First Look Into Dominaria

Oliver Polak-Rottmann

I hope you enjoyed “Masters 25” as much as I did but now regular Magic is just around the block in form of the new set “Dominaria”. When I heard that we will go back to the plane of the origins of Magic I was very excited and hoping for a lot of old keywords, abilities and possible reprints. While we got something from every department we also got a bunch of new abilities, cardtypes and apparently some cards are more “Historic” now than they were before. All of that is topic in today’s article.

Well, the first card that deserves to be mentioned is a classic from the very beginnings of Magic: 《Llanowar Elves》.

Llanowar Elves

While it got a new face this card is one of the most iconic Magic cards ever. It was not worth mentioning a card like 《Birds of Paradise》, 《Arbor Elf》 and all their brothers and sisters for a long time, but we came to a point where we have not seen a card like this in quite a while. To be honest I thought that we will not see a comeback of cards like 《Llanowar Elves》, 《Counterspell》 or 《Stone Rain》 in a standard format any time soon.

CounterspellStone Rain

R&D decided to put one of our old friends into the new set and it will make waves in standard, I can assure you that. In a timeframe where all spells were much stronger than any creature in the format, there was no issue with a 1-Mana-Accelerator but nowadays I have a strong feeling that 《Llanowar Elves》 will change the format by a huge amount.

Just imagine a turn 1 Llano into 《Jadelight Ranger》! This is incredible powerful, and as a blue mage I cannot imagine coming back from a start like this on the draw. With a powerful effect like turn 1 acceleration you can steal back the play even you are on the draw as all the reactive decks have to deal with the elf immediately, otherwise they will be devoured by more expensive spells before opponent prepare to do so.

Don’t get me wrong, I am more than excited to remove the dust from my playset of Llanos, but there is no stronger play in standard than turn 1 《Llanowar Elves》. It might be the end of the Era of Midrange 《The Scarab God》 decks dominating standard which is a good thing as durdling around is not longer possible with this amount of speed added to the format.

But let us stop talking about the most powerful Elf in Magic history and take a look at our new “old” stuff.

Keyword Abilities / Rules


Caligo Skin-WitchKeldon Overseer

“Kicker” is back and that is something to be excited about. While it is the same keyword as it was before the design of the cards changed by a lot! Back in “Invasion” a card that was played without “Kicker” was decent, but if you payed the additional cost the spell turned from decend into VERY good like 《Probe》 or 《Jilt》. We then saw a revival of “Kicker” in the “Zendikar” block where they took some powerlevel out of the cards, even though they were still great limited and constructed cards like 《Gatekeeper of Malakir》 or 《Burst Lightning》.

ProbeJiltGatekeeper of MalakirBurst Lightning

Now with “Dominaria” the base level of power might be slightly higher but “Kicker” seems more like a limited mechanic than a relevant mechanic for standard. The bonus costs are much higher than they used to be and therefore the cards are more balanced. For limited play it is exciting that you get a 《Wind Drake》 with “Kicker” in form of 《Academy Drake》 and it will make your lategame plays much better. Cards have a use in the early turns of the game and get a slight upgrade in the lategame to somewhat protect you from flooding out but they don’t get unfair and basically uncastable without “Kicker” like 《Breath of Darigaaz》 used to be.

Academy DrakeBreath of Darigaaz

My prediction is that we won’t see “Kicker” taking the reins in standard, but it will improve limited play like “Cycling” did as it gives us more options and lategame power. As I personally will not explore the unofficial spoiled cards “Kicker” looks like it got a fair powerlevel compared to what it used to be.


Phyrexian ScripturesThe First Eruption

The next thing is entirely new: “Saga”! Not only do we have a cardframe we have never seen before, we also get a pretty new and unique effect that will change gameplays. We have an enchantment that triggers while it enters the battlefield and does things during the next two turns. While this kind of reminds me of “Suspend”, you can trick with adding or removing counters from it. 《Hex Parasite》 could become a great card and 《Doubling Season》 also does change the math of how “Sagas” work.

Hex ParasiteDoubling Season

While they are not Planeswalkers nor Legendary, “Sagas” have the touch of something special and it will be exciting what we see them get used for. Their design kind of works like a Planeswalker with a weaker ability to start but a huge upside at the ultimate or in our case “Lore Counter” number three. And my initial thought was that they would be something like 《Parallax Wave》, just in reverse.

Parallax WaveTime of Ice

Remove three creatures for three turns, that is pretty good effect for a single card. I am really excited to see how this cards will be used. Just look at 《The Mirari Conjecture》!

The Mirari Conjecture

This card is extremely powerful and builds up to a great stage three. We first get back our Counterspell, then we get back our Draw Spell and then we make even more card advantage. Those cards will be allstars in Commander and I can certainly see them in various constructed decks, especially cards like 《History of Benalia》 in Token-Decks.

History of Benalia

While I first thought that “Sagas” will only be in the rare and mythic slot but apparently they can also be found in the uncommon slot so we will see a lot of gameplay with them in limited.


Serra Disciple

Next up is “Historic” which changes a whole lot of cards that already exist. All artifacts and all legendary permanents are “Historic” now. While we don’t know where this will lead us, a lot of cards just got remanufactured by this keyword and I assume this will change the power of some cards to the better. The only official card we know so far that really benefits from “Historic” is 《Serra Disciple》 and this card will not see play in any constructed format, but it shows us what type of effects might come in the future. I imagine pingers, draw spells and the like. Artifacts got a boost by this and I can’t wait to see what’s up next.

Legendary Sorceries

Urza's Ruinous BlastKarn's Temporal Sundering

Last but not least we now have “Legendary Sorceries”. This is also completely new and made some cards way more wanted than before. While no one looked at 《Leyline of Singularity》 in a decade it became one of the new most hyped cards because it lets you enable the “Legendary Sorceries”. One interesting thing about “Legendary Sorceries” is that it does not trigger off of lands so you need to commit something to the board and does not let you fool around without having actual creatures or Planeswalkers.

Scry and New Temple

Zhalfirin VoidTemple of Malady

I would not call “Scry” a “new” keyword anymore, as we basically carry “Scry” throughout every set but we got a new “temple” in form of 《Zhalfirin Void》. I am not entirely sure how much play of this card we will see as it fights the colorless land slot with 《Field of Ruin》, but the power of the temples was everywhere in the old standard formats. Sometimes we played temples that only suited one of our colors just to get that effect. This time we don’t get colored mana but can use our resource immediately.

《Cast Down》

Cast Down

Another single card I want to mention is 《Cast Down》. This card is very efficient and will see a lot of play over the course of the next two years, even though it has the legendary clause. To be honest, it can kill basically anything that is not a God and that is a very strong effect for just two mana. We have seen cards like 《Smother》, 《Last Gasp》 and 《Ultimate Price》 being played a lot in standard and this card just perfectly suits into that role. We cannot kill anything unique with it, but it can kill anything ordinary!


While spoiler season is just about to start I hope you enjoyed our first quick look into the new set and are as eager as I to play with it. Thanks for reading and until next time.

Oliver Polak-Rottmann

Recommended Items

Related Articles