Hello, there! We’re once again returning to Dominaria. The last time we were here, we had an absolute blast drafting the set. Did you know that it was Dominaria that introduced the signature multicolored uncommons for each color pair?
This set also looks like it’s doing things a bit differently, and will probably be very exciting for draft enthusiasts. Hopefully, this Dominaria United Draft Guide will help you understand everything that’s going, so you’ll be able to win more games.
First, we’ll take a look at the mechanics of Dominaria United, and talk about how they might affect the format. We’ll continue with the overview of the best commons for each color. Afterwards, it’s time for the archetype overview, followed by the power rankings. We’ll wrap things up with some additional tips for Dominaria United draft.
As you can see, there’s a lot to talk about, so we better get right to it.
UPDATE: If you’re looking forward to drafting the newest set, you should read our Brothers’ War Draft Guide.
Table of Contents
Dominaria United Mechanics
Dominaria United has five mechanics – some more and some less important; some returning and some new:
- Domain (returning)
- Enlist (new)
- Kicker (returning)
- Read ahead & Sagas (returning with a twist)
- Stun counters (new)
We’ll examine every one of them, so you’ll know how they work, and how they play out.
Cards with domain care about how many different basic land types you control. The higher that number is, the better cards with domain become.
Domain will certainly play a big part in the Dominaria United draft, as there are 23 cards with domain:
- 10 Green cards
- 2 cards for each other color (8 total)
- 4 multicolor cards (one for each color pair with Green)
- 1 artifact
As you can see, this mechanic is clearly centered in Green. So if you’re playing any kind of Green deck, you’ll want to pay attention to domain.
You can enable your domain cards by using cards that search your library for a basic land, like Scout the Wilderness. This way you can remain in two colors, but splash for a couple of cards. You could also play a land of a color that you aren’t playing – just so you can empower your domain cards.
Even a better way of doing so is with the common dual lands, as they have the basic land types, which will count toward domain.
If you want to learn more about various interactions with this mechanic, check out the article about domain rules.
Kicker is an additional cost that various types of cards can have. When you cast a spell with kicker, you can pay the kicker cost in addition to paying the spell’s regular cost. If you do, you’ll get a bonus effect.
The kicker costs in Dominaria are all in different colors than the card’s color. As you can see above, a Red card has a White kicker cost. This provides some interesting decisions in draft.
First, it doesn’t mean that a card can’t be good in your deck, if you can’t pay the kicker cost. A card can be perfectly playable on its own. Hurloon Battle Hymn is a great card even if you don’t have a single White source in your deck. Keep that in mind when you’re evaluating cards.
Secondly, you always have the option to splash the kicker cost. Common dual lands can help you do so, without too big of a commitment.
Finally, it’s important to time your kicker spells just right. You’ll have to decide if you want to cast it right away, or if you want to wait a couple of turns, so you’ll be able to kick it. In general, it depends on two things:
- How powerful is the kicker effect? (the stronger it is, the better it is to wait)
- Do you have something else to do with your mana? (if you don’t, you should probably just cast it)
You can find out more about kicker rules here.
Some creatures in Dominaria United have enlist. Whenever you attack with a creature with enlist, you may tap one of your untapped creatures that isn’t attacking, and doesn’t have summoning sickness. If you do, you add the tapped creature’s power to the power of attacker with enlist.
This mechanic can be a bit tricky to grasp, so if you need additional information, check this article about enlist rules.
There are 11 cards with enlist in White, Red, and Green. This mechanic will be the reason for some high-powered attackers. In turn, this makes chump blocking a bit better, and high-cost big blockers a bit worse. A combination of evasion (flying, trample) and enlist is particularly powerful.
Read Ahead & Sagas
Read ahead is an ability that can appear on sagas. It allows you to choose on which chapter the saga will start. (You don’t get the effect from the chapters that you skip.)
Sagas probably won’t have a big collective effect on the format, in a way that the sagas in Neon Dynasty did. Each one needs to be evaluated based on its own merit.
Stun counters are a new type of counter. It’s basically a new way of saying “this permanent doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step”.
This counters will be evergreen, which means that they’ll be appearing in future sets on a regular basis. There are just three cards that use stun counters in Dominaria United, so this isn’t a mechanic that will affect the format. We still wanted to mention it, so you’ll know what it does when you’ll encounter it.
If you want, you can find out more about Stun counters here, and we’re done with the mechanics!
Best Commons for Dominaria United Draft
The commons are the cards that you’ll see the most of in every draft, so in this section we’ll talk about the best ones for every color. We’ll also talk about what the theme of each color is.
White’s theme in Dominaria United draft is go-wide. This strategy uses cards that make multiple creatures (tokens), and usually wins with a mass pump spell.
1. Citizen’s Arrest
Three mana to get rid of a creature is great. Cards like this get worse if there are a lot of effects that destroy enchantments. In this set there aren’t many playable cards that destroy enchantments (one common, one uncommon and a mythic). This means that for the most part, a creature removed with Citizen’s Arrest will be gone for good.
2. Argivian Cavalier
Arigivian Cavalier is a great card. A three mana 2/2 that brings a 1/1 token is a fine rate in most draft environments. Cavalier also has enlist, which makes it a much better attacker. On top of that, there are many cards that reward you for having multiple creatures in play.
All of these things make Cavalier a really solid common.
3. Captain’s Call
This is a simple card, that will likely over-perform in Dominaria United draft. Getting multiple bodies is going to be great, and Captain’s Call gives you three Soldiers with one card. You probably won’t mind playing multiples, as you could easily swarm the board in a couple of turns, then use the next card that we’ll talk about for the win.
Heroic Charge is the real deal. You don’t even need the Red mana for it to be amazing. As we’ve seen before, there are many cards that give you multiple bodies. You just pair them with Heroic Charge, and you’ve gotten yourself a viable win condition.
Take Up the Shield is another great combat trick – it does just about everything! It makes your creature bigger (permanently), it can counter removal spells and make sure your creature survives combat. As if that isn’t enough, you can also get a bunch of life, which can swing the race in your favor.
You’ll probably see both these instants in many games against White. If you can afford to play around them, you should definitely do so, as this will increase your win rate.
1. Essence Scatter
There are many good creatures in Dominaria United draft, a lot of them come with an enter-the-battlefield effects. Essence Scatter cleanly deals with them for only two mana.
Thanks to the creatures with kicker, it gets a bit better than in most sets. Your opponents might wait to cast their creature, in order to be able to pay the kicker cost – and then you’re able to counter their bigger mana investment.
Of course, it’ll also work with all of your cards that care about instant and sorceries. You can also pair it with other instants, like Impulse in order to have something to do with your mana, just in case if your opponent doesn’t play a creature.
2. Talas Lookout
A 3/2 flyer for four is fine, but nothing spectacular. However, when it draws you a card, it becomes pretty absurd for a common. On top of that, it also gives you a card selection – in the late game that’s almost close to drawing two.
Of course, the downside is that it doesn’t do that when it enters the battlefield, but when it dies. But hey, if it doesn’t die, then you can start beating your opponent down with a 3-powered flyer, and sooner or later they’ll have to deal with it or lose the game.
3. Tolarian Geyser
This is one of those kicker cards where you can safely ignore the kicker bonus, and the quality of the card doesn’t change much. For three mana you get to bounce a creature, and draw a card. This can a big tempo swing, and it also works well with all of your cards that want you to cast instants or sorceries.
Tolarian Terror is one such card. In the right deck, you can consistently cast it on turn five, and it’s going to be hard to deal with. In the late game, it can get really cheap, allowing you to cast two spells in a single turn.
Impede Momentum can work surprisingly well. If you use it early, by the time the creature untaps, it’ll probably be outclassed. If you use it on something late, the game might end before it untaps.
If you are the dedicated instants/sorceries deck, then you’ll want a copy or two of Volshe Tideturner, which can serve as early defense, and make lots of your spells a bit faster.
1. Phyrexian Rager
While this is no Inspiring Overseer by any means, it is a serviceable creature that immediately replaces itself. It can work as a sacrifice fodder, or as a part of a go-wide strategy.
You can never have too many Ragers in your deck, but if you do end up with a lot of them, you should think about including some cards that also gain life in your deck.
2. Extinguish the Light
Four mana to destroy a creature at instant speed is a fine deal. The only problem with a card like this is when a format turns out to be very aggressive, as you’re often trading down in mana. With Extinguish the Light, that’s mitigated by the fact that you get three life if you kill something that costs 3 or less.
3. Tribute to Urborg
-2/-2 can deal with smaller creatures on its own, and also take care of the bigger ones during combat. If you have access to Blue mana, it obviously gets even better.
Gibbering Barricade is a card that will generate a lot of advantage in the right deck over the course of the game. There’s a lot of sacrifice fodder that you can use with Barricade, and you can always sacrifice something that your opponent would kill. The interesting thing is that you could sacrifice itself to its ability, which isn’t always the case with such cards.
Bone Splinters is another card that will work great in a deck that has dispensable creatures.
Writhing Necromass can be a nice curve topper, particularly if you have some self-mill going on.
1. Lightning Strike
Lightning Strike is just so efficient that it’s always one of the best commons in almost any draft environment. There’s no reason for this to change with Dominaria United draft, as it kills 110 out of 157 creatures. That’s around 70% of all creatures, so pick these highly, when you’re playing Red.
2. Flowstone Infusion
This card might look like a weird combat trick, but it’s actually a removal spell in disguise. Two “damage” kills a bit over 35% of creatures in the format, which is decent for a single mana. Sometimes you might even use it to buff one of your creatures for a win.
3. Furious Bellow
Sure Strike is usually the best Red common combat trick. Furious Bellow has a scry 1 tacked on, which makes it even better. This is certainly a card that’ll see a lot of play in Red aggressive decks.
Keldon Strike Team is a three mana 3/1 haster, which is almost a fine card. However, you’d really like to pay the kicker cost with this one, if possible. As with other such cards, you could splash for the kicker cost, as the payoff is pretty good in the right archetype.
Coalition Warbrute has efficient stats, and can easily push damage through thanks to the combination of enlist and trample.
Jaya’s Firenado is quite clunky, but sometimes necessary to deal with an opposing threat. Scry 1 is a nice bonus in the late game.
1. Bite Down
The worst thing about Bite Down is that it doesn’t provide any kind of boost. However, it does deliver on all the other things that make a fight spell good. It’s an instant, and it’s fairly cheap. Your creature also doesn’t take damage.
All in all, as we’ve seen before – Bite Down is a really powerful card, and you won’t mind playing multiples in your Green decks.
2. Vineshaper Prodigy
We maybe cheated a bit by making this card one of the best commons in Green, since you’ll want access to Blue mana in order to put this card in your deck. However, once you do so, it becomes very good. You get the best card from the top three of your library, and you get a 2/2. That’s a good deal for four mana.
You don’t need to play Green-Blue for this card to work, as you could easily just splash a couple of Blue sources in your deck. Even if you don’t get them, you can still play it as a two mana 2/2 in a pinch.
3. Scout the Wilderness
This is one of the easiest ways to both splash for cards with off-color kicker, and for enabling domain. Since Green cares about both of these things, this is going to be an important card.
The problem with ramp spells is usually that they don’t do much in the late game. This one, however, can be kicked to get two 1/1 tokens. While this might not seem like much, it drastically improves the card, as it now does excellent early, and meaningful late in the game.
Deathbloom Gardener doesn’t support domain, but it does fix your mana, which is often important for Green decks that splash. The extra mana also comes in handy, when you’re trying to cast more expensive kicker spells. On top of that, it has deathtouch, so it’ll often be able to trade up in mana.
Magnigoth Sentry is a solid creature with nice stats. I can see myself forgetting that it has reach and attacking into it with a flyer, so that’s a thing to keep an eye out for.
Dominaria United Draft Archetypes
We’ll start this section with a quote from Mark Rosewater, the head designer for MTG:
“Dominaria United was designed in such a way that players can draft anything from a two-color deck to a five-color deck, with the main default being two colors plus a splash. This multicolor theme added some complexity to creating draft archetypes, so Erik and Ian decided that they would focus on strong monocolor themes that would then get mixed and matched as people played various colors.”Mark Rosewater (Dominaria United We Stand Part 2)
The big takeaway here is that you could theoretically draft a five color deck. However, the most common archetypes are still 2-color decks (with a potential splash). These are the archetypes that we’ll talk about the most.
Before we start with them, let’s touch on the monocolor themes, that Mark was talking about:
- White: go-wide tokens
- Blue: instants & sorceries
- Black: killing & sacrificing creatures, graveyard synergies
- Red: aggro, direct damage
- Green: ramp, domain
To get a theme of a certain color pair, you simply take a look at what each of the two colors’ theme is, and you combine them. This way, you get ten 2-color archetypes, which we’ll explore below.
Blue-White: Go-Wide & Spells
As we said, White wants to go wide, while Blue rewards you for casting instant and sorceries. That sounds a bit unusual, but this archetype is actually a perfect blend of the two themes, as can be seen from the signature uncommons highlighted above.
Raff has everything. It has a pump effect, which is always important for go-wide strategies. It also draws you a card, when you cast an instant or sorcery, provided that you can tap two of your untapped creatures. Tura simply gives you tokens, when you cast instant and sorceries.
With this archetype, you’ll want to have a nice mix of creatures and instant/sorceries. Cards that fall into both categories, like Captain’s Call are at their best here.
There’s also a secondary, a less obvious theme here. You could just go for the good ol’ flyers archetype. There are 11 flyers in these two colors – and that’s discounting rares and mythics. So you could potentially play a bunch of them, combine them with tap effects and bounce spells, and go for a win this way.
The two main themes here are go-wide from White, and sacrifice from Black. When you combine these two themes, you get the theme otherwise known as aristocrats. It wants you to play a bunch of small creatures, then sacrifice them for value. Compared to other White archetypes, this is a bit slower, since you’re getting a lot of small advantages over the course of the game.
You can see this, if you take a look at Aron, Benalia’s Ruine. You have to sacrifice a creature, which isn’t great for the most aggressive decks, but the pump effect is permanent (in the form of +1/+1 counters), which you can take advantage of if the game goes longer. Elas also won’t win the game suddenly, but the longer the game goes on, the more damage adds up.
Green-White: Go-Wide Domain
This is basically your classic go-wide deck, with the twist being that it also cares about domain. However, they might be some friction between the two themes, so you should approach drafting this archetype carefully.
Once again, both gold uncommons are very good, however, Queen Allenal doesn’t have a very splash-friendly mana cost, while Zar Ojanen gets better if you have domain. What you’ll want to do is to have only the lightest of splashes. Perhaps you could play one of each Island, Swamp and Mountain, even if you don’t have much use for them. You could go grab them with various spells that let you search for a land, to improve your domain cards.
We shall see how this archetype plays out, as there could be two ways to build it. One would be to support the domain cards, and the other to simply ignore all that, and just play regular go-wide strategy. It’ll probably depend on what kind of payoffs you’ll get.
Red-White: Go-Wide Aggro
If you feel overwhelmed with fancy new archetypes, here’s a one for you. Red-White doesn’t get too fancy, it just wants to play lots of creatures and turn them sideways.
Tori pumps your whole army of attackers, while Baird can keep providing tokens.
Combat tricks will also be quite good in this archetype, as your opponent is often forced to block. Of course, this archetype also unlocks the full power of Heroic Charge, which can’t be understated. Remember to have a low curve when you’re drafting this deck, and you might even get away with 16 lands.
Black cares about graveyard, and creatures dying, while Blue wants you to cast instant and sorceries. You could easily get drawn into the rabbit hole of thinking about this deck in synergy terms, but it’s actually a straight-up control deck, with various synergies that are pretty much incidental.
This means that you don’t have to go out of your way to enable them. Just pick up good control cards, and you’ll end up with a lot of synergies anyway. However, in the last pack, you should pay attention to what you’ve drafted so far. There might be some synergies that would work really well, and you need just some additional support to fully enable them.
Blue-Red: Aggro Spells
This archetype is yet another perfect blend of the two mono-colored themes. Red wants to attack, Blue wants to cast instant and sorceries, so why wouldn’t you just do both. While the archetype looks similar to Blue-Red archetypes from other formats, it does focus on the attacking part even more than usual.
While Balmor can help you on defense as well, it’s really as it best when you’re attacking. Similarly, Najal’s second ability only works when it attacks.
Electrostatic Infrantry is also bonkers in this archetype, it’ll grow quickly, and due to trample, your opponents won’t be able to chump block it.
You’ll really want cheap instants and sorceries, as they’ll allow you to have some explosive turns. Timely Interference is the perfect poster-child for this slot.
If you enjoy tempo decks, this will be a great archetype for you to try.
Black-Red: Aggro Sacrifice
This color combination brings an aggressive deck with a sacrifice subtheme to the table. You’ll try to beat down your opponent, while you sacrifice creatures for value.
Lagomos provides a constant sacrifice fodder, while Garna is an excellent payoff for sacrificing stuff. As always, you need a nice mix of three types of cards:
- Fodder (creatures that can be sacrificed for value – tokens, Splatter Goblin…)
Outlets and payoffs are often one and the same, especially with the newer sets. So, something like Gibbering Barricade. This deck looks like it could perform quite well, as it has both early aggression and ways to deal those final points of damage in the late game.
Black-Green: Midrange Graveyard
This archetype is somewhat of an abomination, in that it doesn’t as seamlessly fit together as some of the other ones. The reason might be that both Black (sacrifice, creatures dying, graveyard shenanigans) and Green (ramp, domain) have multiple themes.
So, the best way to approach this deck is to go for a classic midrange deck. Have a good mana curve, with good cards. During the draft, you’ll notice which type of synergies your deck has the most of, and you can proceed with drafting around them a bit more.
Red is aggressive, but green wants to ramp, and play more expensive spells. So this archetype can’t be the most aggressive one, therefore we’re looking at another midrange deck, that can also make use of some domain cards.
There are some synergies with lands, but once again, there are many paths for you to choose from. Depending on which cards you draft early, you’ll have to decide in which direction to continue in. You could be a more aggressive deck, that doesn’t care much for synergies, or you could be a bit slower, grindy deck.
Blue-Green: Ramp Domain
This archetype combines ramp/domain with instants and sorceries. It results in a base Green-Blue deck that splashes two to three colors and makes use of big domain effects.
Expensive cards like Mossbeard Ancient are at home in this archetype. Ancient is particularly nice, as it gains you 5 life, which can offset some of the early damage that you took, while you were ramping.
One problem that this archetype might have is that it doesn’t have access to good removal spells. That’s why you might want to splash for some of the good ones.
The Blue-Green archetype will most likely be the base for a five color deck, which is the next archetype that we’ll talk about.
Five Color Pile
Many players might want to draft a five-color deck, particularly since Mark Rosewater talked about it being viable. However, based on the cards that are available, going for a full five color deck doesn’t mean that you should just jam all colors in an equal amount.
The five color deck will focus on Green, and potentially on another color. The other colors will all be splashed. The early cards will be Green, which allows you to have a consistent start and use ramp spells, to get to your splashed colors.
You’ll be rewarded by getting access to all kicker costs and to the full domain. You’ll also be able to play almost any powerful rare that you’ve drafted. However, the deck might be a bit clunky and struggle against aggressive decks, especially if you don’t have a robust early game.
Of course, if you do open a Jodah, the Unifer, it’s certainly a fun challenge to try to build around it.
Finally, here’s a very unusual archetype. It focuses on creatures with defenders. The deck is centered in Esper colors (White, Blue, and Black). Each of these colors has two creatures with defender, one common and one uncommon. There are also two colorless defenders Walking Bulwark and Shield-Wall Sentinel, both of which are nice payoffs for this strategy.
Your best payoff is certainly the White uncommon, Wingmate Chaplain, which can make an army of flying Birds. Therefore, you don’t really need to go into a full three-color deck. Your best bet is probably a main two-color deck, with one of the two colors being White. Of course, you could always splash a third color for some additional defenders.
The deck will play out as a control deck – defenders are not particularly good at attacking, after all. So don’t forget to draft a lot of removal spells, and possibly counterspells.
Dominaria United Draft Guide: Power Rankings
We reached the power rankings. Once again, you have to take this with a grain of salt, at least until we do our first update to the article, which should be coming in a week or so. These are just some educated guesses, and we don’t mean to state that the worst colors / archetypes are unplayable.
Black has a lot of good removal spells, useful creatures and nice synergies. This time around, it really looks like it has it all. White presents a very good go-wide strategy, that many decks might have problems against. Green will be the color of domain and splashing – having access to every color could prove to be very strong.
Red and Blue follow, and they do seem a tiny bit weaker, but still very much competitive.
Best Archetypes in Dominaria United Draft
- Black-White: Aristocrats
- Black-Red: Aggro Sacrifice
- Green-White: Go-WIde Domain
- Blue-White: Go-Wide & Spells
- Red-White: Go-Wide Aggro
- Black-Green: Midrange Graveyard
- Red-Green: Midrange
- Blue-Red: Aggro Spells
- Blue-Black: Control
- Esper Defenders
- Blue-Green: Ramp Domain
- Five Color Pile
Additional Tips for Dominaria United Draft
Before we wrap up, here are some parting tips for Dominaria United draft.
It’s a bit early to talk about the format’s speed with a lot of confidence, so this is certainly something that we’ll have more information about in a week or so – when you can expect an update for this article.
For now, it looks like the aggressive decks have the tools to succeed, but they aren’t overpowered. It wouldn’t make much sense to make a format with kicker, and domain – both of which are great in a long game, if the aggressive decks would just beat everyone down early.
Most likely, you’ll have enough time to play slower midrange decks, but you should have enough early plays, so you won’t just die to an aggressive deck curing out.
Common Dual Lands
There are 10 dual lands at common. This might not look like much at first sight – they enter tapped and provide two colors of mana. However, they do have the basic land types, which count for domain. They can also support off-color kicker costs that you might have.
Of course, you can always use them as mana fixing in your two-color decks as well. That’s still quite good, as the mana in draft is usually quite sketchy.
How Many Lands to Play in Dominaria United Draft?
Usually, in formats with kicker, the default number immediately gets bumped up to 18. We’re not entirely sure if this will be the case here – it’ll probably vary on a deck to deck basis.
The reason for this is that kicker costs here aren’t as expensive as in some other formats. So if you’re in doubt, you should stick to 17 lands. However, once you are playing multiple kicker cards, you should probably go up to 18 lands. The same is true, if you’re playing extra off color lands for domain.
On the other hand, you might draft a hyper aggressive deck, with a very low curve, you could go down to 16 lands. Just make sure, that you really have a lot of one and two drops.
We’ve mentioned splashing multiple times, but it’s going to be very important in Dominaria United draft. For new players – to splash means to play a couple of cards that aren’t in your main colors, with a few sources of that mana.
There will be a lot of splashing here, you’ve probably noticed that we mentioned it plenty of times.
One thing that’s always useful to look at are the wraths in the set. Depending on your definition of a wrath, there are quite a lot of them in Dominaria United draft:
- Drag to the Bottom
- Smash to Dust
- Temporal Firestorm
- Temporary Lockdown
- The Elder Dragon War
- The Phasing of Zhalfir
As you can see, there isn’t an actual wrath – so no cards that just destroy all creatures and that’s it. Most of them are damage based. A couple of them will be useful if token strategies are prevalent, while the others might help you in more scenarios.
If you can afford to play around these cards, you should certainly try to do so.
Explore More Dominaria United!
That’s the end of Dominaria United Draft Guide. Now you hopefully have enough knowledge, that you’ll be able to win lots of games. As always, if you have a question about the format, leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you.
Furthermore, if you want more Dominaria United content, we’ve got you covered. Commander players might like one of the two Dominaria United Commander decks. One of them contains all five colors!
If you’re anxiously waiting for Dominaria to drop on Arena, you can find the exact Dominaria United release time here. If you’re an Arena player, you’ll probably want to use MTG Arena codes. We have a full list of them, and a new one for Dominaria United is coming as well!
Perhaps you want to organize a draft at home? In that case, you can get a Dominaria United Draft booster box on Amazon. It comes with a Box Topper!
That’s all for today, until next time, have fun, and may you win a lot of games drafting Dominaria United.