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By: Kumagoro42, Gianluca Aicardi
Sep 27 2022 12:17pm
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DOMINARIA UNITED

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 Dominaria United kickstarts the four-set Phyrexian Invasion cycle that will unfold in full between 2022 and 2023, joining the celebration for Magic's 30th anniversary. As such, it's the first set featuring a massive Phyrexian presence since the subtype was introduced, and lore-wise since the release of New Phyrexia in 2011. From a tribal standpoint, it's a very granular set, with almost no appreciable concentration of new creatures in any single tribe, except for some of the typically large subtypes like Warrior and Wizard. In spite of this, the set contains a lord cycle that encompasses a characteristic tribe for each color, none of which are particularly supported otherwise: Soldier in white, Merfolk in blue, Cleric in black, Goblin in red, Elf in green.

    

 Four rare creatures are only found in the Jumpstart packs released as an alternative way to draft Dominaria United, but they're still considered part of the main set. They're all iconic representatives of their color (an Angel, a Demon, a Dragon, a Hydra), except blue doesn't feature a creature in the cycle (if it had, it would have been a Sphinx), getting the sorcery Cosmic Epiphany instead.

   

 Let's have a look at the new creatures and their tribes. As always, the focus is on the Constructed applications, though Limited is occasionally touched upon; the tribes are presented alphabetically; and you'll find a hypertextual list at the end.

 Infodump

  • Cards: 271 (excluding 15 duplicated basic lands, including 4 Jumpstart exclusives)
  • New cards: 244
  • New creatures: 153
  • Reprinted cards: 27
  • Reprinted creatures: 4 (Dragon Whelp, Griffin Protector, Phyrexian Rager, Snarespinner)
  • New Legendary creatures: 41
  • New Snow creatures: 0
  • New artifact creatures: 5
  • New enchantment creatures: 0
  • Triple-subtype creatures: 6
  • Creature types affected: 72
  • Tribes with more than 5 additions: Human (+45), Wizard (+22), Phyrexian (+19), Warrior (+15), Elf (+12), Soldier (+9), Cleric (+8), Knight (+8), Druid (+7), Goblin (+6), Merfolk (+6)

Angel: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 216, online: 213

 Related Tribes: Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Angels are always expected to field a sizeable force in any Dominaria set, due to the Serra of it all. The name of the old planeswalker goddess is indeed evoked by both their new mythic, Serra Paragon, and one of the two rares, Serra Redeemer, which is only found in Jumpstart packs. The first is a very solid four-drop with recursion capabilities, sort of a super-Lurrus. The land angle, which the Nightmare kitty was unable to cover, shouldn't be underrated, especially in larger format where fetches are prominent. It basically means Serra Paragon at the very least gives us a land drop and thinks our deck every turn. Extremely appealing everywhere, if perhaps less in Angel tribal – although their curve has been drastically reduced in the past couple of years, so mana value 3 definitely encompasses some popular new members like Righteous Valkyrie and Giada, Font of Hope.

 The Redeemer plays into the same kind of low-to-the-ground Angel list, permanently boosting creatures that don't start their career too big on power. This could also means classic White Weenie, of course. Although, five mana for a 2/4 is a bit underwhelming – after all, it was designed for Jumpstart. More intriguing is the kickable Archangel of Wrath, which basically lets us cast up to two Shocks, provided we have access to both black and red. Which is a kind of splash you can already be tempted to make in Angels, and a turn-six Archangel of Wrath might stabilize against aggro, or later even deal the last point of burn damage that will finish the opponent. Disappointingly, none of these Angels goes beyond a 3/4 body, though. This is true of the unkicked form of uncommon Shalai's Acolyte as well, which might be dropped as a 5/6 if we're willing to spend seven mana – and we're running green. Clearly a Limited card, and not even really a bomb there. But two very good new Angels out of four makes for a positive balance for sure.


Ape: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 29, online: 26

 Related Tribes: Shaman, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Apes are confirmed domain of Gruul in Dominaria, but nothing here is going to become as iconic as Kird Ape, despite the presence of the tribe's very first mythic member. SIlverback Elder is a fine card that however stops a few notches short of greatness. Its body is massive for the relatively low cost, but plays as vanilla on the battlefield. The cast trigger options are generally useful, but all run the risk of being irrelevant, sometimes all at once. The base line is turning all subsequent creatures into Obstinate Baloth, ETB-wise, which is good against aggro, not necessarily so in all matchups. The most powerful one in theory is the Naturalize effect, which is also the more situational. And ramping might not be too alluring at that point in the game, especially since all these abilities require another creature to be cast, so the Elder's ramp can't compare to something of more immediate value like the same-costed Cavalier of Thorns (which gives us an untapped land straight away and also fills the graveyard). In fact, if Silverback Elder were to be our curve-topper and we were left empty-handed after dropping it, it might just do nothing for several turns in a row. This limitation and its rarity might have warranted one more high-profile mode. Given that two of those already replicate Knight of Autumn's, the third might well have been the placing of two +1/+1 counters somewhere, which would have made the whole deal more threatening.

 Yavimaya Steelcrusher is a strictly better Torch Fiend/Reckless Reveler, which isn't saying much, but it's still a decent two-drop. It's perfectly functional for Limited, but enlist is probably not going to have much of an impact in Constructed, especially on a small vanilla attacker with low toughness.


Archer: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 92, online: 87

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Outrider is one of the stars of Limited domain decks, gifting us with a free, potentially decisive Lava Axe, but the applications of the new domain cards in Constructed are... well, limited. It's still a well-rounded card that progresses the gameplan while acting as a roadblock with its decently sized body and surprise reach. Because, yeah, it's an Archer, after all.


Artificer: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 142, online: 138

 Related Tribes: Elf, Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: These two legendary rare Artificers feel very out of place in Dominaria United, which doesn't have any "artifacts matter" subtheme, and very few artifact cards to begin with. They seem openly designed for Commander formats, where Jhoira can act as a living Aether Vial for artifacts, while Meria can provide a mean stream of both mana acceleration and card advantage. The latter is easier to build around in general, benefiting from the presence of Equipment or other random artifacts left lying around on our battlefield, like Glass Casket and Portable Hole. She's started to show up in Paradox Engine decks in Explorer and even Modern.


Avatar: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 82, online: 79

 Related Tribes: Cat

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The late panther planeswalker Lord Windgrace was one of the Nine Titans of Urza. The fact that his very soul pops up here is probably preparation for seeing him in action during his time and age in the upcoming The Brothers' War (though he had already a planeswalker incarnation simply called Lord Windgrace in Commander 2018). At any rate, this is a strong mythic with a wide set of acivations base on discarding lands, a sacrifice already near-negligible in the late game, when he basically turns any land drawn into value, but which is further mitigated by the ability of restoring the discarded lands to the battlefield where they belong. Windgrace can accomplish this without fear, because one of his activated abilities makes him indestructible, while the other two help stabilize the life total or draw cards. A very easy card to use as a finisher in Jund – apart from all that text, he's also just a very efficient four-mana 5/4. Not sure why he's an Avatar rather than a Spirit, but we'll leave that to ponder to students of Dominaria's metaphysics.


Badger: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 6, online: 5

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The sixth Badger ever printed is the one with the better body/cost ratio yet. And on surface it might look nothing more than a Centaur Courser with an extra bit of text, but the black kicker ability actually improves Bog Badger's usefulness in the late game, when it might well help us close the game.


Beast: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 441, online: 431

 Related Tribes: Frog

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Two notable uncommon Beasts are in the set. Linebreaker Baloth is one of the most efficient threats at its point in the curve, due to the "daunt" ability, which in turn makes enlist more enticing, if course not comparable to the tribe's greatest five-mana hits, like Thragtusk or Elder Gargaroth. Uurg is more sophisticated, acting as a source of free surveil that grows its power while manipulating the top of the library to purge away unwanted lands. The Zuran Orb ability can come in handy wherever lifegain on demand is relevant, or just to help us in the race. The large butt is a serious roadblock if cast on curve – something that we're not guaranteed, given the triple-colored cost. All in all, these two beasties are one about tactical offense and the other about strategical defense. Nicely played!


Berserker: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 110, online: 107

 Related Tribes: Human, Kor, Minotaur, Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: A couple of Limited-playable enlist cards here, especially Balduvian Berserker, which threatens a two-for-one if not even a letal burn when traded for. The legendary Garna, Bloodfist of Keld (Radha's archrival turned ally) rewards us for making bold attacks, hopefully both trading off our creatures and replacing them with fresh gas; the pinging on the sacrifice of non-attackers could also be relevant as a grinding strategy or a finishing move. The last of the three uncommons, Balduvian Atrocity, offers a conditional unearth in exchange for a one-mana red kicker. The 2/3 menace body is adequate, if unexciting, but the combined aggression might add up, at least in Limited.


Bird: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 312, online: 298

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Two Bird persons in Dominaria United. The legendary one is Balmor, Battlemage Captain, a signpost for aggressive spellslinging Izzet builds in Limited, but totally viable in Constructed as well, along the lines of cards like Adeliz, the Cinder Wind or Wee Dragonauts. The granting of trample in particular is a nice addition that's rarely if ever seen on this kind of card.

 Battlewing Mystic belongs to the family of cards, usually found in monored, that let us refuel after spending our entire hand. The option to do so only costs one extra mana, and the Mystic is otherwise a very functional two-powered two-drop with evasion. The only problem with these two, tribal-wise, is that there's still not a huge incentive to splash red in a Bird deck. But we're getting there.


Cat: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 249, online: 239

 Related Tribes: Avatar, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Back when he was alive, Windgrace was a Cat person, so his Soul still counts as a Cat, and it might be strong enough to warrant consideration in a Cat build, even with black not being one of the tribe's primary colors. Zar Ojanen, Scion of Efrava appears better positioned in that regard; her ability depends on the domain count, but can still be functional with two colors, as a way to pump 1/1 tokens in a go-wide plan. In general, she doesn't seem to be good enough for Constructed, though. The other domain Cat, Nishoba Brawler, attempts a domain-based take on classic Wild Nacatl. Decks that run the latter might be able to get the former up to a 5/3 trampler by the time it attacks on turn three (in fact, we can already see the both of them fighting side to side in builds like this one). It's probably less reliable and more demanding in terms of tempo investment. Still a high pick in DMU draft for aggressive domain lists.


Cleric: +8

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 512, online: 481

 Related Tribes: Human, Kor, Phyrexian, Spirit

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Cleric is one of the five tribes that get a new lord in Dominaria United, in the form of the rare Shadow-Rite Priest. In addition to the anthem, the Priest gives us a specialized Birthing Pod-like activation where the starting point has to be a Cleric, but the summoned creature might be anything black, up to and including over-the-top stuff like Griselbrand or, you know, Progenitus. He's slow and clunky, can't sacrifice himself and has to surive a full turn cycle in order to do his thing, but the activated ability is scary and probably the only reason to play the Priest, perhaps in a power-hungry format like Commander. As an actual Cleric lord he seems sketchier, since Clerics are almost never built in an aggressive way.

 If this lord is not our jam, no worries: there are quite a few new Clerics of note in this set. One of them is Anointed Peacekeeper a robust 3/3 vigilant for three that inflicts a tempo loss to the opponent, while also providing crucial information to us. Also efficient is Phyrexian Missionary, already above the curve as a two-drop 2/3 with lifelink, and able to makes itself more relevant in the late game by casting a Raise Dead via kicker. And the required black cost is certainly not a big deal for Clerics, which naturally gravitate towards Orzhov. Speaking of which, Sheoldred fangirl Elas il-Kor, Sadistic Pilgrim is another simple yet effective two-drop that can trade as a deathtoucher and/or trigger all manners of lifegain synergies along the way.

 To round off the number of notable Clerics, Wingmantle Chaplain single-handedly makes the "defenders matter" theme viable in Limited, or even highly successful, as its most attractive payoff. Still in Limited territory, Eerie Soultender is a playable recursion card, Samite Herbalist a reasonable enabler for enlist, plus a reference to historical Alpha card Samite Healer.


Construct: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 149, online: 148

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Two workhorse Constructs for Limited, with Salvaged Manaworker as an acceptable way to fix our mana in multicolored decks. No real Constructed applications to be found, no pun intended.


Cyclops: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 31

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Low-profile flinger, barely playable in Limited, mostly due to the absence of a real sacrifice theme in the set. It's not like Cyclopes have much better choices at MV 5, but they don't even have fodder to hurl, so this is basically a slightly better Fire Elemental that sometimes can deal the last few points of damage without having to attack.


Demon: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 139, online: 133

 Related Tribes: Elemental

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Sol'kanar the Swamp King is one of the very few legendaries from Legends people still remember after almost 30 years, mostly due to him not sucking too hard (although he was an adequate beater, firmly on the efficient side for its time). Now he's back with a revised spelling of his name, and for the same Grixis cost we get the same body, but a much sexier Demonic Pact series of valuable end-step triggers, culminating in Sol'Kanar betraying us. That's not a plot twist we want to see play out, so we might want to arm ourselves with some flicker, bounce or sacrifice capability – but chances are, three full active turns with Sol'Kanar on our side would either win us the game through sheer accumulated advantage, or the opponent will have been forced to deal with him in some other way, without the luxury to wait and see if we were able to prevent the Demon's treachery.

 Jumpstart exclusive Tyrannical Pitlord is a large Demon that makes a low-level pact with someone other than ourselves: one of our creatures. They'll become larger and more threatening, but will die when their infernal master is dispatched back to the abyss. It's an original take on the old trope, and it makes for a nice casual card.


Djinn: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 55, online: 54

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Djinn of the Fountain is damned by its uncommon rarity making it slightly too expensive for Constructed. Otherwise it would be a pretty serviceable evasive finisher for control decks, with pseudo-prowess to increase the damage output, a way to dribble removal whenever we hold an instant ready to fire, and even some incidental scry when none of the above is too pressing.

 By comparison Haughty Djinn sits lower enough on the curve to please Constructed players, but it's a more straightforward mix of Goblin Electromancer and Pteramander. None of which is a bad thing, of course, as our snobbish friend will help us spellslinging early on, and then will end up being a lethal threat, all while ignoring the hazard of any three-damage removal. And while also being one of the less expensive Djinns in history. Maybe there's a reason for his arrogance.


Dragon: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 259, online: 254

 Related Tribes: Hydra

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Dominaria is a plane of classic heroic fantasy, and Dragons have always had big role to play in such settings, hence the two mythics the tribe gets in this new visit. We meet a new incarnation of the Naya-colored primeval Rith, whose first card (Rith, the Awakener) dates back to Invasion, which was released in 2000 and, as its name implies, had to do with the first Phyexian offensive in Dominaria, perhaps not coincidentally. At first sight, this new Rith seems to function as a Dragon lord of some sort, making her the only other explicitly tribal card outside of the lord cycle. Looking closely, though, the granted ward keyword might just be seen as a way to protect her offsprings, those 4/4 Dragon tokens created through excess damage. That's an interesting and novel mechanic, not too hard to enable through burn-based removal or simply forcing chump-blocking or advantageous trades. Ironically, the combat angle is less easily served in a Dragon deck, where everybody in our team is evasive. But it's still an outstanding, likely game-ending ability grafted on a hard-to-kill five-mana 5/5 flyer.

 If Rith, Liberated Primeval is a terrific curve-topper that suffers slightly from a somewhat unpopular color requirement, the main strength of Shivan Devastator is being able to fit any point in the curve, never requiring more than a single red peep. Clearly this Mistcutter Hydra of Dragons is better enjoyed as a late-game hasty threat, one where we can easily sink large amounts of mana (all the way up to infinite colorless mana) to close the game in a single attack. But we also get the option of dropping a baby Devastator as early as turn two, and perhaps having it synergize with "counters matter" cards a la Hardened Scales.

 The Dragons also receive a new member from among the Jumpstart exclusives, but it's probably the worst of that bunch. For six mana, we get a frail three-toughness finisher that forces us to commit to a sacrifice in order to become a serious threat. But it we do, it's way too easy for the opponent to take home a two-for-one in the process, by just killing the Ragefire Hellkite in response.

 The set also contains a "Dragons matter" card in the form of the Viashino Rivaz of the Claw. He's both an accelerator and a recursion engine, albeit limited to only once resurrection per dead Dragon, so they can't keep coming back. But he's also a well-costed 3/3 menacer that can pull his weight and deal some damage on occasion. If our Dragon deck has room for him, it's not a preposterous idea to run some copies of Rivaz off-tribe. And as a commander of a Dragon deck that chooses to focus only on the red and black specimens, he's pretty legit.


Drake: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 93, online: 92

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Classic Limited filler Drake is classic.


Druid: +7

   

  

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 New Tribal Total: 256, online: 252

 Related Tribes: Elf, Goblin, Human, Merfolk

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: For the most part, the Dominaria Druids do what the tribe does best and fix our mana in various ways, something especially crucial in a set that contains a strong "basic land types matter" theme. Llanowar Loamspeaker is the spiciest one of this category, as a two-drop dork with a sizeable butt that taps for any color and can later turn a land into an attacker. It's not perfect, since the second ability only works at sorcery speed, but it's at least good enough for Standard, in a role that in the past belonged to cards like Incubation Druid. Similarly, Deathbloom Gardener tries to provide extra value on top of the fixing and acceleration, in this case by becoming a deadly blocker that can trade up at any point in the game. Her cost will keep her out of Constructed, but she's a functional Limited role-player.

 We'll postpone any comment on the Elf lord Leaf-Crowned Visionary for now, as it has no bearing on being also a Druid. We can instead celebrate the return of the Merfolk Tatyova, still tapping into the hidden power of excess lands. In the previous Dominaria set, Tatyova, Benthic Druid was turning the drawing of lands into extra cards. This time Tatyova, Steward of Tides pulls a Nissa move and sends any land past the sixth flying towards the red zone. Getting seven lands on the battlefield is not really a big challenge for Simic builds, and transforming dead draws into free 3/3 flyers quickly creates inevitability. She might be a little too slow for Constructed, but she's definitely one of the best Limited uncommons in the set. And the first ability on its own pairs well with manlands – and of course with most versions of Nissa.

 Other competent Limited players among the Druids include the Gruul land-fetcher Sprouting Goblin; the versatile Vineshaper Prodigy, which can be played as either a Grizzly Bears or a Grizzly Bears plus an Anticipate; and the other kickable two-drop "bear", Juniper Order Rootweaver.


Dryad: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 45, online: 43

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Out of the blue (out of the green?), the Dryads get one of their better members ever with Quirion Beastcalller, sort of a follow-up to classic Quirion Dryad. It's quite straightforward, a two-drop 2/2 that threatens to take over a game of aggression by growing bigger and bigger, a la Champion of Lambholt (although it triggers on cast, not on ETB), and then resisting removal by transfer its counters elsewhere, modular-like. Extremely efficient, extremely effective in both Limited and Constructed – sometimes creatures don't need a lot of extravagant abilities to be good, or even great.


Dwarf: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 99, online: 91

 Related Tribes: Soldier, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: White Dwarf Charismatic Vanguard's activation cost is too expensive to really have a chance anywhere. On the other hand, Red Dwarf Electrostatic Infantry (we're referencing both a long-running wargame magazine and a classic TV show here!) is perfectly positioned as a payoff for spellslinging strategies with his quasi-prowess ability. It only triggers off instants and sorceries, as opposed to all noncreature spells, but that's what really matters in the kind of deck that wants to recruit him. And trample is still a legitimate evasive keyword. He won't be the next Dragon's Rage Channeler, but he's close enough to be a thing in Limited and Constructed alike.


Efreet: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 25, online: 24

 Related Tribes: Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Turning all our sorceries into instants is not a crucial advantage, but it's definitely a welcome bonus; and so is allowing us to cast a colorless Fork at every attack, which is a reasonably safe clause when the attacking body is a 5/4 to begin with. Unfortunately, the spellslinging archetype that most benefits from these effects is rarely going to run an unevasive five-drop creature that doesn't work particularly well as a finisher. Still, Najal is one of the best cards the Efreet tribe has ever produced, and a viable Limited build-around.

 Her lore is also intriguing, since she's canonically from Rabiah, the near-discontinued plane last seen in 1993 for Arabian Nights. Is this hinting at a shocking, so-far-deemed-impossible return? The consensus seemed to be that we will eventually visit a similar Arabian-inspired plane with a different name, populated by places and characters that aren't directly lifted from real-world sources. But in that case, why would they namecheck Rabiah explicitly? Also, Najal is on Dominaria because she ran so damn fast, she broke the barrier between universes. How cool is that?


Elemental: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 498, online: 490

 Related Tribes: Demon, Giant, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The latest incarnation of the demonic Sol'kanar (or Sol'Kanar) counts as an Elemental, too. Which might not be too relevant for the tribe in question, but it's the correct nomenclature, since he is a Force of Nature (literally, not just metaphorically), as well as a corrupted Maro-Sorcerer. Speaking of which, there's a new funny-looking Maro! (Is that supposed to be an uncharacteristically cranky Mark Rosewater?) Territorial Maro can be as large and efficient as a 10/10 for five mana. That's good for domain deck in Limited, but hard to care for in the world of Constructed, where you can just play Gigantosaurus, i.e. a 10/10 for five with no conditions attached. Or better, with the one condition of playing heavy green as opposed to five colors, so essentially at the other end of the color spectrum. Regardless, a vanilla 10/10 is probably not gonna cut it for Constructed no matter what. The artwork remains great, though.

 Another serviceable Limited card is Frostfist Strider, which employs a new mechanical wording to avoid involving the detain keyword, but also to explore new design space in that same area; using stun counters to mark the "freeze" state may prove more flexible. 4/4 body with ward 2 that clears the way for an attack and/or stops a problematic threat for a turn is pretty good in Limited, overall.

 A complete miss is the lackluster French vanilla enlister Barkweave Crusher. The idea here is that a big butt would come in handy when enlisting, since that only boosts the power of the creature. Yet the Crusher is hardly seeing any play at all in Limited. Problem is, if the boosted attack has no way to go over a single expendable chump-blocker, it's not worth a four-mana investment.


Elf: +12

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 492, online: 478

 Related Tribes: Archer, Artificer, Druid, Noble, Scout, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The Elves brought a serious contingent to Dominaria United. First of all, there's the new lord, Leaf-Crowned Visionary. On top of the anthem, she acts as a specialized Lifecrafter's Bestiary, which is an unvaluable effect to have available in-tribe, perfectly fitting the Elves' typical gameplan of snowballing with board presence and card advantage in a short amount of time. This is going to see Constructed play more than most of these new lords.

 The rest of the Dominarian Elves are uniformly good, rarely great, hardly something other Elves will care for – to no small extent because they mostly have a multicolored identity. Meria, Scholar of Antiquity has Constructed potential, but absolutely no applications in Elf builds. The double white on Queen Allenal of Ruadach is not friendly to typical Elf decks either, and her abilities befit more a go-wide Selesnya token list – which is fine, but she feels more of commander than a regular card anyway. Adding more tokens to our token-making is a positive, but going tall while vanilla is a less attractrive secondary perk that makes her just an okay three-drop.

 Radha, Coalition Warlord and Nael, Avizoa Aeronaut are the poster girls for the two distinctive souls of the domain decks in the Dominaria United Limited environment. Radha represents the aggressive approach, and she synergizes especially well with effects that tap her for other reasons than attacking, like Relic of Legends. Nael can bury the opponent in selective card advantage once full domain is attained, so she shines in lists that slow down the opponent and buy us time to properly prepare her expeditions behind enemy lines. By the way, she's flying on an air ballon made of Avizoa! That's some callback, not to mention all-around fabulousness. (Is that a word? It is for Nael!)

 Even as a rare, Llanowar Loamspeaker is just not the mana dork Elves are interested in. More appealing is the quite original Elvish Hydromancer, which has decent stats and a full-fledged Clone spell as a kicker. Well, almost, since it can't copy anything from the opponent's side; but, worst case scenario, it can always copy itself (unless it's killed with the ability on the stack).

 Last but not least, the aggro two-drop Yavimaya Iconoclast might see some play in Gruul builds, possibly in Elf-based ones too. 3/2 trampler on turn two is not bad, attacking directly out of nowhere as a 4/3 on turn three feels above the curve.


Faerie: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 99, online: 96

 Related Tribes: Rogue, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Two nice little Faeries from a setting that's not usually too keen on them. Pixie Illusionist exists primarily as a way to fix our mana base for domain, but her kicked version gives her a bit of relevance in the late game as well. Ivy, GleefulSpellthief is definitely a build-around meant for Commander play above all else. She's already enjoyng success, particularly due to her favorable interaction with mutate.


Frog: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 35, online: 33

 Related Tribes: Beast

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Curiously enough, more than one quarter of all Frogs in Magic are also Beast, a tradition that dates back to Torment's Anurid Scavenger. Not sure what this says about the tribe, but Uurg certainly ranks among the better Frogs. It even synergizes with other "graveyard matters" and "lands matter" members like The Gitrog Monster and Grolnok, the Omnivore.


Giant: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 193, online: 186

 Related Tribes: Elemental, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: A Frost Giant and a Zombie Giant, both very good in Limited, probably not good enough for Constructed. Although Writhing Necromass could be a one-mana 5/5 deathtoucher in self-mill/dredge decks. And it's also Pauper-legal. There might be something there, after all.


Goblin: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 390, online: 374

 Related Tribes: Druid, Noble, Phyrexian, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: It's not every day that a premier set's new additions for a tribe as old and as large as Goblin result in a definite "high impact" rate. But the new lord Rundvelt Hordmaster is showing up in Legacy already. Digging into the library as a reward for the sacrificial death of a Goblin is just perfect synergy with cards like Skirk Prospector and Sling-Gang Lieutenant.

 The two legendaries are also noteworthy, both lore-wise (they're two of the most famous Goblins in the game) as well as on the battlefield. Granted, Squee, Dubious Monarch is kind of a bad Legion Warboss, but still a good three-drop for Standard aggro, swinging for 3 right away, threatening inevitability if unopposed, and coming back again and again if non-exiled. Similarly, if we manage to leverage menace and have Rulik Mons, Warren Chief survive an attack multiple times, he'll either eliminate dead draws caused by excess lands, will ramp us further, or will help us go wide. Pretty spunky Gruul top-end, and not a bad commander, all things considered.

 The rest of the bunch contains acceptable Limited fodder, plus the very high-pickable Sprouting Goblin, a quite unique Goblin that acts as a land fetcher. And not just of basic lands, either; he can search for anything with a basic type, from Wooded Ridgeline to Taiga. On top of that, he'll eventually turn extra lands into fresh cards. One of the smartest members of its tribe for sure.


Golem: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 132

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Both new Golems belong to the "defenders matter" strategy, a quiet, quirky highlight of DMU Limited. Shield-Wall Sentinel fetches our wincon, which will most likely be Wingmantle Chaplain; failing that, either Coral Colony or Blight Pile. Walking Bulwark complements the whole battleplan by being cheap and colorless, and can also act as a legitimate wincon on its own right, thanks to its local Assault Formation ability. Needless to say, none of this has anything to do with actual Golems.


Hellion: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 21, online: 20

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Molten Monstrosity looks like a good card to run in a deck that wins by pumping its attackers for large amounts. It didn't find a Constructed home yet, possibly because that kind of deck doesn't really care for a 5/5 trampler, even if it would cost just one mana. In Limited, it's not easy to pull off, but it's conceivable. In fact, lists running multiple combat tricks like Gaea's Might and Colossal Growth alongside multiple Monstrosities have been known to be wildly successful.


Horror: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 237, online: 236

 Related Tribes: Leech, Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Horror gives us our first glimpse at the Defiler cycle, but Defiler of Flesh is easily the worst of the five. All of them come equipped with a trigger that gives us a perk every time we cast a permanent of the relevant color; +1/+1 and menace to target creature until end of turn just happens to not be comparable to some of the other rewards, in certain cases grotesquely so (Defiler of Vigor, I'm looking at you). Then again, this is still a four-mana 4/4 menacer that grants a cost reduction to other black permanents in the form of Phyrexian mana (another trait that all the Defilers share). And that falls squarely on the good side of playable, albeit it's also the kind of mildly effective midrange creature that struggles to find a competitive Constructed home – not fast enough to play aggro, not resilient enough to be a control finisher.

 Monstrous War-Leech is a variant on the type of creatures whose body scales according to a factor related to our graveyard. In this case, it's the highest mana value we have there, which is a novel concept. It's probably not worth considering when chances are it'll be a four-mana vanilla 5/5 at best, and the self-mill-enabling ability raises its cost to five and its colors to two, which is even less appealing. This said, it could potentially be a four-mana 15/15 if we can reliably dump Earthquake Dragon or Shadow of Mortality into our yard. Even a 16/16 with good old Draco. Still very conspicuously janky/casual, but it might be a nice Johnny/Jenny challenge.


Horse: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 40, online: 35

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Phyrexians compleated a Horse, for some reason, and now it eats its riders. At least, that's what the lore seems to imply. The sacrifice cost is not zero, so Constructed is probably not sold on it, but it's also not steep at all, so Limited can enjoy the equine threat of activation. It's also two bodies for five mana if we can kick it. Which is ironic, because it's a Horse.


Human: +45

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 2895, online: 2689

 Related Tribes: Artificer, Berserker, Cleric, Druid, Knight, Kor, Phyrexian, Pirate, Shaman, Soldier, Warrior, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Irrelevant

 Highlights: Yeah, there's Humans on Dominaria. Who would have thought? We should actually deal with Defiler of Faith while we're here, because it's the Defiler with Human as a secondary tribe. It's an okay one, with a good body for its cost and a token-making trigger that's clearly meant to be enjoyed by white go-wide lists. Those don't usually play five-drops, but it could be a curve-topper – at least in decks that include some ways to refill their hand, because a Defiler with no follow-up doesn't really do much, which is the main issue with this cycle.

 The set also includes a Human with no further subtypes (at least in the type line), Evolved Sleeper. It's a "leveler" that follows the blueprint of classic Figure of Destiny, while referencing the activity of the Phyrexian sleeper agents spread across the plane by Sheoldred. Its stages are not very impressive: it starts as a 1/1 vanilla, then it becomes a 2/2, then a 3/3 deathtouch, and finally a 4/4 that gives us back the card we used to cast it. It's functional, but a little dull. I guess Phyrexian agents don't really transform into fantastical beasts.


Hydra: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 58

 Related Tribes: Dragon, Plant

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: It's interesting that Shivan Devastator use the "scalable" powers of the Hydras to power up a flying Dragon hybrid. Too bad this means it's a nombo with Wildwood Scourge. And in fact, given Hydra's sparse interest in red, Mistcutter Hydra might still be the better choice, especially if we're expecting a blue-heavy meta.

 Briar Hydra from the Jumpstart packs is similarly not the best at fitting monogreen Hydra lists. Its ability makes it grow upon connection, with the flexibility of growing something else instead (it's not entirely clear how this would work, lore-wise; the Hydra sends outgrowths to help its allies?), but the extent of the boost is directly linked to the domain state, which is not typically what a Hydra deck excels at. It remains a casual-playable 6/6 trampler for six with a saboteur ability, but not one that benefits much from being surrounded by its kin.


Illusion: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 92, online: 86

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Haunting Figment is not utterly unplayable, at least in Limited, but it's a pretty minor payoff for spellslinging. And vigilance seems wasted on a 2/1 with ambitions of being unblockable. I guess once our hand got dry and the odds of enabling the Figment became low, we could trade with it even if it attacked last turn? Though it's probably going to be kinda late for that to matter. It might still be best to wait for the next spell and chip at the opponent's life total some more, no?


Insect: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 185, online: 181

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: It's a functional one-drop that might trade for something much more expensive or, more likely, deter attacks. These Phyrexian flies don't pack enough value to be regarded as noteworthy these days.


Kavu: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 46

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Kavu add to their ranks a menacer with some degree of firebreathing, which makes for a playable aggressive three-drop in Limited, but most notably they also get the red Defiler, a solid middle-of-the-pack entry in the cycle. Defiler of Instinct has the exact same body/cost ratio of the black one, but a better trigger, even if it's unlikely to result into too much damage during a single turn, thus limiting its removal potential to little pings. And in general, decks that run many red permanents don't run midrange creatures, and vice versa, which is the main issue here.

 But let's take a moment to address the weird naming pattern of these Defilers. If "instinct" represents red, something that "defiles" it doesn't serve red very well. In fact, one could even say it's outright against what red stands for. Shouldn't that be the name for maybe the blue one? Same with white and Defiler of Faith, blue and Defiler of Dreams, and green with its Defiler of Vigor. These names don't really make sense to me, but weirdly enough, Defiler of Flesh seems correct. Flesh is not an attribute of black, while decay is, so it's only right that a black Phyrexian Horror would defile the flesh. Am I wrong?


Knight: +8

   

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 347, online: 334

 Related Tribes: Human, Orc

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Dominaria might not be the ultimate Knight plane, but the subtype still has a long and rich history around these parts. (Danitha, Benalia's Hope) namechecks the name of the Dominarian region most linked with knighthood (cf. History of Benalia), as well as the valiant heroine who's one of the most prominent Knights of the current era. Danitha's additional text about Auras and Equipment can be disregarded as flavor (even a combo deck that's able to tutor up Kaldra Compleat or Eldrazi Conscription won't see a five-drop as the best way to deliver them onto the battlefield). Her three combat keywords make for a strong combination, though, even if admittedly more attuned to Limited than Constructed.

 All these Knights look like powerhouses in particular Limited archetypes. The tribe's other two legendaries, Tori and Tura (seriously, WotC?) are adequate if not essential role-players in Boros Aggro and Azorius Spells, respectively. Argivian Cavalier is a great three-drop for any white deck, putting two bodies onto the battlefield, with the 2/2 capable to enlist the 1/1 and swing for three. Being cheap enough and already a two-for-one, the Cavalier is a brilliant enlist creature, free to engineer a high-powered attack and likely trade for something on the opposing side without feeling like we wasted a card. Coalition Skyknight adds evasion to the concept, at the price of a higher cost and no immediate countervalue.

 Special mentions for a new mirrored pair reminiscent of classic dicothomies like White Knight/Black Knight and Order of Leitbur/Order of the Ebon Hand. This time the black Knight has menace rather than first strike, but they both pump themselves and they have opposite passive abilities rewarding or hampering lifegain. With their more splash-friendly casting costs, these two might theoretically find a way into some Constructed deck somewhere.


Kor: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 77

 Related Tribes: Berserker, Cleric, Human, Phyrexian, Soldier

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Argivian Phalanx is the first Human/Kor hybrid to see print. Technically, it doesn't represent somebody who has both Human and Kor ancestry, but a collective fighting party composed of representatives of both races. Regardless, it's a vigilant 4/4 that might drop for one mana in the right build. Probably not reliably enough for Constructed, but a fine common in Limited.

 For the rest, the Kor gets one of the few good enlisters, a valuable multi-faceted two-drop legend in Elas, and Valiant Veteran, which is the worst of the lord cycle. We'll talk about it under the tribe that's directly referenced in its anthem ability, even though there's enough overlap between Kor and Soldier that it would have been playable within the former tribe as well.


Leech: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 15, online: 14

 Related Tribes: Horror

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: One would think Leeches are horrific enough in the first place (just think of stuff like Blitz Leech or Squelching Leeches) that the two subtypes must have crossed paths in the past already. Instead, this is the first time that the pairing happens on the front face of a card. The only other circumstance was the back side of Curse of Leeches.


Lhurgoyf: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 10

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Lhurgoyf shows up so infrequently in the game, in spite of being such a recognizable type, that one would be hard-pressed not to think every new iteration has to be somewhat memorable. In reality, very few of them have ever seen any appreciable amount of play, aside from Tarmogoyf and, to a much lesser extent, Terravore. The wonderfully assonant Urborg Lhurgoyf is not going to live up to such predecessors. As a two-drop, it's worse than the original Lhurgoyf. As a four-drop, it's harder to cast than its ancestor was and still not guaranteed to match its body size. And a Sultai-colored spell that mills six is just not an efficient way to fill the graveyard for shenanigans, even in Limited or casual.


Lizard: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 63, online: 61

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: The Rootwallas are a small but glorious subset of the Lizard tribe. The most renowed of them are those who use the madness mechanic, so Sunbathing Rootwalla must content itself with just being one of the most sought-after two-drops for domain decks in its Limited format – +5/+5 is quite the powerful threat of activation, and it's even more efficient than one-for-one firebreathing. Plus, sunbathing sounds like a relaxing activity. Although, to be fair, that's what Basking Rootwalla was also doing.


Merfolk: +6

  

  

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 254, online: 250

 Related Tribes: Druid, Phyrexian, Rogue, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Dominaria has some precious gifts for the Merfolk, key among them being one of the top members of the lord cycle, Vodalian Hexcatcher. This one is quite simple to evaluate, since it's merely a way to turn every single Merfolk we control into Cursecatcher – in fact, even better than that, because under Hexcatcher's watch, they all Force Spike any noncreature spell, not just instants and sorceries. The sheer power of this ability, which can catch the opponent by surprise (it's a veritable catch-all!) thanks to flash, is enough to warrant a home within competitive Merfolk decks in Modern and even Legacy. For a tribe that's already chock-full of lords, it's an unbelievable accomplishment. In fact, Vodalian Hexcatcher is even playable on its own as a soft counterspell on legs, arguably the only one of the lords that has Limited applications. Plus that flavor text is fierce.

 More good Merfolk in the set include the supreme land-weaponizer Tatyova, Steward of Tides and the Phyrexian agent Vohar, Vodalian Desecrator, a looter that later turns into Snapcaster Mage and it's more easily abused via recursion.

 Vodalian Mindsinger (strangely enough, five of these six Merfolk have a name that starts with V) might be too mana intensive to have a chance in Constructed, but it's a veritable bomb in Limited, a scalable stealer that at its best can leave us with a 6/6 body on the battlefield while doing a Sower of Temptation routine on a five-powered creature from the opponent's team. Strictly for domain decks or at least multicolored soup builds.


Minotaur: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 94, online: 93

 Related Tribes: Berserker

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: There have been worse Minotaurs in the game, but also a few more notable ones.


Nightmare: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 65

 Related Tribes: Wall

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: We're used to think of Braids as the bespectacled madwoman represented on Braids, Cabal Minion (whereas Braids, Conjurer Adept is her sane alternate-universe version from Planar Chaos). But that was before she ended up trapped into her own Dementia Space, a pocket dimension filled with nightmares. After decades of torment, contemporary Cabal cultists managed to restore her to reality, but she's now turned into a Nightmare herself (ironically, she seems less of a baddie now than she was before). As a card, Braids, Arisen Nightmare has a much better body/cost ratio compared to her Cabal Minion version, likely as an effect of 20+ years of power creep. Apart from that, at first sight the two cards seem to play in a similar way, forcing sacrifices on both players. Only now, Braids have you commit to the sacrifice first, and the opponents will have to respond in kind by sacrificing the same type of permanent. If they can't, they'll lose two life and we'll get to draw a card. So actually, while the old Braids caused a slow annihilation of the battlefield, leaving us in control of when to stop it (by sacrificing Braids herself), the Arisen Nightmare tries to be more of an advantage engine. The trick is always having a way to sacrifice a type of permanent the opponent either wouldn't want to sacrifice (e.g. an expendable token creature when they only have a major finisher around) or they don't actually control. Enchantment work well for the latter approach, but all that just means a Braids deck require accurate building. She's still okay in Limited, and in fact quite fun to play, being a more engaging effect for both players. But overall, she's the kind of card that's more at home in Commander or in a casual setting.

 The Nightmares also count a Wall among their ranks, the very first occurence of this pairing (not that Wall is often paired with anything). Gibbering Barricade is in theory a decent sacrifice outlet deployed behind a sturdy blocker, a la Skullport Merchant, but it's still not something that anybody would ever play outside of a dedicated defender build, even if it occasionally shows up in different archetypes in Limited.


Noble: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 55, online: 54

 Related Tribes: Elf, Goblin

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Noble tribe (it really sounds weird to say it out loud, doesn't it?) gets two valuable new members, though it's hard to say if they matter or not in terms of tribal synergies. I guess Squee works better than Queen Allenal, because the tribe doesn't have much token-production, and certainly not in white or green.

 The real question, though, is: why the heck isn't King Darien a Noble? As far as I can tell from his lore, he's a proper king out of a lineage that counts a whopping 47 predecessors. He's actually a super-Noble that way. And if we added Noble to his type line, it would still be shorter than Ertai Resurrected's. Plus, he wouldn't need to be qualified as a Soldier necessarily. It has no immediate mechanical relevance, and most warrior kings who ride at the head of their armies are technically soldiers, no reason to point that out explicitly. Lastly, lest someone thinks "Noble Soldier" doesn't sound right and it's not a pairing they want to showcase...


Orc: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 71, online: 70

 Related Tribes: Knight

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Argivian Cavalier is the first monowhite Orc to appear outside of the non-canonical Dungeons & Dragons universe (there was Devoted Paladin in Forgotten Realms and White Plume Adventurer in Baldur's Gate). Previously, the Zurgo of the original Tarkir timeline had a partial white identity, but buried beneath the more usual black and red elements. All this to give some merit to the Cavalier, which is a great Limited card, but not really something Constructed cares about, not even from a tribal point of view, since white is still a color Orc decks don't have a strong reason to splash for. Two bodies for three mana is a good ratio, but below the curve of competitive White Weenies. And enlist doesn't fit a go-wide strategy, it makes one creature go tall, at the expense of missing another creature's attack. Not a wise plan in your typical super-efficient aggro build.


Phoenix: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 31, online: 29

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The littlest Phoenix ever printed, in a comical rendition that doesn't even make too much sense lore-wise, since Phoenices shouldn't have life stages, should they? In any case, the tribe never went below mana value 3 before, but it probably doesn't have much use for a 1/1 that requires three other attackers in order to come back from the graveyard slightly enlarged. It's not a bad deal for generic Monored Aggro, tough, so the Chick is starting to see some play as a fast-hitting recursive one-drop in Standard and Pioneer.


Phyrexian: +19

  

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 248, online: 246

 Related Tribes: Berserker, Cleric, Goblin, Horror, Horse, Human, Insect, Kavu, Kor, Merfolk, Praetor, Soldier, Sphinx, Wizard, Wurm, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: The Phyrexians are coming! The Phyrexians are coming! The Second Invasion has officially begun, and for the first time since the subtype was created last year in Kaldheim, more than a single Phyrexian card is released at once in Dominaria United. Much more, in fact – the tribe enjoys one of the largest tribal concentrations in the set, heralded by yet another Praetor's reboot, the fourth so far. While we still anxiously wait to meet the new Elesh Norn, probably in 2023, Sheoldred, the Apocalypse temporarily wins the contest for most immediately impactful Praetor in the metagame, selling at the time of this writing for north of 54 tix on MTGO ($51 in paper). She's deceptively simple, a good body/cost ratio that also drains the opponent for two at every turn cycle. That's already a net positive for any black midrange or control deck, as a threat that requires an answer sooner rather than later, and makes it very hard for aggro strategies to go over it, especially in red. But Sheoldred also lends herself to endgame or near-endgame combos with any of the old-school "wheel" effects (e.g. Wheel of Fortune, Timetwister, and all their subsequent clones). It's not something that has showed up in Vintage or Legacy yet, but Commander has instantly become passionate about it, even with monoblack having to resort to less efficient cards like Peer into the Abyss and Eldritch Pact, or artifacts like Memory Jar and Teferi's Puzzle Box.

 Another subset of high-profile new Phyrexians (or new New Phyrexians, to be precise) are the Defilers. They mostly seem designed to be rares you're happy to open in Limited, though. The green Defiler of Vigor and the blue Defiler of Dreams are by far the best of the bunch, but all of them are meant to be played in decks filled with permanents that are heavily based on their single color, so that they can profit from the Phyrexian mana discount and trigger the unique effect of their last ability. Green is the most likely to satisfy these requirements, hence why Defiler of Vigor is having an impact on Standard at the moment. The other ones are having more issues finding a competitive home.

 The non-Sheoldred Phyrexian legendaries in the set are also kind of a mixed bag. At first sight Ertai Resurrected appear to be the love child of Frilled Mystic and Ravenous Chupacabra. But since the affected cards are replaced, it's a two-for-two, not a two-for-one. Vohar, Vodalian Desecrator does a better job at generating value, at first by looting (with the potential for some incidental lifedrain, even), then by turning into the best spell from our graveyard. And if Elas is an efficient deathtoucher/lifegainer that can effortlessly fit many an Orzhov deck, Aron, Benalia's Ruin is just a 3/3 menacer with a clunky activation that Orzhov sacrifice lists would rarely care for, since they don't usually employ go-wide aggro strategies.

 Fortunately, the Phyrexian department of Dominaria United includes a few healthy commons with Constructed applications, like the edict on a stick Benalish Sleeper, the recursion-enabler Phyrexian Missionary, and the sacrifice payoff Phyrexian Vivisector. They're all, once again, in Orzhov colors, which at this point seem to represent the ideal set-up for the tribe.

  


Pirate: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 117, online: 107

 Related Tribes: Human

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: This card is a very deep-cut reference to a group of six never reprinted Talas Pirates from Portal Second Age. We can see how the artwork pays homage to Talas Explorer, while body and cost are the same as Talas Air Ship. The Lookout being part of a premier set released 24 years later, she also gets a valuable death trigger that makes her quite playable in Limited.

 


Plant: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 60, online: 56

 Related Tribes: Hydra, Wall

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Jumpstart exclusive Briar Hydra marks the fifth collaboration between Plants and Hydras; Floriferous Vinewall the 14th with Walls, which makes a lot more sense, since both Plants and Walls don't usually move. The Vinewall is a crucial roleplayer in domain decks, because it's able to grab any land among the top six, and that includes duals. The defender archetype of DMU Limited is more likely to be Azorius- or Esper-based, but it can easily end up being a specialized domain build, so Vinewall may have a place there, too.


Praetor: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 11

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: So, to recap, after the New Phyrexians have found ways to prowl the Multiverse once again, Vorinclex went to Kaldheim to take a sample of the World Tree; Jin-Gitaxias to Kamigawa, where he solved the problem of how to compleat a planeswalker; the rebel Urabrask took refuge on New Capenna, aligning himself with the good guys (and revealing that the angelic Halo and Elspeth are they keys to defeat New Phyrexia); and Sheoldred escalated the burgeoning conflict by starting a whole new invasion on Dominaria. What the Big Bad Elesh Norn will do next? And more importantly, how broken is her new card incarnation going to be? Tune in next year with Phyrexia: All Will Be One to find out!


Rogue: +2

 

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 377, online: 357

 Related Tribes: Faerie, Merfolk

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Apart from Humans, which is bound to have the largest concentration for any class, Magic has assigned the Rogue subtype to 33 Merfolk and 26 Faeries (not counting Acorn and Alchemy cards). That's 13% and 26% of the total, respectively. For comparison, Goblin includes 38 Rogues, but those represent only 9% of all Goblins. Why are Faeries, especially, so roguish? Because they're usually seen as mischievous? And maybe the traditional view of mermaids luring sailors to their doom has an influence to the number of Merfolk Rogues as well.


Scout: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 159, online: 151

 Related Tribes: Elf

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Blue-green sounds like an enviroment where Scouts should thrive. After all, it's the color pair of Growth Spiral effects, which perfectly encapsulate the idea of surveying new lands, a feat that immerses you in nature while requiring a degree of scientific knowledge. Surprisingly, though, there have been only four other Simic-colored Scouts before Nael. And only two, Empyreal Voyager and Skyrider Patrol, are actually shown as engaging in activities that look like scouting. Gor Muldrak, Amphinologist and Lonis, Cryptozoologist, as their titles openly state, more correctly qualify as scientists. Luckily, Nael is a veritable explorer, boldly flying over Dominaria on her amazing Jellyfish balloon, and sending back the reconnaissance required to predict our best future course of action (i.e. reorder the top of our library). In fact, the further Nael ventures, the more useful what reports back will be for us – a splendid marriage of function and lore.


Serpent: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 43, online: 42

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The common or uncommon monoblue finisher for Limited spellslinging decks is a role that's been given to Serpent more and more. Tolarian Terror has some of the resilience of Striped Riverwinder as well as the pseudo-affinity for instants and sorceries already enjoyed by Cryptic Serpent. It all comes together according to plan, and the Terror is even easily splashable in domain builds, where it acts as a secondary wincon.


Shade: +1

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 32, online: 30

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: If you had the impression this card was a reprint or at least a functional reprint, it's only because all the damn Shades do the same thing. Tattered Apparition is actually a strictly better Nightwing Shade, but that doesn't make it any less insignificant, Limited included.


Shaman: +4

   

> summary <

 New Tribal Total: 443, online: 438

 Related Tribes: Ape, Human, Troll

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Shaman is treated well by Dominaria United, getting valuable new members across its classic Jund identity. The mythic Silverback Elder is only marginally interesting, but still a versatile enough five-drop with a wide range of abilities. The rare Keldon Flamesage shines as the most powerful iteration of the debuting enlist mechanic. Elsewhere, enlist was used as a way increase the danger of one attack. With the Flamesage, it's just a way to enable her own main ability, which is searching for an instant or sorcery located near the top of our library, and then casting it without paying its cost. The free spell's magnitude also depends on the size of her power at the moment the attack is declared, so enlisting for a high value becomes key. The question is, drawing and casting an extra spell is worth losing an attacker? It might be, but then what kind of red deck cares to execute such a maneuver, or is even able to extract real value from it? That's probably where Flamesage's Constructed applications clash with the reality of the competitive metas. Plus, even at toughness 3, which is slightly higher than your typical enlister, she's not going to be allowed to repeat her trick too many times. It's a strong Limited card, probably a good Commander card, but hardly anything else.

 Lagomos, Hand of Hatred seems better positioned to matter in a Constructed environment. Admittedly, the Demonic Tutor activation is the type of once-in-a-hundred-games occurrence more befitting a Commander game or the kitchen table (at the very least, it has to pair with some kind of one-sided sweeper). But the ephemeral token Lagomos makes every turn is great for sacrifice purposes. Granted, not as flexible as Ophiomancer's deathtouch Snake, and more costly than the decayed Zombie Jadar creates. But for an uncommon, it's pretty okay.

 Of course the "good in Limited" virus is increasingly affecting modern premier sets, which see draft and sealed play as their major outlets. Bortuk Bonerattle suffers from it, too. Six-mana 4/4 that revives another creature is a must-play in Limited, a smashing two-for-one that might single-handedly change the course of a game. In Constructed, though, it's not even close to the potential of something like Karmic Guide.


Skeleton: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 62, online: 59

 Related Tribes: Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low (but actually High)

 Highlights: This is, hands down, one of the best Skeletons ever printed... which, alas, is mostly useless in Skeleton tribal decks, because it's the only environment where its recursion ability won't work. Everywhere else it's a great two-powered one-drop for Monoblack Aggro or Rakdos Sacrifice. The true heir of glorious "eternal fighters" like Bloodsoaked Champion or Gutterbones.


Soldier: +9

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 764, online: 703

 Related Tribes: Angel, Dwarf, Human, Kor, Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Soldier tribe gets one of the tribal lords, and it's most definitely the worst of them. It's the only one whose secondary ability can be used only once, and never in conjuction with the anthem, since to use the other ability, Valiant Veteran has to be dead. Still, two-drop 2/2 with anthem might end up playable in White Weenies, so there's that.

 Another rare Soldier "bear" is Guardian of New Benalia, and that's more sure to see play, at least in Standard, because it has the "indestructible on demand" ability previously seen on white beaters Adanto Vanguard and Seasoned Hallowblade. It's always an appealing tool for white aggro to have at its disposal, and the Guardian even adds enlist and repeatable scry 2 to the deal.

 Also notable is King Darien XLVIII (who, again, has no reason not to be a Noble), a universal anthem lord that can grow himself tall while making the board large. On top of that, he can also sacrifice himself to save his token army from being swept away, or a single big token to be targeted by spot removal (a byproduct of this ability is also the fact that Darien cannot be exiled). The cost of the activated ability seems a bit steep for Constructed, but at least it doesn't include tapping Darien, and it's a reasonable mana sink. A single three-drop anthem on legs has seen play in the past in the form of Benalish Marshal, but that one was monowhite and had a slightly better body.

 Last but not least of the Human Soldiers is the Boros token-maker Baird, Argivian Recruiter. That kind of ability in the past would specifically call for an equipped or enchanted creature; Baird's wording essentially amounts to a large portion of what modified covers, which makes the effect more flexible. It's still a specialized routine on a multicolored card that sure is efficiently costed, but requires playing exactly a deck of those two colors.

 At least these new Soldiers are having a blast by virtue of their efficient commons and uncommons in Limited, with Argivian Phalanx nurturing some ambitions of a larger role in Pauper. After all, it's not wrong to look at it as a 4/4 vigilance for one, affinity-like.

  


Sphinx: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 70

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: Dominaria United gives us two high-profile Sphinges at top rarities, both doing what Sphinges do best: drawing cards. Sphinx of Clear Skies revisits the Fact or Fiction ability that a couple of other members of her tribes already tried their paws on, namely Sphinx of Uthuun, which had the effect as an ETB, and Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign, which extended a slightly smaller version of it to every Sphinx entering the battlefield. Our most serene flyer from Dominaria turns it into a repeatable connection trigger, instead, quite easy to continuously enable if you're an evasive attacker. The only issue is that it's also linked to domain, so to achieve a proper five-card Fact or Fiction, we'd need all the basic types. Whereas a straight monoblue deck of the kind Sphinges usually inhabit would cause Sphinx of Clear Skies to draw us no more than a single card. Which is still excellent, to be honest. Plus, her mythic status is evident from the outstanding body/cost ratio that pulverizes both its mentioned predecessors, as well as the resilience provided by ward 2.

 And then we have the second best Defiler in Defiler of Dreams – and that's more card-drawing, unsurprisingly. For the same mana value of Sphinx of Clear Skies, the Defiler is much more fragile, but at least a Sphinx deck would definitely appreciate the Phyrexian discount and the self-replacing aspect.

 By the way, Phyrexians claimed two Sphinges before, Chancellor of the Spires and Consecrated Sphinx, but the latter is a bit of a mystery – so, perfectly appropriate for a Sphinx! – in that it clearly featured the Phyrexian watermark in its original printing (as well as the unambiguous flavor text "Blessed by the hands of Jin-Gitaxias") and was seemingly given the new subtype during the Grand Phyrexian Update of 2021, as shown on MTGO at the time, but later it reverted back to regular Sphinx. It's possible they want to keep the "consecrated" moniker free of baggage. Even though Phyrexians really care about family.

 


Spider: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 66, online: 64

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: It's not every day that Spiders get to have such an advantageous body/cost ratio (2.33!). In fact, it's unprecedented. Trample is extremely rare too, only occurring once before on the expensive Archweaver. Likely, the idea is that reach creatures are meant to be used as blockers, so they don't need to trample over. But Llanowar Greenwidow begs to differ, being apt at both the attacker and the defender role. The low toughness (also very unusual for a Spider) is offset by the self-recursive ability, which is a one-time deal, but still allows the Greenwidow to trade, hopefully with something more expensive, and then come back for a second round. All around a most excellent Spider.


Spirit: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 570, online: 560

 Related Tribes: Cleric

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Not many roaming ghosts on Dominaria this time around (we had met a few in our previous visit, including fan-favorite Yargle). There's just this random Charon reference, one of several versions of the "underworld ferryman" Magic has done over the years, and even a bit out of place here. It's a simple common that gives us one five-mana reanimation spell from the graveyard (the lore of the whole thing is pretty confusing, too. Why does the ferryman have to die before being able to do its job?). Playable in Limited, irrelevant anywhere else, as the activation cost is way too high for Constructed.


Treefolk: +4

   

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 New Tribal Total: 87, online: 85

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: The Treefolk tribe manages to hit the jackpot for Limited, having all of its new members highly relevant for the format. The straightforward and very splashable Magnigoth Sentry (one of the indicators that Dominaria United has decreased complexity compared to the previous few sets) has just a favorable body/cost ratio coupled with an important defensive keyword. Similarly, big-butted Yavimaya Sojourner is one of the payoffs of domain at common, and provides an extra layer of (relatively) early defense for decks that aim for late-game shenanigans. The uncommon Mossbeard Ancient is the latest in Honey Mammoth/Ravenous Lindwurm technology, now complete with trample – one of the most reliable finishers in the set.

 And then we witness the return of Nemata, now cheaper and angrier than he was back in Planeshift. He's still dealing in Saproling tokens, but his newfound Golgari colors mean he doesn't require mana to create them, they spontaneously show up every time one of the opponent's creatures hits the graveyard – as a byproduct, those creatures get exiled as well, which is often relevant to prevent recursion. Unlike the Grove Guardian incarnation, sacrificing a Saproling doesn't pump the fungal team anymore, instead making Nemata taller. The best part, though, is that we can alternatively sac two of the little suckers to draw a card, as many times as we have fodder for it. Nemata's base body could be larger, but after a few Saprolings have arrived on the scene, the threat of activation turns him into a good attacker, while the sheer amount of utility we can extract from the tokens makes Nemata one of the most well-rounded legends in the set. Perhaps not good enough for regular Constructed, but a very high pick in draft, a valuable commander, and a casual gem.


Troll: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 47, online: 46

 Related Tribes: Shaman

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Troll's relationship with the graveyard so far involved them either consuming dead creatures (Varolz, the Scar-Striped, Charned Troll) or reviving themselves (Golgari Grave-Troll, Feasting Troll King, Loathsome Troll). Bortuk is the first Troll that's capable and willing to revive his allies.


Turtle: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 29, online: 27

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: Nothing much to say about these Turtles. They have simple stats that are mostly meant to represent their durability (via ward or high toughness), and not a lot of allure otherwise. In fact, they're not seeing much play in Limited, either.


Vampire: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 336, online: 331

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: This lone Vampire seems to be in the set only to remind us of Sengir Vampire. Which is kind of weird, because Dominaria already paid a better homage to the Alpha card with Kazarov, Sengir Pureblood. To be blunt, Sengir Connoisseur is a pretty bad Vampire, an overcosted, needlessly self-hindered beater. Also, one cannot be a "connoisseur" full stop. It's like calling oneself an "expert" without specifying any field of expertise. Connoisseur of what?


Viashino: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 53

 Related Tribes: Warlock, Warrior

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Rivaz is exclusively a "Dragons matter" card, so has no impact whatsoever on the Viashinos. But at least the Branchrider is a playable common one-drop, at least in Limited. It has firebreathing and can enter as a four-mana 3/3 in the mid-game. Which is not exactly spectacular, but it's a degree of flexibility.


Wall: +5

  

 

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 New Tribal Total: 144, online: 123

 Related Tribes: Nightmare, Plant

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: Leave it to a Dominaria set, with all its old-school callbacks, to feature such a large number of Walls, a primordial creature type that never really went away but was certainly scaled back over the years (they never properly solved the conundrum of why a Wall of Stone is considered a living being; and if so, why does Living Wall exist?). It helps that Dominaria United decided to incorporate a "defenders matter" archetype for Limited – and there's clearly no best defender than the creature type that used to define the ability before the keyword was even coined. As previously mentioned, the defender deck is not a joke in draft. Its best wincons are the Cleric Wingmantle Chaplain and the Phyrexian Blight Pile, but Coral Colony's mill is also viable. Most of these Wallas have wider applications, too: Gibbering Barricade is a good sacrifice outlet that can find a home in non-defender decks as well, while Floriferous Vinewall is a crucial domain enabler and Academy Wall (which is a great target for Walking Bulwark's ability) is a strong defensive looter in spellslinging builds. The only one that's not having much success is the one-drop Clockwork Drawbridge – it's occasionally seen, because it's so unexpensive to cast, but the tapper ability is too costly to be really effective.


Warlock: +1

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 New Tribal Total: 60, online: 59

 Related Tribes: Viashino

 Impact of the New Additions: Null

 Highlights: Rivaz is a Warlock merely because he needed a class. Its second subtype is completely irrelevant to what he does and is supposed to do.


Warrior: +15

   

  

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 New Tribal Total: 885, online: 862

 Related Tribes: Ape, Cat, Dryad, Elemental, Elf, Goblin, Human, Skeleton, Viashino

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium

 Highlights: We've seen most of the non-Human Warriors already, the most prominent being the monogreen Dryad Quirion Beastcaller. As for the Human ones, Astor, Bearer of Blades is an "Equipment and Vehicles matter" card, which is clearly too narrow for Limited but not too interesting for Constructed either. Another story entirely is Shanna, Purifying Blade, one of a cycle of five three-colored legends in the set. Shanna, Sisay's Legacy was a playable uncommon in Dominaria; but now this descendant of Captain Sisay has made the leap to mythic, and added blue for some mad card-drawing. She's a lifegain payoff type of card, something the set supports only sporadically – and Sisay herself only on a board that allows her to safely attack. But as a Bant Commander, she's going to become a mainstay of the format.

 Radha is another one of the legendary Warriors of Dominaria; counter-intuitively, she shows up at uncommon, but her own Radha's Firebrand is a rare. She's an appealing two-drop for aggro, as the "blocker denial" ability is always welcome, especially on an attacker with low toughness. Too bad she's simultaneously asking for full domain lands, which is at odds with the kind of monored build that should constitute her ideal home.

 Less contradictory are a couple of uncommon Warriors that just operate the way they present themselves: early pressure and recursion for Cult Conscript, high-power multicolored smashing for Nishoba Brawler. Sometimes simplicity is its own reward.

 


Wizard: +22

   

   

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 New Tribal Total: 903, online: 879

 Related Tribes: Bird, Dwarf, Efreet, Elf, Faerie, Human, Merfolk, Phyrexian, Zombie

 Impact of the New Additions: High

 Highlights: For some reason, the Wizard presence in Dominaria United is massive. The two mythic ones are both build-around. Jodah, the Unifier gives us a new appearance of the Archmage Eternal, one of the most enigmatic figures on the entire plane. Once again, he's designed as the quirky commander of a "legendaries matter" deck, and in that regard, he delivers in spades. What's interesting is that, as powerful as his cascade ability is, it's the seemingly corollary pump effect what really makes the difference – once Jodah descends onto a battlefield with three or four other legendary creatures, the resulting alpha strike is hard to withstand.

 Here's another "eternal" moniker for tricolor legend Zur, whose previous incarnation had been a favorite of Commander players since its original release in Coldsnap. This new one is a bit underwhelming, turning enchantments into creatures rather than fetching them. It turns Zur from a card that can single-handedly create a favorable board state to one that already needs a favorable board state to operate. But at least the animated enchantments will get a number of strong keywords – which might or might not be a win-more situation.

 Other disappointing legendary Wizards include Stenn, Paranoid Partisan, which is just a glorified Goblin Electromancer with some minor flickering applications; and The Raven Man, the mysterious entity that has haunted Liliana for ages, and he's now revealed to merely be... a discard payoff that makes Birds. Granted, free flyers are nothing to sneeze at, even when they can't be used as blockers, and the Raven Man's low cost allows the ability to get online early on, therefore before our discard spells lose relevance. But the activated ability is awfully overcosted for Constructed, and the whole package is left wanting at rare.

 Much better is Aether Channeler, the card that definitely sends good ole Man-o'-War into retirement. Not only the Channeler can bounce any permanent but lands; he can also makes a flyer or draw a card, according to the current situation. Tempo, card advantage, board advantage – the strategic value is off the roof here. Academy Loremaster is an odd duck that gives each player the chance to draw an extra card at the cost of a temporary tax. The main issue here is that our opponents will get to draw first. It might be a desirable effect for Commander's "group hug" decks, I imagine.

 A couple of the new Wizards have tribal allegiances to different tribes, although Ratadrabik of Urborg's universal Zombie vigilance might just apply to his own tokens (he remains a quite narrow "legendaries matter" card) and Vodalian Hexcather could be good enough on its own.

 

 Other uncommon Human Wizards see Micromancer as a Trinket Mage for instants and sorceries. Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart is a neat mix of card-drawing and go-wide payoff for creature-based Azorius builds., while Rona, Sheoldred's Faithful (the woman who saved the black Praetor's life and stood to her side during the invasion) is a mild payoff for spellslinging (or storm) in Dimir; however, she has some built-in recursion that could become relevant in the late game. Also, she appears to use Micromancer's same hairstylist.

  

 More uncommon legendary Wizards of note: two stages (early game, late game) of Izzet spellslinging with Balmor and Najal; looting and recursion with Vohar. This latest Wizard expedition to Dominaria was certainly a vast and diverse affair.

  


Wurm: +2

 

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 New Tribal Total: 96, online: 91

 Related Tribes: Phyrexian

 Impact of the New Additions: Medium to High

 Highlights: The Wurms of Dominaria score the best of the Defilers and a legitimate if minor finisher for Limited. Good job!


Zombie: +3

  

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 New Tribal Total: 528, online: 519

 Related Tribes: Giant, Phyrexian, Wizard

 Impact of the New Additions: Low

 Highlights: Nothing especially intriguing about these three Zombies. Ratadrabik wants to be surrounded by legends, but then he revives them as 2/2 tokens, which isn't always going to be relevant. Toxic Abomination is just bad, and Writhing Necromass is Limited-only. Also, if it's a "necromass", does it mean it's a giant lump of decayed flesh, as opposed to an actual Giant that died and got zombified? Because the Giant subtype is never used as an adjective, is it? Like, Giant Spider doesn't have the Giant type, because "giant" in that case just means "big", not "a member of the Giant race". Same goes for Giant Badger, Giant Solifuge, Giant Ox, and so on.


SUMMARY

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 Check the Complete Creature Types Reference Table here.


BEST IN SHOW
(click on any them to go to their review)

   

   

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THE TRIBAL LORDS
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

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THE DEFILERS
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

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THE TRICOLOR LEGENDS
(click on any of them to go to their review)

  

 

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KUMA'S TRIBAL EVALUATIONS