Last week, I talked about the three planeswalkers in Dominaria: Karn, Scion of Urza, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, and Jaya Ballard. Personally, I think two of those three have great potential and could possibly shape the upcoming Standard format. Of course, to learn which two I’m excited about, you’ll just have to read that article.
In this article, to continue my look at Dominaria, I’ll be going over three of the main features of Dominaria: sagas, legendaries, and nostalgia, what excites me and what doesn’t, as well as some of the cards. Let’s jump in!
Let’s start with what is undoubtedly the most out of the box new hotness in Dominaria: sagas. Sagas are enchantments that operate a bit like a combination of the Level Up mechanic from Rise of the Eldrazi and a modal feature on enchantments found most notably on Demonic Pact. Unlike Demonic Pact, which makes you lose the game when you run out of modes to choose from, sagas simply sacrifice themselves, certainly a happy compromise between losing the game and getting to choose modes over and over again.
I’m a huge fan of the sagas I’ve seen so far. Firstly, they offer an incredible amount of design space to play around with, which makes me think that not only will we see a lot of very cool designs coming through the pipeline, but we could very well see sagas become a feature of other sets down the line. Secondly, I love how they did the card layout and visual communication for sagas. It still looks and feels like a Magic card in every way, and to me the name, mana cost, and card typings are very easy to see. Beyond this, I think that the way they’ve laid out the rules text is absolutely fantastic. It is crystal clear what you do for each step (chapter?) of the saga, and the reminder text of what you’re supposed to do with the card doesn’t interfere with the text and can very easily be read before the steps, greatly helping players to internalize and memorize how this new type of card works. I can’t find anything that I don’t like or am worried about here. A+ from me!
We haven’t seen too many sagas so far, but I’ll go over two of them for now. First up is Phyrexian Scriptures. The mythic saga is an incredibly powerful effect, especially for limited, and shows how sagas don’t play solely with the same tools as other cards. They can play with time, as seen perfectly by the combination of the I and II abilities on Phyrexian Scriptures. Also, the flavor is amazing! Phyrexians turning creatures into their own and then wiping out the rest? Sign me up!
Triumph of Gerrard I’m less excited about in a constructed context, but it’s clearly very strong in limited and shows how Wizards of the Coast has been really thinking creatively with these sagas. Rather than the traditional I, II, and then III abilities on a saga, Triumph of Gerrard gives you the same effect for it’s I and II abilities, letting both the I and II abilities be directly tied to the III ability and making this a complete card that feels like one powerful effect spread over several turns.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen a mechanic and been really, really excited to play with it, but I think sagas are that mechanic. I might even play in a prerelease just to play with them!
Despite the resounding failure of Kamigawa block way back when, it seems that once again Legendaries will be a major theme in a block. In Dominaria, it appears that Legendaries will go down in rarity as far as uncommon, something that actively confused newer players in Kamigawa. Regardless, I think that this theme will do much better this time around thanks to the new classification of cards: historic.
While we don’t know a ton about how much historic will impact the block, it’s safe to say that Legendaries will be more important on Dominaria than other planes we’ve visited in the past. One of the main issues with the Legendaries in Kamigawa is that there was hardly a reference to them, making them a feature of the set, and not really a central theme.
Firstly, let’s look at one type of Legendary reward: Legendary spells! Urza’s Ruinous Blast is a pretty exciting and unique card. 5 mana for a board wipe effect is the standard nowadays, and the added bonus of keeping your Legendaries around is quite significant. The other pieces of this cycle, Karn’s Temporal Sundering, Jaya’s Immolating Inferno, and Kamahl’s Druidic Vow, don’t seem to have the same potential upside, but they’re all relatively low costed for what they offer thanks to the extra requirement of having a Legendary in play.
The other major Legendary reward in this set is the new keyword “historic”, which essentially translates to “artifact, saga, or legendary”. Several new cards will reference historic, mostly as a reward but sometimes as a requirement for an ability or effect. As a good example, Curator’s Ward is okay on its own (if not very mediocre). However, if you put it on a historic permanent, suddenly Curator’s Ward turns into a protection spell that makes any combat trade the permanent finds itself in a profitable one.
Hoooooo boy do we have some nostalgia in this set! Returning to Magic’s original plane has opened up a seemingly infinite box of Magic’s history, you just have to be experienced enough to catch it.
As far as reprints go, so far they have absolutely crushed it! So far, we’ve seen all of these iconic cards!
That’s an incredible suite of cards that evoke incredible nostalgia from the early days of Magic. Icy Manipulator and Juggernaut in particular show just how far Magic has come since those two cards were dominant forces. Getting to play with just some of these reprints truly is the best way to celebrate 25 amazing years of Magic.
Looking past the direct reprints, a lot of cards emulate some of the most iconic cards or bring back some of Magic’s most beloved characters. Karn, Teferi, Jaya Ballard, Tetsuko Umezawa, Squee (!), Jhoira, and others that I’m sure I’ve missed are all making new appearances in this set. Additionally, cards like Mox Amber, Healing Grace, Howling Golem, and many others evoke powerful and memorable cards. Each new spoiler that comes out doesn’t only get players’ wheels turning about where they could fit in limited or various constructed formats, but it also gets players reminiscing about the times they were just getting into the game.
I have quite literally never been more excited about a new Magic set, and I’ve been playing for nearly 7 years. To me at least, they’ve nailed the combination of new hotness and incredible nostalgia. If the Limited and Standard formats turn out to be an improvement on Ixalan, we could very well be in the midst of one of the best Magic sets of all time.
Until next time,
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