Magic: The Gathering – Dominaria United’s Limited Archetypes, Explained

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  • Mono-Colour Building Blocks
  • White/Blue: Flying Tempo
  • Blue/Black: Control
  • Black/Red: Reckless Aggro
  • Red/Green: Domain Stompy
  • Green/White: Domain Tokens
  • White/Black: Creature Sacrifice
  • Blue/Red: Spells Aggro
  • Black/Green: Domain Midrange
  • Red/White: Tokens Aggro
  • Green/Blue: Kicker Ramp

Dominaria United takes us back to Magic: The Gathering’s oldest world, Dominaria. Full of legendary creatures, returning mechanics, and major story events, it’s one of the most complex and deep Standard-legal set’s we’ve received in quite a while.

Thanks to its five-colour-matters theme, Dominaria United’s drafting is also more complicated than previous sets. Although you’ll still be running two-colour decks in limited, you’re also heavily encouraged to splash out into three, four, or maybe even five colours when needed. Here is everything you need to know about Dominaria United’s draft archetypes.

Mono-Colour Building Blocks

While most sets use ten distinct draft archetypes (such as New Capenna’s five three-colour and five two-colours), Dominaria United’s ten two-colour themes are actually a combination of five basic mono-colour identities.

  • White: Going wide and token generation.
  • Blue: Instant- and Sorcery-matters.
  • Black: Death-matters (creature removal, sacrifice, and graveyard recursion).
  • Red: Aggro and direct damage.
  • Green: Domain and mana ramp.

All of these basic, foundational archetypes can slot nicely together to make the ten official archetypes, or can be put together in different ways as needed. In other words, Dominaria United encourages you to flex the usual draft advice of sticking to two colours at most. Pick two colours for your deck’s primary focus, but then don’t be afraid to splash into more colours as needed.

For instance, a white/green deck focuses on using domain to produce lots of tokens, but throw black in there and you’ve got a domain-driven, token-fuelled Sacrifice deck up and running.

White/Blue: Flying Tempo

The Azorius (white/blue) archetype of Dominaria United is all about controlling the pace of the game before swinging in with flying tokens to clean up.

There are lots of flying creatures to choose from, with Coalition Skyknight having access to enlist to deal big damage, or Griffin Protector getting stronger with each other creature that enters the battlefield that turn. Bigger, splashier plays include things like Defiler of Dreams and Djinn of the Fountain, which both give you access to useful control tools or card advantage to keep up the tempo.

Tempo is all about keeping ahead of your opponent, which means you’ll want to play some spells that can either slow them down or speed you up. Things like Stall For Time are a great way of keeping your opponent’s creatures locked down, while The Phasing of Zhalfir could protect your board while devastating theirs. Tolarian Geyser is great too, as it bounces creatures back to their controller’s hand while giving you card draw and extra life if it was kicked.

The signpost legendary for this archetype is Tura Kennerud, Skyknight, which makes more (frustratingly non-flying) creature tokens with each instant and sorcery you cast.

Blue/Black: Control

While white and blue are about stalling your opponent long enough to build up your flock of fliers, Dimir (blue/black) is focused on a much harsher form of control that has you countering spells, destroying creatures, and removing your opponent’s resources to completely stall their gameplan.

This set is full of ways to disrupt your opponent. Counter their spells with Essence Scatter, Ertai’s Scorn, and Negate, remove creatures with Rona’s Vortex, Bone Splinters, and Extinguish the Light; and disrupt their hand with The Raven Man, Pilfer, and Braids’s Frightful Return.

Of course, the big one to hit for this archetype is Sheoldred, The Apocalypse. It rewards you for drawing cards, while punishing your opponent for trying to get ahead. As long as you can keep up your card advantage with cantrips like Tolarian Geyser, Timely Interference, and Silver Scrutiny, you’ll be able to hold out long enough for your opponent to kill themselves through card draw.

Leading this archetype is the signpost legendary Rona, Sheoldred’s Faithful. A Dimir (blue/black) legendary that makes your opponents lose life with every instant or sorcery spell you cast, it’s also incredibly difficult to get rid of thanks to its ability to return from the graveyard.

Black/Red: Reckless Aggro

Usually Rakdos (red/black) has some kind of sacrifice theme, but this time it’s all about just swinging in and hoping your opponent does the work for you. With lots of death triggers, hasty creatures, and things your opponent may not particularly want to block, you can keep smashing them in the face and punishing them for the few times they try and stop it.

First, you’re going to want permanents with nice death triggers. This includes things like Phyrexian Vivisector, which lets you scry and filter through your deck for your next big hitter. Sengir Connoisseur can keep the pressure up by constantly growing every turn. Also keep an eye out for both Balduvian Berserker and Splatter Goblin, which have death triggers that can remove creatures (or, in the Balduvian Berserker’s case, potentially blast your opponent out of the game entirely).

Your signpost for this archetype is Garna, Bloodfist of Keld. Drawing cards and dealing damage whenever an attacking creature you control dies is an incredible way to dissuade your opponent from blocking.

Red/Green: Domain Stompy

The first archetype of Dominaria United that heavily encourages you to play beyond the base pair of colours is the red/green Domain Stompy. The goal here is to smash with big creatures that lean into Dominaria United’s domain mechanic, which scales effects based on how many basic land types you control.

While ramping up to big creatures is part of the strategy, you’re more likely going to be playing cheaper, smaller ones and buffing them up using domain instead. For example, Nishoba Brawler is a key part of the archetype, costing only two mana but growing up into a 5/3 once you’ve maxed out your domain. You’ve also got the slightly more expensive Territorial Maro that can become an astonishing 10/10, and Sunbathing Rootwalla that has an activated ability to become up to a 7/7.

The key part of this strategy, though, are your lands. For domain to be most effective, you need to have Plains, Islands, Swamps, Mountains, and Forests under your control. Fortunately, Dominaria United introduces ten new dual lands that feature two basic land types, which, between red and green as your central colours, could let you max out domain in as few as three lands. Ramp with Slimefoot’s Survey and ensure you’re hitting your land drops with Sprouting Goblin, and you’ll be filling out your domain as fast as possible.

For this archetype, your signpost is Radha, Coalition Warlord. It’s a simply enough ability that can buff up another creature by your domain count whenever Radha becomes tapped. In this deck it’s likely going to be tapped through combat, but if you can find other ways (such as enlist, which is plentiful if both red and green), you could buff multiple things before your opponent can get rid of Radha.

Green/White: Domain Tokens

White and green are by far the most go-wide colours in Dominaria United, with green’s use of the domain mechanic to help white produce lots of creature tokens being a fantastic way to flood the board.

The most common tokens you’ll be playing with are Soldiers, which cards like Resolute Reinforcements, Captain’s Call, Scout the Wilderness, and Argivian Cavalier. It’s not exclusively Soldiers, though, with Herd Migration making up to five 3/3 Beast tokens based on your domain count, and The Weatherseed Treaty making Saprolings.

From there, you’ll be needing to use domain to beef up your forced. Things like Gaea’s Might can work as great combat tricks when you’re attacking with an unblockable number of tokens, but you’ll mostly be relying on the likes of King Darien XLVIII; Zar Ojanen, Scion of Efrava; and Valiant Veteran to make your tokens bigger on a more permanent basis.

When drafting for white/green, you’ll be wanting Queen Allenal of Ruadach. A fantastic point to your go-wide spear, she not only augments your token generation by throwing another 1/1 Soldier in to sweeten the deal, she can also hit for massage damage on her own once you’ve built up a respectable board.

White/Black: Creature Sacrifice

Moving into the enemy colour pairs, the next five archetypes all merge elements we’ve already seen in new configurations. In Dominaria United, white and black is going back to its roots and doing a good ol’ fashioned Aristocrats strategy. By combining white’s token generation with black’s death triggers, you can create and kill off creatures for profit.

Signposted by Elas Il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim, this strategy is less about swinging in and hoping things die than black/red, and more in making the deaths happen for yourself. By using the token generation tools of white (Captain’s Call, Resolute Reinforcements et al.) alongside something like Aron, Benalia’s Ruin, Bone Shards, Braids’s Frightful Return and, of course, Braids, Arisen Nightmare to kill them off, you’ll be triggering Elas enough to potentially dwindle your opponent’s life right down to nothing.

Make sure you’re still using those death triggers from the red/black deck to take all your sacrificing even further. Sacrificing a token is good, but sacrificing something like a Splatter Goblin could be even better.

Blue/Red: Spells Aggro

In true blue/red Izzet fashion, this deck is all about casting as many instants and sorcery spells as you can. Instead of playing as a straight spellslinger, though, this archetype borrows from red’s aggro toolkit to have you swing in with creature, cast spells to make them hit harder, and then benefit even further from casting so many things.

Gradual growth is the aim of the game, with creatures like Ghitu Amplifier, Haughty Djinn, and Electrostatic Infantry all getting bigger the more instant and sorcery spells you cast. It isn’t quite as fast as other formats’ Prowess decks, but as long as you’re combining some light control elements with combat tricks such as Furious Bellow and Flowstone Infusion, you’ll be dealing big damage that is difficult for your opponent to work around.

Though Najal, the Storm Runner is an excellent card for this deck thanks to its ability to copy instants and sorceries and let you play the latter at instant speed, the real signpost for Spells Aggro is Balmor, Battlemage Captain. Balmor spreads the spellslinging buffs across all your creatures, letting you play more aggressively, or even augmenting the boosts the likes of Ghitu Amplifier already receive.

Black/Green: Domain Midrange

Black/green’s Domain Midrange is essentially the opposite of white/blue’s Flying Tempo. Whereas Tempo decks want to interfere with your opponent, midrange decks are happier to take whatever comes their way and just rebuild and rebuild until your opponent runs out of gas.

To grind your opponent out, you’ll want creatures that can either take a beating, or bring themselves back into play after being killed. Cult Conscript is a fantastic example of this, costing just one black mana to cast and having an ability that brings it back to the battlefield if a non-Skeleton you control died that turn. Also make liberal use of graveyard recursion techniques like Urborg Repossession, Eerie Soultender, and Llanowar Greenwidow.

It isn’t all about bringing things back to life, though. Having a full graveyard can be useful in other ways, such as Uurg, Spawn of Turg’s power equalling the number of lands in your graveyard, and Writhing Necromass being a 5/5 for just one mana if you have enough creatures in it as well.

You aim isn’t to force through a win. It’s to play defensively, hold back, and wait for your opponent to tire themselves out before moving in for the kill. Building up your domain count is vital for its signpost creature, Bortuk Bonerattle, as the more land types you have in play, the bigger the creatures you can bring back with Bortuk.

Red/White: Tokens Aggro

We’ve had go-wide with tokens, and we’ve had sacrifice tokens, so it makes perfect sense that Boros (red/white) would lean into what it does best: going smash.

The goal here is to make as many creatures as you can, before making heavy use of the set’s enlist mechanic to beef up your attackers and hit for massive damage. It doesn’t need the setup of the other token themes though, with a surprisingly low mana curve and cards like Furious Bellow, Rundvelt Hordemaster, and Join Forces letting you go wide and tall at the same time.

Thanks to red, this archetype has access to something neither of the other token decks do: Goblins. Alongside the aforementioned Rundvelt Hordemaster, you can use Squee, Dubious Monarch to keep printing out more Goblins. You can also get Ornithopters that turn into big threats with Yotia Declares War, and even Dragons with The Elder Dragon War. Finally, you also gain access to even more Soldiers with Bair, Argivian Recruiter – a token generator that slots in very nicely with all the enlisting you’re going to be doing.

To make your expendable attackers even more deadly, make liberal use of this deck’s signpost, Tori D’Avenant, Fury Rider. Swinging in with most of your creatures will be incredibly easy with Tori, thanks to giving all attackers +1/+1, red creatures trample, and untapping all the white ones for a form of pseudo-vigilance.

Green/Blue: Kicker Ramp

The final archetype of Dominaria United plays with one of its returning mechanics, kicker. Everybody loves kicker – it’s powerful, easy to understand, and highly flexible across a game. In this set, it’s also potentially deadly.

Like the Domain decks, this is one that will encourage you to splash into more than just two colours, in order to pay off all those kicker costs. There’s so much worth kicking, from Bog Badger as a green/black finisher that gives all your creatures menace for the rest of the turn, Elvish Hydromancer making a token copy of any creature you control, Vodalian Mindsinger gaining control of your opponent’s creatures, and Joint Exploration helping you ramp up even more land.

Other than the difficult in setting up your mana base, this is one of the more straight-forward archetypes, as you’re simply drowning your opponents with value. To help out, this archetype’s signpost is Tatoyva, Steward of Tides – a Merfolk Druid that takes all those lands you’re playing to cast kickers and turning them into 3/3 Elemental creatures.

She isn’t directly related to kicker like some other signposts are with their core mechanics, but when you’re dropping more mana than your opponent on spells, you’ll be glad to have some creatures handy to block with on the crackback.

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