew who was turned into a Phyrexian long ago. He reveals that he has compleated Aron and forces the Benalish leader to fight his daughter. Aron fights against his new programming and implores Danitha to end his life, and she obeys. Ertai summons a Phyrexian Juggernaut and things look bad until Rahda shows up on the flying ship Golden Argosy and helps destroy the Juggernaut. Ertai sees that he’s outnumbered and flees.
Karn and Jhoira reunite and discuss the loss of their friend Venser on New Phyrexia. They forgive one another for their falling out and quickly reform their friendship. They receive a call from Jodah telling them that he has recruited the elves, but he shares the alarming news that the New Coalition they’re forming includes a Phyrexian spy.
The Invasion Begins
The New Coalition plans to spring their trap on the Phyrexians, and Jhoira has installed a self-destruct mechanism on the Mana Rig in case it falls into Phyrexian hands. Just before they start the battle, Teferi apologizes to Karn for having treated him poorly in the past, viewing him more as an object than a sentient being. Karn accepts the apology.
Waves of Phyrexians attack the Coalition and advance ever closer to the Mana Rig, led by Sheoldred with her massive new body constructed from an old dragon engine. Looking to the newly appeared Weatherlight for help, the heroes are devastated to see that the ship has been corrupted by Phyrexian oil. The ship begins to unleash horrific blasts of energy onto the Coalition’s forces.
Old Friends and Foes
Ertai appears and engages Karn in battle. Ertai reveals that he’s planned specifically for a fight with Karn, jealous that Sheoldred and the Phyrexian leader Elesh Norn want Karn so badly. Ertai begins crushing Karn and freezing his body with Magic.
Ajani arrives on the Golden Argosy and leaps in to save Karn, fighting back Ertai. Once Ertai has been pushed back, Karn tells Ajani they must retrieve the Sylex from Jhoira’s workshop.
Ajani and Karn meet with Teferi and Jaya as the Mana Rig itself stands to repel the Phyrexian forces and Sheoldred. Jaya retrieves the Sylex from the workshop while Jodah and Meria arrive. As the Sylex is revealed from its container, Ajani begins speaking in a mechanical voice, his skin splitting to reveal Phyrexian metal beneath. He was the spy they’d been warned about.
Ajani attacks Jaya before she can planeswalk with the Sylex, wounding her gravely. Karn intervenes but is shocked when Ajani’s axe cuts into his metal body with ease. Unable to move, Karn watches helplessly as Ajani drops Jaya off the side of the Mana Rig to her death. The compleated planeswalker then returns with the Sylex to Karn and destroys the artifact in front of him.
Karn, captured by Ajani, is confronted by Sheoldred. She tells him that she has big plans for him and Dominaria.
Recognizing their cause is lost, Jhoira activates the self-destruct mechanism in the Mana Rig and Jodah creates portals to teleport as many Coalition fighters to safety as possible. Before the Rig detonates, Sheoldred and Ajani take Karn through a portal to an undisclosed location.
Funerals and Future Plans
Following the detonation of the Mana Rig, Coalition forces return to the battlefield to retrieve their dead and burn any Phyrexians that remain. Jodah creates a memorial for Jaya, stone pyramids that each of her friends imbue with a memory of her. Jodah leaves a pyramid empty for Karn to fill upon his return.
Though the original Sylex has been lost, the planeswalker Saheeli was able to create a replica of it. But the secret of how to activate the Sylex disappeared with Karn. The group thinks of a solution: the Sylex was activated before, long ago by Urza during The Brothers’ War. Teferi plans to travel back in time to the war and learn how Urza activated the Sylex so that he can return and use the new one to destroy New Phyrexia.
Karn finds himself alone on New Phyrexia with the Praetor Elesh Norn. She welcomes him back, calling him “father” in reference to his last imprisonment on the plane when he was made into the “father of machines.”
She shows Karn a small tree growing from the white porcelain ground, covered in oil. When he asks what it is, she says “it is the beginning of everything.”
Story Spotlight Cards
Apart from the story articles on the site, the story of Dominaria United is also told through the set’s cards. All cards depict some aspect of the story, but those that depict big moments are labeled “story spotlight cards.”
Sheoldred’s Restoration depicts Sheoldred as she’s being reconstructed in the Caves of Koilos at the beginning of the story.
Protect the Negotiators
Protect the Negotiators shows Jodah protecting the Dominarian diplomats from the Phyrexian sleeper agents that invaded the meeting.
Temporary Lockdown has Karn, Teferi, Jaya, Jodah, and Stenn inside the New Argivian Watchtower on it. This is during the moment when they’re unsure where the Phyrexian pursuing them is, or who they can trust.
Twinferno features Jaya and Jodah as they burn away the Phyrexians in New Argive’s watchtower. It’s a bittersweet card because it may be the last time these two work together.
Silver Scrutiny features a device that Karn uses throughout the story to scry on events throughout Dominaria. Ironically, it doesn’t allow you to scry.
Lightning Strike shows Jaya as she obliterates Phyrexian forces in her attempt to rescue the captured Aron Capashen.
Temporal Firestorm depicts Jaya and Teferi fighting alongside one another during the climactic battle of the story.
Heroic Charge depicts Radha and Danitha fighting side by side in the shadow of the Mana Rig against advancing Phyrexian forces.
Ertai’s Scorn takes place when Ertai fights Karn and attempts to destroy him. The flavor text features Ertai directly addressing Karn, threatening to disassemble him.
Extinguish the Light
Extinguish the Light’s art shows the moment when Jaya is thrown from the Mana Rig by Ajani to her death. Unless she’s resurrected, this may be the last card that Jaya appears on chronologically.
The Flavor Text
The story of the set is also told through flavor text beneath the rules text on cards. These can give additional insights into what’s happening or show fun bits of dialogue from the characters. Here are some highlights.
The Phyrexians were as surprised as anyone to discover they still needed to breathe.
Flavor text can often add a bit of levity while still giving some background on the story and lore.
Phyrexians pollute everything they touch, so the solution is simple: don’t let them touch anything.Teferi
Essence Scatter offers players some insight into Teferi’s personality.
Meria, Scholar of Antiquity
Why fear artifice? Is it not also of this world?
The flavor text on Meria, Scholar of Antiquity is short and to the point. It exposes Meria’s outlook on incorporating technology into her people’s arsenal. It’s nice to get some insight into a new character, especially one that has such a big impact on the story.
Urza exploited nature to power his war machines; in time, nature exploited his war machines to renew itself.
Timeless Lotus’s flavor text both shows how things have changed in the long time since Urza was alive and hints at what he did back in the time of the Brothers’ War. This text sets us the next set, where the story will explore the past that this card is referring to.
Extinguish the Light
Jaya did not want to die, but of all the things to die for, Dominaria felt right.
Extinguish the Light isn’t only a story spotlight card. Its flavor text is a short goodbye to Jaya Ballard. It’s hard to say goodbye to this character, but it’s nice to see her getting a heroic send-off.
Fires of Victory | Illustration by Sidharth Chaturvedi
After a bit of a lull, Magic’s story really seems to be picking up again. There are massive consequential events, like seeing fan-favorite characters lose their lives or change into Phyrexians.
It seems like Wizards took the criticisms from fans over War of The Spark’s failure to deliver on the hype. They’re delivering a story that feels dangerous and full of world-changing outcomes. I can’t wait to see what happens over the course of the next few sets.
Did you enjoy the story for Dominaria United? Which planeswalker do you think will be next to be compleated? Which characters are you more excited to play with now that you know their story? Let me know in the comments below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
Thank you for reading. See you in the next one!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates:
Thanks for putting this together Sean. I agree that chocking miasma flavor text was great. 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it!