Greetings planeswalkers! I’m Bryan “Veveil” Hohns, a long-time Limited grinder, and I’m honored to be your special guest writer today for Hareruya. You can normally find me over on Draftsim, writing strategy articles and providing the limited ratings for Draftsim’s MTGA overlay app, Arena Tutor.
By the end of this article, you should feel well prepared for this weekend’s Dominaria United prerelease!
#1: Understand the Mechanics
Your first step with any new set should be to get familiar with its mechanics. DMU has two new mechanics, two returning ones, and a new type of counter.
Kicker is a classic Limited mechanic that I’m pleased is returning for DMU. A card with kicker gives the option to pay its kicker cost for bonuses, like 《Vineshaper Prodigy》 replacing itself. Treat kicker cards like a modal card when evaluating them: 《Vineshaper Prodigy》 can be a 2/2 for 1G or a 2/2 with 《Anticipate》 for 2UG.
Interestingly, all kicker costs in DMU are a different color than the spell’s original mana cost. If you want to use a spell’s kicker, you’ll need to be in that 2c pair or have other ways to generate the required color. This overlaps with the next mechanic, domain, and it encourages you to splash more and to prioritize mana fixing.
Kicker has a completely uniform color distribution in DMU, with each color having 9 kicker cards (4 commons, 4 uncommons, 1 rare). Unlike kicker’s last outing Zendikar Rising, there’s no supported “kicker archetype”.
Domain is a returning mechanic that hasn’t appeared in Standard since Conflux. Cards with domain care about the number of basic land types you control and usually reward you with scaling perks (i.e. “X damage”, “costs X less”). Domain incentivizes you to play a greedy deck with as many colors as you can manage.
Given that mono-color strategies have little support in DMU, you should evaluate cards with domain as having a value of 2-5 for 2c – 5c. For instance, 《Yavimaya Sojourner》 costs 5G in a 2c deck but could cost as little as 2G in 5c.
Domain appears in every color in DMU, but it’s mainly seen in green. The primary pair for maximizing domain is UG, though a UG Domain strategy also means splashing other colors. How much you want to lean into domain is a question you’ll ask each time you play DMU Limited.
Enlist is a new aggressive mechanic that is sure to trip up even Magic veterans once or twice. As a creature with enlist attacks, it gives you the option to tap another nonattacking untapped creature without summoning sickness. If you do so, you’ll add the power of whatever creature you tapped to the attacking creature’s power.
Enlist doesn’t necessarily do all that much. If you wanted to add a creature’s power to your attack and that creature didn’t have summoning sickness, why not attack with it in the first place?
There are some situational answers to this question:
・Enlist creatures with evasion.
Enlist is usually situational, so it should be treated like a small upside on otherwise playable creatures. Enlist appears in 3 colors, with 2 commons and 1 uncommon in white, red, and green.
Read ahead is a new take on the Saga mechanic introduced in the original Dominaria. Each Saga in DMU has read ahead, which lets you choose which chapter you’d like to start the Saga on. This makes the cards modal because you’ll always have the choice between maximum value, the highest immediate impact, or something in-between.
There are 10 Sagas in the set, 2 for each color and none at common.
Stun counters are a new type of counter to represent freezing. If a creature with a stun counter would become untapped, instead it stays tapped and its controller removes a stun counter from it.
#2: Study the Cycles
Studying cycles is one of the best ways to get a feel for a new Limited set. They often make up a significant chunk of a set’s available cards and can prepare you for common patterns in drafting, deckbuilding, and gameplay.
“Costs Less” Commons
There are five commons that cost less if you pursue supported themes: Wx go wide, Ux instants/sorceries matter, Bx self mill, and Gx domain. 《Molten Monstrosity》 lacks a larger theme but is nice with enlist.
Dual Land Cycle
DMU has 10 common ETB tapped dual lands with basic land types, which are great for domain. Off-color lands are useful for this purpose.
Each 2c pair has two uncommon legendaries. These combined with the 2c kicker cards showcase supported 2c archetypes.
Each color has a “Defiler” rare that offers limited Phyrexian cost reduction and rewards you for playing cards of its color. They’re all strong, but Defiler of Vigor is the best of the cycle.
Each color has a tribal lord for a different creature type. Goblin/Merfolk tribal appear to be largely lacking in this set.
Each shard has one mythic rare creature. All of these but 《Zur, Eternal Schemer》 are bombs worth splashing.
#3: Learn the 2c Archetypes
UW Spells/Go Wide
UB is a controlling archetype with some rewards for filling its graveyard with instants and sorceries. 《Tolarian Terror》, removal spells, and some card advantage are a recipe for a good UB deck.
RB is aggressive with a bit of a sacrifice theme. 《Bone Splinters》 plays well with cards like 《In Thrall to the Pit》 and 《Lagomos, Hand of Hatred》. 《Warhost’s Frenzy》 and 《Garna, Bloodfist of Keld》 can let BR get away with some very reckless attacks later in the game.
RG is a midrange deck that leans aggressive and may splash for some domain bonuses. 《Sprouting Goblin》 is a great value card, but the rest of its 2c offerings are best when bashing faces.
GW Go Wide/Domain
GW is largely a token strategy, but it can lean more into domain like all Gx pairs. 《Queen Allenal of Ruadach》 makes already on theme cards like 《Captain’s Call》 and 《Argivian Cavalier》 even better. Use 《Heroic Charge》 and 《Strength of the Coalition》 to deliver the finishing blow!
RW Aggro/Go Wide
RW is another go wide strategy, though it has more haste and less tokens than GW. As you would likely expect from Boros, this looks to be a “durdle killer” strategy that should run over the 5c drafter in your pod. 《Hammerhand》 seems appealing here because it’s a hyper aggressive card that plays well with both 《Baird, Argivian Recruiter》 and 《Tori D’Avenant, Fury Rider》.
BW Sacrifice/Go Wide
BW offers a second take on sacrifice, with synergies like 1/1 tokens with 《Bone Splinters》 and some very good uncommons. It’ll likely play more midrangey than RB thanks to value cards like 《Phyrexian Missionary》.
UR is the most aggressive of the three “spells matter” decks, and it has a pretty typical prowess play pattern (despite the lack of prowess cards in DMU). Prioritize premium instants/sorceries and creatures like 《Balmor, Battlemage Captain》, 《Electrostatic Infantry》 and 《Ghitu Amplifier》.
BG has a unique graveyard theme with strong payoffs but somewhat lacking support. 《Eerie Soultender》 and 《Shadow Prophecy》 are the only ways to self mill in BG, so splashing blue for 《Urborg Lhurgoyf》 and 《Monstrous War-Leech》 sounds good.
UG is the best suited pair as the basis of a 5c domain deck. 《Nael, Avizoa Aeronaut》 and 《Tatyova, Steward of Tides》 are powerful payoffs for a greedy deck with a bunch of dual lands and several splashes. Value creatures like 《Vineshaper Prodigy》 are a must play!
#4: Know the Subthemes
Artifacts decks are more of a trap than anything else. There are few payoffs (《Yotia Declares War》; 《Jhoira, Ageless Innovator》; 《Meria, Scholar of Antiquity》) and few good artifacts. Meria is good enough that I’d be willing to play a few mediocre artifacts for her, but I’d avoid the rest.
Defenders is a small theme with three uncommon payoffs, a common tutor, and some filler. I like 《Floriferous Vinewall》 in general and expect to sometimes play 4-5c Defenders as a subtheme in controlling domain decks.
#5: Final Pointers
As mentioned earlier, domain has a balance between speed/consistency and power. Splashing extra colors offers power but has potential opportunity costs:
・Slightly lower odds to have your base colors on time.
・Additional ETB taplands.
・Some draws that will be missing colors early.
There’s no universally correct answer to this, so decide how many colors to play based on:
・Quality of cards available to splash.
・Amount/quality of cards with domain.
・Amount/quality of mana fixing you have.
・How aggressive your deck is.
Lastly, here are some cards that support domain well:
My Top Commons
Prerelease Flow Chart
・Open your pool, then sort your cards into bombs, 2c cards, and mana fixing, then the rest by color.
・Identify your strongest cards and deepest base colors.
・Try to splash everything good while maintaining a healthy curve/2c base.
・Lean into one of the major themes if you can (domain, go wide, instants/sorceries) as they have a lot of support.
・Expect to play 17-18 lands and 3-4 colors on average.
It’s a privilege to write for Hareruya, and I wish that all of you have tremendous success with your prereleases this weekend!